Thursday, October 30, 2008

Spooky OUTLANDER moments

As Halloween approaches, I've been thinking about some of the spookiest, scariest, most eerie or supernatural moments in the OUTLANDER books.

For example:

  • Claire's encounter with Otter-Tooth's ghost in DRUMS

  • Margaret Campbell, the catatonic screaming woman in VOYAGER, speaking with Brianna's voice during the scene with the crocodile

  • Jamie's ghost in OUTLANDER

Do you have a favorite scary moment from the series? Or maybe not so much scary, as unexplainable by anything other than supernatural means?

Diana has had her own real-life encounters with ghosts. If you haven't seen her Alamo ghost story before, it's worth reading.

And speaking of ghost stories: In the scene in VOYAGER that takes place on Halloween night, just before Claire goes back through the stones, Claire and Roger discuss an old Scottish folk tale that had Roger scared out of his wits as a young boy. Rychane on Compuserve tracked this story down for me a couple of months ago.

Happy Halloween/All Hallows Eve/Samhain to all of you! <g>

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A little news about the graphic novel

Bits and pieces of information are starting to emerge about the upcoming graphic novel.

Diana's latest blog entry contains some interesting information about a preview of the graphic novel that will be available in a magazine article to be published in mid-November.

Also, on Compuserve today she confirmed:
  • we will get to see the scars on Jamie's back in the graphic novel
  • "we'll see both Claire and Jamie in their wedding gear"
You can see the whole discussion here.

(Note to Merrymags: Yeah, I did blog about the "strange and unusual words" <g>, but I'm reasonably sure Diana's never seen my blog, or at least she's never mentioned it to me. My guess is she's far too busy. I'm flattered that you would think to mention it in your comment to Diana, though.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

OUTLANDER Links, Part III: All Things Scottish

Here are some links related to Scotland, Scottish culture, and the Gaelic language.

Please note: I don't have a drop of Scottish blood myself, I don't speak Gaelic, and I've never attended a Gathering or Highland Games, much less visited Scotland myself. So I can't guarantee the authenticity of any of the information below.

Thanks to everyone who's been sending me links. I really appreciate it! <g>

1) Bodhran player - Thanks to my sister Alice for this one! I think he's terrific.

2) Scottish Place Names Around the World - It's amazing to think how widespread Scottish influence is, all over the world. (Has anybody read "How Scots Invented the Modern World" by Arthur Herman? I haven't, yet, but I keep meaning to. The title intrigues me.)

3) Beag air Bheag - a BBC site that teaches simple Gaelic vocabulary (with pronunciations!)

4) Fraser Clan site - thanks to Jari Backman for this link.

5) How to Wrap a Great Kilt - this one comes from Elsa, and I can't let it pass without quoting the scene in FIERY CROSS where Roger wears one:
"All right," he said with resignation. "Laugh if ye must." Getting into a belted plaid wasn't the most dignified thing a man could do, given that the most efficient method was to lie down on the pleated fabric and roll like a sausage on a girdle. Jamie could do it standing up, but then, the man had had practice.

(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 23 ("The Bard"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
6) Frasers of Lovat - note how much of the history of Simon Fraser, Jamie's grandfather ("the Old Fox"), described in DRAGONFLY, is documented historical fact. Including how he took wives by force and treachery.

7) Dictionary of the Scots Language - thanks to Atrevista for this one! Very useful for those of us who've never heard of the many Scots words used in the books, from "broch" to "hochmagandy" to "oxter". <g>

8) Scottish Wedding Accessories - Actually, this site has a lot more than just wedding-related items, but I heard about it first from Diana, in a post on Compuserve a few months ago, when she linked to a pendant that she particularly liked on this site.

9) Caithness Paperweights - I fell in love with these paperweights, manufactured by a Scottish company called Caithness, on a visit to Replacements near Greensboro, NC, about a year ago. I've started a collection (well, OK, so far I only have two, but every collection has to start somewhere, right?) In all honesty, I loved the paperweights even before I found out they were made in Scotland, but still....[UPDATE 3/20/2010: I have four of them now, and you can see my current collection here.]

If you have any more Scottish-related sites, please let me know!

If you find these links interesting, check out my other "OUTLANDER Links" blog entries:

OUTLANDER Links, Part 14: 18th Century Clothing
OUTLANDER Links, Part 13: Plants and Herbs
OUTLANDER Links, Part 12: Standing Stones
OUTLANDER Links, Part 11: Science and Technology
OUTLANDER Links, Part 10: Weaponry
OUTLANDER Links, Part 9: Historical Events
OUTLANDER Links, Part 8: 18th Century Medicine
OUTLANDER Links, Part VII: Gemstones
OUTLANDER Links, Part VI: Wildlife
OUTLANDER Links, Part V: Castles and Palaces
OUTLANDER Links, Part IV: Native Americans
OUTLANDER Links, Part II: Colonial North Carolina
OUTLANDER Links, Part I: Culloden
What Do These Things Look Like?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another new podcast from Diana

Here's the link to Diana's latest podcast:

http://www.its.caltech.edu/~gatti/gabaldon/media/podcasts/episode22.mp3

This one is about the places where she goes to meet and talk to fans: Highland Games, SF/fantasy conventions, and even prisons. Enjoy!

And if you want some visuals to accompany the part of the podcast where she talks about what it's like to attend a Highland Games, try this: 2007 Grandfather Mountain Highland Games (of course you'll have to turn down the bagpipe music that accompanies the slideshow <g>).

Have any of you actually attended a Highland Games, or a book-signing or other event where Diana was present? I haven't, myself, but if you want to share your experiences, I'd love to hear about them.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What I like about Claire

In honor of Claire Fraser's birthday on October 20th, I thought I'd share a few of my own thoughts about what makes her such a compelling character.

1) Adaptability

Claire shows an amazing capacity to adapt to unfamiliar conditions and changing circumstances, even when (as in OUTLANDER) she's had no warning whatsoever that a change is coming. Even in OUTLANDER, once she arrives at Castle Leoch the first time, rather than spending every minute plotting her escape, she manages to make a place for herself as a healer.

In VOYAGER, contemplating her return to the past, Claire thinks about what it will be like to leave behind all the modern conveniences of the 20th century:

Could I live without all the "conveniences," large and small, to which I was accustomed?

I had been asking myself that with each touch of a button, each rumble of a motor, and was quite sure that the answer was "yes." Time didn't make all the difference, after all; I could walk across the city and find people who lived without many of these conveniences--farther abroad and there were entire countries where people lived in reasonable content and complete ignorance of electricity.

For myself, I had never cared a lot. I had lived with my uncle Lamb, an eminent archaeologist, since my own parents' death when I was five. Consequently, I had grown up in conditions that could conservatively be called "primitive," as I accompanied him on all his field expeditions.
(From Voyager by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 19 ("To Lay a Ghost"). Copyright © 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

There is no question that Claire seems to adapt to 18th-century life more quickly and more easily than a lot of us imagine that we would in the same circumstances. (And she adapts much more readily than Brianna does, certainly.) Jamie's presence has a lot to do with that, of course; Claire is willing to put up with a lot, even sleeping on the cold, hard ground in close proximity to a battlefield, just to be near him.

2) Stubbornness

As much as everyone talks about the vaunted Fraser stubbornness, I think Claire is at least a match for Jamie in that respect. She doesn't give up easily, even when faced with overwhelming odds. (Examples include the scene in OUTLANDER when she fought off the wolf with her bare hands, or the infamous "wife-beating" scene.) You get the sense that she'll move heaven and earth to protect the ones she loves, no matter what it costs her.

"Jamie," I said, into the folds of his plaid. "I'm going back with you."

He started back, staring down at me.

"The hell you are!" he said.

"I am." I felt very calm, with no trace of doubt. "I can make a kilt of my arisaid; there are enough young boys with the army that I can pass for one. You've said yourself it will all be confusion. No one will notice."

"No!" he said. "No, Claire!" His jaw was clenched, and he was glaring at me with a mixture of anger and horror.

"If you're not afraid, I'm not either," I said, firming my own jaw. "It will...be over quickly. You said so." My chin was beginning to quiver, despite my determination. "Jamie--I won't...I can't...I bloody won't live without you, and that's all!"

(From Dragonfly In Amber by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 46 ("Timor Mortis Conturbat Me"). Copyright ©1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

I think there's no way on earth she would have left him at that point, if he hadn't begged her to do so for the sake of their unborn child. It was the only possible way he could overcome her stubbornness and determination.

3) Medical Skills

Claire's medical knowledge and skill have impressed me from the very beginning. I love the scene in OUTLANDER where she sets Jamie's broken fingers, overcoming her own fear and distress in the face of this dire medical emergency, and managing, despite her lack of experience, to repair the damage well enough so that he could still use the hand.

I love watching Claire work as a surgeon, though sometimes she surprises me, as when she occasionally operates by "feel":

I felt the fibrous parting of skin and fascia, resistance, then the soft pop as the blade went in. There was a sudden loud gurgle, and a wet kind of whistling noise; the sound of air being sucked through blood. Roger's chest moved. I felt it, and it was only then that I realized my eyes were still shut.

(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 69 ("Hideous Emergency"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

What else? Are there other aspects of Claire's personality that you particularly like, or dislike? And why?

Friday, October 17, 2008

OUTLANDER Links, Part II: Colonial North Carolina

Here are some links to various sites relating to Colonial North Carolina, the American Revolution, and colonial life in general:
Merrymags sent in the following links:
http://www.northcarolinahistory.org/ - Check out the encyclopedia. Fascinating stuff!
http://www.ncssar.com/ - This is the site of the North Carolina Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.
This one comes from Jari Backman:
http://tinyurl.com/3fokmh - Lots of interesting facts about Governor Josiah Martin of North Carolina, mentioned in ABOSAA.
And here are some that I found:
http://jas-townsend.com/ - A site for 18th century re-enactors, including tons of photos of objects, clothing, etc., in use in everyday life. And all of it is available for sale! <g>

http://ncpedia.org/history/usrevolution/moores-creek-bridge - Moore's Creek Battlefield site (commemorating the battle described in ABOSAA)


http://www.ncfolk.org/TravelGuides/Groundhog_kilns.aspx - A "groundhog kiln" similar to the one Brianna tried to build in ABOSAA
And finally, here's a book about 18th century clothing, with lots of illustrations, that I found on a visit to Colonial Williamsburg in September. (Sorry I can't post pictures from the book here, but it's copyrighted material.) I highly recommend this book if you are curious about what the various items of clothing mentioned in the OUTLANDER and Lord John books actually looked like.

That's all for now. If you come across any more links that you think others would like to see, please pass them along!

If you find these links interesting, check out my other "OUTLANDER Links" blog entries:

OUTLANDER Links, Part 14: 18th Century Clothing
OUTLANDER Links, Part 13: Plants and Herbs
OUTLANDER Links, Part 12: Standing Stones
OUTLANDER Links, Part 11: Science and Technology
OUTLANDER Links, Part 10: Weaponry
OUTLANDER Links, Part 9: Historical Events
OUTLANDER Links, Part 8: 18th Century Medicine
OUTLANDER Links, Part VII: Gemstones
OUTLANDER Links, Part VI: Wildlife
OUTLANDER Links, Part V: Castles and Palaces
OUTLANDER Links, Part IV: Native Americans
OUTLANDER Links, Part III: All Things Scottish
OUTLANDER Links, Part I: Culloden
What Do These Things Look Like?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Brianna's bracelet is now available!

I just saw this announcement from M&M on the Ladies of Lallybroch site, and wanted to pass it on: Brianna's bracelet is now available for sale!



Okay, here's the scoop in a nutshell. :-)

When I went to visit the Claire's Ring jewelers before Fergus last year, he gave me a really cool Claire's cuff bracelet made from the design of the Claire's ring. I then asked if he could make one for the others that it wouldn't of happened w/o them...DG, Janice, DG's elf Susan, and Elaine (not of the boards) who put the design together.

While chatting I said...it would be really great if someone made jewelry for really popular books, or just great fiction, that nobody does anything for people that love to read. He basically said if I designed some things, they would come up with some stuff too, and I could make a website for it all.

So the next time I saw Diana (at a book signing in Chicago) I asked her if we could sell "Brianna's Bracelet", the cuff, some other neat things, and other things from the books, she graciously said, yes. After many designs, molds were made, samples made, photographed, an online store was born. Brianna's bracelet is there, among other Outlandish treasures, and so far some Jane Austen, Anya Seton, and Charlotte Bronte.

You can see the bracelet (along with other OUTLANDER-themed jewelry) and the ordering information here:

http://www.theauthorsattic.com/gabaldon.htm#DianaGabaldon

Please pass this link on to anyone you think might be interested! And thanks very much to Michelle/M&M at LOL for making this happen for us.

Disclaimer: I have no connection to the site selling these bracelets, or Claire's ring, or anything else you may find there. So if you have questions about the jewelry, click on the Contact Us link on the site I linked to above, and ask your questions there. Or ask on the LOL site.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

ECHO's shape: It's a caltrop

Diana mentioned yesterday on Compuserve that she thinks she's seen the "shape" of AN ECHO IN THE BONE.

It's a caltrop.

This has sparked a very interesting discussion on Compuserve, regarding all the various meanings of the word, and what you can do with an object shaped like that. I would encourage you to check it out.

Oh, and this relates back to my blog entry about Diana's strange and unusual words, because I'd never heard of the word caltrop until I read DRUMS OF AUTUMN. Remember the scene where Claire is walking around barefoot in the strawberry field and steps on something sharp?

I had stepped on some sort of cocklebur; half a dozen vicious caltrops were stuck in my bare sole, blood drops welling from the tiny punctures. Precariously balanced on one foot, I tried to pick them out, cursing under my breath.

(From Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 16 ("The First Law of Thermodynamics"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

I think this is a fascinating shape that has a lot of potential for great storytelling.

Feel free to speculate here about what it means <g>, just please don't discuss anything you may have read in an excerpt. I'm still trying to avoid hearing anything about the plot of ECHO. Thanks.

Also please keep in mind, this isn't necessarily set in stone! A few weeks ago, Diana mentioned a slightly different shape for ECHO. So it evolves over time, and it might change again.

UPDATE 2/6/09 6:30 pm: Diana announced today that the U.S. cover will be black with a caltrop on it. Look here for a picture of the proposed cover art. I think it looks fantastic! If you want to comment, my latest blog entry on the subject is here.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

OUTLANDER Links, Part I: Culloden

The clan stones were large boulders of gray granite, rounded by weather and blotched with lichens. They sat on patches of smooth grass, widely scattered near the edge of the moor. Each one bore a single name, the carving so faded by weather as to be nearly illegible in some cases. MacGillivray. MacDonald. Fraser. Grant. Chisolm. MacKenzie.

(From Dragonfly In Amber by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 4 ("Culloden"). Copyright© 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

And here is a video of a Culloden re-enactment. I like the song playing in the background (performed by Isla Grant) very much. Thanks to Kristin Sanderson -- aka "Woogie" -- for the link!


Of course I can't let a mention of Culloden pass without noting that Jamie Fraser was there as well:
"Ye looked fair wild, man, for there was blood runnin' doon your face and your hair was loose on the wind. Ye'd sheathed your sword to carry me, but ye pulled it again as ye turned away. I didna think I should see ye again, for if ever I saw a man set to meet his death..."

He shook his head, his eyes half-closed, as though he saw not the sober, stalwart man before him, not the Fraser of Fraser's Ridge--but Red Jamie, the young warrior who had not gone back from gallantry, but because he sought to throw his life away, feeling it a burden--because he had lost me.

(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 7 ("Shrapnel"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here's the link to the Culloden Battlefield site in Scotland. Diana was there earlier this year (on the anniversary of the battle of Culloden that took place on April 16, 1746) to attend the dedication of their new Visitor's Centre. Go here to read her impressions of that visit. Some of you may already have seen this account on Diana's blog or on Compuserve, but if you haven't read it before, I highly recommend it! <g> Nothing like reading a firsthand description of what the area looks like, in Diana's own words.
If you find these links interesting, check out my other "OUTLANDER Links" blog entries:

OUTLANDER Links, Part 14: 18th Century Clothing
OUTLANDER Links, Part 13: Plants and Herbs
OUTLANDER Links, Part 12: Standing Stones
OUTLANDER Links, Part 11: Science and Technology
OUTLANDER Links, Part 10: Weaponry
OUTLANDER Links, Part 9: Historical Events
OUTLANDER Links, Part 8: 18th Century Medicine
OUTLANDER Links, Part VII: Gemstones
OUTLANDER Links, Part VI: Wildlife
OUTLANDER Links, Part V: Castles and Palaces
OUTLANDER Links, Part IV: Native Americans
OUTLANDER Links, Part III: All Things Scottish
OUTLANDER Links, Part II: Colonial North Carolina
What Do These Things Look Like?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Quotes relating to the current financial crisis

I've been pondering the state of the economy today. Hard not to think about it, with U.S. stocks still falling and the financial markets all over the world in trouble. I thought I'd take a look at what Diana has to say on the subject:

Speculative Bubbles

This quote is from Lord John's explanation of how his father ended up losing his title as Duke of Pardloe. It all started with a bubble that seems very reminiscent of what happened with tech stocks in the 1990's, or real estate prices today:

Within the previous five years, the price of South Sea shares had risen, from
ten pounds to a hundred, then dizzyingly, from a hundred to a thousand within a
year, driven up by rumor, greed--and not a little calculated chicanery on the
part of the company's directors. The duke sold his shares at this pinnacle.

"And a week--one week--later, the slide began." It had taken most of a
year for the full devastation of the great crash to become evident. Several
great families had been ruined; many lesser folk all but obliterated. And the
public outcry toward those seen to be responsible...

(From Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 4
("Chisping"). Copyright (c) 2007 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Foreclosures

This is, of course, neither a new problem nor one confined to the United States of the early 21st century. But foreclosures have been much in the news lately. I'm sure many of you can sympathize with Abel MacLennan's plight here:

"[Sheriff Travers] came with a paper, and said he mun' put us oot, and the taxes not paid."

Faced with necessity, Abel had left his wife in their cabin, and gone posthaste to Salem. But by the time he returned, six shillings in hand, his property had been seized and sold--to Howard Travers's father-in-law--and his cabin was inhabited by strangers, his wife gone.

(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 2 ("Loaves and Fishes"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Sudden Loss of Wealth

And here's one all you stock-market and mutual fund investors out there can relate to, from the scene in DRUMS OF AUTUMN just after Stephen Bonnet's attack leaves Jamie, Claire, and young Ian virtually destitute:

Even our perilous trip north had felt like an adventure, with the certain knowledge that we possessed a fortune, whether it was spendable or not. I had never before considered myself a person who placed much value on money, but having the certainty of security ripped away in this violent fashion had given me a sudden and quite unexpected attack of vertigo, as though I were falling down a long, dark well, powerless to stop.

(From Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 9 ("Two-Thirds of a Ghost"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.

A Final Note

I went out to lunch with some friends the other day at a Chinese restaurant. When it came time to open our fortune cookies, mine said, "You should be able to make money and hold on to it."

Under almost any other circumstances, I would have considered that a good omen, and a promise of good fortune. But considering the events of the last few weeks, that word "should" sort of jumped out at me. Does it mean that I should, under normal circumstances, be able to make money etc., but given today's economic climate, it won't be possible? Or is that too cynical a view?

Frankly, I would have found it a lot more reassuring if the fortune had said "you will" instead of "you should". <g> But I'll try to look on the positive side. It could have been a lot worse!

P.S. Thanks to everyone who's been sending me links. Keep 'em coming!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Share your favorite OUTLANDER links

I was really pleased with the response to last week's blog entry with the links to items mentioned in the books. Several people have asked me to do a follow-up. But this time, rather than doing all the research myself, I'd like to ask for your help.

Do you have any links you've collected, relating to the non-fictional aspects of the OUTLANDER books, that you think others might be interested in? Such as:

  • Revolutionary War battle sites, weaponry, uniforms, etc.
  • Information about historical figures mentioned in the books (and not just the later books, either. Charles Stuart, perhaps?)
  • Pictures of Scotland: the landscape, the wildlife, the flora and fauna of the Highlands. I've never been to Scotland, and would really love to see some pictures of what the area mentioned in the books looks like.
  • Pictures of Culloden, if anybody has them available. I've seen only the black-and-white picture of the Fraser stone in the OUTLANDISH COMPANION, and would be interested in seeing more.
  • 18th century clothing or other items in use in daily life (either in Scotland or the Colonies) that have been mentioned in the books.
  • Kilts, tartans, and so on. (Anybody have a picture of a Scot dressed up in full Fraser clan regalia? <g> I would love to see that.)
  • Anything else you've run across that you think others would like to see?
If you're interested, you can either post the links here, or send me an email. (My email address is at the bottom of this screen, on the right.) I'll sort through them and post my favorite ones in a future blog entry.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Monday, October 6, 2008

New Diana Gabaldon podcast: "Battlefields"

Diana has posted another new podcast on her web site, here:

http://66.147.244.179/~dianagab/media/podcasts/episode21.mp3

This one is all about writing battle scenes. It includes an excerpt from AN ECHO IN THE BONE. (Once again, I would ask you please not to discuss that excerpt here. An excellent place for excerpt discussions is the Ladies of Lallybroch Excerpt Board.)

This podcast is about 11 minutes long. It might be of more interest to writers than non-writers, but Diana is always worth listening to. <g>

(Updated 6/7/2010 to fix link.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

What do these things look like?

There are many items mentioned in Diana Gabaldon's books that are difficult for modern readers to picture, because we don't have a frame of reference for what they look like in real life. Here are some links I've collected that show what some of these things (and people!) actually look like:

1. Astrolabe (mentioned in THE FIERY CROSS, chapter 77, "A Package From London")
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Yale%27s_Hartmann_astrolabe.jpg

The Wikipedia article on astrolabes from which I got this picture indicates that this is a 16th century brass model, but you can easily imagine it gold-plated, with Jamie's name engraved on it. <g>

2. Bilboquet (18th century toy)
http://jas-townsend.com/product_info.php?cPath=13&products_id=306

Placing the hand over his eye, he fixed the other piercingly on the bilboquet and gave the ivory cup a toss. The tethered ball leaped from its socket into an arc, and dropped as though guided by radar, landing back in its cup with a snug little plop.
(From Dragonfly In Amber by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 12 ("L'Hopital des Anges"). Copyright © 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.
I saw this in a gift shop in Colonial Williamsburg in September. Naturally, the moment I saw it, I decided I had to have one. It's not nearly as easy as it looks! <g> This may not look exactly like the French version mentioned in DRAGONFLY, but the basic idea is the same.

3. Dirk and sgian dubh
http://www.oregonknifeclub.org/dirk.html

Thanks to Jari Backman for this link, which shows exactly what a dirk looks like. They're larger than I'd thought!

4. Barrel-type butter churn
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Leeds_butter_churn.jpg

This is, presumably, the same type of butter churn mentioned in FIERY CROSS:


"Oh, no, Father; it was a barrel churn. The sort that lies on its side, aye, with a wee handle to turn it? Well, it's only that she was workin' the churn with great vigor, and the laces of her bodice undone, so that her breasts wobbled to and fro, and the cloth clinging to her with the sweat of her work. Now, the churn was just the right height--and curved, aye?--so as to make me think of bendin' her across it and lifting her skirts, and--"

My mouth opened involuntarily in shock. That was my bodice he was describing, my breasts, and my butter churn!
(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 13 ("Beans and Barbecue"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

5. Mammoth skeleton
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=5337024

This is a picture of a mammoth skeleton from a museum in Milwaukee. Just imagine what Ian and Brianna must have thought, to see those enormous tusks curving up out of the ground:


The raked arches of ribs rose huge from the dirt, and she had the impression of a scatter of things half-buried in the rubble at the foot of the bank: enormous things, knobbed and twisted. They might be bones or simply boulders--but it was the tusk that caught her eye, jutting from the bank in a massive curve, intensely familiar, and the more startling for its very familiarity.

(From A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 70 ("Emily"). Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
6. Rhododendron hell
http://www.flickr.com/photos/79666107@N00/1098653091/

Remember the rhododendron hell Roger was trapped in while trying to escape from the Indians in DRUMS?


He looked upward, through the snarl of branches. He could see small patches of sky, but the rhododendrons rose nearly twelve feet over his head. There was no way to stand up; he could barely sit upright under the interlacing branches.
(From DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 51 ("Betrayal"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
7. Here is a picture of Simon Fraser (the "Old Fox", Jamie's grandfather)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:William_Hogarth_-_Simon,_Lord_Lovat.png

Also look here for more information. The "Old Fox" was an actual historical figure. Notice the eyes in this portrait; these are the "gull-wing brows" that Jamie inherited. <g>

8. Passenger pigeon
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passenger_pigeon
http://www.wbu.com/chipperwoods/photos/passpigeon.htm

This was something that very much startled me the first time I read FIERY CROSS:


It was impossible to make out individual birds in that violent cascade; it was no more than a river of feathers that filled the sky from one side to the other. Above the thunder of the wings, I could hear the birds calling to each other, a constant sussurrus of sound, like a wind storm rushing through the forest."
(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 82 ("A Darkening Sky"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Finally, here are a couple of items that I was curious about:

9. Banyan (men's dressing gown), worn by Lord John:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:J_S_Copley_-_Nicolas_Boylston.jpg)

10. Stays (women's undergarment):
http://www.nwta.com/patterns/pics/ebaystays/ebaystays.html

If you liked these links, check out my other "OUTLANDER Links" blog entries:

OUTLANDER Links, Part 14: 18th Century Clothing

OUTLANDER Links, Part 13: Plants and Herbs

OUTLANDER Links, Part 12: Standing Stones

OUTLANDER Links, Part 11: Science and Technology

OUTLANDER Links, Part 10: Weaponry

OUTLANDER Links, Part 9: Historical Events

OUTLANDER Links, Part 8: 18th Century Medicine

OUTLANDER Links, Part VII: Gemstones

OUTLANDER Links, Part VI: Wildlife

OUTLANDER Links, Part V: Castles and Palaces

OUTLANDER Links, Part IV: Native Americans

OUTLANDER Links, Part III: All Things Scottish

OUTLANDER Links, Part II: Colonial North Carolina

OUTLANDER Links, Part I: Culloden

Friday, October 3, 2008

Can you identify these accents?

This topic is only slightly relevant to Diana Gabaldon's books, but I couldn't resist sharing it.

What accent is this?

This is a little quiz to see if you can identify accents from different parts of the world. You watch a brief video clip of each person reciting two lines from a Rudyard Kipling poem, and then try to guess where they're from based on their accent. (Thanks to Janet McConnaughey at Compuserve for mentioning it, and inspiring me to track down the link.)

Give it a try and let us know how you did. My score was a pretty dismal 22 points. It's very hard for me, as an American, to distinguish between, say, Australian and New Zealand accents, or German and Austrian.

Listen closely to the various English and Scots accents. I got most of those wrong, but maybe you'll do better. From the reference in FIERY CROSS, I always assumed that Glaswegian accents were incomprehensible...but in this quiz that was one I got right, oddly enough.

I can't help thinking that Claire would be good at this. <g> From her encounter with Jack Randall in OUTLANDER (Chapter 12, "The Garrison Commander") where he tests her on identifying accents, she seems to have a pretty good ear for the nuances of the way people speak.

Have fun!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Paradoxes of Time Travel

I have always loved time-travel stories, ever since I was a child. I was a devoted fan of the original Star Trek series for many years, starting around the age of ten, and ever since then I have devoured any story or movie that deals with the idea of time-travel. (One of my favorites in recent years is Audrey Niffenegger's THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE, which I highly recommend if you haven't read it yet. Or wait for the movie version, which will be out around Christmas 2008, I think.)

The paradoxes caused by time-travel in the OUTLANDER books have always intrigued me. Take Jemmy's box, for example:

The note was brief, stating merely that the box had come from a defunct banking house in Edinburgh. Instructions had been stored with the box, stating that it was not to be opened, save by the person whose name was inscribed thereon. The original instructions had perished, but were passed on verbally by the person from whom he obtained the box. (From A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, "Epilogue I: Lallybroch". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

All right. So the box has been carefully preserved for two hundred years. Did it already exist, in some twentieth-century bank vault, at the time Claire was born in 1918? If events happen only once (as the Gabaldon Theory of Time Travel would have us believe) then I suppose the answer is yes. And if the box already existed before Claire was born, does that mean she was somehow fated to go back in time?

And what about the other evidence of the time-travelers' presence in the past? The documented proof that they were in the 18th century exists, certainly, in our own time. The deed of sassine with Claire's signature on it (DRAGONFLY IN AMBER). The newspaper clipping (DRUMS OF AUTUMN). For all we know, the copy of the Lexington Alarm mentioned in ABOSAA -- written in Claire's handwriting with Jamie's signature at the bottom -- may have survived in some historian's files somewhere.

Frank certainly seems to have found some sort of evidence of Brianna's presence in the past, as Bree herself notes in FIERY CROSS:

"I wondered why a man who didn't ride or shoot should take such pains to see that his daughter could do both those things. I mean, it wasn't like it was common for girls to do that." She tried to laugh. "Not in Boston, anyway." (From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 20, "Shooting Lessons". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

What do you suppose Frank found? Bree's marriage certificate, perhaps? And if evidence of Brianna's presence in the past existed in the 20th century long before she even knew she was a time-traveler, does this mean that she was "meant" to travel back in time? Did she choose to do so of her own free will, or because history showed she was there?

The paradoxes of time-travel tend to give people headaches. Enough of my speculations for now. I'd like to hear what you think.