|“||There is nothing "ulterior" about our motives... nothing at all.||„|
|~ The Kanamit emissary to humanity, when asked if his people have any ulterior motives for coming to Earth besides helping humanity.|
The Kanamits are an alien race that serve as the antagonists of The Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man" and the short story of the same name by Damon Knight. They appear initially as benevolent beings who have come to uplift the human species for no reward beyond personal moral satisfaction. However, it turns out that their motives and generous help are no quite so pure as initially appeared. In reality, they intend to sucker humanity into coming to their homeworld in large numbers so that they may then cook and eat them.
The Kanamits first come to Earth in the guise of friends. They send representatives down to the United Nations embassy where the Kanamit representative tells the people of Earth what his species is, who they are, and that they have come to Earth to help the human species with their various technological wonders. Although some of the UN representatives are skeptical of the Kanamit's apparent altruism, they pass lie-detector tests and make good on their promises to help humanity: they create force-fields to protect cities and thus render warfare impractical and moot. They put vitamins in previously dead soil, and introduce new, cheap, renewable forms of energy.
In all, the Kanamits truly do seem to be every bit the benevolent helpers of humanity that they presented themselves as. However, just as the protagonist of the episode is about to get on board one of their ships to take him to the Kanamit homeworld for a visit, his partner rushes in to tell him that she's finished translating a book the Kanamit representative first left behind: the book's ostensibly altruistic title "To Serve Man", is in fact, a cookbook...serving man for dinner. Horrified, the protagonist tries to flee, but the Kanamits force him onto the ship and take off. The episode ends with him addressing the audience and noting grimly that "soon they'll all be on the menu".
In the sequel of To Serve Man, the Kanamits are still learning about Earth's culture, particularly commercials. Some of the humans transported to the Kanamit homeworld are kept alive, and have grown addicted to commercials and consumerism. The Kanamits use this against them, broadcasting commercials for "The Egg" and claiming it's something that everyone needs. In reality, the eggs are really Kanamit young, which devour humans as soon as they hatch. It's also revealed that the Kanamits act in a sort of hive mind, as they have a Kanamit Queen. This is why they are so interested in humanity, who have free will.
The Kanamits claim to communicate telepathically with their own kind and can use mechanical voices to communicate with other species. The Kanamit language’s written form is, apparently, similar to English’s in many ways, such as in distinguishing between capital and lowercase letters, and humans managed to decipher it (at least partially) despite limited access to sources of it. This is similar to the original short story, in which a character says the language is not hard and has similarities to English, even using some idioms that are alike, but in that story the Kanamits use spoken language among themselves and it took learning that to decipher the written form.
A man boarding a spaceship bound for their planet says he heard the Kanamits have a sport like baseball, but this may be a lie to make their homeworld seem more appealing. It's also revealed that the Kanamits have a Kanamit Queen, much like ants and bees in the animal kingdom. This makes them very intrigued with humanity, who have free will and can make their own choices.
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