It’s getting close to Halloween and things are about to get pretty horrible! No more horrible than this Japanese lady who seems to have been transformed into a sink, an open drain for her mouth.

Worldbuilding Wednesday 10/6/21: Insects

In fantasy worldbuilding, insects get the short end of the (walking) stick. What’s the last imaginary one you can remember? For me, it’s the odd bread-and-butterfly of Alice in Wonderland.

The intelligent insect races of science fiction are more memorable. The Bugs of Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, and the Buggers (Formics) of Orson Scott Card’s Ender series are two of the more memorable. Spindly, black, hairy, and multilegged, they are depicted as ruthless, avaricious adversaries without emotion and individuality. The same is true of the Tandu, a race from David Brin’s Uplift series who oppose the hubris of humankind for creating their own client races in intelligent dolphins and chimpanzees. (There is, incidentally, a whole encyclopedia of Uplift races and their relationships here, and it’s complicated.)

Alan Dean Foster is the only writer I know who bucked the tide and created an insect race friendly towards humanity. Known as the Thranx, his charming creatures are mantis-like and have an attractive odor. The same concept of mantid- or grasshopper-like insect men was adopted by TSR (now Wizards of the Coast) for their race of insect men known as the Thri-Keen which players may choose as a character.

Want to stick in some insects of your own to round out a world or two?

(NOTE: I’m including spiders and scorpions in the list even though, technically, they do not belong to the insect family.)



Chicken Cabbage Spider

Coffer Fly

Blue Oil Wasp

Monk Spider

Gilded Tigerfly

Heath Darter



Ox Tick

Sultan Kisser

Copper-Backed Millipede

Dune Mite

Goblin Bug

Harewhip Spider

Goodwife Flea

Zebra Beetle

Cattle Crawler

Jupiter Beetle

Spinster Fly

Patron Hornet

Empress Barrel Cricket

Valparaiso Barrel Cricket

Amber-eyed Mantis

Pudding Mite

White Slipper Butterfly

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