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Dinosaurs & Dames: A Selection of Short Stories

So this is a self-published anthology of my short fiction that I recently posted for sale on Amazon.com:

Dinosaurs & Dames

This is a self-published anthology of short stories by amateur writer Brandon S. Pilcher. By and large, they are action-packed speculative-fiction tales featuring dinosaurs and other savage beasts, fierce female warriors and huntresses, and African cultural influences. So if you like adventure, strong heroines, prehistoric wildlife, and non-Western settings, these are the stories for you.

I would greatly appreciate it if anyone with a Kindle or Kindle app would be willing to spend $1 on my anthology. You won’t regret it!

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Cinderella

Cinderella

Did you know that the oldest recorded variation of the Cinderella fairy tale was set in ancient Egypt?

According to a brief account by the Greek historian Strabo, an Egyptian courtesan named Rhodopis had one of her sandals carried off by an eagle, which then dropped it in the Pharaoh’s lap. Once the Pharaoh’s men identified the sandal as hers, Rhodopis became his wife, and he buried her within the third pyramid at Giza. Of course, over the centuries the story would be embellished into a classic underdog tale, which Walt Disney would adapt into the animated movie we all grew up with.

For my interpretation of Cinderella, I combined influences from her original Egyptian background and the Disney design. Her sandals are supposed to be made of glass like in the Disney version.

Congo Queen

Congo Queen_Colors

This would be a fictional warrior queen from somewhere in the Congo Basin of Central Africa. Part of the inspiration for the character came from the historically documented Queen Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba, who lived in what is now Angola and is known for fighting the Portuguese.

The wicker shield she’s carrying is influenced by those used by warriors from Congolese societies such as the Mangbetu and Zande. On the other hand, her color scheme is drawn from the flags of two countries in the region, the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.).

Reaction to Footage from Jurassic World: Evolution

Jurassic World: Evolution was announced a few months back this year, but at first all we got to see was a trailer. Today, what appears to be footage recorded from the game itself has finally arrived, and it is every bit as magnificent as you would expect.

Essentially, Jurassic World: Evolution is a game where you run your own zoo of cloned dinosaurs, complete with the Jurassic World license. You could consider it a late 2010’s update of Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis, much as Jurassic World itself was Masrani Global’s working update of John Hammond’s vision. That by itself would be appetizing enough, but since the developers are the same people who gave us Planet Coaster, it’s even better to know the project is in qualified hands.

That said, I do hope the roster of cloneable dinosaur species in the final game is more extensive than what we see in this footage. Right now, all we can see here are the most iconic dinosaurs of the first two films in the JP series: Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Parasaurolophus, Brachiosaurus, and Velociraptor. Strangely, the Mosasaurus that was one of Jurassic World’s unique new attractions doesn’t seem to have made the cut yet. While a larger selection of dinosaur species is what I expect once the game hits the market, I had hoped to see more than just the most familiar ones in this early footage. I guess we’ll have to wait for more footage as the game gets finished.

Pharaoh’s Guard

Pharaoh's Guard

This is a concept for a royal bodyguard from an Egyptian-style fantasy culture, wherein the Pharaohs and their belongings are guarded by skilled female warriors. I doubt the real historical Egyptian Pharaohs had female bodyguards like this, but I took some inspiration from the “Amazon” warriors of Dahomey as well as the fictional Dora Milaje from Wakanda in the Marvel Comics universe.

People who have been following my art for some time may recognize elements of the character’s design from my earlier character Nefrusheri, whom I initially conceived as an Egyptian warrior princess. That’s intentional on my part, as I was toying with the idea of making Nefrusheri a royal guard of sorts rather than a princess. But those may not be mutually exclusive; maybe Nefrusheri was born into royalty but then signed up for the guard?

Basal Eurasian Beauty

Basal Eurasian Beauty

In 2013, genetic research led by Iosif Lazaridis found that Neolithic farmers who migrated into Europe from the Middle East after 8,000 years ago owed 44% of their ancestry to a modern human population characterized by little to no Neanderthal admixture (as opposed to the 2-4% found in modern non-African people today). They called this population “Basal Eurasian”, but if you think about it, its defining lack of Neanderthal admixture would suggest an origin somewhere in northern Africa (since Neanderthals are not known to have lived anywhere on that continent). Furthermore, the remains of prehistoric Middle Eastern people that have yielded “Basal Eurasian” ancestry in recent years tend to have a mixture of African and native West Eurasian physical traits.

This would imply that so-called “Basal Eurasian” actually represents another migration out of Africa into western Eurasia around the end of the last ice age, influencing the ancestry of the Neolithic peoples who would settle in Europe and thereby contribute to modern European ancestry.

Anyway, this is how I imagine a typical “Basal Eurasian” woman might have looked. The gap in her teeth represents the removal of upper incisors common to certain African groups today as well as the pre-Neolithic Natufians of the Middle East.

Kentrosaurus

Kentrosaurus

Kentrosaurus aethiopicus was a cousin of the Stegosaurus which lived in Africa during the late Jurassic period, around 155-150 million years ago. It stood out from its North American cousin by having narrower plates, a greater number of spikes on its tail, and then a pair of large spikes sticking out of its shoulder. It was also a lot smaller, weighing little more than a single ton (whereas Stegosaurus could grow between five and seven tons).