world building – creating an alien language for my book

In the back of each of my books in the Meniscus series is ‘A Condensed Guide to Gel-speak’. The Guide includes all of the alien words I have used in the books to date.


blog scan of dictionary


I am not a linguist. I speak English and French and I have some idea of how words are derived and the relationships between them. Who knows if our Human ideas of language and syntax would apply to an alien race!!??


The Gel-heads in my alien world are barely sentient, driven by greed and the search for gratification. And yet, through some twist of Meniscus history, their language is the one used by most sentients on the planet. In one of the books, they will be seen in a village, teaching the children of another alien race.


'captive of the Gel-head'
Gel-heads are covered with green gelatinous skin: their muscles, bones and internal organs can be seen through the integument!

The Gel-head language includes clicks for word separation and emphasis, indicated by an inverted comma   ‘   .  The words are spoken with a hiss, and include many ‘th’ sounds.


I have tried to construct words as logical associations of other words. So, for example, a building is marneth far’natha, built from the words for ‘to build’ and ‘a thing of value’ :

marneth far’natha      a building

marneth        to build

far’natha       thing of value


Another example:

grill’             to remove

grill’en           small (something has been removed)

cardoth          moon

cardoth grill’en    the smaller of two moons


In the top row of my bookshelf is a copy of The Klingon Dictionary (Marc Okrand, Star Trek Pocket Books, 1985). Originally meant as an assist to actors, it has become very popular among science-fiction enthusiasts. My copy has not been dusted off for many years, but I am proud to own one. The book has been issued in two editions and is translated into five languages. The Klingon Dictionary has sold 500,000 copies. So is a guide to Gel-speak silly? Who can tell?


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a few of my collection of Star Trek paperbacks … I can’t even reach that shelf, let alone find the dictionary, but it is up there somewhere!!!

Copyright Alexandra Tims 2017

Meniscus: the series

I hope you will enjoy visiting the planet Meniscus, the setting for my six part science fiction adventure/romance series. The first book in the series is Meniscus: Crossing The Churn (March 2017).

 … After an encounter with a wandering trader, a young woman escapes squalor and servitude with his help. As he helps her elude her former masters, she feels she has a hope for a new life. Her skills at parkour and foraging fit her well for a dangerous subsistence-based life and, in spite of his refusal to speak, she feels she has met her soul-mate. Follow Odymn and the Slain in their travels through the desert and wooded landscapes of Meniscus and discover their destination!

Meniscus: Crossing the Churn is available at in paperback and Kindle formats here.

what are elginards?


wingless insect, native to Meniscus; moves by floating on air currents

Have you wondered about those two black eyes tucked on the right side of my header image? They belong to an elginard, a woodland insect common in my stories about Meniscus.


'floating elginards'lightpaperback


The elginard is recurring symbol in my Meniscus books. It stands for those who do not feel in control of their lives, who have no idea where tomorrow will take them. The consideration of fate versus determinism is an underlying theme in the books. The elginards are inspired by the wooly aphids that drift on the wind in autumn in New Brunswick.

Some poetic excerpts about the elginard, from the Meniscus books:

From effervescence, droplets coalesce,

drift like wingless elginards, 

purposeless, ephemeral.

………………(Book 1: Crossing The Churn)


Air still.

Elginards hover.

Each with a flourish

of feathery hairs

to keep them aloft.

………………(Book 2: South from Sintha)


Now she watches drifting elginards.

Like woolly-aphids on Earth,

facsimiles of snowflake,

predicting winter.

………………(Book 3: Winter by the Water-Climb)


Wounded yarnel

drips sap to elginards.

Waits for breezes to launch them 

to purposeless lives.

……………….(Book 3: Winter by the Water-Climb)

Sparks from the fire

lift, mingle with wingless

elginards, float

on wisps of midnight.

……………….(Book 4: The Village at Themble Hill)


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Copyright 2017 Alexandra Tims

Planet Meniscus

Welcome to planet Meniscus.

A planet with:

  • two phased moons
  • two suns
  • seasons
  • dynamic landscapes (desert, forest)


Water on Meniscus moves upward, not down, effervescing and foaming like soda in a shaken bottle.

The odd behavior of water on the planet results in dramatic water features:

  • water churns – lake-like but filled with frothing writhing water
  •  water-climbs – like waterfalls but the water movement is upward


'parting the ferns'.jpg


Copyright 2017 Alexandra Tims