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Author Topic: Re-inventing (the history of) the wheel  (Read 1910 times)

Offline NinjaRaptor

Re-inventing (the history of) the wheel
« on: June 21, 2015, 08:59:57 PM »
So this is a story idea I hatched in my head this morning. It's probably more historical fiction than fantasy, but it is humorous and works with a revisionist premise. What if the wheel as we know it was actually invented by prehistoric Australians---only to have the credit stolen from them?

I open with this Australian bloke Toba running from an angry Megalania (giant relative of goannas and Komodo dragons). His life is saved when a brave young sheila named Pengana sends a boulder rolling after the big lizard, but at the same time his sense of manhood is embarrassed by having a woman rescue him. Pengana, who is taking care of her crafty peg-legged brother Mokee, explains that rolling boulders has proven an effective technique for bringing down larger prey.

Toba, who wants to help his new family (thereby earning his manly pride back), suggests they use one regular boulder (and maybe a second one) instead of looking for a different rock each time. The axle, which Mokee produces with his woodworking skills, links two boulders contributed by Toba and Pengana respectively. To make the task of slotting the axle through the stones easier, they are both hewn into disc shapes so the axle has less rock to go through.

Later, when our heroes are showing off their new invention at a local corroboree gathering, some other Australians suggest they could use a pair of wheeled axles as support for a basket that could carry a load of natural resources (e.g. bauxite, gold, or marsupial skins). They are supplying these to a visiting Sumerian merchant who offers them bronze weapons and other Afro-Eurasian goods in exchange. After seeing the Australians dragging along their makeshift cart, the Sumerian suggests they could realize even fuller potential by having livestock pull it instead. He promises them wealth beyond their wildest dreams if they hand the cart over for him to take back to Sumer.

Spoiler for Hiden:
It turns out that the Sumerian merchant's true intention was to claim the invention as his own, setting up a whole Mesopotamian industry around the manufacture of carts. To fleece his pockets even more, he decides to sue the Australians for "copyright infringement" (since they have made more basket-carts for their own use). And since the Australians don't have written dates for their technology, they can't simply rebut the Sumerian's slander and expect the civilized world to take their word for it. So how are they going to dismiss his lawsuit?

Anyway, what are your thoughts on my scenario for the wheel's invention? Do you think it possible that it could develop from a primitive hunting technique?
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Offline Lady Ty

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Re: Re-inventing (the history of) the wheel
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2015, 01:44:12 AM »
Hi @NinjaRaptor, thanks for sharing your idea re the wheel. I think it's a terrific idea and could be expanded on brilliantly. Definitely Pratchettesque
Spoiler for Hiden:
with primitive people and infringement of copyrights
, made me smile. ;D

Now on to a few words of warning re writing traps with Australian subjects generally, whether back in history, present day and even tongue-in-cheek.

1. Be very careful using  Australian slang you have heard in films or on the internet, most of it is so outdated now, it reads like typical stereotyped rubbish and overused to death . eg sheila, now actually very non pc as well. Point 2 below also applies in this case as all such slang is from European origins.

2. You are writing of time long before the British arrived on the First Fleet, so the actual word Australian did not exist. You could try something like Great Empty Desert Land or nonsense like Hopping Monster South Land or from lists below.

3.The local people are called Indigenous People or nowadays Aboriginal Australians, but not just Aboriginals. This is still a thorny subject so maybe better to choose your own name for them. They have absolutely wonderful words for names,  tribes and also place names which you couldn't invent. Check here: -


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Indigenous_Australian_group_names

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Australian_place_names_of_Aboriginal_origin

http://www.clc.org.au/articles/info/aboriginal-kinship


(Just check each place name you actually use carefully on Google, some have bad associations from later history eg Maralinga)

4. This would not apply to your tribesmen, but the best of luck to anyone ever trying to write  Australian dialogue with the speech patterns and idioms, been here 41 years and can speak it easily, but coming to write it down was nearly impossible.  Recently tried on our crazy RPG and it was baaad. ;D

None of that was meant to be off putting, just a few thoughts  and looking forward to hearing more about the Invention of the Wheel . ;D


« Last Edit: June 22, 2015, 02:11:08 AM by Lady_Ty »
“This is the problem with even lesser demons. They come to your doorstep in velvet coats and polished shoes. They tip their hats and smile and demonstrate good table manners. They never show you their tails.” 
Leigh Bardugo, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Offline NinjaRaptor

Re: Re-inventing (the history of) the wheel
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2015, 03:02:49 AM »
Be very careful using  Australian slang you have heard in films or on the internet, most of it is so outdated now, it reads like typical stereotyped rubbish and overused to death . eg sheila, now actually very non pc as well. Point 2 below also applies in this case as all such slang is from European origins.
"Sheila" is no longer PC?  ??? I could've sworn Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter used it all the time back in the day, and he never struck me as particularly reactionary. Honestly I just thought it would be amusing to write Aboriginal characters talking with the classic Australian colloquialisms, even if some of those are of Anglo origin (realistically speaking, none of them would have spoken any dialect of English anyway).

But thanks for the encouragement anyway.
NEW self-published anthology:
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Offline Lady Ty

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Re: Re-inventing (the history of) the wheel
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2015, 09:50:10 AM »
Steve Irwin and Paul Hogan made the most of acting what we would call Ocker and deliberately spoke Strine - good publicity and other countries loved to hear it.  ;D  Seriously though, nowadays this place is pc fraught and you are never sure what will become unacceptable next either from a feminist or a racist angle. Seriously do not want to pursue this.

Was thinking about your premise of having natives and still doing Aussie take off and remembered TP's The Last Continent which is wonderful, clever and funny. He got around all such problems by clearly basing it on Australia, packed it out with references to our way of life etc.,  but specifically stating something to the effect "it was not Australia but may have had similarities." That way you can do what you like - and after all this is fantasy, so go for your life and good luck ;)
“This is the problem with even lesser demons. They come to your doorstep in velvet coats and polished shoes. They tip their hats and smile and demonstrate good table manners. They never show you their tails.” 
Leigh Bardugo, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Offline Rostum

Re: Re-inventing (the history of) the wheel
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2015, 11:36:32 AM »
Mad Max meets 1,000,000 BC. I love it.

Offline jefGoelz

Re: Re-inventing (the history of) the wheel
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2015, 04:28:34 AM »
It's kinda ironic, since Australian aborigines were about the least advanced society on the earth (as far as food production, tool and metal use).