Tag: Names

Worldbuilding Wednesday 12/13/17: Star Names II

Distinctive stars have distinctive names. Polaris, for example, is also known as the Pole Star, and at various places in its past Angel Stern, Cynosura, the Lodestar, and The Star of Arcady. Arcturus was known as Guardian of the Bear to the ancient Greeks. Constellation descriptions in old astronomical catalogs give descriptions such as “Regulus, …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday 12/6/17: Star Names I

Not only did ancient peoples look to the night sky’s constellations as cultural touchstones, they also looked to individual stars. The star Thuban helped the Egyptians align their pyramids, and Sirius, when it rose at dawn, let them know the flooding of the Nile was soon to come. The stars of the Pleiades star cluster …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday 11/29/17: Imaginary Constellations

cat constellation

In a pre-industrial society, stars and constellations had more impact on the viewer because there was less light pollution. Pictures could be traced, paths, and stories, all providing a commonality among members of a tribe or society. One common example is the constellation of the Big Dipper, or Ursa Major, imagined by many ancient cultures …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday 11/22/17: Supernatural Beings

  There are all sorts of fairies, elementals, grues, demons, devils, angels, nature spirits, and the like in fantasy. Often they serve a purpose in the story, and just as often they are there for window dressing, like the offhand mentions of pookas or kelpies causing trouble. In fact, things wouldn’t be the same if …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday 11/15/17: Venice or Venus

Masquerade time in Venus (Venice)   Fantasy writing published in English-speaking worlds relies heavily on Medieval England as a setting. I suppose it’s because most early fantasy writers were, in fact, English, and then there’s the influence of the Inklings that included J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. It’s a heavy base that …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday 11/8/17: Fairground Rides

So many of them sound like video games, don’t they? Probably because both are designed to take their users to a strange, disoriented world full of action and violent motion. With a dozen lists and a randomizer, here’s what I came up with, to create your own travelling carnival or Midway.   Nausea-inducing fairground rides …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday 11/1/17: Quaint English Towns

Are those Hobbits in the foreground?   You’re driving along in the English countryside on your way to the next bed-and-breakfast. Villages and towns appear as you turn a bend or crest the hill, then disappear as the road steers you away. Or you’re reading some cozy mystery book set in the British Isles, or …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday 10/25/17: Bogies

They are the things that make children wake screaming, blind with fear, in the middle of the night. They are the things that slip through the cracks under bedroom windows, the things that turn the knobs of bedroom closets and push them open with agonizing slowness, while the children cower under their blankets and pray …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday 10/18/17: Geisterbahn

Geisterbahn is German for ghost train, the popular amusement park ride that carries thrill-seekers into dark, eerie tableaus designed to thrill and shock them. The most elaborate of these are found at Munich’s Oktoberfest. In the US, these rides are known as Spookhouses, or Haunted Houses. Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion is an example of the best …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday 10/11/17: Tiamatan Clan Names

Science fiction writer Joan D. Vinge wrote a fairy tale/space opera mashup in the early 1980s called The Snow Queen, which borrowed from the Hans Christian Anderson tale of the same name. Most of the action took place on a frigid water planet named Tiamat, where humans were split into two clans: Summers and Winters. …

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