Category Archives: Friday

Alterpedia: Arachne

In the Alters’ World (and the series of books found here), creatures of legend reveal themselves to the world. Born through genetic abnormalities, defects and mutations, the Alters have lived for centuries as outcasts of human society, hiding their true nature from the world while colorful stories have been written by many to describe what they’ve seen. How are these creatures different from what was described in the stories? What relationship do they have with humanity? Every entry of the Alterpedia will delve into a new creature from around the world. This week we cover:

Arachne

Natalie Mendoza, as Arachne in the musical "Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark," at the Foxwoods Theater in New York.

Around the world there are creatures which are universally known by humanity to symbolize conflicting emotions. It is no mistake that in each of these regions you find mythology which, in turn, connects to these creatures. For instance, snakes are a common symbol across many human civilizations – from the Naga of India to the Grootslang of Southern Africa. In similar fashion, spiders are a symbol of both fear and creation the world over.

In Japan they are known by the names Tsuchigumo and JorĊgumo, in Africa there is the famous trickster Anansi, and in Greece there was the story of Arachne. But regardless of the location, the primary trait remains the same: these are creatures which appear to be a hybrid of humans and spiders. The stories change depending on the relationship the locals have with the spiders in their area, but many of the aspects remain the same.

So are these creatures really just giant spiders, lurking in the shadows and tormenting the humans around them? Was Anansi really a profound trickster or just a misunderstood soul? Am I valid in contemplating burning the whole planet to purge these people from the world?

Probably not the last one, but for the rest, let’s take a look…

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Sci-fi Isn’t The Future, It’s Just A Tribute

It’s 2015 and the internet is full of jokes about how this is the year Back to the Future II was set. Everyone was giddy about the fact someone actually built a semi-functional hoverboard late last year with plans to put together a skate park for it in the coming couple years. Because, of course, when people think about the future, they get most excited about a flying plank than something like, say, fusion reactions powered by garbage.

mr_fusion

However, recent stories in the news and the internet’s echo chamber have me realizing just how silly we’ve been about the whole future thing as of late. As sci-fi writers, the goal is to try to envision the little problems of today being fixed tomorrow and see if we can manage to get it close enough that people believe it could happen. But one of the oddities of the last few decades has been just how often we try to credit sci-fi with “inspiring” good ideas. Problem being: good ideas tend to inspire themselves, while good sci-fi is making an educated guess.

A great example of this would be the fact cellphones temporarily looked an awful lot like early Star Trek communicators. During the time when flip-phones were the dominant life-form of the electronic landscape, everyone liked to pass around the image of Kirk holding the old flip open communicator and going, “See? It’s all true!”

trekcom

But it wasn’t, because we’ve already moved past the flip phone and onto a superior and completely different beast in the form of PDA inspired smartphones. Basically, if Kirk’s communicator were the good idea, rather than a good guess at what would eventually come, then we wouldn’t have moved past it to better ideas that were never really shown to exist in that universe.

Lately, though, we’ve been trying to force our pop culture into becoming “real”. Sometimes that can lead to good things, other times it leads to wasting time or skipping past better ideas so we can scratch the itch. Which, leads to the question…

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Alterpedia: Krampus

In the Alters’ World (and the series of books found here), creatures of legend reveal themselves to the world. Born through genetic abnormalities, defects and mutations, the Alters have lived for centuries as outcasts of human society, hiding their true nature from the world while colorful stories have been written by many to describe what they’ve seen. How are these creatures different from what was described in the stories? What relationship do they have with humanity? Every entry of the Alterpedia will delve into a new creature from around the world. This week we cover:

Krampus

As the Holiday Season comes to a close, one figure has received some harsh treatment by those who know his name. Krampus, the dark companion of Saint Nicholas, is known throughout many countries as a figure of terror for “bad” children. Carrying sticks or whips to beat wicked children and a bag to potentially carry them off to some terrible place, the Krampus is the stick to Saint Nicholas’ carrot.

But is this reputation deserved? Have Krampuses really been tormenting children unprovoked as a jolly man laughs in the corner? Or is this just a case of propaganda being used to keep an underrepresented class in check?

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