A Game of Thrones Hotel Made of Snow and Ice

The Snow Village hotel in Kittilä in Lapland, Finland, has gone all-out Game of Thrones for their 2017-2018 season. The snow and ice sculptures of various characters and scenes embellishing the resort were created in collaboration with HBO Nordic.

Laplandhotels Snow Village White Walker Sm

According to an Yle article (NB. in Finnish only), the hotel’s current look was finished at the beginning of December. While Finns built the structural parts of the snow village, the carving was done by an international team of artists with members from Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, and Russia.

Instagram Snow Village Hall of Faces

Check out the interiors in this video by Snow Village:


Another short video with more indoor and outdoor shots by LADbible can be found on Facebook.

It looks absolutely amazing! Just out of curiosity, I also had a look at the restaurant menus, and it sounds. So. Delicious! (Sadly, now I miss home!)

Instagram Snow Village Ice Bar with Dragon

The downside is that the pricing is, erm, quite high, to stick with a polite understatement. Then again, what else is to be expected when you have to rebuild a significant part of your infrastructure every winter?

Check out more and/or follow Snow Village on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. There are also photos I haven’t seen elsewhere (both of GoT and other themes) in the photo gallery at Laplandhotels.com.

Images: White Walker via Snow Village at Laplandhotels.com. Hall of faces via Snow Village on Instagram. Ice bar with dragon via Snow Village on Instagram.

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.


Game of Thrones Stamps to Be Published in U.K.

Royal Mail in Britain is releasing Game of Thrones stamps. The Character Stamp Set focuses on popular characters:

Royal Mail GoT Character Stamp Set Jan 2018

According to the BBC, an additional five-stamp sheet is also going to be published. It features giants, direwolves, dragons, the Iron Throne, and the Night King and his undead White Walkers.

The stamps will be available at post offices across the U.K. or by calling Royal Mail’s customer service line from next Tuesday, January 23, 2018. Pre-orderes on the Royal Mail website are also possible.

I’m counting 5 women and 5 men on the Character Stamp Set. Counted another way, 4 Starks (go, Starks!), 4 Lannisters, and Daenerys plus old dame Tyrell. Cool cool cool!

Found via File 770.

Image via Royal Mail

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.

Ferdinand the Barbarian

As you burn and pillage your way through life, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.

Image by Erik Jensen

In Making Stuff occasional feature, we share fun arts and crafts done by us and our fellow geeks and nerds.


Medieval Fantasy City Generator

Creating medieval(esque) city maps just got a lot easier: Oleg Dolya (watabou) made an automated generator to do it.

Medieval Fantasy City Generator Small

Choose size of city with the click of a button, and color scheme and line or shading types from the options. You can export the image either as png or svg. Unfortunately the ward names (temple, merchant, crafts, etc.) aren’t saved on the exported map, though.

Watabou also built a 3d-visualiser to support Medieval Fantasy City Generator called Toy Town. Although I haven’t played with that, it sounds like both should be a great help to storytellers—unless you enjoy the process with paper and pen, of course!

Found via N.K. Jemisin on Twitter.

Image: screenshot from a map created by Eppu Jensen with Medieval Fantasy City Generator by watabou

In Making Stuff occasional feature, we share fun arts and crafts done by us and our fellow geeks and nerds.


Too Familiar

Cats and alchemy don’t mix.

Since Eppu posted one of my old Away From Reality comics last week, I’ve been reminded of how much fun I had making them. I don’t have the time, energy, or creativity to start up the comic again, but I was inspired to dust off the old Poser and whip up something appropriate to the season.

Image by Erik Jensen

In Making Stuff occasional feature, we share fun arts and crafts done by us and our fellow geeks and nerds.


Greek Myth, Etruscan Tomb

We like to think of the modern world as one in which different cultures intertwine and overlap with one another, but there were complicated cross-cultural interactions in the ancient world as well. For example, look at this wall painting from an Etruscan tomb.

Sacrifice of Trojan captives, photograph by Battlelight via Wikimedia (François Tomb, Vulci; late 4th c.; fresco)

This scene depicts an incident from the Trojan War. After his friend Patroclus was killed in battle, the great Greek warrior Achilles went mad with grief. He piled up an enormous funeral pyre for Patroclus, on top of which he also killed twelve Trojan prisoners. At the center of this painting, Achilles slits the throat of a naked Trojan prisoner while a Greek soldier leads another prisoner to the slaughter from the right. To the left, the ghost of Patroclus, in a blue cloak with a bandage over the fatal wound in his chest, looks on in dismay.

This incident comes from the Greek legends of the Trojan War and is mentioned in the Iliad, but it is a rather obscure scene. It was rarely, if ever, referred to in later Greek literature or depicted in Greek art. The fact that an Etruscan artist could use this event as the basis for a tomb painting demonstrates a more than passing knowledge of Greek myth.

The Etruscans were a people of northern Italy who had extensive trade contacts with the Greeks and imported large quantities of fine pottery and other Greek luxury goods. They also imported Greek legends and stories, which they frequently depicted in their own artworks. Like the painting in the François Tomb, Etruscan art often picks up on obscure or unusual incidents that were not widely depicted in Greek art. This selectiveness tells us that Etruscans were not just copying the Greek art that they acquired but were making conscious artistic choices based on extensive knowledge of the Greek material.

This painting also adds some uniquely Etruscan elements to the scene. The winged woman directly behind Achilles is Vanth, an Etruscan goddess whose role seems to have been to decide the fate of the souls of the dead. The blue-skinned man to Achilles’ right is Charu, another Etruscan god who led the souls of the dead to wherever Vanth decided to send them. Vanth and Charu are purely Etruscan characters with no basis in the Iliad. Greek myth had figures who performed similar functions, but they looked nothing like Vanth and Charu.

These two figures are not simply added to the scene. The way that they frame the sacrificial act and share a knowing look over Achilles’ head changes the scene’s meaning. Rather than just seeing Achilles’ awful act, we see that his act happens in a context that transcends the mortal world. The Greek afterlife was pretty much universally bleak, except for a few select troublemakers who got ironically tortured. The Etruscan afterlife is poorly understood, but they seem to have believed that the deeds of the living affected the fate of the dead, which could be pleasant or terrifying. In this painting, Vanth and Charu seem to be saying to one another: “We see what’s happening here, and it won’t be forgotten. We’re here for the Trojans this time, but Achilles’ day is coming.”

This painting is one that a Greek artist would never have painted and that a Greek viewer wouldn’t have understood. It only made sense to an Etruscan, but to an Etruscan who knew their Iliad well enough to recognize the figures of Achilles and Patroclus and identify the moment in the story that was being depicted. Here in this image we have a moment of cross-cultural interaction on display.

History for Writers is a weekly feature which looks at how history can be a fiction writer’s most useful tool. From worldbuilding to dialogue, history helps you write. Check out the introduction to History for Writers here.


Major Roman Roads Subway Map Style

A very, very cool map of major Roman roads done in subway map style:

Shasha Trubetskoy roman_roads_24_jun

Made by Sasha Trubetskoy, statistics major and designer, artist, and geography and data nerd.

Really fascinating! I know there were also some Roman roadworks running at least partially across the land from east to west along Hadrian’s Wall in Britain, but I don’t know whether there ever was a complete major road there.

In Making Stuff occasional feature, we share fun arts and crafts done by us and our fellow geeks and nerds.


Wonder Woman Tribute Posters

The folks at Poster Posse have made some awesome tribute posters for Wonder Woman. Here’s a few of my favorites.

Poster by Simon Delart

Poster by Andy Fairhurst

Poster by Doaly

Check out the rest here and here.

Images: Wonder Woman tribute posters by Poster Posse

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you.


Hugo Awards 2017 Voter Packet Is out

Since last Wednesday, I’ve been like:

Twitter Adam Holisky Picard Full of Win


Kermit Flail


Lady Fancifull reading-film-gif

As members of Worldcon75, we are participating in this year’s Hugo Awards voting. Last week, the con released a packet of reading and visual works to help voters access materials on the finalists list. (Note to self: We have until July 15, 2017, 2:59 am EST to get our votes in.)

Apparently this year’s packet is larger than ever before in the 10 years it’s existed. While definitely not the reason for our memberships, it’s an invaluable bonus.

In addition to the official packet, JJ at File 770 did a huge favor for readers and collected a comprehensive list of finalist works published free online.

With all of this reading, I definitely will have no problems with how to fill my days in the foreseeable future!

Thank you, various creatives and rightsholders, thank you, Worldcon75 Hugo Awards staff, and thank you, JJ and Mike Glyer / File770.

Images: Kermit flail via Walker—Bait on Tumblr; Captain Picard Full of Win via Adam Holisky on Twitter; Reading film: radicktv via Lady Fancifull


History Doesn’t Look Historical

It’s an unavoidable fact that when we look at historical artifacts, we’re looking at things that are many years old, sometimes centuries or millennia. Physical objects, even those made of enduring materials like metal or stone, are changed by the processes of time. Exposure to light, moisture, changing temperatures, air pollution, wind, water, and other effects works changes on artifacts that can range from subtle to drastic. Our sense of what history looks like is shaped by things that no longer look like what they were when they were first being made, admired, and used by people in their daily lives.

Take, for example, the sculptures and architecture of ancient Greece. Our perception of ancient Greek art is shaped by the white marble statues and temples that remain today, but the originals were not white. We know from ancient descriptions and a few pieces with surviving traces of paint that the stone buildings and sculptures of ancient Greece were brightly colored.

Examples like this statue of a woman, with traces of paint on her dress, suggest what such a statue might have originally looked like.

Statue of a woman (kore), photograph by Nemracc via Wikimedia (Keratea, Greece, currently Pergamon Museum, Berlin; 580-560 BCE; marble)

Evidence like this makes it possible to attempt to reconstruct what statues of this type looked like when first created. The two reconstructions on the right here offer two possible interpretations of what the original, on the left, may have looked like when it was new.

Statue of a woman (kore) and two reconstructions, composite of photographs by Marsyas, via Wikimedia (original: Acropolis, Athens; c. 530 BCE; marble; reconstructions: Acropolis Museum, Athens)

The striking colors of the past are not just a phenomenon of ancient Greece. At Stirling Castle, in Scotland, a recent restoration project has brought back the original rich yellow color of the walls of the medieval great hall, which was determined from traces of ochre mixed with the remains of the lime wash applied to the stone. You can see the striking contrast between the restored great hall in the background and the bare stone of the buildings in front.

Stirling Castle, photograph by dun_deagh via Flickr (Stirling, Scotland; c. 1500-1600; stone and lime wash)

Studying history requires an act of imagination. Just as we have to imagine ancient monuments are artifacts new and fresh, not as the worn-out relics we see today, we also have to imagine peoples of the past as vibrant, complicated, living societies, not the stilted, dry facts of textbooks. Fiction has a great value to the student of history, as it helps us imagine ourselves into the lives of people different from ourselves. Our history is always somebody else’s daily life.

History for Writers is a weekly feature which looks at how history can be a fiction writer’s most useful tool. From worldbuilding to dialogue, history helps you write. Check out the introduction to History for Writers here.