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Fact and fiction in Magellan’s Navigator

Magellan’s Navigator sticks closely to the known facts of Magellan’s voyage. The dates are accurate. Every person named, with one exception, did have a part in the first circumnavigation of the world. There was a master gunner named Andrew who was from Bristol and who died of scurvy soon after leaving Guam. However, Andrew’s wife, Ana Estrada is my invention. On the other hand, Fidelia was Ginés’s wife and believing he was lost, she did remarry before he finally returned.

I used Albo’s logbook to fix the time and place of the fleet during its voyage. Antonio Pigafetta’s Report on the First Voyage Around the World gave me an eyewitness report of the people he met and the places he saw. My descriptions of the rajahs Humabon and Almanzor are from Pigafetta’s book. Also borrowed from Pigafetta are the lengthy lists of gifts to the rajahs. I am indebted to the late Tim Joyner for his book Magellan. His meticulously researched book uses Spanish and Portuguese sources, unlike many other books about Magellan. His fleet rosters are by far the most complete I’ve seen.

So what is fiction? I really don’t know because the events as told in Magellan’s Navigator are both plausible and possible. Historical sources contradict one another about the details of some events, like the mutiny. For example, while my explanation of the San Antonio’s capture during the mutiny can’t be proved, it also can’t be disproved. It is known that for some reason one of the mutineer ships floated helplessly to Magellan’s ships, and Albo could very well have been responsible for that happening.

I did have to simplify things by focusing on a limited number of crewmembers. I did that after early drafts thoroughly confused readers when I included all Albo’s shipmates. I apologize to Leone Pancaldo and the others who deserved to be mentioned, but had to be excised from the story for readability.

One issue I’d like to address is Albo’s ethnicity. Wikipedia lists Albo as being from Rodas, Spain. This is questionable. The Spanish roster simply lists Albo as being from Rodas with a birthplace of Axio. This is consistent with my having Albo being born in Thessaloniki on the Axios River in Greece, and his being most recently from Rhodes (Rodas.)  Roses is evidently an alternative spelling of Rodas. There is a small port of Roses in Catalonia, but I see no associated place name of Axios, which argues against Albo from being there. Andre Rossfelder’s In Pursuit of Longitude  makes the argument that Albo was from Roses, but concedes  he does not know whether Albo was Greek or Spanish. Numerous Portuguese and Spanish historians over the centuries have called Albo a Greek, so I went with the preponderance of opinion. In addition, S.E. Morison in his The European Discovery of America, the Southern Voyages cites a source that claims a survivor of the circumnavigation sailed with Piri Reis, the Ottoman admiral. We know what happened to most of the survivors afterward, except for Albo, who disappears from history. His being from Greece is consistent to his returning to the eastern Mediterranean and working with Piri Reis.

I hope you enjoy Magellan’s Navigator. It is available in print and paperback on Amazon. Just click the photo above.

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Genius, a movie about Maxwell Perkins and Wolfe

Genius, a movie about the great editor Maxwell Perkins (think Fitzgerald, Hemingway and more) and Thomas Wolfe is coming out. That will be a must see for me. If such things interest you, the following link will be of interest.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/interviews/article/70466-four-questions-for-max-perkins-biographer-a-scott-berg.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=2edddcb834-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-2edddcb834-304609113

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The Serious Side of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and Arturo Perez-Reverte’s The Painter of Battles

Tina Fey is my favorite comedic actress of this era, and she does a superb job in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. There is, however, a serious side to virtually every laugh in the movie. The unintended results of the press are an important part of the film. Like the uncertainty principle, where the act of observing affects ‘reality,’ the act of reporting, especially reporting war, can affect the lives of all involved. I can’t say more without giving out spoilers.

These issues are at the heart of Spanish author Arturo Perez-Reverte’s The Painter of Battles. I’m a huge fan of Perez-Reverte. He’s mostly an author of historical fiction including his Captain Alatriste series and The Fencing Master. His contemporary The Dumas Club was made into a The Ninth Gate starring Johnny Depp. These are all fast paced, tightly plotted books.

Perez-Reverte was a war correspondent, like the Tina Fey character in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, before becoming an author. The Painter of Battles appears to be his attempt to deal with the atrocities and cruelty of man against man he encountered in his journalistic career. It is a very philosophical novel, and quite different from his other works.

The protagonist, the painter of battles, was a war photojournalist for over thirty years. He has abandoned this profession and, when we first meet him, is painting a mural of battles in a tower on the Spanish coast. One day a former Croatian soldier arrives at the tower, and announces that he is going to kill the painter of battles, although first the visitor wants to talk. A series of philosophical discussions then ensues about war, journalism, mankind, and what drove these two men to this destiny. It would seem Perez-Reverte is processing specters haunting him from his years as a war correspondent.

The Painter of Battles was at times too verbose for me, and it wasn’t my most enjoyable read of the past year. However, I’ve certainly thought more about this book after finishing it than any other I’ve recently read.

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My First Take on the Pros and Cons of Scrivener

There’s more to writing a book than putting simply putting words into digital memory. Most novels have characters, plots, settings. Nonfiction books often have even more things to juggle. In the past for me, that’s meant each work-in-progress folder contains separate Word, Excel, and other documents. That’s cumbersome. If I forget the color of my Otto’s eyes, I have to leave my manuscript and search for the Otto character sheet, which slows down the writing process. This has become more important to me now that I have multiple books in the same science fiction universe.

Scrivener solves this organization problem by “binding” together your manuscript and various source documents so you can complete that “awkward first draft.” One, not multiple, mouse clicks will bring up any document you want.

I’ve now worked a bit with Scrivener and have a preliminary assessment.

Pros: The one click organization is a huge plus, although it takes some effort to get everything into the Scrivener software. The software also helps in the organization of your manuscript and makes it easy to move chapters around. This will probably be of more use to seat-of-the-pants writers as opposed to writers, like myself, who plot out their novels beforehand. It’d also be very useful to non-fiction writers.

Another pro is the cost. Scrivener regularly goes on sale, and with a little persistence you should be able to buy it for around $20.

Cons: There is no editor and I miss it. I personally try to write a reasonably clean first draft and appreciate Word flagging my misspellings, passive sentences, and grammatical monstrosities. However, for writers who focus on simply getting words to paper in the first draft, the lack of an editor may not bother you.

How I plan on using Scrivener? I think I’ll still do my manuscripts in Word. However, I’ll use Scrivener to organize all my background information. I’ll bring up Scrivener before I start to write, so then my character sheets etc will be at most two clicks away for reference. If I were writing a nonfiction book, I’d probably try doing the manuscript in Scrivener.

However you use it, Scrivener is well worth the money.

 

 

 

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Across a Billion Years by Sci Fi legend Robert Silverberg

Across a Billion Years is a first contact novel written by sci fi legend Robert Silverberg back in 1969. It’s interesting how some sci fi holds up well over the years, while other sci fi falls apart. Dune, for example, reads as well to me today as when I first turned a page in it forty plus years ago. It’s setting in a rather fantastical future helps. Sci fi that is more predictive, like Across a Billion Years, can more easily become book wormed with age. Fortunately, Across a Billion Years generally escapes this fate.

The year is 2375. Mankind has fast interstellar propulsion and interstellar communication via telepathy. (Space Sci fi requires both in some form or the author is severely limited.) The protagonist Tom Rice is a newly minted college graduate on an archaeological expedition to dig for artifacts on Highby V relating to The High Ones, who left their mark across the galaxy a billion years earlier.

The discovery of artifacts propels the plot as they attempt to discover the fate of The High Ones’ civilization. A subplot is the internal strains within the team brought on by racial tension between its five humans, five other alien races, and one human android. Another subplot concerns Rice’s romantic interests. Rice is initially quite naïve, and, although he doesn’t realize it, pretty opinionated and bigoted. He shows quite a bit of character development over the course of the novel.

The novel is presented as Rice’s communication to his sister as stored in a memory cube. That wouldn’t be my preference, but it works reasonably well.

The plot and subplots worked for me as did Rice’s character development. However, the book is more contemplative than action-packed. I thought the book floundered some at the end, and found the ending not satisfying. The secondary characters were rather lightly drawn, and more caricatures, than characters. I was particularly disappointed that the androids persona was explored more. Some of the science that was cutting edge in 1969, and that Silverberg spends many words on, is obsolete today, and not of interest to the modern reader.

Overall, the book was a quick read for me at 232 pages and maintained my interest. I rate it four stars considering its vintage. If it were modern, I’d knock it down a star. Personally, I think its regular Kindle price of $7.99 is too high, but I purchased it on sale via BookBub.

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Warrior in Bronze, a masterful recreation of ancient Grecian times

Warrior in Bronze is a historical fiction by George Shipway set in ancient Greece immediately prior to the Trojan War made famous in the Iliad. It’s told in first person by Agamemnon, starting when he’s a young boy and ending soon after he becomes King of Mycenae. You may recall that Agamemnon is the Greek leader against the Trojans. That story is the subject of a sequel by Shipway, The King in Splendour.

I enjoyed learning of these brutal, yet interesting, times through the eyes of Agamemnon: first as a young lad, then a youth thrust too soon into a man’s role, and finally a king. Shipway captures the military and domestic sides of ancient Greece, as well as the spirit of the times. Greek mythology suffuses the book, so true to the mythology of Agamemnon and his father Atreus, you should be prepared for incest, cannibalism, rape, treachery, and savage brutality.Agamemnon, at least when he’s young and trying desperately to escape a violent death himself, is as horrified by all these as much as we are. As he grows up, the reader is likely to become less sympathetic to Agamemnon, as he becomes more willing to use murder and treachery to obtain what he wants.

What I especially found fascinating was the way Shipway took the Greek mythology tales of gods and heros, and had Agamemnon tell how these events all happened in real life with real people. So Hercules, a brutish thug in this book, wanders in and out of the story several times and the truth of Zeus and the other Greek gods is revealed, to name two instances.

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DOWNLOAD is on sale for 99 CENTS on Amazon

Russian hackers and stock market manipulation add up to murder for National Security Agency mathematician Adam.

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