Sunday, 22 April 2018

Pointers from #History

Life-size Terracotta Warrior and horse, Qin Dynasty, 200+ BC
Writers usually research history to gain an insight into a particular period because they are writing a novel set in that period. 

Yet this is a narrow view of history, especially when considered within the context of contemporary fiction. History repeats. Not only does it always repeat, like a virus history repeats with a slight mutation.

Writing about the future using a lens from the past creates firm foundations. Rulers may start intending to provide a better life for their followers, but the ends tend to start justifying the means; power corrupts and nay-sayers are replaced by yea-sayers. Leaders who start believing their own hype soon become despots.

Excavated Roman funerary plaque beside how it would have appeared.
Speculative Fiction sub-genres, particularly of Fantasy and Science Fiction, are fertile soils in which to sow the seeds. But where to locate the seeds?

Cultural exhibitions can be a source, as Linda Acaster recently found visiting Chester to view its Roman funerary plaques and excavated amphitheatre. But the further from a writer’s own cultural background and writing the more likely images or snippets of information will fire the imagination, as she found visiting Liverpool to attend an exhibition on “China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors”.

Writers who concentrate only on the period and the people they are writing about can seriously limit their horizons.

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