Musical Monday, Christmas/New Year 2013: “Baba Yetu” (Civilization IV), composed by Christopher Tin

I’ve featured “Baba Yetu” before, but I can think of no better song for the current season of hope and goodwill. Enjoy the music, and may you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

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Musical Monday: “Baba Yetu” (Civilization IV), composed by Christopher Tin

This week’s song is another golden oldie: “Baba Yetu”, the opening theme to 2005’s Civilization IV. Soaring, hopeful, filled with joy — this is the perfect celebration of civilisation, of our achievements in science and art and engineering. Sadly, the official music video below (with its footage taken from the game’s intro movies) also highlights the other half of Civ, our talent for finding new ways to kill each other, but that’s another story…


Note that the official music video uses the version of the song from the “Calling All Dawns” album. Enjoy!


Two very different characters inspired by the same person: Civ 4, The Curse of Chalion, and Isabella I of Spain

The name of Queen Isabella I of Spain should be familiar to any player of Civilization IV. And it will most likely not be a friendly familiarity. For in Civ, Isabella is a thoroughly unpleasant neighbour, a zealot with a penchant for declaring war on players who have adopted heathen faiths (i.e. anything other than what Isabella herself espouses) as their state religions. I get the feeling that while surprise might not be among the weapons in her arsenal, fear certainly is. In short, Isabella’s depiction in Civ is not a flattering one.


Contrast The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold, a fantasy novel set in a land loosely inspired by late medieval Spain. One of the novel’s heroines is a young woman named Iselle, half-sister to the reigning monarch. Iselle is brave. Iselle is intelligent. Iselle believes in justice. Iselle, in short, is what royalty should be. And who seems to have inspired the character? None other than Isabella I of Spain.


Now, I don’t know enough about the real Isabella to comment on how closely Civ 4’s Isabella and Chalion’s Iselle resemble her. I doubt Civ 4 purports in any way to contain an accurate depiction of the real queen, and similarly, while Iselle and Isabella have similar backstories, I doubt Iselle was intended to be a fictionalised version of her namesake. (Although it is a funny thought to imagine Iselle growing up into the holy warrior of Civ 4…)


But the very fact Civ and Chalion aren’t trying to recreate the real Isabella is what fascinates me. This isn’t a case of two authors taking differing views of the same subject, this is a case of two works taking the same historical figure as a starting point and then going on to create two very different characters. And since it illustrates how the take on an idea is just as important as the idea itself, it’s food for thought for any prospective author.