I’ve always been fascinated by the fictitious worlds that sparked my imagination. Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Stargate, Zelda, Metroid, and more recently Game of Thrones.
With all these books and shows however, comes a set of official documents by the original creators and authors which describe the true canon for the different series.
As a geek and a perfectionist, I’ve always held on closely to the canon of certain stories. Especially ones that I have really enjoyed over the years.
I’ve never really been a big fan of fan fiction. I enjoy the occasional parody. Somethings are really well done, but good fan fiction doesn’t step out of the realm of reality within the framing of each story. Bad fan fiction (is it still fan fiction then?) will completely destroy the physics or culture of the world. If done properly, destroying the world, or perhaps mixing two different worlds can be fun and enjoyable, but overall, fan fiction has never really been my cup of tea.
But there is another type of story which also captures my imagination, Yet unlike the stories by J.R.R. Tolkien, or George R. R. Martin, there is no strict doctrine that these stories must follow. The stories I am talking about are lore or folklore.
Lore, or folktales are very interesting. Anyone can use the characters and adapt them as they like and there is nothing to be disproven about them. This makes it very hard for people like me, who enjoy having a defined set of rules for each universe to live in.
Think of it this way, the epic imaginings of Tolkien are like are like rules that govern a nation. Everything is all in under one law. But lore is like a continent, where every town on the continent is part of the same land, but each has it’s own laws or rules.
Take for example, Dracula. I absolutely love Dracula, by Bram Stoker. While the idea and concept of the stealthy and powerful vampire is intriguing, Dracula does an amazing job of making the vampire out to be this extremely evil creature. (I mean, come on. He eats a baby.)
The whole folklore behind vampires is that they are truly evil and greatly feared creatures. Most of the lore for vampires is agreed upon. To kill them you need to stab them in a heart with a stake, put garlic in their mouth and cut off their head. They don’t go out in sunlight. They can control evil creatures like rats or wolves. They can turn into bats. They drink blood, can’t seen in mirrors, can’t stand garlic, Crucifixes, etc. They can’t enter a room unless they are invited, some can’t cross running water, they are highly seductive, and VERY, VERY EVIL.
Most lore agrees on the evilness of vampires because most of it comes from folk tales, oral tradition, and really old books. When people potentially believed they existed. However, since no one person “invented” vampires, anyone can make up whatever they want to about them. So if you wanted to write a book about how a teenage girl falls in love with a vampire who, like all other vampires, wears a clown wig, dresses up like lady gaga whenever he needs to go into the sunlight, and prefer to drink cherry soda over blood, you are more than welcome to do so, because there are no official rules about vampires.
The reason I am finding this all relevant right now is that I recently watched Pirates of the Caribbean 4, On Stranger Tides. I was really intrigued by the lore that surrounded mermaids.
I’ve always enjoyed the idea of mermaids, but I’ve never really delved deeply into mermaid lore. So when the (spoiler alert) mermaids turn out to be deadly vampire fanged seductive and potentially evil creatures, I was a bit taken aback, and also a little curious. (Don’t get me wrong, even if they are seductive killing machines they would still have my vote over Count Clownboy.)
Since watching the movie I’ve done a little research on mermaids and while I’m sure most of the stories came from partially to fully drunk sailors and pirates who were looking to impress the men at the local pubs after what was most certainly a very dull and uninteresting voyage. Other ones probably came from professional story tellers of the Greeks who knew how to keep their audience listening.
At any rate, if Twilight is any indication, we might be in prime time for a mermaid story about a girl who sparkles when she walks on land and doesn’t really want to seduce and kill this guy, because she is really in love. And that’s a movie I just might go see.