September 2010 Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour: Venom and Song, Day 2

Christian Fantasy CSFF Blog Tour

One of the aspects of Venom and Song I found interesting was the use of spiders as villains. There’s something inherently creepy about spiders. After all, if the enemy rode on war beetles or had ant spies, that wouldn’t be nearly as frightening. But giant nasty warspiders or small poisonous spy spiders…shudder.

Batson and Hopper aren’t the first to give spiders roles as villains in fantasy literature, though they put their own unique twist on it. In The Hobbit, Bilbo faces the spiders of Mirkwood, who capture and bind his companions, hanging them up in their larder to be consumed at convenience. While I’d never want to encounter the spiders of Mirkwood, Shelob in the Lord of the Rings makes a far more intimidating villain—an ancient spider-creature, a cunning beast of the dark, fully evil and bent on harming Frodo and Sam.

So where else do spiders appear? I did a little digging and found spider tales in most world mythologies. Frequently, they’re evil or fearsome creatures. In African mythology, a trickster god known as Anansi appeared as a spider. In an early Chinese fantasy novel, spiders try to ensnare and kill the protagonist. In a short story, The Valley of Spiders, British author HG Wells writes of three men battling and fleeing from an unexpected army of great spiders…and revealing something of themselves in the process. Sometimes spiders do take on a positive role, especially in children’s stories like Charlotte’s Web, but overall they seem to lend themselves to the creepy, mysterious, or villainous.

And as a bonus to help you imagine the spiders faced in Venom and Song, a picture of the largest spider in our world—the Goliath Birdeater, which can eat mice (not birds, strangely enough) and may reach up to a foot in diameter. Look at that picture and imagine it growing larger…many times larger…big enough to ride like a steed. And then you might get an idea of just how creepy the villains are in Venom and Song.

So why do spiders frequently evoke fear and disgust?  You tell me. And come back Wednesday for a discussion of several of the novel’s themes.

Visit others on the tour for more discussion of Venom and Song:

Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Amy Browning
Beckie Burnham
Morgan L. Busse
Melissa Carswell
Jeff Chapman
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Tori Greene
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
James Somers
Kathleen Smith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Jason Waguespac
Dona Watson
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson


    • Sarah Sawyer
      September 29, 2010 - 4:51 pm · Reply

      Thanks, Becky! My skin prickles every time I look at that picture. Makes me glad that we only have small spiders around here…at least, relatively speaking.

  • Krysti
    September 28, 2010 - 11:37 pm · Reply

    Oh, what couldn’t I say about spiders and the creep factor? We were grateful overseas for the geckos that lived in our houses, because they kept the spider population down! Once I had a big–HUGE–hairy spider larger than my hand jump out of a shower at me… and I got in trouble for screaming, because according to my dorm-mother, this wasn’t a matter of life and death! Haha~

    Wolf spiders bite. It HURTS! But they can’t kill you.

    Gray recluse spiders bite too; but although you can’t feel the bite because they’re so tiny, if left untreated long enough, the bite will kill you. It takes 24 hours for the bite’s poisons/bacteria to cause noticeable effects.

    Garden spiders are huge, yellow and ugly, but they don’t bite. Neither do daddy long-legs, although if they’re on anything above your head and you walk by, they like to drop on you. There is NOTHING creepier than a daddy long-legs crawling down your face! (personal experience on this one).

    My daughter has a radio-controlled taratula. And she still freaks every time she sees a live spider, no matter how teeny-tiny, and I have to come kill it. LOL…

    someone else’s turn! 😀

    • Sarah Sawyer
      September 29, 2010 - 4:59 pm · Reply

      Wow, Krysti…those are some intense spider experiences! If a huge spider jumped out at me like that, my scream would probably be heard around the block. 🙂

      Now that fall is coming on, spiders seem to think it is time to invade the house. When I opened the door the other day a large spider (well, not large compared to your spider, but about the size of a silver dollar) ran right in, as if invited. And then, about a month ago, when I went into a semi-dark bathroom, a spider suddenly dropped from the ceiling and then dangled there, about an inch from my face. I think it saw me coming…lol. And yes, I did scream (mostly from the startle factor), though afterward I chastised myself for doing so!

      Needless to say, I’m not fond of spiders. Other insects don’t bother me much, but spiders…

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