Saturday, 10 November 2012

Let's bag some Venusian animals while we can, what?

I visited Greg Boadmore's Venusian Bestiary in April 2011, which is not that long ago. It is quite possible you have all been visiting the Dr Grordbort site or Greg Broadmore's own site regularly, but if not, perhaps the following images will lure you to them. What you should understand about Dr Grordbort is that it is a place where hunting gentleman of the Victorian steampunk variety feel right at home. No wishy-washy 'preservationism' here; a sporting gentleman kills game, all in the natural order of things, of course!
It is obvious that the Dr Grordbort universe is thriving: there are more rayguns than ever, as well as some new books, but those are not the reason to visit (although I admit that I am tempted to buy one of the metal rayguns, but the more sensible -or humourless- part of my brain insist that I should not spend that much money on what is basically just a display object (so far that part is winning, but the boy in me really wants to hold a 1.5 kg raygun...).

Anyway, we are here to visit Venus and its menagerie. First, let's have a look at one or two insectoid specimens, nicely pinned and prepared in their own display cabinets.

Click to enlarge; copyright Stardog and Greg Broadmore

This is Gumbolt's wind rat (Xenodefugio subtiltus). It is obviously a flying animal, although it is a bit difficult to see how its parts function as a whole. If the blue parts are its body, the centre of mass would seem to be placed very far near the front, perhaps too much for the wings to keep it balanced. Unfortunately, the underside cannot be seen, nor is there a side view. Perhaps the brilliant blue lateral flaps at the front are very thin, so the centre of mass is placed somewhere between the attachment of the first pair of wings. Then again, the accompanying text describes Xenodefugio's locomotion as follows: "To ascribe the characteristic 'retarded' to it movement would not be unfair, as these simple little beasts move unpredictably in a manner akin to an unhappy grasshopper with mild brain damage." Well, its behaviour certainly seems to be in line with its anatomy.

Click to enlarge

The blue-sacked pillock (Simpletonius indigum). This one is accompanied by some intriguing remarks: the odd little blighters apparently attack themselves to the corneae of Royal Toops, providing them with the means to travel. It also has functional wings, and is a ballont to boot! The sac at its rear end helps it aloft, where it is 'suspended by its inflatable gas sack posterior'.

As you may know, my studies into ballooning life forms were rather disappointing as far as small animals were concerned, simply because the surface to volume ratio of the sac weighed against the balloon rising into the air (the last post on that is here, and you can find the others from there). It is jolly good to hear that things are rather different on Venus, where gentlemen need not bother with boffin types spoiling all the fun.

Click to enlarge; copyright Stardom

Ah, that's better, something large at last! All these silly little sissy animals do not warm a hunter's heart. Milton's Drunken Fussock is certainly large enough for sport!
   Intriguingly, the fussock has recognisable eyes, in contrast to many of its relatives. The lack of apparent eyes does not mean that Venusian animals do not have eyes. In my previous post on the subject, Mr Broadmore commented on just that subject, and said that the lack of visible eyes added to the alien feel. It does, too.
   That does not mean that I think 'eyelessness' is at all likely. In fact, writing about Venusian wildlife set me on the path to explore vision in some depth (here, here, here and here). No doubt, such critical musings would lead Dr Grordbort and chums such as Lord Coxswain to consider me a 'socially inept boffin' (comments on that are NOT required).

Click to enlarge; copyright Stardog

Now, here is Lord Coxswain himself -I assume that this is him- knows how to have fun; after bagging the fussock, he has set up the cadaver for a good laugh. Ha ha!

Finally, a video. The Grodbort universe is a clear source of inspiration to many people, and this video shows a splendid example. It was created by students from the Media Design School. I copied the one above from YouTube so you can have a quick look directly, but if you wish a much larger view, there is a much better version at Vimeo right here. 'The Deadliest Game' is all about the proper gentlemanly attitude towards 'sport'. The hero's beliefs are challenged by a young woman, but he is not fazed by such silliness. The film contains some wonderful animations of Venusian animals. I love the way in which modern software allows people to visualise what they imagine with more ease than ever before. Do watch the end titles, as they offer a glimpse of how the film was made. If I had to choose a career now, that is what I would like to do.


Jan said...

It would be interesting to know more about the muscle-skeleton systems of venusian beasts, because their shapes are really bizzare.

Nicky said...

Oye, those pictures have the ultimate in swag. Where can I find the book (or website) that has more of them?

Sigmund Nastrazzurro said...

Jan: I agree. Mr Broadmore has been reading the post, so perhaps he may answer you...

Nicky: There are two links in the first sentences of the post, taking you to the Dr Grordbort site at Weta and to Greg Broadmore's private site. Otherwise simply search for Grordbort or Weta.

Petr said...

thanks for bringing this to my attention =)

Anonymous said...

Where online can I get an encyclopaedia of Furahan wildlife online?

Anonymous said...

I must say that as a quite patriotic Briton I find the picture on the 9th of January 2012 entry quite a likeness of SIR David Attenborough.

Sigmund Nastrazzurro said...

Anonymous (1): Unfortunately, there is no real 'Encyclopaedia' to be had anywhere. The closest things to an actual book are the imaginary concept in my head and the unpublished work on my hard disc. Then again, in contrast to the other books on my site, the Encyclopaedia may one day actually be published.

Anonymous (2): Thank you; I also noticed your other comment on the 'Attenborough post'. I appreciate that you think my sketch did look like him. I used a cover of 'BBC Wildlife magazine' as an example to do the sketch. I did so around 1994, I think, so this likeness of Mr Attenborough represents him around that time.
Mind you, my not using 'Sir' only means that I am from a different background, one where honours are not reflected in forms of address. I have very fond memories of watching him host nature documentaries for all my adult life, and continue to do so.