Random thought that came

June 14, 2003

Random thought that came up as I was getting up to go work. I like Eric Flint's novels in part because he was trained as an academic historian. Both Mother of Demons and his 1632 and 1633 take history seriously. That is to say that he expects change over time - no static societies like so many other sci-fi authors create. And he sees path-dependency. In fact, the core dilemna of Mother of Demons and 1633 involves path dependency - lead characters are terrified of the precedents they are creating and the societies that might follow on their actions. In the case of Mother of Demons she is paralyzed by the possible consequences of sharing her knowledge. And Flint understands contingency, something that many science-fiction and fantasy authors also understand even if only in the context of the hero doing a heroic deed with lasting consequences.

Those are all things that I am interested in and that I try to get across to my students. I don't think I would assign one of his books to a lower level history class, but I might very well assign one to an upper-level or graduate class on writing history. Flint understands time, and that is something that is hard for people to grasp.

Why yes, I do spend a lot of my mental energy analyzing the world around me and trying to figure out why I like the things that I like.

Posted by Red Ted at June 14, 2003 10:16 AM | TrackBack