1637 The Volga Rules – Snippet 41

The book should be available now so this is the last snippet.

1637 The Volga Rules – Snippet 41

Alexander raised an eyebrow, but subsided and sipped at his vodka. Luckily, Chaplygin had been too absorbed in his declaration to notice.

“Perhaps. But we are getting more warriors coming to our side every day.” He waved at Alexander.

“What got into you, Alexander? I thought you had better sense than to go over to the revolutionaries.”

“It’s the czar, Petr,” Alexander said. “How can it be treason to serve the czar?” Alexander, Ivan knew, was a friend of Petr Chaplygin. They had lived in Moscow, serving together, the young men of the royal court.

“Hah! Mikhail is a nothing. Weather vane turning with the lightest breeze. It’s the boyars and the great families that matter. And us, the deti boyars and the dvorianes who run the empire. That’s what you are. A traitor to your class.”

“And how is Sheremetev treating the deti boyars and the dvorianes? Like we are peasants, that’s how,” Alexander shot back.

“Gentlemen, let it pass,” Ivan said, and Petr Chaplygin sneered at the upstart baker’s boy promoted above his station. Ivan found it hard to let that pass, harder than it had been when he was back in the Moscow Kremlin. But he kept his mouth shut, by remembering that his side had won. “As to your comment about General Birkin, we have more men every day and the differences in range and rate of fire of the new weapons means that the balance of force has shifted in the direction of the defender.”

“You and your war games.” Chaplygin snorted. “Little cardboard cutouts aren’t men, and calculations aren’t battles. Battles are won by courage and willingness to get in close and rip out your enemy’s guts. Birkin will go right around you. And what will you do then? I’ll tell you what you’ll do. You’ll sit on your hill and lose, or you’ll come out of your fort and be slaughtered by real men.”

“And how will General Birkin supply his army with us sitting on his supply route?” Ivan asked, letting some of his irritation show.

“He’ll draft peasants and have them carry the supplies. It’s all they’re good for.”

Ivan couldn’t help it. He snorted a laugh of his own. “So he’s going to stop his boats upriver of us and carry his supplies by land three hundred miles. That’s going to take a lot of peasants and a lot of horses. And where is he going to get the wagons, carry them on the riverboats?”

“Maybe,” Chaplygin insisted, sounding belligerently uncertain.

“He might even be able to do it,” Alexander cut in. “But the time, Petr, the time.”

Ivan Maslov listened with half an ear as the conversation continued. It was a race now. They had to get enough troops into Kazan and the top of Kruglaya Mountain to hold them and block the river. As long as they held the river, any progress that Birkin’s army made after that would be at a snail’s pace. They weren’t ready to do that yet, but if Birkin gave them a couple of months they would be. They would have a thousand men and more guarding the mountain, and ten times that in Kazan.

***

General Ivan Vasilevich Birkin’s army was refitting in Nizhny Novgorod when they got the news of the loss of the steamboat flotilla. He didn’t curse, at least not much. He hadn’t had great hopes that the steamboats would take Kazan, but it had been a chance and it would have made his life easier. He looked at his cousin. “Well, that decides it. Unless we get orders to the contrary, we’ll wait here till hard winter, then proceed to Kazan. In the meantime, I want to turn Nizhny Novgorod into a supply base. I want all the food, shot and sundries needed to support an army of fifty thousand for four months in place here.”

The war and the rest of the world were just going to have to wait.

Goritsky Monastery

October, 1636

“I don’t believe it. The riverboats didn’t even get to Kazan. They were stopped at Kruglaya Mountain,” Elena said.

Several of the new arrivals chimed in. When husbands had been shot or even tonsured, their wives had been sent off to the nunnery.  Goritsky Monastery probably held more women who had been married to boyars than any place outside Moscow. Some were widowed, some forcibly divorced, some had taken their divorce well. In two cases, even thankfully, but many were highly resentful of the Sheremetev government. And every last one of them was a political animal.

The conversation quickly turned into an analysis of which great house was going to switch sides now that Czar Mikhail had proven much harder to handle than predicted.

Sofia listened with half an ear. She was preoccupied with the mica industry just now. A great deal of the Gorchakov family wealth was tied into the delivery of Muscovy mica capacitors to the USE. And here she was, not very far at all from major mica mines. She looked over at Tatyana Dolmatov-Karpov. She was the widow of Lev Dolmatov-Karpov, who was an ally of Sofia’s family on the duma, and been executed in the weeks after Czar Mikhail escaped. Tatyana was the low end of the great houses, but her family was deeply involved in the mica mines.

Hamburg, Germany

October, 1636

The hammer hit with a dull thud. It was a weighted wooden mallet and it drove the rod holding the paddle in place four inches. Two more blows knocked the paddle out and it landed on the floor. Guy Sayyeau grunted as he lifted the replacement paddle up to the tread and the hammer worked again, this time pounding the new paddle into place on the caterpillar tread. It was a big paddle, a yard tall and two yards wide. It took two men to manhandle it into place and a third to drive in the oak stays. Or to knock them loose. The chain and the sprocket wheels were working well.

Captain John Adams had just about given up on his original design. The main issue was weight distribution. The Russian kochi were built more for ice traversing than ice breaking. They had a false keel to protect the ship during portage over ice floes. John had wanted to run his caterpillar tracks in front of the ship to break up the ice, but testing had shown that the weight-forward design was going to cause a series of problems. On the other hand, if the caterpillar tracks were placed back — but not quite all the way back — then they would lift the bow. The bow, as it pushed up on the ice, would raise the front of the tracks so that they would be able to bite into the ice and push the boat still farther.

“You really think we are going to have to do this much?” asked the man with the hammer, wiping sweat from his brow.

“I don’t know. I know that we are going to have to make adjustments as we shift from in the water to on the ice.”

“We always had to do that.” Which was true enough. The kochi were constantly dragged up out of the water, then across an ice floe into the next stretch of water. In fact, the steam winches would make that easier. Which was essential, because this ship would be more than twice the size of the largest kochi John had ever seen.

Meanwhile the hull of the “fluyt and a half,” Brent Partow’s nickname for the oversized fluyt-style sailing ships, had been modified so that below the waterline it was much more like an uptime icebreaker’s hull shape. And reinforced with heavy oak. The ship was coming along fine and the steam engine was being custom built by a shop in Magdeburg, while the chains were being built here in Hamburg. The chains were modified heavy roller chains, the sort used on motorcycles up-time, only much larger. There were two sets of chains, the drive chain that would transmit the power from the drive shaft down to the caterpillar tracks, and the caterpillar tracks themselves, which were actually only triple-wide roller chains with attachments on which a variety of treads could be placed. The treads could be spikes for a grip on ice, or even to rip up ice if it was weak enough, or paddles to push the boat through the water like a paddle wheel, but considerably lighter for the thrust delivered.

In testing, the system had worked moderately well and caused some modification in how the paddle-treads were made, and also a decrease in the number of paddles on the treads. It turned out that extra paddles gave diminishing returns once they got too close together. The other thing that had changed was the shape of the paddles. They had started out as simple flat panels. Now they were T-shaped with supports, so that the water pressure didn’t push them flat or break them off.

Still, John had no illusions about how well those paddles would stand up to mud or ice, which was why they were detachable and why they would be taking lots of extras in the cargo.

Different parts of this ship were being built by different companies, even in different towns, so that they didn’t have to wait on one part to be finished before starting on the next. It was going to save them time, but it was still not likely that the whole ship would be ready before January at the earliest.

 

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11 Responses to 1637 The Volga Rules – Snippet 41

  1. Lyttenburgh says:

    “What got into you, Alexander? I thought you had better sense than to go over to the revolutionaries.”

    and

    “Hah! Mikhail is a nothing. Weather vane turning with the lightest breeze. It’s the boyars and the great families that matter. And us, the deti boyars and the dvorianes who run the empire. That’s what you are. A traitor to your class.”

    […]

    Oh… dear. Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

    […]

    OH DEAR.

    […]

    This is bad. This is incredibly bad. This is lazy, bad writing. This is lack of any thoughts and efforts put in the work. This is a sloppy job done. This… not caring at all.

    […]

    Look, in order to show, that what I’m saying is not just a single opinion of one individual (which makes it easy to dismiss), allow me to provide actual quotes and excerpts from the site, that has – I believe – some tangent connection to the RoF series by Eric Flint – the redoubtable 1632[dot]com. The following gems of wisdom, intended for the future authors wishing to get their story published in the shared RoF verse, are freely available for everyone to see in the AUTHOR’S MANUAL and 1632 TECH (with 1632: RESOURCE CHECKLIST being an absolute must) sections of the website:

    You have An IDEA! Great!

    But you know little or nothing about the seventeenth century …

    And the Barflies in 1632 Tech Manual will demand cites and sources …

    So you should:
    1. First check this site and other 1632 interest sites
    2. Google and check things out. Caution: Not everything on the web is correct but this should give you some names and dates to look up.
    3. Head for your local library and make friends with the reference librarian.
    4. Contact the History Department of your local college or junior college.
    5. If you know a specific Barfly has special information, email them.
    6. Ask on the Bar if someone can suggest sources of information for a specific subject. We have many experts on a wide range of subjects who are willing to point you in the right direction.

    […]

    If you do ask for information, and get it, then do not ignore it. Asking for clarification on historical points is one thing, arguing that ‘it just couldn’t be that way’ is another. We’ve been researching this for over 17 years as of the time we last edited this. If you disagree with us, be prepared to show proof, probably from primary sources.
    – Suggestions from the Editorial Board

    “As to your comment about General Birkin, we have more men every day and the differences in range and rate of fire of the new weapons means that the balance of force has shifted in the direction of the defender.”

    Ah, yes! Much touted “new weapons” of which you have… how many? Can you build more?

    4. Infrastructure
    1. What kind of building(s) are required for the process?
    2. Does this type of building exist in the required area?
    1. If no such building exists, how will it be built?
    2. What is the time required to either build or bring an existing building up to the requirements?
    3. What utilities are required by the process?
    4. What kind of access is required?
    5. What kind of storage facilities are required for raw materials?
    6. What machinery/tools are required by the process?
    7. Are special handling tools and/or clothing required?
    8. What kind of storage facilities are required for the finished product?

    “They would have a thousand men and more guarding the mountain, and ten times that in Kazan.”

    The population of Kazan in that time was about 20 000. Where would they find half of that number in the professional soldiers, and how do they plan to supply them? Btw – are you sure you have enough trained personnel in the first place?

    2. Personnel:
    1. Does the process require one or more up-timers?
    1. How do they know it?
    2. How well do they know the entire process?
    2. Are any of the required up-timers available?
    3. How long will it take to train down-timers to do the process?
    4. (Note: many processes will not require full or even partial understanding of the baseline theory behind them to be successful.)
    5. How many people, up-timer and down-timer, are required?
    6. Are sufficient people available?
    7. Are the right people available?
    – 1632: Resource Checklist.

    “In the meantime, I want to turn Nizhny Novgorod into a supply base. I want all the food, shot and sundries needed to support an army of fifty thousand for four months in place here.”

    The general is, very convenient, an imbecile, who is willing to provide the enemy with [CHEAT CODE: ACTIVATE] the much needed “couple of months”. There is no need to create a supply base from the scratch – it already existed. The system was already here, with the beforehand distribution of various tyaglo among the locals and yam stations of the supplies delivery. Once again – conveniently for the opposition, pro-Sheremetev forces refuse to dispatch their cavalry.

    “When husbands had been shot or even tonsured, their wives had been sent off to the nunnery. ”

    Shooting them would be both a waste of gunpowder, below their station and completely inappropriate for the time period. More likely, they were to be re-married, then sent into a monastery.

    “She looked over at Tatyana Dolmatov-Karpov. She was the widow of Lev Dolmatov-Karpov, who was an ally of Sofia’s family on the duma, and been executed in the weeks after Czar Mikhail escaped. Tatyana was the low end of the great houses, but her family was deeply involved in the mica mines.”

    Lev Dolmatov-Karpov had been fairly recently promoted to okol’nichiy and entered Boyar Duma in 1626. In 1628-1629 he served as deputy to the head of the Prikaz of Investigations under prince Suleshev, and then in 1630-31 headed it himself. Despite the name – this Prikaz dealt exclusively with the “strong people” overstepping their authority and their involvement in corruption. Mikhail Shein was in charge of it in 1620-21 and in 1625-28, earning himself A LOT of enemies. In 1629 by the order of Philaret Lev Ivanovich Dolmatov-Karpov and dyak Ivan Gryazev were charged with setting up fire-fighting service in Moscow. He had been left in charge of Moscow during czar’s absence (usually – a few months long) from the city in 1629, 1630, 1631 and 1632.

    What he could possibly “defend” before other, proper boyars and princes of the blood, why would he do that, is beyond me. What about his nephew Fyodor Borisovich? He (if alive) should be now the eldest member of the family and, thus, be in charge of widows, orphans and, yes, manage the business. If he is alive – why? If not – why?

    Who are the parents of the now widowed Tatyana, i.e. how does she figure in the grand scheme of aristocratic dynasties? Have you thought it over? What was the point of this little, seemingly unnecessary tidbit? To bloat the cast of characters even more? Why? WHY?

    “You can create downtimers, but an invented downtimer needs to be, as Eric said about Gretchen Richter, “beyond the reach of history’s notice.” No inventing princes or princesses. You can add members to historical families (as Eric did with Rebecca and Balthazar Abrabanel) or create new families (like the Richter clan), just so long as they aren’t too prominent.

    “Which brings us to the second problem, which is historical accuracy. When your story deals with events which occurred before the Ring of Fire (April 2, 2000, and May 25, 1631), it needs to meet the standards of historical fiction. In essence, you must not be inconsistent with reasonably accessible historical sources

    “When you write about events after the Ring of Fire, you have moved from historical fiction to alternative history…

    “Hence, if what you are describing is noticeably at odds with what happened in our timeline, there has to be some reasonably plausible and apparent explanation for why that deviation could have occurred. (As opposed to saying it is because a swallowtail flew out of the Ring of Fire.) Many of the deviations recorded in canon already are because of direct interaction between the downtimers and the uptimers (or their possessions). As we move away from the date of the Ring of Fire, the repercussions become indirect…

    “The third possible Big Picture problem is giving abilities or resources to the uptimers which they are unlikely to have (or which it would spoil the story to let them have)… It is equally undesirable to over (or under) estimate what the downtimers are capable of, both in terms of duplicating uptime technology, and accepting social change.”

    […]

    Keep your characters believable. If your character is a superhero, it is tough to put plausible obstacles in his or her path. Worse, your readers are going to have trouble empathizing. You want the readers to worry about your protagonist.

    Good people have flaws. Bad people have redeeming qualities. Richelieu likes cats, after all.”
    – So you want to write a Grantville Gazette Story by Iver Cooper

  2. Lyttenburgh says:

    P.S.

    ***

    Barbossa: The world used to be a bigger place.
    Jack Sparrow: World’s still the same. There’s just less in it.
    Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End.

    ***

    By now we had an opportunity to read about half of the book (15 out of 33 Chapters). By now everyone should have got an impression, of what it holds in stock for us. What’s been written could not be ignored or dismissed. It’s already here. It’s already – for worse – a part of the RoF verse.

    These should be kept in mind, while reading the following message from Eric Flint’s Facebook page (emphasis mine):

    11 December 2017 •
    =======================
    I just turned in my corrections to the page proofs of 1637: THE VOLGA RULES, which is being published by Baen Books in February. It’s the direct sequel to 1636: THE KREMLIN GAMES, for those of you following the Ring of Fire series.

    Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett are my co-authors on the novel. We wrote it quite a while ago but had to sit on it because we’d gotten a little too far ahead of the rest of the series. Up to a point, you can do that with the Russian story line, since so far it’s been a little separated from the rest of the series. But you can only do it up to a point, because by the end of VOLGA RULES the Russian story line is starting to intersect with the main story line of the series, which means…

    Whine. I’m going to have to figure out how to make it mesh with my next solo novel in the series — working title 1637: THE POLISH FRACAS — which I will start writing in…

    (calculate, calculate)

    Somewhere between four and eight weeks from now. First I’ve got to finish ALL THE PLAGUES OF HELL and write about eight chapters in COUNCIL OF FIRE (which is also a working title so don’t get too attached to it.)

    On the cheery side, it’s been so long since Gorg and Paula and I wrote VOLGA RULES that I’d forgotten how good it is. :) I’m pleased with the novel. It’s really a very nice addition to the RoF series

    […]

    The last pagaraph allows us to draw two conclusions. First – Eric Flint have “forgotten” the contents of the book he co-wrote just 2.5 years ago. It would be pure speculation on my part, trying to deduce why he forgot (The novel was SO forgettable? His own input worthy of remembering for the posterior was not big to being with? He have trouble remembering stuff?). Second – Eric Flint placed a seal of his approval on the end result. The book would be a “very nice addition to the RoF series”

    […]

    Mr. Flint expressed his support and approval for a novel, which:

    A) Suffers from a humongous “you-can-fit-a-battleship-here” plot holes and inconsistencies in the internal logic of the RoF-verse and previously established facts and suppositions, of what is realistic and what is not.

    B) Is choke-full of historical inaccuracies, anachronisms and, in general, demonstrates nearly a complete lack of any historical knowledge on behalf of its authors about the time period and place they are writing about. Add to that an apparent inability to write downtimer character as intended, and not as an “uptimer in funny clothes”, i.e. fail in portrayal of the downtimers mentality. A lot of things that are presented as “common knowledge” upon which the ramshackle plot of the novel tries to base itself (e.g. the situation with the serfdom in Russia in early 17 c.) are simply wrong.

    C) Has a gigantic cast of NEW characters, who are flat, implausible, underdeveloped, impossible to relate or feel any empathy to, who lack realistic motivations for their actions, and who are written so badly, you have trouble distinguishing their “voices”.

    D) Has a semi-return of the cast of the OLD characters, who are flat, implausible, underdeveloped, impossible to relate or feel any empathy to, who lack realistic motivations for their actions, and who are written so badly, you have trouble distinguishing their “voices”.

    E) Thus suffers from the constant conflict between (C) and (D) for the place under a spotlight, which results that NO ONE gets enough time to “shine”, and, instead EVERYONE is still looking as incredibly boring, shallow two-bit characters.

    F) By its essence is just a barely disguised “second-hand” feeling of the plot and the setting, i.e. that it is just shameless recycling of the tropes and ideas about your typical “Great Trek West” novel recycled in RoF verse. The end result is grotesque monstrosity, a patchwork beast, a chimera… Something, that offends the fabric of reality itself, poses a danger to the normal world and practically begs to be put out of its misery. Shampoo, beer and gasoline are all useful (human made) liquids. But you won’t sue shampoo as fuel for a car, or wash your hair with a beer, or relax in a company by drinking gasoline. Worst still is when you try to mix any two or all three of them for the “greater effect”, based on their individual usefulness. Even their standalone usefulness could be questioned (e.g. by those, who don’t drink alcohol) – then why even *you* try to mix them?

    G) Is one giant ticking bomb, placed under entire edifice of RoF verse, that is bound only to complicate and muddle things even further for other authors and plotlines in the long run, whether they will ignore and contradict the novel, or (which is worse) if they will take the events into an account. When this bomb goes off – “when”, not “if” – the consequences would be most dire for the overall consistency.

    So you can understand my utter shock, when none other than Eric Flint, a person who brought this fictional universe to life, which had been thriving for years now, gaining new readers and followers, which sparked a community of enthusiasts interested in the time period, technologies and, most importantly in ideas and messages of the series (by now – multi-authored and multi-medium), that the person who was in the beginning of ALL that would endorse something like 1637: The Volga Rules. That was… tune deaf, to put it mildly.

    Mr. Flint! Past 2 year period (2015-2017) was not really so great for the RoF verse books. Most of them were at best, mediocre, at worst – shamefully bad. The overall quality of the books by your “junior co-authors” is really, really sub-par. The attempt to establish yet another “branch” of the Assiti Shards series this year via the novel “Alexander Heirs” was an abysmal flop.

    But you didn’t endorse any of these books in such colorful, sure language as you did for this particular novel. I understand – and see nothing dishonest – in writing something along the line “Hey! New book in my series soon will hit the shelves – buy it!”. It’s very neutral. You don’t pass the judgment on the potential quality of the book. The mere fact that *you* are recommending it should be enough.

    Not this time. Not with this book. Why? This book is indefensible and full of flaws, which precludes it from being objectively called “a very nice addition to the RoF series”.

    Pardon me for saying what I’m about to say. It might even sound harsh. Yet… This collaborative work between you, Huff&Goodlett is what the Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Dead Men Tell No Tales was to a franchise – an atrocious, superficial, totally unnecessary sequel within a sinking franchise already not lacking in atrocious unnecessary sequels WHICH simultaneously manages to render all previously established inner-setting logic and continuity null and void. “Nothing is True. Everything is Permitted”!

    [Oh, and this also makes “Alexander’s Heirs” by you and the same power duo a RoF version of the Alien: Covenant. Yes – that bad. Yes – characters that stupid. Yes – that cringeworthy]

    How can all official RoF sites and communities devoted to the series expound from its commenters and would be authors such virtues as being knowledgeable, talented, hardworking and willing to improve, while you, yourself are endorsing anything that is opposite to that? Does it mean that someone is wrong? That, from now on, a proverbial legion of monkeys behind typewriter have better chance of seeing their “story” published and lauded in RoF canon, than the people, who actually devote themselves to research of the time period, to precise and biological sciences, to the art of the literature?

    If the answer is “YES – WE DON’T CARE ANYMORE!” then… pardon me again, Mr. Flint. Pardon me if you may. If can’t muster yourself to do that – I would understand. Still, I have to tell that.

    Mr. Flint – would you instead of going and paying a (sadly – necessary) visit to the oncologist and cardiologist, instead go to some kind of charlatan, who’d “prescribe” you:

    – A patented world-famous snake-oil cure-it-all.
    – A course of drinking herbal teas for the next 13 months.
    – Prayer, fasting and pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
    – Clean your Third Eye with a patented (only $9.99 this time!) Shambalan Third-Eye Cleaner
    – Something even more insane and potentially harmful

    would you do that? Would you embrace such sweet all-healing fantasy? Would you prefer it to the real science? Could you describe this as a “fair deal”, as a real medicine? And if someone of your friends and relatives would come to you and say – “Stop! You are killing yourself! Go and see a proper doctor”, would you chase them away? The question is – do you still CARE? Do you recognize the objective reality? Do you recognize the… value of something or other? Do you?

    I hope you’d answer yes. That’d mean that you still posses basic human capability of distinguishing “good” from “bad”. But this begs a further question – then how such, apparently, cognizant person, can be so blind to the objective badness of something like… this book? How? How can you call something “nice” and “worthy”, if the whole premise if this literary work is based on a lie and runs against your initial message of 1632: one, that the change would be hard, dangerous, require a lot of compromises and sacrifices, yet – still possible; two, that the your heroes are not supermen, but ordinary, all too real people stuck into extraordinary situations, and, three, that instead of “colonization” by the uptimers with downtimers slavishly debasing themselves in various forms of cargo-cultism, there will be a synthesis of the ideas of the “past” that is now, and the “future” that would never ever be.

    P.P.S. Oh, and as for the epigraph – yeah, I wonder, did the world of RoF shrank so much, that the people who devote themselves to the learning about the period and what makes the world and us, people, “tick”, to be excluded from the Brave New RoF – more casual and… brainless.

    By now you should be writing… something… under a working title 1637: THE POLISH FRACAS. All by yourself – without co-authors to shift any blame. Mr. Flint! Go ahead. Do your worse. I believe in you.

    • Terranovan says:

      Oh, gee. I guess this means that Mr. Flint doesn’t care to consult every random reader about how to write his books. I think that I’ll still enjoy this book, regardless of your opinion.
      If I got the treatment that you describe from a doctor, I’d leave that doctor, get a second opinion, and never see that doctor again. Translating that course of action into literature would be: never reading any snippets from the 1632verse, any sample chapters from any of the novels, or any stories from the Grantville Gazette. I invite you to do just that.

      • Lyttenburgh says:

        This:

        “If I got the treatment that you describe from a doctor, I’d leave that doctor, get a second opinion, and never see that doctor again.”

        combined with this:

        “Oh, gee. I guess this means that Mr. Flint doesn’t care to consult every random reader about how to write his books. I think that I’ll still enjoy this book, regardless of your opinion.”

        means, you’d rather die, just to spite me ;)

        • Terranovan says:

          I can’t understand how you get a death wish out of that post. Maybe my life’s very breath doesn’t depend on historical accuracy? Or maybe Volga Rules isn’t as terrible as you think? (Maybe we can agree to disagree on that).
          If I wanted strict historical accuracy, I’d go to the nonfiction section of the bookstore.
          If I wanted to persuade an author to change how a book is written, I wouldn’t do it by insulting his/her intelligence, work ethic, and integrity.

          • Lyttenburgh says:

            “Maybe my life’s very breath doesn’t depend on historical accuracy? Or maybe Volga Rules isn’t as terrible as you think?”

            No-no-no! You just demonstrated in your previous comment (“If I got the treatment that you describe from a doctor, I’d leave that doctor, get a second opinion, and never see that doctor again.”) that you possess enough mental capacity, to differentia objectively “good” from objectively “bad”, guided by a set of criterions. I.e. – you are fully cognizant person, capable of making an informed choice based on something you consider to be “right” and “good”. No, can you explain what you think are “good”, “nice” and “right” things in this particular novel? What are your “pull factors”? Because, as you can probably, see, I can prove my point. You, Terranovan?

            “Maybe we can agree to disagree on that”

            That’s a cop-out. That kind of reasoning would presume, that “Everything is Permitted” ™, because there are no objective criterions to evaluate this or that thing. This is purely postmodernist approach where literally everything is proclaimed to be just a matter of “taste”.

            It’s been said for many, many times by the people much smarter (and less notorious) than me, that the culture of any society, people or the nation exist not just in the “intellectual/spiritual sphere”, but also in the hard reality of the here and now. Culture is not just literature, architecture, visual arts etc, but also a language, psychological archetypes, religious and/or moral norms, customs, traditions and superstitions – i.e. everything that makes up any given ethnos (the people) as the one distinct material entity. Any given culture is no less real than the electro-magnetic field.

            Now, an absolute “freedom” (be it of choice, speech, taste or expression) and culture are incompatible. Absolute freedom of choice means the lack of criterions of the choice, i.e. the senselessness, pure randomness of any such choice. This post-modernist “freedom” is no different from the “freedom” of the electron which behavior cannot really be predicted. But does it mean that such electron is rich in culture and demonstrates good taste? Is the elementary particle the pinnacle of the (post-modernist) human development?

            Work of literature is not a chewing gum or a fastfood. It’ part of (now increasingly global) human culture. To allow those involved directly with it (e.g. – the writers) to do their job sloppily is no different from being lenient to the charlatans claiming to be doctors.

            “If I wanted strict historical accuracy, I’d go to the nonfiction section of the bookstore.”

            HBO’s ROME are absolutely terrific TV series, which I still like to re-watch. Yet, every time I re-watch them I notice more and more historic inaccuracies. Does it make the series overall bad? No. It is compensated by the overall quality of production, acting, dialogs, (mostly) consistent internal logic, humor, “message” and, oh, the fact, that mostly the producers of the show remained true to the history. That are my “pull factors”. Does it make the series historically accurate? No. But, taken together these factors make up not ideal, but quite close to that whole. Which could not be said about the novel in question.

            “If I wanted to persuade an author to change how a book is written, I wouldn’t do it by insulting his/her intelligence, work ethic, and integrity”

            How would you persuade an author to change how a book is written?

      • Bret Hooper says:

        Excellent comment, Terranovan! I second the invitation.

    • Lyttenburgh says:

      Correction:

      Instead of *Alexander’s Heirs* should be “The Alexander Inheritance“. Got it all mixed up with “Heirs of Alexandria”… Which, btw, tells a lot about the creativity when it comes to coming up with a new title for your novel.

      • Bret Hooper says:

        So now Gorg & Paula even get the blame for YOUR mistakes. A new low?

        I must admit that it was nice to read the rest of the book without encountering a book-length list of sophomoric criticisms.

        • Bret Hooper says:

          And kudos to Tom Kidd for the cover of Volga Rules, for his closest approach yet to drawing a pretty girl.

        • Lyttenburgh says:

          “So now Gorg & Paula even get the blame for YOUR mistakes. A new low?”

          Bret, I guess you are once again jumping to a conclusion. Where am I blaming Huff&Goodlett for something that I did/understood wrong?

          “I must admit that it was nice to read the rest of the book without encountering a book-length list of sophomoric criticisms.”

          Excellent! Now you can share with all of us your opinion. Tell us, what did you like the most.

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