Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Too Many Humans in Fantasy Novels?

As I began wrapping up the latest draft of Last House in the Sky, a new fear struck me. Good God, I’d made everyone humanoid. It’s terrible when Fantasies squander their secondary worlds with people and people-shaped beings, so many Star Trek guys of the week.

Four main of the characters were human. A fifth was a triclops, who was psychologically different, but physically about a “Star Trek” away from human. Skin tone, size, aerobic make-up and head-shape only go so far. Now he introduces us to imps, with their suicide-fetish and heads full of horns, sphincters and surgical implants that no one will accuse of being human, but still, the overall body is vaguely human-shaped. Not good enough.

Well, but that sixth main character was a decapitated gremlin head. She walks around on prehensile ears or combustion-powered prosthetic bodies. That was less humanoid.

Of course, she invented one of the key antagonists of the book: automatons. Giant spherical drones that suck you through vents. Enormous and hungry construction equipment. A little better.

And sauropods are everywhere. An ankylosaurus gets a big scene. Compsognathus. Brachiosaurs. Hadrosaurs, even Premium Hadrosaurs. Many references to the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the filet mignon of lizards.

Dorads, the sentient balls of snakes that form gestalt consciousness, in this novel to administer drunken church services. Nine-legs, granting a little radial symmetry to the background. Likewise, land-squid. Oh, the land-squid.

I’m still feeling self-conscious about all those human characters, though. I’m woefully failing the arthropod equivalent of the Bechdel Test.

Next time. Next time.

Some good news coming tomorrow.


  1. Do I detect a note of sarcasm in your rant... Uh, post? :D Sounds interesting to me!

    I hope you tweet the link when you publish. This sounds wacky and fun.

    It doesn't bother me at all if characters are humanoid, because I love Scifi/Fantasy bc I love looking at our society with different perspectives, alternate timelines, etc.

    Btw, my personal favorite non humanoid creature is a Hooloovoo, a hyper-intelligent shade of the color blue. :P

  2. Sounds like you really have nothing to worry about. My fantasy series, so far, has two non-humanoid characters, and they're both dragons. I ought to be the one worrying... but since I'm not, I'll let you worry for both of us! :-D

  3. The Dorads sound intriguing! As for tomorrow's good news...looking forward to it.


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