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Fiction Friction: Fantasy Counterpart Cultures, Part 2

Thande

UP THE WORKERS & Ukrainians
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I say one thing near the end of this article that I've since discovered is not quite true, but ironically I can't say what it is without massive plot spoilers for the work in question.

edit: also good idea using the Numberphile video Gary.
 

OwenM

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Quick nitpick, you refer to the Black Sea's counterpart as being the Sailors' Sea as well as the Med's - not 100% sure if this should be the Videssian Sea or one of the others, but that seems most likely.
Watching the Witcher lately I've noticed some interesting notes on language correspondences I don't want to go into without having read the books I suspect will have more detail in them.
Also unfortunately seen some flamewars ultimately about the different political implications of viewing the human/elf conflicts as an Eastern European allegory or an allegory for settler colonialism in what's now the US.
 
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Thande

UP THE WORKERS & Ukrainians
Published by SLP
Quick nitpick, you refer to the Black Sea's counterpart as being the Sailors' Sea as well as the Med's - not 100% sure if this should be the Videssian Sea or one of the others, but that seems most likely.
Watching the Witcher lately I've noticed some interesting notes on language correspondences I don't want to go into without having read the books I suspect will have more detail in them.
Also unfortunately seen some flamewars ultimately about the different political implications of viewing the human/elf conflicts as an Eastern European allegory or an allegory for settler colonialism in what's now the US.
Yes it should be the Videssian Sea in the second case.
 

varyar

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There are also more imaginative geographic changes compared to Videssos. A secondary continent is home to the nations of Kuusamo and Lagoas, for example. Kuusamo uses the Finnish language for place names, but its people ethnically resemble East Asians and its geopolitical place in the war is that of the United States. Lagoas, occupying only a small part of the secondary continent, equates to Britain. Rather than being colonially derived from Lagoas as America is from Britain, Kuusamo sees the Lagoans ultimately as invaders who’ll one day be expelled as they once did to the Kaunians, although this has largely become just a ceremonial oath (that’s even spoken by Lagoan students in Kuusaman universities!)
My mom is from Kuusamo Finland, so this paragraph was kind of a roller coaster.
 

Thande

UP THE WORKERS & Ukrainians
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My mom is from Kuusamo Finland, so this paragraph was kind of a roller coaster.
Yeah, there are a number of cases where Turtledove picked place names that are obscure to the average American reader, but not necessarily everyone. A number of the Romanian ones on Sibiu stuck out to me, as well as Algarve itself (which is a popular tourist destination in Portugal for Britons - not sure why he used a Portuguese name for an otherwise Italian-speaking country).

edit: unfortunately there isn't a good scan of any of the Derlavai maps on the web, but see here:

1640012190332.png

As noted on Steven H. Silver's amazing Web 1.0 website,

Note: According to Dr. Turtledove, the map in the Earthlight first edition of Into the Darkness is not entirely correct.
They corrected some mistakes for the version above, but introduced other ones instead, such as misspelling Kuusamo as Kuusano.

There are also some nice bits like the mountain range separating Jelgava from Algarve being called both the Bratanu and Bradano Mountains depending on which side is talking about them.
 
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Thande

UP THE WORKERS & Ukrainians
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I dunno.

Reading that article left me with a powerful urge never to touch anything written by either Sanderson or Turtledove.
I seem to say you liked Scott Lynch's Locke Lamora books (at least at first) which are a lot less subtle in references than most of the examples I gave here - being set in Not Venice, and I recall you mentioning yourself the fact that the villain of book 2 is called Requin.
 

Thande

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Sanderson's one of those guys who gives a lot of love to the world and not so much to the story to the point where I end up not really caring about either. Which is a common thing in the genre so can't fault him too much for it, and his shorter stuff is a lot better (also true w/Turtledove). Nice article.
Thanks. I did a long rambling review of the first three Stormlight Archive books last year, and ironically(?) my conclusion was I most enjoyed the parts when it felt like a more aimless exploration of the world in the first two books, and found the bits where the story ramps up in the third book to be almost nauseatingly acceleratory by comparison. Though it depends what you mean by 'story', the first two books have plenty in the sense of individual character plots rather than the big overriding plot.
 

Redolegna

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I seem to say you liked Scott Lynch's Locke Lamora books (at least at first) which are a lot less subtle in references than most of the examples I gave here - being set in Not Venice, and I recall you mentioning yourself the fact that the villain of book 2 is called Requin.
Yes. I'm saying I don't like this "look at how clever I am", especially when followed by lazy pasting of real world names.

I also did not like the guy being named literally shark or the book he was in.
 

SenatorChickpea

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I think that The Lies of Locke Lamora, at least in the first book, is a lot more subtle than you're giving it credit for.

Camorr's a rich city filled with canals and people with vaguely Italian names. That's about the extent of the parallel. It doesn't resemble Venice in terms of governance- it's a monarchy, and has none of the republican institutions of Venice. It's religion bears no real resemblance to Christianity. It doesn't have the trading empire, perhaps the defining feature of Renaissance Venice. It doesn't resemble Venice in terms of fashion or colours. There are no analogues of the HRE, Byzantium or the Ottomans, a comparison to whom might make Venetian overtones more obvious.

In fact, I don't think it's fair to say that it's trying to do the same thing as Turtledove's heavy handed parallels at all.

Mind you, I won't defend the sequels.
 

SoldierOfChrist

Khomeini Drip
Liked Locke Lamora better when I thought it was going in the direction of Locke and Jean travel from place to place having standalone adventures rather than whatever it is now, if it's still going. I don't think the sequels were particularly bad, I just don't remember them all that well. The setting didn't make any sort of impression on me either. I remember the interlude chapters in the first one quite clearly though, those were good.
 

Artaxerxes

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Liked Locke Lamora better when I thought it was going in the direction of Locke and Jean travel from place to place having standalone adventures rather than whatever it is now, if it's still going. I don't think the sequels were particularly bad, I just don't remember them all that well. The setting didn't make any sort of impression on me either. I remember the interlude chapters in the first one quite clearly though, those were good.
It was a better series when it was about fantasy thieves saying fuck you to the nobility.

It then killed off half the gang and moved into slightly more standard territory. Yes I'm still salty about the twins dying.
 

SenatorChickpea

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Particularly because once he'd done 'dark and edgy' once he never really let Jean and Locke expand their crew in the next two books (god, the third book was awful.)

You're doing a heist series! Embrace it, and give us some damn 'we're gonna need a crew as nuts as we are!' recruitment scenes.
 

SenatorChickpea

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Now, if you want a Fantasy Parallel culture version of Venice done well, then Braavos from ASOIAF is closer to the mark.

Unlike Camorr's canals and Italian names, that actually plays with La Serenissima- ambiguous relation with a mythologised ancient empire, republican governing structure, a naval arsenal, actual mercantile houses, the works. Unlike real life Venice's fairly staid aesthetics- there's a line from a traveller once complaining that he seemed to have wandered into a city full of protestants- GRRM absolutely plays up the Carnivale masks and so forth, but that's par for the course for the series.

I suppose when you compare Venice and Braavos you need to talk about the existence of a mad death-worshipping Church that extorts its followers for every penny, but as I said, Camorr doesn't have Catholicism either...*





*I'm allowed to make this joke, but I will demand to see the confirmation names of anyone who tries to run with it.
 

Artaxerxes

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Now, if you want a Fantasy Parallel culture version of Venice done well, then Braavos from ASOIAF is closer to the mark.

Unlike Camorr's canals and Italian names, that actually plays with La Serenissima- ambiguous relation with a mythologised ancient empire, republican governing structure, a naval arsenal, actual mercantile houses, the works. Unlike real life Venice's fairly staid aesthetics- there's a line from a traveller once complaining that he seemed to have wandered into a city full of protestants- GRRM absolutely plays up the Carnivale masks and so forth, but that's par for the course for the series.

I suppose when you compare Venice and Braavos you need to talk about the existence of a mad death-worshipping Church that extorts its followers for every penny, but as I said, Camorr doesn't have Catholicism either...*





*I'm allowed to make this joke, but I will demand to see the confirmation names of anyone who tries to run with it.
Well the nice thing about Venice is that it usually told the Pope to go fuck himself and still called itself Catholic.
 
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