The Unicorns of Sarkland – Bringing More Dinosaurs into Bifrons


In keeping with my tradition of populating Bifrons with animals inspired by medieval bestiaries, here are the unicorns of Sarkland, inspired by the mythological karkadann and the shadhavar of Persian mythology.

Being so isolated, Sarkland is my “lost world” playground, where I get to indulge my love of dinosaurs. Perhaps once more of Bifrons had archosaurs, but they went extinct over the eons, and only those in Sarkland survived.

Much as the mythlogical karkadann is obviously based off a rhinoceros (kargadan means rhinoceros in Persian and Arabic), I based my Sarkish karkadann on rhinos and ceratopsian dinosaurs. My shadavahr is a cross between a deer and a parasaurolophus, with the mythological shadhavar’s (yes, the switched-around spelling is intentional – I already had several -ahr words linked to Sarkland and wanted to keep a theme) multi-pronged horn in place of a hadrosaur’s crest.

The Dragons of Sarkland – Making Monsters

Everyone loves dragons! (well, not me, I was more of a dino-nerd) But how to fit them into a world that is much more sci-fi than fantasy? We’ve all read those “Physics of Dragons” articles that explain in painstaking detail why Dany Targaryen’s trio would never take off.  I found my answer in paleontology (remember the dino-nerd?) So you have a drake that is essentially a megalania and a lindorm that is a mosasaur with fully atrophied hind flippers.

The wyrm gets… a little trickier. It’s based off art of Persian dragons, as well as the Western wyrm. While there is not a clear prehistoric parallel for the wyrm, there were prehistoric snakes with small, but functional limbs. The head of the wyrm is clearly based off the komodo dragon, and… well, the stinger is just cool.

Updates – When is it “good enough”?

All creators know the feeling: sitting on your work instead of releasing it into the aether. “What if it isn’t ready yet? What if I think of something else to add? What if there’s a mistake somewhere? What if I’m not strong enough to handle the feedback right now? Maybe I’ll just let it percolate a little longer. Just a little longer. One more proofread. One more beta reader/viewer.”

Eventually you have to take the plunge and hit post.

And then it happens. The work just isn’t good enough.

Oh, it might be just fine for the world at last. You might be getting some sweet feedback. You might even feel the warm glow of pride. But deep down you know, you can do better. You can do more. You can do it differently.

This is all a roundabout way to announce I’ve remade the fact files for my world Bifrons. Click to embiggen.



Updates – Welcome to Bifrons

After lots of false starts and experimenting, I finally have a “look” I like for my “atlas” pages about Bifrons, the setting for my my upcoming novel East of the Sun.

The secret ingredient is love… and Photoshop to make the original map layout. Then G.Projector to turn it into a Robinson projection, and some more time in Photoshop to set up the page layouts.

Want to see more? Head over here.

On This Site in 1897 Nothing Happened

You’ve probably seen this plaque about in any heritage district with a sense of humor. I first saw it on the side of a gift shop in Virginia City back in 2010, and I had a good laugh, because of course I had already chosen 1897 as the year for my Ghost Town Novels, and the sign was less than one block away from where I had set several pivotal scenes.

Of course, by 1897, the Comstock had gotten a lot sleepier. The boom days were back in the 1860s and 1870s, and by the late 1890s, both Virginia City and Gold Hill were in decline, lending them that extra veneer of nostalgia and atrophy that made for a perfect “ghost town” setting.

But why 1897 specifically? Well, it was a pretty lively year! The inspiration for J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, Peter Llewelyn Davies, was born. Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee. The Klondike Gold Rush began.  Bayer Pharmaceuticals started selling Aspirin.  William McKinley was sworn in as president of the United States. And for my purposes: Bram Stoker’s horror novel Dracula was first published in London (it wouldn’t be published in North America until 1899). I never could pass up a mythology gag.