A frame from the famous (in cryptozoological circles) Patterson-Gimlin footage of what’s supposedly a Bigfoot walking through the woods. (via Wikipedia)
This may or may not be a known fact to our readers, but in case you missed it, I love cryptozoology. I think it’s a fun and harmless interest, and while you won’t catch me out in the woods doing Bigfoot calls, I won’t pass up the opportunity to watch a “documentary” about someone else doing just that. But despite the efforts to make cryptozoology seem like a serious branch of science to tie Sasquatches to a missing evolutionary link and lake monsters to dinosaurs who never went extinct, I think a lot of people, myself included, are interested in cryptids because they offer an element of somewhat fantastical chaos into a world in which it sometimes feels that there’s not a ton left to discover otherwise—especially if you’re a layperson without a handful of science degrees. Anyone can go sit on the edge of Loch Ness and hope to spot a monster. And hey, isn’t it hubris to assume we’ve discovered every known species when we’re constantly discovering new and bizarre creatures in remote areas?
That said, the general belief is that people who take chupacabras, skunk apes, Jersey Devils, and the Mothman too seriously are stubborn, stupid, and naïve. But though cryptids themselves are often fantastical creatures, the attitude we have toward them in the real world seems to be exclusive to the real world. While some fantasy stories do feature cryptid-esque animals, they’re never treated with quite the same sense of dismissive derision—by either the narrative or the people involved—that real-world cryptids and cryptid enthusiasts get. In fact, the farther you get from realism, the more likely it is they’ll be celebrated rather than mocked.
Oh, somehow, we’re nearly fifty episodes into a show where a zombie apocalypse feels like a huge relief after weeks and weeks of sexual violence. Hooray?
Okay, this looks bad.
“Hardhome” is about more than just the title location, but it swallows up nearly all the oxygen in the room this week, capped by a long, slow, and nearly dialogue-free battle between the Night’s Watch, the wildlings, and a growing horde of skeletons, zombies, wights, and ultimately, White Walkers. There were very few survivors.
Innovative worldbuilding is the true backbone of all fiction which is celebrated by geek culture. Our most beloved authors, artists, and filmmakers create worlds in which we can imagine ourselves. There are plenty of things storytellers do to make a world convincing: use science or magic to explain (or enhance) strangeness, compose detailed descriptions of food or foreign landscapes, or even base it on our own. When most storytellers create worlds, unfortunately, they usually do a poor job of including any kind of religion. It’s either ignored altogether, or inserted via boring stereotypes. That’s a pity, because religion can be one of the most powerful tools in a writer’s arsenal to tie together a peoples’ culture, history, and motivations. One author that does a great job of exploring this is George R. R. Martin in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, adapted into HBO’s Game of Thrones.
A few weeks ago, Saika wrote a post on magic and science, where she talked about how the two are often pitted against each other with one side shown as superior to the other. She also mentioned that sometimes this is not the case. Every once in a while, we get a story about magic and science coexisting. Like Saika, I love stories in which science and magic work together. The combination of these two elements can make a pretty fascinating setting—because of the existence of magic, sometimes a world that is less scientific than ours will occasionally end up with inventions that are hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years more advanced than their current level of technology. On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes magic has the exact opposite effect and its use stunts a people’s technological growth. We get a wonderful example of this in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.