–by Bronto Incognito
Whether we love to hate them or wish we had one of our very own, all of us have them. Critters we read about that we just can’t get enough of. When I was a kid it was easy. Unicorns. Or a Pegasus. Or the ultimate…
But I’ll be honest…the older I’ve gotten, the less pegacorns and the like show up in my reading. (Which is an issue all unto itself…) So instead, here are my current favorites in the genre of fictional creatures…
5. Kazims from Beyond the Red
I already mentioned how much I want one of these in my review of this book, but in case you missed it, here’s how cool these things are…
Kazims are deadly, desert cats on the harsh planet featured in the book. The ruling class sometimes use nanites to tame them so that they can RIDE them. Yup. That’s right. Giant, deadly, felines with long red fur that are capable of handling at least 2 riders at a time. And you can cuddle with them. I mean, it’s like having your very own pet tiger without all that mauling to worry about! We ever discover something like this, I’m so first on the waiting list it’s ridiculous!!
4. Mysterious unseen, unnamed creatures in Bird Box
Now I never did a review of this book for the site because one scene in particular plops it squarely in the adult and not young adult category, but I have mentioned it before. Because this book is wicked awesome and wicked scary.
Basically these creatures start showing up all over planet Earth and no one knows why they’re here or where they came from and, scarily, no one can tell you what they look like. Why is that you ask? Oh, well because anyone and anything (yes, even animals) that see them go insane. Like murder-everyone-around-me-and-then-kill-myself kind of insane. So the entire world has to find ways to live without opening their eyes outside or looking outside their house because once you do, you’re dead.
Not saying I want to own one of these things or anything, but they’re pretty dang awesome if you ask me.
3. House Elves
So of all the crazy creatures available in Harry Potter you might find this choice a bit more than odd, but hear me out.
The Elves are the weird, paradoxical race of creatures that Rowling never really seems to take a definitive stance on. They’re essentially slaves, but seem to prefer life that way. It’s in their nature to want to serve and not get rewarded for it. Sure, Dobby and Kreachure have less than ideal lives and would prefer their freedom, but the vast majority of house elves want to keep things going the way they are. They find Hermione and her S.P.E.W. shenanigans annoying and dangerous. And you understand that they feel that way, even if it doesn’t make sense to you. But on the other hand how do you dismiss that the wizarding community as a whole takes complete advantage of them?
I once saw a story about a 3 ring circus still using elephants to set up and take down their tents. When their oldest matriarch elephant got to be like…IDK, 50 or something, they took her off the gig to give her a rest. They were looking after her. Thing is, she got really depressed, stopped eating, and almost died. After trying everything else they put her back on tent duty and she immediately improved. So yeah, circuses can be horrible places for animals and people put them on display and take advantage of them. And yes, this elephant in the wild would never have cared a lick about circus tents, let alone get depressed over them. But her story reminds me so much of the situation with the house elves because there is no clear “right” answer. Do you pay or all the elves so the get as depressed as Winky did? Do you let them keep living in a way that feels morally icky but makes them happy? It’s a conundrum I’ve never been able to answer for myself and it’s why they’re some of my favorites.
If you don’t live in the South then you probably have never experienced the Texas state bird, the mockingbird. Most of the time you’d never know if you’re hearing one or not because they mimic the calls of other birds. Like the time I was walking my dog, saw a small bird fly from tree to tree, all the while quacking like a duck.
One of the most bizarre things ever.
Or like yesterday when I hit my car unlock button twice and heard a mockingbird mimic the sound.
So the idea that through genetic manipulation we could create birds that mimic speech is not that farfetched in my mind. And the mockingjays in the books are perfect symbols of that technology. We (humans) make a thing, but we can’t always control how it turns out (like the Internet). It can be used for good things (Rue signalling to her family/coworkers) or evil things (the mockingjay clock section in bk 2). It’s this perfect symbol of control vs. lack of control, of the rebellion, and it’s also just such a natural word to say. Flows off the tongue. Can’t tell you the number of times I’ve called mockingbirds mockinjays since reading those books…
I know, I know. They’ve both been beyond overdone. Buffy, Vampire Diaries, Vampire Academy, Coldest Girl in Coldtown, World War Z, The Fear, Warm Bodies, Forest of Hands and Teeth, Twilight...I could go on and on and on with the lists of books featuring both but I don’t care how many times they show up…I still love them. I don’t need my vampires hot and brooding, I’ll take them dangerous and ugly. I care if my zombies fast or slow, capable of change or not. I love all of them. Because both are old school monsters. And both can be plagues on society, a minor nuisance, an under-represented section of humanity…any of it. I’m not saying I’ll read/watch just ANY old thing with a V or a Z in it, but I’m not saying I WON’T either…
We’ll put it this way. In packing my maternity hospital bag I’ve included The Fallen, book 5 in Charlie Higson’s zombie series The Fear, as well as Vampire Academy on DVD. Sure there are other forms of entertainment in there, but it probably says a lot that both of these things have space in the room where my daughter will come into this world.
What does it say? I refuse to speculate. Just let me kick back and watch Rose Hathaway kick some butt while I’m trying to shove a watermelon out my nostril and don’t worry about it.
Also, don’t forget to check out our Top 5 lists from last month!