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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dragons, Sea Creatures and Camorses - Oh My!

Happy Sunday Everyone!

This week, I decided to blog today (Sunday) so that Rie McGaha could join us on Monday.

Right now you might be thinking, I know what dragon is and I could hazard a guess what might be meant by sea creatures, but what the hell is a camorse? I’ll get to that...eventually.

In regular novels, besides well-developed characters, creatures and pets that exist in a story can help anchor a character in the reality of that story, and by extension, the reader. We have furry and/or scaly friends that put a smile on our faces just by looking at them. For many readers, the pets and animals that characters encounter or see along the way help to make the setting feel more real. If an author wants a reader to believe they are in Africa on a safari, there best be mention of rhinos, elephants, giraffes and anything else that might be expected. If it’s not there, there should be a very plausible reason offered to the reader.

With this in mind, what do you do in a futuristic society on the other side of our known universe and then some, where things change and the normal earth pets may not have been able to survive space flight? You make up new ones. This is easier to do if enough time has passed from when the colonists arrived and when the story is being told.

As with any world, there are always things that need to be considered when creating new creatures and pets for people to encounter. Are the creatures a common sight, are they rare or dangerous, do they have special abilities, and do the people that encounter them have special abilities? Plus there’s the, “when,” to consider, such as when in my planet’s time-line is my story taking place? Have animals been domesticated into pets, or is it something that all children get to do as a rite of passage? Is the setting a city, village, farm, desert-like or jungle-like and is there order, chaos, or savage-like qualities involved? Will the pet be just a pet or will it become a companion and protector? Then of course one has to consider if the pet is right for the person receiving it. How well will they get along?

That’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg here because I know at some point after my original group has arrived and made its home on the planet, a drifter colony ship arrives bringing with it many earth things (some readily accepted, some not so accepted), including animals. Then there becomes the question of what animals were able to survive on this ship? How will they react with the animals and ecosystem already in existence on this planet and what effect does the planet have on these alien animals? Some people might say I’m over thinking the matter, but I can’t just have some earth things effected and not others and the effect needs to be across the board and consistent, at least that’s how I see it.

Originally, when I started this whole mess, I didn’t have the original settlers bringing any pets, but I couldn’t figure out why, until it was revealed to me that almost every animal was stored using a DNA profile to be, “brought to life,” after arrival and success of the colonization process could be determined. It was later that I determined the colony ship would contain, "live," animals. How else could one live on a ship with the same people with no true means of escape? Animal companions of some sort would be required to retain sanity. Even Data had a cat. The question now is, what kind of pets and animals will survive with the drifter colony?

As I didn’t originally know what the new planet’s effects on earth stuff would be, I began mapping out some of the indigenous plants and animals that could be found. There are aquatic pets, aquatic foods and land pets. The first pets I started to map came to me this past Christmas, but I’m still working out the exact details. I have two similar species that aren’t related but seem to look similar, but that appears to be changing everyday, along with the names.

Since there is still great mystery surrounding the Founding Families’ bloodlines, they have a special pet of their own. Not sure of the name yet. In fact, I thought I had written down all of the details, but I can’t find where I wrote them (too damn many notebooks to look through!), so they might still be just in my head. One name that came to mind just now is something like Neon-Globe or something like that, not sure if I like it though.

Since colonists arrive later and bring non-Founder DNA with them, the non-Founder bloodlines had to have access to pets as well, just not the same ones. The name given to the generic aquatic creature that anyone can have because they are as prevalent as goldfish are here on earth, is the Disco Ball, but even that could change as I am, at this moment beginning to get a more distinct picture of these creatures in my head. The name was given because it is spherical in shape (but that shape doesn’t seem right anymore) with fixed eyes and at night can give off soft, relaxing hues of purples to reds and back again. They tend to make great natural nightlights for small children.

The indigenous land creatures needed to be just as interesting as the aquatic life. The first creature I developed was thanks to my husband and because I love them and feel there really aren’t enough of them anywhere! Steve plays Strato-Baseball and every year we always go in search of interesting names to go with the teams he makes. I started helping him name his teams. He can be quite creative, but he does like rhyming names. He said that, since I help him out with his team names, he should be able to help me with my creatures. He is just fascinated by those dogs with the fur that grows to look like carpet piles called the Commodore DogCommodore or Komondor. That morphed into the Common Door Dragon. For this one, I took my idea for their arrival from Jayne Castle’s dust bunnies. In her books, the dust bunnies just show up on your doorstep one day, but not to everyone and never when you want one and when you least expect it.

My common door dragons are relatively small in size (about the size of a large cat to medium-sized dog – as far as anyone really has stated anyway), at least as far as the duration they remain with the person and they like to hang out on the ceilings, especially above door frames and entrances. Their favorite hobby is hiding in the shadows and dropping down onto unsuspecting people entering a room or the house/castle. They are known to make a laughing sound when they make people scream. Running gets them to roll around on the floor. The colors range all across the spectrum as well. They can be one color or many. There are generally two ways to distinguish between male and female dragons: size (males are generally larger) and eye shape (females have pointier eye sockets but rounder, doe-like eyes and things that look like lashes coming from the lids at the outer ends of the eyes). Yes, they can fly and start fires, but if you’re lucky, they’re already house-trained when they arrive. There have been a few unlucky receivers that had to deal with fire damage as their young dragon learned to control its fire-breathing.

As much as I love pets, I had to devise a non-motorized form of transportation that directly tied in with why they left earth in the first place. The first two things that came to mind as inspiration were horses and camels. Since I didn’t want anything in this project to be simple, I chose a sort-of combination of the two. A swift creature with working capabilities and could survive under the hot desert suns and can go for longer periods of time without water. What to name it? Well, I started by trying to combine the two names of the creatures that inspired it. The first one that came to mind was, well, just not acceptable, and I think you’ll understand why: Hor + mel = Hormel.

Now these wouldn’t be good for eating, so I decided to keep looking. Then I thought of Hamel. Well, all that does is make me think of a really great figure skater named Dorothy and a certain Jedi Knight. There was another one shot down. Next option was Cam + orse = Camorse. I liked that one and it showed promise. However, I think the name needs to change so that I can use the name Camorse to classify the creature that occurs when they try to breed old earth animals (it has to do with the planet’s effect on anything earth related).

Aye, there’s the rub, the naming conventions for the indigenous creatures needs to be different than that for those brought from earth. That means I am either on a quest for a new name, or on a quest for a new indigenous creature that can be used for transportation. I'm beginning to think that I just might go the mythical route entirely, but not quite sure. We'll see what happens in the upcoming months.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

2 Moonbeams (comments):

Sheila Deeth said...

This was fascinating! I always think names for creatures must be hard to come up with. There you are, writing in perfectly normal english, and suddenly there aren't any words for what you want to say...

Margay said...

Wow! I don't know how you do it, Carrie!