Class Vs Race, As Examined Through Fantasy

This week I finished a trilogy of fantasy novels, and one of the things I was trying to work out, Was the writer English or American? Spelling wasn’t an issue, as the book had obviously been edited for the British Market, but what tipped the balance for me was that more than one of the main characters was elevated from peasantry to lordship instantly, but there wasn’t really any class struggle to go with this elevation. No plotting lord talking about commoners getting above their station etc.

But one of the differences between the US and the UK is that class discrimination isn’t really an issue in the US, that a lot of social barriers stem from race, and the roots that discrimination had coming from slavery.  And that theme was present in the books I read this week, the brutality of slavery and persecution because of race (in this case from a prisoner of war aspect) was gone into in detail, while any issue of class struggle was, whilst not ignored, was certainly not as much of an issue as it should have been.

I think in terms of issue, racism is less of a problem in the UK (not to say it doesn’t exist) but, but we tend to look more at class, working class, middle class, aristocracy and so forth. Black and Minority Ethnic groups have become parts of most classes, and are generally accepted, but trying to cross that class gap is a different matter entirely.  I say this as a lower class, heterosexual, white, relatively able bodied, male, but it remind me of a joke by a Black comedian whose name eludes me at the moment, but he said “In England, they don’t have racism, no, they’ve got a class system, so that way they can be racist to white people too.” and I honestly think that sums up the class system almost perfectly, and this aspect is something I find is missing from a lot of American fantasy, whether its the Riftwar saga that I read this week, or A song of Ice and Fire, where the liberation of slavery is a key element across the series, tackling the idea’s behind racism, but aside from a few phrases like up jumped sell sword the idea of class is left behind (although I notice it has been made more prominent in the TV series).

But going the other way if you look at some of the British and Australian works of fiction, but race won’t be a big deal, looking at the works of Trudi Canavan like the Black Magician series, on of the key themes throughout is class struggle, but the issues of race hardly come up at all, to the point where even slavery is shrugged off. (Although one unique fantasy theme in the Black Magician Series is the theme of homophobia, which is something I’ve never really seen addressed in a fantasy series).

Of Course British Authors do attempt to look at the race aspect, but in the case of JK Rowling and the Harry Potter books, what you see here is a sort of blending of both class and race, establishing Wizards and Witches as the upper classes, and then other races as being below them, and quickly establishes this as a negative, the series could be seen as a study in the combating of oppression and discrimination, in the series, you see the elitist attitude of the older established wizarding families, like the blacks and the Malfoy’s representing the class aspect (probably a little bit influenced by Ms Rowling’s time on benefits), but then you see the brutish violent aspect of the Death Eaters (forming posses to attack those who’re different while wearing pointy hoods, come on JK that’s a little on the nose don’t you think?)

And who is to say which is the more important to focus on,  as both are real issues for those that have faced them, but I just find it interesting how the issues that surround the author in their real lives has an influence on how they write.

Happy Martini Day: A Guide To Martini Variants

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Today just so happens to be Martini Day, And I was going to write a piece about how to make the perfect Martini but it turns out that I’ve already done  that…. Twice (see the previous posts here and here )

Judging from the previous posts you now know that I know how to make the perfect Martini, So here is a look at some of the variants that can put a spin on your classic cocktail.

Vodka Martini

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What annoys me most about the vodka Martini is that most people think that this is a proper Martini, yes it is probably the most iconic version of the drink owing to a certain fussy spy making it his trademark. So what you need for this abomination is:

3 25ml shots of a decent Vodka

1 25ml shot of dry vermouth

1 lemon slice

And to make said abomination, all you do is slosh your vodka and vermouth into a cocktail shaker full of ice, shake if you’re a pussy who wants watered down booze, or stir gently if you’re a real man, then strain it into a cocktail glass and add your lemon slice, and then wonder why you ever thought James Bond a man of taste.

Coffee Martini 

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I was asked to make this at a cocktail  function a few weeks ago and have since perfected it, or some I’m told, hating the taste of coffee, I wouldn’t actually know if this was good or bad, so you’ll have to try it and see. You’ll need:

1 mug of black coffee (allow it to go cold)

2 shots of any old vodka

1 shot of Tia Maria (or any other coffee liqueur)

Its pretty simple to make really, shake it all over ice and strain into a cocktail glass its simply a cold Russian Coffee but it does the job, people seem to think its nice, to turn this into an espresso Martini, all you need to do is switch out the coffee for an espresso pod and shake well.

Appletini

Appletini

If you are completely secure in your masculinity and feel the need to make an Appletini for yourself, or have cause to make one for some one else, all you need are: 

4 25ml shots of vodka

2 25ml shots of Apple Schnapps

1 Apple slice

If you can avoid making fun of the recipient of this drink for long enough to make it, again all you need to take this to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake, you could stir, but no one ordering one of these things can handle alcohol that hasn’t been watered down, so shake away and strain it into a martini glass, then garnish with the apple slice, and then shake your head in sadness at the knowledge that someone actually asked for this drink.

Passion Fruit/Porn star Martini 

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I don’t know why these have become so popular of late, but every cocktail bar I go to they seem to be on the menu, so if you’re going to attempt to make one here’s what you’ll need

2 ripe passion fruits halved

4 25 ml shots of vanilla vodka

3 25ml shots of Passoa

1 tablespoon of lime juice and

1 tablespoon of brownsugar

1 teaspoon edible glitter

250 ml of sparkling wine (use Prosecco or Cava or Asti Spumante, don’t go wasting good champagne on something like this)

 

Making it is a bit of a buggerance however so listen carefully what you need to do first is scoop the seeds from one of the passion fruits into the glass of a cocktail shaker, then add the vodka, passoa, lime juice, glitter and sugar. Add a load of ice and shake well, strain into martini glasses, and then top up the bugger with some prosecco or whatever sparkling wine you have to hand and then finish it off by adding half a passion fruit to each.