Read this paperback in the UK in the mid 1980's, i don't think it was new.

Earth people are establishing a base or colony on an alien world, this has humanoid natives called Klansmen who live in the Highland areas of this planet, they intermingle without much hassle.

The Klansmen are, IIRC, taller and thinner than humans, they have bulky joints on their limbs and blocky faces, a lot of them have large hoop piercings that pass right through their wrists, I think they are battle honours or badges of rank/status.

One scene I remember is a woman new to the planet approached a Klansmen group and begins talking and gesturing and her colleagues heard her scream, they dash out and find one of the aliens dancing towards her and waving a quarterstaff type stick. She thought she was being attacked but the Klansmen was actually accepting her mating proposal, one of her gestures was similar to his culture.

I've looked through the guide but can't think of any more from the book

  • 3
    Klansmen or Clansmen?
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 13:20
  • 1
    I remember a story like this where a group of researchers came to the aliens' planet to study them,"going native" as far as possible in order to interact with them. I think it was an SFBC book.
    – Spencer
    Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 13:29

1 Answer 1


You are slightly misremembering a rather obscure book called A Splendid Chaos by John Shirley.

Zero is a young film maker who believes his whole life and career are mapped out before him. That is, until the night he and his friends walk into a rock club ... and are caught in a dazzling trap that spans worlds. They are dropped onto a dreamlike planet whose surrealistic beauty cannot hide its grotesque reality. Fool's Hope - a world, so stunningly bizarre, nightmares are irrelevant. Here, abductees - both human and alien - are pitted against a neverending succession of hellish parasites, carnivores, shape-changers, and symbiotes.

Yet the greatest enemy of all could be human. When former professor Harmon Fiskle is transformed by the Current — a roving mutagenic force - he is freed to pursue his megalomaniacal nature. He advocates a depraved policy of social Darwinism, and forges a grotesque alliance of Twists: men and women who have sacrificed their own humanity to become monstrous mutations of their former selves.

With an entire world at stake, only Zero can solve the mystery of Fool's Hope ... if it isn't already too late.

The aliens are High Clan not Klansmen:

Looking again, Zero saw that one of the men wasn't a Pioneer, wasn't even quite human. His skin was black but not Negro black; it had the waxy blackness of licorice. His eye, or perhaps eyes, was a strip of sparkling white-gold above a nose that looked as if it had been split with a blunt knife and never sewn up. He was nude except for a metal-mesh loincloth, intricate bodypaints in floral abstractions, rather like Louis XIV wallpaper, and tennis shoes—Reebok tennis shoes he'd bartered from someone. Four silvery hoops pierced his right wrist the way earrings pierce an earlobe. A black plastic box on his left shoulder translated for him as he spoke to the others. His hands seemed entirely human, except the fingers were perhaps an inch too long.

"That one of the Twists?" Zero asked, whispering. "Looks like he might've been human once."

Bowler shook his head and murmured, "An alien. High Clan. Their trading rep, Zickorian. Supposedly one of our allies, but, like, no one quite trusts him completely."

The mating ritual scene is:

"Don't you dare!" It was Angie, shrieking in outrage from the other side of the rock.


She snapped, "They came up to me and started making those obscene motions, and then Zickorian took a stick out of his satchel and started rubbing it on my crotch!"

Zickorian replaced the stick in his pouch with one hand; with the other he thrust a finger into a corner of his mouth, which Zero had learned expressed puzzlement and surprise. "You mean her protestations were genuine? They seemed to translate so exactly to the ritual protestations of the matable female."

"She means it."

"Then why did she signal for a mating ritual? Just as we'd completed our mollification of the animal-invested deities. That is the proper time for the female to squat and emit musk."

  • I did doubt that they were Klansmen
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 10, 2020 at 15:23

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