"No matter how terrified you may be, own your fear and take that leap anyway because whether you land on your feet or on your butt, the journey is well worth it."
-- Laurie Laliberte
"If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."
-- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
-- Anais Nin

Sunday, January 27, 2013

What if Cryptids Were Real?

Yet again, I've put out an invitation for my Kindle All-Stars friends to pop in and write a few words. In answer to my call to arms, our newest member/author, Jeff Provine, sent me a terrific guest blog which explains his approach in writing his short story contribution to Carnival of Cryptids, the latest Kindle All-Stars anthology. I'll let Jeff do the rest of the talking:

I love "what ifs". They make me all tingly as I set my mind to wondering (and wandering) "what if this" or "what if that." What if we had flying cars? We'd have to adapt traffic laws for three dimensions. Instead of left and right lanes, we could have different heights moving in different directions, which would make transit a lot more direct. Imagine having a down arrow for a blinker. The bottom zone would be crazy with landing and taking off. But what if the car stalled or, worse yet, there was an impact that caused both vehicles to plummet hundreds of feet onto an orphanage below?! Well, maybe we just won't have clearance above orphanages.

For a couple of years now, I've been blogging This Day in Alternate History, looking at events in history and asking what could have changed them. It all started with "What if Will Rogers had survived his plane crash?" Doing some research, it turns out his wife died a few years later. I can only imagine how deeply it would have affected the cowboy philosopher, Oklahoma's Native Son. But, it would have sent him looking for new purpose, just about the time FDR was looking to replace his vice-president …

My sci-fi-urban-fantasy YA Dawn on the Infinity is my biggest what if yet: What if you could explore all the what ifs? Fourteen-year-old Dawn fights off a vampire in the girls' room and a troll in her parent's house only to be kidnapped by inter-reality pirates needing her in their plot to better traverse the Multiverse. Every single world is a different what-if: what if a mutant zombie plague had broken out, what if Nixon hadn't been found out at Watergate, and what if you met yourself, but not you-you: instead, a you that was a cheerleader and used a lot of hair product? More importantly, if people were able to travel between alternate realities, who would govern them, and how terribly powerful could they become?

Lately, the what ifs have been about cryptids, those creatures believed to exist but not yet proven by science. For the new charity anthology by the Kindle All-Stars, Carnival of Cryptids, I wrote about what if someone went after a giant ground sloth in 1930s Brazil.  Called a "mylodon" by modern science and believed to be the "mapinguari" of native legend, this enormous beast could move through the jungle silently. It gave off a stench so foul it froze its victims, its skin was impervious to bullets and arrows thanks to bone chips that grew like internal scales, and supposedly it had powers to control the weather. Sounds crazy, but according to Brazilian newspapers and multiple eye-witnesses, whole herds of cattle were wiped out by this monster's attacks in 1937.

Going back to the original question, "what if cryptids were real," there are a lot of cases where they were in fact proven to be real. The most famous example is the platypus, which was rejected by scientific minds as a clear hoax with a duckbill stitched onto a beaver pelt until live specimens began arriving from Australia. Komodo dragons were believed to be just stories from over-excited pearl divers. Mountain gorillas were a folk legend of "ape-men" until 1902. And, of course, the armored fish known as the coelacanth was known to be extinct for millions of years until a fisherman caught one off the coast of Madagascar, much to the shock of just about everybody.

Makes one want to think again about Nessie or Bigfoot, doesn't it? There seem to be too many similar stories of lake monsters and bipedal apes in North America and Central Asia just to be a myth. For a fresh look at some of the world's more mysterious creatures, check out Carnival of Cryptids, which features a whole menagerie released at the end of January.

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"Where is Captain Rook?" is one of seven stories in Carnival of Cryptids, a Kindle All-star anthology with all proceeds going to the National Center for Missing and Exploited ChildrenJeff Provine is author of YA ebook Dawn on the Infinity and the This Day in Alternate History blog, asking what if things in history had gone a little differently.


  1. Great premise, great post. Cryptids are creepy cool. Keep it up.