The Compendium: Books Under a Microscope

Characters, Locations, Technology, Biology and Other Terms


  • This is a collection of character names, locations, contraptions, biological and mechanical terms used in The Elemental Web World. It is meant to be a reference tool.
  • It is NOT a kind of glossary that you must consult in order to read and understand my stories.
  • The definitions/labels below CONTAIN SPOILERS. If you read through this list before reading the stories, it will ruin the experience.
  • You’re better off reading the books without referencing this compendium.

If after you’ve read the book, you still have questions (What’s real? What’s not? Is there more I can read about on that topic?), then this compilation might interest you. Follow the links (blue) to learn more about real facts and/or sources of inspiration.



Lady Amanda Ravensdale—heroine; medical student; inventor; daughter of the Duke of Avesbury 

Lord Sebastian Talbot, Earl of Thornton—hero; Queen’s agent; earl

Duke of Avesbury—Amanda’s father; London gentleman in charge of the Queen’s agents

Mr. Black—Queen’s agent; friend of Thornton

Steambot—a steam-powered household robot

Steam Mary—serving steambot

RT—a steambot roving table

Lady Olivia Ravensdale—Amanda’s sister

Carlton—future Viscount Bromwich; Olivia’s fiancé

Mr. Simon Sommersby—second son of a baron; Amanda’s suitor

Lady Emily Ravensdale—Amanda’s missing sister

Rufus—Amanda’s orange-striped cat and laboratory assistant; wears a monocle

Lord Edward (Ned) Ravensdale—Amanda’s brother; heir

Georgina—Ned’s love

Professor Corwin—professor of anatomy professor who left to pursue selkies; replaced by Thornton

Betsy, Joan and Sarah—other women in Amanda’s anatomy class

Burton—the Ravensdale family steam butler; an older model with a rusty jaw

Lady Eloise Huntley—Thornton’s laboratory assistant; widow

Lord John Huntley—Thornton’s friend; died in an air pirate attack of the airship both he and Thornton traveled upon

Mr. Henri LaFevre—Thornton’s laboratory assistant who works directly with Amanda

Samuel and Robert—other laboratory technicians in Thornton’s laboratory

Nicu Sindel—grandfather to her brother-in-law; taught clockwork skills to the Ravensdale children

Marko Blythe—first gypsy victim

Tony Spinolli—Ned’s personal health aid and physical therapist

Dr. Millhouse—doctor who proposes to operate upon Ned

Luca (Luca Sindel)—Emily’s husband

Wasp—villain; sometimes call ‘the eye doctor’

Lady Anne Grimwauld—Thornton’s former fiancée

Nellie Atwater—party at her house was where Ned was injured

Steam Cora—Lady Olivia’s personal steam maid

Lord Whitmore—home at which a ball is held

Tova—second gypsy victim

Nadya—Luca’s great aunt; Tova’s grandmother and Luca’s cousin

Milosh—Nicu Sindel’s assistant

Bloxham—rejected suitor of Amanda’s

Professor Quimbly—Amanda’s histology professor

Mr. Button—an annoying medical student

Lord Thistleton—head botanist employed at Lister Laboratories; in charge of the greenhouse

King of Iceland—nominal leader of Iceland

Steam Susan, Steam Joseph—additional steambots in the Ravensburg household

Biological and Medical Terms

Cranial Nerves—nerves that emerge directly from the brain and brainstem

Peripheral Nerves—nerves outside the brain and spinal cord

Sensory nerves—‌nerves which convey information to the brain

Motor nerves—‌nerves which convey impulses away from the brain

Oculomotor nerve—the third cranial nerve

Trochlear nerve—the forth cranial nerve

Abducens nerve—the sixth cranial nerve

Vestibulocochlear nerve—the eighth cranial nerve

Perilymph helix—fluid in the inner ear

Supraorbital fissure—foramen in the skull through which pass a number of anatomical structures including cranial nerves III, IV and VI

Galvanic skin conductance—active and passive electrical conductance of the skin

Fibular nerve—common peroneal nerve; innervates the muscles of the lateral and anterior compartments of the leg

Tinnitus, vertigo, nystagmus—ringing in the ears, dizziness, rapid eye movements

Myomere—a block of skeletal muscle

Diethyl ether—used as a general anesthetic

Acetic acid—CH3COOH; a component of vinegar

Technology and Other Terms

Tungsten (W)—an element; transitional metal

Acousticocept—a device worn in the ear that allows an agent to hear

Acousticotransmitter—device that transmits sound to the acousticocept

Decilamp—a small bioluminescent torch (flashlight)

Kraken—clawed cephalopods infesting the Thames

Town and City Food Act of 1876—legislation requiring all homeowners, peers not excepted, to contribute to the problem of city-wide food shortages

Aetheroscope—a microscope that allows high resolution through the use of a vacuum chamber and aether

Neurachnid—a programmable, clockwork spider the size of a bronze halfpence, one that could spin a replacement for a damaged motor neuron following spinal injury; neur=neurological/nerve; arachnid=spider

Babbage card—punch card used to introduce programing to clockwork and steam-powered contraptions; a reference to Charles Babbage

Screecher—a security alarm

Ascension chamber—an elevator

Crank hackney—a wind up conveyance for hire; common on the streets of London

Tritrometer—a device to measure titrations

Fuge—short for centrifuge

Neuroglycerol—an artificial neurological lipid; neuro=neurological; glycerol

OptiAir masksgas masks used in the morgue; for use with badly decomposed bodies

London Timesnewspaper reporting the gypsy murders

Rattus norvegicusrats; hold grudges; a tendency to bite

Airship pirates—travel and attack by dirigible

Ada Reevename of the dirigible Thornton and Huntley were aboard when airship pirates attacke

Somnic—drug Thornton is using to control his leg pain

Pteryformes—bird-like creatures with leathery wings; nocturnal; with a possible relationship to pterodactyls

London Steam Orchestra—automusicians programmed by Ned

Submersible chute—Thames entry tube for cigar-shaped personal submersibles; fell into disuse when the kraken infested the river

TDM, Tentacle Defense Mechanism—new invention attached to the front of Thames submersibles used to clear kraken from its path

Captain Jack’s Tension Torque—uses alkylsorcin and a thumb wheel (to make fine adjustments) to open simple locks after which the alkylsorcin liquefies leaving no trace

Welsh Drobwll Disrupters—aka Whirlpool of Death; favorite of watchmen; blasts electromagnetic waves to render an intruder so dizzy and confused they often staggered in circles

Ferrous replacements—surgical procedure involving limb and muscle removal, for placement of bolts, hinges and pistons

Sparrow class dirigible—private, household dirigible; designed to carry two but has a jump seat in the tail compartment; netted narrow, cigar-shaped balloon; streamlined open cabin; maximum range of eighty miles

Phaoscope—a light glass sphere; an advanced eye providing its user with super-human visual acuity; iris with radial striations; a hexagonal aperture (pupil); camera

Daguerreotype—the first publicly available photographic method

Myotech—artificial muscle; capable of responding to electrical impulses to contracts; myo- is a Greek word root meaning “muscle”

TTX pistol—weapon issued only to Queen’s agents; uses darts with pufferfish poison (tetrodotoxin); one to slow a man down, two to drop him, three to kill him

Dirigible—flying conveyance filled with hydrogen (dangerously flammable, but cheap) or aether (stable, but expensive)

amatifloragypsy name for the flower; pick during the full moon for full potency; a twisting vine that bears white flowers; blooms late summer; used to make a nerve calming agent



Lister University School of Medicine—a co-educational medical school and research facility in London created to seek out the brightest young medical minds; associated with the Queen’s agents; Lister Laboratories; Lister University; Lister Institute; named for Joseph Lister

Clockwork Corridor—street in London where gypsies sell clockwork components and contraptions

Putney Heath—winter campgrounds for gypsies in distant, southwest London

Whitmore’s Ball—event location

Seymour House—Mr. Simon Sommersby’s home

Kensington Gardens—private gardens of Kensington Palace adjacent to Hyde Park

Vauxhall Bridge—its two central piers, damaged by kraken, lets the bridge bend with the tides

Effra—one of the lost rivers of London, now underground; little more than a sewer that empties into the Thames near the Vauxhall Bridge

South London Waterworks—former water pumping station, pollution forced a move upstream; converted into a factory for use by Airship Sails

Airship Sails—large factory; manufactures and sews enormous lengths of silver cloth to form the airship balloons that can hold aether

Language Translations

Roma and Romanithe gypsy people and their language

MarhimeRomani word for impure; ritually unclean

Gadji/gadje—female/male person who is not Romani


Lady Olivia Ravensdale—heroine; engineer; daughter of the Duke of Avesbury; uses false last name Stonewythe

Lord Ian Stanton—hero; Earl of Rathsburn; physician and researcher; Queen’s agent; family estate in Yorkshire

Duke of Avesbury—Olivia’s father; London gentleman in charge of the Queen’s agents

John Warrick—The Doktor

Lord Rancide—a paunchy, red-nosed marquis seeking a wife

Lord Carlton Snyder—Olivia’s former fiancé

RT—a steambot roving table

Watson—Olivia’s hedgehog zoetomatic

Steam Mary—serving steambot

Burton—the Ravensdale family steam butler; an older model with a rusty jaw

Duchess of Avesbury—Olivia’s mother; oversees societal liaisons

Aunt Judith Ravensdale—cryptozoologist studying kraken in Venice; see KRAKEN AND CANALS

SV140—German man who attacked the balloon

Nurse Quinn—nurse in the secure hospital ward

Thornton—fellow researcher; Lord Sebastian Talbot; married to Amanda Talbot née Ravensdale; first appearance in THE GOLDEN SPIDER

Lady Elizabeth—Ian’s sister

Mr. Hutton—Ian’s laboratory technician

Mr. Black—Queen’s agent; friend of Thornton and colleague to Ian; first appearance in THE GOLDEN SPIDER

Steam Clara—Olivia’s personal steambot lady’s maid

Baron Volscini—the Italian Olivia’s mother hopes to marry her to

Oliver Bird—name under which Olivia earned her degree via correspondence

Nicu Sindel—Roma; taught clockwork skills to the Ravensdale children

Emily Sindel née Ravensdale—Olivia’s sister; married to Luca Sindel

Lady Farrington—a dried husk of an old, bitter woman; grandmother to Lord Carlton Snyder

Wei—Chinese girl; niece of Zheng

Zheng—Chinese owner of an antimony mine; associate of the count;

Graf Otto von und zu Eberwin-Katzeneinbogen—Count Eberwin; self-important German who owns the castle

Gräfin Katherine von und zu Eberwin-Katzeneinbogen—Lady Katherine; countess; wife of Count Eberwin; aka Katerina Dyatlova

Wilhelm the First—the German Emperor 

Augusta—the German Emperor’s wife

Steam Matilda—rusty steambot assigned to Olivia in the castle

Hanover—tripod steam butler; Model 2A Grefenshaus

Charles Babbage—considered to be the “father” of the digital programmable computer, the analytical engine

Sofia—a tame, if modified, pteryform

Stephan—the countess’s stable boy

Gunther—a guardsman

Mildred and Anne—students of Olivia’s learning zoetomatic programming

Biological, Medical and Engineering Terms

Philtrum—medial cleft above the top lip

Zygomatic arches—cheekbones

Cervical vertebrae—vertebrae of the neck

In vitro/in vivo—cultured outside a living creature/inside a living creature

Erlenmeyer flask—a conical flask

Osteosarcoma—bone cancer

Periosteum—the connective tissue/membrane on the surface of the bone that supplies it with blood, etc.

Pathophysiology—the study of a disease state

Isopropyl alcohol—rubbing alcohol; used as a disinfectant

Bone—a living tissue composed of both organic and inorganic material

Cells—the basic building blocks of all life forms

Osteoprogenitor cells—stem cells that can diffenentiate into bone-forming cells

Osteoblasts—cells that build bone

Osteoclasts—cells that break down bone

Homeostasis—biological process by which the body works to keep things in balance

Hydroxyapatite—a calcium phosphate mineral that composes seventy percent of our bone

Brittle bone disease—osteogenesis imperfecta; a congenital disorder in which osteoblasts create malformed matrix such that calcium and phosphate cannot bind to it correctly making the bone brittle and easily broken

Hemophobia—fear of blood

Bone marrow—the sight of new blood cell production; found in the flare of the hip, the iliac crest

Hypophosphotemia—low phosphate levels that can lead to mental confusion, muscle weakness and ultimately kidney failure

Keratin—a fibrous structural protein; found in horns, hooves, and skin; sulfur is a component

Mendeleev’s 1871 periodic table—noticed patterns in element behavior that lead him to create a far-sighted periodic table of elements

Wolff’s Law—states that a bone will remodel to adapt to the forces placed upon it; developed by Julius Wolff, a German surgeon; works by stimulating osteoprogenitor cells to differentiate into osteoblasts

Ether—an anesthetic; an organic compound


Three phase generator—uses alternating current to generate power

Alternating current—current that periodically reverses direction

Electromagnet—a magnet that’s created by an electric current; involves winding wire into a coil (more wire wraps increase the power)

Solenoid—an electromagnet that can generate a contoled magnetic field

Technology and Other Terms

Calcium (Ca)—atomic number 20; alkaline earth metal; fifth most abundant element in the human body

Phosphorus (P)—atomic number 15; highly reactive; important in bone and teeth enamel

Antimony (Sb)—atomic number 51; lustrous gray metalloid; China is the largest producer; a poison in larger amounts

Arsenic (As)—atomic number 33; metalloid; gray; highly toxic; shen in ChineseGray arsenic can be oxidized to form arsenous oxide, a classic skin purifier and poison

Mercury (Hg)—atomic number 80; quicksilver; a heavy, silvery-white transition metal; toxic

Metalloid—an element with properties in between those of nonmetal and metal

Kraken—clawed cephalopods infesting the Thames

Pteryformes—bird-like creatures with leathery wings; nocturnal; with a possible relationship to pterodactyls

Queen’s agents—spies who work for the Queen under the supervision of the Duke of Avesbury

TTX pistol—weapon issued only to Queen’s agents; uses darts with pufferfish poison (tetrodotoxin); one to slow a man down, two to drop him, three to kill him

Markoid battery—a small battery (proprietary and experimental) that can power devices

Steambot—a steam-powered household robot

Zoetomatic—battery powered mechanical creature

Widow requirement—a requirement for female Queen’s agent

Ottoman Uprisings—slightly fictionalized problems of the very real Ottoman Empire’s difficulties with Britain and Russia

Babbage card—punch card used to introduce programing to clockwork and steam-powered contraptions

Cipher cartridge (model B257)—holds Steam Clara’s Babbage cards

Roma and Romanithe gypsy people and their language

Acousticotransmitter—device that transmits sound to the acousticocept

Societal liaison—women who work with/beside Queen’s agents

Firkin cincture bolt—a challenging lock to pick on a briefcase

Captain Jack’s Tension Torque—uses alkylsorcin and a thumb wheel (to make fine adjustments) to open simple locks after which the alkylsorcin liquefies leaving no trace

Dirigible—flying conveyance filled with hydrogen (dangerously flammable, but cheap) or aether (stable, but expensive)

Escape dirigible—small dirigibles attached to the rooms of the wealthy so that they might abandon the larger airship in case of disaster

Neurachnid—clockwork spider that can re-weave damaged nerves

Franconian multipunch—used to punch the holes that program Babbage cards

Osforare apparatus—has reservoirs with transforming fluid and a small rotary motor to puncture the skin and drive the needles through muscle to the surface of the bone; built primarily of a chromium alloyed steel designed to resist corrosion

Automated gear winch—attached to dirigible ropes to ascend/descent to/from a dirigible

Efflux detector—a silver-capped glass and crystal cylinder filled with opaque crystalline material; a pulsing yellow light indicated evidence of bioluminescent decay

Sky Dragon—name of the Chinese dragon dirigible

Axon thrall band—silver cuff with blue, glowing edges; move too far from its matching control and the resultant electric arc sends a bolt of electricity traveling up the arm straight to the spine, forcing the wearer into submission

Tripod butler—steambot butler upon three wheels; Model 2A Grefenshaus

Jellied kraken—a local delicacy from the Rhine made from river kraken; sharp claws and poison glands removed 

Black potato—a marriage of a (fictional) arbuscular mycorrhizas fungi with a common potato; a plant-fungi symbiotic union that restores nutrients to the soil as it grows; a nod to the Irish potato famine; used to make knödel

Shadow board—a group of scientific-minded gentlemen who worked together to bypass official protocols

CEAP—Committee for the Exploration of Anthropomorphic Peculiarities; believe that myths and fairy tales conceal core truths; side-step rules and regulations in an attempt to discover their underlying biological facts

Voltaic prod—an instrument designed to deliver bolts of painful electricity.

Gantz batteries—developed in Hungary for steambots; batterybots?; rumored to provide enough power for uninterrupted function for up to twenty days

Loden—a green color; a thick, waterproof cloth made from wool; popular with hunters

Magnetite—a gray, magnetic rock mineral; lodestone; can be magnetized to become a permanent magnet

Acousticocept—a device worn in the ear that allows an agent to hear

Barrel auger—wrought iron cork screw

Harald-Fletcher formula—a fictional formula related to cyclic loading 

Crinlozyme—a drug that immobilize a person for up to twenty-four hours; antidote available

Flyby—boarding a moving dirigible by rope; dirigible does not stop

Cyrillic—writing script used in Russia (and other countries)

Kreuger-Schalterhammer lock—forty-seven pins and a level containing a liquid mercury trigger; very difficult to breach

Sneak thief—a thief who steals without violence or visibly breaking into buildings

Veritasium—truth serum; muscle relaxant

Scheldner—a basic lock with only three pins

Rapunzel cord—braided metal cord

Russian storm frigate—largest and most dangerous of all Russian airships; outer hulls are super cooled, enough so that when they passed through clouds, it began to snow, obscuring the ship’s position and blinding their enemies. Storm frigates also carried weapons and—presumably—many, many Russian agents

Bioactive nocturnal goggles—night vision goggles

Mechanical climbing dragon claws—powered claws that slip over the hands and feet to add strength to natural hand/food movement

Russian tentacle weapon—bioengineered to use the cnidoblast of the sea comb (jellyfish)

Selkie—a mythological creature capable of shedding its skin to change from seal to human form


Grosvenor Bridge—bridge over the Thames

Rankine Institute—an engineering school in London; known to work with the Queen’s agents; courses include difference engine programming and robotic engineering skills; named after William Rankine

Lister University School of Medicine—a co-educational institution to seek out the brightest young medical minds; Lister Laboratories; Lister University

Clockwork Corridor—street in London where gypsies sell clockwork components and contraptions

Captain Oglethorpe’s Luxury Airways—based in Dover; introduced dirigible boarding towers complete with various forms of gaudy, ostentatious, over-the-top decadence to amuse the wealthy 

Burg Kerzen—Castle Kerzen; modeled on Burg Eltz

The Roost—a narrow balcony attached to a spire with an iron railing; used as a dirigible access platform for those willing to ascend/descend to/from the dirigible by ropes

Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität—first University of Berlin

Kadskoye—rumored Russian biological research facility, location unknown

Language Translations

Nicht sprechen Deutsch—I don’t speak German

Hören sie mir zu—Listen


Sie können jetzt gehen.—You can go now.

Ich warte draußen.—I wait outside.

Stillgestanden!—Stand still.

Jagdzimmer—trophy room

Können Sie uns retten?—Can you save us?


Tut mir leid.—I’m sorry. 

Mir geht es gut.—I’m fine.

Vielen Dank.—Many Thanks

Sauerbraten, strudel, kuchen—traditional German dishes

NiHao—Chinese for hello

Tsar—Slavic monarch/ruler


Mrs. Isa McQuistonheroine; traveling healer; Finn

Dr. Alec McCulloughhero; BURR member; physician; nickname ‘Mac’; captain

Aron Moray—BURR team member; Finn; cousin of Maren

Davis—BURR team member who dies during a mission

Shaw—BURR team member

Rowan—BURR team member

Rip—BURR team member

Jasper Sinclair—BURR team member

Major Fernsby—Alec’s OC

Dr. Morgan—Alec’s knee doctor

Avra—young woman about to undergo surgery

Mr. Logan Black—Alec’s half-brother; Queen’s agent; first appearance in THE GOLDEN SPIDER

Quinn McCullough—Alec’s full brother; Queen’s agent

Cait McCullough—Alec’s half-sister

Mr. McCullough, Sr.—absent; father to Quinn, Alec, and Logan; second son of a Scottish laird; merchant

Lord Roideach—researcher; primary investigator of a marine laboratory

Miss Lourney—Roideach’s laboratory technician

Miss Russel—Roideach’s laboratory technician; nursemaid

Duke of Avesbury—London gentleman in charge of the Queen’s agents; first appearance in THE GOLDEN SPIDER

Professor Corwin—hoped to study selkies; first to report rumors of octopus attacks

Mrs. Guthrie—Isa’s mother

Dane Guthrie—Isa’s brother

Livli Guthrie—Isa’s sister-in-law

Nina Carr—Isa’s sister

Jona Carr—Nina’s husband

Mrs. Carr—mother of Maren and Jona; community elder

Mr. Carr—father of Maren and Jona

Uncle Gregor—Isa’s maternal uncle; aka Commodore Drummond; wishes to discharge Alec on medical grounds

Maren Drummond—Gregor’s wife; sister to Jona 

Elias—a solid, dependable, Finn fisherman

Anton McQuiston—Isa’s dead husband

Larsa—dead body at wedding

Munro—the McCullough’s steam butler

Miss Patricia Thompson—Perfect Patsy; daughter of Alec’s mother’s best friend

Commander Norgrove—a Navy commander

Lord Dankworth—poisoned committee member

Lieutenant Dunnet—former Naval engineer

Nikko—man in a pub

Brown and Lovitt Families—emigrating Finn

Dr. Grant—expert on infectious water-borne organisms

Tredegar—pharmacobotonist; Evan Tredegar; first appearance in IN PURSUIT OF DRAGONS

Lady Rathsburn—Olivia née Ravensburg; first appearance in THE SILVER SKULL

Thomas—boy; son of Lord Roideach; heir to a viscounty

Bridget Stewart—Roideach’s laboratory technician; quit

Erica Thompson—Roideach’s laboratory technician; promoted to Lister Institute in London.

Flora Murray—Roideach’s laboratory technician; committed suicide

Mr. Morrison—suitor for Cait’s hand; rejected

Mr. Wilson—fisherman who finds Nina

Mr. Reid—Finn candidate for Isa’s hand in marriage

Crown Prince of Iceland—wedding planned to the Princess of Denmark

Princess of Denmark—wedding planned to the Crown Prince of Iceland

Rupert—biomech octopus

Biological and Medical Terms

Nystagmus—involuntary eye movement

Facial hypesthesia—numbness of the face

Dysphagia—difficulty swallowing

Dysarthria—motor speech injury due to neurological damage

Apoplexy—an old medical term frequently used to describe a stroke (among other conditions leading to death that began with a sudden loss of consciousness)

Integument—skin; natural covering of an organism or organ

Cephalopod—a “head-foot” mollusk; intelligent; includes squid, octopus, nautilus and the fictional kraken; many produce ink

Subclavian artery—a paired artery that runs beneath the clavicle; supplies blood to the arms

Aortic arch—main artery leaving the heart; arches upward, then downward alongside the trachea

Anterior tibial artery—carries blood to the front of the lower leg and top of the foot

Ethanol—ethyl alcohol; EtOH; C2H5OH; often used as a disinfectant

Syndactyly—a condition in which two or more fingers/toes are fused together; can involve varying degrees of webbing; read in more detail about webbed fingers HERE

Abdominal aorta—largest artery in the abdominal cavity; a continuation of the descending aortic arch

Hemocyanin—a copper-containing blood protein that transports oxygen; found in cephalopods (including octopuses)

Chromatophores—pigment-containing and light-reflecting cells; found in a wide range of animals; octopuses employ these cells to undergo a physiological color change to adapt to their environmental background

Byssal threads—fibrous filaments secreted by a bivalve mollusk to anchor itself to a surface

Hematological—having to do with the study of blood

Chimera—a mythical or fictional animal comprised of parts from different species; a term used to describe mythical animals and genetic chimerism 

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) —a ligament in the knee (one of two) that serves to stabilize the joint

Hirudin—an anticoagulant produced in the saliva of leeches

Agglutination—blood clumping in the presence of antibodies; a technique used to type blood

Elasmobranchii—a subclass of cartilaginous fish including sharks

Glycoprotein—a molecule comprised of both carbohydrates and protein

Secretory glycoprotein—a glycoprotein that is released extracellularly, often into the bloodstream (see above)

Hypoxic—low oxygen level

Septicemia—blood poisoning due to an infection

External jugular vein—large vein in the neck

Ceramic blood filter—filter that catches and stops blood clots from further progress through the blood vessels

Flagellated organic-walled plankton—a kind of cyst-forming dinoflagellate that also has a flagella

Blue scintillans—sea sparkle; a free-living, marine dinoflagellate that produces bioluminescence when disturbed

Dinoflagellates—a subgroup of algae considered to be protists; many are photosynthetic; most are marine, though also freshwater; some have resting stages wherein they form cysts; some are endosymbionts, some parasitic

Cyprus Metal Acetate—a fictional treatment for infectious dinoflagellates created by the author after reading way too much about dinoflagellate problems in home aquariums

Lamellipodial protrusion—an extension of the cell using actin, one made to move the cell forward; studied for many years by the author

Amoeba—a single-celled organism that moves about using pseudopods

Trophozoite—the active feeding state of a free-living protozoan parasite

Salt of propamidine with isethionic acid—an antiseptic/disinfectant; treatment for an acanthamoeba (a type of amoeba) infection

Ipecacuanha—a drug made from the dried root of Cephaelis ipecacuanha, originating from the tropical forests of Brazil

Amoebic dysentery—intestinal infection caused by amoebae

Corynebacterium diphtheriaebacteria that causes diptheria

Lipophilic alkaloid toxins—secreted by poison dart frogs

Corneal epithelium—epithelial tissue that covers the cornea; highly keratinized

Nasalis muscle—a muscle that can compress the nasal cartilages

Volatile gas—compound with a tendency to vaporize

Femoral vein—a large vein in the thigh

Axillary artery—a large blood vessel in the arm (running in the armpit region)

Chitinous beak—mandibles/jaws of a cephalopod; 

Self-retaining Weitlaner retractor—   Shaped like blunt-tipped scissors, they had a uni-directional ratchet mechanism that—when locked in place—allowed movement in one direction only: open. 

Sartorius—a long, thin muscle that runs across the thigh; helps flex, laterally rotate and weakly abduct the thigh

Adductor longus—muscle in the hip that adducts the thigh

Gastrocnemius—a large muscle in the back part of the leg/calf; used to flex the foot downward

Technology and Other Terms

Silicon (Si)—atomic number 14; brittle solid; metalloid

Argon (Ar)—atomic number 18; a noble gas that gives off a violet glow when placed in an electric field

Aquaspira breathers—(aquaspira scrubber failure); fictional rebreather loosely based on the real thing; uses barium hydroxide carbon dioxide scrubber; can absorb carbon dioxide for a sum total of only three hours without replacing the scrubber canister filled with soda lime

BURR team—Benthic Underwater Reconnaissance and Rescue team

O-class submersible—a Naval submersible (submarine)

Phosphorescent headlamp—a headlamp that uses a faintly glowing (phosphorescent) material to provide light

Hypoxic blackout—loss of consciousness caused by cerebral hypoxia; swimmer does not necessarily feel the need to breathe

UP bag—methanogenic bacteria entered a rapid growth phase releasing an ever-increasing amount of gas that shot his teammate to the surface

Excursion—when a sudden decrease in water density causes a vessel to go into an abrupt dive; happens upon encountering a halocline in sea lochs where saltwater suddenly meets freshwater runoff

Negative buoyancy—the point at which something sinks instead of floats; when an object is denser than the fluid it displaces

Glaister Institute, section five (Fifth Ward)—a secret research facility associated with The University of Glasgow School of Medicine; the Fifth Ward is reserved for unusual/inexplicable/dangerous medical cases

Mercury vapor light—uses an electric arc through vaporized mercury to produce light

Arthroflex—an experimental artificial knee joint

Finn—short for Finnfolk; Isa’s people

Progressive—someone who wants Finn features adjusted

Fine ophthalmic catgut—suture material; naturally degraded by the body

Diving reflex—physiological changes that occur when a mammal dives; optimizes oxygen resources to the heart and brain to support an extended period of time under the water; slows the heart rate; mediated by the V and X cranial nerves; studied in the grey seal

Selkie—a mythological creature capable of shedding its skin to change from seal to human form

Russian nematocyst weapon—bioengineered to use the cnidoblast of the sea comb (jellyfish); first mentioned in THE SILVER SKULL (cube jellyfish gun in THE IRON FIN )

Volterra equation—an integral equation; used to study viscoelastic materials

Viscoelastic material—material that exhibits both viscous and elastic behavior when undergoing deformation

Bunsen burner—laboratory equipment that produces an open, gas flame

Punch key—a previous generation’s concept of security

Queen’s agents—spies who work for the Queen under the supervision of the Duke of Avesbury

Aetheroscope—a microscope that allows high resolution through the use of a vacuum chamber and aether

Cryptozoologist—someone who studies cryptids, animals that were formerly thought to exist only in myth or legend

CEAP—Committee for the Exploration of Anthropomorphic Peculiarities; believe that myths and fairy tales conceal core truths; side-step rules and regulations in an attempt to discover their underlying biological facts

TTX pistol—weapon issued only to Queen’s agents; uses darts with pufferfish poison; one to slow a man down, two to drop him, three to kill him

Laudanum—a tincture of opium

The Dragon and the Flea—a curiosity store in Stornoway

Liquid microlens—used in adaptive optics

Catadioptric dialyte—combines refraction and reflection into a single lens

Meikine lens—a fictional lens combining a liquid microlens and a catadioptric dialyte and using an electroreactive fluid that remains viscous at room temperature

Trepanning drill—a drill used to make a hole in the skull to relieve pressure on the brain; an ancient technique

Sharksilk—fictional suture material sold at The Dragon and the Flea that is superior to catgut

Surgical eyeglasses—magnifying lenses (via a liquid microlens) to allow surgeons to better see their work; used as a bartering chip

Gaelic—a Celtic language spoken in Ireland and Scotland

Lucifer lamp—a lamp with blue-white light generated by bioluminescent bacteria; name originates from luciferase

Carbon fiber latticework—found in biomech octopuses; high tensile strength, low weight

Skeet pigeon—a clockwork bird used to carry messages; addresses are programmed in using a punch car

Ichor machine—a machine that analyzes blood; derived from ichor

Cu Quantitator program—a program (run using a Babbage punch card) that analyzes copper levels in the blood

Cipher cartridge—compartment into which Babbage punch cards are placed

Cornish pixie—a mythical fairy creature 

Biomech—technology that has mechanical parts that interact with living systems; incorporated to the point where mechanical and biological systems become inseparable

Factor Q—an unusual Finn blood trait that makes them sensitive to traditional anesthesia, often triggering  the dive reflex; common in those Finn with syndactyly; released into the serum when hypoxic conditions exist

Malling-Hansen Writing Ball—a curved, semi-cylindrical typewriter

Guthrie Shipyards—owned by Mr. Guthrie, Isa’s brother, who is the inventor of Guthrie Vibration Dampening Tubes (vibration dampers)

Crystalizing fluid—proprietary material found inside Guthrie Vibration Dampening Tubes; discussed in terms of the Bernoulli and Froude equations

Bernoulli equation—used in fluid dynamics, different forms are applied to various types of fluid flow

Froude equation—named after William Froude, engineer, hydrodynamicist, and naval architect

S-126 Class Water Skimmer—vessels that monitor Britain’s shoreline, keeping a close eye on foreign and domestic vessels

HMS Beta Water Skimmer—sighted the megalodon; sister ships are the Alpha and Gamma Skimmers

Department of Cryptobiology—department that handles unusual biology and/or unusual biological creatures

Megalodon—an extinct species of shark;

R14X Cormorant class dirigible—a military dirigible used by the BURR team

Acousticotrans system—new system allowing BURR members to communicate during an underwater mission

Acousticocept—a device worn in the ear that allows an agent to hear

Acousticotransmitter—device that transmits sound to the acousticocept

Hyena fish—fish from the western coast of Africa; vicious; will swarm carrion, stripping it to the bone in minutes

OctoFinn—a Finn with a biomech octopus attached

Armored Navy Steam Demon—an armored vehicle powered by coal and steam

Pectin coagulator—part of the lock that guards the back entrance to the Glaister Institute; derived from the words pectin and coagulation

Magic lantern—an early image projector

Filamentous mycobacteria infections—streaking pattern of infection

Caeruleus amoeba—a particularly nasty protozoa found in the mouths of altered hyena fish that infect only Finn

Corpse fish—maggots of the sea; eat dead flesh

Obfuscation goggles—goggles with dark lenses that obstruct vision

Cryptographer—a person who sends coded messages

Shaman—someone who has access to spirits

Sea Saami—a subgroup of the Saami (Sámi) people (from the northern regions of Finland, Sweden, Norway, and part of Russia) who are semi-nomadic; Finn are thought to have originated from this group; all Finn names are traditionally found within this group

Bannocks—Scottish skillet bread; made of oat and barley flour, butter and milk 

Spyglass—a hand-held telescope

Roving tea table—steambot table that moves about transporting tea trays and other items

Icelandic radicals—Icelanders who wish to throw off Danish rule

Natatorium—a building containing a swimming pool

Cephalopod stunning powder—paralyzes octopuses; in spear tips of BURR team

Ring clamps—clamp down on tentacles; contain cephalopod stunning powder

Bioactive nocturnal goggles—night vision goggles

Mussel mine clusters—groups of small explosive devices designed to work underwater

Bissel thread glue—a glue made from the bissel threads of molluscs

Red decilamps—red light doesn’t travel as far in dark water, difficult for enemies to detect

Lucifer lamp detonator—will cause a bomb to explode when the light of the bioluminescent organisms fades



Loch Broom—a sea loch in northwestern Scotland

University of Glasgow School of Medicine—a medical school dating back to the 17th century

Blackhouse—a traditional stone dwelling on the Outer Hebrides

Glasgow—city in Scotland

Isle of Lewis—island in the Outer Hebrides

Orkney Islands—islands at the northern tip of Scotland

Outer Hebrides—western Scottish islands

Stornoway—the main town on the Isle of Lewis

Ullapool—town on the northwestern coast of Scotland; ferry runs from here to Stornaway and back

Adaroche Park—a fictional hunting lodge and park near Ullapool; loosely based on Shieldaig Lodge

Harris—an island of the Outer Hebrides

Tarbert on Harris—the main ferry port of the isle

Portree—main village on Skye

Achiltibuie—a tiny village north of Ullapool

Summer Isles—a group of islands in the mouth of Loch Broom

Shetland islands—far north islands above the tip of both mainland Scotland and the Orkneys

Lerwick—main port of the Shetland Islands

Asgog Loch—a loch northwest of Glasgow

Allanach Castle—a fictional castle on Asgog Loch; loosely based on Skipness Castle

Edinburgh—capital of Scotland

Sea cave—cave carved by the sea into the rocky cliffs of Scotland’s coastline 

Traigh Ghearadha—a beach north of Stornoway

River Clyde—river that flows through Glasgow

Firth of Clyde—an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean on the western coast of Scotland; the River Clyde empties into it

The Minch—a straight of water separating the northern Outer Hebrides from the northwest coast of the highlands of Scotland

Faroe Islands—an autonomous country of the Kingdom of Denmark an archipelago of islands in the North Atlantic

Tinganes peninsula—a historic area of the Faroe Islands

Tórshavn—capital and largest town of the Faroe Islands

Language Translations

Mummo—Finnish for grandmother


Dr. Piyali Mukherjiheroine; physician; Queen’s agent

Evan Tredegarhero; pharmacist; pharmacobotanist; botanist; author of papers on the medicinal value of Brazilian flora

Miss Tegan Price—the shopkeeper’s daughter

Mrs. Price—the shopkeeper’s wife

Mr. Price—shopkeeper

Duke of Avesbury—gentleman in charge of the Queen’s agents

Miss Sarah Parker—the tavern owner’s daughter

Mr. Parker—tavern owner

Mrs. Elena Parker—the tavern owner’s wife

Mr. Black—a Queen’s agent; Piyali’s boss; first appearance in THE GOLDEN SPIDER

Mr. Ranunculus—Director of Tropical Plants at the Lister Botanical Gardens and Greenhouse

Mrs. Lewis—woman with a headache requesting a powder

Colonel Pickering—owns Colonel Pickering & Company’s Scientific Gadgetries and Curiosities

Biological and Medical Terms

khu-neh-ari—fictional; an ointment made from the Amazonian Caniramon divaritum, a climbing shrub

Lianas—climbing vines

Schistosomiasis—infection of a parasitic flat worm

Scrofula—tuberculosis of the neck

Diphtheria—a bacterial infection, often found in the throat (among other locations) that can destroy healthy respiratory tissue

Melanocytes—cells that produce a protein responsible for skin pigmentation called melanin

Guanine crystals—crystalline structure of guanine that has a high refractive index

Chromatography—a laboratory technique to separate a mixture when dissolved in a fluid phase

Dried Tawari tree bark—a medicinal plant

Wasai extract—root used as a diuretic

Technology and Other Terms

Copper (Cu)—atomic number 29; soft and malleable metal; pinkish-orange in color; high thermal and electrical conductivity; used in many alloys

Queen’s agents—spies who work for the Queen under the supervision of the Duke of Avesbury

Skeet pigeon—a clockwork bird used to carry messages; addresses are programmed in using a punch card

Babbage card—punch card used to introduce programing to clockwork and steam-powered contraptions

Aetheroscope—a microscope that allows high resolution through the use of a vacuum chamber and aether

TTX pistol—weapon issued only to Queen’s agents; uses darts with pufferfish poison; one to slow a man down, two to drop him, three to kill him

Welsh rarebit—cheese (and other ingredients) on toast

3XR CinchBolt—a kind of door lock

Kayapo shaman—shaman of an indigenous tribe of Brazil

Herbal Extracts and Their Use in the Treatment of Parasitic Infestations—title of the symposium at the Pharmacological Society of London at which Piyali and Evan met

Crystalline aetheric objective—magnifying lens used in an aetheroscope

Dirigible—flying conveyance filled with hydrogen (dangerously flammable, but cheap) or aether (stable, but expensive)


Aberwynsmall, fictional village in Wales

Université de Paris—accepted women as medical students beginning in 1860

Lister University School of Medicine—a co-educational institution to seek out the brightest young medical minds; Lister Laboratories; Lister University

Drury Lane—refers to the Theatre Royal

Colonel Pickering & Company’s Scientific Gadgetries and Curiosities—a store in Cardiff

Girton’s College—a college of the University of Cambridge; a pioneer in woman’s education

Language Translations


Bengali—of or from Bengal, an eastern region of India

Bhetki macher paturi—marinated steamed fish

Lehenga choli—skirt and blouse combination that is the traditional clothing of Indian women

Kantha—a type of embroidered quilt; traditional Bengali art


Sari—a woman’s garment from the Indian subcontinent worn wrapped and draped about the body

Palki—sedan chair

Pabitro pukur—Bengali for holy well



Yr Ysgyfarnog Wen—The White Hare; village tavern

Ffynnon y Seren—Seren’s Well; a fairy/holy/wishing well

Gwragedd annwn—the water-sprite who inhabits the holy well

Mamgu—southern Welsh for grandmother

A’i hon yw hi?—Is this her?

*Listen to the Welsh and Bengali words spoken aloud.


Natalia Zakharova Kinrossheroine; organic chemist; Lady of Kinlarig

Luke Dryden—hero; cryptozoologist

Stuart Kinross, Laird of Kinlarig—Natalia’s dead husband

Rathail—cryptid hunter; sells rare animals and their parts on the black market

Aileen—housekeeper; granddaughter of McKay

Zia—a Russian Mountain Dragon; Laudakia alpino

Willie McKay—the ancient Kinross butler

William—Natalia’s fencing student

Dimitri Kravchuk—a man Natalia once thought to marry

Sasha—young, male dragonet; named after Natalia’s father

Yuri—a young male dragonet that died

Sir Ridley Sutton—historian of dragon mythology

John Dryden—Luke’s brother; gamekeeper

Misha Ivanov—aka Michael; Aileen’s fiancé

Biological and Medical Terms

Parthenogenesis—an egg formed without fertilization by the male of the species; first observed by Charles Bonnet in 1740; a reproductive strategy mostly confined to invertebrates but known to occur upon rare occasions in amphibians and reptiles

Hepatitis—inflammation of the liver

Milk thistle—an herbal remedy to support liver function

Ventral coccygeal vein—ventral tail vein; used to obtain blood samples from lizards

Ernst Haeckel—German scientist first to use the term “stem cells”

Stem cells—cells that can differentiate to become other kinds of cells

Hematopoietic cells—stem cells that give rise to other blood cells

Amniotic stem cells—stem cells derived from the amniotic fluid and/or amniotic membrane; highly mitotic, undifferentiated and immunoprivileged

Extraembryonic tissues—tissue surrounding and supporting the development of a fetus (includes the chorion, amnion, yolk sac)

Growth media—a liquid/semisolid/solid material designed to support the growth of cells; can contain (according to desired growth) a carbon source (often glucose), water, salts, essential elements, vitamins, amino acids; e.g. agar plates

Xenograft—a tissue or organ transplant from a different species (xenogenic immune response=immune rejection of such a graft)

Immunosuppressant drug—suppresses the immune system to prevent the body from attacking transplanted tissues; in this story, a sulfated purine derivative

Petri dish—a shallow dish named for its creator; used to culture cells

Enzymatic cascades—a series of enzymatic reactions in response to a stimulus that regulates cellular responses; allows cells to respond to changing internal/external environments

Candling—shining a bright light through an eggshell to study embryonic development

Blood ring—forms inside the eggshell when the embryo dies and the blood vessels detach from the interior of the shell

Technology and Other Terms

Sulfur (S)—an element; atomic number 16; brimstone; bright yellow; solid at room temperature; a favorite treat of dragons and pteryformes; good for the skin and hair; compounds of sulfur often carry a strong odor

Department of Cryptozoology—the Edinburgh division funds Natalia’s research

Pteryformes—bird-like creatures with leathery wings; nocturnal; with a possible relationship to pterodactyls

Hyena fish—fish from the western coast of Africa; vicious; will swarm carrion, stripping it to the bone in minutes

Kraken—clawed cephalopods infesting the Thames

Dragonet—young or baby dragon

Rapier—a long, slender and sharp sword

Trouvé outboard—Victorian inventor’s first outboard motor

Snowdrops—a small, white early spring (sometimes winter) flower

Thermite—a metal powder that, when ignited, gives off intense heat (sometimes explosive)

Fuge—short for centrifuge

Married Women’s Property Act (Scotland)—permitted married women to own and control property (enacted 1881)

Potato scone—tattie scone; savory griddle scone



River Teith—a river in Scotland

Castle Kinlarig—fictional castle based on Doune Castle 

Postern door—a secondary door in a fortification wall

Stirlingshire—a county of Scotland

Scottish laird—name for the owner of a long-established, Scottish estate; though styled address uses Lord/Lady, they are not peers (of the nobility)

Trossachs—mountains in Stirlingshire north of Callander

Callander—a town on the River Teith in Stirlingshire; gateway to the highlands

Loch Lubnaig—a freshwater loch in the Trossachs north of Callender

Castle Edinample—a Scottish castle on the shores of Loch Earn


Katorga—a penal labor camp in Siberia during (Russian Empire and Soviet Union)

Kama River—Russian river; tributary of the Volga River

Perm—Russian city on the banks of the Kama River near the Ural Mountains

Ural Zavód—a secret Russian biotechnology laboratory

Ural Mountains—mountain range in western Russia running north to south

Kadskoye—secret Russian biotechnology facility first mentioned in THE SILVER SKULL

Language Translations

Bairn—Scots for ‘child’

Cyrillic—writing script used in Russia (and other countries)

Lapochka—Russian for ‘sweetie pie’

Biological and Medical Terms
Technology and Other Terms
Language Translations

Lady Emily Ravensburgheroine; botanist

Luca Sindel—hero; gypsy; master of clockwork contraptions

Raykagypsy woman in love with Luca

Nadya—Luca’s grandmother

TesioLuca’s clockwork horse

Lady AmandaEmily’s sister

Lady OliviaEmily’s sister

Duke of Avesbury—Emily’s father; gentleman in charge of the Queen’s agents

Lord Attwatersuitor for Emily’s hand

Lord Snyder—Lady Olivia’s fiancé


Wolfsbane—deadly poison if ingested; acontium; monkshood; queen of all poisons

Belladonna—a poisonous plant; also known as deadly nightshade and atropine is one of the active chemicals

FoxgloveDigitalis purpurea, a plant containing medically active cardiac glycosides

Bradycardia—a heart rate that’s too slow

Arrhythmia—a defect in the heart rate or rhythm of the heart

Roma and Romanithe gypsy people and their language

Vardos—gypsy caravans

Puri daj—Romani for Grandmother

Pliashka—a kind of engagement party in which the future bride receives a necklace of gold coins

Gadji/gadje—female/male person who is not Romani

Marhime—Romani for impure or ritually unclean

Knowlton HouseKent country house of the Ravensburg family

Viridis powder—turns flames green when thrown in a fire

Captain Oglethorpe—famous for his fancy airships

Chronospring—component of a clockwork horse

Sleipnir—an eight-legged horse in Norse mythology

The White Cliffs of Dover—eight miles of chalk cliffs near the town of Dover that face the English Channel

Bioluminescence—biochemical light produced by living organisms; often bacteria; often a brilliant blue-white light

Zoetomatic—battery powered mechanical creature


Lady Judith Ravesburg—heroine; kraken cryptobiologist

Arturo Piatti—hero; engineer

Gino—injured man; field engineer 

Luigi—Venetian kraken sharpshooter

Lord Garrick—British lord who owns many properties in Venice

Aunt Agatha—Judith’s sick aunt; raised her and her brother

Duke of Avesbury—Judith’s brother; gentleman in charge of the Queen’s agents

Lord Thornton—scientist at the Lister Institute; married to Judith’s niece, Amanda

Battista—steam butler in the house with Lady Judith’s Venetian laboratory

Lady Olivia Ravensdale—Judith’s niece

Vittoria—Judith’s laboratory assistant

Dr. Fracastoro—a chemist in Rome; colleague of Judith’s


Bromine (Br)—atomic number 35; a halogen; red-brown liquid and gas; can be used as an anti-epileptic

Indigo kraken—Venetian kraken species that produces a purplish-blue ink

Lagoon kraken—Venetian kraken

I Cancelli di Recupero del Canale—Canal Recovery Gates; contains sharp, spinning blades

Cephalopod-stunning oil—thrown onto the surface of the canals, it slows down the kraken

Cryptobiologist—biology who studies unusual animals once thought to be mythical

The Kraken Controversy—debate as to the origins of kraken; are kraken they more closely related to squid or octopuses?

Lister Institute—medical school and research facility in London associated with Queen’s agents; encompasses both the Lister University School of Medicine and Lister Laboratories

Palazzo—a large Italian residence

Fondaco—ground floor

Porta d’acqua—the water entrance

Cannaregio district—one of the six historical districts of Venice

Into the Aphotic Depths: The Biology of the Vampyromorphidia—an autographed book Arturo gifted to Judith 

Giordano Restorative Apparatus—a device used to refine kraken ink

Frommholtz spray gun—a weapon that can be used underwater against kraken when loaded with water soluble squid tranquilizer

Bromine (Br)—atomic number 35; a halogen; red-brown liquid and gas; can be used as an anti-epileptic

Indigo kraken—Venetian kraken species that produces a purplish-blue ink



Lady Alice Hemsworthheroine; engineer; would-be Queen’s agent

Mr. Benjamin (Ben) Leighton—hero; entrepreneur

Miss Clara Leighton—Ben’s sister

Lady Delphinia—a young lady out in society; almost-fiancée of Ben

Hugh Krause—German technology thief

Duke of Avesbury—in charge of the Queen’s agents

Watson—zoetomatic hedgehog

Lady Westmorland—held the ball where Ben and Alice shared a moment

Professor Armstrong—engineering professor in Edinburgh

Lady Gatwick—woman on train

Miss Cait McCullough—acquaintance of Mr. Black

Mr. Jackson—Queen’s agent

Aunt Ellie—Alice’s aunt

Burton—the Duke of Avesbury’s steam butler


Leighton Carriage Company—luxury steam carriages

Clockwork Corridor—street in London where gypsies sell clockwork components and contraptions

The Chemistry of the Secondary Batteries of Planté and Faure

Great Northern Railway—train from King’s Cross (London) to Edinburgh 

Newcastle—a city in North East England

Zoetomatic—battery powered mechanical creature

Societal liaison—women who work with/beside Queen’s agents

Queen’s agents—spies who work for the Queen under the supervision of the Duke of Avesbury

Rankine Institute—an engineering school in London; known to work with the Queen’s agents; courses include difference engine programming and robotic engineering skills; named after William Rankine

Markoid battery—a small battery (proprietary and experimental) that can power devices


Ian’s sister, Elizabeth, has a genetic condition known as brittle bone disease, otherwise known as osteogenesis imperfecta (OI),a disease for which there is no cure. He’s spent his whole life searching for a cure…

Osteogenesis imperfecta

Osteogenesis Imperfecta (more detail)

The story required a kind of MRI machine (or at least its electromagnet). This is why we end up in an old mill:

Vertical turbine hydro generator system. (Homemade)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

In this book, we meet a pteryform who eats sulfur nuggets (good for the skin) and is blasted with a kind of blow torch. Why? To create more disulfide bridges for additional strength and rigidity:




When we meet Isa, we learn that her people require a special kind of anesthesia…

History of Anesthesia

How do diving mammals manage to avoid decompression sickness?

What’s underwater around Scotland’s coast?

An underwater safari: Incredible photos reveal secret marine world off the coast of Scotland

What inspired the idea behind the biomech octopuses?

Cardiopulmonary bypass: development of John Gibbon’s heart-lung machine

And what kind actually live in British waters?

Octopuses & other Cephalopods 

And was time for action…

Is it worse to be near an explosion on land or in water?




In Pursuit of Dragons leans heavily on cutting edge research of our own era: stem cell therapy. There are many kinds of stem cells obtained from a variety of tissues, and I needed to choose one. But which?  Off to primary sources I went. There was also the question of dragon reproduction. When I read about parthenogenesis in Komodo Dragons, things began to fall in place. Here’s your chance to take an in-depth look at the biology behind the book.

On the origin of the term “stem cell”.

Could Stem Cell Therapy be the Cure in Liver Cirrhosis?

Placenta as a reservoir of stem cells: an underutilized resource?

In Vitro and In Vivo Hepatic Differentiation of Adult Somatic Stem Cells and Extraembryonic Stem Cells for Treating End Stage Liver Diseases

Parthenogenesis in Komodo dragons.

Introduction to Fetal Bovine Serum Class

Enter the Dragon: The Dynamic and Multifunctional Evolution of Anguimorpha Lizard Venoms

The Filter of Life



Kraken and Canals introduces the concept of cephalopod ink as a cancer therapy. I didn’t pull that from thin air. And what might our lagoon kraken be feeding upon to make this dye? Why not Hexaplex trunculus, famous for their purple-blue indigo dye? What might the kraken reproduction strategy be? For that, I took a close look at the octopuses. And, of course, there’s all that architectural science behind the building of Venice. Check out the science below.

Ancient ink for cancer treatment

Squid Ink–Now With Medical Applications!

How black squid ink may help fight cancer and tumor cells: Glycosis happens

Cephalopod Ink: Production, Chemistry, Functions and Applications

A Potential Adjuvant Agent of Chemotherapy: Sepia Ink Polysaccharides.

Anti-metastatic and anti-angiogenic activities of sulfated polysaccharide of Sepiella maindroni ink.

Anti-tumor activity of squid ink.

High performance liquid chromatography of slightly soluble brominated indigoids from Tyrian purple.

The Hardest-Working Mom On The Planet

A Look at Venice: Past and Present

Engineering Venice

The Construction of Venice, the Floating City

The History of Venice: a tour through the past centuries


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