Where the Trains Turn November 19, 2014 Where the Trains Turn Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen His imagination runs wild. The Walk November 12, 2014 The Walk Dennis Etchison Creative differences can be brutal. Where the Lost Things Are November 5, 2014 Where the Lost Things Are Rudy Rucker and Terry Bisson Everything has to wind up somewhere. A Kiss with Teeth October 29, 2014 A Kiss with Teeth Max Gladstone Happy Halloween.
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November 28, 2014
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November 21, 2014
Never Wait for a Sequel Again: 17 Standalone Fantasy Novels
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November 18, 2014
The Hollow Crown: Shakespeare’s Histories in the Age of Netflix
Ada Palmer
November 17, 2014
In Defense of Indiana Jones, Archaeologist
Max Gladstone
November 14, 2014
An Uncut and Non-Remastered List of Star Wars Editions!
Leah Schnelbach
Showing posts tagged: history click to see more stuff tagged with history
Nov 7 2014 3:10pm

Those Who Realize That History Repeats Stand the Best Chance of Winning the Game of Thrones

A Song of Ice and Fire history Tyrion

George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, although depicting a fictional fantasy world, is replete with parallels to European and Roman history, and the author will be the first in line to tell you about them.

These parallels are readily apparent in the recently released The World of Ice and Fire, which details lineages and circumstances of Westeros’ kings and deeper history, as well as the arc of empire that lead to the present day Targaryen-less Seven Kingdoms in Westeros. It’s a fascinating read, and recently Vulture sat down with Martin to dig deeper into the history behind the history.

Perhaps the most important thing to take away from that discussion was thus: The characters in A Song of Ice and Fire who know their history are the ones you REALLY want to watch.

[Read more. Dance With Dragons spoilers ahead]

Nov 6 2014 9:00am

Hash-smoking, Tattoos, Sexual Freedom, and Horses. Adrienne Mayor’s The Amazons

The Amazons Adrienne Mayor For Roger Just, the author of Women in Athenian Law and Life (Routledge, 1989), the Amazons represent an inversion of the established ancient Greek social order. They are paralleled with the centaurs in art: barbarous, warlike, and uncivilised; alike refusing to respect the laws of marriage and the norms of polis-based society, living beyond the limits of the Greek world. “But if the Centaurs are arrived at by combining man and beast, the Amazons are arrived at simply by postulating a society of women unruled by men.” (Just, 1989, 249.) When they meet with proper (Greek) men, they’re always defeated and either killed or domesticated by marriage—and so the Greek social order always re-establishes its primacy, as in the story of Herakles and the belt of the Amazon queen, in the marriage of Theseus and Antiope, the showdown between Achilles and Penthesilea, and the legendary Amazon invasion of Athens. “But meeting with proper men,” Lysias says of the Amazon women involved in this last, “they got for themselves psyches like their natural form.” That is to say, their hearts and spirits became womanly: weak.

It’s often held that the Amazons were wholly a product of the Greek imagination. Adrienne Mayor’s The Amazons: Lives & Legends of Warrior Women Across The Ancient World (Princeton University Press, 2014) argues that this is not the case. Mayor’s thesis is that the Amazon stories of the Greek world, and the depictions of Amazons in art, reflect Greek contact with “Scythian” (a catch-all term, hence the quotation marks) horse nomads—a culture group from Central Asia whose way of life meant that both men and women could participate in hunting, skirmishing, and making war.

[Read More]

Oct 27 2014 8:00am

That Old Black Magic: Katherine Howe on The Penguin Book of Witches

The Penguin Book of Witches‘Tis the season of growing cold, spooky tales, and things that go bump in the night. Before people ring in holiday cheer, they revel in the occult and mysterious as the days grow shorter and Halloween lurks around the corner. Witches have been one of the iconic symbols that remain in our cultural imagination year-round, however. From its origins in folklore and fairytales to Bewitched, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Hocus Pocus, and, of course, Harry Potter, our ideas of witches are much more varied and benign than they were earlier in history.

Katherine Howe has explored the legend of the witch in her fiction before (The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, Conversion), but in The Penguin Book of Witches, she draws from historical accounts about English and North American witchcraft trials to undo misconceptions about the women and men who fell victim to them.

[“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” and beyond]

Aug 19 2014 10:00am

New York’s First Internet: A Series of Tubes (Seriously)

Writing alternate history means you end up doing a lot of actual historical research, if only to find good stuff to riff on. Sometimes that means researching ancient Native American cities, or the history of shanghai tunnels in Portland and Seattle.

Sometimes it means discovering New York City once had a thriving pneumatic postal system.

[Read More]

Jun 26 2014 1:07pm

The Entire History of A Song of Ice and Fire Explained in 9 Maps

Historical Map of A Song of Ice and Fire

BY THE VARIOUS GODS! Reddit user HotbrownDoubleDouble has created a series of maps based on the known history of the world of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire which tracks the movement of the various groups and Houses in the series, from the millennia-old Children of the Forest and the First Men all the way to present day.

[Read more. No spoilers.]

Jun 5 2014 1:30pm

Fictional Symbols on Political Stages: Thailand Protestors Adopt Hunger Games Salute

Thailand protestors

A military coup in Thailand has led many protestors to adopt the three-fingered salute from Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series as a form of resistance to the current political state of their country. Of course, while oppression may be counted as a throughline in the situation, the specifics of the upheaval in Thailand is not solidly comparable to the dystopian future Collins created.

Instead, it is a reminder of how the symbols we find in fiction can affect our lives and the world around us.

[Read more]

Apr 15 2014 9:10am

Listen to Scalzi’s Old Man’s War as if Geoffrey Chaucer Had Written It

John Scalzi's Old Man's WarMedieval scholar Michael Livingston has graced us all with rare treat indeed—he has taken excerpts from various genre novels (by the likes of John Scalzi, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Robert Jordan) and “Chaucer'd” them, translating them into Middle English and recording them for your listening pleasure!

So if history and excellent fiction is your thing, this is definitely something you want to check out.

[More info on the project and Livingston.]

Apr 4 2014 8:15am

Jedi Econ, Sith History

While drinking the other night, a few friends and I argued the merits of economic history. Star Wars entered the picture. It was super effective. You have been warned. Read further at your own risk.

[Read More]

Jan 7 2014 5:00pm

A Romp in Vienna: City of Lost Dreams by Magnus Flyte

Magnus Flyte City of Lost Dreams

Writing duo Magnus Flyte (composed of authors Meg Howrey and Christina Lynch) didn’t wait long to send their protagonist on another life-altering quest. Where 2012’s City of Dark Magic took Sarah to the historical underbelly of Prague, City of Lost Dreams places her among the gossiping crowds of Vienna, where modern science turns out to be just as wacky as all those Renaissance alchemists she’d encountered last time.

Sarah returns to the Old World with just one thing in mind: to find a cure for her friend, the young piano prodigy, Pollina. She’s not seeking immortality, per se, but altering the course of death is never a narrow path. In a haze of science, magic, history, and art, Sarah must muddle her way through the desires of centuries of others like her, who cannot accept that time will someday stop moving.

[Read More]

Nov 5 2013 2:30pm

Help Build The Museum of Science Fiction in Washington, D.C.!

Greg Viggiano, a life-long fan of science fiction, is working to open The Musuem of Science Fiction, the first permanent museum dedicated to the genre in Washington, D.C. This is not a five year mission, however—he and his board of advisors are planning a 3,000 square foot “preview museum” to open within the next 36 months! That is where he hopes more fans will come in—in addition to pursuing corporate partnerships, he’s launching an indiegogo campaign to help fund what will be “the world’s first comprehensive science fiction museum, covering the history of the genre across the arts and providing a narrative on its relationship to the real world.” The preview museum, an unusual first step, is an attempt by the Board to “give visitors a place to preview our programming and exhibits and a way to give [us] feedback.”

[Check out their plans below!]

Nov 5 2013 10:00am

Seven Things Not to Learn from Sleepy Hollow

I love Sleepy Hollow. You should too. We’ve provided ample reasons why already. I love basically everything it’s doing. That being said, I come today bearing warning, not praise! Sleepy Hollow is well-written, it has interesting things to say, but it will lead you astray if you let it. Like that great series of movies which I believe inspired this masterpiece of a show, National Treasure and National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, Sleepy Hollow overflows with a burning love of history that is almost entirely lacking in factual accuracy. So, in the name of greater enlightenment, I have compiled a list of things you shouldn’t learn from Sleepy Hollow.

[Read more]

Oct 18 2013 1:32pm

Tired of Sexy Devil Costumes for Halloween? We Got You Covered, Ladies.

Take Back Halloween, Ching Shih, pirate

We found the coolest website! For females of the species who would prefer to make their own costumes (and don’t require the ubiquitous “sexy” version), Take Back Halloween is exactly what you’ve been waiting for. Check out the suggestions! The history! The awesome research that has gone into this very impressive project!

[Stubby is going as Frida Kahlo.]

Oct 17 2013 12:45pm

Navigate Victorian London With Awesome Interactive Maps!

Victorian maps, Baker Street, Sherlock Holmes

Sometimes getting your head in the past is a rough job, but we all love it anyhow, right? Helpfully, it looks as though Mapping London has the answer for those of you who are keen on getting lost in the past...

[Wow, this is super pretty.]

Sep 12 2013 4:00pm

An Ode to the Old Ways: Saxon’s Bane by Geoffrey Gudgion

Saxon's Bane Geoffrey Gudgion

In something of a September trend—see also Patrick Ness’s phenomenal new novelSaxon’s Bane begins with the ostensible death of its central character, in this case caused by a combination of dangerous driving and the sudden appearance of a giant stag.

His first reaction was panic. The second was rejection. This isn’t happening, this isn’t real. But the verge still punched them nose-up into the air in a detonation of wheels and suspension, making the CD skip as they launched. Reality was a momentary hiccup in a digital scream. [...] His final reaction was acceptance. Just before they hit, Fergus knew that the moment was real, that this was the instant of his extinction. And with that knowledge came three heartbeats of calm in which a great sadness dragged him downwards, a sadness so profound it was beyond weeping.

But Fergus doesn’t die... though he will wish he had in the worst moments of the months to come. Instead, he teeters on the edge of the abyss until rescue arrives an interminable time after the appalling accident. The unspeakable things he sees and hears as his sanity slips will haunt him until the day the reaper does come a-calling.

[Read More]

Aug 30 2013 4:00pm

An Empire of Broken Pottery: John Romer’s A History of Ancient Egypt

A History of Ancient Egypt John Romer

How much do you know about Ancient Egypt?

If you’re anything like me, you are probably operating with some confidence in the knowledge that you have the story down, more or less. Pyramids, pharaohs, the Nile, sun, sand. As an armchair classicist, I flatter myself that I know as much as the next person—and probably a bit more than that. I’ve read Herodotus. I’ve seen The Mummy. Egypt, right. Everybody knows about Egypt.

This book puts the lie, delightfully, to that unwarranted assumption of knowledge on my part, and, I would venture, on the part of a great deal of casual readers.

[Read More]

Aug 28 2013 10:30am

Forget the Facts, Tell a Story: Why Braveheart is a Classic Despite its Inaccuracies


I recently watched the movie Anonymous, a historical thriller with an intellectual twist. The premise is that Shakespeare’s plays may not have been written by Shakespeare at all, but by a contemporary, the Earl of Oxford, and that Shakespeare was an illiterate drunk, a liar, and a murderer. The movie makes clever use of Shakespeare’s works and motifs, as well the historical details of Elizabethan London, to craft a smart and suspenseful tale about the man we think we know as William Shakespeare.

Just one problem: it’s all a lie.

[This relates to Braveheart, I swear...]

Jul 17 2013 1:00pm

Restored Behind-the-Scenes Flickr Stream Will Make You Fall in Love With Star Trek All Over Again

Kirk, Andrea, What Are Little Girls Made Of?, birdofthegalaxy Flickr

There’s an ongoing project over on Flickr that is sure to delight any fan of Star Trek: birdofthegalaxy has been touching up photos from old clips and files for Star Trek the Original Series. The results give us little moments of history, days on set, and glimpses into the process of creating such a seminal show. Take a look at some of the pictures and how it’s done!

[Majel Barrett in Vulcan ears]

Jul 10 2013 11:30am

“I am trying to invent electricity and you are being an asshole.” Our Favorite Tesla Pop Culture

Nikola Tesla John C. Reilly

Today marks the 157th birthday of mad and maddening scientist Nikola Tesla, a man that science fiction writers and fans have practically taken to heart as a patron saint. There are a myriad of reasons why: his ingenuity. The fact that history proved him correct in matters concerning ideas about electricity that his rivals tried to bury. That sly moustache.

Tesla’s intriguing nature lends itself naturally to high-spirited tales of fiction, internet memes, and some high class strutting from David Bowie. Below, the Tor.com staff lists some of their favorite instances of Tesla pop culture.

[Read more]

Jun 20 2013 3:00pm

The Twelve Caesars (Excerpt)

Matthew Dennison

The Twelve Caesars cover, Matthew DennisonHistory buffs! Take a peek at Matthew Dennison's The Twelve Caesars, out on June 25:

An unforgettable depiction of the Roman empire at the height of its power and reach, and an elegantly sensational retelling of the lives and times of the twelve Caesars.

One of the them was a military genius, one murdered his mother and fiddled while Rome burned, another earned the nickname “sphincter artist”. Six of their number were assassinated, two committed suicide—and five of them were elevated to the status of gods. They have come down to posterity as the “twelve Caesars”—Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian. Under their rule, from 49 BC to AD 96, Rome was transformed from a republic to an empire, whose model of regal autocracy would survive in the West for more than a thousand years. Matthew Dennison offers a beautifully crafted sequence of colorful biographies of each emperor, triumphantly evoking the luxury, license, brutality, and sophistication of imperial Rome at its zenith. But as well as vividly recreating the lives, loves, and vices of this motley group of despots, psychopaths and perverts, he paints a portrait of an era of political and social revolution, of the bloody overthrow of a proud, five-hundred-year-old political system and its replacement by a dictatorship which, against all the odds, succeeded more convincingly than oligarchic democracy in governing a vast international landmass.

[Read more]

May 22 2013 12:00pm

(Trying-Mightily-Hard-To-Be) A Comprehensive Reference Guide to Good Omens

Tchaikovsky's Another One Bites the Dust Good Omens

Part of what makes Good Omens such a fantastic read is the plethora of referential material that the book offers up in categories ranging from history to art to literature. Here’s a list (though it’s a titan’s feat trying to be comprehensive in this case) of shout-outs this book manages to pack into every crevice, be they sneaky or hammer-worthy on the Obvious Scale.

[Real-life witches to goofy-looking aliens]