The Harlot’s Progress (BBC4) and The Georgian Underworld: A Study of Criminal Subcultures in Eighteenth-Century England by Rictor Norton

Historical fiction–speculative or otherwise–is a challenge for a number of reasons, but probably the biggest challenge is the problem of texture: how to get the texture of that alien historical world right? This is what impressed me about China Miéville’s depiction of Bas-Lag in Perdido Street Station (a book I discussed here a decade ago): […]

Bluebell the Fairy’s Birthday Present

A little break from serious posts… Late last year, I posted one chapter from the Reading Street textbook series that I cowrote with my former colleague Haeyoung Kim a few years ago. (That chapter was my second-favorite, a sort of anti-imperialist response to the kiddie portal fantasy subgenre, and a story I’m proud of, though it’s not quite […]

Yeast, as Understood in 1736

  I’m really glad I was able to get a second opinion on one little detail that has become of great importance to my ongoing novel project. That is: how well did brewers understand the function of yeast in brewing back in 1736? It might sound strange, but that detail is incredibly important in terms […]

Riots in Bình Dương

So, I don’t know if it’s hit your radar if you’re living outside the country, but Vietnam’s been having some pretty serious civil unrest the last couple of days: in an industrial area called Bin Duong Bình Dương , rather near to Saigon, factories were attacked, looted, and set on fire. The international news coverage seems to […]