Footnotes

A couple things I wanted to add to the History, It’s Not What You Want It To Be post below.

First of all:

Many People Confuse Fantasy and Reality.

To show how badly people mix Historical Fiction and Fantasy and why blurring the lines between them is a REALLY bad idea:

I wrote this short story for a creative writing class last year:

Battle Ground, Common Ground

Now, in the text I say this takes place in East Anglia, I say it involves Normans and Anglo-Saxons.

Though in that part of England it was the Anglo-Saxon-Danes, I simplified it because the main character, being a racist Norman (and they were quite racist), didn’t know any better and to simplify it because I knew many in my class did not know much about English history.

Two people out of seven thought I set it in Westros.

One of them was the instructor’s ingenue who was supposedly the smartest, most talented and most insightful one in the class.

So yes, putting History and Fantasy both under “speculative fiction” is a very bad idea.

Why I Am a Historian (Or At Least a History Major)

In the post below I made History sound very clinical, and when dealing in it a high level of objectivity is required. Why it is required is because history is real people whom historians often relate to, become attached to, root for.

Some of my friends already know this story, so I beg their patience while I tell it again.

I was working a paper on the pilots of Wilmington Harbor in North Carolina during the American Civil War. They were a small group of men who ran the final Union Blockade and the treacherous coast to keep the Confederacy alive with supplies. The University has a wonderful Special Collections with a reading room of rich mahogany accents and tables, a deep blue carpet, walls covered in old maps and a silence not to be found in the rest of the library filled with students. I was looking all the records of Fort Fisher, the Confederate stronghold on the coast that staved off bombardment of the town itself by keeping the Union fleet far out to sea.

I came across a stack of letters sent by one young soldier to his mother at home deep inland. I was of course looking for mentions of the blockade itself and measures taken to guide the pilots to shore. I began by skimming, then I started reading.

First thing I learned was nothing changes:

(I paraphrase.)

“No Mom, I’m not drinking.”

“Thanks for telling me about my friends, but I want to hear about the pretty girls.”

“Thanks for blanket, nights are cold and damp here.”

“Have my sister tell her friends that soldiers do not like girls who do not write to them.”

“”Sorry if this is hard to read. We are being shelled.”

“I was promoted!”

I must have spent well over an hour reading down through the stack of dozens of letters, until I came upon one in a different hand.

“It is with great sadness we must inform you…scarlet fever…very well liked, a good man and a good soldier…He is in a world beyond war, beyond pain, beyond sorrow.”

Signed by all the members of his unit.

And I sat there weeping for a young man I would never know.

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