Golden fleece and other fantastic things

As part of Ethnography MattersEthnography, Speculative Fiction and Design month, I’ve just published “Towards Fantastic Ethnography and Speculative Design“–a personal reflection on what I’ve been doing (mostly design ethnography) and what’s been inspiring me (mostly Ursula Le Guin).

Right after I wrote it, I read the following passage in the latest installment of my favourite urban fantasy series:

“Did you really kill a ram with gold wool?”

“Gods, no. It’s synthetic,” he said.


“We took a ram pelt, coated it in magic to keep it from burning, and dipped it in gold. The real trick was getting the proportion of gold and silver right. I wanted to keep the flexibility of gold, but it’s so heavy the individual hairs kept breaking, and too much silver made it stiff. In the end we went with a gold-copper alloy.”

“Why go through all this trouble?”

“Because kingdoms are built on legends,” Hugh said. “When the hunters are old and gray, they will still talk about how they went to Colchis and hunted for the Golden Fleece.”

How perfect is that?

And then I saw these two things:

Mid-century Australian Petrol Station

Australian Golden Fleece Petrol Station advert, 1950s-60s (via)

Sheep Station

Sheep Station exhibition featuring the work of François-Xavier Lalanne, 2013 (via)