Friday, October 2, 2009

Megafauna's Back Baby! Let's Continue Reading _After Man_!

We're taking a tour of Dougal Dixon's classic sci-fi biology book, After Man, A Zoology of the Future, which envisions a world fifty million years after all modern large animals go extinct. Read the first half here.
Now, as I said before, this book was published in 1981, and it's animals were probably invented long before that. The science is a little dubious when seen through modern eyes, but for the most part, the artwork is still very good and most of the fictional animals are just plain cool-looking.
WTF?
WTF?!
I said MOST of them.
Illustrations by Diz Wallace. Now, this wouldn't be a book review by me if I didn't point out a few weird and or... unpretty creature designs. The shrew-descended Treedrummer and Reedstilt (like the infamous Wyrm) don't really make any damn sense unless there are absolutely no animals more qualified to fill these niches. There
are tree-boring birds and long-necked fish-eating birds in the world of After Man so...
Ah, insect-eaters.
Illustration by Diz Wallace. As I said in the previous post, we can't play the Dixon Drinking Game unless we change the rules a little, as there are very few animals who sport rolls of fat. Here are the Turmis, a kind of pig-elephant, and they will be your unlikely ant-eating species for this evening.
Ah, not-molerats.
The happy fellow in the upper-right of this illustration (once again by Diz Wallace) is the Khiffa, and he and his colony will be your unlikely colony-dwelling species for the evening.
And dig the Striger; a creepily anthropomorphic climbing cat.
How does this work?
The Tusked Mole is the first of a few animals whose lifestyle might not have been thought out all that well. I would have thought tusks that stick straight out of your face would get in your way while digging.
You really didn't think this through, did you?
The Night Glider is similar in that respect. It's essentially a predatory flying squirrel, dropping silently on it's prey from the 'bove (A). Unfortunately, gliding animals can't really fly without a leaping start and cooperative winds, so I'm not sure what the Glider's supposed to do with it's prey after succeeding in securing it (B).
And now, the saddest imaginary animal ever.
Saddest animal ever.
Illustration by Diz Wallace again. Man, how did
that conversation go? "You want me to draw the saddest imaginary animal ever? OK!" The Slobber is a creature that does exactly what you see her doing all day long: catching insects with her drool. This is not a pretty mental image.
And then, there is the infamous Parashrew:
The infamous Parashrew
Diz Wallace again. "You want me to draw an animal that can do
what?"
I have nothing at all to add to this, so bring on the Giant Penguin-Whales!!!
OMG PENGUIN-WHALES!!!
Diz Wallace yet again. "WHAT?!?"
Hell, I love the Pelagornids and the Parashrew. The sheer ridiculousness of these animals is impressive. For one thing, I've seen the B.S. penguins need to deal with every spring. You gotta figure that if penguins were ever going to develop the ability to bear live young instead of laying eggs, they'd have done so by now. I also like the fact that a whale-penguin is right out of "Avatar: the Last Airbender".
I can be as sarcastic as I like, but
After Man is a classic of it's genre. It has had a lasting influence on myself and anyone else who has ever wondered "what if?"
Plus it kicks the stuffing out of "The Future is WAAAY Too Trippy Wild".

----

Totally unrelated, but you may have started to see the TV spot for "The Princess and the Frog" last week. If not, it looks like this, but shorter (embedding is disabled). Now... I'm on good authority that the full film is better than this looks, and I desperately want the film to be better than this looks (it's absurdly unfair that so much should be riding on this one film). But is anyone else getting a nasty "Rock-A-Doodle" vibe from this teaser?

2 comments:

Albertonykus said...

I've always laughed so hard at the "slobber".

Trish said...

^ It really is the saddest imagined animal ever, isn't it?