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What is your favorite made up creature?
LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 4:54 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

I've noticed that there are a lot of discussions on here debating whether making a creature up is the way to go, or revamping an traditional creature is okay. So, I've decided that we should run down some made up creatures from our favorite writers as examples for each other. You can post the weirdest, the strangest, the grossest, the coolest, or one that just caught your eye.

My made up creature are the squirrel people from Christopher Moore's A Dirty Job. They comprised of many different parts of dead animals with hams for the bulk of their bodies. Their creator even makes them little period costumes to wear while they wield their sporks of doom. Despite how disgusting the concept is, they are super cute. I understand that the writer based them after a friend's artwork, but I don't remember the artists name. I just remember how disturbing and adorable the squirrel people were.

So what is your favorite (or otherwise) made up creature?

Alex Hollingshead
Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 5:33 PM
Joined: 5/2/2011
Posts: 61

Here's my checklist for made up creatures:
- Did China Miéville write the book? Y/N?
If yes, then it is absolutely fantastic. If no, then it's probably fine. In particular, I am fond of the cray (mermaids, except lobsters instead of fish) and cactacae (cactus people).
LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 5:55 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

I must check her out then. Those sound awesome.

Seriously, for comedy, Moore all the way.
Alex Hollingshead
Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 7:00 PM
Joined: 5/2/2011
Posts: 61

Miéville is a guy.

Admittedly, I haven't read much fantasy-comedy. Not a big fan of comedy in general, so aside from Pratchett (who is a god among men, even if I don't like Discworld), I haven't made an effort to read much. How is Moore? I recognize his name, but I haven't read anything of his. The only one I know is You Suck and Bite Me, since those got pretty popular.
LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 8:31 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

Sorry, about the gender switch... it happens.

Anyway, Moore is more into contemporary weird fiction if you don't count his books Lamb (one of his best) which is about Jesus, and Fool, his rewrite of King Lear as a comedy. He's more of a satirist who uses mythology and legends to make fun of things people take too seriously. Like Blood Sucking Fiends (1999), the first one before You Suck and Bite Me, begins a beautiful send up of vampire romances while writing one that is faithful to the genre. He's written twelve books, and I've read and own them all. Its like he took the styles of Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller, stuck in a blender, added Red Bull, and then drank it before spewing it out on the page. He's a fast read, but fun. I recommend him to those who like even the most serious work. Everyone needs to laugh.
MB Mulhall
Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 1:23 AM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 81

Leviathan from the book of the same name by Scott Westerfeld. In fact, all the Darwnist creatures from that series. I love the idea of creating weapons out of manipulated animals. Heh Flechette bats that crap out flechettes is pretty damn awesome as well!
Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 2:50 PM
Joined: 3/31/2011
Posts: 11

This may be a strange choice, but I love the Redead from the legend of zelda games. They are mostly stationary zombies that, when they see you, scream in such a terrifying way that it stops the player character in their tracks. An amazingly simple yet powerful characterization with such mystery behind it. I liked it so much I combined it with Wendigo mythology and infused my own take into my current project.
Robert C Roman
Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 10:22 PM
Joined: 3/12/2011
Posts: 383

I know these aren't proper 'fantastic' creatures, but I love Flint and Freer's Rats and Bats.

As for made up creatures, I'm quite fond of the critters in Wheel of Time. They're neither fish nor fowl in terms of 'reimagining', as most of them you take a known mythical critter, mispronounce the name, misspell the mispronunciation, then create a creature that could, thousands of years later, give rise to the myth of the creature you started with.

In some cases, it's obvious, but in others it's very subtle and well done.
Joe Selby
Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2011 2:45 PM
Joined: 4/26/2011
Posts: 30

I'll go with a classic. I love the minotaur. Keep all your vampires and werewolves. No classic mythological/fantastical monster thrills me more than a minotaur.
Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 3:31 AM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 245

Tamora Pierce has a series of books called The Immortals. There are some nasty creatures in there that I've never encountered before. Stormwings, the human-headed Spidrens. There are others that I can't think of at the moment. Most of them have human heads and some random animal-like body, are very vile or even hunters of humans, and just in all pretty wicked things to come up against. Once she introduces these creatures in this series, every series that follows (that is set in that world) references them at some point.
Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 1:42 AM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 356

Okay, I'll bite:

I'm going to first agree with Alex - if China Mieville came up with the idea, it's probably a creature I love (even though he really did sort of reimagine a lot of his Bas Lag characters, like the khepri, which are based on one of the many gods in the Egyptian pantheon). His concept of the ReMades is, frankly, terrifying.

I also love the White Walkers in GRRM's Song of Ice & Fire.

But my favorite made up creatures will always be JRR Tolkien's ents. They won my heart long ago!

Posted: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 2:06 AM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 245

The ents. The ents are awesome. Too bad I don't recall them showing up in the Hobbit.
Posted: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 10:42 PM
I've always liked the boggart in Harry Potter. While it doesn't serve a great purpose to the story (other than in the 3rd book where it serves as a bridge to the plot), its a cool idea... An animal that no one has ever really seen... I like that.
LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Friday, June 3, 2011 2:58 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

Ents! How could I forget about those. I loved the Ents! Tolkien envisioned Treebeard to sound just like his buddy, and fellow academic, C.S. Lewis.
E D Johnson
Posted: Saturday, June 11, 2011 12:02 PM
Joined: 6/11/2011
Posts: 18

Many of the mentioned creatures are awesome, but if we're going for guaranteed made up creatures... Well, the only way I can know it is made up is if I made it up.

I made up a strange creature for Veil called a Lortesk (and no, I do not recall the process by which I made up the name). It is a sort of cross between a crocodile and a scorpion. A lortesk is approximately twelve feet long from the tip of the snout to the point of the tail stinger, and they have two large pincers. Typically, they are sandy brown in color, as they burrow under the surface of the sand in their desert environments with their nostrils poking up to smell for prey.

Imagine a few hundred of those getting flushed down the toilet, eh?
LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Sunday, June 12, 2011 4:00 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

@EDJohnson: Thats a great response!

I guess to clarify for future posters, when I mean "made-up" I mean a creature or being that is not traditionally seen in fantasy that the author might have just made up for their world. It can have roots in one of the more traditional creatures, but at least to you it seems entirely new.
Nevena Georgieva
Posted: Sunday, June 24, 2012 11:00 PM
Joined: 2/9/2012
Posts: 438

This is a cool discussion. Bumping this up!
Angela Martello
Posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 9:48 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394

Definitely have a deep fondness for the Ents. What's not to love?

That said, though, I've always loved the Ring Wraiths - especially when they're on horseback. Saw a spectacular "puppet show" version of the LOTR back in the 80's (on the lines of Pippin but much darker and minus the musical aspect). Whenever the larger than life Ring Wraiths appeared on stage and bellowed "The ring!" it sent a shiver up my spine.

From mythology, I have a soft spot for centaurs and griffons.

Timothy Maguire
Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 8:48 PM
Joined: 8/13/2011
Posts: 272

I do love me a good dragon. What's kind of awesome is that while we all know what a dragon is, there's so much flex to them. Sometimes they're the heroes, sometimes they're the villains. Sometimes they're beasts of burden, other times they're smarter than everyone else. A personal favourite approach for me is the dragons from the Iron Kingdoms settings. The dragons here are more demigods than they are lifeforms. Ancient, immortal and pure evil, the only way to kill a dragon permanantly is for another dragon to consume its athanc, the indestructable stone at its core. How dangerous are these things? Let's put it this way, out of the nine factions in the setting, two were created by a single dragon. One of these has enslaved an entire species in a few years. Finally,the dragon's mere existence spreads the 'blight', a physical corruption that, in high enough concentrations, can prevent any life from growing for years.

The other, more invented creature I love is the Mane from Genius: The Transgression. Best described as the embodiments of forgotten ideas, manes are ideas made flesh and powered by human creativity. What makes a mane awesome is  two-fold. Firstly, they can be anything that someone once believed in. Examples include: the angels that turned the celestial orbs, computer imps, non-existant dinosaurs, the martians that skated on the canels and perfect exemplars of every political creed. Basically, if someone stopped believing in it, it's now a mane. Secondly, manes are impossible. If a scientist were to examine one, they realise almost immediately that it couldn't exist (either because its organs couldn't support it or something weirder, like its internals being made of static). This causes the mane to stop functioning as a result.

Frankly, Genius is full of this sort of mad stuff. Some of the other highlights include Lemurians (mad scientists who believe that the universe is insane and they are sane), Unmada (mad scientists whose delusions now make the universe around them work the way they think it does) and Clockstoppers (anti-mad scientists that hate science so much they can do stuff like shut down all technology around them or set it on its owner)

Elizabeth Moon
Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012 10:10 PM
Joined: 6/14/2012
Posts: 195

I like making up small creatures as well as larger ones...pinpigs (who have an incredible nose for poisons and do a sort of teakettle whistle when they find some) and mikki-kekki (whom you don't want to meet in a dark forest.  Unless you happen to be an old woman with long white hair, in which case you're safe.)    Varieties of trees, birds, fish, some with magical qualities and some not. 

Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012 8:37 PM
Joined: 7/25/2012
Posts: 25

The bobo is one of mine.

They live in the desert. By day they cling to stones while digestive processes produce methane gas, inflating them like balloons. At sunset, they release their grips and float up, safely out of reach of nocturnal predators (save for the airborne variety). Sweet goo on their mouths attract insects, and they feast all night. Come morning, they fart and descend again.

The desert is cold at night. There’s nothing to burn. So the people of this region often use bobo fire to heat glowstone, which then begins radiating heat under its own thermochemical reactions. It works if you squeeze the bobo just right, otherwise the flame just shoots up inside, causing it to explode. 

Michael R Hagan
Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012 3:06 PM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229

Foe me, the Necroscope series (Brian Lumley, I think) has too have it. The Vampire overlords keep vats and harvest the flesh of their victims, caught or farmed alike, with which to compose all sorts of monstrosities, breed for labour or war.... Or Grendal from Beauwolf... though not the film 'cause it sucked!
LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012 5:18 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

Grendal from Beowulf is always fun. And I get what you mean. I studied Beowulf (in two different classes the same semester, go figure) and he was such a fascinating concept. The dragon also breathed poison, so that was neat too.

Oh, lookie lookie lookie. Vampires that are actually scary. They should flay the sparkling skin off the emo ones and make them into pretty gowns for showgirls, or their mistresses.
Alexander Hollins
Posted: Friday, January 11, 2013 5:12 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 416

Timothy, my favorite dragons these days are from The Dragon Delasangre, by Alan Troop.   Shape shifters that live as humans in the modern world. 

My favorite are the carnivourous Lichen from Interstellar Pig.  Imagine a colony of interconnected intelligent lichen that eat flesh en masse. Like lennigans ants, but smaller, more numerous, and guided by a hive mind. 
Gene Rager
Posted: Saturday, July 12, 2014 6:30 PM
Joined: 5/7/2014
Posts: 2

I made one up for my story called the splintered, the first appearance is a small portion of a larger creature.  It looks like a cross between a squirrel and a hamster, until it attacks.  The lower jaw splits down the middle to reveal jagged teeth and has a scorpion tail.  The larger version is intelligent with a back story.

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