Michael J. Martinez is the author of The Daedalus Incident, out now in ebook and due out in trade paperback in July. He spent 20 years in journalism and communications, writing other people’s stories, until he finally got up the nerve to try writing one of his own. In addition to Daedalus, he’s also serializing a novella, The Gravity of the Affair, on his website, www.michaeljmartinez.net. And he tweets now and then: @mikemartinez72. He lives in northern New Jersey with his amazing wife, wonderful daughter, and The Best Cat in the World.

[Photo by Anna Martinez]
The Joys And Perils Of Writing Historical Fantasy

By Michael J. Martinez

When I first approached writing The Daedalus Incident, I had yet to actually try my hand at any type of fiction, and I found the notion of historical fantasy oddly comforting. World-building can be very daunting, and I thought basing the book on the historical Age of Sail would make things easier.

And you know…it was. I had actual history to draw character and plot ideas from. I didn’t have to come up with a heap of odd fantasy-sounding names. I didn’t have to create my world from whole cloth.

But writing good historical fantasy has its own set of problems unique to the subgenre, and as I wrote and revised Daedalus, I came across a few things that I wrote down and kept in mind for future efforts – because, if all goes well, I’m hopeful The Daedalus Incident is just the first entry into this particular world.
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When I started this column I talked a little about what independent comics were, but not how we got here. Presently there are two major “mainstream” comics publishers in the United States: DC and Marvel. DC also produces comics under the Vertigo imprint. There are a handful of other large publishers, also working in the superhero genre, who are considered mainstream for a combination of size and content (though some of their titles are “creator owned”): Dark Horse, Image,  Valiant, and so on. It wasn’t always this way.

Before there was the independent comics of today, there were the alternative comics of the 1970s and 80s. Before that, we had underground comix, bringing all of the sex and drugs and violence the Comics Code Authority (formed in 1954) banned from mainstream comics. Before that was twenty years of transition from comic strips to comic books to angry parents and preachers burning comic books in defiance of their wicked depictions.

We call that the Golden Age of comics.

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BOOK REVIEW: Star Wars and History edited by Nancy R. Reagin and Janice Liedl

REVIEW SUMMARY: A unique and interesting resource when looking at history.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Science Fiction tends to be closely linked with contemporary history in more ways than one would expect. In this collection of papers, historians examine the parallels between real-world history and the Star Wars franchise.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: A neat and interesting way of looking at history.
CONS: Oversteps its bounds at points.
BOTTOM LINE: Know a Star Wars fan who’s having trouble with history? This volume might be the best way to get them interested.

When I was in grade school, I had trouble reading early on: the books that I had for my classes weren’t doing it for me, and it wasn’t until my parents gave me a couple of youth mystery novels (Encyclopedia Brown and the Hardy Boys), that my appetite for reading was realized, and I began consuming books with an ever increasing pace. I bring this up because this was the first thing that sprang to mind while reading through this history text: this is THE book for any kid in high school who’s struggling with the basics of history, and simply needs to look at it in a different light.

Star Wars and History examines various types of real-world history by comparing it to the events in the Star Wars franchise, and for the most part it works. As a fan of George Lucas’s franchise and as a professional historian, the mere existence of this book is exciting, because it combines two passions. On the face of it, it looks like a bit of a strange mash up much like those Victorian era novels juxtaposed with zombies or androids. But, the book reaffirms my belief that science fiction is an inherently political and relevant genre at the time of it’s creation: Star Wars being no exception. Cobbled together from a variety of source material, this book links a number of connections between the franchise and the real world. The topics are pretty far reaching, too: subjects such as insurgency and rebellion are covered, women in warfare, the American Civil War, leaders and power, trade and a whole host of others.

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