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Posts Tagged ‘new worlds’

Book pre-orders and post backlogs

With the second year of the New Worlds Patreon having wrapped up, it’s time for it to emerge from its chrysalis as a beautiful butterfly ebook! New Worlds, Year Two: More Essays on the Art of Worldbuilding is now up for pre-order at Amazon US and UK, Barnes and Noble (Nook), Google Play, and Kobo. iTunes and Indigo will follow shortly. The book will be out on April 2nd!

NEW WORLDS, YEAR TWO by Marie Brennan

Also, a glitch with the plug-in I use to crosspost from my website to Dreamwidth recently glitched. Everything still crossposted . . . but on a private setting, which means none of you could see it. So if you missed it, the posts were, in sequence:

New Worlds: Just Add Water (and Year Three!)

This week, the New Worlds Patreon launches into Year Three! As part of the celebration, I’ve added a monthly poll where my patrons at the $5 level and above can vote on the topic for the upcoming month . . . and my wonderful, amazing, fantabulous patrons voted for the thing I thought nobody than other me wanted to hear about, which is sanitation. So this month we’re starting off with water supplies, and in upcoming weeks I’ll be talking about bathing, trash heaps, and whether premodern cities really were open sewers or not.

The ebook for Year Two will be out in early April, with copies going to patrons at the $3 level and above before that. If you’d like to become a patron, you can do that right over here — let’s start Year Three together!

New Worlds: Honeymoons (and anniversary announcement!)

In the excitement of Book View Cafe’s new hosting provider being stable enough for the New Worlds Patreon to return to its usual home, I forgot to announce the latest essay here! Last Friday’s contribution was on honeymoons, and you can still head on over and add your thoughts.

I’m also pleased to announce a book giveaway to celebrate the second anniversary of the Patreon! Six lucky patrons will receive signed books from me. If you’d like to have a chance at a prize, just sign up before this Friday!

New World: Wedding Customs

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

A truly comprehensive survey of wedding customs around the world and throughout history would probably fill several volumes. I’m not going to attempt that; we’d get so far down into the weeds we’d never see the sun again. Instead I’m going to do a more top-level sweep of the steps involved in getting married, with some attention to the specifics of how those can manifest.

It starts with engagement, i.e. the promise to get married later on. This doesn’t have to last for a long time — it can be as short as the gap between “hey, want to get married?” and finding an Elvis impersonator at a drive-through Las Vegas chapel to hitch you two together — but the longer the gap is, the more preparation you can do. Today’s wedding-industrial complex pushes the ideal that you should do a lot of prep (and spend a lot of money on it), which echoes yesteryear’s necessity of assembling a wedding trousseau. (I’m reminded of Eleanor of Aquitaine’s line in The Lion in Winter, dismissing the likelihood that Richard and Alais will get married any time soon: “The needlework alone can last for years.”)

But even engagement can involve more than mere agreement. There may be a prenuptial contract to negotiate, or permission to secure: from parents, a master, a liege lord, or anyone else with the authority to gainsay a match. Posting the banns is or was required in a number of Christian countries, giving the general public a chance to raise objections — though usually only within set limits, e.g. “he’s got a wife in another town.” This also creates a mandatory waiting period, helping to stave off the buyer’s remorse that often afflicts the clients of those drive-through Vegas chapels.

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New Worlds: Courtship

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

The counterpart to arranged marriages are ones where the spouses choose each other, often referred to as a “love match.” When there’s no matchmaker involved (be it a family member or trained professional), it’s up to interested parties to find and woo their own future husband or wife . . . which can be a very fraught process.

Before we dive too far into that, I should say that there’s often courtship involved in arranged marriages, too. The Japanese matchmaking process is called miai and means “looking at one another;” nowadays it begins with looking at a photograph, but in the past it might instead be kagemi, a “hidden look,” arranging for the man to secretly glimpse the woman without her knowing. If that goes well, the families proceed to their children meeting face-to-face, usually in a series of three dates before a decision is made. European nobility sent portraits as advertisements for their kids, and the prospective pair might exchange letters to get to know one another if they couldn’t meet in person.

But with love matches/autonomous marriage, courtship plays a much larger role, because it’s the means by which people even find possible spouses, conduct their evaluations, and seal the deal. So let’s dig into that.

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New Worlds: Matchmaking

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

Last year I spent the month of February discussing marriage-related topics. This year, as Valentine’s Day approaches, I’d like to return to that subject — because as I noted at the time, there’s more to talk about than can fit into a mere four essays.

(Spoiler: it won’t fit into eight, either. Though the next time I loop around to this, we’ll be looking more at things on the periphery of marriage, rather than marriage itself.)

I said in those previous essays that historically speaking, marriage tended to be seen less as an alliance between two individuals, and more as an alliance between their families or nations or whatever. Because of this, it isn’t surprising that autonomous marriage — where individuals choose their own spouses, with nobody else getting a say in the matter — was far less common than arranged marriage. Even today, something like half of all marriages worldwide are arranged marriages.

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New Worlds: Incense

[Note: As Book View Cafe works on migrating to a better host, this week’s New Worlds Patreon essay is running here.]

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It only does so much good to make our bodies smell better if everything around us reeks. So from perfume we turn to incense — and also potpourri, pomanders, scented candles, and everything else you can use to cover up less-than-pleasant aromas in the world around you.

Many of the things one can say about perfume apply here, too. Incense was historically often expensive, because the components were rare or had to be traded across long distances; the kadō art form in Japan and its associated party games exemplify the way its creation and appreciation could be elite activities. You can divide the scents into the same categories as with perfumes and blend them in the same way — though there’s less of a tendency toward gendering in scents for a room than for the body.

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New Worlds: Perfume

This week’s essay for the New Worlds Patreon should really be titled “Ways to Make Yourself Smell Good,” because it’s also about scented lotions, oils, soaps, shampoos, bathwater, and everything else we use to counteract our natural tendency toward whiffiness. But “Perfume” was shorter and catchier, so I went with that instead.

Comment over there!

New Worlds: Jewelry

For the time being, Book View Cafe seems to be holding steady, so the New Worlds Patreon has gone back to its usual home there, with a post on jewelry, and the human tendency to hang something shiny off pretty much any body part that can hold it. (And if it can’t hold it, that’s what piercing is for.) Comment over there!

New Worlds: Tattoos

I have hopes that Book View Cafe’s hosting woes will soon be solved, but until that happens, the New Worlds Patreon will continue to run here! (And y’know, 2019 is a splendid time to support your local worldbuilding blogger. I’ll soon be putting out the second collection, and all patrons at the $3 level and above will receive an electronic copy!)

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At the beginning of the second year of this Patreon, I did two posts on body modification. Despite devoting so much time to the topic, I only touched on tattoos in passing — because they’re a complex enough topic that I couldn’t possibly do justice to them while also talking about piercings, stretching, bone reshaping, and so forth. Now, as we approach the end of that second year, let’s loop back around and give tattoos their due.

We don’t know for sure how old tattoos are because soft tissue doesn’t preserve well, and the tools of the trade (needles and pigment) aren’t readily distinguishable from the needles and pigment used for other purposes. But we know that Ötzi, the ice-mummified man found in the Alps, had sixty-one tattoos on his body; that rather suggests a well-established tradition, not something he’d made up himself the previous week. Since he died over five thousand years ago, we can safely say the practice is quite ancient.

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