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Great Rabbit Moments In Genre History

September 22 marks International Rabbit Day (what, you were expecting Easter?) Today, we’re looking at notable rabbit & hare characters and moments in SF/F literature and comics. I will be leaving out cartoons and certain films (like Harvey and Donnie Darko) because they deserve a list all their own. So grab a couple of carrots, wiggle your nose and peruse this list of fantastical lagomorphs.

Let’s hop to it.

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Jaxxon 

Before Jar-Jar there was another long-eared character that divided Star Warriors into the love him or hate him camps. Created by Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin for Marvel’s Star Wars comics in 1977, Jaxxon was a Lepi smuggler from Coachelle Prime. His catchphrase was “you can call me Jax for short…which I ain’t” (this is indicating his height which stood at approximately 1.9 meters). In Star Wars Insider 83, Jaxxon is first on the list for “Five Goofiest Moments of the Star Wars Mythos”. However in 2012 Jaxxon was placed third in a poll for fan choice action figure. Since sales of Star Wars toys have taken a nosedive, I think a Jaxxon figure would be a sight for sore eyes. Possibly.

Watership Down 

Possibly THE novel that comes to mind when you mention “rabbits” and “epic fantasy” in the same sentence.

One day while traveling with his daughters on a long road trip, Richard Adams entertained them with stories about talking rabbits. The little girls were so enraptured by the stories, they insisted he write them into a book and Watership Down was born. Published in 1972, it tells the story of a group of rabbits, led by Hazel and his psychic brother Fiver as they search for a new warren. Mind you these rabbits are not anthropomorphic in the usual way: i.e. wear clothes, walk on two legs, etc. They switch between English and Lapine (rabbit language) and they tell myths about their gods and heroes (in particular El-ahrairah and the Black Rabbit) to pass the time. Watership Down was a success and won 3 awards: The Carnegie Medal, The Guardian Children’s Fiction prize and The California Young Reader Medal. In 1978 the novel was adapted into an animated film starring John Hurt and Roy Kinnear, which in turn was added to The Criterion Collection in 2015.

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Who Censored Roger Rabbit?

No, this isn’t the popular 1988 film collaboration between Disney and Steven Spielberg. This is the original 1981 mystery novel by Gary K. Wolf. In this story, humans and characters from comic strips (like Snoopy and Dick Tracy) interact in everyday life. Comic strip characters speak in word bubbles (the kind you see on the printed page) and can create duplicates of themselves for stunt work. Private eye Eddie Valiant is hired by comic strip “toon” Roger Rabbit to investigate a suspicious contract between him and his bosses. Thereafter Roger is murdered, or “censored” and now Eddie must work with Roger’s doppelganger to solve the ever deepening mystery.

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The White Rabbit and the March Hare 

There’s no need for introductions when it comes to these characters from the immortal Alice books.

I have no idea why Lewis Carroll chose a white rabbit or a rabbit hole as an enticement/entrance to Wonderland, but I know that there was a saying in Caroll’s day that someone was “mad (or crazy) as a March hare”. This is because hares are known to engage in extreme acrobatics during their mating season, which is in March, though mating is the last thing on the March Hare’s mind.

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Usagi Yojimbo

A character first introduced by Stan Sakai in 1984, Miyamoto Yojimbo (usagi is Japanese for rabbit) is a ronin fighting injustice in feudal Japan. The comic series is famous for 1.) being one of the longest running comics written and drawn by one person 2.) it’s well-researched depiction of feudal Japan and 3.) crossing over with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from time to time. Hmmmm, rabbits and turtles together in one story. Who would’ve thought of that?

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Bucky O’Hare

Another comic book about a green rabbit and his crew fighting an evil Empire in space. Except the rabbit is the main character, the human is the sidekick, the ship is called the Righteous Indignation and the Empire is made up of… toads. Like Miyamoto Yojimbo, Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars was created by a Japanese man (Larry Hama) and debuted in 1984. Unlike Miyamoto, the series was short lived. However it’s been adapted into a 1991 cartoon series and two video games.

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Hoppy the Marvel Bunny and Captain Black Bunny

Trying to cash in on the “funny animal” comics craze, Fawcett Comics introduced Hoppy and Black Bunny to the Captain Marvel universe in 1942 and 1945 respectively. Hoppy idolizes Captain Marvel so much he gets bonked on the head and earns the powers of Shazam! from the Bunny Wizard (just go with it). Unlike his human counterpart, Hoppy has a love interest named Millie who (like Lois Lane at the time) was attracted to Marvel Bunny but couldn’t stand to be around meek and mild Hoppy. Then there was his foe Black Bunny whom, you can guess by now, is modeled after Black Adam except he comes from the earth’s core and is aided by imp henchmen. So I guess he’s a hellbunny.

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Thunderbunny

40 years after Hoppy, Charlton Comics gave us Thunderbunny, the heroic alter ego of a boy named Bobby Caswell. How did a human boy develop the power to turn into an anthropomorphic rabbit? Well, Bobby got his hands on a box shaped device that held the essence of Thunderbunny, the last survivor of an alien race. The power inhabited his body, turning him into a muscled, humanoid rabbit (again, just go with it). He also has super strength and flight. Not surprisingly, Bobby is embarrassed to be seen as his cunicular alter ego and the more he stays in that form, the less likely he can change back to his human form. But, duty calls…

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Night of the Lepus

In case you didn’t know, lepus means rabbit in Latin.

A 1972, “horror” movie about giant mutant killer rabbits who “terrorize” a town and must be destroyed. That’s all you need to know about the plot. You can watch the trailer here and enjoy the Rifftrax video here. I, for one, was rooting for the rabbits.

Did I make you mad as a March hare when I hopped over your favorite? Sound off in the comments. In the meantime here’s some pictures of “mythological” rabbits far scarier and more bizarre than Night of the Lepus. Enjoy.

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Jackalope

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Wolpertinger

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Cabbit

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Al-mi’raj

 

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Great Whale Moments In SF History

Today is World Whale Day! As we use this day to think about how we can help out and appreciate our cetacean friends, I will take this opportunity to list all the whales that swam into our hearts via science fiction. So pour a glass of water, get out your copy of Songs of the Humpback Whale, and have a whale of a time perusing this list.

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Rorqual Maru, The Godwhale (1974)

Somewhat of a sequel to T.J. Bass’ Half Past Human, this novel is one of the earliest examples of “biopunk” a subgenre related to cyberpunk and steampunk but with biotechnology. Rorqual Maru (is that a cool name or what?) is the titular Godwhale, a cyborg/blue whale hybrid that helps the novel’s protagonist in his search for answers.

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The Leviathan, The Leviathan Trilogy (2009)

What if Britain & it’s allies used genetically modified animals to fight World War 1? Scott Westerfeld answers that question with the Leviathan, a giant airship made (literally) of a whale that can fly through the air (airwhale) thanks to a combination of animal genetics (because Darwin was able to crack the DNA code a century ahead of schedule). Whether you think this is ethical or not is up for debate.

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Orca, Batman

Introduced in Batman Issue #579 (2000)

Experiments with killer whale tissue turns marine biologist Dr. Grace Balin into Orca, one of Batman’s lesser known antagonists. More info on her here and here.

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Orka, Marvel Comics

First introduced in Prince Namor, The Sub-Mariner #23 (1970). With the help of his psionic amplifier belt, fallen Atlantean soldier Orka has the powers of a killer whale and uses those powers to fight various heroes in the Marvel universe (so why is he blue?) Read more about him here and here.

The Whaladon, Star Wars: The Jedi Prince Series (1992-1993)

First introduced in The Glove of Darth Vader, Whaladons are a species of intelligent creatures in the Star Wars galaxy that our heroes fight to protect from poaching. Detractors of the kids-centered books will summarize the series as “The Rebel Alliance Saves the Whales”. But hey, they can’t be worse than Aftermath, right?

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(The one under Kenix Kil’s foot is a Herglic.)

Herglic, Star Wars Legends

These sentient, bipedal, water-based aliens are native to the planet Giju and have appeared in various SW comics and role playing games throughout the years. They made their first appearance in Dark Force Rising, the 2nd book in Timothy Zahn’s beloved Thrawn Trilogy. Because of their large size, it’s difficult for them to enter buildings and ships causing much embarrassment. Nevertheless they are peaceful, easygoing creatures. You can read more about them here.

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Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

For all of Star Trek’s optimism, it seems illogical (no pun intended) that in the 23rd century humpback whales would be an extinct species. But they are and that’s bad for the crew of the Enterprise when they discover that a deadly probe is orbiting Earth. Spock comes to the conclusion that the “call” the probe sends matches the “songs” of humpback whales and will continue to wreak havoc until its call is answered. So the only solution is to go back in time to the 20th Century, capture some humpback whales, bring them forward in time to the 23rd Century and use them to respond to the probe’s signal. Not an easy task.

Didn’t they have a copy of Songs of the Humpback Whale on the Enterprise?

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Star Trek: Where Sea Meets Sky (1998)

Written by Jerry Oltion and part of The Captain’s Table Series. This is Captain Christopher Pike’s story. He and his crew encounter airwhales known as “titans” who, in Oltion’s words: “scooped hydrogen from the atmospheres of gas giants for food and laid their eggs on terrestrial planets.” Unfortunately this causes a lot of collateral damage to the inhabitants of the terrestrial planets so of course it’s up to the Enterprise to find a solution.

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Aiwha, Star Wars: Episode 2 – Attack of the Clones

Non-sentient cetacean creatures native to Kamino and Naboo, they can launch into the air from the sea. Their names are taken from the word “airwhale”. They were designed by Terryl Whitlatch though an early concept was made by Ralph McQuarrie for The Empire Strikes Back. You can learn more about them on Wookiepedia.

And now to conclude this list, here’s some pictures of space whales:

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And an air whale:

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10 Things Every Woke Geek Girl Should Ask On a First Date

Disclaimer: this is a parody. It was inspired by this article at Feminist Current which in turn is a parody of this ridiculous article at Everyday Feminism. After reading both, I decided to have a little fun and write one of my own. Don’t worry readers. I’m not drunk, I haven’t been abducted by aliens and I’m not turning into a Social Justice Armchair Warrior.

Enjoy.

As a woke geek girl, I keep close relationships with geeks and nerds of all sizes. They’re true accomplices in the fight against the average jock, stoner and hipster. If you’re not going to support science fiction, then we can’t be friends, let alone date. The fantastical is political.

Beyond the words, happiness and support that we receive from imaginary characters (which are, in all honesty, soul-feeding and essential), geek girls also date! But there are questions we have to ask before we get close to someone.

The following list of questions is applicable to all relationships – and certainly not just between Trekkies and Whovians.

1. Do You Believe Jedi Lives Matter?

Yes? Wonderful. Let’s start here. There are three categories that are non-negotiable to me: Jedi, Padawans and Masters. Not everyone understands how you can sit on the council and not be given the rank of Master, but anyone who doesn’t take the time to learn how the Jedi Order works isn’t going to care about how the Force affects me or people who have a higher midi-chlorean count than I do.

I don’t want to have to have laborious discussions where I have to prove to someone that Force sensitivity or Force immunity exists. If they are willing to learn and listen and make the space to decenter their Force immunity (if they have a low midi-chlorean count) that’s a good place to start.

2. What Are Your Thoughts on Hard Sci-Fi and Soft Sci-Fi?

The Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness is a tiny box and I wish it didn’t exist but it does. I wouldn’t want to be with anyone who is hard on soft sci-fi. One of the many elements to dismantling the Mohs scale is to abolish the limited understanding that we have about hard and soft science fiction. As a woke geek girl, it would be a betrayal of what I stand for.

3. How Do You Work to Dismantle the Rivalry Between Marvel and DC?

I’ve met Marvel fans (Marvfa) who hate DC fans. They say they love DC fans, but that love is conditional on not having their cinematic universe threatened in any way. And they love us as an Infinity Gauntlet, they love what DC fans have to offer, whether it is sex, food, love, free comics or money to spend on collectibles: they love us for what we can do for them, not because of who we are for ourselves. It is crucial for Marvfa men to learn how to decenter their love of Marvel in order for them to understand the DC Multiverse.

Beyond the New 52, does the person you are with understand Earths 1, 2 or 23? Are they willing to learn if they don’t? Walk away from anyone who thinks that Barry Allen is the only Flash.

4. What Are Your Thoughts on Cosplay?

You may scratch your head at this one but being pro-cosplayer is a necessary pillar of sticking it to the cool kids. I don’t mean pro-cosplayer in the sense where non-cosplayers reblog pictures of cosplayers on Tumblr or Instagram.

I mean the kind where we pass the mic to cosplayers because they know their experiences better than anyone who hasn’t ever engaged in cosplay, where you understand the labor of cosplayers, especially cosplayers who dress as Steampunks because their experience and knowledge is crucial to understanding geek fashion sense.

5. Are You a Supporter of the Metric System?

The metric system stands for meters of all sorts: centimeters, milimeters, kilometers and so on. I grew up with the standard (non-metric) system in the U.S. Before even understanding how to measure by inches and pounds, I understood that the U.S. was way behind the rest of the world in its approach to measuring things.

Eventually, I began to understand the terror, trauma and stress of having to convert inches to centimeters, simply because one nation refuses to step in line with the rest of the world. Being pro-metric system is not the same as being anti-standard system. I shouldn’t even have to express that, but being pro-metric and standard is one step closer to world peace and understanding.

6. What is Your Understanding of Cryptozoology?

Your date thinks Mothman is a hoax or a relic of the past? NO THANKS. A key part of X-Files fandom is having a complete understanding of how historical and current sightings of Mothman effected the lives of thousands of people, regardless of skeptics and naysayers refusing to believe.

7. Do You Think We Should Clone Dinosaurs?

Should we clone only the plant eaters to be safe? Should we also clone meat-eaters because they look cool? If we exclude one class of dinosaurs will that make us carn-exclusionary? How would that make other extinct/prehistoric animals feel if we only clone dinosaurs? These are important questions to ask yourself if you want to continue to date a woke geek girl.

8. Can Any Alien Be Illegal?

We live on a tiny planet, with land and water within a galaxy surrounded by a universe with an inconceivable number of other galaxies and planets. Yet here we dictate where we are and who is allowed to be where we are. It’s mind-boggling that planets are even a thing, so to call visitors from other planets “aliens” or “UFOs” is so inhumane and despicable.

Earthlings stole this planet, populated this planet, polluted this planet, pushed out, killed and domesticated animals and somehow they have the audacity to claim this planet is theirs and that green and grey non-Earthlings are the abductors? Miss me with that baloney.

9. Do You Support Klingons?

I can’t think of any other race of humanoids which has been vilified and lied about more than Klingons. I am not a Klingon, so I will stay in my space-lane, but I cannot imagine for a second claiming to be a woke geek girl if I didn’t stand in solidarity with my Klingon friends and family – especially after Star Trek Discovery.

Don’t waste your time and energy on dating someone who thinks Klingons are crafty and violent. Instead read the works of Kahless the Unforgettable, you baktag!

10. Does Your Allyship Include the Fair Folk?

As a human woman, again, I will stay on my garden path, but geek/nerd culture has to include a solid platform for the Fair Folk – and not just the ones with wings. If you have fairy/faery family or friends, please make the effort to listen and learn about their lives and experiences. Fairy folk are subject to traps and disbelief because humans lack empathy and just plain suck. Be mindful of others who mock fairies; that kind of cruelty is inexcusable.

On a date with someone who doesn’t believe in fairies? Walk away clapping your hands vigorously.

 

 

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