Worldbuilding Wednesday 8/21/19: Let’s Talk About Elric

Elric of Melniboné, that is.

elric of melnibone

The many moods (and artistic depictions)of Elric. Clockwise, from top left: demented; wistful; murderous; lovely (not Elric, but would make a very good one); kingly and world-weary; and, finally, whimsical, as he plays a game of peekaboo with Stormbringer.

Elric was a creation of SFF writer Michael Moorcock and made his first appearance in 1961, in a novella titled “The Dreaming City” in the pages of Science Fantasy magazine. More stories followed later in the 1960s and eventually they were compiled, with added material and edits, into a a series of paperback books, a lengthy saga that intertwined with Moorcock’s other worlds and heroes, all serving as reincarnations of a Jungian “Eternal Champion” through time and space.

But Elric always proved the most popular, for his intriguing mix of vulnerability and superpowers, questioning of morality, and all-too-human weaknesses. Born a sickly albino, he must take drugs to live a normal life and takes up the practice of sorcery to make up for his physical defects. Heir to a dying, decadent kingdom, he nonetheless swears to defend it.  When he acquires a magic sword, Stormbringer, he gains great strength and power (as Shazam the superhero does when he speaks his own name) yet winds up in deadly thrall to it, as the sword needs freshly killed souls as fuel. This sets up a series of adventures as Elric calls on evil gods and demons, travels the world, ousts usurpers from his kingdom, and deals with the deaths of those close to him caused by Stormbringer’s deadly thirst. He’s perhaps the most widely recognized fantasy hero out there outside of Tolkien’s Frodo and Gandalf and Robert E. Howard’s Conan. He’s served as inspiration for heavy metal lyrics as well as role-playing games and characters beyond count, among them Drizzt Do’Urden and Raistlin Majere of AD&D fame.

Need a name for a character like Elric, without it being Elric? Here’s a list.


Variations on Elric

Othret of Malebora

Udrith of Medbindiné

Ismec of Meljubon

Olrac of Marltukmore

Alluv of Murivain

Arctus of Melithone

Ochad of Melnupon

Abmuc of Melpomëne

Achmid of Marnimoine

Umley of Molóbite

Irthsic of Mrelprivone

Elrum of Mylskonië

Ashrit of Melsabro

Ilrac of Metalbrouse

Erkish of Marmoian

Elridh of Memnobonnu

Olras of Melsgaté

Emrit of Mynnydhone

Ushbar of Minnishori

Alshec of Mustheria

Alvir of Murnalbino

Elrits of Mingaloré


Time Capsule

Isn’t this the prototypical damsel-in-distress image?

Seriously, it strokes my sweet spot: the leering, Lon Chaney Jr.-as-Phantom of the Opera-like face of the villain and his floridly brandished pocket watch, and the wide-eyed look of the blonde, which is not so much terror as a mesmerized disgust.  (The man tied up behind her seems to show more fear. ) And oh, what a terrible fate, sealed up naked together in a time capsule destined to be opened 2,000 centuries hence!

And yet, it makes no sense. They are going to be dropped, but there’s no indication of where, and wouldn’t such a drop break the glass of the tube? Why does the mad scientist wear a red slicker? And what is he doing with that trowel? They are in a tube, not a mausoleum.

Questions, questions.


Worldbuilding Wednesday 8/14/19: Trendy Scented Candles

Yankee Candles, the granddaddy of all candle companies, was founded in 1969 by New Englander Michael Kittredge, who melted Crayola crayons together to make a candle for his mom. His company grew throughout the 1970s, given a strong push in the U.S. by hippie aesthetics and the back-to-earth-movement, to become the flagship giant it is today, and the company currently offers  hundreds of different scents on its website. But few people realize candle scents are like fashion; they change with the season. Fifteen years ago food smells were the rage, like Angel Food Cake and Pina Colada. Now their place is taken by nature odors like Vetiver Cardamom and ones that invoke a time and place, such as Caribbean Marker. Other scents, like Lavender and Sandalwood, remain perennially popular, the little black dresses and navy blue blazers of the candle world.

Who knows what the next decade will bring? Here’s some randomly generated scents that may prove to be the next big thing. Comforting Birth, anyone? Summer Asphalt?


Novel Candle Scents

Nordic Starlight

Vintage Driftwood

Tropical Leaves

Caribbean Toasted Corn

Gingersnap Kahlua

Jamaican Carnival

Arabian Villa

Ocean Festival

Sunlit Ginkgo

Comforting Birth

English Leather Evening

Polished New Car

Desert Copper

Shimmering Agave

Salted Cherry Blossom

Venetian Bay

Summer Asphalt

Afternoon Silk

Vintage Taffeta

Spring Sweater

Movie Popcorn

Slate and Hot metal

Verbena Snowball

Green Bayou

Evening Shipyard

Wet Suede

Cherry Pipe Smoke

Powdered Lemon

Refreshing Oxygen

Antigua Currents

Dark Waters

Green Tea and Incense

Blackberry Eggnog

Rich Loam and Dark Chocolate

Warm Kiln and Redwood

Modern Proposal

Lava Field

Pensive Cigar

Christmas Waffles

Fresh Washed Blue Jeans

Rainy Ozone

Sweet Mustard

Asparagus and Mango

Violet Thunder

Mongolian Melon

Coconut Barley Sugar


She was just another typical English bird in a cage.
Trapped, though she could not see it.

Worldbuilding Wednesday 8/7/19: Let’s Talk About

The name Cleopatra conjures up images of an exotic Egyptian beauty, an ancient dynasty, a scheming queen, a seductress. In movies she’s been played by Elizabeth Taylor, Claudette Colbert, Vivien Leigh, Joan Collins,  and Theda Bara; and to this day she remains a popular Halloween and performing persona for celebrities like Katy Perry, Heidi Klum, Cher, and Janet Jackson. Sometimes she is lily-white, at other times, black or brown. Yet history tells us she was Greek, the descendant of the Ptolemy dynasty of Egypt, who were founded by Alexander the Great’s general pal.

Being a snobbishly Greek family, the Ptolemies did not mix with the native Egyptians during their reign, and the name Cleopatra is not Egyptian either. It’s Greek, meaning “The Glory of the Father,” a combination of kleos (glory) and pater (father.) The Cleopatra we idolize wasn’t the only one either; she was actually number 4 of her lineage, and it’s easy to see why the name was popular. It’s a marvelous mix of syllables both hard and soft, and to English speakers, sounds catlike to the ear, with sharp claws and soft paws. No wonder it’s a popular name for household pets.

If you’re looking for a name like Cleopatra but without the associations, here’s a list.


Variations on Cleopatra

























The Black Queen IX

Her hypnotic stare seared into my soul.

Worldbuilding Wednesday 7/31/19: Detective Novels

The gruff private eye who investigated crimes with a world-weary cynicism had his start with author Dashiell Hammett amidst the throes of Prohibition when organized crime ran amok. Paperbook books began to be widely available in the decade after, and the two combined for masterpieces of vintage kitsch like the above (actual) novel by Fredric Brown, who also wrote horror,  science fiction and fantasy. The sultry brunette is clearly based on 1940s actress Veronica Lake and if you look closely, her shoulders are way too broad to be a woman’s. There’s also no way that red-gloved hand could belong to her, either, in the position the arm is in. But who cares? The whole is pure magic.

Looking for an imaginary detective novel to use in your work? Or perhaps gain inspiration from? A bunch of randomgenned titles below.


Hardboiled Detective Novels

The Waitress in the Cement Mixer

Death at the Luau

Larceny in Hell

Naked Came the Radical

Uptown Call Girl… she was pure sadism in go-go-boots!

The Blonde in the Bathroom Mirror

The Hairdresser of Muscle Beach

Boxing Club Temptress

The Claw Machine Murders

The Case of the Hamburger Killer

Diary of a Part-time Forger

The Case of the Hungry Fireplace

The Cinnamon Stick Killing

The Ferrari Murders

Brutal Ransom

Unlucky Reahead

Red Hot Emeralds

Murder in the Cat’s Eye

Kidnapping of an Escort

Death by Doberman

Blackmail at the Bikini Plant

The Gangster’s Moll Beside Me

Main Street Loser

The Tea-Time Murder

Farewell, But Don’t Tell Anyone


Anatomical Pastries

Baking art by Miss Insomnia Tulip

Baking art by Miss Insomnia Tulip

Hungry yet?


Worldbuilding Wednesday 7/24/19: The Best of
xxxxTwittersnips II (Characters)

Scalpel-fingered cyberpunk Molly Millions.

Iconic female characters for SFF are hard to find… and by iconic I mean they will be easily known by any reader with a good knowledge of the field even if rendered by disparate illustrators. Elric of Melniboné, who was in last week’s post, is one: armored albino man with a sword. Molly Millions, who made her first appearance in William Gibson’s Neuromancer, is another: leather-jacketed punk girl with surgical steel fingernails and mirrorshade sunglasses embedded into her face. (Admittedly, I always found the idea of embedded sunglasses ridiculous. What happens when you cry? Get an itch in your eye?)

Here are more memorable names culled from my daily Twitter posts, up to June of 2019, that may be used for characters in a story or in a gaming situation.


Twittersnip Characters II

Sgt. Asglen Pepperwater of the Dragoons

Gandane Fiddlewater, a minstrel

Chindalf the Unexpired, a wizard

Hanolne, the Mountain Enchantress

Ysselve, the Illusionist of Steam

Sir Fanchon Disblaes

Mistress Fornhook, character in a BDSM novel

The Marquise of Leatherwood, character in a BDSM novel

Lady Irina Forcemouth, character in a BDSM novel

Kaliestes, a hero of Greek legend

Gilliam Lodespear, an English playwright

Babette Bainbridge, a silent movie actress

The Ravenwidow, a superheroine

Vyrmanson the Shapechanger

Ushaline, a mermaid

Lalöysses the Red, a pirate captain

Spinefeld the Prudent

Eugulus of the Orange Cap, a bard

Ankhbren of the Voiceless God

Isonaul, Magus of Water

Jandzar the Red Dragon, a barbarian

Cytest Roseblossom, a courtier


Flaming Heart

My heart burns for you.