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posted by [personal profile] mmoa_writes at 07:12pm on 16/01/2012 under , , , ,
So I'm sat here revising Soft Matter Physics when it occurs to me just why I increasingly find the 'pseudo-medieval' world building that you often get in fantasy so weird (as opposed to slightly cliche by now). 

Now, I'm just thinking 'out loud' because as you well know, I am nothing but the plebbiest of historical dilettantes (and I know if anyone will have anything interesting to say, it'll be you guys), but it seems to me that feudalism could have evolved out of the chaos following the decline of the Western Roman Empire. If you consider somewhere like, well, England, a land that it seems was being constantly visited, then attacked, then partially conquered by a series of different ethnic groups, it's no surprise you might end up with a system of rule akin to a more sophisticated version of a protection racket ("We give you swords and a place of protection to settle, you give us some food and monies. And people to wield the swords might help too, now we come to think of it...") that over time, and with the increasing stability of society, evolves into the fully fledged feudal system we all know and love so well from history textbooks with pictures of peasants with mud for teeth.

And obviously ditto for elsewhere in Western Europe. I'm just using England as an example because I happen to live here and know slightly more about Dark Age Britain than Dark Age France, say. Or Dark Age Spain which may as well have been home to dragons and people with faces in their chests for all I know (I'd probably believe it too).

Anyway. So in a fantasy book where the set up is the basic feudal pseudo-medieval (and I say pseudo because most fantasy writers seem to interprete a medieval setting to mean nastiness, raping and that sort of thing rather than, I don't know, women being doctors, writers and crusaders and owning businesses (and occasionally kidnapping a young lord they might fancy, for the higher born lady of course) and peasant children escaping the drudgery of serfdom via education and University etc etc etc.), it doesn't seem to make much sense without that primordial stage of that strange sort of civilised barbarism that follows the collapse of a bureaucracy.

Or maybe I'm just being picky because... I'm a little bit bored.

Alright back to work.
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posted by [personal profile] mmoa_writes at 06:17pm on 10/12/2010 under , , , , ,
Between Uni and Physics and my awful discipline, it seems I haven't been updating my journals (or reading any of my f-lists/reading lists shame be upon me) of late but have no fear! Soon I will be stuck in my bedroom revising the hell out of Electrodynamics and Chaos theories (non-integer dimensions wf? The worst thing is that it actually makes some sense...) and so I'll probably make up for it.

Of late I have actually been reading books - non-physics related books as well! First there was 'Love and Other Demons' which was absolutely gorgeous, written in the sparse style I love so much where the beauty lies in the mere observation of human behaviour rather than in the florid prose (which can be nice - you're talking to a Mervyn Peake fangirl here - but often distracting) describing it.

I then devoured 'Empress' by Karen Miller and am currently finding myself epically  (yes already! Not even 50 pages in as well) disappointed by 'The Riven Kingdom' which happens to be the sequel. I am determined to finish the entire trilogy but I have been warned not to get my hopes up, which is a shame as I got a real buzz reading 'Empress'. Like reading Abercrombie for the first (and second and third and...) I will definitely try out the 'Kingmaker, Kingbreaker' duology though, as that sounds entirely fantastic.
But more on that later when I don't have a lab report to finish.
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So... the first week of my research placement is over!

So far I've had to do thankfully very little programming by myself and have just had get used to MATLAB syntax (so much nicer for the inexperienced than C++) though the most difficult part of it was trying to find the right piece of code amongst all the junk of various Mphys/Masters and PhD projects of the past (and there was so much of it. Running the amount of data we got from the experiment through them all was a nightmare!). In spite of various complaints concerning memory and the lack thereof (which resulted in one of the worst timed crashes I've ever had to put up with), I think I've ended this week at a good place: I have plenty of graphs and just need to do some tutorials with Origin (yet another program to get to grips with. I reckon I should look over Mathematica too just in case) over the weekend so I can get a good fit to the results come Monday.

Last night went was great as well. I was more concerned that the writers we had speaking wouldn't have found it worth their while but they definitely seemed to having a lot of fun talking with each other, meeting their fans and I hope they enjoyed the panel/audience discussion. I know I certainly did. I learned a whole range of things (most fascinatingly about the Ancient Romans. Apparently there's a new idea out there that the villas were agricultural workers housing rather than the senatorial palaces we've usually thought of them as which made the cogs in my inner Steampunker's mind turn rapidly), got to talk about fanfiction (mostly how nice it is to hear a pofessional writer being pro rather than seeing it as some work of the Devil working maliciously to sap the writers' powers) and a bunch of other stuff that will probably get filtered down into a megalong pretentious waffle of an essay.

Did I say I had fun?

EDIT: I've also found my dream laptop which is hella expensive, but, with the project award money I might just be able to get this september instead of next. It's one of those things - life in general is being pretty decent, but it's rather unpleasant how there's always something that's going woeful and it's always the something you care about most. Meh. Could be worse.
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Went to the local Salvation army store and got a nice cheap straw hat to tinker with, when I also picked up a copy of the 'Merlin' DVD for 50p, some old tv movie/series featuring Sam Neill who seems to specialise in this sort of thing. 3 hours or pure tattertainment, the way tv movies do best.

I will make my way down again tomorrow and see if I can find anything else that will prevent me from doing revision. Don't quite know why, but I've always had a weakness for tv movies. I've yet to see a truly bad one - they're either so bad they're good, or just about ok.

Read more... )

In short, the Internet is amazing.

Read more... )


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