Thursday, September 08, 2022
Battle of the Linguist Mages, by Scotto Moore
I'm a regular customer of Charles Stross's Laundry Files series, and I've read Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon a few times each. Oh, and Tim Powers' Declare. We went out to the countryside to read books and kayak a bit, so I spent a half an hour poking around spec fiction books on Kindle, and Battle of the Linguist Mages caught my eye because I am a sucker for historical linguistics. (Did you know that, in the absence of archeological evidence, you can make deductions about what migrating peoples lived next to each other at what time? Based on what the loan words one people took from the other look like? Because we have some good theories about how words change over time in a language, and when a loan word comes into a language, it stops changing the way words change in the old language, and starts changing the way words change in the new language. So we can say, to make up an example, the Hungarians must have brushed up against the Scythians around 800 BC. Words can get imported into a language multiple times, so in English we have dish and disc, ship and skiff, etc.) I love Kindle because I can read a free sample and then buy the book and have it RIGHT NOW. Battle of the Linguist Mages takes some language concepts, spins them into a wild adventure story, and then runs with them as far as you can. It takes off from the lands of Snow Crash and The Fifth Element and dives into a sort of contemporary Yellow Submarine sea of meta concepts, "foothills of the headlands" style. Oh, and if you're a gamer, it might tickle you where you live, in the places that Ready Player One only poked.