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Old 09-14-2008, 07:09 AM   #1
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Lest Darkness Fall

I just finish L.Sprague de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall. I really enjoyed it. Much more than 1632, Which I just finished as well (Courtesy of Baen free library). Not that 1632 isn't good, it is. Just that I think that De Camp nailed better the mindset of people at the time he was writing about (Rome's last days as an empire). I'm not an historian. But the way I see it - the people populating 1632 have very 20th century way of thinking.

I have two questions:
1. Considering it was released back in 1933 (I think) why isn't it in the public domain?

2. Can you recommend me some similar books???

Thanks a lot
Dave
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Old 09-14-2008, 07:14 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Dave Berk View Post
I have two questions:
1. Considering it was released back in 1933 (I think) why isn't it in the public domain?
Good grief - the man only died in 2000! It will not, therefore, enter the public domain in "life + 70" countries until 1st Jan 2071.
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Old 09-14-2008, 07:17 AM   #3
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Good grief indeed. . Was he over a hundred year old or did he write the book at Kindergarten?
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Old 09-14-2008, 07:18 AM   #4
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He lived from 1907 to 2000, so if he wrote it in 1933 he'd have been 26 years old at the time.
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Old 09-14-2008, 09:08 AM   #5
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There is an e-book collection of some of his short stories at ebookmall.com
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Old 09-14-2008, 12:25 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Dave Berk View Post
1. Considering it was released back in 1933 (I think) why isn't it in the public domain?
I'm biting my tongue so hard here blood is spraying my monitor
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Old 09-14-2008, 12:27 PM   #7
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I'm biting my tongue so hard here blood is spraying my monitor
You're blaming Mr Sprague de Camp for having the audacity to live until the age of 93?
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Old 09-14-2008, 01:21 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Dave Berk View Post
Good grief indeed. . Was he over a hundred year old or did he write the book at Kindergarten?
Well, since copyrights are authors death + X years... even if written in his 20's and lived till 72 you are talking 52years of life + 70 years after death. See the many copyright threads around for this discussion.

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Old 09-15-2008, 10:12 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Dave Berk View Post
I just finish L.Sprague de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall. I really enjoyed it. Much more than 1632, Which I just finished as well (Courtesy of Baen free library). Not that 1632 isn't good, it is. Just that I think that De Camp nailed better the mindset of people at the time he was writing about (Rome's last days as an empire). I'm not an historian. But the way I see it - the people populating 1632 have very 20th century way of thinking.

I have two questions:
1. Considering it was released back in 1933 (I think) why isn't it in the public domain?

2. Can you recommend me some similar books???

Thanks a lot
Dave
Well, here are my hit or miss recommendations

I'm sure you know of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain... This is more a satire of American (and specifically Yankee) attitudes than historically accurate.

David Drake wrote a sequel to Lest Darkness Fall called To Bring the Light, which I think might even be in the Baen Free Library or one of the Baen CDs. I've read it and don't remember anything about it more than the title, so it might not be up to Drake's usual standard.

Depending on what you liked about LDF, you might like the Enchanter books by DeCamp and Fletcher Pratt wherein the contemporary protagonists figure out the rules of magic and visit some magical worlds. I think its usually agreed that his collaborations with Pratt are better on average than Decamp's solo novels so you might enjoy it.

DeCamp also wrote The Glory that Was about some future travellers who end up in ancient Greece.

For a look in the opposite direction, try by Poul Anderson's High Crusade about some Edwardians who get get trapped on an alien ship and build an empire in the stars. Anderson seems to try hard to capture period attitudes IIRC.

Andre Norton's time agent books are excellent, and you can get a free taste from the Baen Free Library, which is even better. I have no idea about their historical accuracy but they are fun reads (and influential).

If you like the alternative history aspect, Harry Turtledove has written a whole bunch, but the only one which sticks with me is Agent of Byzantium, and that is really more of an adventure/intrigue tale.

H. Beam Piper wrote a series of stories about Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen about a police officer who is dropped in a roughly medieval society. I'm pretty sure that the magazine versions of these are available in Project Gutenberg and similar sources.

One problem with my list is that I've tried to stick to "classic" stories, so you may find them a bit cliched if you have read lots of modern science fiction.
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Old 09-15-2008, 12:29 PM   #10
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radius: Thanks. Apart Anderson's High Crusade I haven't read any of these books.
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Old 09-15-2008, 08:48 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radius View Post
Andre Norton's time agent books are excellent, and you can get a free taste from the Baen Free Library, which is even better. I have no idea about their historical accuracy but they are fun reads (and influential).
Baen has _The Time Traders_ packaged with _Galactic Derelict_ in the Free Library, here.

The other two books in the series, _The Defiant Agents_ and _Key out of time_ are available at Manybooks, here.

Quote:
If you like the alternative history aspect, Harry Turtledove has written a whole bunch, but the only one which sticks with me is Agent of Byzantium, and that is really more of an adventure/intrigue tale.
Another one to look at is Harry's "World War: In the Balance" series. It's the middle of World War II, and Earth is invaded by aliens. The aliens don't have FTL, and got here travelling centuries in normal space. They chose to conquer Earth next based on data sent back by robotic probes during a period when the knight in armor was the height of military development. They come from a static culture that changes with glacial slowness, and are unpleasantly surprised to find a species with technology only a bit behind their own. Bitter enemies on Earth must find a way to make common cause against the new entrants to the conflict.

Quote:
H. Beam Piper wrote a series of stories about Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen about a police officer who is dropped in a roughly medieval society. I'm pretty sure that the magazine versions of these are available in Project Gutenberg and similar sources.
Not those, alas. The Lord Kalvan stories are part of a set he wrote about the Paratime Police. The thesis is that First Level society was running out of resources, and working on FTL travel and time travel as a way to get more. A by-product of the research was paratemporal travel -- an means of travelling to the same time in an alternate time stream where things happened differently than in First Level history. An immense paratemporal trade operation resulted, and with it, a police force. The Paratime Police have two missions: to enforce the law on paratemporal traders, and more important, to protect the Paratime secret, and keep people on other timelines unaware that the First Level folks exist among them.

The Lord Kalvan stories concern Calvin Morrison, a Pennsylvania State Trooper who is picked up by accident by a paratemporal conveyer and dropped in the Princedom of Hostigos on the Fourth Level Aryan-Transpacific timeline. On that timeline, the Aryan migration went the other way, across the Bering Strait and into North America. The east coast of America is a patchwork of feuding princedoms with a roughly 16th century level of technology.

Hostigos has a problem. It's facing a war with the neighboring Princedoms of Nostor, Beshta, and Sask, fomented by the church of the god Styphon, whose demands Hostigos has refused. Gunpowder is a monopoly of Styphon's House, and only Styphon's priests know how to make it. Hostigos faces numerically superior enemies, and has little gunpowder to fight them. Calvin Morrison knows how to make gunpowder, and is a student of military history. Senior Paratime Police office Verkan Vall must enter Hostigos, disguised as a Free Trader, and possibly kill Calvin to protect the Paratime secret

Gutenberg has several of the Paratime stories, but not the Lord Kalvan stuff. Ace had the rights to Piper's work, and inexplicably let the rights to everything save Lord Lalvan lapse. The Piper stories Gutenberg does have are here..
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Old 09-16-2008, 11:14 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Berk View Post
I just finish L.Sprague de Camp's Lest Darkness Fall. I really enjoyed it. Much more than 1632, Which I just finished as well (Courtesy of Baen free library). Not that 1632 isn't good, it is. Just that I think that De Camp nailed better the mindset of people at the time he was writing about (Rome's last days as an empire). I'm not an historian. But the way I see it - the people populating 1632 have very 20th century way of thinking.

I have two questions:
1. Considering it was released back in 1933 (I think) why isn't it in the public domain?

2. Can you recommend me some similar books???

Thanks a lot
Dave

Actually, 1939 saw the first publication of the "Lest Darkness Fall."

It was later published as a complete novel in hardcover in 1941.

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Old 09-16-2008, 12:14 PM   #13
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2. Can you recommend me some similar books???
Depends on what you mean by similar. _Lest Darkness Fall_ is part of the overall genre of "alternate history", but that can be sliced further. Alternate history says "What would happen if a particular historical event had a different outcome?".

General examples include Ward Moore's _Bring the Jubilee_, in which the Confederacy wins the Civil War, Keith Robert's lovely _Pavane_, set in an England where the Spanish Armada was victorious, and England is a Spanish possession, or Philip K. Dick's _The Man in the High Castle_, in which the Axis has won WWII, and America is partitioned by the conquerors, with the eastern portion under German control, the western half under the Japanese, and a thin unoccupied zone in the rocky Mountains.

You can slice it finer depending upon why history took a different turn. In _Lest Darkness Fall_ (and in Twain's _A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court), things happen differently because someone from our present finds themselves back in time, and uses present day knowledge to accelerate the course of progress, and thus changing history.

H. Beam Piper used a variant of the latter in the "Lord Kalvan" stories, though Kalvan steps sideways in time, not backward.

David Drake and Eric Flint have a nice take on it in the "Belisaurus" series. A far future religious faction calling themselves the New Gods send a cyborg named Link back through time to 6th century India, where it becomes the power behind the throne of the rising Malwa empire, teaches them to make gunpowder and primitive gunpowder weapons, and sets them out to conquer the world and produce a future more to the New Gods' liking.

The Great Ones, far future descendants of mankind, counter by sending back Aide, a sentient crystal life form. Aide falls into the hand of the Roman general Belisarius, who must create a gunpowder and weapons manufacturing capability, and raise an army capable of facing the Malwa on the field, while keeping the paranoid Emperor Justinian from finding out what he is doing, because Justinian wants him to go and conquer the western half of the former Holy Roman Empire, reuniting the eastern and western halves of Christianity.

Drake and Flint make interesting comments about the problems involved in trying to create the necessary industrial infrastructure on a 6th century technical base. (Like Belisarius being unable to make and use the Gatling guns he's like to have because the required ammunition can't be produced in sufficient quantity. Small numbers of big things like cannon aren't a problem. Large quantities of little things like machined brass cartridges are.)

Eric Flint and co-authors cover analogous ground in the ongoing series beginning with _1632_, in which a small West Virginia mining town gets dumped into Europe in the middle of the Thirty Years War.

The Baen Free Library has both series available, either on the website, or on one of the Free Library CDs available as ISO images, Zip archives, or individual books here
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Old 09-16-2008, 01:08 PM   #14
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For a look in the opposite direction, try by Poul Anderson's High Crusade about some Edwardians who get get trapped on an alien ship and build an empire in the stars. Anderson seems to try hard to capture period attitudes IIRC.
Poul Anderson's Time Patrol stories have something of the same flavour, too, and have been collected in large ebook by Baen. (Not in their free library, but worth buying IMO). He did seem to do his historical research. Some of the stories seem a bit dated by modern standards, but you can almost smell is depictions of past societies.
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Old 09-16-2008, 02:33 PM   #15
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What I found most interesting about the book, was how a guy from our time adjust to 2nd century Rome, how he used his knowledge of everyday things, stuff we take for granted - to make a place for himself in that specific time.
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