“History Is a Whitewash”

This Is Important, Thumbs Up

It’s a fact that the European / Greater Mediterranean history isn’t as white as western history textbooks and media make it. If you won’t listen to me, listen to Doctor Who played by Peter Capaldi:

Doctor Who Thin Ice Gif 1of3Doctor Who Thin Ice Gif 2of3Doctor Who Thin Ice Gif 3of3

Bill: “Regency England, a bit more black than they show in the movies.”

Doctor Who: “So is Jesus. History is a whitewash.”

Doctor Who‘s tenth season seems to be working hard to rescue the series from the preceding slump of mediocrity. This bit of deliciousness comes from the episode “Thin Ice” (s. 10, ep. 3), written by Sarah Dollard. Image via Ninon / amanitacaplan on Tumblr.

I may have to pick up Doctor Who again.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Western Asian Science Fictional Art

Arts & Crafts, Thumbs Up

Omar Gilani is an illustrator, designer, and concept artist currently based in Pakistan. Not all of his art has sci-fi elements, but the pieces that do are amazing. Take a look:

Omar Gilani 2

Omar Gilani.

Omar Gilani 5

Omar Gilani.

The engineer-turned-artist takes inspiration from everyday life and combines traditional drawing with digitally created elements.

Omar Gilani sits4

Omar Gilani.

Omar Gilani maybe3

Omar Gilani.

I am very sorry I found out about his work only a day(!) after the Hugo nomination period closed. Well, hopefully he’ll continue producing genre art so I can nominate him next year.

Found via Islam and Science Fiction.



Happy 100th Anniversary, 1st Sámi Congress!

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Happy Sámi National Day, and Happy 100th anniversary, Sámi Congress!

Flickr arctic_council Small Sami Flags

Small Sami Flags by arctic_council on Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0).

The first Sámi congress – meeting between Sámi from different countries to find solutions for their shared problems – took place February 06, 1917.

The Sámi are a Finno-Ugric people indigenous to Arctic Scandinavia, Finland and the Kola peninsula in north-eastern Russia. They are a minority in each country, and have suffered from discrimination for centuries. They are by no means invisible, however – I grew up with people of Sámi descent as neighbors, classmates and teachers. The Sámi National Day is increasingly recognized by the non-Sámi populations.

Happy Halloween!

After Hours, Design & Designers

I was scrolling through old photos looking for something else when I came across this Halloweeny picture:
Griffin Helmet Fitting Nat Mus Denmark

It’s a griffin-shaped metal item, probably a helmet fitting. It was found in Roman period Denmark, 2nd to 3rd century, and is currently in the collection of the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. Photo by Husband.

Happy Halloween to those celebrating!

Discoveries: Take Back Halloween!

Arts & Crafts, DIY, Stunt Double, Thumbs Up

Take Back Halloween is a costume guide for women. In their words:

“We’re a resource guide: we come up with the costume designs, explain what you’ll need to pull off the look, and provide links to where you can buy the various components. […]

“We love Halloween. We really love Halloween. We think it’s cool that there’s one day a year when people can dress up as anything they want. What we don’t think is cool is that increasingly women are only supposed to dress up as one thing: “Sexy _____” (fill in the blank). Sexy Nurse, Sexy Cowgirl, Sexy whatever. […]

“There’s nothing wrong with sexy (for adults), and if you want to go that route, fine. Have fun! We just want there to be other options as well.”

I couldn’t agree more – options are always good, since we’re not made in one single mold. And they run a costume contest!

Take Back Halloween 2016-contest_1200x1200

Take Back Halloween!

What we’re looking for: costumes that fit into our own costume categories here on the website. That means a goddess or mythological figure, a great queen, a notable historical person, or a glamorous star.”

Make sure to have a look at the previous winners – they are awesome!

What interests me in all this are the historical women (queens, notable women) and goddesses or mythological characters. Even browsing quickly, they seem to have a variety of options.

Take Back Halloween is the first venture from the Real History Project, which was conceived in 2010 by Suzanne Scoggins.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Ancient Egyptian Diadem Inspires High Fashion?

Design & Designers

Remember my post about the fantasy flair in Valentino’s fall winter 2015-2016 collection?

Valentino2 fall winter 2015-2016

Valentino, fall winter 2015-2016. Photo Fabrizio Ferri / Vogue Italia.

I said the cuts reminded me of the movie Troy or vaguely of ancient Greek styles in general. While I didn’t get it exactly right, it sounds like historical Mediterranean may have been an inspiration for Valentino.

According to Katherine Barlow on Tumblr, the many head pieces and belts in the collection were inspired by this gold diadem:

Hyksos Headband Collage

Headband with heads of gazelles and a stag between stars or flowers, Egypt, ca. 1648-1540 BCE. Photos via The Met, collage by Eppu Jensen.

It’s from ancient northern / middle Egypt, from the time of the so-called Hyksos culture, which combined Egyptian and Eastern Mediterranean traditions. This diadem is dated ca. 1648-1540 BCE, with animal heads alternating with flowers. Apparently it’s a typical example of how artistic styles were combined in the multicultural Hyksos civilization.

Now, I haven’t been able to confirm whether the Hyksos diadem actually was Valentino’s inspiration or not. Regardless, as a fan of early history, I love how the ancient world still pops up in our modern times even when not specifically looking for it. 🙂

Hidden Youth Anthology Has 5 Hours to Go

Ahem Ahem!, Books & Mags, This Is Important, Thumbs Up

Hidden Youth is the sequel to Locus and World Fantasy Award -nominated anthology Long Hidden (2014), currently in the final hours of its successful Kickstarter.

Long Hidden is a collection of speculative fiction giving voice to those whom history has neglected, ignored or erased. In the same vein, Hidden Youth concentrates on marginalized young people under the age of 18. There will be 22 short stories, each with original black and white artwork. The gorgeous color cover was made by two-time Hugo Award winner Julie Dillon.

Long Hidden Hidden Youth Covers

Since the Hidden Youth Kickstarter has already reached its funding goal (meaning that the project is sure to go on), donations at this point are essentially preorders. There are many other options, including rewards with cover art prints, but here are a few pledge levels with their rewards:

  • $8 Long Hidden e-book
  • $10 Hidden Youth e-book
  • $15 both e-books
  • $20 Long Hidden in print (at a discount!)
  • $25 Hidden Youth in print
  • $40 a print copy of both books

The table of contents sounds intriguing – I’m so looking forward to these stories. If the Long Hidden anthology is anything to go by, Hidden Youth will be great.

Again, there are only a few hours left to contribute. Get your donation in now!

(The Kickstarter ends July 06, 2016, at 10 p.m. EST.)

Disclosure: A short story by Husband was accepted into the anthology. I wasn’t paid or perked to mention the Kickstarter, though; just passing along a good thing.

Online Finds: Himmeli Video Tutorials

Geek out!

The world is marvelously international these days. Evidence A: Magdalena Franco at Unleash Creative in Australia made a video tutorial of how to make three simple Finnish himmeli-style hanging straw ornaments:

Himmeli 3 ways – Tutorial for creating geometric hanging decorations using straws by Unleash Creative

Such lovely versions. I especially like her use of bright colors, and the tassels are a nice addition. I’ve used beads myself. (If you prefer voice instructions with your video, this tutorial by HGTV Handmade is pretty good.)

Magdalena’s himmeli number 2, an octahedron, is what I’m used to thinking as the himmeli shape. It’s used as a building block in making the large, traditional himmelis like this one from a 1909 encyclopedia:

Bonsdorff 1909 Tietosanakirja p270 himmeli

Wäinö Waldemar Bonsdorff: Tietosanakirja, 1909, p. 270. Via University of Toronto / Internet Archive Book Images on Flickr.

(I don’t know what the things hanging down from the bottom corners are. Strips of fabric? Ribbons?)

Himmeli shapes can also vary a lot and be very ornate like the one below photographed by sparkleice on Flickr:

Flickr sparkleice himmeli

Himmeli by sparkleice on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

The name himmeli is based on the Germanic word himmel (heaven). They were originally made to ensure a good harvest – the bigger, the better – but turned into Christmas ornaments.

Nowadays himmelis aren’t used just at Christmastime, though. For example, I’ve seen pictures of colorful himmelis used as decoration for a summer patio or deck. I leave mine out in the front hall year-round as a lovely reminder of my roots. There are also all sorts of wonderful adaptations, like this diamond himmeli from Kotivinkki magazine:

Kotivinkki joulukuu 2012 salmiakkihimmeli

Project by Anne Ventelä based on the book Himmeli by Eija Koski (Maahenki, 2012); photo by Hanna-Kaisa Hämäläinen. Kotivinkki joulukuu 2012 / Kotivinkki.fi.

Looks like himmeli (along sauna) is on its way to becoming one of the very few Finnish words known around the world. The ornaments themselves certainly deserve to be more widely known.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

More Mainstreamed Cosplay Patterns

Arts & Crafts, Design & Designers, DIY

Cosplay has definitely gone mainstream. Earlier I wrote about cosplay fabrics available at everyday fabric chain stores and a line of cosplay patterns from McCall’s. But I missed that also Simplicity offers cosplay patterns. The latest of those are two packages of 18th century Scottish outfits inspired by the success of the tv-series Outlander.

Lauren American Duchess Simp-OL-J-G-render

Original drawings for 18th century outfits for Simplicity cosplay patterns by Lauren at American Duchess.

Lauren (who spearheads two historical shoewear companies, American Duchess and Royal Vintage) designed both for beginning sewists; i.e., they had to be easily made with a sewing machine from modern materials.

However, she will also write a series of blog posts on how to hack her patterns into a more historically attestable dress:

“I mean that here starts a blog series that will show you various techniques that you can use to take these patterns to the next level. Such as:

  • Hand-stitched eyelets instead of metal grommets
  • Creating robings and closing the bodice with pins
  • Interior lacing, buttons, and other bodice closures
  • Drafting and applying a 1740s winged cuff
  • Redrawing bodice seams and stays boning patterns
  • Drafting skirting for the bodice, to create a jacket
  • Extending the front edges for a center front closure
  • Setting sleeves with the 18th century method
  • 18th c. hand stitching techniques for finishing edges and sewing seams
  • Fitting through the side back seams the mantua maker’s way
  • Proper silhouette through bum pads, petticoats, and more petticoats
  • Binding and facing the stays with chamois leather
  • Proper materials – wool, linen, cotton, silk
  • How the heck to get dressed

And plenty more. I have a huge list. It’s going to be great!”

Now that’s a fantastic idea – way beyond call of duty! More info in Lauren’s introductory blog post and YouTube video.

I’ve got little interest in the 1700s specifically, but I’m defnitely going to read Lauren’s articles out of textile history geekery interest. 🙂

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

21 SF/F Authors Project, Book 11: Falling Free

Books & Mags

Book number 11 in my latest reading project is Falling Free (published in 1988) by Lois McMaster Bujold. She is probably best known for her Miles Vorkosigan books.

21 Authors Falling Free

Leo Graf, a master engineer and welder, is invited by a former student to visit planet Rodeo. The student, Bruce Van Atta, is now managing a zero-g habitat project on orbit and wants Graf to teach the engineers in his new workforce. This 1,000-person-strong populace known as quaddies turns out to be people with two pairs of arms instead of a pair of arms and a pair of legs.

The quaddies were created through experimental bioengineering. They’re defined as “post-fetal experimental tissue cultures” and as such, in the legally ambiguous state that Rodeo is in, considered to be property of GalacTech. They’re quick, intelligent, agile, and much more suitable for weightless conditions than unaltered humans.

Producing them has been tremendously expensive, however, and when GalacTech finds out that a competitor has developed commercially viable artificial gravity, Van Atta is tasked with shutting down the Cay Project and reallocating or destroying the related property, including quaddies, with as little expense as possible. Graf, who’s forged a connection with his students, is appalled and comes up with a daring plan to not just save the quaddies for now, but to set them free forever.

Falling Free reminded me of James Tiptree, Jr.’s The Starry Rift in that the human protagonists were characterized very effectively and economically; they’re all distinct and memorable. Unfortunately, the quaddies don’t rise quite as high as characters in their own right: of the main quaddie characters, Tony is the father, Claire is the mother and Silver the girl trading sexual favors for contraband.

Plotwise the book is well-paced and engaging. Again, Bujold’s high reputation is clearly well deserved, like Tiptree, Jr.’s. Not exactly a full-on Adventure! story, Falling Free has nevertheless a good dose of action, tension and scheming, and opens up a whole universe of possibilities for the quaddies.

Falling Free is set in the same universe as the Vorkosigan saga. The events take place 200 years before the birth of Miles. There was a handy timeline at the end of the book for placing the Vorkosigan novels in context. Not having read any of them, though, I’m still unsure of which events or details (if any) in Falling Free were of special significance. Nevertheless, I’m sure I’m in a good place should I want to go on with reading Bujold – and I well might!

As a sidenote, in 1988, we finally have data disks. (Every single book that I’ve read for this project so far that has had computers has mentioned tapes or cassettes for data storage.) Wo-hoo for catching up with technological development!

P.S. Find all posts in the project with the 21 authors tag.