Other People's Stories, Personal, SFF

The ineluctable greatness of dragons

troisroyaumes suggested I blog about dragons and why they are awesome!

Dragons are my favourite magical creature because they embody such a flexible concept. There are lots of different kinds in different cultures, so lots of satisfying variations. They can look like almost anything — they probably have scales, but they might have whiskers and horns or they might not. They might be long and serpentine, or stubby and lizard-like, or like an apatosaurus with wings. They can be really little (e.g. Sybil Vimes’s dragons in Guards! Guards!), or they can span skies or oceans. They often fly. They swim quite a lot. They frequently shapeshift, so they can turn into hot human beings where necessary. (Twilight with dragons instead of vampires??? EVERYTHING WITH DRAGONS INSTEAD OF VAMPIRES!)

Also they are neither necessarily evil or good. You get Pern dragons, who are basically like a powerful flying badass special friend who will always like you best forever. (Temeraire dragons are like a slightly less id-satisfying version of this. But only slightly less iddy!) You get traditional European dragons, who fly around laying waste to villages and devouring maidens. And of course, you get Chinese dragons, which control the weather and inhabit a level of awesomeness that sort of goes beyond good and evil.

I guess the enduring appeal of dragons for me lies in two things. One is the idea of an intelligent species that is not remotely human — so I take a pleasure in dragons that is quite like the pleasure I take in Star Trek aliens and their various cultural traditions. The other is the cultural specificity of the concept of a dragon — the cultural weight of it — which means that whenever you read or write about a dragon, that brings with it a whole weight of tradition and perception and narrative. Narratives, actually, since as discussed above dragons come in all kinds of shapes and forms and cultures. So there are all these interesting tropes to draw upon and play with, and if there is one thing I like in fiction it is playing with tropes.

Dragons are so great *_*


2 thoughts on “The ineluctable greatness of dragons

  1. I love you for why you love dragons. I love you for the idea to replace all vampires with dragons! I am soooo annoyed by vampires and by substituting vampires with dragons in my head, you have improved my life tremendously. Thank you.

    • Zen says:

      Hi, Hani! :D Yes, all vampires should be replaced with dragons. >:( Unless they are non-Western types of vampires. Then OK. :D :D :D

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