Jane Austen's best unpublished novel.
Knightley, Mister. Mister Knightley was created by Jane Austen and appeared in Emma (1815). Knightley also appeared in the unfinished novel Masters and Mysteries (1796). Described by leading Jane Austen scholar Kathryn Sutherland as “the most ground-breaking of Austen’s abortive novels,” Jane Austen’s Masters and Mysteries is perhaps the most fascinating of the what-ifs...
An abandoned writing project.
We were somewhere around Kashgar on the edge of the Taklamakan desert when the opium began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should steer….” And suddenly there was a terrible roaring all around us and the sky was full of what looked like dragons, all swooping and screeching and diving around the dirigible, which was going about...
A coup de theatre
Following the death of Crassus at the hands of the Parthians in 53 B.C.E. at the battle of Carrhae: Messengers delivered the head and hand of Crassus to the palace of the king of Armenia where the Parthian king was a guest. Both kings were watching a performance of the Bacchantes by Euripides, an allegorical study contrasing the barbaric military practices of Asia with Hellenic culture....
Hey, mystery writers: character available here!
In the reign of the great Shogun Yoshimune (again, quoting Murdoch): Among other retrenchments the new Shogun curtailed the expenditure on the Palace Gardens and placed them under more efficient managment. At the head of the staff employed in them he placed a certain Yabuta, an old Kishu vassal of his own. This man, who was thoroughly trusted by the Shogun, was instructed to report on...
My latest at io9.com: Pulp Science Fiction in... →
Historical what-if: Japan invades China, restores...
A jonbar hinge, for those who like such things (as I do). In 1658 the great pirate Zheng Chenggong (a.k.a. Koxinga) was leading a Ming resistance against the Qing. Quoting Murdoch: Koxinga was half Japanese, for he was born in Japan (1624) of a Japanese mother. Accordingly in 1658 he appealed to Japan for help. The appeal was made to the Governor of Nagasaki, and by him it was transmitted to...
The samurai and football.
In the 17th century, during the enforced peace, samurai could no longer distinguish themselves in battle, and so had to find other ways to gain distinction. “Whoever wished to get his name handed down to posterity must now reap fame in the realm of letters or polite accomplishments…crowds of wealthy men curried favour with Kuge house-stewards to get these worthies to induce their...
historical topless teenaged female Japanese...
Okay, bear with me a moment, this requires some set-up. You know about the yamabushi, I assume, the Japanese mountain hermit-monks who supposedly had magical powers and who often actually had martial ability—some quite considerable, to the point of staging actual “civil wars” against the samurai for around 400 years. (They were bad-ass warrior-monks, is what they were). In...
You know about the bacchante, of course.
The frenzied followers of Bacchus, who rampaged about in an ecstatic frenzy? Based on the bacchanalia? It turns out that samurai Japan had something similar: the furyu, an activity sometimes called, simply, dancing, sometimes called hayashi—which referred to the accompaniment of flutes and drums, and probably to singing. Most often the activity was identified as furyu...
Ts'oa Jio Po
No doubt every part of China possesses special notions and superstitions on water-devils, not always reduced to writing. We have obtained some from the lips of seamen in coasting along the Fukien shores. Sometimes in full sea a compact cloudy mass suddenly darkens the horizon. It nears the ship with great rapidity, to capsize her and drown her crew. It is no tornado, no water-spout, no squall,...
The medieval Arabic detective
The medieval Arabs developed a detective figure whose methods of detection were not dissimilar from those of his Western, or even Chinese, counterparts. They did not, however, develop a detective novel. This is not for the lack of a detective but because the novel, as a literary form, was foreign to the aesthetic concerns of the medieval Arabs. Instead of making their detective the hero of a...
1926 map of Chicago's gangland →
On the importance of fiction in one's life.
During the whole time consumed in the slow growth of this family tree, the house of Smallweed, always early to go out and late to marry, has strengthened itself in its practical character, has discarded all amusements, discountenanced all story-books, fairy tales, fictions, and fables, and banished all levities whatsoever. Hence the gratifying fact, that it has had no child born to it, and that...
Some apropos Dryden
So, when the last and dreadful hour This crumbling pageant shall devour, The trumpet shall be heard on high, The dead shall live, the living die, And Music shall untune the sky.
John Picacio's Kickstarter →
Folks, my pal John Picacio has a Kickstarter going for his 2013 calendar. John’s a brilliant artist, and this project is well worth giving to. Please share!
my new piece on io9.com, on Japan's early (1880s)... →
On hunger in ancient Rome.
…hunger endured over long periods and a constant dearth of proteins and calories would have produced a noticeable reduction in motivation and social activity. A vicious cycle would be established in which malnutrition led to anorexia and apathy, and this in turn aggravated malnutrition. As a result there would have been a sense of isolation, the loss of effective control over one’s...
Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes is complete
All 2000+ entries are now up on the web site, here, and I move into the second phase of my Kickstarter fulfillment.
Anonymous asked: Hey Jess, big fan of your body of work. Have you have been reading Marvel's new Defenders book? Recently, Matt Fraction has introduced a new team of nine adventurers, including John Aman, Captain Nemo, Lenoard Mackenzie, Princess Fen, Farraday Bobbs, Judex, Ivar the Strong, Orissa Kravinov the aviatrix, and Musidora the thief. All of these seem to be pre-existing characters, or based on such....
1934 critical judgment on pulp fiction
“There is the same fluent slovenly expression, impersonal, standardized, never halted by any concern for the right word. There is the same garrulity of exposition, as though the author had written whatever was flowing through his consciousness until stopped by the discovery that part two had grown as long as part one. There is the same predominant concern with sex.”
Samurai in Mexico.
“In addition to ceramics and other items, Asian slaves and servants were imported legally or smuggled into New Spain. Asian sailors and even a few Japanese samurai warriors who served as mercenary guards settled in Pacific coastal towns and married local women.” WAIT WAIT WHAT? [again from Jeffrey Pilcher’sPlanet Taco]
I'm always bemused by stereotypes unfamiliar to...
Dubbed the ‘Chili Queens of San Antonio,’ these street vendors were depicted as sirens of the Old Southwest, seducing unwary visitors with hot tamales and rapacious sexuality. [from Planet Taco]
merdre asked: Hey there Jess. I'm a enormous fan of your annotations. I was wondering when we can expect your annotations of LoEG: Century 2009 up assuming you're still doing them? I prefer your immensely to the Mindless Ones which I can't stand.
Reporter: “Are Africans fundamentally more violent than the rest of the world?” Ouologuem: “I would like to think that Africa excels in everything. But, unfortunately, after the Hundred Years War, Stalin, the Inquisition, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, et cetera, I am afraid that we poor Blacks, we underdeveloped Africans, lag behind the rest of the world.”
Would you be interested in...
…an 1894 story describing how the Simian races conquered the Earth and “several other solar systems”? If so, here you go.
This is why you should read history.
Because sometimes you get The Good Stuff: On April 20, 1532, on a night as soft as a cloak of moist satin, Saif al-Haram, performing his conjugal “duty” with his four step-mothersseriatimand all together, had the imprudent weakness to overindulge and in the very midst of his dutiful delights gave up the ghost…the next day his raven-eyed minister Al Hadj Abd al-Hassana, having...