Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza October 15, 2014 Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza Carrie Vaughn A Wild Cards story. The Girl in the High Tower October 14, 2014 The Girl in the High Tower Gennifer Albin A Crewel story. Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch October 8, 2014 Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch Kelly Barnhill An unconventional romance. Daughter of Necessity October 1, 2014 Daughter of Necessity Marie Brennan Tell me, O Muse, of that ingenious heroine...
From The Blog
October 14, 2014
A Category Unto Himself: The Works of China Miéville
Jared Shurin
October 10, 2014
Don’t Touch That Dial: Fall 2014 TV
Alex Brown
October 10, 2014
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Reread: Part 1
Kate Nepveu
October 7, 2014
Shell Shock and Eldritch Horror: “Dagon”
Ruthanna Emrys and Anne M. Pillsworth
October 3, 2014
The Bloody Books of Halloween: William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist
Will Errickson
Showing posts tagged: history click to see more stuff tagged with history
Aug 19 2014 11:00am

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 2:07pm

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 2:30pm

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 10:10am

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 9:15am

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 6:00pm

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 3:30pm

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 11:00am

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 2:32pm

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 1:45pm

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 5:00pm

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 5:00pm

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 11:30am

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 2:00pm

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 12:30pm

“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 staff lists some of their favorite instances of Tesla pop culture.

[Read more]

Jun 20 2013 4:00pm

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 1:00pm

(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]

May 20 2013 4:00pm

The Millionaire and the Mummies (Excerpt)

John M Adams

Perfect for fans of archaeology and Egyptian discoveries, take a look at The Millionaire and the Mummies by John M. Adams, out on June 25:

Egypt, The Valley of the Kings, 1905: An American robber baron peers through the hole he has cut in an ancient tomb wall and discovers the richest trove of golden treasure ever seen in Egypt.

At the start of the twentieth century, Theodore Davis was the most famous archaeologist in the world; his career turned tomb-robbing and treasure-hunting into a science. Using six of Davis’s most important discoveries—from the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut’s sarcophagus to the exquisite shabti statuettes looted from the Egyptian Museum not too long ago—as a lens around which to focus his quintessentially American rags-to-riches tale, Adams chronicles the dizzying rise of a poor country preacher’s son who, through corruption and fraud, amassed tremendous wealth in Gilded Age New York and then atoned for his ruthless career by inventing new standards for systematic excavation. Davis found a record eighteen tombs in the Valley and, breaking with custom, gave all the spoils of his discoveries to museums. A confederate of Boss Tweed, friend of Teddy Roosevelt, and rival of J. P. Morgan, the colorful “American Lord Carnarvon” shared his Newport mansion with his Rembrandts, his wife, and his mistress. The only reason Davis has been forgotten by history to a large extent is probably the fact that he stopped just short of King Tutankhamen’s tomb, the discovery of which propelled Howard Carter (Davis’s erstwhile employee) to worldwide fame just a few short years later.

[Read more]

Apr 10 2013 10:00am

Infinitely Weird: All Your Genre Are Belong to BioShock

BioShock Infinite Genres Ken Levine

At E3 2010, somewhere near the mechanical bull at Bethesda Software’s annual Sunset Strip bacchanal, BioShock Infinite visionary Ken Levine leaned across a liquor-sticky table and gave me the best storytelling advice I’ve heard: “F[orget] macro choices, do what works.”

Three disclaimers: he didn’t really say “forget.” He also didn’t mention that having the narrative chops to make your crazy vision work is a lot harder than a single aphorism makes it seems. Lastly, we were discussing self-limiting approaches to world-building in particular, not the wholesale disavowal of consistency within a work. (That remains a bad idea unless you’re, like, James Joyce).

[Read more...]

Feb 19 2013 12:00pm

How Can This Be So Gripping? Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time

How Can This Be So Gripping? Josephine Tey's The Daughter of TimeYou probably heard that they found the bones of Richard III a few days ago, under a car park in Leicester. Actually they found them a while ago, but they’ve now been confirmed to be his bones from forensic and DNA evidence. Naturally, this immediately led me to pick up Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time, a book I’ve read so many times that I’m now on my third copy. It’s about Richard III, of course, but it’s not about Richard III in any normal way. It’s not a historical novel, it’s a detective story, and when you think about it it’s very odd. I first read it as a teenager. It was my first Tey. I went on to read and re-read everything she wrote. I find her compulsively readable. Whatever it is that makes me get completely sucked into a book and keep on reading and come out blinking hours later when I need to put the lights on to keep seeing the page, that thing Heinlein has for me, Tey has it too.

[Read more: So, a detective novel about Richard III? How does that work?]