Friday, January 08, 2010

Another Awesome Writing Contest!!

Once again the talented Jason Evans is having short fiction contest, and there's still time to enter! Go here for all the details, or just to read the fantastic stories. Below is my entry (notice I snuck in a couple of references to Ancient Greece). Enjoy!

The Crow and the Raven

"A crow. How funny."

"I don’t think that was a crow."

"Do you know the story of the White Crow, Phoenix?" Robin's black eyes were small and beady and full of anger.

"There are white crows?"

"A snow-white crow was left by the god Apollo to watch over his love, Coronis. But she cheated on him. Betrayed him. He could never forgive her. Never! So you know what he did? He turned the crow black."

"What did the crow have to do with it?"

"Did you know that a flock of crows is called a murder?" She laughed hoarsely, then reached into her purse. Out came a .44. Where had she gotten that?

"Crows are the spirits of revenge," she hissed at me as she pointed the gun at my forehead. It shook in her hand, the metal softly pulsing in the sun's dying rays. I did the obligatory reach for the sky, and tried to keep my voice reasonable. Calm.

"Robin, it wasn't a crow. Really."

"It doesn't matter, does it? You'll just come back. That's what the Phoenix does, right? It rises from the ashes.”

"You’re not threatening to burn me, you're threatening to shoot me."

"It doesn’t matter. When you come back, we can start again."

An explosion followed, so violent it knocked me on my back. My sight started to fade.

It wasn't a crow, was my last thought. It was a raven.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Is Thucydides a Spin Doctor?

I stumbled upon this article on Thucydides while searching for archeological news on Ancient Greece and thought it might be of interest to my readers:

Was Ancient Historian One Of The First Spin Doctors?

Normally it's Herodotus who takes a brutal beating for spinning tales and composing stories (Thucydides himself once lead the charge), but Yale professor Dr. Donald Kagan dares to suggest that the pragmatic historian may have done some spinning of his own. His book Thucydides: The Reinvention of History tries to prove this point.

I haven't read the book (though I plan to), but it made me think: is history really always written by the winners? Is there any such thing as an un-biased historian? Can history really be re-invented? Or is it simply erased, glossed over by those who don't want the truth to come out?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Paul Cartledge strikes again (a short book review).

I love Paul Cartledge.

He's a brilliant professor of Greek history and has written several articles and books on the subject (Sparta especially). I often refer to these works when I'm working on my novel. So of course I was excited to learn that he has a new book out.

Ancient Greece: A History in Eleven Cities is somewhat of a beginner's guide to Ancient Greece, but still more advanced than say, Ancient Greece for Dummies. It's a good place to start for those with more than a fleeting interest in the subject.

In his latest work, Paul Cartledge attempts to condense the entire history of Ancient Greece into a few hundred pages; a herculean task if there ever was one. He starts from the beginning--literally--by introducing readers to the island culture of Cnossos around 3000 BCE, and ends with the rise and fall of Byzantion. His choice of cities may appear somewhat arbitrary at first (Massalia?), but as he explains in his introduction he actually picked each city carefully. Many of the smaller islands or lesser-known polis were home to many famous philosophers and powerful Greeks, as well locations for many historic battles.

It's a short book and will not be the most detailed thing you've ever read on Ancient Greece, but it is useful for those who want to brush up on their ancient history. Here's a list of cities covered in the book:

1) Cnossos
2) Mycenae
3) Argos
4) Miletus
5) Massalia
6) Sparta
7) Athens
8) Syracuse
9) Thebes
10) Alexandria
11) Byzantion