Manual Art Reveal 4: Flechette Bat!

Hey, thanks for your patience while I was traveling. I had a great time and saw lots of lovely people. The signings and panel at San Diego Comic Con were lashings of fun, so thanks to everyone who came to them. Perhaps I’ll go through my photos from the trip and try to find some cool ones.

But right now it’s time for the Manual of Aeronautics art reveal! The votes have been voted and they have been counted, and what you guys wanted to see was the flechette bat.

A BAT. THAT POOS SPIKES. That’s what you wanted to see. Seriously, what does that say about you? I mean, you had a choice of many beautiful images, but you used your sacred voting rights to vote on a spike-pooing bat. Really?

Okay, as someone who wrote a trilogy featuring bats that poo spikes, perhaps I can’t point fingers.


What’s that you say? This picture of a spike-pooing bat isn’t big enough? YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE THIS BIGGER? Then I think that you should click here.

Or perhaps you’re asking me, “How did you come up with the idea of bats pooing spikes?”

The true answer is: I don’t remember. But flechette bats appear in the very first short story I wrote in the Leviathan universe, called “Mr. Darwin’s Favours.” This story was never finished or published, but it contained this somewhat familiar passage:

Jones and two others waited for him at the bow, where the Goliath’s colony of flechette bats were clustered to bask in the rising sun. They had grown noisy at the sight of the men, jousting for position on the half sphere of the bow. In their thousands, the ruckus of echo-location chirps sounded like an audience of old ladies clucking at some off-color joke.

“Now, now. Wait your turn,” Jones said, looking at Newkirk for approval.

The older man nodded sagely, and the three junior tenders began to throw the feed. In the hard light of dawn, flechettes sparkled among the grain, and waves of bats lifted from the envelope to catch mouthfuls of wheat and metal. Although he knew the bats were bred to do so, Newkirk always felt vague discomfort in his stomach at the thought of eating and passing the cruel pennies. Though, as Captain Digby often said, the strangeness of originated species only showed the extent of man’s mastery over natural life forms.

“Mind you don’t leave that lot out,” he said, pointing at a cluster of smaller bats on the starboard aerilon.

“Like feeding ducks as a wean, sir,” Jones said, casting a glittery handful in that direction. “Could never get bread to the little ones. No matter where you tossed it, the bullies always had their way. Nature’s way, I suppose.”

“Nature’s way is hardly our line, Jones,” Newkirk said, though he was glad to hear that the boy had at least made that long-ago attempt at equanimity. In the long run, animal lovers made the best tenders.

Weird, huh? As you can see, this story is partly from Newkirk’s point of view, and has no Deryn in it. There was no Alek either, just a few other POV characters on the airship, which was called the Goliath. Also, Newkirk is rather older, with the rank of “tender” rather than midshipman.

“Mr. Darwin’s Favours” only reached 2500 words long. I pillaged a couple of character names and some bits of dialog (like the above) but some stuff was really different. Like, message lizards were called “parrot dragons.” Shows you how much things change from the first draft of a novel (or a world) to the end.

Anyway, please use the comments below to answer this question: How many of you have explained the flechette bat’s unique poo-attack to parents, teachers, or friends? And how did that go?

72 thoughts on “Manual Art Reveal 4: Flechette Bat!

  1. Hello Scott. I think you used it because “flechette” is such a cool word/object and what other delivery system could you use?

  2. Named my cat Flechette in honor of the flechette bats. They’re just that cool. Peoples reactions as I explain just what flechette bats do is merely a bonus.

  3. when I explained flechette bats to my ex, he genuinely wanted to know if Id been smoking something.

  4. i haven’t tried explaining to anyone. i’d probably be the laughing stock of the entire school. my science teacher might get a kick, though…

  5. I’ve explained flechette bats to….pretty much all my friends and my mom and one of my teachers….they looked at like I saw crazy but, they ended up reading to the series so totally worth it!

  6. Hey, Me Again. Does anyone know what Westerfeld meant when he said (on the chat) that his plans for the future are “HOVERBOARDS”, and the novel he’s already writting. What did he mean when he said hoverboards?

  7. The flechette bat looks a bit like a mix between a walrus and a bat, with the saggy skin and all. I’ve never tried to explain the flechette bats to anyone. I don’t know how I would.

  8. When I was first reading the series, I talked non-stop about it. One time when I was in the car with my parents I began to randomly explain what Flechette bats were and my mom turned around and said to me, “What are you reading?!”

  9. I’ve never explained the bats to anyone. Usually I talk about the books because I want somebody to read them, and I’m not sure if spike-pooing bats would be a great incentive. They’d probably just laugh at me

  10. LOL, my last name is Jones. For some reason the abundance of fictional characters with the last name Jones still amuses me after fifteen years of life.
    Oh, and the joy of explaining flechette bats grown ups. They just don’t understand the humor in bat-poo warfare. To which I say, “It’s okay if you don’t understand. It’s a Leviathan thing.”

  11. Whoa….that’s so cool! Keith and Scott are genius. But dang that makes me cringe just thinking about swallowing somethin like that =p

  12. Friend: So, what’s this series you’re all obsessed about?
    Me: Well, there’s this girl disguised as a guy to join the air force and fly on this giant whale-
    Friend: Giant WHALE? That can FLY?
    Me: Yeah! And it has like a whole ecosystem on it, like message lizards and strafing hawks and sniffers and flechette bats-
    Friend: Flechette bats? Why are they called that?
    Me: Well…

  13. Me : I rather be a Darwinist, then I can have message lizards and flechette bats
    Clanker friend: What’re those?
    Me: Message lizards copy what you say and deliver it to other people
    Clanker: What do the bats do?
    Me: Release spike filled poo on things you want to destroy
    Clanker : and THAT’S why I’m a clanker

    I hope Newkirk did get promoted in the end, he puts up with so much in the book…. and I hope Fitzroy got dishonorably discharged from the service!

  14. I tried to explain flechette bats to my friend once.
    Me: Wanna hear something weird?
    Friend: It’s not about Leviathan, is it?
    Me: Ah, um, actually it is…
    Friend: I don’t want to hear it.

  15. O-O I’m such a weenie. Real-life bats are OK, but these bats…. :c I would probably go on a killing spree if I saw any. *shudders* Nasty little critters.

    And I’ve never had the chance to explain Flechette bats to anyone. But know I’m tempted to… I mean, how awesome would SPIKE POOPING BATS sound? 😀

  16. Deryn: I feel great!
    Alek: Great? That was a SEVEN MILE HIKE…
    Deryn: Survival of the fittest, eh, Your Highness?
    That was really random but I went on a hike today and thought about that. And it was seven miles.

    Anyway, :c I really wanted my Behemoth. But I guess the bats are okay. Even if they totally creep me out. I always thought it was stupid of Alek to be squeamish about these things, but now I agree with him. COMPLETELY.

  17. Cool! But I’ve seen this picture featured somewhere else already.
    I was listening to the Goliath audiobook and some

  18. BATS ROCK!!! I’ve always been a bat lover. These are a little weird, but they’re cute too! (In an odd way)
    @22- 😀

  19. Whoops typo!
    Cool! But I’ve seen this picture featured somewhere else already.
    I was listening to the Goliath audiobook and someone overheard “flechette bats” and his literal reaction was “flechette, like a dart?”
    Not only did I have to explain the bats to hit but I had to explain that he basically quoted the book and therefore had to choice but to read it.

  20. Really you can’t call yourself a bat lover unless you’ve been spelunking and have shone your flashlight or headlamp in the wrong place at the wrong time. Believe me, THIS HAS HAPPENED TO ME.

  21. I wouldn’t be surprised if a flechette bat turned up in the Australian bush, some of our animals are freaking terrifying. Any chance of seeing that short story, Scott-la? 😀

  22. umm, the whole truth? I didn’t pay enough attention upon first listening, so… I used to think those bats spat spikes instead 😉
    Thanks for the art reveal!

  23. Wow, awesome bat!!! I can’t wait for the Manual. I love illustrations! As for EXPLAINING Flechette bats…can’t say I’ve even tried. :/

  24. @Ginny-la (19)

    I irritated my friends to the point where they ended up reading the series so I would stop talking about it… Then they liked it so much that they couldn’t stop talking about it.

  25. @32-One of my friends has read Leviathan but didn’t like it that much and was still annoyed by me, one of my friends has promised to read it over the summer, and another friend pays no attention to my obsessions whatsoever.

  26. So thaaaat’s what they look like.

    They’re a bit uglier than what I had imagined, but an excellent illustration none the less! 🙂

  27. BARKING BLOODY SODDING SPIDERS–that story was so odd! About two paragraphs in, and I said something like: “HOLY CRAP.” Which then brought curious onlookers….like my sister. XD But that was so different, but not different! Ahhhh! It was just….odd.
    “How odd, Mr. Sharp.”
    ANYWAY. So my friend JUST FINISHED LEVIATHAN TODAY. Which means I’ve been texting her and waiting to video chat with her FOREVER. And if you’re wondering when she procured said copy of Leviathan, that would be two days ago. When I gave it to her. Because she is on bedrest. Like Deryn was. For the same barking knee. XD But she didn’t tear her ligaments, she just go one replaced. Because it was too stretched out and she kept dislocating the kneecap. But she likes Leviathan….^^
    About the question, I’m not sure if I’ve ever explained that to anyone. Maybe my other friend….Oh yeah, I did tell it to one friend, but my friends and I are all so strange that she wasn’t weirded out for long. ^^

  28. Me: In this book, there are bats that poo spikes!! Isn’t that cool??
    My mom: What am I letting you read?

    Me: Did I ever tell you what Flechette bats do?
    Friend: No
    Me: They feed them spikes with fruit over top of it and then they CRAP the spikes over enemies.
    Friend: Wow…
    I’d take a bullet over that any day…

    Me: *Talks about flechette bats*
    Other Friend: I want one!!
    Me: Me too!

  29. @ 31
    Yup same.

    And to tell the truth it didn’t really seem that weird to me when I read the books.

  30. Oh and does anyone think that the bar kinda looks like a NAKED 80- YEAR- OLD CHICKEN ???
    Because if you look at the little wing things I don’t know I see a wrinkley chicken.

  31. Hey I was at Denny’s today and I was watching TV and guess what they were showing? VIDEOS OF COMIC CON!

  32. I was watching TV at Denny’s. I didn’t go to Denny’s, come home, THEN watch TV. Just making myself clear.

  33. I spent 2 hours describing every bit of “Leviathan” and”Behemoth” to my friend and when I finished he simply said “did you say something” so i turned off his xbox before he could save the last 2 hours of playtime on Skyrim.

  34. Oh and i described them to my mom in the car and she said “is that so” like she always does . >.<

  35. When I went on a LBG rant to my class about flechette bats I got kicked out for being too graphic.

  36. Wow, I haven’t been here for awhile. Can’t say I’ve been doing anything noteworthy though, just obsessively watching all the Dr. Who netflix has to offer…

  37. Yeah today I said to my mom, you wanna hear something cool?
    She went is it about a book
    Me: yes
    Her:then not really…then when I tried my friend Melina, who has the mentality of a four year old, I thought she’d be amused because it’s her two favorite subjects mixed, books and poop, but she looked at me like I was the crazy one? WTH? This is the person who draws on two sides of a broken board, and names one side pee and the other side after my cousin

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