Days of Yore

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10 Years Ago

Quipu 6 reported from Wiscon 20: "The high point of the con for me [Vicki Rosezweig] was the performance based on Le Guin.s novel Always Coming Home. It was a combination of dance, singing, chanting, and staged reading. ...

"The final script, as edited by Jae Leslie Adams, consisted of two main parts: a greatly abridged version of Stone Telling.s story, which is the longest narrative in the novel, and 'A Hole in the Air,' a shorter piece about a man from that future world who finds himself in a world much like ours, but colored by Kesh myth. The Stone Telling part was divided into nine pieces, and exactly nine women who wanted to read pieces showed up at the first rehearsal Friday evening. We each told Larry which piece or pieces we were interested in, and everyone got something she wanted. It felt like a good omen. ...

"'A Hole in the Air' was read by three men who stood at one side of the stage, reading alternating sentences, while two dancers acted out the story. The alternation worked quite well, making the story seem like a traditional tale, being told by people whose myth it was. I was very impressed by the dancers' ability to quickly show us a man being run over by a car, dying, and getting up again. ...

"The singers and dancers hadn't rehearsed with the narrators, so much of the performance was new to us as well as to the audience. The show ended as it had begun, with all the performers on stage, doing the long singing 'heya' chant from the book; at the end, we moved into the audience and encouraged them to join us."

100 Years Ago

Completion of HMS Dreadnought, the ship which revolutionized battleship design. Rather than a mixture of armaments, Dreadnought carried only 305mm guns, the largest ones available at the time. The first steam turbines to appear in a battleship gave her a top speed of 21 knots, 3 knots faster than the typical battleships of the time.

A few years later, everyone was building ships like this. By WWI, the rapid advances in battleship technology had rendered Dreadnought nearly obsolete. Although she survived the war and was the only battleship to sink a submarine in WWI (by ramming the U-29), she was placed on reserve in 1919 and sold for scrap in 1922.

1000 Years Ago

A lady who would be known to future generations as Murasaki Shikibu, noted for her storytelling abilities, was recruited into the court of the Empress Shōshi by the empress's father, Fujiwara Michinaga. There, at Heian-kyo (later Kyoto), Lady Murasaki would complete her magnum opus, the Tale of Genji.

The Fujiwara clan was the real power in Japan at the time, and Michinaga was battling his cousin Fujiwara Korechika, brother to the other empress, Teishi, to be, essentially, the paramount ruler of Japan. By making Shōshi as comfortable as possible, Michinaga hoped to help her be the first to bear a male heir for the Emperor Ichijō, which she eventually did in 1015, cementing Michinaga.s power.

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