Worldbuilding Wednesday 3/20/19: Cetaceans

Type D Killer Whale

Type D Killer Whale

BIG NEWS from the whale world! A group of cetacean experts identified and took a DNA sample from a mysterious sub-group of killer whales living in the Southern Hemisphere. The mysterious whales, called Type D, have been photographed in recent years, but not studied. They are slightly smaller than genotype species and have a tiny, em-dash like eyepatch. They appear to eat fish and congregate  off southern Chile and sub-antarctic islands like Crozets. If according to analysis they are a new species, it means there are still  surprises in the ocean left to discover. A new-to-science 12-foot marine mammal is one of them.

As a mammal group in general, though, cetaceans can be pretty boring. Oh, they’re exotic enough in terms of size and lifestyle, from pack-hunting killer whales to the huge sperm whales that dive after giant squid. But these singular superstars are few. Most species tend follow the biological rule of form follows function, and thus closely resemble one other. This is especially with the beaked whales, who often can be told apart only by their teeth. (Cetaceans fall into three families: Beaked, Baleen, and Toothed, each having a different way of feeding.)

Fortunately in fantasy we don’t have to be so limited. Here are some ideas for creating your own distinctive dolphins and whales.

Imaginary Cetaceans

Heldaan: A huge, mythical  whale with a striped gray-and-black body. It has a huge head, tapered tail, and an oversized, rounded dorsal fin that is said to be easily mistaken for a boat’s hull when seem from the side. Legend says it feeds on giant squid.

Amis River Dolphin: A medium-sized freshwater dolphin, light tan in color with a dark reddish-brown cape on its back said to resembled dried blood. It has a torpedo-shaped body and blunt teeth for crushing the giant water snails it feeds on. Unlike other dolphins it communicates with a coarse croak above the water and swims with slow, lazy movements of its flukes.

Waldyd’s Whale: A small baleen whale with a thick coat of gray fur and two protruding tusks. It lives in Arctic regions. Long whiskers protrude from its chin and lips, said to help the whale find food on the ocean floor. It also has three small chin horns.

Shügenthab: A giant carnivorous whale. It has a long, slim body and four sharp curving tusks. It has a bony ridge on its back and feeds on midsize fish it sucks into its mouth. This whale is known to attack large boats. It is entirely black with a light gray underbelly. Its eyes are all white with no pupil or iris.

Wynnihaw: A large member of the dolphin family, light gray in color with a black eye patch shaped like an ellipse. Thick-bodied, almost stumpy, it has two sharp fangs protruding from its lower jaw. It preys on seals. Its pectoral flippers have vestigial talons it uses for scratching and clawing to establish dominance in its hunting pod.

Darshon’s Dolphin: Large river and estuary dolphin that preys on salmon. It has a thickened, plump body and both front and rear flippers. It lives in small family groups and is very intelligent. Darshon’s dolphins are easily domesticated.

Rundilf: A mid-sized beaked whale with vestigial conical teeth and a two large hook-shaped dorsal fins, one at mid-back, the other just before its tail. Rundilf have nonfunctional eyes and rely on sonar.  Its belly is covered with thick, warty projections. They are rarely but notably seen. “Ugly as a Rundilf” is a common saying amongst sailors.

Ice Killer: A pack-hunting carnivorous dolphin, glossy black in color with a lighter area above its eye shaped like a question mark lying on its side. It also has a white chin patch and underside. It has two narwhal-like spiral tusks it uses to harass its prey. Ice killers live near pack ice in Arctic regions. They are more dorsally flattened than other dolphins to squeeze between crevasses in the ice.

Balandra: Giant ocean-going whale, white in color with small light gray freckles on its head and body. It has large brown eyes and feeds on krill. Unlike many whales, it has very good vision and can see in color. It has a streamlined body and triangular flukes and is a solitary creature. A ridge of horny scales on its back substitutes for a dorsal fin.

Landcrawler: Small tropical dolphin with nostrils at the tip of its snout and jointed, functional back flippers its uses to crawl up on beaches with to steal seabirds’ eggs.

Chequek: A large, aggressive hunter, the chequek is grayish-tan in color with a white belly. Females are more pinkish in color. It has a slim, streamlined body and a long, pointed snout.  It feeds exclusively on sharks.  Its dorsal fin is shaped like a triangle.

Gef: A small whale with a long, almost eel-like body. It is dark brown in color with lighter brown speckling. It feeds on midsize fish and it found only in coastal areas. It has lobed, heart-shaped flukes and many sharp, small teeth.

Geed: Medium-sized beaked whale with small, sharp teeth and large pectoral flippers it uses to “fly” through the water with. Males will box with their flippers in mating season.

Ahab’s Folly

Dramatic steampunk version of Captain Ahab harpooning Moby Dick, by ArcaneChroma.

Worldbuilding Wednesday 3/13/19: Fashion Houses

RIP fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld (with model Jean Patou in the early 1960s)

Sometimes, when you’re writing, you need to stick in a mention of a haute couture suit or award ceremony gown, but don’t want to date the piece by using a contemporary designer. Here’s some names that will fill that role.

.

Fashion Houses

August Brunaut

Angeroli

Hilbocher

Saint-Melrant

Ravaux

de Vistrenzi

Perschino

Astraux

Igneus Carmacci

Banbreaux

Patricia Leerfield

Valcomte

Alvin Vistier

Arcante’

Levenchy

Eric Lastier

della Favrelli

Zandino

Adie’

St. Peranne

Allex Croix

Agnes Patraud

Violezzi

Eusebio Orant

Maria von Antonberg

Brosace

 

Tales from La Vida [Reading Challenge 2019]


Tales from La Vida:
A LatinX Comics Anthology

Edited by Frederick Luis Aldama
Mad Creek Books, an imprint of
Ohio State University Press, 2018

[EXTRA CREDIT: A book about a person of color (PoC), any variety, written by an author of the same variety]

I’m tacking on this book as extra credit to the above challenge.

The genesis of Tales from La Vida was pretty unique. Eighty LatinX (a term that includes, but is not limited to, those of Latino/Latina gender) writers, artists, and other creators within the comics community were asked to contribute a brief comic on what it meant to them to be who they were. The result was a kaleidoscope of different artistic styles and different storytelling techniques, some very traditional, some obscure. Most were pretty solid and the whole was fun to read. More than a few were heartbreaking, and more than a few contained stunning imagery — like Quetzalcoatl serpents or a taco turned into a jet plane.

Excerpt from "Chopping Down the Cottonwood" by Eric J. Garcia

Excerpt from “Chopping Down the Cottonwood” by Eric J. Garcia

The focus was on mainstream, or White American, society and the price of being Other — mostly Mexican or Central American in this anthology, though Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and other South American nationalities also made appearances – it takes. But even though it’s dominant in many ways the U.S. is still only a small part of the wider Latin world. There’s a whole other Hemisphere below it. By saying this I’m not criticizing the book, far from it; it benefited by being narrow in scope. But I also know that LatinX experience in their own countries, or in a country other than the US, is a lot different, and that there are also other stories to tell, and I hope to hear them one day.

It also made me hunger for an anthology of actual Latino comics, Super Cholo, Condorito, Kaliman, Mafalda, and the like, to check out the writers’ influences.

Seventeen

Altered Seventeen magazine covers from artist Carmen Burguess.

Worldbuilding Wednesday 3/6/19: Short and Sweet

Genevieve Tasi, The Kill Party

Sometimes you don’t want a name that’s too long or complicated for a gaming character… something short and easy to say. Here’s a few.

Short Names

Ghanin

Choart

Armsin

Opan

Zasn

Chard

Chaer

Othan

Torzan

Milven

Gandrud

Jandal

Zulsh

Lurth

Krind

Marn

Vitchun

Amun

Uvan

Sephin

Chars

Gyrn

Charl

Joforn

Elz

Seph

Dazsh

Olans

Pantch

Opam

Perex

Yaschn

Charph

Minshon

Pantun

Jaen

Khin

Kiv

Bharn

Genyn

Prisn

Jaln

Ralb

Larn

Hydh

Erezh

Pench

Phaan

Yascht

Prisk

Zylphe

Jairg

Irad

Ving

Lisn

Japhym

Olan

Anth

Vangu

Olanch

The Orca Exploded

Mural by the talented street artist Nychos

Worldbuilding Wednesday 2/27/19: Let’s Talk About Chicago

John Hancock Tower, Chicago

The pyramidal, futuristic skyscraper originally known as John Hancock tower. The radio antennae give it the appearance of a testy bull, entirely appropriate for this city.

I’ve always thought Chicago had a special ring to it. It’s both soft, and hard, and rolls easily off the tongue (as I also noted for the name Christopher.) It improves any other word it’s paired with. The Chicago Cubs. Chicago pizza. Chicago Transit Authority. It’s the subject of a famous poem that is famously misquoted:

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling…

(It’s Hog Butcher for the World, not the Nation)

The name itself is derived from a Native American word for a type of wild onion, shikaakwa. Chicago also has nicknames like The Windy City, Chi-Town, and Second City (as in the Second City comedy troupe) but to my mind it doesn’t really need them. Chicago is enough.

Need a name that’s like Chicago, without being Chicago? Here are some choices.

Variations on Chicago

Chalinago

Tricago

Chandrisogo

Checaza

Chalcotho

Shumeto

Chussano

Chrisotho

Caboncho

Davano

Shobeldo

Candellego

Nicabo

Sjallinago

Rhecava

Chansaya

Mimelko

Chumigo

Chicadi

Shansado

Vicago

Chansano

Knight’s End

Her Cold Embrace, by Michael Macrae

Tales of knights in shining armor don’t always end happily.

Worldbuilding Wednesday 2/20/19: Coffee Houses

Cuppa angst, anyone?

The inhabitants of Seattle drink more coffee than in any other American city, and we also boast more independent coffee houses than other American city. The trend began when Starbucks opened its first store in Pike Place Market in 1971, and really began to take off in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  As a person I was more into tea than coffee when I first moved here, but that all changed when I chose an espresso machine as a Boeing employee commendation gift, and I’ve never looked back.

My personal favorites over the years include the Meowtropolitan Cafe, where one can drink and spend time with adult cats in a kitty wonderland jungle gym, and Sip and Ship where you can drink and mail packages at the same time. I was also fond of Ventoux Coffee, which had a pop-up trailer near a local secondhand store specializing in 1960s Scandinavian household furnishings whose owner taught my dog to dance for snacks.  The Couth Buzzard used bookstore on Greenwood boasts a coffee bar in addition to books and a community jam space. Alas, Espresso Dental further down the arterial doesn’t offer coffee anymore, just tooth whitening services, which perhaps is sorely needed.

Do you need a name for a coffee shop where your characters like to hang out… as in FriendsCentral Perk? Here are a randomgenned few.

Coffee Houses

The Brew Zoo

Hoppin’ Mocha

Coffee Shark

Café Retro

Mosh to Midnight

Grindhouse Kitten

Java Sisters

Cup Town

Grounds for Buzz

Mocha-Lux

Roastopia

Perky Express

Parlor Espresso

Bean Alert

Island Buzz

Coffee Dutchman

Coffee Dragon

Shambala Bean

The Good Morning Bus

Retro Roast

Espresso Plantation

The Xtreme Bean

Mugville

Java Bird

Coffee Jock

Eden Roast

The Double Shot Room

Village Brew