Thursday, September 9, 2010
Eldritch: Layline 012
Science and mythology time! Buahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaa!
Now guys, I swear, this is the last page discussing genetics for a while! Seamus’ll ramble about something else for a while next page.
And okay, okay, okay, on a serious note, I need to say it now. Remember: I’m no Biologist. I’m just an artist and folklore enthusiast who loves science. The great news is that with science, there are set rules, that everyone can play with. The bad news is that there are set rules, that you need to understand a little of before playing with them.
Regardless, I really love all kinds of science, and I try to learn what I can. But the sad fact is, some fantastical things I just hope my readers (You guys!) are willing to accept. I know that even if there were mythological creatures, that mating with entirely different species would likely at best only produce a sterile hybrid. But I mean, stranger things happened in myth. Like how a griffon mating with a horse produced a hippogryph. …And griffons liked to eat horses for Pete’s sake! But I digress… I also know that the genetic makeup for a different creature being passed along like a recessive trait doesn’t happen in real life, even though many creatures share similar genes/reuse them. I know I’m asking you guys to swallow a lot of psudoscience here, but I hope it’s entertaining, at the very least.
I guess, sometimes for the sake of what fantastic end you’re trying to meet, you just have to bend the rules when writing Science-Fantasy.
…And, why yes. Seamus DOES speak in diagrams. ;D I figured it’d be nice for the TL;DR-ers out there who don’t want to read that wall of text. (That and I’ve had that diagram kicking around for ages and just couldn’t help using it as soon as the script allowed.)
Also by the way, if you’d like to read about some awesome fantasy-related science, I recommend the Flight of Dragons. The actual book, by the actual Peter Dickinson, not the cartoon (which is also a lot of fun, and follows the plot of the Dragon and the George.) I adored this book when I was little, because it made it seem like maybe fantastic things just might exist. He did his best to use the rules of science to make something improbable seem real. That’s real magic right there.
Now, regarding mythology… Yes, I know that there was only one Nemean lion in myth, and that Hercules killed its ass. But I mean, come on! A lion that could turn into a beautiful woman to lure men? Best hunting strategy ever! Surely, there had to be more than one nemelion for that kind of awesome specialized trait to develop. And I bet the lady nemelions turned into hunky men. Rrrrrrrrrow.
Also, seriously, if you’re enjoying this, go look at mythology, and not just the Nemean Lion. There’s SO MUCH awesome shapeshifting going on, and not just with that kinky sonnovagun Zeus I mentioned last week. According to several myths, many monsters can shapeshift, though certainly not all into humans (however, for this post, I’ll focus on them otherwise this’ll be way too long).
In scandinavian mythology, some trolls could appear so human that men sometimes needed to check under woman's dresses for tails (sounds fishy to me ;D). Meanwhile, the woman Melusine could become a very naga-like serpent or dragon (though sometimes she was referred to as a mermaid. Bzuh?) Then there’s the Tartar Yuxa, which became a human woman, and ooh, then there were the kelpies, which could also become beautiful women, lovely steeds, and of course, man-eating monsters. Another shapeshifting river monster is the Armenian Nhang, which, following the common trend, was said to be able to become a human woman, but could also become a seal. A similar shapeshifting monster is the Mama Dlo.
Thankfully, not all of the shapeshifters turned into women (Hooray equal opportunity shapeshifting!). The Aatxe could turn into a bright red bull (The Last Unicorn, anyone?) but also a young man. Furthermore, in Hindu mythology, some Nagas could take the form of men. The Glashtin could turn into handsome young men, but also children… and man, the Tikbalang could not only take human form, but could take the form of particular humans like you or I. And of course, every culture has myths of people who can turn into animals, like the Nagual, Werewolves, Skinwalkers, all of that good stuff.
Meanwhile, some races, like the fae folk, were accomplished in the arts of illusion and transformation. The fae folk were well known for glamouring themselves into other forms. And they commonly bore changelings… What can I say, the Fae were perfect for breeding with people. And man, don’t even start on Japanese spirits, like Kitsune and Tengu… many of them were downright gifted shapeshifters and could turn into everything from monks to teapots (I highly recommend the Tanuki tale, The Dancing Teapot, if you’d like some silly shapeshifting fun).
There’s loads more out there that I haven’t mentioned, and plenty more I’m sure I don’t know about. But this post is becoming a novel… *Laughs* Maybe a bildungsroman tale.