Thursday, 9 May 2013

Terran Creatures in Alien Worlds

No matter how fantastical and strange a work is, Earth's creatures, real and mythical, somehow tend to find their way into many, many Fantasy worlds. From mundane animals like horses to the mythical "classics" like dragons, they all pop up ever so often in universes otherwise very much unlike ours. So how can terran species and mythical creatures exist in such worlds?

Suspension of disbelief may be required, though worlds may also be able to get away with it by picking up on the theory of alternate Earths or just explaining it away with magic. The approach I have taken with my Pelsatia universe is mainly a linguistic one: I identify my creatures with similar, but not identical, beings known (to some degree) on earth (the snakes, dragons, katoblepa, etc. in my works all are identified as such for this reason). The idea is to give readers a basic concept of the creature in question or aspects of it, perhaps even a clear mental image, without even having to describe it, as well as preventing having to use a potentially clunky name from one of Pelsatia's languages. In a way, such identification can even be considered a translation; in absence of a word for the exact thing or concept in question, the closest term is used instead (which is a lot less strange than it sounds, as even on Earth, not everything has a direct equivalent in every language and translations may need to rely on this (or keep the original word intact, which would not really translate it at all)). It does not always work, but when it does, I believe it tends to work really well, and maybe other works can benefit from a similar approach.

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