Saturday, January 24, 2009

Five types of half-human creatures

Specifically, creatures that have half a human body fused to half an animal’s body.

1. Centaurs

The most common of such types - see Piers Anthony’s Centaur Aisle for an example - though centaurs also played important roles in the Harry Potter books and the Chronicles of Narnia.

I’ve liked centaurs ever since I watched Disney’s Fantasia and saw the centaurs of various colors as well as the zebra fusions. More along those lines would be great. Humans joined to the bodies of stags, maybe?

2. Felinaurs

The felinaurs of Fighting Fantasy have a human’s torso fused to a lion’s lower body, but I found a picture of a cheetah cross as well. These haven’t seen much use in any of the fantasy I’ve read so far, but they’re intriguing, especially if they have a unique mentality or society to go with their appearances.

3. Xoroa

The Xoroa, also of Fighting Fantasy, have humanoid torsos fused to the lower bodies of giant ants. One reason I like them is that their physical alterations don’t stop at the waist; they have antennae instead of ears and cannot speak. Instead, they communicate with a clicking sound. They also live in a giant hive built around the only female, the Xoroa queen.

Insect and arachnid fusions turn up in other fantasies as well – the driders of Forgotten Realms , for instance, and Fighting Fantasy had human/scorpion crosses as well. Since there are so many types of invertebrate, this has nearly limitless potential. I’d love to see humans crossed with butterflies, scarab beetles, leeches or dragonflies.

4. Menfish

I’m borrowing the Mieville term here, because “mermaids” has been too Disneyfied to inspire any kind of serious, gritty fantasy for me. I think DragonLance had “sea elves”, but those were pretty, good creatures who turned up when they were needed and swam off when they weren’t.

But there’s so much more potential to this type of creature. Mermaids originally dragged shipwrecked sailors to drown. What if the mermaids were fused with piranhas, and the last thing such sailors saw was teeth, and lots of them? Stonefish, sharks, manta rays, barracudas, squid… there are a lot of creatures in the sea that either look deadly, or are deadly, or both. Don’t stop with half a fish when you can have half an anglerfish.

And also, how do mermaids reproduce? I’ve always wondered.

5. Avians

I couldn’t think of a better name for this type of creature, because I didn’t recall it being done in any fantasies other than the garuda of Mieville’s novels. Poul Anderson has a novel called War of the Wing Men, but this seems to be out of print, and other novels with bird fusions seem to settle for sticking wings on a human’s back, rather than creating an entirely new type of creature.

Which is a pity, because birds vary from ostriches to hummingbirds, from ospreys with eyes that adjust for light refraction in water to gulls that live in huge squabbling smelly colonies. And why stop at birds? I’d like to see a human/bat fusion. Or a human/pterodactyl.

Or, for that matter, any human/dinosaur cross. A human with a velociraptor’s lower legs and tail would be as cool as it was deadly.


Unknown said...

Felinaurs and Xoroa...both sound kind of creepy to me for some reason.

Don't forget Fauns/Satyrs (half man, half goat). Oddly enough I have never heard of a female Faun/Satyr, so how they breed is beyond me.

Do Minotaurs count? They're kinda half and half depending where you look.

Hazardgal said...

In our domesticated, mundane world perhaps half-dog or half-cat people too. These hybrids might be couch potatoes who stay too long. Just a crazy thought but a modern take on this idea.

colbymarshall said...

I haven't heard of a felinoar, but the concept THRILLS me!

A friend and I once got into a very heated argument regarding whether or not the "right" term for a goat/man was faun or satyr. And they are both used, but for some reason we both felt very passionate on the subject, lol!

Randall said...

War of the Wing Men was, the last time I saw it, re-titled The Man Who Counts. It may still be out of print, though.

Madison said...

I've seen pictures drawn of half human-half stag creatures, but a deer's body is very delicate and most artists don't keep that delicacy going with the human half. It's hard to pull off.

I have a half human race I created called Excadians. Yes, they are humans with wings on thier backs, but I described the wings as looking like a hawk's. Not too imaginative, but it fits my story's purpose. :)

Marian Perera said...

Hey Madison,

I wonder if women's torsos would look better on deer bodies, given that we're more delicate? :)

Marian Perera said...

Hi S.M.D.,

I thought of minotaurs, but they just didn't inspire me with ideas.

One problem is that I've never read of minotaurs behaving in an unusual or unique way due to having a bull's head. Still, I haven't read all the DragonLance books that feature minotaurs, so it's possible one of those might be different.

Marian Perera said...

Hi Marge,

I really like the idea of people who are half-dog, because that's quite do-able. Mastiffs are large enough already; make them just a bit bigger and they could support a human torso.

And now you've got me imagining people who are half wolf...

Barbara Martin said...

Marian, I would think mermaids would give birth similar to dolphins or whales.

S.M.D., there are female fauns and satyrs in paintings at the National Gallery in London, England. Also, if you look up 'satyrs' on Wikipedia: an article mentions female satyrs and baby satyrs in paintings and stories. There is also a statute of a female satyr in the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore.

As to the definition of fauns vs. satyrs: I always thought of a faun as being juvenile and a satyr as an adult.

Minotaurs are wierd in that they like to eat prepubescent boys; at least that is from the legend I read. Cattle, as far as I know, are not carnivorous.

Another human animal combination that would work are shape-shifters. They all have a human element to deal with their animal forms.

Again, there are countless old legends from Europe where these creatures were encountered. Even the First Nations aboriginals in Canada have stories in their traditional heritage of shape-shifters.

Marian Perera said...

Hi Barbara,

Regarding mermaids, I was actually wondering more about the process of conception. ;)

Boris Vallejo has a beautiful painting of a mermaid and merman mating underwater, and they're doing it face-to-face. Which made me wonder, do they have internal genitalia that only emerge during sex?

Somehow I thought it would be cooler if they mated like fish - you know, female deposits eggs, male fertilizes them and maybe takes special care of them, like seahorses or sticklebacks or tilapia.

Anonymous said...

If you're interested in mermaid repoduction, Joey W. Hill has a series of "erotic romances" involving mermaids. I haven't read any of them, but I've heard about them from a workshop I attended recently.

Anonymous said...

In regards to the faun or satyrs there the same thing
the Greeks called them satyrs
the Romans called them fauns.

The felinaurs are somthing I have never heard of befor but I love the idea of it. The half human half dog people is also cool idea.

Also I was wondering if anyone knew a name for the half human half deer people other than deermen, I have been looking for one for a while and can't find one.

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