SF author (and Mefi's own) Charles Stross is thinking about the cliches in Space Opera and tries to put together a complete list of the hoary genre tropes that literary (no TV or movies) Space Opera is prone to.
'Silver Fork' or Fashionable Novels are the largely forgotten English popular novels of the 1820s and 30s which depicted aristocratic life and scandals as a how-to guide for rising middle-class readers while also exploring growing political and class anxieties in the post-Regency. Advice on how to romance, eat, party and raise children like a member of the upper class from Silver Fork novels via Bizarre Victoria (previously).
"The du Maurier sisters had, from their volatile, crowded childhood onward, formed this private country they could slip in and out of, where "menaces" and "Venetian tendencies" could be freely discussed. In other words, they found a way to use games of pretend to tell the absolute truth." - Carrie Frye on author Daphne du Maurier and her seminal gothic novel, Rebecca.
The gals at Anglo-Filles have an entertaining (and epicly long) talk about the history of Dracula and vampires as characters and symbols throughout the ages and throughout fiction - topics discussed include Varney The Vampire, The Vienna Vampire Scare, Where Does Sunlight Killing Vampires Come From, The Secret Spanish Dracula, and Jonathan Harker As An Abuse Survivor.
So, you want to eat like a hobbit do you? The big old dragon of Middle-Earth recipes is the charmingly retro 'Middle-Earth Recipes' (now with a more modern and photo-friendly blog version ) from which NPR's Beth Accomando has complied an all-day feasting menu suitable for marathon watching (or reading) assorted Lord Of The Rings media while Recipewise sticks to foods served by Bilbo in The Hobbit itself and explains the Victorian convention of high vs. low tea. (Author Diane Duane's own Hobbit-inspired recipe, Took Family Seed Cake can be made with poppy rather than caraway seed if that's your thing) Need something to do while digesting? Why not read about the history and meaning of the rural comfort food in Tolkien at Strange Horizons " Well Stocked Larders: Food And Diet Of Hobbits" by Stephanie Green.
The main thing about impersonation, Tom thought, was to maintain the mood and temperament of the person one was impersonating, and to assume the facial expressions that went with them.
If you wouldn't like living that way (in the lowest status slot in the pecking order), you're doing it wrong.
Metafilter's Own Charlie Stross asks the question; " You, and a quarter of a million other folks, have embarked on a 1000-year voyage aboard a hollowed-out asteroid. What sort of governance and society do you think would be most comfortable, not to mention likely to survive the trip without civil war, famine, and reigns of terror?" engrossing commentary follows. (via)