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The Demolished Man
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2013 Reads > TDM: Let's Disco Dance, Hammurabi!

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Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments There's a running gag in the book about how the characters are profoundly ignorant of the "past" -- i.e., the 20th Century -- such as Wyg& claiming that catchy jingles are called "pepsis" because that's the name of the guy who wrote the first one, Reich being surprised that people in the olden days had parties, and Ellery's bizarre explanation of deaf people.

But it's not like people in the book are especially ignorant -- we're just as bad as they are. As somebody once pointed out, if someone made a movie about the American Revolution as "accurate" as Braveheart, George Washington would wear a tie-dye shirt and cowboy hat, free the slaves, have an affair with Marilyn Monroe, and win the war by inventing blitzkrieg tactics.

So what are some of the mistakes like these you notice in modern fiction? For me the big ones are:

1) Fantasy stories in which a commander orders archers to "fire" their arrows. "Fire" only became synonymous with "shoot" with the advent of guns where you actually need combustion to shoot. If you tell someone in a fantasy setting to "fire" an arrow, he'll think you mean to wrap the tip in cloth and set it aflame.

2) I've seen several fantasy novels that feature the Salem witch burnings. The problem? There's never been a witch burning in any English speaking country because the punishment for witch craft under the Common Law was hanging. For that matter, witch trials were almost unheard of in the Middle Ages because the Catholic Church considered belief in witches to be heresy. Most witch hunts took place in the Renaissance and Reformation periods.


message 2: by Serendi (new)

Serendi | 829 comments Okay, how many of you writers are thinking of adding a scene in which the archer sets fire to the arrow when told "Fire"?


message 3: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Preiman | 347 comments I am writing SF at the moment and I still want to do it.


message 4: by AndrewP (new)

AndrewP (andrewca) | 2469 comments Sean wrote: "2) I've seen several fantasy novels that feature the Salem witch burnings. The problem? There's never been a witch burning in any English speaking country because the punishment for witch craft under the Common Law was hanging..."

Not in the US for sure, but there were a large number of people burnt at the stake in England and especially Scotland. I believe the last documented case was just after 1600, or there about. The revisionist history Christians in the USA would have you believe otherwise to cover up their past atrocities in the name of God.


Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments AndrewP wrote: "Not in the US for sure, but there were a large number of people burnt at the stake in England and especially Scotland."

For heresy and petit treason, not witchcraft.

The revisionist history Christians in the USA would have you believe otherwise to cover up their past atrocities in the name of God.

Uh, dude, nobody said the Brits didn't kill people accused of witchcraft, just that the prescribed method of execution was hanging instead of burning at the stake.


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