Tuesday, November 16, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 93

This is an ongoing series looking at books that influenced me as a fantasy author.

Ancient Inventions
by Peter James and Nick Thorpe

Ancient InventionsA fiction writer can learn a lot from non-fiction. In my case, mainly being a fantasy writer, I often learn quite a bit from books about history.

In this particular case, the book Ancient Inventions helped me learn just how intelligent and ingenious were ancient humans thousands of years ago.

Did you know ancient Romans had computers of sorts?

Did you know ancient Persians had batteries?

And did you know ancient Greeks had robots of sorts?

Probably not. Neither did I until read this book.

Now, I don't want to stretch things too far. The ancient computers and robots I mentioned above were not electrical, but mechanical devices, but they still qualify as rudimentary devices in their own right and would have been useful even a hundred years ago in the modern world.

And those batteries in ancient Persia? Archaeologists, historians and scientists are still not sure how or why ancient peoples in Persia had batteries. Did they even realize just what it was they did have?

As a fantasy writer, I feel sometimes those of us writing in pseudo-historical worlds sometimes rely a little too much on magic. We want something fancy to happen, so we say it was caused by magic. But in the real world, the ancient peoples were just as intelligent as we are today, they just hadn't been around long enough yet to make all the discoveries we consider commonplace today. For instance, mankind has only been using electricity commercially for not even two hundred years; that's a pretty short period of time, historically.

This book abounds with plenty of other inventions of ancient technologies, covering everything from ancient warfare to even sexual devices. If you want to learn, read this book. I'm sure there'll be more than a few surprises.

One last one: Brain surgery. Yes, the ancients could even perform brain surgery.

Up next: Encyclopedia of Western Gunfighters

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