Making Leonardo’s Lion

An artistic acquaintance of mine has been making 3D printed models of vehicles and gadgets from my stories. Today I’ll introduce another one she made, the mechanical clockwork lion from my book “Leonardo’s Lion.”LeonardosLion5

It’s a modification of the one available on Thingiverse here, designed by YahooJapan. She added a cutout section showing gears inside. I painted the model myself.Lion 1

According to some accounts, Leonardo da Vinci made a working, mechanical lion. It was toward the end of his life when he was living in France. Records aren’t clear, but the newly crowned King of France, Francois I, met Pope Leo X in Bologna on December 19, 1515. Either the lion was presented at that event, or was commissioned then and given to the king at a party two years later.

Lion 2The lion could walk, move its head from side to side, and open and shut its jaws. It then sat on its haunches; its chest cavity opened, and a bouquet of lilies fell out. The lion was the symbol of Pope Leo X and lilies symbolized France, so this mechanism represented the strong bond between the two.

Lion 3






In our modern world of automated gadgets, it’s difficult to imagine the effect such a lion would have at a party in the early 16th Century.

Lion 4I got to wondering what might have happened to that lion afterward. My story, “Leonardo’s Lion,” takes place some fifty years later. The lion stands forgotten in a storeroom, hidden among numerous other gifts presented to previous kings.

A ten-year-old boy named Chev comes upon the lion after escaping an orphanage. He’s able to get the automaton working, and is small enough to ride on its back. Inside the lion, he finds a message Leonardo had meant for King Francois I to discover, and a clue to a world-changing secret. Thus begins Chev’s ride on the lion’s back, through a country torn apart by warring religions.

In potential future improvements to this model, I’d love to have movable legs, a swaying head, and a seam for the chest cavity.

I welcome your thoughts about my model. Leave a comment on this post for—

Poseidon’s Scribe

H.G. Wells’ Fighting Machines — After the Martians

My upcoming story, “After the Martians”—to be released this month—features the fighting machines, or tripods, of H.G. Wells’ book The War of the Worlds. In that book, the Martians assembled the machines after their arrival on Earth, and they caused considerable destruction. At the end of the novel, the Martians all died from our terrestrial bacteria.

AftertheMartians72d“After the Martians” takes place in the world of Wells’ story, but sixteen years have passed since the alien attack. In my tale, humans make use of the Martian technology, especially the fighting machines, to fight World War I.

Wells depicted a fighting machine as being three-legged and about one hundred feet tall. He did not describe the carapace or main body of the machine, except to say that several flexible tentacles protruded from it. Two of these tentacles held a box with a lens from which shot the devastating heat ray. The tripod’s other weapon was a poisonous black gas.

Such a machine would have terrified the readers of 1897. Since then, the tripod from The War of the Worlds has become a science fiction icon, inspiring the walking weapons of Star Wars, the AT-AT and AT-ST.  Combining huge size with the human attribute of walking somehow adds to the horror.

In The War of the Worlds, we see the fighting machines from the inferior vantage point of puny human victims on the ground. In “After the Martians,” I take readers inside the carapace as human pilots control the alien machines to battle other tripods.

I enlisted the aid of a close acquaintance to make a wonderful 3D printed version of the fighting machine. (Frequent readers will recall my 3D printed Ring of Gyges from my story “Ripper’s Ring.”) For the tripod, she used a Printrbot brand printer, the Simple (Maker) Edition, and PLA filament.

3D printed tripod 13D printed tripod 23D printed tripod 3

The .stl files you need to print the fighting machine yourself are on the Thingiverse site, and the design is by FuzzySadist (William Myers). I added the wire tentacles, and painted the machine to be generally consistent with my story’s description.

Very soon, I’ll give you details on how you can get your own copy of “After the Martians,” by—

Poseidon’s Scribe

The Ring of Gyges Made Real

I blogged recently about the Ring of Gyges, the invisibility ring mentioned by Plato in The Republic, a ring I wrote about in my upcoming story, RippersRing72dpi“Ripper’s Ring.” Today I revisit the topic since I now own the ring.

Ring of Gyges 8Ring of Gyges 3Well, the one I own is actually a replica, or at least a conception of how the ring might look. A close acquaintance of mine made it by the technique of additive manufacturing or 3D printing.

As shown on Thingiverse, my ring was based on two versions of the Green Lantern’s ring shown here and green_lantern_ring_display_large_preview_card GLR1_preview_cardhere. Then my friend used Tinkercad and 123D to add the Gyges touches. She used a Printrbot brand printer, the Simple (Maker Edition) and PLA filament. The .stl files you need to print the ring yourself are on the Thingiverse site. She glued a machine screw and nut to fasten the pieces together and allow rotation. If you make the ring yourself, you’ll need to scale the design so it prints a ring that will fit you.

As Plato described the ring, the collet (the part of the ring that grips the stone) could rotate. The stone must have had some sort of obvious orientation, because when Gyges turned it toward himself, he disappeared; when he turned the stone 180° toward his fingertips, he reappeared.

In my story and in my 3D printed ring, the stone is in the shape of an isosceles triangle, so think of the stone as an arrow—pointed toward you makes you invisible.Ring of Gyges 7

Not quite like that. It actually looks like this:

Ring of Gyges 6

And when you rotate the stone to point the other way, you become visible again.

Ring of Gyges 5

In “Ripper’s Ring,” (which launches in less than a week on May 4th!), I describe how the ring was made and how it works. A farmer finds a meteorite, and parts of it are solid to the touch, yet invisible. Anyone who touches the invisible metal becomes invisible, too. A jeweler discovers that the invisible metal becomes visible (and returns its wearer’s visibility) when in contact with iron.

The jeweler constructs a ring of gold lined inside with the invisible metal touching the finger. The stone is a triangle of iron attached with a screw mechanism such that the wearer can rotate the triangle and move it up or down. Moving it down brings it in contact with the invisible metal, rendering the wearer visible again.

So far I haven’t gotten my Ring of Gyges to turn me invisible, though I will keep trying. Perhaps when you make yours, it will work. For your sake, I hope not. Don’t forget to get your copy of “Ripper’s Ring” and wear your own Ring of Gyges while reading it. If you make one, or have any questions, or if you think I should 3D print more objects from my other stories, leave a comment for—

Poseidon’s Scribe