Discussion:
Wolf Who Rules From Elfhome To Poughkeepsie
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David Johnston
2017-07-05 22:48:31 UTC
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I was reading Wen Spencer's Wolf Who Rules and suddenly flashed back to Ursula Leguin's "From Elfland To Poughkeepsie" where she trashes Katherine Kurtz specifically for having two fantasy aristocrats talk about their politics and have it sound not entirely unlike having two 20th century American politicians might sound.

And I read this passage between two elf magicians and wondered what Leguin would have thought about it:

"You're going to use the light to communicate?"

She smiled and leaned down to touch her forehead to his. "Exactly. By the composition of the buildings inside the Ghostlands, it's clear that Earth is one of the dimensions intersected by this Discontinuity. The blue shift of the area seems to indicate that certain wavelengths of light are being absorbed and only the blue is reflecting back to us."

"So the other wavelengths go on through to the other dimensions?"

Oh so romantic... To be sure one of the elves is from 21st century Pittsburgh and used to be mostly human, but I'm not sure the Leguin who gave that speech would have considered those elements an excuse. What did she think of the hard fantasy from her era the predecessors to the Tinker like Operation Chaos?
Quadibloc
2017-07-09 19:49:46 UTC
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But what on Earth does a *blue shift* have to do with the *absorption* of
light?

Clearly these elves can't tell their Doppler effect from their Rayleigh
scattering!

I can't speak for Ursula LeGuin, but when _aristocrats_ in a *historical*
setting, whether or not magic is present, don't behave like aristocrats
would, with a perspective different from politicians in a modern
democracy, it is an error.

Elves wielding technobabble may or may not be an error - depending on
whether or not they have access to modern scientific knowledge. Is the
setting contemporary? Is it made explicit that their magic has given them
access to knowledge about nature that we obtained through science?

Think of the discussion of the name of Sunspark in the Diane Duane books.

I think it's appropriate to make a distinction between erroneous
anachronisms on the one hand, and flouting the conventions of a genre on
the other - the latter may be justified, as conventions can get stale.

John Savard
David Johnston
2017-07-09 21:23:27 UTC
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Post by Quadibloc
But what on Earth does a *blue shift* have to do with the *absorption* of
light?
Clearly these elves can't tell their Doppler effect from their Rayleigh
scattering!
I can't speak for Ursula LeGuin, but when _aristocrats_ in a *historical*
setting, whether or not magic is present, don't behave like aristocrats
would, with a perspective different from politicians in a modern
democracy, it is an error.
The question of course is how different their perspective would actually be. Here's the passage in question:

"Whether or not they succeed in the end will depend on Kelson's personal ability to manipulate the voting"

"Can he?" Morgan asked, as the two clattered down a half-flight of stairs into the garden.

"I don't know, Alaric," Nigel replied. "He's good--damned good--but I just don't know. Besides you saw the key council lords. With Ralson dead and Bran coris practically making open accusations--Well, it doesn't look good."

"I could have told you that at Cardosa."

Here's the question. How would authentic high medieval to renascence aristocrats have discussed the same situation (of the not-yet fully in power prince needing to sway the regency council to vote for what he wants)?
Robert Carnegie
2017-07-09 21:58:39 UTC
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Post by David Johnston
Post by Quadibloc
But what on Earth does a *blue shift* have to do with the *absorption* of
light?
Clearly these elves can't tell their Doppler effect from their Rayleigh
scattering!
I can't speak for Ursula LeGuin, but when _aristocrats_ in a *historical*
setting, whether or not magic is present, don't behave like aristocrats
would, with a perspective different from politicians in a modern
democracy, it is an error.
"Whether or not they succeed in the end will depend on Kelson's personal ability to manipulate the voting"
"Can he?" Morgan asked, as the two clattered down a half-flight of stairs into the garden.
"I don't know, Alaric," Nigel replied. "He's good--damned good--but I just don't know. Besides you saw the key council lords. With Ralson dead and Bran coris practically making open accusations--Well, it doesn't look good."
"I could have told you that at Cardosa."
Here's the question. How would authentic high medieval to renascence aristocrats have discussed the same situation (of the not-yet fully in power prince needing to sway the regency council to vote for what he wants)?
"Prince not yet fully in power" - I think that's
teenaged Kelson - is an unusual-ish situation.
They do seem to be speaking of /him/ very
familiarly. Morgan's angle is of loyalty to
the hereditary principle plus personal influence
on the prince to end the persecution of slans.
I forget where Nigel fits in.

Lords having the king over a barrel occurs in
England at the time of Magna Carta but very briefly
- the Pope disapproved, for one thing. I think
Katherine Kurtz avoided having a Pope, although
there are troublesome bishops.
David Johnston
2017-07-09 22:45:53 UTC
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Post by Robert Carnegie
Post by David Johnston
Post by Quadibloc
But what on Earth does a *blue shift* have to do with the *absorption* of
light?
Clearly these elves can't tell their Doppler effect from their Rayleigh
scattering!
I can't speak for Ursula LeGuin, but when _aristocrats_ in a *historical*
setting, whether or not magic is present, don't behave like aristocrats
would, with a perspective different from politicians in a modern
democracy, it is an error.
"Whether or not they succeed in the end will depend on Kelson's personal ability to manipulate the voting"
"Can he?" Morgan asked, as the two clattered down a half-flight of stairs into the garden.
"I don't know, Alaric," Nigel replied. "He's good--damned good--but I just don't know. Besides you saw the key council lords. With Ralson dead and Bran coris practically making open accusations--Well, it doesn't look good."
"I could have told you that at Cardosa."
Here's the question. How would authentic high medieval to renascence aristocrats have discussed the same situation (of the not-yet fully in power prince needing to sway the regency council to vote for what he wants)?
"Prince not yet fully in power" - I think that's
teenaged Kelson - is an unusual-ish situation.
They do seem to be speaking of /him/ very
familiarly. Morgan's angle is of loyalty to
the hereditary principle plus personal influence
on the prince to end the persecution of slans.
I forget where Nigel fits in.
Nigel is Kelson's uncle. I suppose the most unlikely thing about the situation is that the council didn't just meet once to affirm Nigel as the prince regent until Kelson comes of age and leave it at that.
Post by Robert Carnegie
Lords having the king over a barrel occurs in
England at the time of Magna Carta but very briefly
- the Pope disapproved, for one thing. I think
Katherine Kurtz avoided having a Pope, although
there are troublesome bishops.
Kurtz's Church politics are somewhat Anglican although I think she was going for "WHat if the Celtic Church was never displace by the Roman Church."
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