A shape-shifting, space-faring, amoeba-like carnivore, the Vermicious Knids are the antagonists of the Roald Dahl book Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.
The Knids are from planet Vermes, which is 60,000,000 light years away from planet Pluto, but normally travel through space in swarms, land on any planet with a sufficiently-thin atmosphere, and consume any life they find there. The Vermicious Knids, Wonka says, are responsible for leaving the other planets of our Solar System barren, but cannot invade Earth through its denser atmosphere; any Knid who tries, is burnt to ashes by friction.
In the book
At the time of the story, the Vermicious Knids have invaded humanity's Space Hotel, recently launched, and established a colony there. When Mr. Wonka and Charlie's family visit the Hotel, shortly before its official opening, the Knids frighten them away. When the Hotel's staff and astronauts arrive, the Knids devour 24 of the 150-strong crew; then pursue them to their shuttle, which they attempt to beat into submission. Wonka and his Elevator then towed the astronauts back to Earth; where the Knids, now linked into a long chain wrapped at one end around the Elevator itself, in the effort to capture it as well, were destroyed in the atmosphere.
Morphology and appearance
The Vermicious Knid, described by Wonka, is "one huge muscle", capable of assuming any shape at will. Their normal appearence is a giant egg-shaped body which pulsates, and seems to be full of jelly. The Knids lack visible mouths, but are said to be capable, none the less, of 'biting' their prey. All their shapes retain the green-tinted brown colour, jellylike texture, and immense lidless eyes. They are also implied to be highly intelligent, though incapable of using tools. Although strong, fast, and capable of surviving the vacuum of space, the Knids are not invulnerable: one of them (the principal villain of the story) is bruised when striking Wonka's unbreakable Elevator, and all the Knids shown are destroyed by passage through Earth's atmosphere.
- "Vermicious" is a real word, meaning "slimy."
- Their home planet "Vermes" might be a reference to Jules Verne, science fiction writer.
- Although most of the Knids were in the Hotel, there are millions more on Vermes.
- Knids range in size from human sized to colossal, about as big as a truck.
- Among the Knids' victims are the Poozas, "rather nice" creatures who lived on the Moon.
- They are similar to the Necromorphs of the Dead Space franchise, wiping out entire alien species.
- It is unknown their relation to the aliens mentioned in The BFG.
- Even though the Knids are never seen outside of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, they are briefly mentioned by Willy Wonka in the 1971 film adaptation of Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. Roald Dahl's distaste for this film led him to forbid any other Charlie books from being adapted to film, so this would be their only such description. Moreover, Wonka mentions the Knids as one of many predators to the Oompa Loompas in their native Loompaland, which in the books would be impossible due to the Knids inability to live on Earth.