Connecticut Yankee's Revenge

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Phil Anderson

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Mar 27, 1993, 12:36:18 AM3/27/93
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In article <1p2qb3...@gap.caltech.edu> go...@ugcs.caltech.edu writes:

> Anyway, if I were to find myself thrown into, say, 5th century England,
[...]
> sent out by local kings would not enjoy longbow fire, and castle
> walls are not terribly resistant to the effects of explosives.

I'd recommend that if you found yourself in that situation you spend a
while finding out about the country. Just how many castles do you
expect to find in 5th century "England"? And what do you know about
making longbows? How do you propose to communicate with the locals?

If you were to unexpectedly find yourself thrown back to some random
part of the 5th century world, you'd probably sink without a trace. If
you got to prepare for it in advance, however, you might do quite well
for yourself.

----------------------------------------------
Phil Anderson *** ha...@sloth.equinox.gen.nz
----------------------------------------------
"No-one is equal to anyone else!"

Chris DuPuis

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Mar 27, 1993, 7:09:07 PM3/27/93
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Well, there's been a great deal of discussion along this line, and the consensus
seems to be that a person who travelled back in time would be unable to change
the outcome of battles and win kingdoms for himself through technological means
because of the great amount of supporting technology needed to produce advanced
weapons.
This conclusion is completely false. Very little in the way of technological
advance is needed in order to give an army a decisive advantage. In the battle
of Agincourt, a small change in technology was enough to bring about an unexpected
result. The French came to the battlefield freshly rested, well armed, and
greatly outnumbering the British invading force. The British came worn out,
far from home, and carrying LONGBOWS. Shakespeare does a great job of summarizing
the results of the battle, and his numbers are pretty accurate (See _Henry V_).
To make a long story short, mounted knights and armored foot soldiers are just
so much raw meat after being hit by powerful barrages of arrows shot from
longbows-- which give far more force and range than normal bows and a much faster
rate of fire than crossbows. Anyway, the English slaughtered the French. If some
clever person knew this fact and went back, say, two or three centuries ealier,
he could suggest the idea of making hefty 6-foot bows from yew wood to some
craftsman, and, through trial and error (the only way to make a new invention),
they could take over a small kingdom, say, France.
History records any number of inventions that have given their possessors the
advantage in battle. The chariot, Greek fire, saddles with stirrups, the tank,
airplanes, cannon, paved roads, and the A-bomb have all given the upper hand
to one side in various battles. In fact, armies that are technologically matched
tend to get into wars that drag out indefinitely. For example, the Thirty Years
War was able to carry on for so long because the warring parties all had the
same level of technology.

Now, on the subject of science fiction writers. Most of the stories along these
lines that I've read are unbelievable. The introduction of small advances is
feasable, but trying to build 20th century western society during the first
millenium A.D. is fairly ludicrous. The only stories along these lines that
have had any trace of believability in my experience have been _A Connecticut
Yankee in King Arthur's Court_ (although Twain sometimes gets carried away with
his advances) and a book that I read years ago by John Christopher (I have
forgotten the name, but it involves two English students finding themsleves
in Roman times, and introducing the longbow and the stirrup).

Anyway, if I were to find myself thrown into, say, 5th century England, the first
thing I would do would be to whip up some gunpowder (everyone knows the ingredients,
and from there it's just TRIAL AND ERROR to find the proper preparation). Incidentally,
sulfur has been used in fumigating for centuries, charcoal is just wood heated in the
absence of oxygen, and saltpeter is a common deposit in stables. Next I would find
myself an army, which shouldn't be too hard given the number of outlaws and brigands
wandering around during this time period. I'd arm them with longbows, build a few
catapults, and take over England. You see, the armies that would be sent out by


local kings would not enjoy longbow fire, and castle walls are not terribly
resistant to the effects of explosives.

That's about all I wanted to say. I just wanted to make sure that nobody was left
with the impression that superior technology can't be introduced by a single person.
All it takes is a slight edge to make an army well-nigh invincible. Tallyho!


--
-----------------------------------------------------------------
|Christopher DuPuis | Don't try to have the last word.|
|living in a Yellow Submarine| You might get it. -R.A.H. |
-----------------------------------------------------------------

Samuel S. Paik

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Mar 27, 1993, 7:44:06 PM3/27/93
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In article <1p2qb3...@gap.caltech.edu> go...@ugcs.caltech.edu (Chris DuPuis) writes:
>To make a long story short, mounted knights and armored foot soldiers
>are just so much raw meat after being hit by powerful barrages of
>arrows shot from longbows-- which give far more force and range than
>normal bows and a much faster rate of fire than crossbows.

My memory of these things is that crossbows come quite a bit later
than Crecy; crossbows (and later muskets) replaced longbows, because
they required far less training to use properly.

>Anyway, the English slaughtered the French. If some clever person
>knew this fact and went back, say, two or three centuries ealier, he
>could suggest the idea of making hefty 6-foot bows from yew wood to
>some craftsman, and, through trial and error (the only way to make a
>new invention), they could take over a small kingdom, say, France.

Against heavy cavalry, you'll also need something to keep the horse
from running down your archers. Dismounted heavy cavalry supposedly
did this for Agincourt, and pike later. (my memory is a bit fuzzy, I
absorbed this through reading "Janissaries", augmented by "War in the
Middle Ages" about 6 or 7 years ago.

Sam Paik

p.s. making black powder doesn't seem to be a good idea. Useful
delivery seems to be problematic.

Hans Rancke-Madsen

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Mar 27, 1993, 8:28:02 PM3/27/93
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go...@ugcs.caltech.edu (Chris DuPuis) writes:

>Anyway, the English slaughtered the French [by using longbows]. If some


>clever person knew this fact and went back, say, two or three centuries
>ealier, he could suggest the idea of making hefty 6-foot bows from yew
>wood to some craftsman, and, through trial and error (the only way to
>make a new invention), they could take over a small kingdom, say, France.

Meseems you pass over a few problems a little bit to easily. To start
with Our Hero has to persuade the craftsman that the fancy new type
of bow is both feasible and useful. Then he has to persuade a small
army to train with them for a minimum of two years. Yes, learning to
use a longbow takes training, lots of training. One English king had
to make longbow training mandatory in order to get a sufficient supply
of archers. And Our Hero will have to live while he does this.

>History records any number of inventions that have given their possessors
>the advantage in battle. The chariot, Greek fire, saddles with stirrups,
>the tank, airplanes, cannon, paved roads, and the A-bomb have all given
>the upper hand to one side in various battles.

Of these I would say that the stirrup would be the best bet in terms of
being able to manufacture/getting someone to manufacture the marvellous
new invention.

>Now, on the subject of science fiction writers. Most of the stories along
>these lines that I've read are unbelievable. The introduction of small
>advances is feasable, but trying to build 20th century western society
>during the first millenium A.D. is fairly ludicrous. The only stories
>along these lines that have had any trace of believability in my experience
>have been _A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court_ (although Twain
>sometimes gets carried away with his advances) and a book that I read years
>ago by John Christopher (I have forgotten the name, but it involves two

>English students finding themselves in Roman times, and introducing the
>longbow and the stirrup).

I myself prefer Sprague de Camp's _Lest Darkness Fall_. He adequately
deals with the time traveller's chief problem, that of surviving long
enough to introduce anything.

>Anyway, if I were to find myself thrown into, say, 5th century England, the
>first thing I would do would be to whip up some gunpowder (everyone knows
>the ingredients, and from there it's just TRIAL AND ERROR to find the proper
>preparation).

I think the very first thing you should do is to avoid falling foul of the
locals. Then try to find some way to fill your belly. Then get a bit of
leasure time. _Then_ you can begin mucking about in manure heaps. and then
pray that the errors you make during your trial are non-fatal ones.

>Incidentally, sulfur has been used in fumigating for centuries,

Provided there were a local supply of the stuff, yes. How is England fixed
for sulphur? I don't know.

>charcoal is just wood heated in the
>absence of oxygen, and saltpeter is a common deposit in stables.
>Next I would find myself an army, which shouldn't be too hard given the
>number of outlaws and brigands wandering around during this time period.

I'm not really sure that there would be all that many outlaws around. Life
back then was hard. People outside a farming community often starved to
death during winters. But say that there are plenty of outlaws. Now the
trick lies in pesuading them to follow _you_.

>I'd arm them with longbows, build a few
>catapults, and take over England. You see, the armies that would be sent
>out by local kings would not enjoy longbow fire, and castle walls are not
>terribly resistant to the effects of explosives.

Ah, so that's how you intend to use the explosives. Now you also have to
make proper fuses and learn to time your trajectories. Oh, and don't forget
to get hold of one of the extremely rare people who knew how to make proper
catapults (Actually, I think the art had been lost by the 5th Century, but
I may be wrong. You may be able to get hold of one in Rome).

>That's about all I wanted to say. I just wanted to make sure that nobody
>was left with the impression that superior technology can't be introduced
>by a single person.

It can, but it won't be quite as easy as you make out. It would take the
Devil's own luck, IMO.

>All it takes is a slight edge to make an army well-nigh invincible.

It's giving the army the edge in the first place that's the trick. That,
and preventing your technology from seeping over to your enemies.


Hans Rancke
University of Copenhagen
ran...@diku.dk
------------
"Papazian appeared, disguised as a human being. He
checked quickly to make sure that his head was on
right. 'Nose and toes the same way goes,' he re-
minded himself, and that was how it was.
All his systems were go. His psyche was soldered
firmly to his pineal gland, and he even had a small
soul powered by flashlight batteries."
"Tripout" by Robert Sheckley

Greg Mills (Esq.)

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Mar 27, 1993, 8:53:52 PM3/27/93
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In article <1p2qb3...@gap.caltech.edu> go...@ugcs.caltech.edu (Chris DuPuis) writes:
>From: go...@ugcs.caltech.edu (Chris DuPuis)
>Subject: Connecticut Yankee's Revenge
>Date: 28 Mar 1993 00:09:07 GMT

>Anyway, if I were to find myself thrown into, say, 5th century England, the first
>thing I would do would be to whip up some gunpowder (everyone knows the ingredients,
>and from there it's just TRIAL AND ERROR to find the proper preparation). Incidentally,
>sulfur has been used in fumigating for centuries, charcoal is just wood heated in the
>absence of oxygen, and saltpeter is a common deposit in stables. Next I would find
>myself an army, which shouldn't be too hard given the number of outlaws and brigands
>wandering around during this time period. I'd arm them with longbows, build a few
>catapults, and take over England. You see, the armies that would be sent out by
>local kings would not enjoy longbow fire, and castle walls are not terribly
>resistant to the effects of explosives.

Not only the material effects of technology would be advantageous. There
are other modern advantages that we would have, and would not depend on ANY
special engineering/scientific skill whatsoever. I'm speaking of knowledge
of reading, writing, hygene (damn, sp?), nutrition, rudimentary medicine,
organizational skills and (oooh..) interpersonal communication.

Modern society dumps an incredible amount of knowledge into the brains of
its common citizens. We take it so much for granted that we don't even
realize it.

And besides, most of these inventions could be produced by the craftspeople
of the time just by SUGGESTING the idea to them. Most inventions are a
lucky accident of timing, materials, economy and insight. Very little deep
technical knowledge is actually required.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Greg Mills (Esq.)
*** This space for ***
*** rent. ***
*** (cheap) ***

Dani Zweig

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Mar 27, 1993, 10:18:00 PM3/27/93
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pa...@mlo.dec.com (Samuel S. Paik):

>My memory of these things is that crossbows come quite a bit later
>than Crecy; crossbows (and later muskets) replaced longbows, because

And mine is that crossbows go back a couple thousand years. Certainly
the Italian crossbowmen trampled at Agincourt weren't firing cap pistols.

go...@ugcs.caltech.edu (Chris DuPuis):


>>If some clever person
>>knew this fact and went back, say, two or three centuries ealier, he
>>could suggest the idea of making hefty 6-foot bows from yew wood to
>>some craftsman, and, through trial and error (the only way to make a
>>new invention), they could take over a small kingdom, say, France.

As opposed to a large kingdom such as Jerusalem?

Nobody contests the proposition that the right technology in the right
place can make all the difference in the world. But I think you're
proving one of the points of this discussion -- which is that writers
who don't understand the underpinnings of a technology are prone to
underestimate both the complexity of the technology and the difficulty
of introducing it. The Welsh longbow was around a long time before
Crecy: It took a long time and a lot of groundwork to turn that fact
to England's benefit.

Others have already pointed out two of the fundamental problems, one of
which is the amount of training the bow requires. Indeed, the longbow was
*not* a superior weapon except for a short period of history, because
the resources it took to field a skilled bowman could produce better
results invested elsewhere. The other problem is getting your mythical
craftsman to try and err for the number of years it would take. (Assuming
you thought to give him a headstart by telling him *why* yew was special.
Did you?)

If you're going to go back in time and take advantage of modern knowhow,
your best bet is probably to anticipate the invention by just a little
bit. For example, go back about a century and launch a pre-Ponzi
pyramid scheme.

-----
Dani Zweig
da...@netcom.com

The inability of snakes to count is actually a refusal, on their part,
to appreciate the Cardinal Number system. -- "Actual Facts"

Vincent Fox

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Mar 28, 1993, 1:18:54 AM3/28/93
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In <1p2qb3...@gap.caltech.edu> go...@ugcs.caltech.edu (Chris DuPuis) writes:

1) Please limit your line lengths next time. All the reformatting we have
to do to followup is a pain.
2) You're wrong.

>Well,there's been a great deal of discussion along this line, and the


>consensus seems to be that a person who travelled back in time would be
>unable to change the outcome of battles and win kingdoms for himself
>through technological means because of the great amount of supporting
>technology needed to produce advanced weapons.

Not only the production of the weapons themselves, but the production
of enough good boots for your army. And enough surplus food to support
a bunch of layabout military guys who had to train on those longbows
all day. I was intellectually aware of this, but didn't really fully
grasp it until I'd seen some of James Burkes' Connections series (good stuff!).

>This conclusion is completely false.Very little in the way of technological


>advance is needed in order to give an army a decisive advantage.In the battle

>of Agincourt,a small change in technology was enough to bring about an
>unexpected result.The French came to the battlefield freshly rested, well


>armed, and greatly outnumbering the British invading force. The British
>came worn out, far from home, and carrying LONGBOWS. Shakespeare does a
>great job of summarizing the results of the battle, and his numbers are
>pretty accurate (See _Henry V_). To make a long story short, mounted knights
>and armored foot soldiers are just so much raw meat after being hit by
>powerful barrages of arrows shot from longbows-- which give far more force
>and range than normal bows and a much faster rate of fire than crossbows.
>Anyway, the English slaughtered the French. If some clever person knew this
>fact and went back, say, two or three centuries ealier, he could suggest the
>idea of making hefty 6-foot bows from yew wood to some craftsman, and,
>through trial and error (the only way to make a new invention), they could
>take over a small kingdom, say, France.

Again it's not all that simple. Leaving aside the question of how you
are going to grab for yourself enough political pull to do all these things,
there's still the question of raw materials. Do you have enough people
with the right sort of training and determination to pull it off? Might
your advantage not quickly be negated by the losers copying your winning
strategies themselves? 10 years after conquering France they might
conquer you right back!

>History records any number of inventions that have given their possessors
>the advantage in battle. The chariot, Greek fire, saddles with stirrups,
>the tank, airplanes, cannon, paved roads, and the A-bomb have all given
>the upper hand to one side in various battles.

History also records, if you look a little closer, that many times
battles were lost because some moron insisted his crazy idea would save
the day and he was wrong. Or battles were lost despite better weapons and
thus that invention had to be "re-invented" again later. The Chinese for
example had printing and gunpowder and many other high-tech advantages
thousands of years ahead of anyone else. But they failed to use them.
Similar examples ocurred even in Western cultures. A neat idea would be
pooh-poohed (not funded) or declared heretical and languish. The cross-bow
is a good example.

>In fact, armies that are technologically matched tend to
>get into wars that drag out indefinitely. For example, the Thirty Years
>War was able to carry on for so long because the warring parties all had the
>same level of technology.

I think you had better take another look at that war.

[snip]


>Anyway, if I were to find myself thrown into, say, 5th century England,
>the first thing I would do would be to whip up some gunpowder

>(everyone knows the ingredients,and from there it's just TRIAL AND ERROR


>to find the proper preparation). Incidentally, sulfur has been used in
>fumigating for centuries, charcoal is just wood heated in the absence of
>oxygen, and saltpeter is a common deposit in stables.

So where are you going to get so much good sulfur, and the charcoal,
and saltpeter? Again we're assuming plenty of labor! So saltpeter is just
laying there in big piles of white powder waiting for you to come along?
Sure you and a few slaves doing nothing else could come up with
some gunpowder in time. What would your production rate be like though?
How many cannons or guns could you support? Now that you've got
gun-powder what do you do with it?

>Next I would find myself an army, which shouldn't be too hard given the
>number of outlaws and brigands wandering around during this time period.

I think you might find it a little difficult making use of them. Just
as likely to stab you in the back and take your gold.

>I'd arm them with longbows, build a few catapults, and take over England.
>You see, the armies that would be sent out by local kings would not enjoy

>longbow fire.

YEAH SURE! Being useful with a longbow takes *many* hours of practice a
week. hours not spent raising food. And it takes trained and brave pikesmen
to protect your bow-men against cavalry charges. Not brigands likely to run
in the face of a knight in armor.

>and castle walls are not terribly resistant to the effects of explosives.

*snicker* So you'll just prance up to the walls with your barrels of powder
ignoring all the bow-fire and boiling oil? The only thing that ended the
usefulness of castles was large cannon fire. Getting cannon would take
some leaps in metallurgy that I don't want to even think about. Of course
I guess you could build a big wooden chicken and.....

>That's about all I wanted to say. I just wanted to make sure that nobody was
>left with the impression that superior technology can't be introduced by a
>single person. All it takes is a slight edge to make an army well-nigh
>invincible. Tallyho!

I would say most definitively that introducing new weapons of war in
a vacuum would be useless. The production capacity for better weapons
would over-tax them and might actually cause the reverse effect.
What would make a real difference is improvements in agriculture
and just maybe medicine if you could pull it off. If you had enough
healthy people with enough free time you could maybe dabble a bit
in doing those other things. But don't put the cart before the horse!
Better plows, better mining techniques for getting at the coal,
maybe some modern seed-grains. To borrow from Reagan/Bush, if you
"grow the economy" those other things will follow easily. Better
ships, maybe even a stab at introducing mass production, assembly
lines, and most importantly CLOCKS.

I will ignore the problems of the PR campaign problem you will have
selling this to illiterate peasants who don't want to do things too much
different from the way their parents did it. Or the conflicts you might
get into with religious people, and over medicine in a time when it was
the barber who handled medical needs. You're going to have no small
people problem with all these changes. And the power of even a king
is misunderstood by many people to be total.

I think "The Cross-Time Engineer" took the best stab at all these
production-related problems. He did things like designing better looms
and so on to make his people richer. Of course he kept running into
bottlenecks. What good does it do if you can process X amount of fiber
into fabrics if the system for providing the fiber is too slow? Well then
you've got to fix that too! And what good do X tons of fabrics do if
you don't have good enough roads to deliver it to markets?
What do you do about all those guilds who will oppose you? And so on!

It was only by doing all these things was he able to support his
more advanced army designed to repel the Mongol horde that would be
descending on Poland in ten years or something. It's been a while.

Didn't much care for the rest of the series though.

--
"If everything had gone as planned, everything would have been perfect."
-BATF spokesperson on CNN 3/2/93, regarding failed raid attempt in TX.

Del Cotter

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Mar 28, 1993, 5:56:32 AM3/28/93
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In article <daniC4K...@netcom.com> da...@netcom.com (Dani Zweig) writes:

>Others have already pointed out two of the fundamental problems, one of
>which is the amount of training the bow requires. Indeed, the longbow was
>*not* a superior weapon except for a short period of history, because
>the resources it took to field a skilled bowman could produce better
>results invested elsewhere. The other problem is getting your mythical
>craftsman to try and err for the number of years it would take. (Assuming
>you thought to give him a headstart by telling him *why* yew was special.
>Did you?)

I picture Mr. DuPuis dying a bitter man, never knowing *why* the English
yew he told the bowyer to use made such lousy bows. He would never know
you need to import Spanish yew to make English longbows.

Which is the Connecticut Yankee Syndrome, that authors who think imposing
a technological advance out of its time is easy usually don't understand
the technology they're writing about.

--
',' ' ',',' | | ',' ' ',','
', ,',' | Del Cotter mt9...@brunel.ac.uk | ', ,','
',' | | ','

Phil G. Fraering

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Mar 28, 1993, 3:14:45 PM3/28/93
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ha...@sloth.equinox.gen.nz (Phil Anderson) writes:

> > Anyway, if I were to find myself thrown into, say, 5th century England,
> [...]
> > sent out by local kings would not enjoy longbow fire, and castle
> > walls are not terribly resistant to the effects of explosives.

>I'd recommend that if you found yourself in that situation you spend a
>while finding out about the country. Just how many castles do you
>expect to find in 5th century "England"? And what do you know about
>making longbows? How do you propose to communicate with the locals?

>If you were to unexpectedly find yourself thrown back to some random
>part of the 5th century world, you'd probably sink without a trace. If
>you got to prepare for it in advance, however, you might do quite well
>for yourself.

There would be a couple ways I'd prepare for it...

1. Try to learn some Welsh; it ought to be a good starting
point for what they spoke them...

2. Get some silver coins, for use as currency...

3. Get a tape recorder, with lots and lots of tapes and lots and
lots of batteries...

I may not change society _then_ much, but I think I'll have half the
lit departments in the world trying to rescue me..
--
Phil Fraering |"...drag them, kicking and screaming,
p...@srl02.cacs.usl.edu|into the Century of the Fruitbat." - Terry Pratchett,
_Reaper Man_

Craig Levin

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Mar 28, 1993, 5:25:39 PM3/28/93
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<PWM...@psuvm.psu.edu> writes:

{Plenty of useful survival stuff.}

>Any other additions?

An atlas.
A manual of that period's etiquette-no need to get speared on a matter
of protocol, after all.
Clothes of the period, or if you're not sure when exactly you'll
arrive, perhaps an SCA-style "T-tunic."
A set of the basic necessities for navigation-astrolabe, almanac,
Bowditch (with a Bowditch, you can use his (Nat Bowditch's) method for
lunars-no need for an exact clock).
--
The only bad thing about the SCA, aside from the stupid politics, is the
unfortunate fact that banjos are apparently out-of-period.
-Ioseph of Locksley

Craig Levin/Pedro de Alcazar, Illiton, MKdm moo...@camelot.bradley.edu

James J. Herlburt

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Mar 28, 1993, 6:31:30 PM3/28/93
to

Well....A few medical texts would be nice. Try to teach them something about
germ theory. (Hey! Get that rat off the table!) A couple of bags of New World
food stuff seeds. (Corn, potatos, ect...)

And for myself I would bring a few dozen toothbrushes and a sack of antibiotics.


I don't have time for a sig. :) James J. Hurlburt jjh3...@uxa.cso.uiuc.edu


Greg Mills (Esq.)

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Mar 28, 1993, 5:22:06 PM3/28/93
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In article <93087.160...@psuvm.psu.edu> <PWM...@psuvm.psu.edu> writes:
>Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1993 16:09:59 EST
>From: <PWM...@psuvm.psu.edu>
>Subject: Connecticut Yankee Preparedness
>After reading this discussion, I've been thinking of what would be needed to
>survive in Europe in the 5th through 13th centuries. (Besides a grasp of the
>dominant language in the area of your arrival.) Here is my list so far:
>
>Training:
>Engineering Degree
>Work experience as a generalist engineer (systems)
>Military service
>
>Books:
>SAS Survival guide (contains neat tricks on how to survive in the wilderness,
> build small structures, emergency first aid and a list of
> useful plants.)
>CRC Handbook of Tables for Applied Engineering Science (previously discussed)
>2 Volume set of the Encyclopedia of Science (or some such title) (The first
> volume describes the history behind the invention/discovery
> and the second volume follows that up with the math and
> theory required)
>
>Tools:
>Solar powered calculator
>Refilable bladder fountain pen
>Drafting Set
>9mm pistol (for emergencies)
>Camping Gear
>Coins
>
>Any other additions?

An excellent thought experiment. I would add:

1. Training in Welsh (as earlier pointed out in the thread)
2. Flashligh (solar rechargable)
3. Crossbow (I forget exactly when it was introduced, but I remember it
being call the atom bomb of its time. It allowed an peasant to kill at a
distance with little or no training. They could also be easily produced
with the technology of the time. If you could predate its introduction,
Wow!)
4. A collection of modern perfumes and soaps
for trading with the natives! (hehehehehe...)!

Michael S. Schiffer

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Mar 29, 1993, 12:43:53 AM3/29/93
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In article <moonman.733357539@camelot> moo...@camelot.bradley.edu (Craig Levin) writes:


>An atlas.
>A manual of that period's etiquette-no need to get speared on a matter
>of protocol, after all.
>Clothes of the period, or if you're not sure when exactly you'll
>arrive, perhaps an SCA-style "T-tunic."
>A set of the basic necessities for navigation-astrolabe, almanac,
>Bowditch (with a Bowditch, you can use his (Nat Bowditch's) method for
>lunars-no need for an exact clock).

I wouldn't bother with the period clothes. There's no real
chance of avoiding looking like a foreigner, and a small set of modern
clothes would, I think, serve better. _Especially_ shoes-- it would
take a lot to convince me that anything of 5th-13th century tech level
would be better than a good set of hiking boots and a maybe a pair of
gym shoes. I'd be inclined to take along a Thinsulate coat if going
to cold climes (and it can always be abandoned or traded if it becomes
a liability) some good sturdy shirts, and a pair of blue jeans or two.
If and when you get established, it would be well to buy local-style
clothes no doubt, but at the beginning a generic tunic wouldn't seem
worth the inconvenience.

Mike

--
Michael S. Schiffer, LHN, FCS "I decline utterly to be impartial
ms...@midway.uchicago.edu as between the fire brigade and the fire."
mike.s...@um.cc.umich.edu -- Winston Churchill, July 7, 1926
msch...@aal.itd.umich.edu

Leif Magnar Kj|nn|y

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Mar 29, 1993, 3:37:49 AM3/29/93
to
Another item of equipment which could be useful:

A good Swiss Army knife.

-Leif.

Phil Anderson

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Mar 29, 1993, 5:15:50 AM3/29/93
to

> >I'd recommend that if you found yourself in that situation you spend a
> >while finding out about the country. Just how many castles do you
> >expect to find in 5th century "England"? And what do you know about
> >making longbows? How do you propose to communicate with the locals?
>

> In 5th century Britain, I tend to think that you'd find quite a few
> fortified places--you'd be there at the tail end of the Roman era,

Not quite the same thing as castles, and not all that common.
Catapults would be a waste of resources.

> some sort of Latin should permit some communication, if you should
> happen to speak any....

Not with very many people, but I suppose that might be an advantage -
speaking Latin would imply you were educated/important.

Arild Toerum

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Mar 29, 1993, 6:09:24 AM3/29/93
to
>-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>Pennsylvania State University Patrique Moss
>Engineering Dept. PWM...@PSUVM.PSU.EDU
>"No way are these my boxer shorts, they BEND." -Lister to Kryten (Red Dwarf)

I would like to include at least the following:

Some sort of First Aid Kit
Some books describing the composition of certain handy alloys (stainless
steel)
My toothbrush and some toothpaste (like a ton!)
An Abrams M1 Battle Tank (just in case of emergency, well... also to
topple the local king)
Matches
A book on skinning and cleaning game
A hunting rifle and a knife
A TV and a VCR... damn! Might as well stay home!

a...@swix.nvg.unit.no

"Your superior intelligence is no match for our puny weapons."

Joel Rosenberg

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Mar 29, 1993, 9:00:09 AM3/29/93
to
DC> I picture Mr. DuPuis dying a bitter man, never knowing *why* the English
DC> yew he told the bowyer to use made such lousy bows. He would never know
DC> you need to import Spanish yew to make English longbows.

DC> Which is the Connecticut Yankee Syndrome, that authors who think imposing
DC> a technological advance out of its time is easy usually don't understand
DC> the technology they're writing about.

It depends, of course, on which technological advance you're
talking about. Making a good yew bow, as you point out, is
tricky. Making gunpowder, by comparison, isn't. (All you have
to do, honest, is grind the ingredients reasonably fine, mix
them in the right proportions, wet the mass down, then stir,
stir, stir, stir and stir; dry.. You can get improvements in
the product by corning, or by using urine or wine for the
wetting. But you don't need chemically pure sulphur or
saltpeter. See one of the Foxfire books for a demonstration.)

Lowering the infant mortality rate -- a huge advance -- by
insisting on cleanliness in the birthing area (including
requiring that midwives wash their hands) is even more
straightforward, and could have even more dramatic results.


* Origin: Timing is Everything (RA 1:282/341)

Rob Dean

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Mar 29, 1993, 10:50:29 AM3/29/93
to
In article <733210...@sloth.equinox.gen.nz> ha...@sloth.equinox.gen.nz (Phil Anderson) writes:
>
>In article <1p2qb3...@gap.caltech.edu> go...@ugcs.caltech.edu writes:
>
> > Anyway, if I were to find myself thrown into, say, 5th century England,
> [...]
> > sent out by local kings would not enjoy longbow fire, and castle
> > walls are not terribly resistant to the effects of explosives.
>
>I'd recommend that if you found yourself in that situation you spend a
>while finding out about the country. Just how many castles do you
>expect to find in 5th century "England"? And what do you know about
>making longbows? How do you propose to communicate with the locals?

In 5th century Britain, I tend to think that you'd find quite a few


fortified places--you'd be there at the tail end of the Roman era,

and there were few better engineering cultures in that time. Likewise,


some sort of Latin should permit some communication, if you should
happen to speak any....

Rob Dean

Dani Zweig

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Mar 29, 1993, 12:54:43 PM3/29/93
to
a...@tigern.uucp (Arild Toerum):

>A book on skinning and cleaning game

Are you sure you want to begin your mediaeval sojourn by poaching? This
ain't the forest primiaeval, y'know.

coz...@garnet.berkeley.edu

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Mar 29, 1993, 1:26:25 PM3/29/93
to
In article <1993Mar28....@peavax.mlo.dec.com> pa...@mlo.dec.com (Samuel S. Paik) writes:
>
>Against heavy cavalry, you'll also need something to keep the horse
>from running down your archers.

Didn't they put up a chevaux-de-frise? (That's sharpened stakes, set in
the ground at an angle facing the oncoming cavalry.)


Dorothy J. Heydt
UC Berkeley
coz...@garnet.berkeley.edu

Disclaimer: UCB and the Cozzarelli lab are not responsible for my
opinions, and in fact I don't think they know I have any.

coz...@garnet.berkeley.edu

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Mar 29, 1993, 1:49:09 PM3/29/93
to

>An excellent thought experiment. I would add:
>
>1. Training in Welsh (as earlier pointed out in the thread)

This assumes you're going to get dropped in Wales or nearby (they'd
understand your Welsh in Brittany, for example--but see below). Better
to know Latin, which would enable you to talk to any priest or reasonably
educated person, of which you have a fighting chance of encountering at
least _one_ per community.

But the proto-Welsh or Latin you learn may not be intelligible to the
locals once you arrive; I believe that's one of the premises of Willis's
_Doomsday Book._

>4. A collection of modern perfumes and soaps
>for trading with the natives! (hehehehehe...)!

Perfumes they'd have already, also soap. It was a Roman-age northern
barbarian invention.

coz...@garnet.berkeley.edu

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Mar 29, 1993, 2:07:04 PM3/29/93
to
In article <733314...@sloth.equinox.gen.nz> ha...@sloth.equinox.gen.nz (Phil Anderson) writes:

>
>In article <93087.160...@psuvm.psu.edu> <PWM...@psuvm.psu.edu> writes:
>
> > Training:
> > Engineering Degree
> > Work experience as a generalist engineer (systems)
>
>Be sure that these cover working in stone and wood, not reinforced
>concrete, etc.

Actually, this might be something you could adapt. The Romans did
use concrete. If you could fast-talk somebody into funding the con-
struction of some wrought-iron rebar--better coat it in pitch before
putting in the concrete--you could build reinforced concrete
successfully. The trouble is in getting anybody to be willing to
finance a lot of expensive iron for building materials, in the
Dark Ages when mostly they built in timber or not at all.


>
> > A couple of bags of New World food stuff seeds. (Corn, potatos, ect...)

Don't try introducing potatoes unless you're going to be in the area for
a while and can implement a long-term educational project. The leaves
of most Old World food plants are edible. You've been growing beets;
you can eat the beetroots and you can eat the beet greens. Et cetera.
Potato leaves are poisonous, and when you introduce them somebody's
going to think "if the tubers are edible the leaves must be edible,"
and find out otherwise, and his survivors are going to think "if the
leaves are poisonous the tubers must be poisonous," and it's going to
take a long time to teach them otherwise. Same thing for tomatoes.
Elizabethans grew "poisonous love apples" in their gardens for
generations because they looked pretty, before somebody found out
the fruit wasn't toxic like the leaves. And I'm told potatoes became
a foodstuff in Germany when some enlightened prince grew a batch,
cooked the tubers, rounded up the peasants, and forced them at gunpoint
to eat the potatoes and to sit there till it became evident that they
weren't going to die of potato poisoning.

Corn and beans will do nicely, though; particularly beans, a good
protein source.

coz...@garnet.berkeley.edu

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Mar 29, 1993, 3:24:00 PM3/29/93
to
In article <1p3g0e...@cae.cad.gatech.edu> vin...@cad.gatech.edu (Vincent Fox) writes:

>> [ I would invent gunpowder and cannons ... ]


>
>So where are you going to get so much good sulfur, and the charcoal,
>and saltpeter? Again we're assuming plenty of labor! So saltpeter is just
>laying there in big piles of white powder waiting for you to come along?
>Sure you and a few slaves doing nothing else could come up with
>some gunpowder in time. What would your production rate be like though?
>How many cannons or guns could you support? Now that you've got

>gun-powder what do you do with it? [etc., etc.]

Cherryh and Fish's _A Dirge for Sabis_ touches on this point. The cultural
context is the-fall-of-the-Roman-Empire-plus-invading-barbarians with
the serial numbers filed off. Except there's a team of alchemists,
blacksmiths, et cetera who have managed to invent gunpowder and they're
trying to improve their brass-casting techniques to the point where they
can build a cannon. They do eventually succeed in building it. Do they
save civilization? Hell, no. Nobody in Sabis is interested in some
dumb new invention. They manage to escape to territory that's been
occupied and to settle in--but it isn't their cannon that helps them,
it's their other skills. The blacksmith knows more about metallurgy,
the alchemist more about chemistry, than the locals do. The cannon
saves their neck maybe once out of dozens of times.

(Good book, by the way, but I didn't like the second and third books,
by Cherryh and various other people, at all.)

Samuel S. Paik

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Mar 29, 1993, 6:26:05 PM3/29/93
to
In article <1p7f0h$a...@agate.berkeley.edu> coz...@garnet.berkeley.edu () writes:
>Didn't they put up a chevaux-de-frise? (That's sharpened stakes, set in
>the ground at an angle facing the oncoming cavalry.)

That should stop a charge, but what then? You can't move, and when
your enemy gets past the stakes and you don't have "infantry" to back
the archers up, it will be slaughter time.

Sam Paik

Stephen Graham

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Mar 29, 1993, 7:56:49 PM3/29/93
to
In article <1p7gb5$a...@agate.berkeley.edu> coz...@garnet.berkeley.edu () writes:
>In article <GMILLS.25...@CHEMICAL.watstar.uwaterloo.ca> GMI...@CHEMICAL.watstar.uwaterloo.ca (Greg Mills (Esq.)) writes:
>
>>An excellent thought experiment. I would add:
>>
>>1. Training in Welsh (as earlier pointed out in the thread)
>
>This assumes you're going to get dropped in Wales or nearby (they'd
>understand your Welsh in Brittany, for example--but see below). Better
>to know Latin, which would enable you to talk to any priest or reasonably
>educated person, of which you have a fighting chance of encountering at
>least _one_ per community.

The Latin would only be useful in Europe. If it's after ~660AD, Arabic
would be a better general-purpose language. It's not well-known in the
West, but Arab traders were very wide-spread.
--
Stephen Graham
gra...@cs.washington.edu uw-beaver!june!graham

Jim Trash

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Mar 29, 1993, 9:19:41 PM3/29/93
to
> 4. A collection of modern perfumes and soaps
> for trading with the natives! (hehehehehe...)!

For goodness sake don't tell them to consider
washing with these soaps.

Washing was considered at best a waste of time
and a strange eccentricity and at worst
an ungodly act (by the Christians anyway).

It's quite possible that the church would
intervene should anyone show up with new
ideas and inventions. Surely this must be
the work of the Devil.

Bye for now

Jim


***************************************************************
* Jim Trash from where the forces of law do battle with Chaos *
* BBS phone number +44 532 529675 *
***************************************************************

Andrea Maja Fajdiga

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Mar 30, 1993, 1:59:54 AM3/30/93
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> If you were to unexpectedly find yourself thrown back to some random
> part of the 5th century world, you'd probably sink without a trace. If
> you got to prepare for it in advance, however, you might do quite well
> for yourself.

I dimly remember a story where the main protagonist, who presumably
commited a capital crime somewhen in an advanced future, gets dumped
in _really nasty_ times&places that he has no historical/cultural
knowledge of. The plot includes a policeman who comes to pick him
up after he managed to pull a "CY" against all odds (he was dumped
in europe shortly before WWII), and delivers him somewhere in
ancient Mesopotamia a bit before some kingdom goes to war with another
(the punishment seems to be a sadistic version of a dead sentence).

BTW, does anybody remember the title, author etc. of this yarn?

Andrea
________________________________________________________________
| Andrea Maja Fajdiga-Bulat | maja.f...@ijs.si |
----------------------------------------------------------------

Antonio Leal

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Mar 30, 1993, 5:31:11 AM3/30/93
to
coz...@garnet.berkeley.edu () writes:
> Didn't they put up a chevaux-de-frise? (That's sharpened stakes, set in
> the ground at an angle facing the oncoming cavalry.)

pa...@mlo.dec.com (Samuel S. Paik) writes:

> That should stop a charge, but what then? You can't move, and when
> your enemy gets past the stakes and you don't have "infantry" to back
> the archers up, it will be slaughter time.

I don't know about Crecy, but I think the technique had been tried
a bit earlier in a dinastic tiff in Portugal (the king of Leon & Castella
thought he was entitled to inherit the Portuguese throne, most nobles
agreed, other nobles and the small fry were for putting up a new dinasty,
which they did).

The decisive battle was in 1385, place called Aljubarrota. The
Castillians are reputed to have had a 5 to 1 numerical advantage, with
heavy cavalry. The Portuguese had picked the terrain, and had a squad
of English archers with them. They formed a square, with the archers
in the center, and pikes to get the horsemen down in the edges. The
square also contained reserve cavalry for counter-attack, I think.
By the end of the day, the Castillians were routed.

By the way, there's a "strong female character" legend attached to
this: a local baker woman found some enemy soldiers hiding in her
oven late that night - instead of running scared, she grabbed the
oven spade (used to get the bread in and out) and spanked the poor
guys. She's still around as a figure of speech ...

--
Antonio B. Leal | IST / INESC
+351.1.310 0300 | R. Alves Redol 9, 1000 Lisboa
a...@inesc.pt | Portugal

Rolf Wilson

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Mar 30, 1993, 10:58:16 AM3/30/93
to
Well, if you were dumped into 5th century England without warning, you
would probably die, or live in servitude. But if you got to prepare...

Others have mentioned learning languages, bringing books, etc. What they
have not talked about is the nasty side of things. You could not expect to
achieve power and introduce new inventions without stepping on a LOT of toes.

Kevlar body armor
handgun and ammo (something reliable with enough power to penetrate armor)
modern poisons
build up immunity to 5th century poisons
battery-powered bugging devices (extra batteries & solar recharger(s))
a couple of sticks of dynamite
LSD, cocaine and truth serum
some high-quality knives
a knowledge of unarmed fighting techniques
battery motion & infrared alarms (ya gotta sleep sometime)

So, with these and some other useful tools & miracles (telescope, solar
calculator, mirrors, Polaroid camera) you would probably be prepared to
take over some minor kingdom (perhaps by marrying the daughter of some
minor "king" and killing off the king to assume power) , thus giving you
a power base to start creating advanced items. It might well work.
Ugh. I feel grimy just for having thought this all up.
--
Rolf Wilson Illinois State Geological Survey ro...@geoserv.isgs.uiuc.edu

Sea Wasp

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Mar 30, 1993, 11:19:30 AM3/30/93
to
In article <C4pLp...@news.cso.uiuc.edu> ro...@geoserv.isgs.uiuc.edu writes:
>Kevlar body armor
>handgun and ammo (something reliable with enough power to penetrate armor)
>modern poisons
>build up immunity to 5th century poisons

Medical supplies, maybe? A knowledge of the poisons and their
antidotes would be better than trying to build up a "Count of Monte-Cristo"
or "Man in Black" immunity. Moreover, the medical knowledge would come in
useful in other ways. Bring some penicillin, tetracycline, and so on.
You would not want to die of the black plague while trying to conquer the
world. Or even the kingdom.

>battery-powered bugging devices (extra batteries & solar recharger(s))
>a couple of sticks of dynamite
>LSD, cocaine and truth serum
>some high-quality knives
>a knowledge of unarmed fighting techniques
>battery motion & infrared alarms (ya gotta sleep sometime)

I played myself in a fantasy campaign once. This list is fairly close
to what I brought, with a few exceptions. I can't IMAGINE what you want
the LSD for. Uncontrollable and useless for any reasonable purpose. Cocaine,
I suppose, maybe. Truth serum is at best a questionable choice, although
if you took sodium pentothal and knew the right dosage, it would be good
as an anesthetic.

I also took some bug repellent and concentrated insecticides.


More to the point... the thing *I* don't understand is that if you
people are assuming you can prepare, why in hell aren't you taking a LOT
MORE? Steal a tank! Get an 18-wheeler and armor it! Make a mobile and
armed headquarters! Even if you can only move it a short distance, you
will be able to bring enough with you so that you HAVE your own power
base. If in addition you could choose your landing site, choose one with
nice resources and a fast-flowing stream nearby. Bring the parts for a
water-driven generator. Then you have electricity. With that and a whole
truckload of well-chosen stuff, you wouldn't have any trouble becoming
The Wizard on the Mountain... with enough oomph to hold off an army if
needed.

Of course, I presume most people are making the unspoken assumption
that you could only go through with what you can carry ON you. That
will of course limit you. (That was the assumption in the game I played,
too -- though there it was ALSO assumed that a lot of high tech would
fail, so I didn't waste space with guns and calculators, either...)

>take over some minor kingdom (perhaps by marrying the daughter of some
>minor "king" and killing off the king to assume power) , thus giving you
>a power base to start creating advanced items. It might well work.
> Ugh. I feel grimy just for having thought this all up.


Ugh is right. Why would one have to be so Machiavellian?

Your MAIN danger would be from the Church, if you were in a
locale/time where it was powerful. If different religions held sway,
you might do much better. The Egyptians tended to be much more relaxed about
such things. Ancient Athens would be interested in the theory, if not
the applications...


Sea Wasp
/^\
;;;

coz...@garnet.berkeley.edu

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Mar 30, 1993, 12:06:42 PM3/30/93
to
In article <1993Mar30.0...@beaver.cs.washington.edu> gra...@cs.washington.edu (Stephen Graham) writes:
>
>The Latin would only be useful in Europe. If it's after ~660AD, Arabic
>would be a better general-purpose language. It's not well-known in the
>West, but Arab traders were very wide-spread.

Yeah, all of our pleasant discussion on this thread presumes that you
know--years in advance--where and when and among whom you're going to
get dropped.

Or that somebody else knows, and manipulates your life to such extent that
when it happens you're ready. That's part of the premise of the Crosstime
Engineer series: a couple of _real_ time travellers discover that Conrad
has been timescooped only after the fact--so they can't change it--but
they can go back and make sure that his engineering training gets funded
and the store where he buys some veggie seeds for his mother has _lots_
of different varieties, etc., etc.

Leif Magnar Kj|nn|y

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Mar 30, 1993, 12:41:30 PM3/30/93
to
In article <C4pLp...@news.cso.uiuc.edu>, rolf@geoserv (Rolf Wilson) writes:
> Well, if you were dumped into 5th century England without warning, you
> would probably die, or live in servitude. But if you got to prepare...
>
> Others have mentioned learning languages, bringing books, etc. What they
> have not talked about is the nasty side of things. You could not expect to
> achieve power and introduce new inventions without stepping on a LOT of toes.
>
> Kevlar body armor

I don't know if kevlar would be all that useful to stop arrows. I know that
a modern crossbow bolt can punch through kevlar at long ranges; crossbows weren't
around in 5th Century Britain, but they did have bows and arrows, as well as a lot
of other sharp weapons.

> handgun and ammo (something reliable with enough power to penetrate armor)
> modern poisons
> build up immunity to 5th century poisons
> battery-powered bugging devices (extra batteries & solar recharger(s))
> a couple of sticks of dynamite
> LSD, cocaine and truth serum

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
A sure way to convince the locals you were a wizard/witch. Would you want that?

Michael S. Schiffer

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Mar 30, 1993, 2:35:48 PM3/30/93
to
In article <72...@blue.cis.pitt.edu> sea...@vm2.cis.pitt.edu (Sea Wasp) writes:

> Your MAIN danger would be from the Church, if you were in a
>locale/time where it was powerful. If different religions held sway,
>you might do much better. The Egyptians tended to be much more relaxed about
>such things. Ancient Athens would be interested in the theory, if not
>the applications...

Actually, the Church isn't likely to be a major threat, most
times and places in the medieval world. Or at least, it won't if you
don't mind pretending to be of the appropriate denomination. ("Well,
I'm what we call a Congregationalist, which is the nearest thing we
have to Arianism in America." :-) ) Remember to say _filioque_ in
Rome and to omit it in Constantinople, and develop a good relationship
with the local priest and/or bishop (if he's the venal sort, you can
bribe him-- if he's honestly pious things might be harder, but you can
always move, or play him against the local nobility... or he _may_
actually _like_ the idea of technologies which will feed the poor and
protect the weak, since honest piety implies an affection for those
ideals.) Meanwhile, figure out where the power really lies-- in
medieval Italy, theoretically the Ghibbellines were for the Emperor
and against the Pope, while the Guelfs were for the Pope and against
the Emperor, but ultimately they were mostly for themselves and
against their enemies, so that who you want to offend depends more on
who's locally more important than anything. But remember, the Roman
Inquisition never had the power of high justice-- at most, they could
remand you to the civil authority for execution. If the local baron
is your ally, and you have him convinced that there's more to gain
from your friendship than from the church's, then he might be willing
to protect you.

Of course, if you're accused of a crime, whether religious or
civil, _everybody_ uses judicial torture and most places use the
ordeal and trial by combat. No one ever said this would be _simple_.
:-) It's better to avoid accusations of witchcraft and heresy in the
first place. So be a regular churchgoer (which in the Middle Ages
means an annual confession and participation in saints' festivals,
mostly), display loyalty to the local dominant dogmas (unless you know
they're in trouble-- in 1203 Constantinople, you might want to be a
Catholic so as to have an advantage after 1204), and when you
introduce weapons be sure to mention how useful they'll be to the
crusaders in the Holy Land when used against the Saracens. (If your
intervention is successful and new technologies take root, they
probably _will_ be, with the probable result that the entire
Mediterranean basin will be ruled by Europeans before 1500. Which
means that there may be no reason to look for a sea route to Asia...
But we're not concerned with long term consequences, now are we? :-) )

Phil G. Fraering

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Mar 30, 1993, 2:57:33 PM3/30/93
to
Maja.F...@ijs.si (Andrea Maja Fajdiga) writes:

>I dimly remember a story where the main protagonist, who presumably
>commited a capital crime somewhen in an advanced future, gets dumped
>in _really nasty_ times&places that he has no historical/cultural
>knowledge of. The plot includes a policeman who comes to pick him
>up after he managed to pull a "CY" against all odds (he was dumped
>in europe shortly before WWII), and delivers him somewhere in
>ancient Mesopotamia a bit before some kingdom goes to war with another
>(the punishment seems to be a sadistic version of a dead sentence).

>BTW, does anybody remember the title, author etc. of this yarn?

> Andrea

Title, no, but it's a short story by Poul Anderson.

Pretty good.

And it was a lot more sadistic than a sadistic death sentence.
Read the ending.

Dani Zweig

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Mar 30, 1993, 5:22:38 PM3/30/93
to
ms...@midway.uchicago.edu:

>Of course, if you're accused of a crime, whether religious or
>civil, _everybody_ uses judicial torture and most places use the
>ordeal and trial by combat.

Actually, judicial torture and exotic trials are much the exception.
If you haven't broken into the higher strata by the time someone starts
pointing fingers at you, your case is most likely to be decided, summarily,
by a local noble exercising his common sense and self-interest.

Michael S. Schiffer

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Mar 30, 1993, 6:54:23 PM3/30/93
to

I can't speak for the Continent, but I'm pretty sure that in
tenth to thirteenth century England, the ordeal was a generally
common method of trying cases. Cases were judged by local barons or
itinerant servants of the king, but one of the common methods of
testing was to let God decide, in the form of how He chose to heal or
not heal a wound dealt by a red-hot iron or whether a pool of water
accepted or rejected a suspect. The tests seem to have been
deliberately ambiguous (e.g. checking the burn after three days, when
healing wouldn't have been absolutely certain, instead of say a week
when it would have) in order to leave a fudge factor for the judge and
jury, but the ordeal was still taken seriously and doesn't seem to
have been restricted to high level persons. Trial by combat,
conversely, was generally restricted to knights and such. But
judicial torture does seem to have been pretty commonly used as a
means of extracting information from the unwilling-- if you and
another witness disagree on the details of your crime either or both
of you may be put to the question to refresh your memory. Obviously,
if there's no question of lying but only of whether your talking box
is _magia_ or simply the work of a foreign artisan, there's no need
for torture.

I'll grant that my knowledge may be rusty, it having been four
or five years since my last medieval history class. But the details
of the ordeal as described did not seem to restrict it to higher
strata, and I certainly recall reading of peasants being put to
judicial torture. For example, in _Montailliou_ the author, Emmanuel
Ladurie, examines the Inquisition's procedure in dealing with one of
the last remaining Cathar villages in the 14th century. Only one
person is ever given to the civil arm to be executed, and most recant
as a result of persuasion. But judicial torture is used when deemed
necessary to gain information, and there are no nobles in the
village. And Ladurie notes that the Inquisition's methods of the time
did not differ markedly from those of civil justice, other than the
fact that they could not actually put people to death.

Donald Lindsay

unread,
Mar 30, 1993, 6:39:01 PM3/30/93
to

Why has no one mentioned taking along *money* ?

Wouldn't it be simpler to just *pay* for things? After all, military
technology is never more than a force multiplier. You still need
something (manpower) to multiply. And food to feed the manpower.

A few hundred dollars worth of cultured pearls, cubic zirconia (fake
diamond), rubies and star sapphires could fit in a pocket. Value -
oh, about enough to buy the South of France, assuming you manage to
get paid for them, which is the problem with all these somewhat
unrealistic schemes. The *first* task on arrival is to hire
bodyguards who won't slit your throat themselves. From then on,
the violence is subcontracted. Why waste time on metallurgy?

As for introducing technology: the Crosstime Engineer books had one
really good idea. Snowpits, so that (after you'd been there a year)
there was a way to refrigerate food. That and cleanliness are the two
biggest health breakthroughs in history.

As for carrying along tons of books... grief. Microfiche doesn't
weigh much, and you can read it using Fresnel lenses stamped into
sheet plastic. Who cares *which* book to take - take a library: it's
gonna be real boring otherwise. For some reason, everyone is
suggesting the time traveller go to eras that *stank* and were
essentially illiterate.
--
Don D.C.Lindsay Carnegie Mellon Computer Science

Vincent Fox

unread,
Mar 31, 1993, 12:51:47 AM3/31/93
to
In <C4pLp...@news.cso.uiuc.edu> rolf@geoserv (Rolf Wilson) writes:
> Well, if you were dumped into 5th century England without warning, you
>would probably die, or live in servitude. But if you got to prepare...

> Others have mentioned learning languages, bringing books, etc. What they
>have not talked about is the nasty side of things. You could not expect to
>achieve power and introduce new inventions without stepping on a LOT of toes.

#1 should be MONEY!
#2 would be medicine or at least medical texts.

>Kevlar body armor
Get Spectra. It's lighter better, and works well wet unlike Kevlar.

>handgun and ammo (something reliable with enough power to penetrate armor)

Given a choice, a good .45 Colt would be a good SECONDARY weapon.
But having to choose only one: M1 Garand no question.
Any pistol is considerably weaker than a rifle, and the M1 is good for
200-1000 yards depending on the shooter. Good rugged design, you will note
many in use still, after almost 50 years.

>modern poisons
Can't say I see the point of this.

>build up immunity to 5th century poisons

Can't say I see the point of this.

>battery-powered bugging devices (extra batteries & solar recharger(s))

Even NiCd's wear out after a few hundred recharges.

>a couple of sticks of dynamite
>LSD, cocaine and truth serum

This is for recreation I assume?

>some high-quality knives
>a knowledge of unarmed fighting techniques

Like someone else says, can't hurt, but better to subcontract.

>battery motion & infrared alarms (ya gotta sleep sometime)

> So, with these and some other useful tools & miracles (telescope, solar
>calculator, mirrors, Polaroid camera) you would probably be prepared to
>take over some minor kingdom (perhaps by marrying the daughter of some
>minor "king" and killing off the king to assume power) , thus giving you
>a power base to start creating advanced items. It might well work.
> Ugh. I feel grimy just for having thought this all up.

You might find such political machinations a little easier to dream up
than to carry out. Dead guys often have nasty relatives. And people then
were by no means stupider than now. The first clue of a plot might be finding
six inches of steel in your back.

--
"If everything had gone as planned, everything would have been perfect."
-BATF spokesperson on CNN 3/2/93, regarding failed raid attempt in TX.

Arild Toerum

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Mar 31, 1993, 3:09:59 AM3/31/93
to
Having read most of these postings, it seems to me that we are all talking
about the church, and speaking welsh, and all these kinds of things.
But why the f*** would you want to go back to the dark ages? To one of the
most dangerous, oppressing and diseaseridden of all timeperiods in
European history?
I would definitely rather return to some more enlightened and cleanly
time, like Rome at the height of the Roman Empire, or 16th century
England, where it would also be a lot easier to prepare as goes for
language, history and technological level.
Also, there seems to be some who would undertake this venture merely for
the good of man, to advance our progress and thus avoiding a thousand
years of groping in the dark, whereas others have the more likely attitude
that they would enjoy being able to take control and rule the world.
I would like my venture to be funded by the government, so I could bring
back a tank, a gunship, a dozen friends with expertise in all kinds of
different areas, a truck full of interesting stuff, such as a small
nuclear reactor, etc.
In fact, why not bring back an entire, fully manned aircraft carrier, with
me as commander! Then we could get rocking!

a...@swix.nvg.unit.no

"Before closing, I would like to make clear that nobody has forced me to
write this letter, even if at a later date I claim they did.
And, like, under no circumstances whatsoever was I held upside-down over
a pterano-gator-infested water-hole until I agreed to sign it."
-Alan Moore, D.R. & Quinch's totally awesome guide to life.

James Annis

unread,
Mar 31, 1993, 7:37:08 AM3/31/93
to
I'd just bring back the biggest and best history of the time I could find.

at the very least, it is more elegant than bringing back the Nimitz.
or even a solar powered calculator.

And surely, surely, you could translate a knowledge of all the
major players and events of a time into personnal gain.
A small kingdom, or a Roman province at least.

----

But now, I feel the need to ask: why is it necessarily evil to impose
upon a less technically sophisticated culture,
by sheer techno-chutzpah, a typically Western Civilization concept
designed to make life better for the average folk? A concept like
democracy say, or a scientific worldview?
Most of the discussion so far makes it seem like a plan
doomed to failure but not in essence incorrect.

I think the putative answer is that we cannot know what is "right".
Was Cortez on the moral high groud by imposing Christianity on the Aztecs?
Of course not. But would ignoring a tyranny, one utilizing slave labor and
wherein most people live on the edge of hopelessness (for example,
the Roman Empire) be morally correct? Especially when one knew that she
could overthrow it?

One of the endearing things about DeCamp's Lest Darkness Fall was that
his Hero ignored most of this kind of quandry. He pushed history by sending
ships towards the Americas, for instance, merely to get a good smoke.


PWM...@psuvm.psu.edu

unread,
Mar 31, 1993, 9:25:33 AM3/31/93
to
When I started this mental exercise, it was not my intention to create a list
of skills and items to mount an invasion. Taking along armoured vehicles and
high-powered weapons are self-defeating in the long run. You'll run out of
ammo fighting of the people who will brand you as a witch with your highly
visible technology.

Taking a crossbow (if you know how to make bolts) is a good idea, but don't get
caught poaching on any lords lands. I proposed to bring a pistol for close-in
defence in case things got kind of rough one night. If you were to plan an a
massive power game in the past with weapons and an army, it would be far better
to design and build from scratch, thereby giving your craftsmen the ability to
maintain your armament and have overall compatibility.

People have also proposed bringing gems to finance the whole operation. Well,
that's a nice idea, but you had better guard your throat and back if you stay
in the same area you sold one or two items. Spices and seeds are a better bet,
light and easy to conceal, people are less likely to give you the sharp end of
a knife.

Kent Williams

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Mar 31, 1993, 12:04:44 PM3/31/93
to
From article <C4r71...@news.Hawaii.Edu>, by an...@payne.ifa.hawaii.edu (James Annis):

> ----
>
> But now, I feel the need to ask: why is it necessarily evil to impose
> upon a less technically sophisticated culture,
> by sheer techno-chutzpah, a typically Western Civilization concept
> designed to make life better for the average folk? A concept like
> democracy say, or a scientific worldview?
> Most of the discussion so far makes it seem like a plan
> doomed to failure but not in essence incorrect.
>

I don't think it's necessarily evil, or even doomed to failure, but it
probably misses the point, which Twain made clear: the supply of
dumbfucks with more power than sense is a constant throughout history. Every time I see Jerry Falwell on TV I wish Twain were still with us.

--
Kent Williams -- will...@cs.uiowa.edu Work(626-6700) Home(338-6053)
"Don't take away my gun/I'm protecting unborn foetuses/From homos in the
showers/So they can pray in school" -- Me.


Bronis Vidugiris

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Mar 31, 1993, 11:34:40 AM3/31/93
to
In article <1993Mar30....@ugle.unit.no> lei...@Lise.Unit.NO (Leif Magnar Kj|nn|y) writes:

) > Kevlar body armor
)
) I don't know if kevlar would be all that useful to stop arrows. I know that
)a modern crossbow bolt can punch through kevlar at long ranges; crossbows weren't
)around in 5th Century Britain, but they did have bows and arrows, as well as a lot
)of other sharp weapons.

I think Kevlar would be vulnerable to most weapons of the time - it'd
be some help (like heavy clothing), but knives, swords, axes, maces, etc
would probably penetrate (the impact weapons would not penetrate, but
would do bludgeoning damage anyway as it is stiff but not rigid like solid
armor). I think you're right about arrows too.

--
The worms crawl in
The worms crawl out
The worms post to the net from your account

Mark Rosenfelder

unread,
Mar 31, 1993, 2:19:33 PM3/31/93
to
In article <C4r71...@news.Hawaii.Edu> an...@payne.ifa.hawaii.edu (James Annis) writes:
>But now, I feel the need to ask: why is it necessarily evil to impose
>upon a less technically sophisticated culture,
>by sheer techno-chutzpah, a typically Western Civilization concept
>designed to make life better for the average folk? A concept like
>democracy say, or a scientific worldview?

Hmm, when the US State Department has such a mixed record at this,
you think your lone time traveler is going to pull it off?

Now, your time traveler has the advantage of not having to worry about
containing the Soviets or keeping the multinationals happy. On the other
hand she can't afford to work full-time on disinterested benevolence;
she's got to keep herself fed, play politics, attract followers, etc.

Her own self-interest is likely to conflict with her "civilizing mission":
does she really want democracy, which would allow her to be voted out of
office? Is she really going to share all her technological knowhow with
the people, and risk losing her technological edge?

Also, can we "impose" democracy or a scientific worldview at all?
Imposing these things seems to be quite contrary to their nature.
("You must question authority! Why? Because I said so!")

>I think the putative answer is that we cannot know what is "right".
>Was Cortez on the moral high groud by imposing Christianity on the Aztecs?
>Of course not.

This kind of answers your first question. There's a chilling similarity
between (say) early Spanish accounts of the Mexican conquest, and _Wall
Street Journal_ editorials about imposing IMF austerity programs on
recalcitrant nations. They have the same self-righteousness, the same
ideological fervor, the same utter blindness to the human misery caused
by their programs.

>But would ignoring a tyranny, one utilizing slave labor and
>wherein most people live on the edge of hopelessness (for example,
>the Roman Empire) be morally correct? Especially when one knew that she
>could overthrow it?

What is she going to replace it with?

Phil G. Fraering

unread,
Mar 31, 1993, 6:46:57 PM3/31/93
to
Noone seems to have mentioned one of the best things you could
possibly have with you if you were suddenly transported to
Dark Ages Europe.

It's in _The Book of Kells_ by R.A. MacAvoy.

Spoiler:

A horse that knew all the Lippanzer Stallion tricks.

Francis A. Ney

unread,
Mar 31, 1993, 12:27:16 PM3/31/93
to
Anyone who has a copy take a look at all three volumes of the US Army's
Improvised Munitions Manual. Everything in these books, while risky, is
doable, and field expedient instructions are already included, assuming a
relatively primitive technology level.

If I could only take a small amount of material, they would be first on
my list.

Ross Smith

unread,
Mar 31, 1993, 6:45:04 PM3/31/93
to
>After reading this discussion, I've been thinking of what would be needed to
>survive in Europe in the 5th through 13th centuries. (Besides a grasp of the
>dominant language in the area of your arrival.) Here is my list so far:

>
>Training:
>Engineering Degree
>Work experience as a generalist engineer (systems)
>Military service
>
>Books:
>SAS Survival guide (contains neat tricks on how to survive in the wilderness,
> build small structures, emergency first aid and a list of
> useful plants.)
>CRC Handbook of Tables for Applied Engineering Science (previously discussed)
>2 Volume set of the Encyclopedia of Science (or some such title) (The first
> volume describes the history behind the invention/discovery
> and the second volume follows that up with the math and
> theory required)
>
>Tools:
>Solar powered calculator
>Refilable bladder fountain pen
>Drafting Set
>9mm pistol (for emergencies)
>Camping Gear
>Coins
>
>Any other additions?

Binoculars
Swiss Army knife
Some sort of flashlight - I think you can get one that's powered by a
hand-pump generator gizmo
The best first-aid/medical kit you can get your hands on!
Several lighters

BTW, be careful when you select those coins ... they tend to have dates
on them!

And just a wild thought ... if you can spare the weight, how about a
parabolic microphone? (Plus a solar battery-charger or some such.) I can
imagine one of those being *incredibly* useful...

--
... Ross Smith (Wanganui, NZ) ............ al...@acheron.amigans.gen.nz ...
"But there I go, powering up the law-and-logic-defying Extrapolation Drive
and careering wildly off at lightspeed into the realms of iffy skiffy..."
(Iain Banks)
--

coz...@garnet.berkeley.edu

unread,
Apr 1, 1993, 12:20:44 PM4/1/93
to
In article <alien...@acheron.amigans.gen.nz> al...@acheron.amigans.gen.nz (Ross Smith) writes:
>
>BTW, be careful when you select those coins ... they tend to have dates
>on them!

No they don't, not in the period we're talking about. They have names and
heads of kings. If you arrive in the 8th century with coins showing the
names and faces of 9th century kings, the locals will simply assume these
guys they never heard of come from some other kingdom.

Elizabeth Willey

unread,
Apr 2, 1993, 2:30:49 PM4/2/93
to
Travelling in many parts of the modern world is much like time travel.
In this week's Fantasy Island sweepstakes...

Phil Anderson writes, replying to another message:

>
>In article <93087.160...@psuvm.psu.edu><PWM...@psuvm.psu.edu> writes:
>
> > Training:
> > Engineering Degree
> > Work experience as a generalist engineer (systems)
>
>Be sure that these cover working in stone and wood, not reinforced
>concrete, etc.

And Dororthy Heydt responds with a veritable myriad of useful food and
engineering comments.

My personal time-travel arsenal would include every vaccination
available and a water purification kit---iodine might do, as a
hand-pumped micron filter gizmo would look a bit odd, wouldn't
it?---and, because water purification kits never work, Imodium
tablets. Kaopectate is wimpy.

Just try advancing civilization and making a million while you're
suffering from severe diarrhea.

By the way, *why* would any of the participants in this discussion
*want* to go back in time? This is a serious question, not a snide
put-down. What are you looking for? What do you want from the past
that the present and future cannot offer?


Elizabeth Willey

Sea Wasp

unread,
Apr 3, 1993, 7:33:01 AM4/3/93
to
In article <ELIZ.93A...@corpus-callosum.ai.mit.edu> el...@ai.mit.edu (Elizabeth Willey) writes:
>By the way, *why* would any of the participants in this discussion
>*want* to go back in time? This is a serious question, not a snide
>put-down. What are you looking for? What do you want from the past


WANT to go back in time???

Not me. The thread was based on the Connecticut Yankee idea -- he
didn't have any choice. Then someone started asking *IF* you went back,
what would you want to take with you. The assumption was that you WOULD,
whether you WANTED to or not.


I'd only want to go back if I had a guaranteed return ticket.
Then I'd just want to do things like find out where a lot of "lost"
things were buried, or drop in at the Library at Alexandria and
rip off some of the most valuable books, etc., or even just bring back
enough money to have a large chunk of stock in the budding AT&T...


Going into a FANTASY world would be different. The presence of
functional magic would make it far more attractive than your flat
time travel.


Sea Wasp
/^\
;;;

Donald Lindsay

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Apr 3, 1993, 1:42:18 PM4/3/93
to

el...@ai.mit.edu (Elizabeth Willey) writes:
>By the way, *why* would any of the participants in this discussion
>*want* to go back in time? This is a serious question, not a snide
>put-down. What are you looking for? What do you want from the past
>that the present and future cannot offer?

Since I'm not bent on world domination in *this* world, I wouldn't do
that in the past, either.

But it would be great to write a history book - or a travel book -
about my visit to the Minoan civilization. Hey: I could sorta-learn
Ancient Egyptian (I believe we understand it phonetically) and then
hire an Egyptian trader who spoke Minoan** to be my translator. A
fascinating civilization! - and we have vases proving their women
dressed nicely :-)

(** When I get there, that will be "speaks Minoan". Love the tense
problems of time travel, doncha?)

Phil Anderson

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Apr 2, 1993, 9:45:26 PM4/2/93
to

In article <ELIZ.93A...@corpus-callosum.ai.mit.edu>
el...@ai.mit.edu writes:

> By the way, *why* would any of the participants in this discussion
> *want* to go back in time? This is a serious question, not a snide
> put-down. What are you looking for? What do you want from the past

Have you _no_ curiosity about the past?

Personally, I'm happy to let someone else do the actual exploration. I
have a great fondness for hot water and flush toilets.

----------------------------------------------
Phil Anderson *** ha...@sloth.equinox.gen.nz
----------------------------------------------
"No-one is equal to anyone else!"

Ross Smith

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Apr 3, 1993, 10:12:05 PM4/3/93
to
In article <1pf89c$d...@agate.berkeley.edu> coz...@garnet.berkeley.edu () writes:
>In article <alien...@acheron.amigans.gen.nz> al...@acheron.amigans.gen.nz (Ross Smith) writes:
>>
>>BTW, be careful when you select those coins ... they tend to have dates
>>on them!
>
>No they don't, not in the period we're talking about. They have names and
>heads of kings. If you arrive in the 8th century with coins showing the
>names and faces of 9th century kings, the locals will simply assume these
>guys they never heard of come from some other kingdom.

Yes, that's what I meant: pick coins from periods without dates (or cast your
own "coins"). I had this vision of a time tourist trying to pay a 14th century
innkeeper with a handful of Krugerrands :-)

Dani Zweig

unread,
Apr 4, 1993, 1:35:54 PM4/4/93
to
al...@acheron.amigans.gen.nz (Ross Smith):

>Yes, that's what I meant: pick coins from periods without dates (or cast your
>own "coins"). I had this vision of a time tourist trying to pay a 14th century
>innkeeper with a handful of Krugerrands :-)

Trying to pay an innkeeper with a handful of gold coins could *easily*
lead to serious trouble, but it probably wouldn't be of the "your coins
have the wrong date on them" variety.

Andrew J Miller

unread,
Apr 4, 1993, 11:18:33 PM4/4/93
to
Sorry if I'm joining the discussion late and repeating what others have said,
but have any of you read Leo Frankowski's Adventures of Conrad Stargard?
The 5-book series consists of _The Cross-Time Engineer_,_The High-Tech Knight_,
The Radiant Warrior, The Flying Warlord, and Lord Conrad's Lady. If you can
get past the rampant behavior of the main character (he tends to bed much
younger -essentially girls- throughout the stories), it shows probably the best
way that I've ever heard of/seen/etc. of improving a country and making it
(and thus yourself) the most powerful country around.
--Trapped back in time through a mistake, 10 yrs before the Mongols invade
Poland, he, using capitalism, engineering, good sense, and a LOT of luck,
manages to give Poland airplanes, radios, and cannon carts, as well as modern
military training, good sanitation, etc. which allows his troops to obliterate
the Mongol army, and completely change history.--

If you haven't read it, go out and buy it. It is fabulous! And VERY detailed.
Enjoy,
Wonder Midget

Andrew J Miller

unread,
Apr 4, 1993, 11:28:57 PM4/4/93
to
el...@ai.mit.edu (Elizabeth Willey) writes:
>Just try advancing civilization and making a million while you're
>suffering from severe diarrhea.

>By the way, *why* would any of the participants in this discussion
>*want* to go back in time? This is a serious question, not a snide
>put-down. What are you looking for? What do you want from the past
>that the present and future cannot offer?

See your first comment. To help the people of that time escape the terrible
conditions and build a more rational world, while making lots of cash, and
not having to deal with a bunch of stupid lawyers and politicians trying to
destroy any and all good in the world.

Wonder Midget

David Dyer-bennet

unread,
Apr 5, 1993, 4:37:05 AM4/5/93
to
In a message to All <02 Apr 93 19:30> in Usenet rec.arts.sf.written Elizabeth
Willey wrote:

EW> By the way, *why* would any of the participants in this discussion
EW> *want* to go back in time? This is a serious question, not a snide
EW> put-down. What are you looking for? What do you want from the past
EW> that the present and future cannot offer?

Historical information. A chance to save certain lost works of art
and literature. A chance to change the world. And of course fame
and fortune. I'm not at all sure I'd seriously consider going for
any except the last reason, and that would have to be to a relatively
recent time period.

* Origin: Peripheral visionary (RA 1:282/341)

Jim Kasprzak

unread,
Apr 5, 1993, 11:38:22 AM4/5/93
to
In article <ajmiller....@bell.ecn.purdue.edu>, ajmi...@bell.ecn.purdue.edu (Andrew J Miller) writes:

|> el...@ai.mit.edu (Elizabeth Willey) writes:
|>
|> >By the way, *why* would any of the participants in this discussion
|> >*want* to go back in time?
|>
|> See your first comment. To help the people of that time escape the terrible
|> conditions and build a more rational world, while making lots of cash, and
|> not having to deal with a bunch of stupid lawyers and politicians trying to
|> destroy any and all good in the world.

How noble of you. I hope that the people who feel this way are just as
willing to do what they can, in the absence of any workable time travel,
to help the people of _this_ time escape the terrible conditions and
build a more rational world.
------------------------------------------------------------------
__ Live from Capitaland, heart of the Empire State...
___/ | Jim Kasprzak, computer operator @ RPI, Troy, NY, USA
/____ *| "I understand the causes, and sympathize your motivations,
\_| But all the details of this war are just your self-infatuation."
==== e-mail: kas...@rpi.edu or kasp...@mts.rpi.edu

coz...@garnet.berkeley.edu

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Apr 5, 1993, 12:24:31 PM4/5/93
to
In article <733805...@sloth.equinox.gen.nz> ha...@sloth.equinox.gen.nz (Phil Anderson) writes:
>
> > By the way, *why* would any of the participants in this discussion
> > *want* to go back in time? ....

>
>Personally, I'm happy to let someone else do the actual exploration. I
>have a great fondness for hot water and flush toilets.

Yes, I think it would be like being in the SCA (only more so). There you
are, tromping through ankle-deep mud, shivering under inadequate canvas
(through which drips make kamikaze runs on the back of your neck) and
feeding the fire and wondering if the wood will hold out, thinking ...
"Wow, how authentic!!"

But you're still waiting for the end of the day when you can go home and
revel in central heating, hot and cold running water, flush plumbing,
self-filling and -emptying bathtubs, electric lighting, and everything
else that a day (or weekend) in the rough will teach you to appreciate.

coz...@garnet.berkeley.edu

unread,
Apr 5, 1993, 12:38:53 PM4/5/93