Imagination Part Two: Wonderland Beginnings

Imagine a world of blind people.  They can feel warmth, but not see light.  Days and nights would just be warm times and cool times.  As science on this world advanced, there would be a realization that warmth has a source, the sun, which rises and sets.  A mysterious, invisible disk whose motions control warm times and cool times.

The Earth’s sun provides our world with energy, fueling change and life, but what if Earth has a second, hidden star?  A star whose changes are not effected in space and time, but in higher dimensions?  A star whose radiance, whose glow does not create changes in matter and motion, but changes in consciousness. A physical generator of ideas, a fountainhead of imagination.  An invisible wonderland whose warmth can be felt the most open and gifted, but remains unknown and beyond the understanding of people who are blind to the glow.

Many planets orbit the Sun, and there are many planets bathed in the glow of Wonderland.  What would we do if one planet tried to take the sun’s light and heat for itself?  What if Martians revealed themselves and tried to drain all the sun’s energy leaving the earth cold and dead?  There would be one choice: war.  And this is what happened in Wonderland.

The House of Hearts is the royal family of Wonderland (Queen Theodora, King Tyman, Princesses Rose and Genevieve)

The Hearts were the first to reach Wonderland, and discovered a particular crystal, now known as the Heart Crystal, could be used to channel and control the glow of Wonderland.  The disruption and eventual cessation of the Glowflow led scientists and artists on three other worlds to discover and invade Wonderland.  The Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, and Spades struggles for years in a fantastic war of imagination, conjuring creatures out of dream and nightmare.

Eventually, saner heads then the discoverers prevailed and established peace between the creative leaders of the 4 worlds.  A city was established around the Heart Crystal and a keeper of the crystal was selected.  The crystals energy most easily communicated with women, so women were selected as the crystal keepers.  They also functioned as leaders of those who has taken up residence in Wonderland, and eventually became known as Queens of Wonderland. 

Those who wanted to darken the outer worlds and hold all the creative power for themselves in Wonderland continued to plot and scheme and became known as the followers of Dark Imagination.  Those who wanted to protect the Glowflow to the outer worlds became known as the followers of White Imagination.  The 4 Houses, descendants of the most gifted leaders of the 4 Worlds continue to rule Wonderland selecting a queen from amongst themselves. 

Followers of White Imagination believe that ideas are discovered, not invented.  As a result the followers of White Imagination are more passive, and value preservation, compassion, and generosity.  They trust the patterns have a purpose, a good purpose, and prefer to let things work themselves out rather than intervene.  –

They are individualists, but still place great value on tradition as something to be learned from, not imitated.  Communication and society are ways to share pieces of the pattern and anyone can contribute something to deepening and strengthening both understanding and creativity.  You never know where the next good idea will be found.

Dark Imagination derives from the belief that ideas are invented, not discovered.  The followers of Dark Imagination value the power to transform and control, and are aggressive and destructive.  If the universe is just random rearrangements without any special meaning or purpose, then the only meaning or purpose in life is to extend and project your ideas as far and as long as possible.  Conflict, violence, and destruction are valuable tools for identifying the best and most powerful ideas.

Dark Watcher Queens Maelstra and Torvashi spy on Hatter Madigan during his search for Alyss

The Heart Crystal projects the ideas of Wonderlands.  This means the personality and values of the ruling queen are cast into the hearts and minds of the people on the outer worlds.

A queen’s personality can even survive the death of the queen herself.  In between the worlds, somewhere in the Glowflow, ghostly remnants of the queens continue to survive and remember and inspire, reflecting and refracting the glow of crystal into the particular on whose edge they dwell.

These ghostly queens are known as Watchers.  The Watchers of Earth reside in two bubbles in the Glowflow.

The White Imagination Watchers have created what appears to be a castle on a forested mountain, with waterfalls and streams flowing out of the peak.  The sky is filled with astronomical images that put the Hubble to shame, nebulas and galaxies, and the worlds with 3 rings all large enough to see.  These radiant objects are the manifestations of the glow from the Heart Crystal.  In the center of the tower, growing out of a pool is a tree of gold and silver whose leaves gather and collect the glow of the Heart Crystal.

When the leaves fall and drift down to mountain, wildflowers spring up where they land.  The tree bears fruit rich with pure imagination, which sustains the queens in their afterlife.  It can also grow weapons and told which the queens can provide to champions, called Walkers who act as their agents on Earth, promoting their values and inventions.  Occasionally, earthlings lost in forests or diving from waterfalls find their way to the mountain. 

The Surveillance of Hatter Madigan by Maelstra and Torvashi knows no end-- even during battle

The Dark Watchers dwell in Splinterscape, an island in an underground cavern filled with broken glass.  In the center of the island is a tower of thorns standing above a fiery pit.  The pit draws in pieces of the sea of shards and reforges them into long ribbons of glass that harden and rise and branch out over the island. 

Eventually, their weight becomes too much and the ends break off and return to the sea of shards.  The roof of the cavern is like a geode which thick long colored crystals, glowing with the radiance of the Heart Crystal.  This creative light feeds the tree which bears fruit of pure dark imagination.  The Dark Queens also bestow gifts to their Walkers, although their boons often consume and destroy the recipient.  People in caves, sewers, and tombs sometimes stumble into Splinterscape.

Some White Watchers…

Rory – Short for Aurora, Rory is animated and radiant.  A lover of light, she invented machines to travel to the stars.  Talkative, beautiful, and alert she is a natural leader.

Zephris –  is a collector.  She built a huge library containing an enormous encyclopedia with a list of every invention, discovery, and idea ever conceived.  She also worked to improve education and communication so everyone would be able to access this knowledge.

Neiria – loves to shapeshift and tried to be as many different people as she could.  She inspires people to change their lives into something new and different.

Borea –  was a lover of peace and a queen during a peaceful period in Wonderland’s history.  She created a strong army, a great wall, and many embassies to sustain this peace.  She invented new forms of martial arts which combine meditation to prevent anger and rash decisions with combat skills to ward off and subdue aggressors. 

Siki - A great traditionalist Siki supported bringing back old styles and ways of doing things.  Although new construction suffered some under her rule, many older places were restored and improved. Siki prefers trusting things to work out on their own and waiting to acting.

Genevieve – Murdered by her sister, Genevieve is a careful and thoughtful queen.  A quiet planner and a clear thinker she was able to protect her daughter on Earth from her sister’s murderous rage.

The Conflict between Dark and Light wages on

Some Dark Watchers…

Maelstra – Although she was one of Wonderland’s most beautiful and powerful queens, Maelstra was never satisfied.  Only able to see flaws, she tore down and rebuilt the palace constantly, and destroyed most of her creations in her efforts to improve them.   Although initially a follower of White Imagination, her constant destruction in the pursuit of perfection led her to deeper and deeper Black Imagination.  Eventually, her imagination consumed her own body leaving her a constant flux of incomplete forms and shapes.  Inspiration reflected off Maelstra led to the Kracken in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.  A huge writhing consuming hunger is Jules Verne’s impression of Maelstra.

Torvashi – Among the greatest Warrior Queens, Torvashi led Wonderland into a long series of never-ending wars.  Violent, angry, and competent, she prefers action to thought.  Torvashi invented a new way of processing crystal into a physical enhancement steroid and combined it with genetic engineering to create a perfect warrior race. 

Nadine – Obsessed with ownership, Nadine suffers from never-ending paranoia that someone somewhere was stealing her ideas.  She created a patent police to seek and destroy any creations too similar to her own.  In the end, all she created were ways to prevent and destroy the creations of others.

Dorma – Abandoned by her Prince, Dorma was consumed with grief.  Retreating into sorrow, she created statues, poems, and songs, about her lost love, while her queendom fell into decay.

Gloavine – A queen of exceedingly little imagination, Gloavine was consumed with envy.  She created lengthy and elaborate approval procedures for new inventions and under her rule, Wonderland ground to a halt.

Ferrara – Crafty and manipulative, Ferrara uses her brilliant psychological insight to manipulate and control. Always playing mind games, it is impossible to figure out exactly what she wants, or predict what she will do next.

Crumpet – The queen who ate Wonderland.  Crumpet was a brilliant chef, but she preferred eating to cooking, growing in size until she devoured most of the city.  She is the inspiration for Zombie horror films and the associated late night pizza eating.

Walkers are humans the Watchers use to increase the influence of their shade of imagination on Earth.  Walkers are people of unusual creativity and skill who listen to and obey the voices of the Watchers in exchange for information, inspiration, and items made from the imagination of Wonderland.  Some agents know a great deal about the Watchers of Wonderland, while others know nothing.  Walkers can be used for many purposes, such as eliminating other Watchers, preserving of protecting an idea or art work, inventing something, or communicating a message.

(Based on the works of Lewis Carroll & Frank Beddor)

(Part One)

The Red Queen’s Last Son: Prince Leopold

Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany (1853-1884), was the eighth and youngest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Handsome, gentle, charmingly shy, he received more of his mother’s attention than he liked, and as a young man he decided that the best means for gaining his independence was through marriage.

Leopold suffered from hemophilia, however, which not only kept him from active participation in sports and the military (though he held honorary positions in the latter); it also hindered his marriage prospects. Heiresses, second cousins, and aristocratic women were all briefly candidates to be his bride. Did no one want to marry a prince just because he was a hemophiliac? What of the wealth and privilege such a union would bring? Many young ladies did aspire to the royal family, and Leopold’s illness alone wouldn’t have been enough to put them off. But for those already high in society, the rank of princess wasn’t so tempting when it meant having Queen Victoria for a mother-in-law.

Prince Leopold

With Leopold determined to marry, Victoria—as she had done with her older children—loudly, repeatedly proclaimed that offspring of British monarchs should wed royals or nobles of other nations as a means of forming political and military alliances. She would prefer that Leopold stay with her and not marry at all, but if he insisted, then his must be a union that strengthened her reputation as the “grandmother of Europe”— i.e., a union with a notable someone not from the UK.

Leopold was a great admirer of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and like most of London society, he knew that Alice Liddell, daughter of Henry Liddell, Dean of Oxford’s Christ Church, had been the inspiration for the titular character. Though Alice was no longer the girl she’d been when Lewis Carroll penned his masterpiece, Leopold felt—a little rightly, a little wrongly—that because of his familiarity with the book, he knew her.

He met the twenty-year-old Alice one beautiful Saturday afternoon at Christ Church. Not near as conservative and priggish as Alice had presumed him to be, she found the prince appreciative of the satire in Carroll’s “nonsensical” novel and open-minded to her ideas for ending child labor in the kingdom. As to her notions concerning a woman’s place in society—how a woman need not be so subservient, yoked to domestic duties only—Leopold encouraged them.

If women in general were half as resourceful as Alice Liddell, he thought, the monarchy would surely benefit from their being treated as men’s equals.

“The more I’m with you, Miss Liddell,” he even admitted one afternoon, “the more I suspect women are superior to men.”

She assured him of it, and unlike with heiresses, second cousins, and aristocrats, Prince Leopold lost himself; he was in love with a commoner, an orphan of no known pedigree who had been adopted into a middle-class family, and who passionately acted upon ideas that Queen Victoria considered outlandish, even dangerous.

By marrying his beloved Alice, Leopold could do more than just gain independence from his domineering mother; he could rebel against her. This, even though the prospective bride would surprisingly prove to be, in accord with the queen’s dictate, quite a notable someone not from the UK. Alice presses on with her goal of founding an orphanage, desperate to protect children from hard labor, starvation, and violence.

Alice’s growing reputation for fighting against child labor, the prince’s love—these earn her the smoldering ire of QUEEN VICTORIA. How can the queen’s youngest son be enamored of a plainly dressed commoner? A commoner, no less, whose efforts to improve the welfare of the country’s most vulnerable population conflict with certain arrangements of providing a cheap labor force to support the aristocracy that Victoria strives politically to maintain.

The Prince and His Mother Queen Victoria

No way Victoria will tolerate the upstart, Alice Liddell. Behind Prince Leopold’s back, she schemes to tear the young couple apart.

One scheme involves recruiting a gang to do away with Miss Liddell. The job falls to QUIGLY, but he has good reason not to murder the charitable Alice; he had been the very first person she met after crossing over into our realm, her best friend on Earth for a time. Every day, she contends with Jesus the gang for the theater (the site of her orphanage). And every day, the crown acts as a stealth wedge attempting to drive her and Prince Leopold apart.

It’s always easier to give in, and we might think that Alice’s life would be less troubled were she to accept a proposal of marriage and forget her do-gooder ambitions. We’d be wrong. Prince Leopold, defying his overbearing mother, proposes to Alice, and buffeted on all sides by responsibilities, other people’s hopes and expectations, she goes into something of a tailspin.

She puts off answering Leopold, knowing that, though she loves him, agreeing to become his wife will have negative implications for her work with orphans. She’s no longer naïve enough to think that the queen shares her enthusiasm for improving the children’s welfare. Nor is she unaware that the queen judges her to be an uppity no-name who’s grown from a foundling to mistakenly acting as if a woman can make her own decisions, conduct business, etc.—i.e., do everything a man can do.

Excerpt from The Looking Glass Wars:

By Alice’s twentieth year, Mrs. Liddell was becoming anxious for her to choose a husband from among her many suitors.

‘But I don’t feel anything for a single one of them,’ Alice complained, shaking her head to fling out the unwanted memory of a boy left behind long ago. Don’t think of him! I mustn’t!

Then, one Saturday, the Liddell family attended an outdoor concert by a quartet at Christ Church Meadow. They were about to take their seats when a young gentleman, under the pretense of introducing himself to Dean Liddell, approached. He was Prince Leopold, Queen Victoria’s youngest son, and he had been sent to Christ Church so that Dean Liddell might oversee his education. This was his first time meeting the family.

Mrs. Liddell became fidgety and excited as she was introduced. ‘And these ladies,’ said Dean Liddell, presenting his daughters, ‘are Edith, Lorina, and Alice. Girls, say hello to Prince Leopold.’

Alice held out her hand for the Prince to kiss. He seemed reluctant to let it go.

‘I’m afraid you can’t keep it, Your Highness,’ she said. And when he didn’t understand: ‘My hand. I may have use for it still.’

‘Ah. Well, if I must return it to you, then I must, though if it ever needs safe keeping . . .’

‘I shall think of you, Your Highness.’

Prince Leopold insisted that the Liddell’s sit with him. He placed himself between Alice and Mrs. Liddell, and when the concert began with a Mozart medley, he leaned over and whispered in Alice’s ear, ‘I don’t fancy medleys. They skip lightly over so many works without delving thoroughly into any one of them.’

‘There are quite a few people like that as well,’ Alice whispered in return.

Mrs. Liddell, not hearing this exchange, flashed her daughter a look, which Alice was at a loss to interpret. The Prince talked to her through the entire concert, discussing everything from art to politics. He found Miss Liddell unlike other young women, who spoke of nothing but velvet draperies, wallpaper patterns and the latest fashions, women who batted their eyelashes and expected him to swoon. Miss Liddell didn’t try to impress him – indeed, she gave the impression that she didn’t much care what he thought of her and he rather admired that. And her beauty . . . yes, her beauty was undeniable. All in all, he thought her a delectable puzzle of a creature.

No sooner was the concert over and Leopold gone than Mrs. Liddell voiced what she’d been trying to communicate to Alice with her eyes.

‘He’s a prince! A prince!  And he’s taken a fancy to you, I’m certain!’

‘We were only talking, Mother. I talked to him as I would have talked to anyone.’

But her mother’s awe and enthusiasm were difficult to ignore, and she started running into Leopold all over town. If she strolled through the Christ Church Picture Gallery, she found him gazing intently at an oil painting by one of the old masters. If she visited the Bodleian Library, she found him thumbing through a volume of Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (which she had read in its entirety). He’s handsome enough, I suppose. And obviously well bred. Yes, but so were many of the men who vied for her attention. But at least he didn’t stroke his moustache with impatience as she talked of the need to provide for Britain’s poor. 

‘A nation should be judged on how it looks after its more unfortunate children,’ she explained. ‘If Great Britain is truly to be the greatest kingdom in the world, it is not enough to flaunt our military power and our dominance in industry. We must lead by example and be more charitable to and protective of our own.’

Prince Leopold always listened to her judiciously, weighing her arguments and reasonings with seriousness. He never agreed or disagreed with her.

Mother may be right. I could certainly do worse than marry a prince. But although Alice tried to feel something for the man, her heart remained unconvinced.

Prince Leopold dressed "plainly"

Three months after the concert at Christ Church Meadow, while taking a ride in his carriage to Boar’s Hill, Prince Leopold said, ‘Your father tells me that you’ll be visiting the Banbury Orphanage tomorrow afternoon. I’d like to come along if you’ll have me. One never knows what sort of troubles might beset a young woman there.’

‘If you think it best, Your Highness.’

He offered to take her in the carriage, but Alice said that she’d prefer to walk.

‘You see so much more of the town when you walk – a little curiosity shop or a snatch of garden where you wouldn’t think it possible to have a garden, choked as it is by city things. In a carriage, you hurry past these treasures without noticing them.’

She didn’t take the slightest quirk of mankind for granted but viewed it as a small miracle and cause for celebration, and the prince had begun to love her for this.

At Banbury, the orphans crowded around Alice, hugging her skirts, all shouting at once. Alice laughed, held four conversations simultaneously and, to Leopold’s eye, set off against the soot-stained walls, the drab and loose-hanging clothes of the orphans and the pale bloodless faces of the wardens, she looked more radiant than he’d ever seen her. On a tour of the orphanage, a train of children following at their heels, one young boy refused to let go of Alice’s left thumb.

Alice requested a thorough accounting of the troubles facing the Banbury Orphanage. The wardens pointed out floors rotten from overflowing sewage, the sagging infirmary roof, the time-worn mattresses as thin as wafers. They showed her the pantry, empty save for sacks of dried kidney beans and uncooked rice.

‘The children have had nothing but beans and rice for two weeks,’ one of the women told her. ‘We were supposed to be getting a supply of beef ribs, but so far . . . nothing. This sort of thing happens rather frequently, I’m afraid.’

Prince Leopold had been silent for some time. He cleared his throat.   ‘What   of   the   warden   responsible   for   ensuring   that Banbury receives the food and clothes the children need?’

‘The chief warden is very selective as to who gets what and how much of it, Your Highness,’ the warden explained. ‘He says we take in too many children and that perhaps they are not so deserving. For example, that one there . . .’ the warden pointed at the boy holding on to Alice’s thumb ‘. . . he has a real talent for thieving, though often as not what he steals is food because of how hungry he is. They all are.’ She gestured at the surrounding orphans.

Alice looked at the boy clutching her thumb, reminded of Quigly Gaffer. What’s become of him? And the others? Andrew, Margaret, and Francine, hardly old enough to dress themselves, never mind living on the streets without the love and support of family.

The mournful, faraway look on Alice’s face had a profound effect on the Prince. ‘I shall talk with the Queen,’ he said after several moments. ‘I think we might establish a Commission of Inquiry into the matter and, in the meantime, arrange for an increase in food rations. How does that sound?’

‘It sounds like generosity rarely met with among the living,’ said the woman.

‘Well, no one here shall soon discover if it’s to be met with among the dead either, if I can help it.’

The orphans blinked and said nothing, hardly believing what they had heard: Queen Victoria and Prince Leopold were going to work on their behalf! The wardens offered the Prince their thanks many times over, while Alice looked on and smiled, which was all the thanks he desired.

On the walk home, they stopped to rest in the university’s Botanic Garden, where Alice found herself sitting on a bench with Leopold suddenly kneeling in front of her.

‘No matter what you decide, Alice,’ he was saying, ‘I want you to know that in the coming years I will be only too glad to assist you in your charitable endeavors. But I hope with all my heart that you’ll allow me to do so as your husband.’

Alice didn’t understand.

‘I’m asking for your hand in marriage,’ Leopold explained. ‘But . . . Your Highness, are you sure?’

‘That is not exactly the answer for which I was hoping. Alice, you are a most uncommon commoner, to say the least, and I would be proud to call myself your husband. Of course, you realize that you will not have the title of Princess, nor be entitled to ownership of the royal estates?’

‘Of course.’ Marriage? Again, she felt the tug of a long-buried affection for one who . . . No no no! Think of other things. Be realistic. The marriage would please her mother. She would do it for her mother, for her family’s sake. ‘I accept, Leopold.’

She let herself be kissed, feeling the coolness of dusk settle in around her.

‘I have already spoken with the Queen and I have asked for, and received, your father’s blessing,’ the Prince said. ‘We shall host a party to announce the engagement.’

If she’d had time to think about it, Alice might have stopped herself, considering the idea too whimsical. But the words had a force of their own, and only after she said them aloud did she realize just how appropriate the idea was.

‘Let’s have a masquerade.’

Yes, it felt right: a masquerade to celebrate the orphan girl’s impending marriage to Prince Leopold of Great Britain.

Part One: Wonderland’s Imagination Empowers

“Imagination is more powerful than knowledge.”

-       Albert Einstein

Imagination is the lifeblood of existence. Here in our happy little home realm of Earth we are not only dependent on our Imaginations for liberation from the mundane, but also for all innovative progress. A great creative mind can be the difference between total disaster or awesome advancement.

But… Where does Imagination come from? And how does it actually work?

I followed the threads, and I am here to tell you: It all leads back to Wonderland.

All Imagination flows from Wonderland – it may help to think of it as a source and a center of Imagination, the same as the Sun would be for solar power. 

Spreading through the various elements of our world and opening infinite ‘timelines’ for when influences arrive the creative energy escapes Wonderland in mysterious ways. Particularly imaginative people (the Lewis Carrolls, Da Vincis and Jules Vernes among us) are best at utilizing the wonder— but all of us are touched by the gift even if we do not recognize it.

The very best and most vital ideas are incepted little by little from the original imaginative power emanating from beyond the Looking Glass. It may take generations for the inspiration to fully arrive and be realized (such as the idea of flight or space travel—it all began when our ancestors who had no hope of touching the stars dared to dream of doing so, likely with a little unknown help from Wonderland).

We are always receiving small influences from action-packed Wonderland.  Whether it comes to us in dreams, fleeting inspiration, great works of art, or the chatter of children playing – we share an invisible connection with the source of this creative energy.  Wonderland interfaces with our world like imaginative telepathy, a whispering voice in the background of functional chaos.

Wonderland Visits Us Through All Things (Credit: Adobe Stock)

I entreat you to step back when contemplating Imagination. When you allow your mind to have access to more realms than the ‘official story’, history stops being linear and becomes a psychedelic collage.

Imagination is a neutral energy that is shaped by those channeling or using it.  As the Imagination is articulated it can become something of great beauty or terror, it can act as a builder or a destroyer.

On Earth we are very familiar with this element of creativity and imagination – neither is simply good or bad – but both, everything and more. What determines the outcome depends on how it is being expressed. The same is true of Imagination in Wonderland, only more so!

Since Wonderland is the source of all imagination it is truly awesome (in the most specific meaning of the word) just how powerful both Imaginatively creating and destroying become in this realm. Imagination is the essence, the very IT of everything.

While Wonderland Queens (the Red Queen and White Queen) like Redd and Genevieve possess an extraordinary level of Imagination, it is not theirs alone. Everyone in Wonderland is encouraged to value, enrich, and embrace their imaginations. It is a cultural imperative and honor among Wonderlanders.

This may very well be the precarious tipping point upon which our world now lingers. Will we continue to embrace the gift of our Imaginations, or will we turn away? It is my fondest wish that our realm strives to be a little more like Wonderland.

Here on earth, if you are imagining your own world, why not go for it? Why imagine anything less than magnificence? Why censor yourself? I would hope everyone realizes that they possess the power to imagine the wonders of the universe.

Artists and writers know this from literally working with their imaginations daily to 'manifest' reality for others to share— paintings, books, films, drawings…it all starts with the imagination. But this is true for everyone. 

A person of no great creative ambition still will imagine a cake and what it will taste like— first.  Then they will bake it. Or on the flip side— one might hear about the flu and the symptoms. They may imagine how terrible it must feel— and then they have it.  Or they imagine feeling better— and start to feel improved.  Imagination is so much more powerful than people acknowledge— a folly that is never the case in Wonderland.

Alyss Heart on Earth, Her Imagination Always Shined Bright (Art by Catia Chien)

Princess Alyss Heart (or Alice as you may know her) had such a powerful imagination she could manifest 3D objects— that's powerful!  But so can you.  You need a few more steps to get there and cannot do it by virtue of your genetic traits as a Queen of Light Imagination might— but you can "imagine your life— and then it happens" to quote one of the Witches of Eastwick in John Updike's novel.

Equal parts trust and self-assuredness are required for great creativity. To utilize your Imagination here on earth you have to open up your mind – you do not want to copy or be influenced by what has come before – you cannot be controlling of it – you must trust it and let it lead you. The same is true in Wonderland, a Queen utilizing Imagination will be able to channel more power from deep within by fully trusting it and herself.

Queen Redd is limited by selfishness and ego. Princess Alyss on the other hand, joins with the people (as a collaboration) and can overcome the Queen— in fact, it’s like getting hit by a train. Redd cannot believe the power coming at her when Princess Alyss summons the people to link their Imagination power with hers. And so, as Queen Redd nears defeat at the end of The Looking Glass Wars, she quits the fight and dives through the Heart Crystal to escape.

This clash of royal power epitomizes the way in which we must condition ourselves to use Imagination here on earth. We must not waste the creative energy on small, minded gains for only ourselves. No… it is vital that we look to Wonderland’s example.

Imagination is a vast topic, on which I could endlessly expound the intricacies and virtues. For today I will conclude my explanation of our connection to Wonderland via the gift of Imagination—and I shall call it “Part One” of this series on the amazing wonders of Imagination.

Perhaps the next time I will revisit the matter with an eye toward a more detailed explanation of the practical Art of Imagination.

Wonderland Look-Alikes: Some of The People Lewis Carroll Got Wrong

Princess Alyss Heart’s history was a bloody tale, full of power and terror and even a glowing glimmer of hope. When Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (a.k.a. Lewis Carroll) heard the harrowing story, he was full of good intentions. Jotting down her story he tried to help the troubled foundling, adopted by his dear friends, to adjust to her own childhood in Victorian England.

The writer did his best, crafting a story of whimsy that amused children and adults alike—however, they did not amuse Alice Liddell (as she had become accustomed to calling herself over the years since departing the adventures in Wonderland). The familiar faces of her childhood were warped, the truth obscured.

These are the facts behind Lewis Carroll’s fabrications:

Bibwit Harte (The White Rabbit)

Bibwit, like so many others, figured prominently in the stories Princess Alyss Heart imparted to Charles Dodgson thus resulting in his being written into the book as the character of the White Rabbit in Alice’s Adventures Underground. He became this particular character because his name could be anagrammed to spell: “White Rabbit.”

An imperious, but loving 6-foot-tall albino with pale green veins that pulse beneath his alabaster skin, Bibwit is known for his excellent hearing, swift body and razor wit. He is also fond of conversing with others and is often fond chatting with anyone who will take the time to listen, including the flowers that populate the palace grounds.

Trained in the Tutor Corps in the tradition of his kind, Bibwit was head of his class, excelling in everything he set his mind to. Though his people act as great conveyors of knowledge, they lack the ability to utilize the magic of Imagination themselves—and so excel as instructors. Becoming the Royal Tutor to the Queens of Wonderland was an honor bestowed on Bibwit for his unparalleled grasp of the principles of Light Imagination.

Capable of doing six things at once, Bibwit can often predict what the Queen will say and always follows orders to the letter. His sensitivity, however, makes him fragile physically and emotionally. As he takes pride in the triumphs of those he has trained, so to does he take their failures to heart and look for the fault within himself. 

Such is the case when Rose Heart, the princess who would one day be disowned and become Redd (The Red Queen), begins to tread upon those darker paths, turning her back on light imagination and committing fully to the path of dark imagination. In the years following her exile, Bibwit often blamed himself for failing her, attributing her fall to a failure in her education. 

Bibwit would have tutored Princess Alyss as he did for her mother Queen Genevieve (The White Queen) had Redd’s coup not ousted the Princess from Wonderland. Though he obeyed Redd during her terrible reign, he did so only to maintain a place in her court— while funneling information back to the Alyssian resistance.

Upon Alyss’ return to Wonderland, Bibwit will be among her closest allies. Resuming her education, the Royal Tutor will assist Alyss in preparing to navigate her Looking Glass Maze. 

Bibwit Harte from The Looking Glass Wars vs Lewis Carroll's White Rabbit

General Doppelgänger (Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum)

The Commander of the Royal Army, General Doppelgänger is made up of two people, Doppel and Gänger, whose natural state is to reside within one body. The able warrior distinguished himself in the war between Genevieve and Redd for the throne, becoming a close compatriot of The White Queen.

Through much of Wonderland’s history the condition suffered by General Doppelgänger was considered purely mental, a split personality disorder. That is until a pioneering physician found a way to unravel the afflicted person into two (or more) distinct people.

 This clarified the problem but was an imperfect solution as many of the twins, once disentwined, became traumatized. The true breakthrough came a generation later, when a method was devised which allowed the twins to be either one singular being or separated into two or more beings at will.

As Alyss told Lewis Carroll of her mother’s loyal servant that could split in two, the author took liberties to contain the martial nature of Wonderland’s leading military mind into the farcical Tweedledee and Tweedledum (thanks to a little help from the poetry he was constantly consuming).

The truth of the matter is the General was one of the few present at Redd’s attack on Heart Palace to escape the palace with both their lives and their freedom that day, alongside a handful of chessmen and the traumatized Dodge Anders. 

Together the beaten and grieving group made their way into the Everlasting Forest and over the following weeks, General Doppelgänger would work alongside these forces and the others who fled Wondertropolis to establish the Alyssians. Named for the lost princess that all assumed dead, the rebels dared to strike back at Redd Heart. 

At the height of their activities, the Alyssian forces struck out at strategic locations striving to right the worst of the wrongs committed by Redd. However, as the years of tyranny mount, the strength of the rebels begins to wane, creating a dire situation at the time of Alyss’ return.

With the rightful heir returned to Wonderland, General Doppelgänger is unflinchingly prepared to oust Redd from the throne.

General Doppelgänger from The Looking Glass Wars vs. Lewis Carroll's Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum

Frog Messengers

Though being a rather humble member of the Royal Court in Wonderland, with what most could call a “simple” job— the Frog Messenger is insultingly misrepresented as “the Frog Footman” in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

While the character in Lewis Carroll’s children’s tale sits with an invitation undelivered for days, to royalty no less, the Frog Messengers of Wonderland would never delay in carrying out their courier duties. They would also have you know a Frog Messenger would never tangle their wigs with the Fish Footman—because everyone knows Fish Footmen do not wear wigs!

The Frog Messenger from The Looking Glass Wars vs. Lewis Carroll's Frog Messenger

The Walrus

A butler at Heart Palace whose uniform is a tuxedo jacket two sizes too small. He’s a servant—first of Genevieve, then Redd; a comic figure whose helpless innocence and good wishes for all endear him to anyone he meets (except maybe Redd and her vicious servant known, wrongly, to some as the Cheshire Cat). 

He carries a pouch of dust around the palace, sprinkling dust on objects and surfaces as needed—Wonderland’s version of our household chore known as “dusting.” When nervous or worried, the Walrus tends to overcompensate by, bringing endless supplies of refreshments.

How Lewis Carroll could twist the selfless servant of the ruling family is beyond Alyss. While the character in The Walrus and Carpenter poem within the absurd book is a glutton for oysters, the Princess could not recall at any time seeing the Walrus consume even so much as a tarty tart. Surly the sweet creature did eat, but never in sight of anyone.

After surviving, and escaping, Redd’s oppression on Mt. Isolation the Walrus will hold the honor of being the first to call Alyss “Queen” after she successfully navigates her Looking Glass Maze.

The Walrus Butler from The Looking Glass Wars vs. Lewis Carroll's Walrus

WHY I LOVE ALICE: WONDERFUL WONDERLAND

My friend Lynne Henderson is a Wonderverse super-fan and Alice Aficionado supreme. I have had the pleasure of enjoying Tarty Tarts masterfully created by Lynne at the Comic-Cons we have both immersed ourselves into—and recently as I craved a taste of those sweet treats, I thought I should give Lynne a platform to explain her take on the magic of Alice In Wonderland.

Without further delay, please enjoy her fantastic collection of All Things Alice, and her moving explanation of the power that this story and its characters hold.


The Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland stories have been my favourites since childhood, and my appreciation has only grown through the years, as I began to understand the adult intelligence behind the children’s fantasy.  I think I first encountered Alice at around eight years old in the classic 1949 Lou Bunin film, considered by many to be the best version and called “the lost Alice,” as it was overshadowed by the 1951 Disney version.  

Bunin’s was the first filmed version I ever saw and is my favourite, with wonderful songs, many of them using Carroll’s text, very faithful to the Wonderland story and not mixing in characters from Looking-Glass, as many other versions are wont to do;  I can be a purist about some things and feel the two stories should be appreciated for their own uniqueness (uniqueness that extends to the film versions with Johnny Depp).  Unfortunately, every time it was shown on television, it was edited differently.  

Years later, after collecting VHS tapes with the various edits, I painstakingly edited them together in order to make a complete film.  But I’ve heard that Thunderbean Animation is apparently working on a complete restored version.  Oh frabjous day indeed!

The Book Where Lynne Fell in Love with Alice

I first read the stories courtesy of my mother Lucille’s brother, my Uncle Claude.  He gave me a ten-volume set of classic children’s stories (which I still have), including Wonderland and Looking-Glass, with the Tenniel illustrations, of course.  Every eight-year old girl can relate to Alice’s curiosity and adventuresome nature, and I was no exception, imagining myself interacting with these talking animals and discovering the magical land beneath her feet.  But even more than wandering in Wonderland, I loved the thought of stepping through a mirror in my home into another magical world populated by living chess pieces, anthropomorphic animals and other fanciful beings.  

Wonderland is fun, but the Looking-Glass world seemed more “adult” somehow and more challenging and more accessible to a city born and bred girl like me through her bedroom mirror.  As I grew and learned more about Lewis Carroll Societies and what influenced his writing, I came to appreciate Alice on a whole other level.  His wordplay, poetry, leaps of logic and other qualities firmly cemented Alice’s place in my heart.  As well as the copy from my childhood (picture included), I also have the Martin Gardner Annotated Alice, the definitive illustrated edition published in 1992 and the Dover Publications facsimile of Carroll’s 1864 manuscript, written in his hand and with his illustrations.  During one of my thrift shop scroungings I even picked up two LP boxed sets of the great actor Cyril Ritchard reading the novels;  they came with reproductions of the first editions, but the Wonderland one is missing, I only have the Looking Glass reproduction.

As the years went by, I made it my mission to get copies of every filmed version of the original Alice in Wonderland. Among them the 1916 silent versionthe 1933 film with W. C. Fields, Cary Grant, Alison Skipworth and other Golden Hollywood actors;  and, of course, the 1949 Bunin version.  Like so many other works of art, Alice has been reinterpreted in some unusual ways, none more so than the 1989 film by Czech filmmaker Jan Švankmajer, which appeals to my love of the bizarre (watch it and you’ll see what I mean).  I even managed to collect the 1979 adult version, which also has the distinction of being the first X-rated musical.  It’s actually quite sweet and innocent in its own way.

Lynne's Video Collection;  the VHS of the "adult" version is on the right!

It may have been while browsing the Internet in general or on eBay searching for other Alice memorabilia, but my ears perked up big time when I first heard about Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars trilogy.  Bookworm that I am to this day, I’m rarely without a book in my hands, and was intrigued to read the “real story” of Alice and Wonderland.

I was NOT disappointed by any stretch of the imagination—whether in our world or Alyss’.

And although I can be a pedantic purist at times about things I hold dearly, I immediately knew I would love this fabulous reimagining of Alice and her world that Frank Beddor created just as much as I do Carroll’s original.  No longer reading about a sheltered child wandering through bizarre dream worlds, I discovered a girl torn from the only life and world she knew, struggling to find her way back home, only to find her home torn apart, and determined to fight tooth and nail to defend and restore the peace and beauty of her homeland. 

Frank’s reworking of the characters and their places in Wonderland is brilliant, he’s channeled the inspired imagination sent out from Wonderland’s Heart Crystal and crafted a world full of emotion and intrigue that reflects the best and worst of human nature.  Some character’s natures are amplified, for better or worse:  the White Rabbit into Bibwit Harte is a wonderful advisor, and the Queen of Hearts makes a terrifying Redd Heart;  some are completely turned on their heads:  the bumbling Tweedle brothers become the crafty General (Generals?) Doppleganger;  and some are changed in an amazing and brilliant way:  the absent-minded Hatter becomes the almost Spock-like focused, fiercely loyal warrior Hatter Madigan

(Some of) Lynne's Impressive Novel and Comic Collection

I particularly love Frank Beddor’s Carroll-like logic play and wordplay (the “doggerels” of war in particular make me smile) and love how Frank even included author Lewis Carroll/Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who was so fond of and protective of the real Alice Liddell and echoed him in Alyss’ childhood friend and protector Dodge Anders (I see what you did there, Frank---brilliant).

If discovering Frank Beddor’s trilogy wasn’t serendipitous enough, meeting him was even more so.  I’ve been going to New York Comic Con for almost ten years, reveling in the company of my fellow nerds, and consider it the start of Hallowe’en and license to wear whatever costuming strikes my fancy.  I think it was on Facebook that I saw a post from Frank for a booth assistant one year.  I sent him a message and he contacted me, but he needed the same person to help for all four days, which I couldn’t do, unfortunately, but I made sure to visit him and say hi every year.  On eBay I got a copy of Frank’s Princess Alyss of Wonderland and its wonderful LGW backstory in Alyss’ own words. 

Meeting Frank at the New York Comic Con!

The graphics are amazing, the book is brilliantly put together, it’s a delight to the eyes as well as the intellect, and Frank very kindly autographed it for me at NYCC one year.  Among other treasures in it, I discovered Alyss’ recipe for Tarty Tarts, and make a batch for Frank every year at NYCC, using cookie cutters shaped like card suits (of course).  Frank is a genuinely lovely person, and his love and passion for Alyss’ story impressed me from our first meeting.  I hope his trilogy can be made into a movie series someday, what an amazing epic that would be! 

But what is it about Lewis Carroll’s stories that has fascinated us for over one and a half centuries?  They’re certainly a wonderful escape from reality, the nonsense gives many a laugh and the surprising bits of logic and common sense food for thought.  But for me I think it was mostly the thought that there could be an entire fantastical, magical world literally underneath my feet or on the other side of my mirror, and that I only have to be at the right place at the right moment to get there.  And The Looking Glass Wars trilogy expands on that world brilliantly.  The breadth and depth and power of Frank’s imagination brings home to me the universality of certain truths and emotions we all share:  good vs. evil;  right vs. wrong;  selflessness vs. self interest;  and the most important of all, love. 

(A small portion of) Lynne's collection of Alice Artifacts and Music

Whether patriotic, familial or romantic love, to hold something or someone outside of ourselves as so precious that we would do anything to ensure their happiness (a happiness that brings us joy as well) is ultimately all we can do for each other that lasts.  No matter how long I live, Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars trilogy will always be on my bookshelf right along with Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, two complimentary sides of the same coin.

In Queendom Speramus!  Long Live Alyss!

Wonderland Warrior & Alice's Future King: Dodge Anders

Dodge Anders—son of Sir Justice Anders, head guardsman of Wonderland’s Heart Palace—was a commoner who lived amid great privilege, having the splendors of his father’s workplace for his playground. He idolized his father, and the direction of his life had been known ever since the age of three, when he toddled into the coat of Sir Justice’s uniform and saluted. 

His dedication to following his father’s path was apparent in much of his childhood play with his best friend, Princess Alyss Heart, (Alice in Wonderland). He and Alyss were essentially growing up together, and though a few years the princess’s elder, Dodge couldn’t remember a time when she hadn’t been his partner in adventure. Countless afternoons, pretending to be leader of the palace guard while Alyss played a queen in peril, Dodge would brandish a dull sword and rescue Alyss from her evil aunt Redd—to them, a mythical figure. 

Redd (Red Queen) had been removed from succession for reasons they were still too young to understand (Dodge not yet being ten, Alyss six). They knew that Redd, angry that she wouldn’t be queen, had killed her own mother, Queen Theodora. They knew that she had plunged Wonderland into a bloody civil war in a failed attempt to take the crown from her sister Genevieve (Alyss’s mother, the White Queen), and then been banished from the realm before their births. Redd’s ruthlessness was legendary. If Dodge was intent on impressing a young royal with his bravery and gallantry, he couldn’t have done better than fight against Redd. 

The love Dodge and Alyss shared was no secret at the palace. On her bedside table, the princess kept a holographic crystal that showed the guardsman’s son, at four years old, kissing her cheek as she sat in a baby carriage while officers of the court frowned in the background. Dodge often became embarrassed—lowering his flushed face, kicking the toe of his shoe against the floor— whenever Alyss showed him this particular holo-crystal, so she showed it to him often. 

But it wasn’t his affection for her that embarrassed him. It was because he knew why the court officers were frowning: the importance of class distinctions, of consorting with one’s own kind. Sir Justice had explained to Dodge that part of being a successful guardsman meant abiding by what was considered proper and not allowing his affections for anybody to compromise his duty. 

“You can never marry the princess, Dodge,” Sir Justice had explained, sympathetic, even a little proud that Alyss had such obvious affection for his son. “She will one day be your queen. You can show your feelings by serving her to the best of your ability, but she must marry someone from a suit family. I’m sorry, Dodge, but you and the princess . . . it’s not in the cards.” 

“I understand, Father.” 

But this had been only half true; Dodge’s head understood, his heart did not.

Sir Justice Anders and his son Dodge Anders

On Alyss’s seventh birthday, ten-year-old Dodge stood at attention in a certain hall of Heart Palace. He was wearing a guardsman’s uniform, complete with fleur-de-lis badge on his right breast. He knew that Alyss would pass his way sooner or later, but maintaining a professional pose—facing forward, chin parallel to the ground, arms stiff at his side—he looked as if he might wait for her all his life if necessary.

Then came the sound of frolicking feet. No doubt Alyss was running from someone she’d just pranked, Dodge assumed; she was always using her powerful imagination for such things, conjuring squiggling gwormmies to appear in her tutor’s food, for instance.

Alyss rounded a corner into view, and he stepped to the middle of the hall and presented her with a small box tied with a rainbow-colored ribbon.

“Happy birthday, Princess,” he said with a bow.

“Cut it out.”

She didn’t like him bowing to her or calling her “princess.” She was, by this age, aware of the class difference between them, but she hated to be reminded of it . . . especially by Dodge himself.

“Jabberwock tooth,” he said when, with eager fingers, Alyss opened her present: a sharp, triangular-shaped tooth resting on a bed of puff.

“You didn’t kill the beast yourself; I hope?”

Jabberwocky were huge, ferocious creatures living in The Volcanic Plains—a land of active volcanoes, lava rivers, and geysers of noxious gas, extremely dangerous for any Wonderlander to enter. It says something about Dodge that his best friend thought that he might have faced off against a jabberwock.

“No, I bought that in a shop,” he admitted.

Alyss thanked him—she would treasure the gift forever, she said—and slipped the tooth onto her necklace, giving him a mischievous look. “Don’t you have to practice any military exercises?”

“I can always use more practice, my princess.”

“Stop calling me that. You know I don’t like it.”

“I can never forget who and what you are, my princess.”

Alyss clicked her tongue—a sign, Dodge knew, that she was finding his seriousness tiresome.

“I have a new military exercise for you,” she said. “We must pretend we’re enjoying ourselves at my party later this afternoon. Music is playing, there are platters of tarty tarts to enjoy, and you and I begin to dance.” 

She held out her hand. Dodge hesitated. 

“Come on now.” 

He put an arm around Alyss’s waist and moved with her in gentle circles. He had never touched the princess before—not like this. She smelled of sweet earth and powder. It was a clean, delicate smell. Did all girls smell like this or only princesses? A potted sunflower in the hall began to serenade them. 

“This isn’t a military exercise,” he said, making a weak attempt to free himself. 

“I order you not to go anywhere. While we’re dancing, Redd and her soldiers crash into the room. It’s a surprise attack. People are screaming and running. People are dying. But you stay calm. You promise to protect me.” 

“You know I’d protect you, Alyss.” He felt warm all over and a little dizzy. He was holding the princess close. He could feel her breath on his neck. He was the luckiest boy in the queendom. 

“And then you battle Redd and her soldiers.” 

He didn’t want to let her go, but he did, wielding his sword. He jousted this way and that with his imaginary foes, spinning and ducking. 

“After many close calls,” Alyss narrated, “your life in danger every second, you defeat the soldiers and stab your sword into Redd.” 

Dodge looked the picture of intensity as he plunged his sword into the air where he envisioned Redd to be. He made a show of eyeing his handiwork, his vanquished foes littered on the ground before him. He returned his sword to its scabbard. 

“I’m saved,” Alyss continued, “but I’m shaken by what I’ve just witnessed. You calm my nerves by dancing with me.” 

The sunflower again began to serenade. Without hesitation this time, Dodge took Alyss and spun her about the hall. He had loosened up despite himself. 

“Will you be my king, Dodge?” 

“If it pleases you,” he said, his rebellious heart for the moment not caring what his father would think of his behavior, reveling in feelings he should never have allowed himself, and unaware of how prescient the more menacing aspects of Alyss’s make-believe would prove.

The Pool of Tears, located past the Whispering Woods

Dodge snuck the princess off palace grounds and brought her to a cliff at the edge of The Whispering Woods. They stood looking down at a body of water surrounded by a crystal barrier. 

“It’s called The Pool of Tears,” Dodge explained. “They say it takes you out of Wonderland, but no one knows for sure. People have gone in, but nobody’s ever come back.” 

“Gone in? “Alyss said. “Did they fall or jump?” 

“Both. Those hoping for their return sometimes stand here and cry, letting their tears drop into the water. That’s how the pool got its name. We’d better get back to the palace or we’ll miss your party.” 

They were making their way along the row of glorious fountains that led to the palace’s front gate when Alyss befriended a kitten that seemed intended as a birthday present for her, though from whom was a mystery. She carried the animal inside. He jumped from her arms and ran off as if he had an appointment to keep. Which he did: in the Security Oversight Room. 

Dodge and Alyss weren’t long at the birthday celebrations, everyone enjoying tea, before the kitten reappeared and transformed into a humanoid figure with massive lethal claws, and— 

A wall exploded, the force of the detonation knocking Dodge from his chair. Coughing from dust and debris, he saw innocent courtiers and civilians attacked by a mob of card soldiers. Queen Genevieve’s chessmen and her famed bodyguard Hatter Madigan (the Mad Hatter) leaped into action. Amid the rubble and confusion stood a woman Dodge knew well, though he’d never had the displeasure of meeting her.

Her dress of writhing vines with toothy roses opening and closing for a bite of flesh; her scraggle of flame-colored hair: it was Redd Heart.

“No!” a voice near Dodge yelled.

Alyss!

He crawled to where she’d fallen, put a hand over her mouth, and pulled her under a table with him.

“We must keep quiet, or they’ll get us, too. Don’t move.”

Something slammed against the tabletop.

“Don’t move, don’t move,” he whispered, squeezing Alyss tight against him.

She buried her face in his shoulder, but he kept his eyes open to the surrounding carnage. There was his father, Sir Justice, slashing at invading card soldiers with all the expertise at his command, then rescuing a couple of chessmen who had been momentarily overpowered by a band of Two Cards. And there again—Sir Justice, sword poised to strike, charging toward the humanoid feline who had taken out a board’s worth of palace chessmen by himself.

“Watch this,” Dodge whispered to Alyss, pride in his father getting the better of his judgment.

Alyss did watch. It was horrid. With the back of his paw, The Cat knocked Sir Justice to the ground. The man’s sword went skittering across the floor and out of reach. The Cat picked up Sir Justice and gouged him to death.

“Noooo!” Dodge wailed, bolting out from under the table, snatching up his father’s sword and attacking The Cat, who merely grinned, knocking him to the ground with a light blow. 

Six chessmen converged on the assassin. 

Dodge, his right cheek bleeding from the four parallel cuts left by The Cat’s claws, crawled over to his father’s body and knelt there, sobbing. 

It was some time before he realized that Alyss was no longer in the room, nor Queen Genevieve, Hatter Madigan, Redd, and The Cat (Cheshire Cat). All around him were fallen bodies, chessmen fighting against card soldiers. It didn’t look good for the queen’s forces. Redd’s mercenaries were going to win, and with an instinct he didn’t know he had, Dodge worked his way to the door, hiding behind toppled furniture, inert pawns, and rooks, until he successfully made his escape. 

Later, struggling to comprehend the loss of his father, he heard of Genevieve’s and Alyss’s deaths along with the rest of Wonderland: when Redd announced herself the new queen. Was it really true? Would he never more see lively, sweet-smelling Alyss? Never again confide to her his dreams of soldier-fame? What good were dreams now

His father. Alyss. Where the two greatest loves of his life had been, Dodge was faced with nothing, blankness. 

An idea suddenly blazed in his brain, the resolve to carry it through firm. It was too late to do anything for Alyss, but there was still something he could do for his father. Sir Justice deserved a burial proper to his station, and Dodge was going to give it to him.

Dodge Anders, years after Redd's Coup

In the weeks following Redd’s coup, the capital city of Wondertropolis seemed largely deserted. Small clans of Redd’s soldiers lolled outside abandoned cafés, drunk on flugelberry wine, harassing the few citizens who braved the streets and hurried to their destinations with lowered heads.

Dodge made it to Heart Palace without incident, surprised to find it unguarded, unmanned, but not quite unoccupied. A figure laden with goblets and dishes ran past him and was gone. Then another, carrying a music box. Throughout the palace’s darkened salons and banquet halls looters moved about in silent hurry, helping themselves to souvenirs of the former ruling family. Several Redd’s soldiers were passed out on tables and other furniture, but there was no sign of Redd or The Cat. 

In the dining room where Sir Justice had lost his life, the scene was ghastly.

Dodge managed to get his father’s body out to the garden, and to dig a grave using a broken chair back as shovel. He laid Sir Justice carefully, respectfully in the earth, and with unsteady hands began to cover the body with soil. A cry burst out of him. He threw his makeshift shovel to the ground. How could he live? Why should he live when those he held most dear did not? He became quiet, subdued. How to live? Why? These were questions to be answered. The only questions. 

The grave filled; Dodge planted a Hereafter Seed at its head. Instantly, the seed took root and up grew a bouquet of flowers, the arrangement of which formed Sir Justice’s likeness, a living memorial. Had anyone been watching Dodge at that moment, they would not have seen tears on his cheeks. His eyes hard and unblinking, his jaw clenched, he looked more angry than sad. 

This is a good man’s reward in Wonderland now,” he murmured.

Dodge Anders acting as a Rebel Portal Runner during the reign of Queen Redd

Years passed. Wonderland became a bastion of Dark Imagination—a hive of paranoia, deceit, and violence. Redd demanded absolute loyalty from every citizen, but not every citizen gave it. The rebels called themselves Alyssians, in honor of the young princess who’d been killed to prevent her from ever ascending to her rightful throne. Princess Alyss Heart: not alive in flesh and blood, but very much alive as a symbol of more innocent though still imperfect times, an icon of hope for peace’s return. 

Among the Alyssians, one particular soldier had made a name for himself with his military prowess and suicidal bravery—Dodge Anders, twenty-three years old, the four parallel scars on his right cheek serving as needless reminder that his greatest enemy wasn’t Redd but the beast who’d killed his father. 

Sending and retrieving sensitive Alyssian intelligence required portal runners, those who traversed The Crystal Continuum, a network of byways that enabled Wonderlanders to enter through a given looking glass and exit from another. But Redd’s spies were everywhere and being a portal runner meant dying sooner rather than later. Dodge Anders was the best portal runner the Alyssians had, and he always volunteered for the most dangerous missions. 

Sometimes, after a run, he visited the cliff overlooking The Pool of Tears, remembering that fateful day when he had stood there with seven-year-old Alyss Heart. He was starting to doubt her death, having heard whispers that Redd hadn’t been able to locate Alyss’s body in her imagination’s eye. 

If Alyss is alive . . . 

He soon convinced himself that she lived. And he would never stop believing, never give up on a love seeded in childhood that, despite poor soil, despite uncertain light and watering, might yet have a chance to blossom. 

Alyss is alive. 

She had to be. The future of Wonderland depended on it.

The Mother of Alyss Heart, Queen Genevieve

For Wonderland’s Queen Genevieve, (White Queen) even the most festive occasions could be clouded by the less savory aspects of governing. Her daughter Alyss (Alice) celebrating a seventh birthday party at Heart Palace was, by contrast, making all economic worries, political concerns, and military threats feel more acute. 

Especially the military threats. 

Unconfirmed reports suggested that Redd (Red Queen) was growing more powerful, in the final stages of outfitting troops for an attack, and Genevieve was no longer sure that her forces could provide adequate defense. 

Needing a moment of solitude, she slipped away to her private rooms, leaving the guests to their entertainments. In a salon filled with overstuffed couches and giant pillows, she studied her reflection in a looking glass. It wasn’t just the political machinations and constant military strategizing that was bothering her. Alyss’s birthday had made her feel old.

Queen Genevieve Heart

She saw lines at the corners of her eyes and framing her mouth. In the not too distant future, Alyss might also find herself prematurely aged by the responsibilities of being a sovereign, although Genevieve hoped not. She wanted to believe that her daughter would handle the crown better than she ever could—she who, at Alyss’s age, and for a good many years after, had never supposed that she would be queen. Her older sister, Rose, was to have ruled Wonderland. And if only Rose—now known as Redd, for her proclivity to bloodshed, hadn’t been so— 

A plume of blue smoke passed between Genevieve and her reflection, interrupting her thoughts. She smelled a familiar spicy-sweet aroma and turned to see a giant blue caterpillar coiled dreamily around his hookah. Ordinarily, Genevieve would have been annoyed to discover anyone in her private sanctuary without having been invited, but this outsize larva wasn’t just anybody.

He was one of Wonderland’s eight caterpillar-oracles who kept watch over the Heart Crystal—the power source for all creation. Whatever passed into the crystal went out into the universe to inspire imaginations in other worlds. An unexpected visit from an oracle was rarely a good thing, but Genevieve wanted to believe that this was one such exception. 

“Your presence is an honor,” she said. “Princess Alyss will be so pleased that you could attend her party.” 

“Ahem hum hum,” grumbled the blue caterpillar, exhaling a cloud of smoke. 

The smoke formed the shape of a butterfly with extended wings, then metamorphosed into a confusion of scenes. Genevieve saw a large cat grooming itself. She saw what looked like a lightning bolt. She saw Redd’s face. Then the smoke again formed the shape of a butterfly, which folded its wings, and Genevieve awoke on a couch with the smell of tobacco in her nostrils. The caterpillar was gone. Her bodyguard Hatter Madigan and a walrus in a tuxedo jacket were standing over her. 

“You must have fainted, madam,” said the walrus. “I will get you some water.” 

The walrus hurried out of the room. The queen remained silent for several moments. 

“The blue caterpillar was here,” she said finally. “I’m not quite sure what he showed me.” 

“I’ll inform General Doppelgänger and the Millinery,” Hatter said. “We’ll be on alert for whatever’s coming.” 

Just once, Queen Genevieve would have liked to relax the watchful vigilance she was forced to maintain every hour of every day to ensure Wonderland’s safety. The caterpillars’ prophecies were always so vague. Sometimes their visions reflected only possibilities, the dark wishes of those who never planned to carry them out. But she couldn’t take a chance, not when it concerned Redd. 

“Make sure not to alarm our guests,” she said. 

It might have been better to end the birthday celebration, however, and had Genevieve lived, she undoubtedly would have scolded herself for not doing so. 

The partygoers were enjoying tea and wondercrumpets in the South Dining Room when a kitten (you might know as the Cheshire Cat) trotted into the room and transformed into a muscled humanoid with a feline head and claws as long and glinting as any blade from Hatter Madigan’s arsenal. The room shook from an explosion, and Redd sashayed in amid a welter of dust and rubble, followed by a mob of rejects from the Wonderland Decks—the platoons of card soldiers that made up a large portion of the queendom’s military.

General Doppelgänger ran behind a curtain and pulled a lever attached to a crank half buried in the floor; the black floor tiles of the room flipped over to reveal a cadre of chessmen—knights, rooks, bishops, pawns—who faced off against the invading card soldiers, blades swinging and bodies falling. 

With a flick of his wrist, Hatter Madigan (the Mad Hatter) flattened his top hat into a series of S-shaped rotary blades, which he sent slicing through the enemy, while Queen Genevieve—out of her chair, sword drawn as soon as she saw The Cat—engaged against Redd’s soldiers two and three at a time, conjuring knives, sabers, and spiked clubs for herself whenever one was knocked from her grip. ---

She was always armed with four weapons at once, her imagination swinging two of them, to fend off attacks from behind. If, solely by the power of her imagination, Genevieve could have imagined the invaders dead, piled in a heap in the center of the room—her sister included—she would have. But by imagination alone, nobody could kill a creature that had the will to live.

Which was too bad, because Redd, unharmed in the midst of battle, lifted Princess Alyss out from under a table, held the girl aloft by her hair, and wrinkled her already wrinkled face as if she were clutching some detestable pest.

“Let her go,” Genevieve said, stalling, knowing that Redd wouldn’t. “Please.”

Redd scoffed and spat out words that Genevieve hardly heard, alert for the slightest opportunity to free Alyss, but then Redd conjured a scene—silent, moving phantoms on a screen of red smoke: Genevieve’s husband King Nolan, on his way home from negotiations with neighboring Boarderland, had been ambushed and killed by Redd.

Genevieve lost control of herself. She imagined eighteen dagger-sharp cones into existence and directed them toward Redd; she imagined double-edged spears cartwheeling toward Redd: all of which her sister easily relegated to dust.

Redd had always been the more imaginatively gifted, as Genevieve well knew.

“Ah!”

Redd dropped Alyss, who had stabbed her forearm with something on her necklace.

Queen Genevieve and Princess Alyss

Genevieve grabbed her daughter’s hand and ran to her private rooms, knowing that she wouldn’t survive but also that she didn’t need to—not for Wonderland’s sake—if Alyss could be kept alive.

The humanoid feline pounced at them, seeming to come out of nowhere, but before he could swipe them with a single claw— thwip! — he fell to the floor, a blade in his chest.

Hatter Madigan stepped up to the fallen assassin and pulled his top hat blades free of the mortal wound.

“Take Alyss and go,” Genevieve said to him, pointing at a looking glass. “As far away as possible. You must keep the princess safe until she’s old enough to rule. She’s the only chance Wonderland has to survive.” 

Genevieve knelt in front of Alyss. “No matter what happens, I will always be near you, sweetheart. On the other side of the looking glass. And never forget who you are. Do you understand?” 

“I want to stay with you.” 

“I know. I love you.” 

“No! I’m staying!’ 

Alyss threw her arms around her mother. 

A wall crashed down and there stood Redd, a platoon of card soldiers at her back. “Aw, how sweet. Let’s have a group hug,” she said, hardly looking like the hugging type. 

Hatter picked up Alyss and jumped into the looking glass. Genevieve smashed the glass and turned to face Redd, unable to believe it when, in her peripheral vision, she saw The Cat, on the floor with a gaping hole in his chest, open his eyes. His wound healed and he sprang at her. She conjured a white bolt of energy from her imagination and thrust it into him, killing him a second time. 

Redd laughed derisively and pulled the jagged bolt out of The Cat. The bolt turned crimson in her hand, and she slammed it into the floor; dozens of black roses sprouted from the point of impact, their thorny stems wrapping themselves around Genevieve, pricking and binding her. 

“Well, Gen, what can I say?” Redd seethed. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m tickled to see you go.” 

Pulling the energy bolt out of the floor, she swung it at her sister’s neck. 

Genevieve’s headless body slumped to the floor, her crown rolling along the polished stone tiles like a dropped coin.

The House of Hearts: (from left) Princess Rose Heart, Queen Theodora Heart, King Tyman Heart, and Princess Genevieve

Princesses Genevieve and Rose Heart had once been inseparable, their different temperaments complementing each other. Where Redd was opinionated, undisciplined, and flirtatious, Genevieve was quiet, studious, and proper. Both were intelligent. Both were gifted with powerful imaginations, though Redd’s was stronger, and it required little effort for her to imagine into existence what Genevieve had to regularly practice.

Genevieve naturally looked up to her charismatic older sister. She didn’t agree with everything Rose did, but she often wished to be more like her—freer, publicly confident, treating life as if it were a game she’d already deservedly won.

But Rose was heir to the throne, and as the time for her accession drew nearer, the differences that had once brought the sisters together began to push them apart. She became increasingly arrogant and contemptuous. Her lack of discipline, which had seemed like a cavalier disregard for stuffy conventions, evolved into a general unruliness that included more than just dabbling in illegalities.

Again and again, Genevieve found herself trying to defend her sister’s behavior to their mother, Queen Theodora, (Queen of Wonderland). Again and again, she made excuses for Rose’s non-appearance at royal functions, lying for her sister, saying that Rose was sick in bed when she was actually out with sleazy characters, lolling in some artificial crystal den (an opium den of Wonderland).

She frequently tried talking Rose out of her bad behavior.

“Perhaps you shouldn’t doubt Mother in front of her advisers,” she once said. “It comes off as if you’re questioning the queen’s authority, which many see as undermining it.”

“If she makes a dumb decision, I’m supposed to let her?” Rose had answered. “I should just sit back and be quiet and let her compromise my inheritance? Our inheritance, I should say,

although you won’t have the burden of running the queendom.”

She’s spoiled, Genevieve thought, wondering how Rose came to be that way when she herself wasn’t. Their parents hadn’t been particularly indulgent, had sought to instill in them a reverence for Light Imagination, the principles of which were guided by love, a sense of justice and duty to the well-being of others. Genevieve and her sister had grown up surrounded by wealth and privilege, but Genevieve could not help thinking of those less fortunate, whereas Rose seemed to take wealth, privilege, and authority as her due.

Quietly disappointed in her sister, Genevieve still never expected Rose to be removed from succession. Nor did she long for it. She wasn’t grasping or envious; she had no desire to be queen. Yet Genevieve considered it the responsible thing, appropriate to her title and station, to be schooled in swordplay and all things martial.

Besides, it couldn’t hurt for a woman to know how to defend herself.

So, she trained as warrior queens of earlier generations had done, and exercised her imagination daily, gaining impressive control and nuance in her conjuring’s.

Then things worsened: Rose was pregnant and refused to identify the father.

Embarrassed by such disdain for social norms, for the well-being of a child born out of wedlock, Genevieve was ashamed of her sister. But she felt protective, too; Rose—with child, physically sensitive, hormonally wrought—was at her most vulnerable.

Rose gave birth to a healthy girl, but Queen Theodora, enlisting Genevieve in the subterfuge, convinced her that the baby hadn’t survived. Genevieve, who felt guilty about lying to her sister, hoped that the “loss” of the child would induce Rose to improve her behavior. And it’s possible, though doubtful, that it would have, if Theodora hadn’t done what she did next. Genevieve found out only afterward, Rose raging, her voice echoing throughout the palace. 

The eldest Heart daughter had been removed from succession, replaced by the younger. 

Rose burst into Genevieve’s rooms and accused her of having connived for the crown all along. 

Denying this, Genevieve said, “I want the best for you, Rose. I always have. Do I wish that you’d be less stubborn in your refusal to abide by anyone’s rules but your own? Yes, but—” 

Rose swore vengeance. 

“Your inclination for vengeance is part of the problem,” Genevieve tried, but too late; her sister was stalking out of the rooms. 

She did want the best for Rose and believed that she always would, but all scrap of sisterly love disintegrated after Rose sneaked into Theodora’s bedchamber one night and placed a fatal mushroom on her tongue. 

For the good of the queendom, Genevieve was coronated. Furious, Rose threw off her given name in favor of “Redd,” promising that unbridled bloodshed would splatter the doorstep of every Wonderlander. Both sisters gathered their followers and Wonderland succumbed to civil war, during which Redd lived up to her promise. Genevieve proved victorious only because of the superiority of her army. She banished Redd from the realm, and the daily life of Wonderland returned to what might be called “normal.” 

Queen Genevieve ruled judiciously, guided by the precepts of Light Imagination, but never for a second—and especially not after she gave birth to Alyss—did she forget that dark forces were at work in The Chessboard Desert, where Redd had ensconced herself in a bleak fortress dubbed Mt. Isolation. Sooner or later, Genevieve knew, Redd would attack the queendom, and it would require all of her imaginative powers and then some to ensure its survival... and Alyss’s.

Where in Wonderland? Key Locations of The Looking Glass Wars

The Wonderland of The Looking Glass Wars is full of places that perhaps you know from Lewis Carroll’s (sanitized) Alice In Wonderland. However, the truth behind the fiction is far more epic, beautiful, and at times dangerous.

Here are but a few of the highlights a Wonderverse traveler would see upon stepping through the looking glass:

The Pool of Tears

Unlike the Pool of Tears as described by Lewis Carroll, “Alice” (Alyss) did not cry this body of water alone. A swirling, luminescent lake of water, a portal connecting Wonderland to other worlds (notably Earth), and the means by which Hatter Madigan and seven-year-old Princess Alyss escape Redd Heart’s (the Red Queen’s) murderous intentions. 

At the start of The Looking Glass Wars, no one who has entered the pool has ever returned. Loved ones of Wonderlanders who’ve vanished into its depths sometimes stand on an overlooking cliff, mourning, letting their tears drop into the water; hence the name. 

On Earth, the portal manifests as puddles where no puddles should be, such as in a desert. Though the Pool of Tears is the only portal entry/exit point in Wonderland, there are numerous puddles where no puddles should be on Earth providing access. 

Essentially, the pool is an open channel through which Wonderland’s most dangerous elements can, at any time, intrude upon the already treacherous world of Victorian England and beyond. 

Top: The Pool of Tears from The Looking Glass Wars; bottom: Alice in the Pool of Tears by John Tenniel

House Of Cards

This structure is to Wonderland what the Red Keep was to King’s Landing. The House of Cards is center of military and political wheeling and dealing in the Queendom. From here Card Soldiers (no, not the stick figures with playing cards for bodies in the Disney adaptation) are dealt into battle— a source of might that Redd abuses at every turn during her reign to inflict her tyrannical whims.

The Suit Families, powerful houses that rule over Wonderland, each retain presence in the House of Cards— or at least they did until Redd came to power and announced that she needed no advisors, only loyal obedient subjects. While the Suit Families kept their heads by playing along, not all are so loyal to the wicked despot. The halls of the House of Cards echo with schemes and deceptions, feeding into The Queen of Heart’s paranoia.

The House of Cards, from Frank Beddor's Looking Glass Wars series

The Millinery

The training campus of Wonderland’s elite security force, where those born to protect the queendom are molded into spies, assassins, and bodyguards.

 Its graduates—the famed Hatter Madigan (perhaps you know him as The Mad Hatter) and his brother Dalton among them—are called Milliners on account of the hats they wear, which serve as their most potent weapons and allies in combat. 

The Millinery, complete with training fields and dormitories, sits within the capital city of Wondertropolis. Its buildings and outer wall are constructed largely of silk from the queendom’s caterpillar-oracles, each color of which has certain properties that protect students from outside threats. (The Blue Caterpillar of Lewis Carroll’s creation makes more smoke than thread—a stark difference between the fiction and truth of the story Alyss told him.)

The building in which classes are held, instilling the Milliner ethic (stoicism, duty above all else), is shaped like a top hat. The campus’s state-of-the-art training arena, known as the HATBOX (Holographic and Transmutative Base of Xtremecombat), is comparable to Star Trek’s Holodeck . . . but, with all due respect, it’s cooler. (For more on this amazing thread-tech, read Hatter Madigan: Ghost in the HATBOX)

The Millinery from Frank Beddor's Looking Glass Wars series

Valley Of Mushrooms

A landscape of giant mushrooms nestled within a ring of twilight-blue mountains, home to Wonderland’s caterpillar-oracles. No two mushrooms are alike, and what with the play of light on their caps and the many-hued shadows cast on the valley floor, visitors are inevitably greeted with a sight of impressive kaleidoscopic brilliance. 

Should a visitor be remarkable enough for the caterpillar council to reveal itself, she would see six caterpillars nearly the size of jabberwocky (large!), their bodies coiled beneath them as they smoked from the same ancient hookah. Each of them would be sitting on a mushroom as distinct in color as himself: red, orange, green, blue and violet.

Redd, concerned that the caterpillars might breed dissent with their predictions, tries to do away with them when she first takes control of Wonderland. But every time she attacks, they see her coming and vanish like smoke. So she exercises her rage on their beloved valley, and now its colors, which were once like the sprouting of renewed hope, are muted, scraped, marred. Mushroom stalks everywhere are hacked, and butchered caps litter the dank ground. 

The once magical place is a fungal wasteland, as it will remain until, if ever, it’s allowed to grow back to its former splendor.

Left: The Valley of Mushrooms from The Looking Glass Wars; Right: The Blue Caterpillar on his Mushroom by John Tenniel

Crystal Continuum

A network of byways that enables Wonderlanders to enter through one looking glass and exit from another. Focused looking glasses lead to specific destinations. Unfocused looking glasses allow travelers to choose their own destinations, provided there are looking glasses at those destinations out of which they can be reflected. 

It takes practice to stay inside the continuum and master basic navigational skills, because just as a body underwater tends to rise to the surface, a body entering a looking glass wants to be reflected out. An inexperienced traveler might enter a looking glass in her own home, thinking to pay a visit to a friend across town, only to be reflected out of a looking glass at her next-door neighbor’s. Given time and experience, she would be able to make the trip. 

Covering long distances in the Crystal Continuum is possible only for the most experienced traveler, but short trips are within the skill range of everyone.

The Crystal Continuum

Chessboard Desert 

This is not the “curious country” that Alice stumbled upon in Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. This is the Chessboard Desert, acres of icy snow alternating with acres of tar and black rock, forming what looks from the air like a giant chessboard. A place of pain and hardship, the desert is home to Jabberwoky and ShardBeasts— only after being removed from succession to Wonderland’s throne, Redd Heart was banished to this inhospitable region, living in a fortress on Mt. Isolation. The tyrannical practitioner of Dark Imagination launched both the unsuccessful war against her sister Queen Genevieve (the White Queen)—then later, the bloody coup that would kill Genevieve and exile Alyss to Earth. 

Left: The Chessboard Desert from The Looking Glass Wars; Right: The Chessboard from Alice In Wonderland by John Tenniel

Looking Glass Maze

A unique Looking Glass Maze exists for every would-be sovereign of Wonderland, which she must successfully navigate to reach her imagination’s full potential and become a Warrior Queen (i.e., fit to rule). 

As a sacred Wonderland text states, “Only she for whom a Looking Glass Maze is intended can enter.” But where a given maze might be, or what it consists of exactly (it’s a test of both physical skill and emotional maturity), only the caterpillar-oracles allegedly know. One who successfully completes her maze emerges with her scepter, which serves as both token of her newfound power and a tool for its exercise. 

Redd Heart hasn’t gone through her Looking Glass Maze, which is why, if Alyss can find and successfully navigate hers, the usurper just might be defeated.

Alyss Heart's Looking Glass Maze

The Globe and Mail: Through Alice’s Looking Glass Darkly 

This article now wears a banner at the top—“This article was published more than 17 years ago. Some information may no longer be current.” As much as it makes me marvel at the passing of time, the things that have indeed changed—it also draws my attention to how much is still “the same”.

The one thing I know is that: The Story of Alice in Wonderland will always endure, not by staying the same, but by growing along with us.

From pop culture to politics, she permeates our language and our creativity. Influencing and being remixed, sometimes sprinkled across the top so thinly you must look twice to notice a White Rabbit or Mad Hatter tucked into the milieu.

As a member in the ever-expanding army of Alice-aficionados, this sense of community has colored decades of my life. It’s amazing how many of the familiar names in this article I’ve bumped into over the years.

I watched my children play soccer, sitting on the sidelines with Gwen Stefani as she did the same for her own—all the while admiring her utilization of the Mad Tea Party in her music video. I couldn’t help but wonder, what would she use Alice to do next?

A similar sense of excitedly thinking “what next?” follows me as I comb my memories along with this article—American McGee is in the midst of developing a TV show for his Alice series of (gothic) games. Undoubtably it will be a daring take sure to turn heads, earning both excitement and ire— a phenomena I remember well.

Once I ended up debating Alice in pop culture on a BBC talk show with Sir Michael Morpurgo—who I discovered was not a fan of my book… but then again, he hadn’t read it yet! After checking it out himself, he liked it so much he gave me a quote for the jacket. (Check out the full interview transcript at the bottom of this page for more of Morpurgo’s take on LGW.)

Though not everyone fell in love with my Alyss, I must admit. Will Brooker, the author of Alice’s Adventures: Lewis Carroll in Pop Culture never did come around to The Looking Glass Wars because he didn’t like my writing style. (This is exactly “Alice’s magic” of which we speak—there’s a version of her for everyone!)

This community is both insular and inclusive— we all work together, but the barrier to entry is almost nonexistent, because “everyone knows Alice”. Terry Gilliam, for example, was onboard to make The Looking Glass Wars movie with me in negotiations long since passed. While I’m never bitter about roads not taken (especially in Hollywood)—I will eternally be curious what that film would have looked like.

When Quentin Tarantino was rumored to be taking on a Star Trek project, I contemplated the value of stories and properties so large that they have room for decentralized iterations. What would Wonderland look like if created by the pulp stylings of the director that gave us Django and Inglorious Bastards? We can only wonder…

Reality has become stranger than fiction. I suspect the debate between what is Illusion and what is Truth will be the defining question of the decade. I rest content knowing the network of Alice fans will undoubtably endure and enrich this debate with their creativity—all thanks to the girl who fell down the rabbit hole.

For the original text of the article that inspired this trip down the rabbit hole of memories check out Alexandra Gill’s original post: Through Alice's looking glass darkly

London Radio Interviews

Today Programme BBC Radio 4 with Michael Morpurgo

BBC: Michael Morpurgo what do you make of it [The Looking Glass Wars]? 

MM: Well, I think you said it right. It's really brave, it's daring, but then it would be. I mean Frank Beddor is a man who likes taking risks. He skies down slopes at terrifying speeds. You know, why should he be scared of Alice? I mean I think the remarkable thing about the book it's very vibrant, it's imaginative, it's visual, it's very well researched. The question is, I guess, is whether you should tamper with something almost as holy as "Alice in Wonderland", and I don't know about that. I don't think any book is holy. I think we have a right to use - any writer has got a right to go to sources. I go to history, I go to legend, and this is just taking it one step further, but I do think he's been very brave. 

BBC: Michael Morpurgo there's a very long tradition of writers returning to other people’s work isn't there? 

MM: Yes, there is. Certainly. I've done it myself. The way I've done it is to adapt it. What Frank has done is to do a great deal more than to adapt it. He's interwoven the history, the new history, this newly found history of Alice and then told his own extraordinary, and believably visual and fast-moving tale. 

BBC: Do you accept the new history? 

MM: I don’t know really. It’s a jolly good story. I haven’t done the research so I don’t know. I’m afraid I’m a pretty old Father William and this for me is standing a story on its head, but it works. I don’t mind this at all. I don’t think we should be— we shouldn’t stand back and say you shouldn’t do stuff like this, because it seems to me a very interesting new way of looking at it. My problem is that I’m not a great fan of Alice in the first place. I’m a “Treasure Island” person. The world is divided into Treasure Island people and Alice people. I don’t want you to do it with “Treasure Island” please.

Woman’s Hour BBC Radio 4 with host Jenni Murray

interviewing Michael Bakewell author of “Lewis Carroll: A Biography”

BBC: Were the original Alice Books "girly", or what makes a book "girly" in the first place? Well, early this morning I spoke to Michael Bakewell the author of "Lewis Carroll: A Biography". He was in Culchester, Frank Beddor was in London. 

BBC: Now Michael you read the books I think at eight or nine. Did you find all these cuddly animals and tea parties girly? 

MB: No, not in the least. I don't think I'd read any girly books…The Alice books came something as a shock to me I think. I found them rather terrifying, because I got worried about all those transformations she has to go through, but "Through the Looking Glass" seemed to be an easier ride. I didn't realize then that in fact it's by far the more sinister book of the two. 

BBC: How did you find Frank's version, Michael, with its fighting and its battles and its knives? 

MB: I came to it rather cautiously I must admit. At first I couldn't see my way through it, then eventually I liked it a lot. I think it stands absolutely on its own two feet rather like Alice herself. I loved the world that was created. I love the use that was made of all the Wonderland and Looking Glass creatures, who I must admit, go through a total transformation in the book. I don't want to give away the ending, but in fact it emerges as a very moral story, which is really rather refreshing. Although, a lot of the atmosphere is like a terrifying child's video game. 

BBC: So, Michael would it have been for a man like Lewis Carroll to choose a girl like Alice as the lead character, because she is quite boisterous, she does have adventure, she's not the Victorian ideal.

MB: She’s very far from being the Victorian ideal. I think that this is where I rather disagree with Frank. She’s pursuing her own process of self-discovery, and she learns to cope with all these dreadful things that are hurled at her. All these weird, and often quite frightening characters. And in both books, she emerges triumphant, you know putting everybody down, putting everybody down, putting everybody in their place, and as you say, she’s not in the least the little well-brought-up Victorian miss. She won’t stand any nonsense. She’s quite rude, and quite a lot of the text is frankly subversive considering t was written by a man in holy ordinance.  

BBC: Michael just to go back briefly on what we were discussing earlier whether boys are alienated by having a female lead character. Is that still the case do you think, when we consider that novels like the trilogy Pullman "Dark Materials" has had a female lead in it. Are boys finding that more acceptable now? 

MB: Yes, I think they are. I know quite a lot of boys who read the Pullman trilogy with enormous enjoyment, but also the honors are shared out of it, you know that it isn't only Lara all the way through, you do get Will as an alternative protagonist. This has been something that has occurred to me writing children's literature for years and years and years. After all “The Railway Children” kind of shares the honors out between girls and boys rather carefully.

Who the Queen of Hearts Is Based On: Queen Victoria

When Queen Victoria, monarch of the United Kingdom from 1837-1901, first took the throne at the age of nine­teen, the role of the crown was uncertain, fluid. The Prime Minister and those elected to House of Commons and the House of Lords did the political heavy lifting, and no one expected the crown to serve as a spur to the economy; there were innovative capitalists enough for that.

Even the crown’s ceremonial role was in doubt, some claiming the monarchy superfluous. But the new queen impressed with her grace and assurance, and the public romanticized the accession of a young woman—a woman so young, so sheltered, that not until she was officially monarch did, she have her own bedroom. Even then, custom dictated that she couldn’t live independent of parental supervision before mar­riage; until the queen wed her cousin Albert, her mother resided in Buckingham Palace.

Small of stature, Victoria was big with contradictions. She hated being pregnant and was said to detest babies, her renowned quote “An ugly baby is a very nasty object and the prettiest is frightful”. This is intriguing as Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” depicted the Duchess and her baby (which became a pig). --

Evidently, the Duchess neglects the baby, and tosses it to Alice when she needs to play croquet with the Queen. The verses to the Duchess’ lullaby – “Speak roughly to your little boy, And beat him when he sneezes; He only does it to annoy, Because he knows it teases,” is as violent as the way she tosses the baby up and down.

Queen Victoria was quoted to have referred to behavior of children as that of “rabbits and guinea pigs, and Carrol; portrayed children as pigs in his book. He had a similar dislike of babies as well. “If (the baby) had grown up, ‘(Alice) said to herself, “it would have made a dreadfully ugly child; but it makes a rather handsome pig, I think.” Chapter VI Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Yet, the Queen gave birth to nine children, and the era that bears her name placed a high value on motherhood.

She had no interest in social issues (inevitably blaming flare-ups of discontent and unrest on small groups of agitators), but while she was in power, Britain under­went tremendous social reform. She did not embrace changes wrought by technology, slow to appreciate potential economic benefits, but technological innovations reshaped Europe and much of the world throughout the 19th century. Victorian England was living the imperial experience, the British Empire was expanding while new lands and cultures were discovered.

What followed was an encounter of cultures and, quite often, an aggression against the foreignness perpetrated by the British Empire. Danial Bivona in “Alice the Child-Imperialist and Games of Wonderland”, argues that Alice’s approach to Wonderland is deeply marked by an imperialistic attitude. She comes from her incapacity of understanding the other culture, assuming that, only because she cannot understand it, it must be devoid of logical rules. An assessment true for all time, and deeply rooted in the world Victoria helped shape.

And as Queen Victoria’s reign wore on, she concluded that governance was no place for a woman and accordingly subordinated herself to her husband, giving him a greater role in handling the crown’s responsibilities.

Queen Victoria: a headstrong woman with conservative principles, cautious in her friendships, prone to temper tantrums and depression. Not one to readily forgive, she ensured that woe befell anyone who wittingly or unwittingly fought against her— a trait Alice (or rather Alyss) eventually came to think of as a fractal reflection manifesting the ill intent sent from Queen Redd (Red Queen) in Wonderland at the time.

Throughout her life there were eight assassination attempts against the Queen, all of them failing miserably. Her carriage was shot at by Edward Oxford in 1840 while she was five months pregnant— an unthinkable trauma that Victoria accepted rather well. –

Then twice more the Queen was shot at in 1842 by the would-be assassin John Francis. A hunchback named John William Bean fired a pistol at the Queen just five weeks later— though it was unloaded, and the man postured his attack as a cry to be sent to a penal colony (far from the hardship of Britain).

Victoria’s carriage was shot at again in 1849 by William Hamilton. A year later, known lunatic Robert Pale attacked the Queen in Hyde Park, smacking her on the head with his cane (making him the only assassin to injure the Queen). A 17-year-old named Arthur O’Conner attempted to shoot the Queen in 1872 but was foiled by her favorite personal attendant, John Brown.

Her final would-be-assassin was a man named Roderick Maclean who attempted to shoot the Queen in 1882 but was tackled by a group of Eton college boys. Such was the earthly queen with whom Alice Liddell, née Alyss Heart of Wonderland, would contend.

By 1859, Victoria had successfully married off eight of her chil­dren. Only the youngest, Leopold, remained. He was grown into a fine man, and the discomfort she’d felt around him when he was a youngster had evaporated; she was now greedy for his company and overprotective. Much as she had done to rid her­self of her mother’s “supervision,” Leopold was determined to marry to get out from under the maternal thumb.

Victoria believed that offspring of British monarchs should wed royals or nobles of other nations as a means of forming political and military alliances. How galling then, that Leopold set his heart on a former foundling named Alice Liddell, a member of the gentry, modestly famous for being Lewis Carroll’s muse (the queen loved Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland but knew that it satirized her court,) what was worse: Miss Liddell had progressive ideas on social and economic reform, and she didn’t care to abide a woman’s place in society. 

A bit of trivia -- Queen Victoria suggested that Carroll dedicate his next book to her. And so, his next work, “An Elementary Treatise on Determinants, With Their Application to Simultaneous Linear Equations and Algebraic Equations,” was presented to the queen- no recorded reaction is known.

Queen Victoria could never let Leopold marry this upstart with the arrogance of a princess. But she couldn’t simply forbid him from marrying her either; he would detest her, and he reminded her too much of Albert (who had died prematurely and mourning whom Victoria wore only black for the rest of her reign) for her to have tolerated that. –

She would have to be subtle, nuanced in her sabotaging of Leopold and Alice’s relationship; they would seem, to themselves, to be masters of their own uncoupling, then Alice Liddell would give up her pretensions and reforms and fall back into her proper sphere.

Queen Victoria wasn’t accustomed to failing.