A Modicum Of Decency In Grave Robbing

Dumas supposedly said that you shouldn’t rape history unless you mean to conceive a bastard.

I suppose us writers, who periodically (and with gusto) go digging through the past for characters and settings and spoils, must live by that idea that in this case at least the end justifies the means. Yes, we will take horrendous liberties with people, long dead, who if they perceived our outrages might not even understand what the heck we were up to. And we will take liberties with minor events and happenings because it makes a better story.

In other words, we have shovels, we have ink, and we’re not afraid to use both.

For instance, it is said of the Portuguese king Pedro I that when he became king, he had his dead mistress (Some ten years dead) dug up, and married her remains, and then forced the whole court to kiss her hand.

This seems to be under the equivalent of what would today be in the Enquirer, as what actually happened is that he revealed they had been secretly married after his first wife’s death, legitimized their sons, and then proceeded to have her remains moved to a joint royal tomb, in a fine church, where he eventually joined her. The procession for her reburial was said to be very proper and solemn in fact.

But of course I’ve stolen the first lurid version for a zombie story. Because the second wouldn’t be nearly as good.

And yes, I’ve had Shakespeare be a robot, an alien, and a bewildered schoolmaster in the thrall of elves.

Which is no more than he deserved for having done what he did to Richard III, which, even if Richard were guilty (and he almost for sure wasn’t, at least of 90% of the things attributed to him) would have been an injustice.

Yes, I know. Shakespeare — probably — did it under duress, but so did I, as I like to eat and babies needed shoes.

But there must be a modicum of decency and some respect for the past in grave robbing, okay?

When I mentioned I’d read Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time (Never figured out where the heck that title came from, btw) I also mentioned I’m somewhat uncomfortable with what I’ll call Richard III fandom, due to the left’s insane interest in rehabilitating every historical monster. I should have added that in many ways I doubt that Richard III was a monster, mostly due to knowing as much as I do about Henry VII.

I also neglected to say I understand the fascination with Richard III. In fact, the last time I came into that orbit, I spent far more time than I’d wish studying the case, and reading learned opinions on it. For and against.

But at that time, eventually I found a subgenre that can only be called “Author self-insert Richard III erotica.”

I will confess I skimmed like ten of these books by different authors. Skimmed, because frankly the emotion was akin to watching a train wreck, or watching someone take off their skin and dance in their bones.

I was in fact staring, mouth agape, going “I can’t believe people are writing this.”

The backlash of the sick fascination was to run away from the whole intellectual pursuit of who done it in horror.

Because you see, that’s not decency in grave robbing.

Look, I’m not going to say I might not have done the same, when I was very young. I was a weird, geeky young woman, and I fell in love with literary characters, long-dead people and people from my own imaginings. And there is a very strong need to “Comfort” someone who suffered and was greatly maligned. And teens have no sense of proper decorum.

All I can say is if those writing Richard III erotic (or worse, perhaps, no, trust me, self-insert romantic) fanfic are teens, they are extremely accomplished.

So what is indecent about it? Well, this person existed. And he had a certain dignity and power and honor. In ways in fact that we can’t quite understand. Besides, for sure, being very religious and devout in ways we don’t understand.

Making his imagined self behave as a sappy 21st century male is– wrong. Very very wrong.

For one it violates the ‘research’ directive in a way even “the Duchesss took the gig to go grocery shopping” doesn’t.

Look, I grew up in another culture. It was a modern day culture, just …. different. And yet, the way men there treated (and to an extent treat) women was and is so different from modern America that if you were writing a cross cultural romance with respect, you’d at least have to wave at it, and explain why the male hero had become more American in his attitudes.

I don’t care how enlightened a medieval man might have been. He would not have treated a modern woman in a way that would have pleased her. Just no. The realities of the time, and the need for brawn in every day life put more worth on male strength than we can even imagine. And gave them license for more than we’d even understand.

Now you can wave at that and make him “learn better” or just be HIGHLY unusual, but honestly? If going between times, it’s easier to do if you have a wholly imaginary character, and also somehow more “decent.”

I know. You’re staring at me, and wondering what the difference would possibly be. But for me the difference is between using plastic bones as decorations, and actually going and robbing a grave for your Halloween skeleton.

It is losing awareness that people in the past were equally human, and had thoughts and needs and desires, same as we have. And that their culture was vastly different.

And we lose sight of that at our own peril, because it encourages us to live in a sort of idiotic presentism, where we assume that the past was always the same as now, only somehow better.

I am the first to endorse the half-amusing fact that Americans don’t really get — at any level — distinctions of rank, for instance, and for the most part it doesn’t at all bother me. For instance, I’m giggling through a pride and prejudice fanfic where, due to weird set of circumstances the Bennet girls become the wards of Lady Catherine, who asks them to call her Aunt Cat.

But at the same time, it’s important to realize that — outside obvious fanfic — people in the past lived and died for and by the dignity of their rank. And that the real person at the back of the story would have found it worse than death to be …. oh, called Ricky by some random woman on the street, or treated like a helpless toddler. (For one, what the heck. This is a man who was used to medieval warfare from his late teens. And good at it. Not some guy who is going to blanch at the sight of blood.)

As I was writing this, a more obvious bit of nonsense came up in a discord group I belong to. It appears there’s much preening and calling anyone who opposes this “racist” at having cast a black actress as Anne Boleyn. (Frankly, after Anne of a 1000 days, they should have shut down the genre.) Because the only reason you can object to casting people who lived and have portraits of themselves everywhere as a completely different race is because of course, you’re a racist.

It couldn’t be because (now as ever, btw) any number of people get their information about the past from biopics and stories (Which is why Richard III has the reputation he does, because Shakespeare) and therefore any number of guppy-mouthed kids will assume Anne Boleyn was black. I look forward to thesis about how her beheading was racial. And I’m only half joking.

Because of the nonsense movies that have made Mary Queen of Scotts, for instance, Black or Asian, I’ve heard young people tell me that there were always black people in England.

And while they’re not wrong: there were always a half dozen or so in any given medieval country, more often than not exhibited as curiosities, that is not what they mean.

What they mean is that they think the population was about 50/50 (As they believe it is now) and that therefore the portraits, etc. have been “whitewashed” and are evidence of racism.

In fact, I believe that’s 90% of the reason they want statues removed/erased.

It is also why they believe insanity like “white people enslaved black people because racism.” Um…. no. People enslaved each other back and forth. I am in possession of several ballads about presumably my ancestors on both sides of the conflict, of Christians and Moors merrily enslaving each other back and forth across the ever shifting frontier in the peninsula. Most white people of the time hadn’t seen enough black people to be racist against them. They simply inserted themselves as buyers in the network of slave-selling going on across Africa.

So it wasn’t some race war ending in slavery, which these bizarre a-historic movies would make you believe. And no, the kids aren’t being taught better in school. (No one is.)

So, in principle I’m very much against this bizarre and stupid miscasting of people who actually existed. You want to cast black people in fun roles in the past? You can either do it explicitly as in Hamilton, or perhaps write medieval fantasies in which this happens.

But stop raping the past without conceiving bastards anyone wants to look at in the full light of day, and who rampage abroad corrupting people’s ideas of what came before and who they are.

Besides, as a friend put it about this:

There are two rational responses here: 1.) Stick with the historical and fictional characters actual and traditional races. It’s the way it happened/was written. No problem. 2.) Realize that any adaptation is an interpretation and go for the best actors no matter what the race is. Black people can we Abraham Lincoln and white people can play MLK.
Of course we live in the dumbest timeline so we can have neither and a dumb identity war ratchet that won’t be happy until the only characters that will be allowed to be white are Hitler and Satan.

He is absolutely right. The problem is that it never goes the other way. You’ll never see a white person playing MLK or a black person playing Hitler. which tells you there is a particular insanity behind this that is not simply “We’re casting the best actor” but a sort of deranged racial war about as sane and making as much sense as the deranged lusting after the shade of poor Richard the third.

Another friend said:

I’m (impatiently) waiting for Black Stalin.

But he knows he’d die of waiting.

Again, there is, I’m sure, some grandiose posturing and feeling very special from giving black people their due, like there is posturing and feeling very caring from not only rehabilitating Richard III but having him transported to modern times and given all the comforts of a modern life, and an accommodating author/mistress.

Neither of them are right. Richard III is a person who actually lived. And if he was innocent and a decent human being, he would expect to be enjoying the reward of a life well lived, in perpetual light and the company of his creator. You’re allowed to not believe in the after life, but he did. And I hope he found the after life he deserved.

In the same way, people of African ascent have as complicated a history as any other race. Possibly more. Sure, they’ve been enslaved. They’ve also enslaved — among others white people — and many of their sub-groups (which btw, never considered themselves part of a unified anything, much less a race. Not historically) have glorious and dignified histories.

The clash of cultures between Europe and Africa has much to teach us, some of which applies to the current time, because it applies to the perils of a tribal mind set when exposed to a more universal culture with fast communications.

And those of them who have immigrated (or whose descendants are part of western countries because their ancestors immigrated or were dragged there kicking and screaming) have their own history, their own glories and their own triumphs.

It is utterly demeaning — not to say racist. Though, you know, it is racist — to think that the most important thing you can do for black people is allow them/push them to play the part of dead European noblemen. Because THAT at last will confer dignity and pride.

Instead, of you know, either allowing the best actor to play whatever, or leaving historical people to be played by people who SOMEWHAT look like their portraits.

I mean, I would object to Johnny Depp playing Shaka Zulu. And I object to a black woman playing Anne Boleyn. Because both are crazy cakes.

But on top of that making the cross-race-casting go only one way only reinforces the idea that the highest honor you can give black authors is playing white people.

Which is so many levels of insulting, I can’t begin to describe it.

When it comes to robbing graves a certain decency is needed. Sure, you can anatomize the cadaver, but make sure you treat it with some respect and learn something.

Do not give Julius Caesar’s bones to the dog for a toy.

216 thoughts on “A Modicum Of Decency In Grave Robbing

  1. “Truth is the daughter of time.”

    Variously attributed, but presumably Josephine Tey expected her readers to be familiar with the saying.

        1. I think I encountered the cosmic law of books. To wit: if you cull a certain amount of books, within 3 months you’ll wish at least one of them hadn’t been culled. (At least they were donated to the library rummage sale.)

          1. I think it’s a cosmic law of everything. A week after you throw something out, you find a use for it.

            Even if you’ve kept it stashed away for 15 years because “This will come in handy some day”. A week after you finally decide “This has been taking up space and gathering dust forever, might as well toss it” a purpose pops up. “Well, damn.”

            1. I donated a box of surgical masks to a charity.

              In December 2019.

              They’d been living in the back of a closet since I bought them after 9/11 during the Anthrax scare (my wife worked in a mailroom).

              A superstitious voice in me whispers “You know if you kept the masks, Covid would never have spread here…because the universe demanded you be made a fool.”

              The same voice is certain that the reason we haven’t had a major earthquake in Northern California lately is because I bought earthquake insurance and therefore the money must be wasted for the universe to work properly.

                1. Murphy *pretends* that he can be bribed. Sometimes he’s faking you. Sometimes the just in case you prepared for happens, and you didn’t prepare enough. Or correctly. Or it goes off without a hitch, and Murphy just laughs at you waiting for the other shoe to drop.

                  It has also been said, with some evidence, that Himself has a sense of humor. Best we not tempt Him. Like prayers for strength, he answers- and you find yourself in a situation where you need a different kind of strength than you expected. Like having the introvert into public speaking… No, that’s not a hint! Honest!

                  1. Let’s just say that after 40 years in flight test, I’ve learned to have a plan. And a backup plan. For all probable contingencies and most of the improbable ones. (For a reasonable fee, I’m available to teach a course on the subject)

                    1. I didn’t do anything that dangerous. But I did do highway tests on cruise controls and drive vehicles with at least 3/5 major systems compromised to test them as well, so…

                      Plan A. Plan B. GOTH plan. BOHICA. When at all possible, plan contingencies! I could maybe write the Chinese knock off Cliff’s Notes version of the course. *grin*

            2. I have found the corollary law: If you pack something away, you’ll need it within the week and have to go hunting through boxes to find it.

              1. If you throw something away, in a week you’ll have lost the other one you kept and wish you had the thrown-away spare one back.

                1. You know you’ve got a certain widget.
                  You search for it. And search for it. And search for it.
                  You give up and buy another one.
                  A week later, you find the first one.
                  While searching for something else.

                  1. Or paperwork. We had an estimate done this last summer to have a yard sprinkler system installed (lets just say the cheap system wasn’t by the time we had to extreme detail my car AND replace the windshield). Wasn’t expecting it to be installed until spring 2022. But for reasons it was installed last week. I looked ALL over the house for that estimate paperwork. As usual the death words were “It was put somewhere safe.” I could not find it. Finally asked the contractor for a copy. Guess what was found tonight? Now I’m just waiting for the invoice to show so I can pay for the installation.

                    Similar discussion is happening for the roof. Only with the roof it is “when was it last done?” We both know the original paperwork was kept. I think that paperwork got tossed in a clean out of “doesn’t count toward home upgrades when sold”. Should have gone through, and at least written down dates. Pretty sure it was just over 20 years ago, on a “30 Year” roof. But unless I find something. Not that we are having problems, but the way contractors are these days, it is going to take a bit to find one.

                    1. I’ve been looking for my birth certificate for three years. Where the HELL did I put it? AAARRRGH!!

                    2. I just KNOW that when I break down and order another copy, it will turn up.

                      When I’m looking for something else.

                      Which I will not find.

                  2. I’m about to do that with tape measures. It’s also why I have at least three sets of earbuds.

            1. Not obligatory, but I needed the room.

              It was either cull or move books to the ladder-accessible mezzanine in the barn. Considering the latter greatly offended my sense of survival–I can *barely* handle ladders now, but not for long or far. Nope. Not gonna. OTOH, I *can* go up and down a ladder. Major improvement from a few months ago.

              ‘Sides, I figure I’d have to live a few more lifetimes before some of the old fiction would be attractive again. One dose of S. Delaney is sufficient for this one, thank you. That and the sharecropped Tom Clancy (Inc.) novels were better at doorstops than interesting reading, and I have enough doorstops.

  2. A number of the people who dislike Caesar because he was a thieving, murderous, psychopath, would not in reality give the bones of a real human to a dog to play with. One does not act on an objection to a lack of regard for human life and dignity by lacking regard for human life and dignity.

    Treating people as symbols to be manipulated for the sake of ‘tolerance’ and other justifications for modernism is as vile as the racial theorizing of a white supremacist.

        1. Thieving, definitely. Murderous? Some. Psychopaths? Eh, again some. But I don’t think lumping thieves and psychopaths in with politicians is very nice… to thieves and psychopaths.

          1. “Why did you take up embezzlement?”

            “Well, me mum ‘ud never forgive me if I took up politics.”

      1. Especially when the people you’re overthrowing are much worse thieving, murderous psychopaths…Caesar thought he was restoring the Republic…but it was already dead.

  3. In the same vein, I’m sure that aliens intercepting our TV and cable shows think that 70% of Americans are black, and 20% Asian….But that’s more like raping the present..

  4. Anyway, I thought I may have recognized the image from the Bahumat anime.

    File name seems to indicate the Violet Evergarden anime instead.

      1. Violet Evergarden isn’t really supposed to be real world, I gather, but would probably be an interesting example to discuss, if I was actually familiar with it.

        Image was also a little interesting, because the outfit looked like some flavor of schoolgirl uniform, which doesn’t match my vague understanding of evergarden.

  5. For myself with regard to light amusement, I am giggling my way through the Bridgerton series. Giggling and now and again shaking my head.
    Honestly, I suspect the producers and show runners went all merrily multi-racial in casting because a lot of black British actors purely ached to swan around in Regency costume – and not as servants, either.
    Shaking my head, because a lot of younger people will assume that shows like this are an absolutely true rendition of social lives in formerly Great Britain during the early 19th century.

        1. *facepaw* Oh great. Next we’ll get stainless steel corset boning in the 1600s, with Spandex™ in the Victorian Era. And I don’t mean the “Goth/Steampunk/other lifestyles neo-Victorian” stuff, either.

            1. In all seriousness, when I read what Lord Macartney wore to impress the Chinese during his embassy to the Emperor of China, what you wrote doesn’t sound *that* much worse…

              Fashion amongst the upper-crust has always had an element of “They wore WHAT…!?” to it, as any photo collection of people attending the latest red carpet events amply demonstrates.

              1. I think I scored a direct hit straight through your shields.

                The point being, NYLON wasn’t even invented back then. So a writer should never plug in such a blatantly wrong anachronism unless they’re writing alternative history.

                1. I did miss the word ‘nylon’. And to the best of my knowledge, the British didn’t use lime-green dye.

                  1. Green was a very hard color to dye.

                    Remember, when looking at their — vivid clothes that color was a powerful status indicator.

                    1. I’ve heard that very elaborate clothing was a Status Symbol.

                      Because it showed that you could afford such clothing and especially for women’s clothing it meant that you could afford the servants that it’d take to get you in and out of the clothing. 😉

                      Oh, apparently women’s clothing also showed that that the woman didn’t have to do any work in them. 😀

                    2. I’d make comments about how great it is that the array of easily dyeable colors available to us now means that the rich no longer wear hideous eyesores in public. But then I remember the various red carpet photo galas that I occasionally skim through, and keep my mouth shut.

          1. Well, there were a few gentry and even nobles who were descended from West Indian or French people.of African descent, and I think there was an adopted daughter or rich heiress ward or something. And in France a lot more, before the laws changed.


            That said, Anna Bolena in an opera can be played by anyone who can hit the notes. But like Shakespeare with weird casting, you give indications of fantasy.

        2. ….
          And I thought the Button Wars were bad.

          (For those who are not familiar: It is demonstrably true that in some cases buttons were decoration, not fasteners. Going any deeper than that risks triggering a Mac-Linux-or-PC war.)

          1. There is, or was, a SCA comic series about Lady Tudor Glitz, a woman with a serious yen for Tudor and a competitive streak coupled with a somewhat catty nature. One of my favorite lines from the series comes early, when Lady TG is in a costume competition with a woman in very well done female Viking garb : “My dear, you look like they just dug you up from Sutton Hoo!”

            Over the years Glitz has mellowed and matured, and the supporting cast has as well, and though the tone remains 21st century social progressive the books have been fun. With Pennsic canceled the last two years (and I personally give it not better than a 50/50 to go off in 2022) I don’t know if the series has continued.

        3. I just pictured an early 19th century duel with somebody wearing body armor. (OK, Back to the Future III did that with cast iron(!) plate, but a) Marty was a time traveler, and b) it was a comedy.)

          The bits about digging up skeletons brought the Warren Zevon “Excitable Boy” song to mind. I think I’ll skip the tube-of-U link.

          1. Thank you. One of my least favorite Zevon tunes. Though I owe John Ringo for introducing me to, “The Envoy.”

          2. At least one of those lunatics who pursued combat in the wild west /did/ try to make use of some form of body armor.

            Materials weren’t great for it, but people do try.

            I thought of saying ‘Regency with inexplicably functional spacesuits’, but the second thought was ‘would make it simply a different genre, a genre that could be cool’. I think a lot of people here would like it. Partly because, the irritant is morons who don’t bother to create the impression of a historical setting distinct from our own lives, and we have very few people so clueless that they think Gundam or Gao Gai Gar represent the real wold. So if someone puts in spacesuits, there is at least a chance that they are making some deliberate setting choices.

            1. I thought of saying ‘Regency with inexplicably functional spacesuits’, but the second thought was ‘would make it simply a different genre, a genre that could be cool’

              Oooh, kind of like the genre of “Seven Samurai, but.”
              Besides the obvious “Seven Samurai, but in the old west,” there are a TON of “Seven Samurai, but in future dystopia,” “Seven Samurai, but as Japanese fantasy,” “Seven Samurai, but as Tolkien type fantasy,” “Seven Samurai, but in space,” and so on.

              1. I was, but that’s because when I was in Australia, there was an exhibition of paintings about him. It was . . . interesting.

        4. Now I’m imagining a novel about time-traveling (or cross-dimensional) merchants selling modern fabrics, notions, and dyes to regency toffs. Possibly with secret plans to steal whatever fashion designs the regency natives come up with and market them up-time or cross-dimension.

    1. Well, and Bridgerton and its like (ie, most of the Regency Romance oeuvre) really IS straight up fantasy, and most of the better authors don’t pretend otherwise. 😀 (Alas, though, too many don’t bother with research–and boy can you tell the difference.)

      1. Is there anyone more eclectic than Warren Zevon? “Ourselves to Know”, a pop song about the First Crusade? “Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money” may not be so out there, but what about “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner”? And what I nominate for the most ludicrously euphonious lyric of all time, “Little old lady got mutilated late last night.” The poet in me turns green and faints every time I hear it.

            1. Sounds like we should have a virtual Warren Zevon listening party some night. There’s always “Mama Couldn’t be Persuaded” about his mother marrying his father who was Mickey Cohen’s head bookie.

          1. I sent that to my dad as an email once. I’m not allowed to do it again. Because he was seriously ready to bring the cavalry when all I needed was $20 for gas.

    2. Sometime in the last year I stumbled across a BBC series set in Sherlock Holmes’ London, in which the Baker Street Irregulars are a carefully curated set of street urchins of the entire racial/ethnic spectrum– African, Asian, etc.
      Yeah, I just bet kids these days think England of 100+ years ago looked like that….

      1. I suspect that in mid-1800s London one might have a hard time telling what race a street urchin was under the rags and grime.

          1. You might get some variation, especially in “ethnic” neighborhoods, and Lord knows Holmes went into ALL of them suitably disguised….. but they’d stick out like sore thumbs outside of them.

              1. Nod, in that time frame “race” included “nationality”.

                IE The English Race, The French Race, The Italian Race, etc.

                1. https://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/et_dona_ferentes.html

                  “In extended observation of the ways and works of man,
                  From the Four-mile Radius roughly to the Plains of Hindustan:
                  I have drunk with mixed assemblies, seen the racial ruction rise,
                  And the men of half Creation damning half Creation’s eyes.

                  I have watched them in their tantrums, all that Pentecostal crew,
                  French, Italian, Arab, Spaniard, Dutch and Greek, and Russ and Jew,
                  Celt and savage, buff and ochre, cream and yellow, mauve and white,
                  But it never really mattered till the English grew polite;”

                2. Still does in Europe and most of Africa. Oh, and definitely Asia.
                  The US has screwy notions of race, compared tot he world.
                  Which honestly makes the left’s obsession with race even more.

  6. In the case of Richard III, time has yet to solve the mystery, although Richard remains the prime suspect…An historian’s article in Harvard magazine some time ago stated that the list of suspects remained the population of England at the time minus 2….

    1. My highly speculative, poorly sourced theory: the princes died of natural causes, possibly due to the fever we know was in the district. (That being the only hard fact in this theory.) Richard was using them as hostages, and dead hostages are no good. That’s also why the deaths were never announced. He may also have been using them as heirs, as his own son was dead. Now, I have no doubts that had Richard won at Bosworth, secured the country and an heir, he would have killed them. But until that point, they would have been more valuable alive than dead.

      1. My favorite theoretical villain is Buckingham.
        You get to keep all of the smug scheming snake, and have him in a position where he’s frequently controlling the flow of information, but without much direct power of his own.

        Sharon Kay Penman’s* The Sunne in Splendor is the best revisionist “historical fiction“ (to the extent a fictional narrative that has an extensive footnoted postscript of which parts are filled in blank spaces is fiction) of Richard III that I’ve come across.

        *She’s an inconsistent author. Some of her stuff is really good, some of it is really… Not. (But she always has a focus on historical accuracy.)
        Of her stuff, I’d also recommend When Christ and his Saints Slept (Revisionism of Stephen I) and Falls the Shadow (Baron’s War, mostly focused on De Montfort, but with occasional peeks in at Llywelyn over in Wales. It’s actually the middle book of a trilogy. The first book is a revisionist look at John I with peeks at the other Llywelyn titled Here be Dragons I found it extremely dry. The story should work, but for me, it just didn’t. The third book is The Reckoning, about the rise of Longshanks, of whom she is *not* a fan.)

        1. Oddly enough, my favorite suspect in the murder of the princes was also Buckingham … he had the authority, the access, something to gain for himself in both with the deaths of the princes and in blackening Richard’s name …
          Ah, well – never really know for certain, but that’s the fun in speculation.

              1. No. He was at a castle in Scotland for some royal function during one of Jack’s nights out [the double header?] with lots of people. The most modern prospect is Kaminski, allegedly based on DNA. Me, I still like Druitt, the lawyer, who committed suicide shortly after the butchery of Mary Kelly. I do so because the description of a man seen exiting Miter Square by a Bobbie was used to argue it was the Pronce of Wales, who fit the description – and who looked a great deal like Montague Druitt.

                1. The DNA thing is overhyped. The shaws was handled by his descendants, anyway, and there’s no proof it ever belonged to the victim (And it’s unlikely to have, as it was an expensive article.)

        2. There are times when I might wish I was the type of person to write a meticulously researched time travel romance that resolves historical mysteries in really stupid ways. “Yeah, it was Prince Andrew traveling back from the 20th century who did it. Pedophiles gonna pedophile. Ah, good, the Headsman kept his axe sharp.”

        3. John Ford’s “The Dragon Waiting,” may be the oddest Richard III novel. Alternate history/fantasy where somehow all the historical characters are the same but Christianity never took hold, the characters are pagans (Richard follows Mithras) and vampires are real. And Henry Tudor is a bad guy.

      2. Which reminds me, I keep meaning to reread The Dragon Waiting (John M. Ford), a marvelous book set in the fantasy neighborhood of these events.

  7. Chris Nuttall recently released a book set in his “Schooled In Magic” universe (titled The Cunning Man).

    As usual, Chris had posted chapters of it on Baen’s Bar (Slush Pile conference) to get comments on “what needs to be fixed”.

    One complaint was that his main character, a non-magic user, was “complaining too much” about magicians will always support other magicians even when the magicians bully non-magic users.

    They apparently were thinking “modern day morality/society” but in the society of the Nameless World (the world that Schooled in Magic exists in) Magicians rank as Nobility and in our past it was very common that Nobles would support other Nobles even if the other nobles “bullied commoners”.

    So while the character was partially incorrect, his belief was based on the Society that he lived in not the Society that we live in.

    Oh, part of the theme of “The Cunning Man” is how new technology will be changing the Society of the Nameless World.

    1. well….
      You know, all I can tell you is that eventually they allow you to sleep. Mostly. Except–
      Mine survived to late twenties and early thirties. I’m sure yours will also.
      So. But it doesn’t really get better, no.

    2. “I first read that as, “…I like to eat babies and needed shoes.””

      Sarah’s boss over at Instapundit is known in some circles as “The Puppy Blender”. 😎

      Who knows what bad habits an Evil Space Princess might pick up…….. 😉

    3. My sympathies. I won’t lie to you and say it gets “better.” More you get used to it. Sort of. On the good days. Maybe when they go to sleep over and grandma’s house, you can catch up on a couple hours worth.

    4. :e-hugs and laughter:
      Good luck!

      We have been very lucky– the kids all sleep soundly most of the time, in a crib by our bed, and the “random screaming at night” only hits at about age 3, is no more than an hour, and is maybe once every week or so, and only happens enough that we go “dear heaven, hasn’t this been happening a lot?” before it stops. (Night Terrors, the kid is fast asleep but her eyes are open and she’s just sobbing her eyes out.)

      I’ve had relatives where the baby had colic, or night terrors every night, or… yeah, Stuff.

      1. OMG. Night Terrors. Hit us when kid was not quite one. Lasted about FOREVER a couple of years before they ended. Worse, the first parent to get to him, he’d fight. Didn’t even pick him up, couldn’t, we’d drop him, it was that bad. Second parent, no problem. Then we could settle him down and be okay. But dang, those initial minutes were a nightmare. Never had to deal with colic. One thing we did was he always had the ability to bunk with us if he had a nightmare. Little whirling spinning top. Pretty much had stopped by the time he started kindergarten. Except one weekend the night he woke up screeching to high heaven at age 10. It was after all day (3) funeral services for (our) cousin, age 12. No one ever wants to hear a child screaming the way he did that night. No one. Not ever again.

      2. Robert started teething at 3 months of age. So that was a year and change of it…. Sigh. (He’s weird. Also shed first baby tooth at 5. Scared me enough to go to dentist who said “He’s just on the low side, but normal) Meanwhile his brother took after me, so he shed baby teeth between ten and sixteen. we’re speshul.

        1. I had two complete adult sets of the eight frontal teeth. The dentist said that’s not supposed to happen.

              1. “Oh der Haifisch, der hat Zähne/ und der trägt die ins Gesicht/ Und Mackheath der hat ein Messer . . . ” *ducks incoming Germano-Iberian carp swarm*

  8. I wouldn’t mind casting a black actress if I thought it was a case of casting the very best actress in an otherwise historically accurate movie. But of course it won’t be. All this tells me is that this Anne Bolyn movie will be as accurate as a production of Richard III.

    I’ve gotten used to Kenneth Branagh’s colorblind casting, because he does it right: just completely ignore skin color. No need to set up explanations for why Denzel Washington and Keanu Reeves are brothers, or why Heimdall is black. They just are. And honestly, I think casting a black actress for Margaret of Anjou in the second season of the Hollow Crown worked well to help visualize just how out of place a French princess was in the English court.

    I’ll freely grant there’s much broader scope for that kind of casting in Shakespeare and fantasy movies than in something that is obviously pretending to be history. But casting blacks in white roles is a bit like guitars in church: sure, it can be done respectfully, but the kind of people who want to do it are generally not interested in being respectful.

    1. Yeah, see, Kenneth Branagh’s approach works: because it’s so very obvious it IS colorblind. I’d forgotten about that when I wrote the below response, but he is one of the rare birds (perhaps even the only one? Certainly the only one I can think of–haven’t seen Hollow Crown, did he do that one as well?) that actually does colorblind casting. It helps that he doesn’t crow about it (because then it wouldn’t actually BE colorblind.) He just does it, and doesn’t comment on it, in film or out of it, and it works perfectly fine. In fact, the most guff I saw re: Keanu Reeves & Denzel Washington was that, at least at that point in his career, Shakespeare was really NOT something that Reeves did convincingly. I’m not sure he could now–that’s just not his bailiwick.

      1. Oh yes; if there was any affirmative action hire in that cast it was Keanu.

        Branagh didn’t do “The Hollow Crown,” but I enjoyed it. It took a few liberties — most notably letting the boy survive in Henry V and making his adult version (John Hurt) the Chorus narrating a flashback, and combining the three parts of Henry VI into two. The casting is excellent: Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal doing his best Jeremy Irons impersonation for the scene with Falstaff is a treasure. And Benedict Cumberbatch, like all good Richard IIIs, is having a blast.

        1. Yes that is an awesome scene. Mr Hiddleston does quite the job. We had to put on little scenes in high school in the Shakespeare class I took. I and my buddy and I did that one (I got Falstaff as I was rather rotund even then :-)), I had a good time mimicking my buddy as Prince Hal.

            1. Yeah. I have seen some really excellent colorblind/genderblind casting in theater. Went to see the ballet (the only ballet troupe in Wyoming) back in 2019. Dracula. As it was a super teeny troupe, the best dancer for the role of Dracula? Was a woman. A big, strapping girl, no less, who could do lifts without trouble (and who had probably been told over the years of schooling that she’d never make it as a ‘real’ ballerina because she was too tall/too muscular). She was AMAZING. Absolutely mesmerizing in the role, and they played the Mina/Dracula thing totally the way it was choreographed as well. (And mind you, this is in that evul flyover country where we all hate teh gays, lol. I’d defy the New York Ballet to cast Dracula as a woman, and do so because she was the best one–I’d bet cash money they wouldn’t.) Van Helsing? Also a woman, and black, and she was also amazing at her job. Renfield was female too (and creepy af). While I know that it undoubtedly was in *part* because this tiny little Wyoming troupe had more women than men in it (there were two guys in the troupe–one played Jonathan Harker, the other the Texan guy), there was no doubt that these girls were *also* cast because they were the best choices for the role. I mean, they *could* have defaulted to giving Dracula to one of the guys–but they didn’t, and the result was incredible and interesting.

                1. There are limits.

                  I saw a deaf person cast in “The Music Man” (as Marcellus).

                  The part required singing and dancing.

                  The dancing was fine.

                  He signed most of his lines. Except for the ones he sang.

                  As I am ASL illiterate, it was lost on me. And to say he was incomprehensible would be generous.

                  I know, I’m ableist by many standards. I just couldn’t stop comparing it to “Harrison Bergeron”.

              1. Jerry Pournelle once got thrown out Die Walküre because no, he could not believe it when a black woman and a white man sung about how they could realize they were each other’s long-lost twin because they look so much alike. . . .

                1. I’m fairly certain I know the singer. Jessye Norman was probably the one playing Sieglinde. PBS had a set of (maybe masterpiece theater?) recordings of those Ring cycle performances that were quite good, especially Ms. Normans performance. But yes it was incongruous as heck to the point it kind of ruined the plot that she look NOTHING like Siegmund 🙂 .

    2. Padding.

      Okay, the reason why whites are preferred for any racial role: you can paint them any color you want.

      1. I don’t understand why anyone still goes along with the taboo against blackface. It’s nothing more than a kind of clown makeup, so the taboo says black people are too sacred to make fun of. No one should be.

  9. As I commented on the Anne Boleyn thing on FB…look, IF it was a case of “she was the best actress amongst all the actresses of varying colors that auditioned”…that would be one thing. But we all know that isn’t why she was cast. Because that is NEVER how things are ever cast, ever, at least not in this day and age. Perhaps she really IS an excellent actress, but since we all know she was only cast ‘because edgy having Anne be played by a black woman”, how can anyone know? If the actress had any sense (not likely in her profession, I realize) she’d have recognized this as the stupid stunt it is and got the heck out of there and gone looking for a role wherein she WAS cast based on the strength of her ability as an actress, not because of the color of her skin.

    However, over and above the whole “ooh look we made Anne Boleyn black!” nonsense, I even more strongly object to the garbage costuming. I mean, REALLY?!?! Look, you wanna retell Anne Boleyn’s story in some sort of modern setting? That would work, sure (and even work with a black actress with zero issues–and, frankly, might have made for an interesting story: how can we tell a story like Anne Boleyn’s in a modern setting and make it work? Could be a good watch, if done right). But to have that appalling mockery of 15th century English noble “dress” and think it’s fine is almost worse. (Not to mention the whole blinged-out “B” initialed choker she’s got on. Those things are and always have been tacky, are tacky in the here and now, and have no business in anything alleging to be “historical.”) The dress looks like a last minute Halloween costume effort by a marginally skilled seamstress using one of the tackier McCall’s patterns (and frankly, even the McCall’s costume patterns I’ve seen that cover dresses from that era? Are better looking and more accurate–at least on the surface–than that abomination). It seems part of a larger trend, going by just the few pics I’ve seen of, say, the Wheel of Time series, and the glimpses I got of the Shannara series. “Rummage bin/back of Mom’s closet” historical/fantasy costuming, yeh.

    And I’m not even gonna place a bet on whether or not they have Henry VIII be a.) definitely white, and b.) the stereotype EPITOME of “evul white dude.” Bet it never even occurred to them to cast HIM as black, did it? Oh no. It’s gotta be the victim that’s black, and the white guy that has the actual power. Which…says so very much about the inherent racism underlying this stunt.

      1. Yup. Laughing Cavalier has the details. But they make Anne wear the B all the time, whereas she really slung different bling all the time, as often as possible. As witness her household accounts, and Henry’s.

      2. I can see the difference she’s pointing to– it’s actually kind of interesting, I was pretty sure what it would look like when I went to look, though I didn’t know what the painting one looked like.

        There’s all these paintings, drawings, and video stills of Anne B with a smooth-letter-fits-about-in-that-hollow-on-your-throat, and there’s three strands of necklace, the two of pearls are more…delicate looking and there’s big, high-contrast chain loops about the size of the pearls, and then I find the *one* where she’s black and it’s big pearls and a single really big, modern-looking B. Paging through for other single-choker looks, seems like it was modeled after the one that the image search informs me is Natalie Portman, but they made the B even more bling’ed out.

        Plus, the painting looks like the pearls may have been chosen to accentuate how pale AB was– that effect REALLY doesn’t carry across with a darker complexioned woman.

    1. I’m enjoying this whole “it has to look like me” thing. Since none of the various adds or programs seem to include tall greying white men who could stand to lose a few pounds I can now not buy anything or consume any of their media. I would think it a bit limiting for them though as the number of Asian / Black gay couples is somewhat limited.

  10. The past was super racist and white supremacist. Also, it had exactly the same ethnic mix as modern America and isolated medieval villages had black people strolling around.

    You must believe! BELIEVE

    1. I suppose that “super racist” requirement is why nobody has done any movies about those couple of stories of successful black men making it in the white countries back in historical times, General Dumas in France and Abram Gannibal in Russia. You’d think that those stories, or maybe a fantasy version inspired by them of a black guy becoming – well, one of the leaders – of whites in their own land, a reverse, sort of, of the “white savior” stories where a white guy becomes the leader of the tribe and marries the native princess, might fit the preferred narrative like a glove, and should have been done with some popular black movie stars like Denzel Washington or Will Smith years ago (when they were still young) but no?

      Of course, there still hasn’t been any major movies about people like Harriet Tubman – well, one movie, but it didn’t even show in theaters in my country, and seems to have sunk like a stone as far as movies that get talked about in MSM are concerned – or Frederick Douglass either. All historical stories of black people who are deemed worthy of major Hollywood production seem to be ones about poor victims who suffered, suffered and suffered, and possibly had to be rescued, if they got freed at all, by some white person.

      Seems a bit racist, don’t you think?

      1. Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman don’t fit or support the leftist knowledge; both were strong believers in individual liberty, the right to bear arms and of self-defense, and their harshest condemnation slavery was that it deprived people these fundamental rights because of their race. The left despises and wants to eliminate the very rights that Douglass and Tubman supported, because those rights stand in the way of collectivism. There is a reason the BLM/Antifa crowd was vandalizing and destroying statutes of Douglass.

      2. Around Obama’s second term the media started filling up with movies, TV shows and novels full of black people being oppressed. The story of a black man who beat the odds and rose to high position is just too inspiring for the wokists, I’m afraid.

  11. Unfortunately, you probably don’t have to wait that long for Black Stalin as a Hero (of the Soviet Union).

  12. But for me the difference is between using plastic bones as decorations, and actually going and robbing a grave for your Halloween skeleton.

    One of those is clearly more authentic.

  13. > I am in possession of several ballads about presumably my ancestors on both sides of the conflict, of Christians and Moors merrily enslaving each other back and forth across the ever shifting frontier in the peninsula.

    Not to mention the Barbary corsairs, in a later period. They ran slave raids as far north as Ireland. There were still active slave markets in the region until well into the 20th century.

    > I’m (impatiently) waiting for Black Stalin.

    I think he goes by “Van Jones”.

  14. I’m working on a historical fantasy, because when I thought about straight historical fiction, a character spoke up from my backbrain and said “The hell you are.” and insisted that it be a historical fantasy. I suppose that if it’s going to be fiction, I might as well be obvious about it. .
    But If I’m going to dig up bones and put wax, paint, and period costume on them, by golly it better be faithful to the periods, places, and the peoples who actually lived. And the mythical monsters my hero fights ought to come from the tales they told. If I’m going to treat historical figures ficticiously, I at least ought not make them caricatures.
    I entirely agree with you; I think I owe the bones of the past that much respect.

  15. I remember in one of Heinlein’s memoirs where he talked about how he and Virginia got a huge roll of butcher paper and spent days calculating an orbit by hand (both of them did it as a check). When he told the story to a PhD (in an actual science), the dumbfounded scientist said “Why didn’t you just use a computer?” “Err…. this was 1947.” (or whenever it was).

    Even people who would be expected to have a clue can sometimes miss out on the flow of history.

  16. When lawyers and politicians are talking about “our Democracy”, they mean that the politicians can deniably use Lynch mobs to murder with impunity, but irritated voters are not allowed to Lynch politicians.

    “Our Democracy” means their tyranny and state sanctioned terrorism.

  17. I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. Black Stallion was already in a series of books, and even two movies! So it’s already been done!

    *frantic whispering*

    Oh. OH!


      1. ^_^

        Glad you enjoyed it. It was pretty much the first thing that popped into my head when I read “Black Stalin” up above, and I knew I had to do something with it.

  18. Some people deny that what America needs right now is the musical documentary about Magnitsky and the Magnitsky Act where black gay Putin is the real hero.

    1. I mean, that’d be worth it because it would probably cause the REAL Putin to die of a coronary, and Russia might (might) be better off for it… 😀

  19. I’m probably going to raise a few eyebrows with my current Merchant-world novel, because 1) the protagonist gets irked because his liege breaks a marriage contract after all the monies and goods have been transferred, so all that has to be returned, and 2) the next contract has both parties looking at each other and saying, “Eh, you keep me fed, housed, and uphold your end of things, and it will be fine.” No love, no sparks flying, no worries about companionate marriage. Just “can she/he make good on the contract, provide heirs, keep a roof over us? OK, sounds good.”

    You know, medieval nobility, in other words. Now, the protagonist IS going to do something that WILL upset a lot of applecarts, and would have been truly stupid back in the 1000s-1600s. He also has reasons, not great reasons, but reasons. So I’m breaking authenticity for the sake of story. (However, when you start to look at some unusual medieval marriages, you do start to wonder about other things, and about just how much eccentricity society tolerated from people with enough power to be eccentric.)

    1. I should drag out Marea’s story and finish it.

      She’s newly married in an arranged marriage and would be very happy if not suffering, like everyone else, from the whims of the appalling ruler.

  20. “It is losing awareness that people in the past were equally human, and had thoughts and needs and desires, same as we have. And that their culture was vastly different.

    And we lose sight of that at our own peril, because it encourages us to live in a sort of idiotic presentism, where we assume that the past was always the same as now, only somehow better.”

    This is one of the things that gets me about some historical fiction/fantasy/whatever genre I stumble across. The fact that we’re all humans, and have been for (biologically speaking) for around two hundred thousand plus years or more. Brain sizes and general body morphology hasn’t changed. The thing about standing on the shoulders of giants *is* true. Very much so.

    But the peoples of the past were no smarter, nor stupider than we are in potential. I’d argue that there were folks in terms of raw intelligence that measure up quite favorably to the geniuses of today. When you consider they had very limited access to technology and most things had to be tested in an environment with often lethal consequences, I find it all the more so.

    Culturally, the past is so vastly different from today there isn’t a good analogue. You can say “the past is another country,” but today? In this vastly interconnected world? It doesn’t even compare. You are more similar today to Nepalese goat herders than you would be to seventeenth century Americans, I would argue. Those who travel abroad, who truly experience another culture (as Miss Hoyt has in coming here) have more a taste of it than those who never leave their home country, or only do as tourists.

    So I get that there are writers today that literally cannot fathom how different the culture and world of Richard III was from today. I cannot excuse, however, the blatant disregard that such a difference even *exists* save as clothing and odd speech patterns.

  21. My thought on historical characters is that I wouldn’t mind if it went both ways, and the exceptions where it shouldn’t be done are those instances in which the individual’s race is important to them. So Black Hitler is out due to the real Hitler’s racial obsessions, and how important to him they were. Black Stalin, or Black Mussolini, is fair game.

    The thing to look out for (not that I will, since I won’t be watching the series) is how much racism is added into the series. Is the series color blind? Or does Anne keep getting snubbed and slighted by other characters because she’s black?

    IMO, kids in school ought to be taught how the English word ‘slave’ was derived. That would shut up an awful lot of con artists.

    1. Yes. I’d like to teach a course on slavery…but I’d probably have to shoot my way out of the classroom after the first week.

  22. It’s expletive deleted when you’re old and can’t remember expletive deleted. Gentleman of color, movie actor, can’t remember his name, playing a boxer. Reporter asked him if he boxer trained, he replied, ‘No, it’s called acting.”

    I go along with choosing the best actor, irregardless of whatever. black Ann or black Stalin or white Othello I’m fine with if the acting’s good enough that color or other physical characteristics become meaningless as the audiences accepts the character. David Bowie’s Elephant Man, for example; when I saw it in the ’80s it didn’t work for me, I keep seeing Davie. His acting was superb but I couldn’t see past Bowie, just as wokes today can’t see past the skin color of a dark skinned Ann. I watched again much of Elephant Man this year and saw only John Merrick, superb acting!

    That, in my opinion, works when the play’s the thing, written word, history, novel, etc. is a different story. An Ann or a Stalin or Othello painted black, white or yellow with a word brush is stuck with that skin to The End.

    So! Yep I quite agree when digging them up treat them decently.

    BTW; I just duck duck go’ed ‘European history people’ and then images, 15 of the first 25 or so images were ladies and gentlemen of color. Oh well…

    1. Could that have been “The Great White Hope” with a young James Earl Jones? Okay, relatively young, he was pushing 40.

      I only remember that because some outdoor scenes were filmed in my home town – with one of my sisters as an extra (we never found her in the ~7 minutes of the footage that ended up being used). Those, at least, were fairly authentic, as the backdrops were largely not props; we still had several buildings from the time period, and the ethnicity of the area was still pretty much the same as in those days, too. (White and Hispanic; much of the white was, of course, southern Slav in heritage, but very few people can tell the difference on sight.)

      Wardrobe I am not qualified to opine on, although it was the same as other movies supposedly set in the early 20th Century.

      1. Golly I think it was Jones. I can’t find any reference today, it was basically a throwaway line, but he had to, as I remember, repeat it thrice before the reporter would stop repeating the question.


      1. There’s a documentary film that follows Idi Amin around for a few months. If he’d had Stalin’s power, he’d have ended the world.

            1. Sigh. It wasn’t a black actor playing Stalin, which was the whole point of that quip. Not that some black rulers in real life are as bad as Stalin. DUH. Of course some are/were.

  23. You’re staring at me, and wondering what the difference would possibly be. But for me the difference is between using plastic bones as decorations, and actually going and robbing a grave for your Halloween skeleton.

    Yes, EXACTLY.

    I’ll even use animal bones in Halloween décor– faster than I’m OK with human skeletons, although skulls are kinda cool– but even the dead deserve dignity.

    I don’t even like treating imaginary characters too badly, though that’s more a matter of the effect on the real people involved.

    But people are *people*…..

    1. While on Kwajalein, I did a lot of SCUBA diving, including on the many wrecks of Japanese merchant ships on the floor of the lagoon left by the raids during WWII. One time, a dive buddy came up with a partial skull, When I asked him WT(e)F, his reply was, “F ’em. They lost the war.”

      I didn’t go diving with him amymore.

  24. Sarah, you probably would have enjoyed the 1985 San Diego Old Globe production of “Richard III”. With Paxton Whitehead in the titular role, it was very much like a “Blackadder” dark comedy. Richard is the only sane one amongst a bunch of overreacting loons. His asides to the audience and mostly calm demeanor helped you to identify with the character. It helped me realize that although Shakespeare was commissioned to write this bit of Tudor propaganda, he did manage to get some subtle digs in against them.

  25. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mary-Sue fanfic treatment of historical figures has been around for a long time, but until recently it was never noticed because it was written for the dresser drawer, and at most shared hand-to-hand among close friends (and discarded when the writer became older and either embarrassed at the juvenile stuff or simply needing to free up storage space for other things). Although some of it may have been publicly available as soon as cheap and free webhosting became a thing back in the mid-90’s, it’s KDP and indie publishing that have made it trivially easy for teens and even tweens to publish their stories right alongside grown-up indie professionals. And unlike most fanfic, it doesn’t have the legal issues of stories dealing with copyrighted characters or real-people fanfic dealing with living individuals, so it can be offered for sale on Amazon.com, etc, rather than being kept in the ghetto of the fanfic boards.

  26. For many years I have imagined writing about William Blake’s love affair with Mary Wollstonecraft . . .

  27. Currently, the Dicken’s Faire normally held in San Francisco during the Christmas Season (and attended by quite a few thousands) is under fire by a local BIPOC group, claiming that they are underrepresented and has a history of racism. Among the requests in the petition they presented to remedy this, is that historical BIPOC persons should only be represented by performers of their specific race/gender/etc. However, other roles (including Queen Victoria) normally played by non-BIPOCs for historical accuracy, should be opened up to be recast as BIPOC.

    Then the petition gets really weird…

    1. I wonder if that’s where the Cowboy Bebop mess spent their last dollar– the actor for Ed was consistently listed as “they.” -.-
      Which would be annoying, but OK, if the clip that SHOULD have spun up fans to love the character hadn’t looked like something my kids might’ve done. Which in fairness (though not NICENESS) matches with the “let’s make the main characters look like office workers with a group costume” level respect they gave the job in the first place.

      Rant digression: all they had to do was manage something like getting a WWE guy for Jet Black so he at least LOOKED big and muscle-y, put the guy playing Spike in clothes that made him look more skinny/lanky, and have Faye look like she was trying to use her body to distract idiots. Having an adult play Ed works, but hiring because “they/them” was sadly totally in keeping with the respect for the fans of the freakin’ gold egg laying goose they were handed!

      1. I suspect that your idea for Faye was DOA right from the start. The bits and pieces I heard involved the actress portraying Faye acting as if she got the vapors at the idea of people sexualizing the character in any way, shape, or form.

        To which my obvious rejoinder would be, “If you genuinely think that, then you don’t understand Faye.”

        And then after all that, they posted a trailer that included Faye getting a bit too excited about a gun.

      2. Ed was not ‘trans’. Ed didn’t CARE. Ed lived glued to the computers. Monkey customs were of zero interest. Dressing like a boy was simpler and attracted less trouble.

        1. Dressing like a boy really means “unisex”. The issue is that her name – Edward – is typically a boy’s name. And if she’s hit puberty, it’s not visible under the very loose-fitting top she wears (which is normal). So she looks like a young kid of indeterminate gender, and she has a boy’s name.

          But yeah, as you note, she is for all intents and purposes asexual. She’s not trans. She’s not even a tom boy. Gender just isn’t a thing for her. She’s a goofy enough character that if someone asked what her gender identity was, she’d probably give the questioner a quizzical look, and then hack a nearby device to drive said questioner away.

  28. The past truly is another country.
    I recall the tale of my Great Grand parents, as told by my father. Great Grandma was known as the kindest, sweetest, most caring of women. Self effacing and loving, she was beloved by all of her children and grandchildren.
    Her marriage was arranged with my great grandfather; a gruff, unlearned, very rude man. He always referred to her as Mrs.(Badness). He never called her by her first name, and certainly not by any pet names.
    There was no love lost in that relationship.
    One might claim that he simply did not believe in public displays of affection; but he was just as cold in private. (He quickly married his high school sweet heart after Great grandma died.)
    I, as a child, was very confused why they would get married. It was explained that it was an arranged marriage; where he got a sizeable sum of money, and she got a powerful, hard working man to provide for her children.
    “That’s just the way it was,” may have been the truth, but it always rankled.
    Societal norms can be wildly different, depending on location and time. It’s best we understand that, and not try to paint the world as being just like us.

    (Names changed to protect the innocent)

    1. Hearing similar about maternal great-grandparents, mom’s paternal grandparents.

      We are only 3 generations from both arranged marriages, and/or no marriage, because of limited choices. Paternal grandmother had uncles who never married. She has written that her classmates during primary through secondary school were cousins. Wasn’t until she went to normal school for teaching that she met people she wasn’t related to. Generation before her was even worse, and had less access to travel away from the homestead.

    2. My strange-favorite was a great-great grandmother, self-proclaimed “meanest woman alive,” who married five times in five years, 1-4 divorced her, but my great-great grandfather stuck it out and they had six children. Apparently she was given the title by one of her husbands, and grabbed it with glee and both hands. She passed the story down to all of her children and grandchildren like a badge of honor to the day she died.

    3. It’s not so ancient as all that. My cousins and i all knew precisely how we were related to one another, it mattered a lot. A fair amount of pressure was put on one cousin and me to marry because it would fix a piece of land. Shudder, we’re actually the best of friends but would have been utterly incompatible as a married couple.

      My mother didn’t have a family tree so much as a family stick and cousins married cousins married cousins. My mother came to this country after essentially fleeing a semi arranged marriage. Married my father who added some hybrid vigor to the family. I’m surprised we don’t have a third eye in our forehead or something like it.

  29. When I was young, I had ambitions of writing a dramatization of Admiral von Spee and the German East Asiatic Squadron in the First World War. They were in the Pacific when the war broke out…trapped on the other side of the world, with the entire Royal Navy between them and home. They fought with great skill and incredible courage…but were doomed.

    But I made a point of studying the period. The men, the machines, the era. They deserved it.

    1. Rip off the idea and give it to someone who didn’t deserve it.

      This is why historical fiction is not my thing. Too often constrained by known facts. And bad settings. And there’s always the niggling knowledge that the characters with the same name in different books are both supposed to be the same person, which draws attention to how much is made up.

  30. Hell, I was outraged that The Walking Chin (Reese Witherspoon) played June Carter Cash. I saw June alive, and The Chin looks absolutely nothing like her, at least from the waist up (I’m assuming a certain superficial similarity below).

  31. And we lose sight of that at our own peril, because it encourages us to live in a sort of idiotic presentism, where we assume that the past was always the same as now, only somehow better.

    Reversion to form, I’m afraid. Witness all those medieval/Renaissance paintings of Romans and Hebrews and whatnot running around in doublet and hose and the fanciest of European hats.

  32. I ran across some of that stuff. It was a pity, because there was a good story about Edward managing to prevent his (theorized) murder, with help from his little brother Richard.

    The thing is… if you like a man for being honorable, uncomplaining about his disabilities, and driven by duty, you can’t set a character up to be his mistress who is more important to him than his wife, his kids, his country, and so on. He wouldn’t do it, you wouldn’t want him to be the kind of man who would do it. Also, it is creepy to plot how to dispose of the man’s wife who is going to die anyway, or set her up as secretly a villain. Yuuuuuck.

    I also didn’t like the time travel ones, because they were just. so. dumb.

  33. In all earnestness, I don’t think they’re going to stop raping the past until a change in the current zeitgeist.

  34. If you think Richard III gets Mary-Sued, you should see a lot of the Ghodawful slush that people have managed to get published about Bonnie Prince Charlie and the ’45. Back at the height of the “Sweet Savage Love” fad, I saw some stuff about him that made Left Behind look like fine literature.

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