Worldbuilding: About Those Mermaids

Okay, I now need to research maritime trade in Northeast Asia and beyond in the Little Ice Age period, because our heroes are going to have a lot to do with the water. Yes, land adventures are a go, but they’re also going to have to deal with mermaids, water monsters, and inevitable sea trips to go rescue people. (Not what I expected from the original idea, but… yeah.) Continue reading

Some Thoughts on Global Crisis, by Geoffrey Parker

I’m about halfway through this book. (It’s over 700 pages, not counting another about 150 of footnotes and bibliography, and info-dense enough it needs to be read in small doses.) But there’s a recurring pattern in the history here I thought people looking at current events might appreciate.

Never underestimate the ability of people in power to double down on stupid. Continue reading

Worldbuilding: The Trouble with Quiet Spots

The trouble with trying to find a quiet spot in history is, if you look closely, there are no really quiet spots in history.

Let me elucidate. I’m doing research to dump one hapless modern character in a fantasy AU of 1600s, specifically near Korea in 1618, beginning of the Little Ice Age. (Poor guy.) Two main reasons. First, because that’s early enough in Everything Going Horribly Wrong that he has an idea of what’s coming down the pike, and that he might be able to do something about it to help the people around him not die horrible deaths from famine, plague, war, and monsters. (What, he’s not sure yet. But something.) Continue reading

Worldbuilding: Research Most Arrowing

When you worldbuild, research to get the details as close to accurate as you can. At the very least, if you decide to toss in some random statement of fact, consider running a quick web search to see if anything immediately, blatantly contradicts what you’re saying to the reader.

For example, say you’re writing a book on sport bow-hunting, and decide to toss in, “1588 is the last recorded instance of the bow being used in warfare.” Continue reading

Ask Not For Whom the Bell Tolls

By now everyone’s likely heard that Queen Elizabeth passed, with her family by her side, hopefully peacefully. She made it through horrors most of us will never know; horrors too many people seem willing to forget, with the thought of “it can’t happen again.” But she made it, and she lived, and now we have lost that living memory of WWII and all that happened after. Yet we still have the stories she left behind, and those we must not lose. Continue reading

Graphic Novel Review: Cimarronin

Cimarronin, by Neal Stephenson, Charles C. Mann, and others. 3.5 stars out of 5; I was hoping for a comic that’d draw on the breadth of historical information and pithy observations about historical characters I found in Mann’s 1493. Instead… well, it’s more of a Neal Stephenson story, and I’m just not a fan of his stuff. I spent most of the story along with Kitazume (our samurai protagonist) wondering what the rogue Jesuit Luis is up to, why did you drag me across an entire ocean after a Manchu princess, and just what the heck is going on? We never really get answers to most of that, and it’s highly frustrating. Continue reading

Worldbuilding: A Problem of History

Okay, first off, I want to tell anybody who wants to read up on scientific research but may not already know this neat trick: if you go to the main JSTOR site and sign up as an independent researcher, you can get access to 100 free articles to read a month. It still costs you money if you want to download an article to print, but you can at least read them. And bookmark them to re-read later, if – like me – sometimes you just have time to run a search, not to read right that minute. And you can search the heck out of the whole site, with small previews available that are generally enough to figure out if the article is worth reading for what you want. On top of that a few of the articles are “Open access”, meaning you can download and print them without any fees.

(If writers don’t qualify as independent researchers, I don’t know who would.) Continue reading