I grew up in Southern California and we had all sorts of dangerous animals and interesting creatures. fascinate me. I’ve faced off with numerous rattle snakes, watched a dog get pelted by six skunks at once, seen my sister get stung by a scorpion, heard a tarantula cry, listened to coyotes as I fell asleep, watched my mother fight a giant rat in the kitchen of our house, sat next to a red tail hawk, watched beavers in their dam and seen a wild bear.
That paragraph was longer than I thought it would be. I didn’t realize how much I’ve experienced and I cut it off! When it comes to nature, we have some pretty fascinating beasts without getting into mythology.
However, these things seem to be forgotten sometimes when we read fantasy. Lately, the fantasy epics I’ve read or watched have included the following creatures: vampires, werewolves, enhanced bats, dragons, dragons that are the last of their kinds, fairies, dwarves, the undead, elves and goblins in various forms.
It’s almost as if we have a set library of fantasy creatures these days, the big three being dragons, vampires and werewolves. Those are awesome creatures, don’t get me wrong. I love Anne Rice, especially her latest take on werewolves in the Wolf Gift and her vampires are intriguing. One thing I appreciated most about the Anita Blake stories was the fact it opened up the idea of were creatures to other animals besides wolves. I will always remember basilisks and hippogriffs as I was introduced to them in Harry Potter.
But there are so many other fantastical creatures that we have created to entertain ourselves over the years. Here’s a few fantastical creatures I’d like to see used more in fantasy. I had some real life creatures that I think are under represented, but this post is already too long! Saving that for another day.
Here we go:
Humbaba: I never heard of this creature before. As any times as Gilgamesh has come up in my research lately, I should really get my hands on a good copy and read it thoroughly. Evidently the Humbaba first appears there. Considering the age of the Gilgamesh epic, between 2200 B.C. And 1200 BC in some sections, it would predate a lot of other works. According to two sites I found today, (here and here) a Humbaba is a giant humanoid creature that defends a certain place or mountain cedars. He has claws of a vultures, paws of a loin, horns like a bull and a tale and male member resembling snakes. Very creative there on that last part. However, he’s likely to be the last of his kind.
I ran across these when looking up Humbaba. I have to wonder where the women-scorpions are, but maybe that would be too scary to ancient story tellers. Evidently these men-scorpions guard a mountain called Mashu. As an enemy or extreme annoyance, I think they would make scary additions to a fantasy landscape.
I know, I know. Alladdin’s lamp is very popular but I’d really like to see an Anne Rice or Kevin Hearne try their hand at either writing an evil jinn or writing an awesome supporting or main character who is a jinn. Something, dark, challenging and realistic. Genie in the magic lamp is a good comic character, but there’s really so much more that can be done with these smoke and fire creatures. Not to mention what could happen with the whole created by Allah angle. Evidently these creatures have five orders, are not necessarily good or evil inherently, can be either male or female and have a large variety of forms and levels of visibility. If anyone knows of an urban fantasy of a modern man or women turned into a jinn, I’d like to read it.
Half human and half snake has been done before. I’m wracking my brain to know where I’ve read about the Naga. I know I have but where? It’s been a few years. Would not mind seeing more of these hybrids. There is a vague version of naga in the Twilight Emporium game. They’re called the Naalu and have telepathic abilities.
The Sea Horse:
Not as in an actual sea horse, even though I love those little guys! This is a horse that lives in the sea and comes on land now and again to made with normal horses.
I know there must be more names for these guys, but it’s the best I found when I was rummaging around writing this. Creatures that are made out of heat. I imagine they would live well in volcanoes and exist on far away plants. Maybe they colonized the sun. The one entry on Wikipedia mentioned a connection to earlier stages of creation on earth. That could be very interesting.
These little guys would be annoying! They come from Irish mythology and turn into newts, crawl into people’s stomachs and eat the food the person has recently ingested. Talk about needing to do the same job twice! However, a few of these guys would really mess with travelers, leaving them weak for no apparent reason. I’ve never seen them in a story. Points to anyone who can drop a link in the comments and point me to one.
Note on actual creatures: I have never looked for a confrontation with a rattle snake and strongly urge everyone to avoid such things. In my defense, the first face face off was because the snake was coming into my house. The other two times we surprised each other.)
My own head – I write this with full disclaimer that my brain is a literary mouse trap and half of what is accumulated was reaped from existence without my knowledge. Where some of these random tidbits came in, I have no idea. I credit the accumulative human race.
Wikipedia – seriously, Wikipedia is like a mental play ground.
“The Top Ten Underused Mythical Creatures in Games” Richard Coombs at Blisteredthumbs.net