Why Write About Space Lizards?

Let me first be clear about my ambiguous term ‘space lizards’. This appellation is intended to reference a range of phenomena, generally of disputed reality, found in science fiction, fantasy fiction, conspiracy theory, and UFOlogy.

Space lizards, space reptiles, reptilian humanoids or reptoids, space dinosaurs: all these are included in my menagerie. I admit that biologists and purists might argue that a lizard is a specific type of reptile. This distinction, however, is unimportant for my purposes and I will therefore cling to the shorter, snappier ‘lizard’ label. (Additional admission: ‘snappy’ might be more a personality than a species descriptor.)

A sympathetic view of space lizards (space dinosaurs in this case) is found in Robert J. Sawyer’s masterful Quintaglio Ascension trilogy of novels, proving that one cannot judge an entity by its species. (Note to self: devise pun about specious prejudice).

Most views of space lizards are far less sympathetic. The conspiracy theory regarding subterranean reptilian humanoids seeking to control human affairs first emerged in a Los Angeles newspaper article in 1934. It was not until much later, in the 1990s, that David Icke’s vision of mysterious reptoid overlords infiltrating and controlling humanity permeated our popular culture.

In 1954, movie-goers were treated to the amphibious biped of “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”. In that same year, they were also introduced to the giant lizard Godzilla. More modern incarnations include the Visitors of the television series “V” in both its 1980s and more recent version.

The lizard, despite its terrestrial origin, seems alien. It invokes shudders and powers phobias. These creatures are cold-blooded and devour live prey. They are the ready-made monsters every harried ‘creature feature’ writer adores.

Both the psychopath and the reptilian personality mesmerize us – they are indecipherable and contain nothing we recognize as human. They effortlessly represent evil and are the prototypical alien spawned in the imaginations of writers occupying the borderland between science fiction and horror.

Why is this so? Consider the triune brain theory to understand why reptiles appear as evil incarnate to us humans. This theory suggests the human brain can be understood as three separate systems that evolved successively: the oldest being the reptilian complex which maps roughly to the brain stem; the middle being the limbic system which exists in all mammals; and the newest being the neocortex, which includes the frontal lobe, a uniquely human endowment.

Emotion arises from the workings of the amygdalae, a pair of structures classified within the limbic system and not present in the reptilian brain. Altruism (even in its self-interested rational form) requires a neocortex. Love and mercy, therefore, do not exist among lizards.

This incapacity for emotion renders reptiles alien to our perspective and allows us to conflate their type of cognition with psychopathy. It is oft stated that the eyes of psychopaths are reptilian, that is, devoid of any spark of emotion or compassion. This provides a tie-in with the second theme of Fresh Blue Ink’s planned short fiction anthology Space Lizards Of Canada.

Additionally, space lizards provide allegorical access to and linkage between military-industrial complex and alien occupation conspiracy theories.

So, c’mon. Writing about space lizards is fun!

(See the Fresh Blue Ink SUBMISSIONS page for more details.)

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