December 1st, 2019

Willow

Posting meme: An animal I would design

If you could design & create one new animal, what would it be? for [personal profile] schneefink.

Schneefink offered me the alternative of talking about pre-S1 TMA headcanons for the archive staff, but man, I really don't have any, and it's been so long since I listened to the early seasons that I can't even remember what we know from canon.

Unfortunately, I also don't have any great ideas about cool new animals, because frankly, I just don't know how to outdo what the natural world has already given us. (PLATYPUS. SEAHORSES.) So instead I'm going to talk about this bonkers sea creature that I've just learned about, the pyrosome. This is a pyrosome:
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A pyrosome is:
- Shaped like a huge tube, up to sixty feet long. (x)

- "A collection of thousands of clones, with each individual capable of copying itself and adding to the colony." These tiny individuals are all stuck together, with their mouths on the outside of the tube, so they can suck in water, filter it for goodies, and expel into the inside of the tube, which then collectively moves the whole tube along. (x)

- Bioluminescent, and in fact its bioluminescence "is unusual in its brilliance and sustained light emission." (x). They start to glow in response to light or physical stimuli, which means if something touches on individual in the colony, possibly with the idea of eating it, that individual starts to glow, which causes all the others to glow, hopefully scaring off the critter. (And it seems pyrosomes tend to hang out near the surface, I assume because there's way more organic matter there to eat, so most things that might bother them can probably see them, unlike way down deep in the ocean.) What's more, the pyrosome starts to sink at the same time it starts to glow, which removes it from the danger, and sometimes multiple pyrosome colonies hang out together, which means if one of them feels threatened and starts to glow, the others do, too, and they can all sink away from danger together. (x)

I find animal colony structures like this fascinating and ripe for exploration from a science fictional angle. Probably my interest with stories about people composed of more than one body at the same time (the dog aliens in the Vernor Vinge novel, the one witch in a later Tiffany Aching novel) stems from that same fascination. And then these guys make colony structures that are HUGE, and they GLOW IN THE DARK because of course they do. And they maintain/add to the colony structures by CLONING, which is also obviously relevant to science fictional interests.

In conclusion: super weird, super cool. The ocean is great. :D

(Full schedule of posting meme days here. There are still spots open!</a>)

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comments welcome over there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)
Anya final stand, S7

books I DNF

One of the convenient things about getting books from the library is they force me to either finish the book or definitively give up and give it back. So, here are some books recently that I haven't finished. And it's all horror! I hadn't really thought that through when I started composing this post.

Mammoth Book of Cthulu, edited by Paula Guran. This purported to be a collection of new Lovecraftian fiction, but so much of it was barely even tangentially cosmic horror, it was just like "here's some dark fantasy," and a lot of it was set in pre-industrial settings, which aren't generally what I want from Lovecraftian stuff, because the conflict between scientific thought and the eldritch beings whose very existence and nature defies and punishes knowledge is a big part of what I love about cosmic horror.

I read six or seven stories and liked ONE of them, by Brian Hodge. I really liked his story in that Nightmares collection, too, edited by Ellen Datlow, so I think he's one I need to seek out more stuff by.

White is for Witching, by Helen Oyeyemi. This kept getting recced to me on lists of atmospheric horror involving haunted houses, but I kind of just found it unpleasant to read, and a bit too experimental in its narrative structure (although to be clear, it's not really that experimental, but a little goes a long way with me, apparently). Maybe I'd have found the horror elements more satisfying as they got more explicit, but I just didn't get that far.

Blood Heritage, by Shari Tepper, in which a man whose wife and son are dead meets an unwilling medium at a party who tells him his family is still alive. I picked this up because I just wanted something from the horror shelf at a bookstore I was visiting that wasn't King or Koontz. Unfortunately, I found the narrative voice kind of sleazy and unpleasant, and the plot veered between lolarious and really boring. Since I own this one, it's still on my shelf, but I just have no urge whatsoever to pick it up again and read the last third of it.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comments welcome over there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)