Life in Medieval Times
Frances and Joseph Gies
Barnes and Noble Books
Many people are acquainted with the
work Frances & Joseph Gies have done in the field of medieval studies.
Their credentials for this work are impressive, especially the years
devoted to material for the Encyclopedia Britannica. This volume,
available through Barnes and Noble, combines three of their popular
works into one lovely and well-illustrated book.
The book includes:
These works are invaluable for anyone
who is writing a historical fiction book or a fantasy book set in a
If you want to get the essence of life
right for your novels, these books (either singly or in the one volume
reviewed here) are indispensable resources that can help you with
everything from the background for tournaments to the making of ale in
small villages. Adding just a few realistic touches gleaned from these
books can make the difference between a mediocre world and one that
comes alive for the reader.
These two passage comes from page 279,
and a chapter titled Big Business:
Feudal dues, guild regulations,
princely prerogatives and ecclesiastical dicta notwithstanding,
the western European businessman of the thirteenth century makes
money -- often a great deal. There are two main avenues of
fortune, the cloth trade and banking. Very commonly the
two are combined by a single entrepreneur....
Records are kept on wax
tablets. parchment, a seal, half a dozen quills, ink and
ribbon or cord supply the tools of correspondence. When a
merchant writes a letter, he closes it with his seal affixed to
a ribbon or cord. Most business letters are written in
French, but sometimes correspondence is in Latin and
occasionally in Italian, or even a more exotic tongue, in which
case the assistance of a professional scribe may be required....
This book will more than pay for
itself in tidbits of information that will make your stories come
alive with details.
the Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters
You don't have to agree with everything
Matt Ridley says in this book to find it fascinating and filled with
inspiration. This is one of the most easy-to-read science books that
I've come across, with a wonderful combination of science and anecdotes
about scientists and how they found their answers.
Genome is an excellent choice for
science fiction writers who want to make their future humans different
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the technology side of their world and either ignore human changes or
gloss over them. We are living in an age where changes are possible,
and considering such changes may give your book that added little spark
to the story -- or in may engender entire stories all on its own.
Genome is also an excellent starting point for creating humanoid aliens
or genetically mutated clones.
Quote from Chapter 14: Immortality
Ageing is turning out to be one of
those things that is under the control of many genes. One
expert estimates that there are 7,000 age-influencing genes in the
human genome, or ten per cent of the total....
And this quote from Chapter 1: Life
anything that can use the resources
of the world to get copies of itself made is alive; the most likely
from for such a thing to take is a digital message -- a number, a
script or a word.
(Which makes me think that a
computer virus is alive....)
There are odd little bits and pieces of
material scattered through the book that might just be what you need to
add a new level to your science fiction tale.