Sunday, June 03, 2007

Naked and Armored

"Naked and Armored" isn't intended as a cheap shot... but my title reflects my love of the oxymoron, the "grabber" that turned a social moment into a minor quest, and my delight in discovering The Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc.

Yesterday, I took my child to a birthday party, and stayed. (I always stay, because she is multi-allergic and I can't expect a party-giver to wield an Epipen). I'd planned to spend two hours in a shady corner of their garden researching plot elements for my next alien romance, but a Michigan thunderstorm drove me inside with other temporarily superfluous parents.

Absorbed as I was with trying to decide whether the Tarot card that best fits my next hero's character and fortune should be Judgement, Temperance, or Knight Of Swords, I commented on a known hobby of one of the fathers.

I thought that he dressed up like d'Artagnan or Richard the Lionheart (or Robin Hood) and reenacted famous Medieval European battles on American soil. It turns out that his society improvises battles. Some of them wear full armor, and some don't.

I was astonished to learn that costumed battles take place in August, and asked how on earth they coped with the heat. Apparently some warriors rely on the ubiquitous water bearers and on creative choices of what to wear --or what not to wear-- under the armor.

Contrary to what I expected (although my metal-clad experience is limited to sitting in a silver-painted car in a parking lot) it never occurred to me that the modern fencers would suffer more that the knights in armor because of the way epéeists and sabreurs have to dress to do battle.

Apart from issues of heat and nudity, I was interested in the conventions of killing each other --a tap on the shoulder from behind-- the detail that the "dead" take a time out to avoid being trodden on by those who are still fighting, the fact that battles are worth points towards winning the season-long war, so killing the King (although fun, and something everyone wants to do) does not mean that the dead King's men stop fighting and run away in leaderless confusion.

Isn't the human element fun?

At RT, I was on several panels where authors revealed what inspires and informs them. A recurrent tip was the value of talking to strangers. As Cathy Clamp said, (and JA Konrath made the same point) someone you meet will possess exactly the insight you are looking for (even if at the time you don't know what it is).

A few posts ago, Jacqueline recommended that you start with your world's Sun when you begin to build a world. (Great and cool advice!). For a great short cut to building a society --if for some reason you don't have time for complete evolution-- a few hours on the Society for Creative Anachronism website might be time well spent.

Their articles on picking a SCA name are fascinating. Names have to have a logic, a consistency, and a purpose. Titles, too. A Welsh King might be a Teyrn. Doesn't that sound like "Tyrant"? A Welsh Lord might be an Arglewydd. (I love that!)

In my own reading, I'm impressed by the power and romance of really cool, and "thus"-sounding names for characters in SF and Fantasy. In LOTR, Aragorn was known by different names... that he had an Elf name, an alias while he was a Ranger, and the heraldic "Aragorn son of Arathorn son of..."

I liked that his lineage was recited as if it were a list of titles of nobility, didn't you? As for Star Wars, I enjoyed the cultural differences in names.

Jabba The Hutt sounds Welsh!
Queen Amidalah was also Padme
Darth was like a title, except that Darth Vader was also addressed as Lord Vader.

I could go on, but I won't. I've got a deadline looming!

Best wishes,

Rowena Cherry


  1. Anonymous2:47 PM EDT

    Names are indeed some of the most fun things to play with. It would appear I would do well to go study some languages, particularly those less well known today (there's are back-story ties between my aliens and ancient Earth mythos). I'm continually amazed at how supposedly random choices of names have hit so close to those with appropriate meanings. As it happens, I have a character whose family patriarchal last name is Tairn. Probably has the same pronunciation as Teyrn. Psychic coincidence? I don't know, but Mosh Tairn IS the aged patriarch of an exceedingly powerful alien family.

    By the way, Naked and Armored sounds like a great title for a sword-babe/hunk anthology, don't you think?

  2. Hey, David,

    Thank you for the comment and compliment. As to your suggestion, either that or else an underwater romance between lobsters, or crabs.

    Their sex lives are quite interesting, and I would have thought they might have real potential for a shape-shifter romance.

    If you wish to study various languages, do start out at with the charts comparing titles of nobility and honor in Romanian, Hungarian, Welsh, Latin, and the better known European languages.

    Best wishes,


  3. Good post! This another effective way to bring a taste of humanity to our otherworlds.

    'Padme' means 'lotus flower' in India. She was Queen of Naboo. In Ancient Babylonia, Naboo was the god of wisdom. And then there's the whimsical names like Jar-Jar and they certainly have their place too.