24 November 2012

Imaginary Beings

This one is real

Jorge Luis Borges wrote The Book of Imaginary Beings before packet switched computer networking was a twinkle in Donald Watts Davies's eye.  These days anyone with access to the Internet can compile their own anthology of imaginary beings in minutes. Here are four:

The Hai in Embassy Town by China Miéville:
The principle imaginary beings in Embassy Town are the two-mouthed Hosts. Early in the book, however, the narrator refers in passing to the Hai, putative beings deep in the immer, the beyond-space that underlies or infuses the manchmal, or "this space where we live"

 "I've spoken to [space] captains and scientists who don't believe [the Hai] to be anything like life, only aggregates of immer, their attacks and jackknife precision just the jostles of an immer chaos in which our manchmal brains can't learn to see the deep random. Myself, I've always thought they were monsters."
The Mulefa in The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman:
These elephant-like creatures lack a central spine but instead have a diamond-framed skeleton.  They have four legs, short horns, and a prehensile trunk. Signing with the trunk is an integral part of Mulefa language. Lacking two hands, it usually requires two or more Mulefa trunks working together to accomplish complex tasks like tying knots.

The Mulefa use large, disc-shaped seed pods from enormous trees as wheels. The pods fit neatly onto a spur on their front and rear legs  They propel themselves using their two side legs, like a cyclist without pedals. Ancient lava flows solidified into smooth rivers of rock run across the land and serve as roads.
A creature in The Road by Cormac McCarthy:
In the dream from which [the man] had wakened he had wandered in a cave where the child led him by the hand. Their light playing over the wet flowstone walls. Like pilgrims in a fable swallowed up and lost among the inward parts of some granitic beast. Deep stone flues where the water dripped and sang. Tolling in the silence the minutes of the earth and the hours and the days of it and the years without cease. Until they stood in a great stone room where lay a black and ancient lake. And on the far shore a creature that raised its dripping mouth from the rimstone pool and stared into the light with eyes dead white and sightless as the eggs of spiders. It swung its head low over the water as if to take the scent of what it could not see. Crouching there pale and naked and translucent, its alabaster bones cast up in shadow on the rocks behind it. Its bowels, its beating heart. The brain that pulsed in a dull glass bell. It swung its head from side to side and then gave out a low moan and turned and lurched away and loped soundlessly into the dark.
Wentshukumishiteu is said by the Inuit to fiercely protect the young of various animal species from human hunters. It is particularly fond of otters. It can travel anywhere on or under the water, and can break through thick ice. It can also move underground through rocks.

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