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Nuns, Guns, and History

A bit of history link salad, collected over the last week from Alliterates and others:

  • The Renaissance was a good time for nuns: status, power, and joy were theirs.
  • I can't remember who recommended Niall Ferguson's "War of the World" to me, but it's amazing for anyone interested in the political violence and undercurrents of the 20th century, based on well-argued cases. Plus a million little tidbits that just astound me, such as the fact that in 1918 the Czechs briefly captured and held Vladivostok (yes, on the Pacific). That one still boggles me. <
  • Other facts from War of the World: V.I. Lenin was born to a line of hereditary nobles. The Japanese Imperial constitution was based on the Prussian constitution. The Rothschilds once were considering a role as Kings of Zion (they decided against it). I had no idea.
  • In 1920, Poland saved Europe from Communism at a battle on the Vistula. Didn't get much coverage in my European history class.
  • And from Steve Winter, I say alas for the Closing of the Gates of Ijtihad (Ijtihad = independent thought). This was the time in the 13th century when the Muslim world threw away its scientific and cultural lead, and turned inward into religion and cultural backwardness. There's a great alternate history in there somewhere, if only there were a Muslim SF writer to dream it.


The book made me feel the lack of world history classes rather sharply. But I also think Ferguson is a damn fine historian and writer.

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( 14 sutras — Your wisdom )
allandaros
Feb. 16th, 2007 01:11 am (UTC)
I'm somewhat surprised by the fact that people don't know about the Czech Legion and the Russo-Polish War, but then I remember that my senior year of high school focused very heavily on Russian history.

I would also disagree with the conclusions drawn by Perkins in his essay. While I do certainly agree that the Muslim world's shying away from scientific innovation was the source of its downfall, I strongly contest his claim that the shying away is due to the nature of Islam itself.
allandaros
Feb. 16th, 2007 01:32 am (UTC)
Supporting Points (which I didn't bring up earlier)
The Quran condemns willful ignorance several times, and stresses the need for truth. The Prophet (pbuh) stated that one must always go in search of knowledge.

I get the feeling that Perkins is setting out with a preplanned viewpoint and jumping huuuge jumps to get to the conclusions he wants to. But then again, I'm somewhat biased in the matter.

Also, before I forget, thank you for mentioning Ferguson's work. I'm currently going through his book on the British Empire, and while I strongly disagree with his thesis, he not only writes well, but brings out really nifty bits of info. Like the ones you mentioned above.
open_design
Feb. 16th, 2007 02:19 am (UTC)
Re: Supporting Points (which I didn't bring up earlier)
I agree that Perkins has an ax to grind, but I was unaware that the rejection of science can be dated fairly closely. Naturally, any culture can change its mind later, but it's interesting to see the different reactions to Averroes. I'm fascinated by the image of Aristotle and Averroes being debated by Catholic theologians; it's not the Christian mindset I see today.

I'd also agree with Perkins insofar as there's a big difference between what is written in sacred text and what is actually practiced in the community. The Prophet's call for a search for knowledge can be interpreted many ways, I suspect, not all of them leading to scientific inquiry.
allandaros
Feb. 16th, 2007 03:45 am (UTC)
Re: Supporting Points (which I didn't bring up earlier)
"I'd also agree with Perkins insofar as there's a big difference between what is written in sacred text and what is actually practiced in the community."

Oh, certainly. And in that sense, I do agree with Perkins as well. I just object to his equating the actions of the ones in charge with the viewpoint of the religion.
wahcrysob
Feb. 16th, 2007 01:22 am (UTC)
I'm actually too bogged down in readings for my current Russian Revolution class to follow any of these links, but rest assured that I will eventually.

I did want to let you know that I picked up Dragon #352 today, and though I haven't actually read any of China Miéville's books (or even heard of him before you mentioned the issue on your LJ), from the issue's editorial and the interview alone (all I've read so far or will for a while probably) I'm quite intrigued and plan to look up Perdido Street Station this summer.

All this, anyway, brings me to a question that I've been meaning to ask you, considering my own aspirations as a d20 writer: How did you get involved in the field in the first place? I like the idea of getting guidance from my elders, as it were, this is a good place to start.
the_monkey_king
Feb. 16th, 2007 02:23 am (UTC)
I got my start because my funding for grad school fell apart for a semester and I needed work. A friend told me that TSR was hiring, and since I had written adventures for them in high school, I applied. Seemed like a fun place to work.

I was told later that I was hired on the basis of those articles, and the interview was just a confirmation that I didn't drool on my shoes or reek of rotgut. I was hired into the magazine department at TSR as a junior flunky, and never looked back.

I'd still recommend the magazines as a reasonable place to publish game bits and hone some writer's craft. Being able to meet that editorial bar means you're more likely to get other work down the road.

What sort of thing are you hoping to publish, or what subgenres do you like? Some of the d20 publishers are always scouting for new talent.
wahcrysob
Feb. 16th, 2007 08:05 pm (UTC)
Well I've done some d20 work already in the PDF market, mostly characters, some alternate Druid classes and I'm currently working on some setting stuff for Dog Soul. The project I'm working on for myself right now is a campaign setting, designed to slot into existing campaigns instead of existing as a whole world unto itself. I've pretty much got the green light to publish it with one pdf publisher I've worked with before, but I'm free to shop it around, and I'd like to find the best possible home for it, it's sort of my baby.

So far I've just been taking whatever jobs I can find, though nothing too major yet. I haven't actually tried to publish anything in print yet. Does Dragon normally accept submissions?
the_monkey_king
Feb. 17th, 2007 04:19 am (UTC)
Sounds like you're off to a great start, and if someone wants to publish your setting book, you are really on a roll. Moving to print is certainly a logical next step.

Dragon certainly does accept submissions, but there's a query step first for some departments (details are in their guidelines [PDF]). The query stage can be frustrating, because replies to a query can take months, but once a query is accepted, your odds of publication are pretty good if you deliver a quality article.
wahcrysob
Feb. 17th, 2007 02:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link, I read it over, now I just need some ideas to query. The one thing I'm a little worried about is my lack of knowledge/access to older issues, I've got a pretty small collection of random Dragon issues, and I'm getting a subscription (I finally just but the bullet, it seemed like a better idea than buying them at the store anyway), so the chances of me querying something similar to a past article is probaby better than that of somebody who's been reading the magazine for years. Guess that's just something I have to deal with.

Thanks for the advice though, I'm hoping to get some more pdf stuff published and get some articles queryed up over the summer.
wahcrysob
Feb. 20th, 2007 11:27 pm (UTC)
Something I only thought to ask yesterday: what are your degrees in? I'm personally working on a history undergrad and soon enough some kind of history related masters most likely. I'd really like to be able to just research and write for reliable money, that'd be a kick.
the_monkey_king
Feb. 21st, 2007 06:44 am (UTC)
My degree is in biochemistry. I only *wish* I had studied history in college.

No idea whether there's steady money in the history field, honestly, though I agree that research is pretty sweet work if you can get it.
wahcrysob
Feb. 21st, 2007 02:00 pm (UTC)
There is steady money in the history field, just generally not doing things that I want to. All signs point to getting a job as a professor (meh) or as a curator (meh) or something along those lines, and trying to fit research in on the side. Of course, the first option generally means I'll need a PhD, or I'll have to waste away at a community college. The second option just doens't strike me as terribly exciting, but who knows. Apparently there's a lot of work available in the Parks Department and other state and federal departments, but I can't find any real information on those jobs, just the rumor that they exist.
the_monkey_king
Feb. 21st, 2007 05:50 pm (UTC)
One of my best friends from high school has been a curator at a small museum; if you want some RW insight into the field, I can put you in touch.

Parks department work sounds interesting, actually.
wahcrysob
Feb. 21st, 2007 09:57 pm (UTC)
If only I could find out about said parks demartment work.

Actually, if you could put me in contact with them, that'd be really cool, thanks.
( 14 sutras — Your wisdom )

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