yotg discussion (spoilers)

Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk
Wed Dec 20 13:03:56 EST 2000





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Kyla, replying to me:

>> Love at first sight is linked in my mind with another literary phenomenon
>> that I dislike - love based purely on appearance.  For all I may find
>> people's appearance attractive, that's not why I fall in love!
>
> Erm. Except there are people that I find extremely attractive that I could
> never imagine falling in love with. Haven't you ever seen anyone for the
> first time and said "Oh my, I'm going to *like* this person," I mean as a
> friend? Someone who looks *neat*, interesting and nice and someone you'd
> love to talk to for hours? I don't believe in *love* at first sight, but I
> believe in *potential* love at first sight. You have to know people before
> you can really love them. But that spark can be there.

I agree with every word except "except" - everything you said is compatible with
what I said.  I think.  On the other hand, I don't recall ever being right when
I've liked someone at first sight (except possibly Heather, for whom that
question would have to return an inconclusive answer.  I took her home after our
first (only) date, she parted with the words "see you tomorrow", and we never
saw each other again...)

>> My worry was more along the lines of, How did Derk get his griffins so right,
>> when he didn't seem to know about natural griffins when he started
>
> Maybe it's just that there are only certain ways the various DNA bits can
> combine. Natural griffins presumably evolved...wait a minute. How the hell
> do you evolve a *griffin*? What if they were magically created in the
> first place? Otherwise they probably wouldn't be fertile. Think horses and
> donkeys--they're a *lot* more alike than cats and birds, and their
> offspring is sterile. So I think it would make more sense that a long-ago
> wizard did similar things to what Derk did and came up with viable
> griffins.

I'm not sure here.  On the other hand, Hallie said words to the effect that if
you mix eagle and lion genes, you inevitably get a griffin, and I prefer Kyla's
version.

If you just cross the creatures in the normal way - split the DNA down the
middle, take one half from one and the other from the other, I agree sterile
offspring (if any offspring at all) would be the result - except in Xanth (Piers
Anthony), where one of the magical rules is that cross-species unions produce a
viable new species.

In Derk's case, I got the idea that he designed the griffins - he certainly went
into quite a bit of detail with Lydda.  I would like to quote the definition of
a griffin in Fox-Davies' "complete guide to heraldry" but I forgot to bring it
with me :-(  It is however quite specific that the eagle's talons form the
forelegs of the lion, and that the eagle's head gets lion's ears, this being the
distinction between eagles' and griffins' heads when depicted without the body.
(Fox-Davies also quotes another author, who provides evidence for the large size
that Derk's griffins attained - the lion part is about 8 times the size of a
lion, we are told, and the eagle part about 100 times the size of an eagle).

That digression aside, I think that Derk's griffins were sculpted in some
detail, presumably based on prevalent legend, the arms of the southern empire,
etc.

A agree with Kyla that a wizard in the far distant past _may_ have created the
griffin species, but I don't agree that he and Derk need necessarily come up
with the same result.  However, I prefer to think of the natural griffin species
as an hybrid made viable by _ambient_ magic, and subject to evolution, etc.  And
again, how did Derk get it so right?  Even to the point of anticipating
(conciously or otherwise) the civilisation of the natural griffins, and putting
human genes into his own to match this.

>> tackle - why the heck to the griffins and the humans speak the same language?
>> There is little or no contact between the species, and the griffin mouth is
>> unlikely to lead to the same set of basic sounds (although parrots and mynah
>> birds do suggest that human sounds can be managed...)
>
> How do you know there is little or no contact between the species? At
> least in YotG, there were humans and griffins on each side of the

Sorry.  I should have said, little or no contact between the continents.  The
evidence for this being that hardly anyone in DL seemed to know that the
griffins of the other continent existed.

> war. And it's probably easier for griffins to learn human language (if
> they speak their own otherwise) than it is for humans to learn griffin
> language, especially since humans tend to be quite self-centered about
> their own languages...

Oh, I agree with that.  But Jessak and his companions give the impression that
the human language of the home continent (or whatever you call it) is their
native language.

>> And why are Derk's griffins so universally attractive to natural griffins?
Is
>> this a coincidence?  Is it a sort of "exotic beauty" thing?  Derk got the
>> griffins so right that it makes me decidedly uneasy.
>
> His griffins seem to be mostly one color each; the griffins from the other
> continent seem more mottled. It might be sort of like having a smooth

I don't think so.  Elda and Kit are single-coloured.  Callette isn't; I don't
think Don is, and we are told nothing about Lydda.

The griffins of the other continent are often single-coloured.  White seems to
be quite common; bluish grey occurs, but is rare; there is a longer list when
Elda watches them all arrive at the uni., but I can't remember all the colours.
Varigated markings were mentioned, but I got the impression that single colours
predominated.

> complexion, or something. And it would make sense that Derk's griffins
> would be basically one color, because I got the sense he didn't get a
> *lot* of lion or cat or eagle DNA, just from one for each.

I'm not sure that that does follow, but I am at the end of my knowledge of
genetics here...

Philip, who is still wondering what it is like to be one of Derk's pigeons, and
cannot stop connecting this idea with the cartoon character Dick Dastardly...







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