Friday, April 24, 2009

Five uses for butterflies in fantasy

Because I like butterflies and I was feeling whimsical. :)

1. As a food source

Some species of butterfly gather or migrate in huge swarms. It’s just a step from there to people making preparations to catch those butterflies for food. I’m imagining huge netlike funnels that swallow up the swarms, or concentrated pools of pheromone that attract them.

2. As couriers

The patterns on a butterfly’s wings could be manipulated to spell out short words – or they could be a map. Or the butterflies could simply be infused with magic that makes a message appear when, for instance, the butterflies are popped into the ether jar (which would make them one-use only couriers, unfortunately). We’ll also have to assume some other type of magic that makes them fly to a certain destination.

Con: butterflies are fragile and have natural predators, but if they were brightly colored to advertise their poisonous nature, this might keep them alive for that much longer.

3. As scapegoats

if you have a memory or emotional state that you need to lose forever, a butterfly crawls out of your skin, dries its wings for a few moments and flies away, taking whatever’s unwanted with it.

The color of the butterfly’s wings could correspond to various emotions – red for lust, green for envy and so on. I wonder what would happen to whatever ate the butterfly, though.

4. As mounts

These would be really large butterflies.

5. As agents of biological warfare

I like the idea of butterflies being used to transmit grotesque diseases – and there’s something in it for them as well, if they parasitize their prey. Imagine infected people with dozens of caterpillars wriggling just beneath their skins. And when they think they’re getting better (because the caterpillars stop moving), that only means they’re in the pupal stage and will soon split open to release hundreds of butterflies like jewel flakes, petals in flight, tongues of fire and shards of the rainbow.


Anonymous said...

Oooh - some nifty ideas, there :)

Marian Perera said...

Hi Isaac, welcome to the blog!

*gives Isaac a butterfly*

Unknown said...

OMG I love this post!!! I would love to see a book about butterfly thoughts being released...and I wonder what WOULD happen to the predators who ate the feeling-butterflies!

Angela Ackerman said...

I like your number 5, because butterflies are just so nice. I like them as harbringers of doom. Zombie butterflies. Vampire butterflies. Oh the places we could go...

colbymarshall said...

Butterfly Biological Warfare...I think you might be onto something here. The title of this piece can be "Bubonic Butterflies." No, but seriously, that's both creepy and creative...interesting!

Mary B said...

Ed (The Shadow Ferret) wrote an awesome short about mutated, flesh-hungry butterflies. I can't remember if he sold it or not, but it made me snort milk through my nose.

Look out! The orange ones are poison!

Marian Perera said...

Hey Colby, now I want a throwaway reference to bubonic butterflies (or even just plague butterflies) in a future novel.

The contrast between the beautiful and the grotesque would be delightful.