Friday, August 31, 2012

Mechanical Insects

I've stumbled across images of these "mechanical insects" several times in my research of other mythological beasts and they really intrigued me. I wanted to know, are they real? Is someone making mechanical insects using old watch parts? Do they work? They are wonderfully "Steampunk-eque", and I love imagination behind them.

So I decided to do a little research about them, and I have to confess, that although I don't like the idea of the creator using real insect parts (I personally do not squash snails or kill spiders on principle) they really are extraordinarily wonderful works of art (and for the record, they are ethically sourced insect bodies.)
 These sculptures, and they are sculptures (not functional)  are works of art are created by "Insect Lab" (click for the link).

Anyway, I thought I'd just share some with you, as they are rather intriguing, and are definitely food for the muse, particularly for those with a steam-punk or sci-fi background!

Also you might be interested to know that they are actually available to buy if you are so inclined.

Anyway, enjoy your weekend.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Lamassu

Hailing from the ancient Middle East, (Mesopotamia,  Babylon, Assyria) the Lamassu is a human hybrid creature of great benevolence.
Typically portrayed with the body of bull, and head of a bearded man, complete with wings - they were considered protective deities. Colossal statues of these beast have been found in the ruins of Babylonian and Assyrian cities.  The statues were positioned as guardians at the entrances to palaces and small carved tablets depicting these beasts have been found placed under the door thresholds. This indicates that they were sentinal guardians.

In Mesopotamian mythology Lamassu help people fight evil, and each day they were said to hold the gates of dawn open so that the sun god could rise.

Rather uniquely the Lamassu carvings have two aspects, when viewed from the side they look as though they are striding forward, yet when viewed from the front appear to be standing guard. You can see in this picture how they have done this by placing an extra leg in the carving.

 In some texts the Lamassu seem to be depicted with a lions body, rather than a bulls. In my humble opinion, I think this is where many of the flying Manticore imagery has its origins. In my post about the manticore, I mention that in more recent times, there seems to have been the addition of wings to the traditionally wingless creature. It's my belief that there may have been some level of confusion between the manticore (Head of a man and body of a lion) and the Lamassu (Head of a man, body of bull or Lion with wings). It's just a thought....
Manticore with wings
Human heads on animal bodies is a popular theme throughout mythology and the Lamassu is no exception.

I have never read of a Lamassu in popular fiction, however, according to wikipedia, in the Chronicals of Narnia there is a human headed bull who is part of Aslan's army, and they also have made an appearance in Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Dungeons and Dragons.

Anyhoo, that's me for the day. Enjoy your weekend.

Monday, August 13, 2012

RWAus Conference 2012

I'm going to be on the "Not your Normal Paranormal" panel at the RWA Conference in Queensland Australia in a few days time.

I'm sharing the panel with some well known authors and editors, namely Alexandra Sokoloff, Monique Patterson, Keri Arthur, Cathleen Ross, Anna Hackett, and Eleni Konstantine (moderator).

Do you want to know a secret?
 It's a little daunting!

So my question is this, what question would you like to ask me if you were at the conference? Any stellar words of advice?


Saturday, August 4, 2012

What puts you off a book?

You pick up a book, the cover looks great, the blurb is awesome, then you read a couple of pages and go "...Nah..." put it down, and even on the most dull day, you still can't pick it to stave off crippling boredom.

Has this ever happened to you? It happens to me with reasonable frequency.

Today I'm posting my top three major turn offs in books. These are things that annoy me, and I cannot get over and thus find myself incapable of finishing the book. This is a personal list, I don't expect everyone to agree, and certainly isn't representative of all romance readers!

1. Names.
With names like Primrose and Antigone in my books, you could say it's the pot calling the kettle black... However, my pet hate with names isn't because of weirdness, or difficulty in pronounciation.... what I dislike is in romance genres - is heroines with boys names. I picked up a book not long ago in which the heroine's name was Harrison.... ummm, to me, Harrison is strictly a boys name. It literally means "Harry's son", so I couldn't get over it and despite a great premise behind the story I didn't read it. I'll tolerate girls called Camryn, Riley or whatever, but this one was a deal breaker.
My other issue with names is reading period novels and finding someone called Jayden or Tenisha. Modern names fit in modern stories (unless there is time travel involved) so finding Tenisha sauntering around Regency England just doesn't cut the mustard, at least for me.

2. Unrealistic Dialogue.
[image courtesy: Lovelornpoet]
Authors can't always get it right, I know that, I'm probably guilty of this myself on occasion, but sometimes I am jarred out of a book simply by the poorly written dialogue. You can check out some pretty interesting examples here

3. Green eyes

I've probably mentioned this before, but green eyes are remarkably popular in literature, when in reality green eyes are quite rare and are attributed to only 2-5% of the world population. I'm reading a book at the moment (and am determined to finish it) where at least 4 of the characters have green eyes. It's annoying. However, for the record, green eyes are the fifth rarest form of eye colour, followed by amber at number four, violet at three, black at number two and coming it at the rarest is red (as only those with albanism have this colour naturally).

Anyway, I'm interested to know what puts you off a book in the first couple of chapters!

Have a good weekend :)