Discuss your favorite creatures from Science Fiction and Fantasy books!
Even though fantasy as a genre is full of dragons and even though a fantasy author can pretty much do whatever they want with their worldbuilding, I don’t know any fantasy bookd apart from JY Yang’s Tensorate series that feature dinosaurs. Specifically, this series features packs of trained raptors. And it works! I love this series a lot, it’s one of the most imaginative fantasy worlds I’ve ever read about (and it’s also queer-normative and isnpired by East and Southeast Asia).
It’s time I try some more short stories from the Uncanny Magazine Dinosaur Special Issue – I loved the two I read.
I don’t think I can talk about sci-fi creatures without mentioning the maybe-animal-maybe-plant-maybe-more-than-human-but-does-it-really-matter creature called “Borne”, from Borne by Jeff VanderMeer. This colorful biopunk apocalypse book is set in a world where there are giant flying bears, so it was already weird, but Borne? I loved him as a sci-fi creature just as much as I loved him as a character and I know I will never read about another character like him.
Everything Fox, Really
From foxes in fantasy Russian-inspired fairytales (The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo) to gumihos in space (Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee), if a book has sentient foxes, pet foxes, or even fox-related symbology, I want to read it. It means that someone will likely be some kind of trickster and those stories are always fun. Also foxes in popular culture are usually that combination of lovable-but-morally-gray, untrustworthy and overdramatic, which is my favorite kind of character.
The Sci-fi Equivalent of a Ghost
…they won’t call it a ghost, of course, but when a dead person is attached to a living one and the two are kind of merged but not really? That’s pretty much a haunting in space, and I love this set up so much. The way it lends itself to discussion about memory and how it is related to personhood and identity, or the way it usually signals that a character will have arguments inside their own head? I love everything about it. To be specific, since both Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee and A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine share it, my favorite version of this trope is “lesbian who didn’t sign up for all of this gets the ghost of a dead disaster bisexual who has/had a Mysterious Agenda in her head”
AIs are fun, but I especially like AIs who do not have a human-looking “body”. Which means that talking spaceships are often my favorite characters in the book they appear in.
Some of my favorite examples of talking spaceships are Titana from A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna, an invincible warship who really doesn’t like killing people, The Shadow’s Child from The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard, a spaceship who is really good at brewing tea and the Watson character in this Sherlock Holmes retelling, and the Revenant from Revenant Gun.
What are your favorite SFF creatures? Do you know any books featuring magical foxes?