Monthly Archives: July 2011

The New World has never been discovered

27 July 2011 Comments (6)

The discovery of the New World, which was fortunate for some and very unfortunate for the others, had never happened on this small piece of the internet territory.

On the Oct. 12, 1492, the lookout of the caravel Pinta, Rodrigo de Triana, napped on, dreaming about his sweet little home in Seville, while the caravel swept by the misty costs of Guanahani (the Bahamas), not noticing anything out of an ordinary. Or, maybe, a month earlier, leaving the Canary islands, the three caravels turned anywhere but westwards. Or maybe a storm…

This or that way, the so-called Americas were never “discovered” and the coastal waters of the Bahamas continued glittering placidly on the sunny morning of Oct 13, while the Lucayan, Taino and Arawak people went about their usual business.
The Yucatan city states kept flourishing, having thrown off their Mayapan rulers and to their west the Aztecs’ Triple Alliance went on expanding, raiding the neighboring Tarascan Empire, while instituting more reforms separating between the classes.
In North America, the Anasazi descendants were slowly recovering from the Great Drought period, developing irrigation techniques appropriate for a seasonal rainfall and fighting off their newly acquired Navajo neighbors. And to their east, all along the Mississippi and its tributaries, the small towns of the Mississippians descendants tried to live on, according to their illustrious ancestors’ rules, surrounded by the multitude of great and small mounds, the remnants of the glorious past, green with a thick layer of an autumn, water-soaked grass.

Both regions lived in a relative peace, less familiar to their celebrated ancestors. But in the north the Great League of the Iroquois was expanding, flourishing under the wise laws of the Great Peacemaker, fighting their neighbors and spreading their un-heard of democracy far and wide.

And so the 15th century had ended and the 16th had begun, with both Americas living on undisturbed.

But this premise belongs to historical fantasy, while I’m engaged with historical fiction, so my current novel and the ones to come are all about the pre-Columbian past of this beautiful continent.

North America before the in/famous discovery – the terra incognita of historical fiction.

24 July 2011 Comments (0)

The third largest continent on our globe seems to be slightly overlooked, by historical fiction most of all.
Was anything happening on those vast, diverse lands before the 15th century?

The logic says – yeah, probably, something has to be going on over there. They say the Bering straits were bridged several times by the most recent Ice Age, allowing some people to sneak in and spread far and wide.

Well, ok, there were people, but if you attempt to mirror the history through literary fiction, those people did absolutely nothing for he millennias to come, waiting patiently to be discovered.

And it really took time! Those, allowed to write and interpret history, had really made them wait before offering them their allocated part of either a noble or a cruel savage. What a nice part! So appealing, the kids all over the world love sticking feathers into their hair, playing in Indians all day long. Even the adults’ costume parties are full of such “Indians”. All over the world people seems to know everything that there is to know about thousands of different cultures and nations that populated (and still are) the third largest continent,  manly by sticking feathers into their heads and making loud, weird-sounding noises (and I know what I’m talking about; I lived on three different continents for years).

Through the recent decades, pre-Columbian history seems to gain some serious attention in the textbooks (not around the world, gods forbid, but at least in North America itself). Those books are few and far between, but they are there and it’s a beginning. Yet, in the literature fiction, this niche seems still vacant. There are many great novels on the post-Columbian times, but none seems to look further than the end of the 15th century. Why?
I was told – because nobody cares. Well, it’s a tricky matter. Nobody knows, so nobody cares. Inform them (nicely enough, but that’s what historical fiction for) and their interest may arise. So I’m going to do just that.

One novel is out there and another one is on the grill. And everything is 15th century and back, I promise. No digressing, no sailing caravels around; the Europeans are still safely across the Atlantic.
It turned out there were quite a few empires, confederations and spectacular clashes all over the today’s US and Canada and I didn’t have to look hard to find them.