Cryptomythology: Imaginary Myths for a Modern Life

My introduction to fantasy was through the myths and legends I read as a child. Be they Greek, Norse, Japanese, or Celtic, about the creation of the world, heroes fighting monsters, or simple peasants being tricked by deities, I loved them all.

Eventually, via Arthurian tales, La Chanson de Roland and similar tales, I moved on to modern fiction, but my lifelong love of fantasy and all things imaginary started with classical myths and legends. So I still keep an eye out for those I don’t know, and now there is a whole new source of myths to be discovered by everyone. is a website featuring myths uncovered by writer Claude Lalumière (Tesseracts 12, Witpunk, Objects of Worship) and illustrator Rupert Bottenberg. As cryptomythologists, they study imaginary myths, just like cryptozoologists study imaginary creatures.

But why do this?

Recently Jo Walton talked about how we need to reinvent our origin stories every few generations. Lostmyths takes things one step further, giving us a new myth every week. This allows us to discover strange creatures, old dreams, new nightmares, and maybe, something about human nature and our place in this universe.

The site features gods and deities from pantheons unsuspected until now and stories about some heretofore unknown players of existing traditions. Knowing that myths are not just stories but can manifest everywhere in culture and society, Claude and Rupert have made Lostmyths “a playful medley of cryptomythological fiction, pantheons, bestiaries, comics, art, games, readings, performances, and more”. They also do public readings, accompanied by images and music, that are well worth attending.

The writing has the style of simply told tales—the way real myths and legends must have been told around a fire in the evening. This simplicity is deceptive, like all myths, the themes and ideas explored are varied and can be very complex. Similarly, with the illustrations playfulness meshes with a modern sensibility and the raw energy of primitive art. It’s obvious that with Lostmyths, Claude and Rupert have found the project that allows them to explore ideas they both care about, collaborate seamlessly, and have fun! While the site is pretty new—it was launched on April 1st (an appropriate date if there ever was one)—it’s already full of surprises and interesting imaginary explorations.

You can visit Lostmyths every Thursday for a new myth or at any other time you need to figure out how the world really works.

René Walling is a fan of SF, animation and comics, this has led him to co-chair Anticipation, the 2009 Worldcon, be involved with fps magazine for more than a decade, and start Nanopress, a Canadian small press. He looks forward to living on Mars where he would benefit from having more than 24 hours in a day.


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