Choose Your Weapon

You’re stranded in Medieval Russia and can only pick one. Which is it?

Worldbuilding Wednesday 9/29/21: Bodacious Bs

Hans Holbein the Younger, Letter B, woodcut, Rosenwald Collection

I am not as fond of the letter B as I am of the letter A for fictional characters. Oh, sure, it has its uses for manly types, like Byron and Bradford — think the alliterative brawny, brash, beefy. But for female characters, it implies big bosoms, bellies, and behinds in matronly names like Bessie, Bertha, and Brunhilda. The shape of the letter itself contributes, looking like a female chest turned on its side.

But if you like B better than I do, here’s some names for fantasy works.


Character names beginning with B


































Existential Spock

Mr. Spock deals with his fear in a unique way in this old comic book panel.

Worldbuilding Wednesday 9/22/21: The Best of Twittersnips
xxxx(Narnian Creatures)

It’s not too often that you see an illustration of Narnia where the viewpoint is looking into our world through the wardrobe, not the other way around. It also illustrates how odd this is, in a snowy forest filled with pine trees.

Naming Narnian beings is fun for me, so here’s a list of all who appeared in my Twitter feed 2017 – 2020.


Narnia Creatures

Skyscurf the Black Dwarf
Truebuttons the Red Dwarf
Moonpad the Leopard
Cleardip the Otter
Ryehorn the Rhinoceros
Tippineep the Mouse
Moonglimmer the Stag
Gracewing the Swan
Nimplepaw the Fox
Twitchnose the Hare

I Come from the Land of Esa

How do I unpack this Tibetan / Polynesian / Mexican lovely’s costume? Hydrangea flower earrings, yellow rubber gloves, solid gold flower-shaped pasties (with exaggerated nipples/stamens), a handkerchief for a top, and a towel for a bottom. Plus, a cow head on her forehead. Her companion with his white miniskirt gets off easy… but is that a swarm of bees crawling up his chest?

(Oh… and Norman soldiers in the background.)

Worldbuilding Wednesday 9/15/21: National Parks

On first glance, it’s pretty hard to tell which poster is of a real place, and which poster is fictional, yes?

Brightly colored travel posters that look like silkscreens began in the 1930s, as part of a Works Administration Project (WPA) funded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, designed to give employment to otherwise unemployed artists. The Great Depression was still going strong, but many of these artworks created a post-Art Deco, pre-Populux aesthetic,a simple yet noble monumental grandeur. Today these posters of the National Parks are recognized for their artistic value and exist in many reproductions.

What’s the difference between a National Park and a National Monument? Parks are natural areas and encompass biospheres; monuments most often (but not always) preserve social or archaeological sites. In 2021 there were 63 National Parks and 129 National Monuments.

New parks are being added all the time. The latest is New River Gorge National Park, in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, which was declared in 2020. Parks can also be downgraded, redesignated, or divided. Ever hear of Sullys Hill National Park? I haven’t either; in the 1930s it changed agencies and now operates as a federal game preserve.

Here’s a list of National Parks and Monuments that may be coming in the future.


National Parks yet to be declared

Dinosaur Mounds National Monument

Buzzard Back

Wolverine Spoon

Soda Shores

Little Porcupine Wilderness

Pronghorn Prairie

Lizard Throat Wilderness

Plume Island

Big Hoof Island

Mourning Woman Wilderness

Bearded River

Grand Oxbow

Agate Peak

Short Cap Fossil Beds


White Tail Slough

Atompunk Reading

Starfire, by Robert Buckner

In the Atompunk Age, manly men read books like this one, accompanied by a dry martini.

Worldbuilding Wednesday 9/8/21: Models of the 1960s

Fashion models of the 1960s were a special breed. They may not have been conventionally pretty, but they stood out as individuals in a way the models of the 1950s never did. Donyale Luna (left) and Benedetta Barzini (right) certainly did with their sculptural poise and elegance. Unfortunately Luna met a sad end in the late 1970s, while Barzini went on to a second career as a university lecturer.

Where did David Bowie get his pre-Ziggy Stardust inspiration from? It could have been the mimelike poses of model Peggy Moffitt, above, or the impish cupie-doll / silent movie look of Cathee Dahmen, below. (Dahmen, who may have been the first Native American supermodel, has a backstory worthy of a Hollywood biopic.)

Many models of the era adopted one-word monikers, like Twiggy (Leslie Hornby) and German model Uschi (Ursula Obermaier) while others altered the spelling of their birth names to stand out from the crowd. Others were just as happy to use the names they were born with. Sixties models were also the first truly international group and their names reflect this.

Need a model? Look below.


Fashion Models of the 1960s

Colette Jazz

Peggy Chad

Lois Job

Raven Iverley

Quincy Cloudletter

Patricia Strong

Leslie Heinrik

Paula Salt


Jill Cathcart


Cecilia Spear

Spya Epet

Elke Yor

Maria Crisp

Christina Stagberg

Erika Knorr


Anna Quick

Cara Bluff

Lass Jyski

Bernadette Papp

Sandy Wiss

Cindi Chen

Lamb Ulrich

Amber Othley

Rachel Woolsilk

Ashly Ivis

Cathy Strappel

Macy Pizetti


In addition to the Chronicles of Narnia, C. S. Lewis wrote the philosophical Planet trilogy (also known as the Cosmic Trilogy):  Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. These were for adult readers and in the science fiction genre (well, science fantasy, with more than a touch of the Victorian adventure novel) but the overall ethos of Christian philosophy remained the same.

A few years ago I read the book pictured above, about the planet Malacandra (Mars) but for the life of me I can’t remember why this black, human-faced otter has commandeered this poor guy’s boat. There were many strange creatures in it, all described wonderfully, and the main character swooned a lot, as he looks about to do above; that’s all I recall of the plot. Obviously I need to re-read them.


Jadis Redux

The second Summer of Narnia is drawing to a close, so I’d like to share some more images of my fave magic-using evil Queen, Jadis. First is a B&W rendition by comic artist Sebastian Ericson. Long black hair, grasping, claw-like hands, evil sneer, spiky crown… yum.

Jadis, by Sebastien Ericson

A section of a video art project about The Magician’s Nephew showing Jadis seated on her throne in the Hall of Images. She looks very Whore of Babylon-y here with her wild black hair and dark red gown with its motif of stars and crescent moon. Her flamelike gold crown is inspired… and note she’s also “crowned with sun” as in Revelations, except it’s Charn’s giant red one.

Jadis Awaits, by theboo

The same subject gets a different treatment here: on finding Jadis, Digory and Polly are frightened to the point of tears. This version of Jadis is thin, almost skeletal save for her giant breasts, and she sits hunched with a sneer underneath her pert yet severely pointed nose. The artist references her later White Witch persona in the use of icicles and ice crown; she also seems to be floating, alone, on a small snow-covered planetoid.

Spot-on (and looking very Aubrey Beardsley) is this design for Jadis’s gown, cloak, and headpiece.

Two costumes depicting Jadis in her role as Queen of Charn. The one on the left is from a Canadian stage production of The Magician’s Nephew. It’s eye-catching, but feels too much like the costumer designer ran over their budget and so improvised the skirt from some rich-looking fabric scraps left over from other productions.

The right one is based on Pauline Baynes’ pen and ink drawings from the original edition of the book. The crown comes across well but I really doubt the real Jadis would have chosen to wear so sweet a shade of pink.

Jadis experiences weakness and disorientation in the Wood Between the Worlds. Her magic powers did not carry over to this realm, and neither did her urge for dominance. Stripped of these, she’s no longer herself and wants to die.

Jadis and Aslan confer, each carefully keeping their distance. Aslan is open and sincere, but the witch keeps her hand on her knife. The artist is very skilled but the purple of the gown looks out of place, as does her  bustle and her pointed red cloth boot.

Edmund meets Jadis in her castle, Maugrim the wolf and the statue of Tumnus attending. The artist sticks to the text and also to Baynes’ original depiction, but adds a nice touch with all the leering gargoyle faces which foreshadow the evil creatures who attend Aslan’s sacrifice.

This Jadis goes with the blonde hair of the movie version, but she’s more angry and devious than Tilda Swinton’s depiction… you can almost hear her gnashing her teeth.

Jadis in her sleigh. Her face looks innocuous, but note that long arm and giant hand!