Sunday, 10 May 2009

The Epona Project III

Something is happening with Epona, and it is good. When I first referred to the Epona Project several weeks ago the website still shows signs of damage from a malevolent attack, but those had been repaired the second time, and some new content had been added. This time, I am happy to say, the website has received a makeover, and it looks excellent.

The site discusses how Epona was conceived and how its biological inhabitants evolved, starting with the geological constraints put in place at the beginning of the process. The process in question -' speculative creation'- is how the participants came up with specific life forms and body plans. I have no desire to become entangled in fruitless discussions regarding deity-driven creation, but what other word than creation can be used to describe it?

The genesis of such a world (couldn't resist that...) obviously evokes a comparison with biological evolution, and that comparison is more or less apt. From own experience I know that a specific body plan, one conceived, can quickly be taken for granted and can then be viewed as a 'starter set' to develop new forms. Both the animals and plants on Epona seem to have gone through the same process of explosive radiation. The likeness with biological evolution would be greater if species did not only appear on the scene, but would also die out. Were some ideas rejected during the conventions, and were some body designs scoffed at? Are these still to be found somewhere in an Eponan Burgess shale buried under limestone: extinct now but once, shortly, present?

But that is not today's main course. In 1997 the BBC did a series apparently called 'A weekend on Mars', and one program in that series was called 'Natural history of an alien'. It showed a range of fictional planets with their life forms, ranging from Aldiss' Helliconia to, you guessed it, Epona. There were almost four minutes devoted to Epona, and I have taken the liberty of showing that section here. I do not think that the program itself is available for sale anywhere, or at least I have not been able to find any mention of that. There are listings of it in Wikipedia, and it can be found in the Internet Movie Database, but I found no mention of a DVD or, more appropriate for 1997, a video. I did find some references that the program was aired in the USA in 1998, possibly by the Discovery Channel under the name 'Anatomy of an alien'. The Discovery Channel's website only came up with 'Alien Planet', something completely different.

So here it is. The Epona Project 12 years ago.



Daniel Demski said...

Pagoda trees?? That terms was used in the Blue Moon setting in the National Geographic's "Extraterrestrials" documentary! Was Blue Moon just a pared down Epona project?

Sigmund Nastrazzurro said...

Daniel: as far as I know there was no connection at all between the two projects (I was involved with Epona and would very probably have known). Either the name was evolved twice, or someone had seen the Epona project and the name was remembered, explicitly or implicitly.