The Gassy Gnoll: Flea Tinted Glasses

The Gassy Gnoll had his yearly flea dip this week and had an odd thought while gagging on the cloud of dust… How does a flea see the world? A shorter life, plus the occasional killer blizzard, frequent earthquakes, forests of hair as far as the eye can see, not to mention the occasional floods of perspiration or worse… A single flea might never cover the full length and breadth of something the size of a gnoll

But it made this gnoll pause and ponder all the very humanoid viewpoints we usually see in our fantasy, science fiction, and horror stories. Mostly we see the world (and write about it) through our own eyes and try to personify different aspects of behavior. Truly alien points of view are few and far between.

Gassy Gnoll

Take for instance the Martians from War of the Worlds. They wanted to conquer us, right? I can’t remember why, but suspect that it had something to do with natural resources. If you try to write a list of all the wars, real or imagined, that humanoids have fought over resources (or sillier things), you’d probably not finish in your lifetime.

Even H.P. Lovecraft‘s Cthulhoid mythos is constructed around ethereal or other-worldly beings who (to me at least) seem to resemble spoiled children with whole races, worlds, and even universes as their playthings. They get bored, annoyed, fussy… But they want their way regardless.

Then there’s Skynet, the computer intelligence bent on world domination in The Terminator. Computers simply
seek a more efficient path to resource consumption… and if we are counted among the pieces on the board worthy of use, then why not use us Matrix-style like living batteries or slave labor?

So how do we look at the world differently? In truly foreign worlds and lands of imagination, pick a point of view you haven’t explored before. Imagine a world where giants roam the earth as they do in Skyrim, herding giant beasts across the landscape, consuming all the resources in a single location and moving on to greener pastures. Depending on their size, we could be threats or simply nuisances. If they’re the size of the giant in Time Bandits, they might not even know they stepped on us.

Take the point of view of the giants. Or, imagine yourself an ant in our own world, looking up at us and our pets. A Honey, I Shrunk the Kids style writing experiment might surprise you as the “monsters” become giants with magnifying glasses, dogs tromping over everything, or even rain, drought, or other natural disasters that could befall tiny creatures trying to eke out a living.

Personally I have to wonder about those fleas on the gnoll… What are their hopes and dreams? How do they survive each day? What horrors must they face moment to moment?

Do you know of any good examples in gaming or fiction that are truly from another world of perception? Or do we all fall into the Star Trek trap of every alien race looking quite human?

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