swamps florida

There’s nothing quite like a wetlands sunrise. The morning colors sparkle across miles of still water while tall grasses wave in the breeze. Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida protects 729,000 acres of unique freshwater swamp, offering refuge to a wide variety of plants and animals. From hardwood hammocks hiding rare Florida panthers to tidal estuaries teeming with birds and fish, there is so much to see in this wonderful place. Photo by National Park Service.

Top Misconceptions People Have about Pulp-Era Science Fiction

A lot of people I run into have all kinds of misconceptions about what pulp-era scifi, from the 1920s-1950s, was actually like. 


“Pulp-Era Science Fiction was about optimistic futures.”

Optimistic futures were always, always vastly outnumbered by end of the world stories with mutants, Frankenstein creations that turn against us, murderous robot rebellions, terrifying alien invasions, and atomic horror. People don’t change. Then as now, we were more interested in hearing about how it could all go wrong. 

To quote H.L. Gold, editor of Galaxy Science Fiction, in 1952: 

“Over 90% of stories submitted to Galaxy Science Fiction still nag away at atomic, hydrogen and bacteriological war, the post atomic world, reversion to barbarism, mutant children killed because they have only ten toes and fingers instead of twelve….the temptation is strong to write, ‘look, fellers, the end isn’t here yet.’”

The movie Tomorrowland is a particulary egregious example of this tremendous misconception (and I can’t believe Brad Bird passed on making Force Awakens to make a movie that was 90 minutes of driving through the Florida swamps). In reality, pre-1960s scifi novels trafficked in dread, dystopian futures, and fear. There was simply never a time when optimistic scifi was overrepresented, even the boyish Jules Verne became skeptical of the possibilities of technology all the way at the turn of the century. One of the most famous pulp scifi yarns was Jack Williamson’s The Humanoids, about a race of Borg-like robots who so totally micromanage humans “for our own protection” that they leave us with nothing to do but wait “with folded hands.”


“Pulp scifi often featured muscular, large-chinned, womanizing main characters.”

Here’s the image often used in parodies of pulp scifi: the main character is a big-chinned, ultra-muscular dope in tights who is a compulsive womanizer and talks like Adam West in Batman. Whenever I see this, I think to myself…what exactly is it they’re making fun of?

It’s more normal than you think to find parodies of things that never actually existed. Mystery buffs and historians, for example, can’t find a single straight example of “the Butler did it.” It’s a thing people think is a thing that was never a thing, and another example would be the idea of the “silent film villain” in a mustache and top hat (which there are no straight examples of, either). There are no non-parody examples of Superman changing in a phone booth; he just never did this.

In reality, my favorite description of pulp mag era science fiction heroes is that they are “wisecracking Anglo-Saxon engineers addicted to alcohol and tobacco who like nothing better than to explain things to others that they already know.” The average pulp scifi hero had speech patterns best described as “Mid-Century American Wiseass” than like Adam West or the Lone Ranger. 

The nearest the Spaceman Spiff stereotype came to hitting the mark was with the magazine heroes of the Lensmen and Captain Future, and they’re both nowhere near close. Captain Future was a muscular hero with a chin, but he also had a Captain Picard level desire to use diplomacy first, and believed that most encounters with aliens were only hostile due to misunderstandings and lack of communication (and the story makes him right). He also didn’t seem interested in women, mostly because he had better things to do for the solar system and didn’t have the time for love. The Lensmen, on the other hand, had a ruthless, bloodthirsty streak, and were very much like the “murder machine” Brock Sampson (an attitude somewhat justified by the stakes in their struggle). 


“Pulp Era Scifi were mainly action/adventure stories with good vs. evil.” 

This is a half-truth, since, like so much other genre fiction, scifi has always been sugared up with fight scenes and chases. And there was a period, early in the century, when most scifi followed the Edgar Rice Burroughs model and were basically just Westerns or swashbucklers with different props, ray guns instead of six-shooters. But the key thing to remember is how weird so much of this scifi was, and that science fiction, starting in the mid-1930s, eventually became something other than just adventure stories with different trappings. 

One of my favorite examples of this is A. Bertram Chandler’s story, “Giant-Killer.” The story is about rats on a starship who acquire intelligence due to proximity to the star drive’s radiation, and who set about killing the human crew one by one. Another great example is Eando Binder’s Adam Link stories, told from the point of view of a robot who is held responsible for the death of his creator.

What’s more, one of the best writers to come out of this era is best known for never having truly evil bad guys: Isaac Asimov. His “Caves of Steel,” published in 1953, had no true villains. The Spacers, who we assumed were snobs, only isolated themselves because they had no immunities to the germs of earth.


“Racism was endemic to the pulps.”

It is absolutely true that the pulps reflected the unconscious views of society as a whole at the time, but as typical of history, the reality was usually much more complex than our mental image of the era. For instance, overt racism was usually shown as villainous: in most exploration magazines like Adventure, you can typically play “spot the evil asshole we’re not supposed to like” by seeing who calls the people of India “dirty monkeys” (as in Harold Lamb). 

Street & Smith, the largest of all of the pulp publishers, had a standing rule in the 1920s-1930s to never to use villains who were ethnic minorities because of the fear of spreading race hate by negative portrayals. In fact, in one known case, the villain of Resurrection Day was going to be a Japanese General, but the publisher demanded a revision and he was changed to an American criminal. Try to imagine if a modern-day TV network made a rule that minority groups were not to be depicted as gang bangers or drug dealers, for fear that this would create prejudice when people interact with minority groups in everyday life, and you can see how revolutionary this policy was. It’s a mistake to call this era very enlightened, but it’s also a mistake to say everyone born before 1970 was evil.


“Pulp scifi writers in the early days were indifferent to scientific reality and played fast and loose with science.”

 FALSE.

 This is, by an order of magnitude, the most false item on this list.

In fact, you might say that early science fiction fandom were obsessed with scientific accuracy to the point it was borderline anal retentive. Nearly every single one of the lettercols in Astounding Science Fiction were nitpickers fussing about scientific details. In fact, modern scifi fandom’s grudging tolerance for storytelling necessities like sound in space at the movies, or novels that use “hyperspace” are actually something of a step down from what the culture around scifi was in the 1920s-1950s. Part of it was due to the fact that organized scifi fandom came out of science clubs; Hugo Gernsback created the first scifi pulp magazine as a way to sell electronics and radio equipment to hobbyists, and the “First Fandom” of the 1930s were science enthusiasts who talked science first and the fiction that speculated about it second.

In retrospect, a lot of it was just plain obvious insecurity: in a new medium considered “kid’s stuff,” they wanted to show scifi was plausible, relevant, and something different from “fairy tales.” It’s the same insecure mentality that leads video gamers to repeatedly ask if games are art. You’ve got nothing to prove there, guys, calm down (and take it from a pulp scifi aficionado, the most interesting things are always done in the period when a medium is considered disposable trash). 

One of the best examples was the famous Howard P. Lovecraft, who published “The Shadow out of Time” in the 1936 issue of Astounding. Even though it might be the only thing from that issue that is even remotely reprinted today, the letters page from this issue practically rose up in revolt against this story as not being based on accurate science. Lovecraft was never published in Astounding ever again.

If you ever wanted to find out what Star Wars would be like if they were bigger hardasses about scientific plausibility, check out E.E. Smith’s Lensman series. People expect a big, bold, brassy space opera series with heroes and villains to play fast and loose, but it was shockingly scientifically grounded.

To be fair, science fiction was not a monolith on this. One of the earliest division in science fiction was between the Astounding Science Fiction writers based in New York, who often had engineering and scientific backgrounds and had left-wing (in some cases, literally Communist) politics, and the Amazing Stories writers based in the Midwest, who were usually self taught, and had right-wing, heartland politics. Because the Midwestern writers in Amazing Stories were often self-taught, they had a huge authority problem with science and played as fast and loose as you could get. While this is true, it’s worth noting science fiction fandom absolutely turned on Amazing Stories for this, especially when the writers started dabbling with spiritualism and other weirdness like the Shaver Mystery. And to this day, it’s impossible to find many Amazing Stories tales published elsewhere.

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natgeotravel Photos by @CarltonWard // Here’s a time lapse of yesterday’s sunset in Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, where the Everglades meets the Gulf of Mexico. South Florida boasts the largest contiguous protected mangrove ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere. On World Mangrove Day, let’s commit to protecting and restoring more of this endangered ecosystem. Throughout the world, mangroves are critical for fisheries, wildlife, and local communities. Mangroves also help combat climate change.

Swamp Spirits

The information here has been compiled from the shared experiences of many spirit workers: @hecaatia, @sigil-seer, @gnomi-universe, and myself, @insertcheesywitchypunhere. I have also referenced popular folklore and legends.

Originally posted by giantmonster

The swamp is a treacherous and mysterious place. It follows that those who inhabit it would be the same.

  • Swamp spirits tend to have a “darker” vibe– mysterious, or like they’re hiding something. Not necessarily in an evil way, but dark as in night, as in a feeling. They are protective, secretive, evasive, and shadowy.
  • They tend to have “low” energy- as in, not hyper or overbearing. Their energy could be described as subtle.
  • They care for their own– if you belong to the swamp, it will protect you.
  • They are tight-knit, stick to their communities, and are mostly unfriendly towards strangers.
  • They can be sneaky. They can figure out your weaknesses and learn the ins and outs of your mind. That’s not to say that they will, but many of them have the capability to do so. (This isn’t exclusive to swamp spirits, of course.)
  • They also have trickstery, “oily” ways of speaking and lure you off the beaten path.
  • They can see past your fronts or masks and see who you really are. These spirits can figure out things about you. They are masters of putting up filters, so they can tell when you’re doing the same.
  • They specialize in illusions, and many are shapeshifters.
  • You generally don’t want to mess with swamp spirits. If you wrong them, expect something just as bad, or worse, to happen to you.
  • They tend to be more active at night.

Some beings who inhabit the swamp are:

  • Alligators– physical and otherwise. There are alligator-like spirits, alligator ghosts, etc.
  • Frogs and toads. Same as above.
  • Insects, snakes, wading birds… for any animal that can be found in a swamp, there is generally a similar spirit to be found as well.
  • Swamp spirits who are seductive. I don’t have a collective name for them, but there’s a lot. Swamp incubi/succubi/ubi. Swampubi. Swampcubi.
  • Unseelie, a dangerous type of Fae that occasionally reside in swamps.
  • Eleionomae, Greek naiads of the swamp who trick and lure humans with their beauty.

Additional thanks to @chaosjelly for his post on applicable information posts, and @norcal-animist for his tip on Unseelie.

7

Finally finished the mural for my brother’s new brewery in Fort Lauderale!
The place is called Invasive Species so I was trying for a natural history museum/old Florida postcard kind of look.

I meant to finish this as a Christmas gift, but better 7 months late than never. I think they’re gonna put it up with some sort of wheat-past alternative, I’m pretty excited to see how that looks. 

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fossilvoyages You may ask yourself “why in the world do these guys make so much horrific sounds when finding fossils?” Well… we ask ourselves the same thing and figure we need psychiatric evaluation before we can fully understand.

This is the extraction of a VERY nice fossil bald eagle claw core.

Conversation with a Lake/ Spring Spirit

*this was several months ago, but I’m just sharing info on her now*

Sorta-kinda disclaimer: I communicated with the spirits mentioned here via thoughts and feelings, not really in words. It’s hard to capture that via text, so I tried to translate it into a more understandable format. I don’t know if that makes sense.

Now to the good stuff!

location: a lake/ spring/ body of water near my house. It was originally meant to be a reservoir, but the diggers hit a natural spring. It’s also full of plants and algae and its levels are highly affected by the rainfall… I don’t know what you call that.

appearance: n/a. I just got feelings.

energy/ feel: BIG. DEEP. OLD. Businesslike, but also with a healing/ nurturing side.

gender: I say “she”, but I have no idea why. so, ehh?


I walked around the lake as I do frequently, just getting attuned to nature. I left pieces of shells and seaglass by the water’s edge as gifts. There were a couple shy “thank you”s as I did so. 

I found a place to sit, and I waited there until some small water spirits came up to me. I greeted them and asked if they had a leader (for lack of a better word).

“Yes, she’s right over there.” the spirits told me in unison, planting the thought in my mind of where to go (a bit further down the shore). They said that she had been waiting for me, and that I should hurry up and talk to her before she got annoyed. 

“You have to meet her halfway.” they said as I got up. (They meant she wanted me to be touching the water, as a sort of symbol of respect. Like standing up when someone enters the room– you put in a little more effort, if that makes sense.)

I headed down and took off my shoes and dipped my toes in the water. It was cool and soft.

“What do you want?” A presence in the water. A pair of discerning eyes on me.

“I… came here to talk?” I tried to sound confident, failing. I tried to look at her, to picture her in my head, but I couldn’t. She may have been stopping me from doing so, or she may not have had an appearance at all.

She didn’t respond.

“And I brought gifts!” I added, slightly desperate. I gently tossed the shiny items into the water. 

I hope you like them.”

“What do you wish to talk about?” she asked curtly. Noticing my offerings, she added, 

“These are nice. Thank you.” She relaxed. I said,

“I wanted to tell you that you have a wonderful place here. The water is beautiful. And the flowers are nice. …I was also wondering if you would be interested in working with me. In a magical sense. I’m a witch.”

“Working with you… how?”

“Well, you could teach me any magical uses for the plants here, or the spring water, if you want. You could lend your strength or energy to a spell I work, for example.”

“I could certainly do that. Though, I am not interested in a close relationship; I’d rather be an acquaintance. When you need me, come find me. Anything else?”

“Ah, yes, one more thing. Is it alright if I take a small jar of the water here? To use for magic?”

“Yes. Also, to thank you for your gifts, I will give you something in return.”

“May I inquire as to what that will be?”

“You will find out in time.”

(In retrospect, I’m pretty sure that her gift was infusing the waters with healing properties– emotional, spiritual, and physical. Or at least opening my mind to use it for that.)

Swamped [Kidge Cryptid Hunt Oneshot, VLD]

“Why else do you think I would insist we come here before we started on our Swamp Ape hunt?” she asks.

“Because we needed cookies?”

She flings her hands up, and the bag of cookies nearly flies off her arm.

“Because we needed to harness Publix’s mystical force to aid us in our quest!” she exclaims. Her voice deepens, heightening her drama. “Dark Publix, show me the Cryptids!”

Author’s Note: This was completely self-indulgent. I’m a 3rd or 4th generation Florida native and have spent all but a few years of my life in this lovely, strange state. All but one thing written here about Florida is fact, which is that I don’t think there are two Publix across the street from one another in Cape Canaveral, but there sure are in the town I live in now. Thank @stardusted for the inspiration and planning. She started this. Not me.

Fandom: Voltron Legendary Defender
Paring: Keith x Pidge
Words: 6101
Tags: Swamp Ape, gratuitous Florida, barely edited, bonding, sass, snark, more Florida, mosquitoes, kissing, cute shit, rednecks.

Read on AO3

“Flashlights?”


“Check.”


“Water bottles?”


“Check.”

“Camera?”

Keith turns in his seat towards Pidge and presses the button on a boxy, plastic camera. A flash goes off. She pouts, but for once keeps both hands on the steering wheel, rather than trying to retaliate.

“Digital and disposable, check,” he says with a grin.

“I can’t believe they still sell those. At least if that picture is terrible, I can physically burn it.”

“It won’t be,” Keith says.

Pidge’s brows raise. It takes her a moment to resume going through her mental checklist. “Bug spray?”

“Like a gallon of it. Are you sure this isn’t overkill?”


“Look, Toto, we’re not in the desert anymore, so unless you want the mosquitoes to turn you into a prune so you can start planning your early retirement to Boca, then we’re going to need alllllll that bug spray. You’ve gotta trust me, I’m the expert here. Now, do we have the cookies?”

He looks down at the disposable camera. Suddenly, the process of winding it to the next picture is the most important task in the world.

“Uh…”

The clicking sound as he winds the camera bridges the silence.


"You forgot to grab the cookies?” she asks in a low voice.


“My arms were full carrying all the bug spray!”

Which is how Keith finds himself in the middle of an aisle at a grocery story that is surprisingly nice considering he lost cell service thirty minutes ago and still isn’t sure if Pidge sneezed in the middle of telling him the name of the “town” they were stopping in.

For an intergalactic pilot, his Earth-side travel had been limited to the desert outskirts beyond The Garrison and a few big cities he visited with his dad, cities that seem more haze than memory now. The maze of palm trees and identical ranch homes the Holts lived in mystified him, and the rural, ramshackle spots he and Pidge had stopped off at when they needed gas were downright eerie. And while he really doesn’t get how peanut butter cookies are crucial to the cryptid-hunting process, he’s more than willing to give Pidge credit for taking them to what seems the likeliest place for downhome folklore to become fact.

Assuming they ever get out to the site. By the time Pidge decides which brand of cookie to get, the team’s “Voltron Spring Break 2020” will be well over. He wonders how the locals would take to the sight of a massive, glowing UFO appearing over their neighborhood Publix.

Keep reading

9

Cryptids → Skunk Ape

The skunk ape, also known as the swamp cabbage man, swamp ape, stink ape, Florida Bigfoot, Louisiana Bigfoot, myakka ape, swampsquatch, and myakka skunk ape, is a hominid cryptid said to inhabit the U.S. states of Florida, North Carolina, and Arkansas, although reports from Florida are most common. It is named for its appearance and for the unpleasant odor that is said to accompany it.


Reports of the skunk ape were particularly common in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1974, sightings of a large, foul-smelling, hairy, ape-like creature, which ran upright on two legs were reported in suburban neighborhoods of Dade County, Florida. {x}