11. Characters & Organizations


Granny's horse. Not surprisingly he is old, unhealthy, and badly taken care of, though undoubtedly a lot nicer to have around than Granny is (42-4).

Corliss, Barton

A tendrilless slan living on Mars. His physical attributes matched Jommy's precisely, and was therefore kept under close observation by the tendrilless authorities to cut off any attempts at substitution and impersonation (156-7).

He worked at the spaceship factory in Cimmerium, and was married to Mrs. Corliss. During his frequent time off work he would pilot his small ship out into the wastes on Mars, presumably to enjoy the scenery (158-9).

Appears on page 157

Corliss, Mrs. [first name unknown]

A tendrilless woman on Mars, a commander in the their military (169). When her head was smashed in an accident, her brain was painstakingly reconstructed and restored (157, 167-9).

Council, The (aka The Cabinet)

A group of twelve ministers, one of whom is elected dictator by the other eleven. Councilors named in the story are Kier Gray, John Petty, Mardue, Harlihan, and Jem Lorry. In order to ensure political stability, each has a private army that can be used against the others or against the dictator. On the eve of Kathleen's 11th birthday ten of the Council members will killed and replaced by their subordinates on Gray's orders — only Gray himself and Petty remained. Far from merely ruling from their palace, members of the council would often travel elsewhere on state business (75).

Appears on pages 24-36, & 74-86

Cross, Jommy

(Since this tale is primarily Jommy's, most details on his life are included in the summary. I focused here more on miscellaneous details and on his gradual change in outlook.)

His full name was John Thomas Cross (171, 184). One of his favorite things to do during his first six years with Granny was to sit and watch the beautiful palace at night, an act which seemed to reaffirm his aims and striving (91).

Rather disgusted by his father's pacifistic ideals he decided to do whatever was needed to protect himself and his fellow slans (64). But after he was forced to kill in self-defense he became determined to avoid needless bloodshed (140). He felt all slans to be brothers, regardless of whether they had tendrils or not (110) and went to great lengths to avoid killing the tendrilless even when doing so put him at greater risk (144, 150). Even with the apparently hopeless situation, he worked to reconcile humans, slans, and tendrilless so they could co-exist without slaughtering one another (108, 116). He intended for his father's science to benefit everyone (123).

Although he could have escaped from Granny early on, he decided to stay with her despite her untrustworthiness since she was the best way he had to avoid detection (42). He stole just enough to keep her dependent on him while secretly keeping a great deal for himself (53). While Granny wasted her money on dubious pleasures (53), Jommy used his funds in a more practical fashion, fixing up Granny's shack and preparing a secret escape tunnel (57). When Granny betrayed him to the police, he was unable to leave her to meet her fate; even though she harbored him for her own gain, Jommy was nonetheless grateful for it (88-9).

Early on, Jommy had two driving forces in his life: First, to find his father's weapon (5, 12, 42), and second, to contact other slans and discover the truth about his race's origins (55, 95, 113, 116, 122). He at first speculated that the true slans must be living mixed in with the human population (123-4). When this proved to be incorrect, he then believed that the true slans were living alongside — or perhaps even ruling — the tendrilless on Mars, but that they were careful enough to avoid being suspected (166, 186). But after having searched long and hard for other slans with no results, Jommy deduced that they must be in the last remaining place: the palace itself (158, 182-3).

Featured in Chapters 1, 4-7, 9-12, & 14-18

Cross, Patricia

Experienced slan, widow of the great slan inventor Peter Cross, and Jommy's mother. She and Peter, neither belonging to any organized slan group, met on the street and instantly were able to know each other as slans (39, 136). They married and spent most of their lives working on Peter's invention (10).

Described as sensitive and intelligent, she raised and trained her son to continue his father's legacy (7, 12). She and Jommy were tracked by the secret police from their home in the suburbs and ambushed in the streets of Centropolis (6-7). She submitted to her fate to allow her son to escape (7). She was killed shortly after he made his getaway (9).

Appears on pages 5-7

Cross, Peter

Great slan inventor, wife to Patricia and father of Jommy. Although interested in the slans' origins he was too busy with his research to investigate it, figuring it would be a demanding and time-consuming task (40, 104). Had their son grown up alongside his parents, it would have been Jommy's task to find the slans (104). Inherently peaceful and pacifistic, Peter invented a potent weapon but chose not use it even to protect himself (39, 64, 138). He felt that the greatest problem in the world was how slans and humans could peacefully co-exist without either side forcing enslavement on the other, and he feared the slans' inherent superiority might lead them down that dark path (64). He left behind his weapon as well as detailed notes on his scientific research for his son to later find and use (63-65, 101). Peter was captured and killed by the panicky police 3 years before the beginning of the story (30); in line with his ideals, he did not fight back against his captors (64).

Dinsmore, Davy

(The versions of this novel before 1968 feature a radically different depiction of Davy. See here for more details.)

A childhood friend of Kathleen. They were both the same age (15). After an early and unsuccessful attempt to bully her, he and Kathleen become cautious friends (17). At one point, in order to respect his privacy, she promised never to read his mind (16). A few months before Kathleen's eleventh birthday, Davy was warned by his father to avoid Kathleen for his own protection. Since she was unwilling to read his mind, he had to contrive another means of warning her of her impending execution (15-6, 36). After he had apologized for the show he made of hating slans, and explained the reasons behind doing so, she forgave him and he invited her to begin routinely reading his mind in order to keep him honest with her (36, 67).

As they matured at different rates, Kathleen took on the role of parent and teacher to him, rather than that of a friend. She did her best to undo the influence of propaganda and lies that dominated life in the palace (68).

By the time they were 17 he fell in love with her and wished to make her his mistress, though Kathleen by that point had matured far beyond the point where this would be possible (67-70). She kindly rebuffed his advances and took measures to ensure that his father dissuaded him from further pursuits (69, 87).

Appears on pages 15-17, 36, & 67-70

Dinsmore, William

Davy's father, an administrator in the government (68). Although he apparently had nothing against Kathleen personally and didn't object to Davy associating with her most of the time, he considered her a social and political liability since she was a slan (36, 68, 87).


A stage actress in her youth, her depraved and careless lifestyle led her to poverty and ruin. She ended up living the life of a junk woman. Once beautiful, her hideous features now reflect her inner self (14, 38). Habitual theft seems to have been one of her lesser crimes, with murder being one of her worst (38), and each crime made it easier to perform the next one (107). Greedy and materialistic, her conniving mind instantly saw the potential in capturing and using a slan to steal for her and hid the orphaned Jommy from the police. Granny used a significant amount of the money they stole together to finance her addiction to alcohol and her frequent trips to pleasure resorts (53). Jommy used his funds in a more practical fashion, fixing up Granny's shack and preparing a secret escape tunnel (57).

She seemed to recognize the worth of only material possessions rather than information, as Jommy's accidental mention of his father's weapon completely failed to register with her (40). Granny had an abnormally strong survival instinct (92); the prospect of losing her money, as well as the threat of imminent death, sobers her in a hurry no matter how drunk she may be (89). Anything but brave, she was nonetheless able to take greater temporary risks to ensure future survival (107).

When unable to coerce others to her will she would resort to skillful manipulation, trying different tactics until she got results (41). In her early years with Jommy she was cruel to him, but as time went on she spent most of her time in a harmless drunken stupor (58). When drunk, her mind would dwell on her past experiences, most of which were scenes of great wickedness and degradation (57- 8).

Even in spite of the reconditioning of her mind by Jommy, many of her more unpleasant personality traits still lingered near the surface. By this time she was around 90 years old, and the age of her mind may have been a factor in this (148). After the tendrilless attack on their valley ranch, Granny was hypnotically commanded to forget all about the many modifications Jommy had made to the area, to prevent her from being interrogated by the invaders (151).

Featured in Chapters 1, 4-12, & 16

Gray, Kathleen Layton

Young slan girl. Although ostensibly Kier Gray's protected prisoner, she is in reality his daughter though she does not know it. Significantly, her room connects to Gray's office through a secret passageway (21). Gray was not beyond employing Kathleen's telepathic abilities for his own ends, using her at least once during a Council meeting to "spy" on the members' minds and report the information to him using hand signals (31).

Although a prisoner, she is allowed free access to a large part of the palace (132). She spends much of her time looking down on the city and imaging what life must be like outside the palace walls (17). At some point she read and memorized the complete works of Isaac Newton (71).

A few months before her eleventh birthday she began to routinely block out all telepathic contact with the hateful humans around her. Doing this meant that the plot against her life flourished and grew without her being aware of it (16).

Kind and altruistic like most slans, her difficult circumstances did not embitter her (135). Whereas Jommy had always lived in an atmosphere of imminent danger, Kathleen was relatively safe in the palace under the protection of Kier Gray. As a result, Kathleen had difficulty adjusting to Jommy's lifestyle when she fled Centropolis — her former security made her incautious, leading to her being shot by John Petty (142). All of this, however, was part of Gray's plan to permanently get her out of harm's way by engineering her death and then restoring her to life in secret (190).

Featured in Chapters 2-3, 8, 13-14, & 18

Gray, Kier

Dictator of Earth, rules from the palace in Centropolis. He physically appears to be about the same age as Petty and Petty's supporters (29). However, since he is in fact a variety of tendrilless slan he is undoubtedly much older.

Described as "magnetic" and "tigerish" (25), he is an immensely popular and trusted leader who is "worshipped and feared" among the people (22, 45). His fellow councilors, however, were always jealous of his superior intelligence and abilities and they felt he made them insignificant by comparison (34). This atmosphere made it easy for men like Petty to manipulate them into trying to replace Gray.

An eloquent man, he had the ability to appraise every situation with mild humor in the form of understatement and irony (26). When faced with unforeseen difficulties his first reaction is not panic, but quick thinking (32).

At some point the tendrilless slans X-rayed Kier Gray from a distance and established that he is not a true slan, lacking the distinguishing characteristics of that mutant race (175). He is, in fact, an augmented variety of slan similar to the tendrilless; he therefore lacked tendrils and was unable to read minds, though his daughter Kathleen had these traits (182, 188-9). Like Petty, Lorry, and other highly-trained humans, Gray had a mind shield, making it impossible for a slan to read anything but his surface thoughts (22). As a slan himself, his own mind shield was subtly different than theirs, a difference easily spotted by Jommy when they first met (182).

His deceased wife, Kathleen's mother, was a true slan who was killed by the secret police. He raised Kathleen publicly in the palace to test whether humans and slans could live together peaceably, though he had to ultimately admit it wasn't possible (189). During the years between Kathleen's 11th and 17th birthdays, Gray's public stance towards the slans changed from being favorable into an intense hatred that came close to John Petty's (73). Before, he admired the slans and felt that peace was possible (30) — this was part of his experiment with Kathleen, as well as an attempt to counter anti-slan propaganda. Switching stance was a carefully calculated choice, done (at least in part) to allow Kathleen's permanent "escape" from Petty through her public death and secret resurrection (189-90).

Featured in Chapters 2-3, 8, 13, & 18


The Cabinet Minister of Airways. A Councilor, he was a firm supporters of Kier Gray until the political situation changed in John Petty's favor. Petty took advantage of his fellow Councilors' jealousy of Gray's abilities, making it easier for them to turn on him. When the Council tried to overthrow the dictator they were killed by their own aides whom Gray had secretly recruited.

Appear on pages 24, 29, 33, & 35

Hillory, Joana

A young and beautiful tendrilless slan woman, about 15 years older than Jommy (172). On board the ship stolen by Jommy, she captured him and interrogated him. At first cynical and hateful, she came to believe that Jommy truly wanted to make peace with her people (117, 172). After this encounter she became the tendrilless' expert on Jommy, being made a military commissioner and entrusted with the task of hunting him down (146, 170), though she was able to delay their progress for many years to give Jommy time to prepare (172). She was later instrumental in his return to Earth after his visit to Mars (173).

Appears on pages 95-119, & 171-5

Lann, Samuel

Much of what is said about Lann in the book is legendary hearsay, greatly distorted from the facts. For the legends, see Slans: Lies & Legends. For the true story of Lann and his work, see the early part of the Timeline.

Lann, Mrs.

A legendary figure, supposedly Samuel Lann's wife and the subject of his mutation experiments that created the first slans. Samuels' diaries indicate that in reality there was no Mrs. Lann — the children were someone else's entirely, and were no relation to Samuel. What little was known of the children's true mother was undoubtedly distorted into the figure of Mrs. Lann (84, 104).

Lorry, Jem

(The versions of this novel before 1968 feature Jem Lorry in a less important role. See here for more details.)

One of the replacements for the old councilors, he quickly rose to prominence, becoming minister of state (75) and the most powerful member of the cabinet (70). Described as "touch, calculating, and ambitious" (35), he nonetheless had some degree of integrity as Kathleen considered him "the most honest and decent" cabinet member next to Gray himself (70). Like a few of the other councilors he possessed the discipline needed to shield his mind from slans (35). Efficient and with a will of steel, he nonetheless was able to always remain on the winning side of any political conflict by being flexible (86), and was one to quickly realize when a confrontation would do more harm than good (70).

Lorry routinely used his attraction and charm to become a very successful womanizer, and was determined to possess Kathleen — her clear superiority, in addition to her beauty, made her an irresistible prize to be won (71-2). Supposedly, this sex mania was the result of not being given enough affection by his parents as a child. He used his mistresses to spy on his fellow administrators. One was the wife of the commander of the armed forces, one was the wife of a fellow councilor, and one was a widow whom Lorry tried to manipulate into marrying another prominent official (72).

Appears on pages 35-6, & 69-86


The Cabinet Minister of Transport. The oldest of the Councilors, he was a firm supporters of Kier Gray until the political situation changed in John Petty's favor. Petty took advantage of his fellow Councilors' jealousy of Gray's abilities, making it easier for them to turn on him. When the Council tried to overthrow the dictator they were killed by their own aides whom Gray had secretly recruited.

Appear on pages 24, 29, 33, & 35


A tendrilless slan miner on Mars, mentally dominated by Jommy. Through Miller, he was able to capture and impersonate Corliss in Cimmerium.

Appears on pages 155-8

Petty, John

Chief of Kier Gray's secret police (8, 132). A volatile and conniving man, he possessed great intelligence and resourcefulness. He preferred to reach his ends through manipulation of others (usually through playing on their hates and prejudices) and by the stage-management of events (26). He would rather catch you in a legal or logical trap, so his own plans could appear to be legitimate and impartial (80). He was feared and distrusted among the people (22, 45).

When he tried to overthrow Gray, his accomplices and most of the Council were killed and replaced. Always one to remain on top of any upheaval, he managed to remain in his position by swearing allegiance to Gray (35). Although he initially tried to have Kathleen killed merely to undermine Gray (8), he soon became obsessed by her continued presence in the palace and did all he could to have her removed to another place where he could safely dispose of her once and for all (132).

Appears on pages 8-10, 24-36, 75-86, 128-32, & 143-5

Secret Police, The

The secret police wear civilian clothes to blend in with the normal population (7). Many of them are trained to make it difficult for a slan to read their minds (18). The secret police were in charge of the guards outside Kathleen's room at the palace (20). John Petty was head of this organization (8).