Friday, July 6, 2012

Making myths real...

It's one thing writing about mythological creatures, and its another actually making them real for your reader.

I like my mythological creatures to be realistic, at least biologically so. If the creature can't work biologically, or at least be literally manipulated to do so, I don't bother with it. Take for example Jormangandr, the mythical sea serpent I blogged about some time ago. He was so large, that he spanned the world. Not realistic enough I'm afraid, if I was to write about this serpent, I'd make him massive, but not so massive he spans the circumference of the world.
So it's no surprise when I found this internal diagram of a Naga, I became particularly excited. I find it absolutely fascinating considering how a mythical creatures could potentially work physically in the real world.

Take the dragon for example- one of the most common creatures written about in fantasy. To make it believable, a reader needs to believe the laws of nature can work with the creature. For example if a dragon had puny wings, and big belly yet was described as flyingf like a falcon -  in any 'Earth-like' world would not be believable. Therefore, in most modern adult fantasy texts,  the dragon has realistic features.

Now the Harpy would also be one of my favourite mythological creatures, as readers may have noticed, they crop up a few times in my novels. Whilst cruising the net I found this rather interesting anatomy style drawing of a Harpy. Now as you  probably know, my Harpies do not have hideous faces but, this illustration is a wonderful diagramatic representation of on a 'True Harpy' how the wings would work, and that how a Harpy would stand.
[image courtesy: NSFW]
Then in further cruising of the net, I was determined to find an anatomical image of a manticore as really these are my number one favourites. Alas, I couldn't come up with a disection style image, for anything but the stinging tail.
None the less, I'm impressed someone had the foresight to draw one, it's so refreshing to know that I am not the only person in the world who ponders these things!
[Image courtesy: Evil_Jeebit ]

In my novella about Phil the Manticore, I mention the unique tail of the manticore... but I'm sorry to say, that novella has gone by the way, at the moment. Hopefully I'll have time to pick it back up next year! Anyway, I thought this was a particularly fascinating image, showing the poison sacs  in the tip of the tail, and the unique angling of the spines. Impressive.

 The mermaid I suppose has some similarities to the Naga, and this is a particularly cool anatomical picture.

Most amusingly however, was the amount of information I found on Centaur anatomy. These beasts have the torsos of two animals, human and horse, thus, they have two hearts, two stomachs, two sets of lungs. This is a nice break down about it.

I have an incling that sometimes the interest on mythological creature anatomy may have a fetish link to it, which quite frankly I'm not prepared to delve into, but I can assure you is out there if you start googling anatomy and mythological creatures... you have been warned... what has been seen cannot be unseen.

Enough of that, the final creature I'm going to look at is actually Satyr. I think Satyrs are funny, because they are so rude and highly sexed characters. When I've seen them in film (I'm thinking Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief here) their gait looks kind of silly - as well I may be if you had goat legs. So last is a picture of the bone structure of a Satyrs legs. When you look at this diagram, you can certainly imagine the awkward walk a Satyr may have in comparison to a human.

Anyway, I hope you found these interesting and informative. I think it is always important to keep in mind the biological logistics of the creatures you write about. Making them functional is the key in making them believable.

Have a fabulous weekend.