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Help Me Brainstorm
sword
tiger_spot
We're going to a convention next week, and I am on a panel. It is a panel I thought sounded interesting, because it's not a topic I know much about....

"When our heroes settle down, what do they bring home with them from their journeys? The Emperors of Byzantium were defended by Vikings, many of whom lived out their lives in the Varangian Guard, and some argue that Marco Polo and other silk road traders brought pizza and pasta to Italy from China. What examples of religious, cultural, and technological transfer can we think of in fantasy, and what would we like to see?"

I am having the damnedest time thinking of examples from fantasy rather than history (or historical fiction, which is not always the same thing). Help me out here.

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Sam Gamgee planting a mallorn tree in the Shire is sort of a cultural transfer.

Yeah. Bilbo before him brought more changes to himself than any changes to the Shire (if you don't count the One Ring.)

Guy Gavriel Kay has a lot of historically-based stuff in his fantasies. Tigana is less historical than the others, and has imperial influences from the two conquering powers, among other things.

Glen Cook's Black Company books imply a fair amount of cultural exchange also, what with the Company collecting recruits from all the lands it passes through, though not a ton of that makes it onto the page until later in the series.

Pizza is in the Aeneid. Toward the end, the crew make some flatbread and put local vegetables on it. This fulfills a prophecy that they would someday be so hungry they would eat their plates.

"What would we like to see" covers a multitude of historical awesomenesses.

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I am looking forward to it!

Mr. E says there are some examples in the Wheel of Time series, if you've read that one. Aral Vorkosigan brings home a wife who changes Barrayaran society.

Considering what an enormous part of the human experience this is, it's weird that it's so hard to think of fictional examples!

There's an emperor in Tad Williams' Shadowmarch series who has guards that are descendents of mercenaries and conquered fighters from other lands.

It would be nice to see more There and Back Again stories where the protagonist does bring back change for their place of origin.

Considering what an enormous part of the human experience this is, it's weird that it's so hard to think of fictional examples!

I think it's a scale problem -- fiction tends to focus on the individual, who might bring home a souvenir, or a family, or a new way of thinking, but it doesn't really look like cultural transfer until you see the effects in the next generation. There's some dynastic fantasy, but not a lot.

Mr. E adds that Death in Pratchett's Reaper Man brings home the metaphor of wheat for humanity....but probably more important is the change in himself, where he has maybe more compassion. Twoflower, though, brings home revolution.

Good lord Pratchett. Yes. Nice catch there, Mr. E! (A lot of these others are presumably good examples also, but they are things I have not read, which makes them less useful for discussion purposes.)

Kate Elliott's Crossroads trilogy is chock-full of this kind of societal transfer: at least one religion, foodstuffs/cooking methods, military organization, hairstyles, social norms...

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