Constellations, spells, symbolic plants and strange objects: Questions from Jubilare

Back in June, the excellent Jubilare posted a few questions for her readers which were designed to spark creative thought about worldbuilding in fiction. They are excellent questions, but in my unfortunate and unintentional habit, I promised to answer them and then got distracted by life things and forgot. Until, quite recently, she reminded me, and I agreed that it was time to do my duty! Which, it has to be said, is a rather fun duty in this case. After all, it’s not every survey where you’re specifically asked to make up the answers!

  1. Make up a constellation and a brief story for it.

In some night skies can be seen the Racing Timepiece. It’s a constellation of a great circle, with several stars within the circle forming two straight lines of varying length, and they both emanate from the same point in the center, not dissimilar to the hands of a clock. Even more remarkable, as the year turns, so do the “hands,” swinging about in very clocklike fashion. Yet they swing at a peculiar rate which fails to match any other passage of time known to our astronomers and horologists…except for the Star Racers, itself an unreliable phenomena. Every few decades, but never on the dot, these seven bright comets streak across the sky, often coming from a different direction than the last time they were observed. Legend has it that they are the sons of the King of Galaxies, all born at the same time, and they race their fiery chariots across the universe to determine which will succeed their father. For ages they have raced, and will for ages more, as the King still lives, and the Timepiece alone tracks their progress by measurements unknown to us.

  1. What is your favorite holiday (excluding Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Easter) and why?

Back in the school years my choice would be any of the days that got me an extra day off. But now I suppose I’m down to two choices: July 4, because I love my country and believe it is a good thing to reflect upon the positive elements of our founding, and Talk Like a Pirate Day, because YARR, O’COURSE IT BE A ‘OLIDAY, MATEY!!!

  1. Name an object you would like to see featured in a story.

A singing sword-cane.

  1. Make up a name for a spell and tell me what it does.

Implere tributum! It does my taxes.

  1. Choose a plant and make up a symbolic meaning for it.

Wisteria symbolizes that bittersweet emotion of sadness at the passing of a good thing, but gratitude for that thing’s existence.

  1. What is your favorite ghost/folk/scary story (can be humorous or not)?

Hmm. Is A Christmas Carol scary? It’s a ghost story, and it’s one of my favorites. The book is fantastic on its own, but my favorite version is the 1951 film starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge. My family watches it every year and I never fail to be moved by it. For more traditionally “horror”-type stories, I do kind of like Stephen King’s “N” and H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu.”

At last I’ve answered! And now I can go read Jubilare’s own responses to her own questions, which she asked her readers not to read until after they’d presented their own. What about you folks? Did you answer these questions for Jubilare when she posted them? If not, might you now, for me?


  1. jubilare says:

    *applauds* Well worth the wait, as I knew it would be. Also, as often happens when I read your stuff, I has new word! Horologist! I never heard of it until now, and when I looked it up I had a delightful “ohhhhh, interesting” feeling.

    That… is a fascinating and powerful star-story, very creative and compelling.

    And of course Talk Like Pirate day is a holiday! Yar, tha Krispy Kreme were handin’ out free donuts to any scurvy bilge-rat blabberin’ like a buccaneer, and two for them as looked th’ part. Nor sip nor swig o’ rum or grog, though.

    Your next assignment is to write a short about a singing sword-cane, because now I really want to read that, too. Go forth and write.

    The question is, does that spell do your taxes WELL? Better had a darned good wizard to cast it.

    That symbolism for wisteria is wonderful, and very like my own reaction to the plant.

    Of course the Christmas Carol is a ghost story, and a fantastic one, at that! As for the others, I fear I’ve read neither, though I know a little about the latter.

    Thank you, friend, for doing this!

    1. David says:

      Thank you! I had to remind myself of horologist; one of those “gosh darnit, I know there’s a word for this but I can’t remember what it is. Let’s see if Google knows” things.

      Aww, I thought the point was to get someone else to write it! +( It’s like asking me if I want a cake and then telling me to bake my own. Ah well. A singing sword cane. Hm. Yes, there might be something there. What would it sing? Fine opera befitting its high-class owner? Haunting threnodies for the lives it has taken? Catchy jingles to throw people off guard? Johnny Cash?

      It probably has to do a bit with pronunciation. Pronounced correctly, your taxes will be done right and efficiently. Pronounced sloppily or subversively, then you might receive a visit from the IRS…

      It’s in the name and the look, for me. Something about it seems…wistful. ‘-)

      I enjoy Lovecraft for his worldbuilding and the powerful aura of mystery about everything he writes. His worldview is unfortunately dim and despairing, though; his stories usually cast humanity as the pathetic playthings of immeasurably monstrous deities full of evil and no remorse. Meanwhile, Steven King’s “N.” owes a lot to both Lovecraft and Arthur Machen (specifically, King says, Machen’s “The Great God Pan”, which I read but didn’t care for), but adds a slightly more hopeful, if still bittersweet, twist.

      You’re welcome, friend! Thank you for choosing such excellent questions!

  2. jubilare says:

    Well, at least I’m not asking you to write about a magic lint-brush, eh? My first thought was 1940’s show tunes, but then you mentioned Johnny Cash… and I just can’t top that.

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