Monday, October 29, 2012

Monstrous Monday Bloghop

I love Halloween and all the ways bloggers are choosing to celebrate in the blogosphere!  It's been so much fun participating.

This is my post for the Monstrous Monday Bloghop that Tim Brannan is hosting. For those of you who might like to hop in while you can, here are the rules.
  1. Hop over to Tim Brannan's site to sign up.
  2. Grab a button and link back.
  3. Post your Monster on Monday October 29th 2012!
  4. Be sure to enter the linky code at the end of your post.  It makes it easier to hop from blog to blog.  Why else would we call it a bloghop?
Now, isn't that easy?  There are no real rules beyond that.  You can post about anything monster related, whether it be about a monster you love or hate, a monster you've created, or a rambling dissertation on the nature of monsters. The point is to simply celebrate monsters in some way.

When I thought about what I wanted to do for this, I realized I wanted to choose a monster from a science fiction show.  I love the genre, and it comes up with some interesting beasts.

I decided on a monster that I saw in an episode of Star Trek Voyager.  The episode is entitled "Bliss" and it's from the fifth season.  In this episode, the crew are subjected to telepathic control and false readouts on their instruments, which leads them to believe they've found a wormhole that will take them straight home.  Only Seven of Nine, The Doctor, and Naomi see that all is not what it seems.  Once the ship passes through the supposed wormhole, all the crew members under this unknown influence are rendered unconscious.

Seven, Naomi, and The Doctor meet the alien Qatai.  They learn they've entered a space dwelling beast who consumes space ships for food.  This creature uses its telepathic influence to show unsuspecting travelers what they want to see and lure them inside where it slowly digests them.  The story is similar to Moby Dick. Qatai is obsessed with killing this creature and has been after it for a long time. Over the years, he'd grown mostly immune to the creature's tricks, but one day it got the better of him.  Qatai knew where to strike to kill the creature, so it used that goal to lead him astray and trap him.

That's a scary monster.  While under its influence, you can't trust your senses. How can you coordinate well enough to get anything done when no one knows what's real and what's not?  The beast is massive and you can't reason with it for your release.  All it needs or wants from you is for you to die to it can feed off you.

After thinking about this particular monster for awhile, I began to wonder what a monster really is.  This creature killed only to feed.  It didn't kill for personal enjoyment.  It didn't kill for sport.  It did what it did for survival.  When you look at it like that, the creature looks less monstrous.  We kill animals for food too, and we hardly consider ourselves monsters.

Yet, when something threatens our lives, regardless of motivation, it seems like a monster.  It's dangerous, and regardless of what its reason for killing us might be, we're still dead if it catches us.  I guess the label of monster depends on its relation to us.  We label it as such because our life, and our security, is endangered by its existence.

So, what makes a monster a monster?  Here's a list of characteristics that I thought up to inspire discussion.  I will not claim this list to be complete.  There's always more to add.
Image courtesy of Victor Habbick

  1. Inhumanity: A monster is typically other-than-human in some way.  It may be a different species (xenomorph), it may be a former human who's changed (zombie, vampire, werewolf, etc), or it may be a human who lives without any semblance of a moral code.
  2. Unreasonability:  The monster is typically someone with whom you cannot negotiate.  This can be the beast who cannot understand you or views you only as its next meal, or the psychopath who simply does not care what you have to say.  Either way, you're dead if you're not quick or smart enough.
  3. Unknowability:  The supernatural threat is scary because we can't predict it.  If it's too powerful, we can't fight it.  That's why people fear demons and the devil.  If you believe in such things, they must seem to be the ultimate threat.  They're evil, they revel in the idea of causing you pain, and on your own, you stand no chance against them.
Image courtesy of Victor Habbick
This is a short and general list, and I'm sure I missed something important.  So feel free to contribute your own idea in the comments.  What makes a monster frightening for you?  Are inhuman beasts the most frightening?  Or does a human with no regard for life more of a monster in your view?


  1. Those are important traits for a monster to have. In some cases, humans (or human-like species like your alien example) can be more monstrous than supposed monstrous creatures. The monster I picked for the blogfest is M. Bison, who's a human but a very nasty human with no moral code, and powered by psycho, evil energy. Part of what made him so scary to me when I faced off against him in the final round was his unpredictability, the not knowing what he would do next, if now were the moment he'd fly towards you in flames.

  2. I think the immoral human with no conscious is far more monstrous than any beast needing to feed. I think of it more like how that person should have a very hard time wanting to kill me because it's against human nature to be able to kill others of our own species. I wouldn't know what to do with that person and they would have the intelligence to do so much more damage than a beast that could be shot from a distance with a gun and not know a gun can kill it.

    Very cool entry!

  3. Excellent post and a exactly the sort of thing I was looking for when I dreamed up this bloghop/blogfest!

    Human monsters are the scariest. Even the ST:Voy monster above is only doing what it needs to do for food. A human killing others has the element of choice and decision about it and that is far worse.

    Thanks so much for your monster and for participating.

  4. I remember that episode. It was more like an animal than a monster. But anything big enough to swallow a ship is scary.

  5. I've never seen that episode, but I wouldn't want to come across that monster...

  6. That was a creepy Voyager episode. Great choice.

  7. I first thought a monster that messed with your mind would be the worst ever but I couldn't find a good example. Like your list of what makes a monster.

  8. I didn't see much Voyager, but it is a cool premise, and this particular encounter sounds like a good basis for an episode. There were very few giant spacefaring lifeforms in Star Trek, and there aren't so many in other settings either. Fine musings too.