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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 09:20pm on 20/10/2011 under , ,
One of the things that has always frustrated me is the charge that throughout the long (longer, in fact, than anywhere else might I add) history of homo sapiens in Africa, there has never been a written script indigenous to the population (Ancient Coptic/hieroglyphs don't count). Now as it happens there have been, but the one I am most interested in - for obvious reasons - is the one that would have been used by Igbos of bygone times.


It just demonstrates the amazing thing about the internet, how new information can be spread so quickly and is there just waiting to be discovered if you're open minded enough and brave the wilderness of counter opinions and barbarians. Sometimes you don't even have to brave that far. Wikipedia will do it for you.

What's particularly interesting is that the last I'd read, the nsibidi script had been used by religious cults and their initiates. I had no idea that, similar to other scripts such as Hiragana, there was also a public version which could be used by women and those outside the boundaries of the cult. This confirmed a suspicion of mine - in traditional Igbo society, women were charged with the responsibility of making money for the family; they would trade with other women in the markets and their profits would go towards the upkeep of the family (A/N: This is actually a pattern typical of pre-industrial settled ie. non-nomadic societies) and, for all even today we're brought up expected to have prodigious memories (...), I couldn't see why no merchant wife would have never thought of setting accounts, debts and deals on tablet/stone/animal skin as it were.

Obviously once the status quo changed and it became more important to be able to read and write in Roman script, knowledge of Nsibidi dwindled. It would be interesting to find out if there's anyone left in the family who can still read and write it.

I also find the fact it was widespread amongst several different ethnic groups rather intriguing. It certainly reveals that disparate peoples traded and had some means of communication that transcended their linguistic and cultural differences.
mmoa_writes: (Default)
Does anyone know where I can find information on the price of air flight tickets circa 1960? Particularly Nigeria (Lagos) to London, Germany (I was thinking Berlin, obviously, but that will probably change) and O'Hare airport, Chicago (yeah, I really have to get the where in Germany sorted out).

If anyone could give me the information I would be even more grateful, but really I will probably need this info sometime later so perhaps it's better I learn how to feed myself first so to speak.
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posted by [personal profile] mmoa_writes at 04:59pm on 27/05/2010 under , , , ,
An excerpt from a YA sci-fi novel I'm working on, the first version of which will hopefully be finished this summer.

*goes back to revising*


Excerpt time! )
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Yet another awesome science-y website (the likes of which are the webpage/magazine equivalent to Discovery Channel Documentaries) called 'How Stuff Works'. Reminds me of the old 'The Way Things Work' series that had that mammoth mascott. Anyone? No? Well, I wanted one as a pet until someone crushed my dreams and told me they were an extinct species. Found this very useful page with some background info for a new short story I'm scribbling away. This one will at least make sure I get the basics right, too.

Speaking of documentary channels... )

Have started re reading Pharyngula's blog and am mostly enjoying it. It's funny how one's tastes change, though. I loved it when I was younger, but it seems I've become a lot more mainstream since then. Or maybe just more discerning. It's hard to tell sometimes.

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posted by [personal profile] mmoa_writes at 01:09pm on 07/07/2009 under , , , ,
It is actually going well. The only problem is that I can't type fast enough - my mind is always some four chapters ahead, poor fingers.

Am also on the verge of completing several chapters worth of revision and have had to open a new file for all the cuts that, whilst they do clog up the story, are quite nice by themselves and can always be referred to for later descriptions/etc.

Watched two episodes of the new series of Private Practice on Living TV. Mein Gott but it's awful - so many issues, my sisters and I spent most of our time pausing it so we could slag it off as thoroughly as possible. One of the things that bugged me was the sheer gall of it, which is one of the same problems I had with the L word, come to think of it, and they're both set in similar locations. A load of privileged nonsense, like Gossip Girl meets ER.

Read more... )

Further proof that I should just shut up, sit down and write my own goddamn sci-fi drama is Torchwood.Read more... )
Mood:: 'frustrated' frustrated
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posted by [personal profile] mmoa_writes at 10:08pm on 12/05/2009 under , , , ,
Sometimes I wish I studied the arts for a degree, because there are all sorts of things you don't realise until someone points them out to you.

For instance, in the latest Newsnight Review, during an interview with Colm Toibin about his new book, he mentioned how he wanted to write the novel in a linear, pared down style similar to Jane Austen's - no flashbacks, very few descriptions of people's expressions etc.

In the case of facial descriptions, one result is that it becomes clear to the reader that people may not be saying precisely what they mean, that they may be concealing their personal thoughts and opinions as they outwardly proclaim another.

Now obviously there are many techniques that arrive at the same effect, but I found this very interesting because of it's simplicity (and also because I hadn't noticed this before, even though I'd read most of Austen's output and paid - by my reckoning - a lot of attention to them). This was so interesting that I began to think how I could implement this technique when writing from certain characters povs.Read more... )

So post-exam season is going to be a lot of fun, I can tell!
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I know I sound a bit Hermione Granger, but it's fascinating studying ones culture from another perspective. Mind you, considering the range of the culture, that doesn't really need to be said.

[Igbo] Culture and Socialization

General info about the Igbo people

I am so glad we're going back home to Nigeria this summer, if only because there are a tonne of books I have to read including this one, titled 'Igbo Philosophy of Law'. The only bad thing is that we're spending a world record of five weeks (as opposed to the usual month and a half) this time, which isn't long enough. Oh, the irony that when I've finally got something I really need to go home to do, I'll be spending the shortest time there.

Still, I'm sure there'll be lots of stuff in the University library if this is anything to go by. I know practically nothing about traditional Igbo poetry, so this is an intriguing first step in curing this particular area of ignorance.

On another note, it's times like this I realise I need to get into reading more fantasy/sci-fiRead more... )
Mood:: 'curious' curious
mmoa_writes: (Default)
The previously titled 'T____?' is now veering towards Toatl/Tirros as a working title.

It is titled after the ancient (and mostly disused) name of the dominant 'Blackland' Empire on the 'Reaching' continent. In the past, the Blackland Empire (then called the T____ empire) controlled the whole of the north. It receded, then increased and vice versa over time, until a supervolcanic explosion brought it to an end. A new tribe eventually came to dominance, giving rise to the Blackland Empire.

Read more... )
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I really hate how 'good' vampires are always 'vegetarian',Read more... )

I'm also curious if anyone knows of any ancient (well, ancient to... late-renaissance perhaps) technqiues used to forecast volcanic eruptions. Earthquakes are a pretty good indicator (I hear!) but I'm particularly interested in the possibility of 'measuring' sulphur dioxide levels in the air via some natural, but obviously misunderstood, phenomena.
Mood:: 'curious' curious
Music:: Random techno from next door


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