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Mythical race in the Cthulhu Mythos of H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth, and others.

The court of the Byzantine Empire was like that of (nearly-contemporaneous) Heian Japan: elaborate, multi-colored clothing made of silk, a love of ritual and ceremony, and extreme leisure. It wasn't unusual for people to spend whole days in the Hagia Sophia cathedral on feast days: midway through the services, there was a break for shared noonday dinner, after which there would be more music, liturgy and spectacle, and life, in general, proceeded "as an extended ballet". One of the more unusual leisure pursuits of the Byzantine aristocracy was a positive mania for medicine. Not only were doctors fairly well-paid, but pretty much anyone who was anybody had gone to med school, at least for a year or so of basic training. Lectures by famous doctors and even some operations were attended by much the same audience as the opera was to be a thousand years hence, every upscale home displayed surgical instruments and scrolls of Galen and Discorides, and people often discussed medical matters with a frankness and learned air we would consider sophisticated far beyond the usual complaints about aches and pains.

However, to prevent the untoward calamity of amateurs rushing forth to perform dangerous procedures willy-nilly, actually practicing medicine was considered...well, just a little declassé. That is, there was little harm (and in some circles, bragging rights) to your reputation by nursing a sick slave or family dog back to health with reference to the worthies listed above, or applying first aid if injured while battling Saracens or simply traveling, but if you were really sick, or had a sick family member, it was considered more genteel to call (or in the better families, have on call) a physician (and the more prestigious the better!) Actually sticking out a shingle and looking for patients would have gotten you dropped from all the better guest lists. "I know I shouldn't be so snobbish but I wonder about them: the Charlambrides really do seem to have come down in the world..."

In the Cthulhu Mythos, there are the Mi-Go (derived from Tibetan Migou for "hill people", similar to the 'Hmong and Montignards, but Lovecraft spelled words from every Asian language, as many did in the early 20th century, as if they were all monosyllabic Chinese, hence the awkward hyphen.) The Migo, in short, are, as an intellectual hobby, doctors and surgeons. Very good doctors and surgeons. Who, as a safeguard, have chosen to perform, as a hobby, on another, less developed species. Us.

Described as an "animate fungus", they're technically from outside this Universe altogether, though they resemble large crustaceans or insects, albeit with heads that are a mass of short antennae, or tentacles, that change color with mood and other influences. They have an indefinite number of legs, terminating in sharp claws, that they use to delicately manipulate objects, and as cutting implements. Some have wings, that can be used in Outer Space to achieve hyperlight speeds by manipulating the "ether wind". (Their contributions to relativity and particle physics alone would warrant some interest.) To be sure, they don't seem to stoop to anything like cutting for a kidney stone -- nothing but chopping heads off seems to do for them, which they merrily do for anyone they find interesting, so they can keep their brains around in comfortably appointed canisters while traveling to Pluto, on which they keep an outpost. In "The Whisperer in Darkness", they're allied to Yog-Sothoth, Nyarlathotep, and Shub-Niggurath, but value science over religious concerns. On earth, they live mostly in Central Asia and New Hampshire/ Vermont, and can pass as human beings, with masks, gloves and loose clothing. In the game "Call of Cthulhu", they're divided into scientists, soldiers, and workers, in CthulhuTech, they're openly hostile to humans, and have developed slave races to combat us. Lovecraft, however, makes them (other than his customary xenophobia) simply very shy of humans, and simply here because of 'certain mineral resources', possibly uranium or radium, though calling them 'a race of miners', would seem to be a stretch.

In the MindSphere, they would appear related to the Mugwumps in Naked Lunch, the insect-like "Black Men" in "Evening Primrose", the Dromatozoa in Cordwainer Smith, and various other insectoid or medical sprites, including the Yeti, who are often portrayed as using various techniques to heal the humans they encounter. In my own Castle Stories, they're more hive, or at least clan-minded, who've managed to assimilate fairly well with humans, however, the decline of traditional healers as opposed to modern medicine has forced them into an ever-smaller practice and clientele, especially since Roe v. Wade.

More than thirty years later, the first generation of Mi-go are taking MCATs.


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