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Recap / A Thing Of Vikings Chapter 83 On The Shoulders Of Giants

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Book III, Chapter 15

A much more potent and frustrating miss on Haddock's part came from his invention of the pantograph (from the Greek for 'all-writing'), when he would soon have all of the parts necessary for the creation of the printing press—which would languish in unrealized potential for more than a century and a half, eventually being realized by Hiccup's descendant, Kamikaze clan Frelsifrædi. At the time Haddock created the pantograph, he already had the concept of identical production via stamping from his drop-press, along with molds and other forms for creating interchangeable movable type, and would be introduced to the concept of movable type itself from his visits to and trade with Zhōngguó within only a handful of years after his creation of the pantograph.

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But instead of building the revolutionary printing press, he created the pantograph as a scribe's aid, as an extension of how things were done in his time rather than expanding outwards into new possibilities. And the pantograph did change the rate at which books could be copied; a simple pantograph could be made in an afternoon by a competent carpenter or blacksmith, and allowed even illiterates to help with copying books simply by tracing text and diagrams. But it did not change the method by which books were copied, as a printing press would have. Books were still copied by hand, one page at a time.

But due to its simplicity, the pantograph quickly became the dominant form of text reproduction, a position it held for the next two hundred years. There are arguments that Haddock's status as the creator of the pantograph alone pushed the creation of the printing press back by generations, as the more efficient text-copier directly challenged and threatened the supremacy of a device tied to Haddock's legendary reputation.

The Genius Has No Clothes: An Alternate View Of Innovation, 1818
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Tropes That Appear In This Chapter:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: The author acknowledges that the Holy Roman Empire wasn’t called the Holy Roman Empire until the mid 12th century, but calls it that to help prevent confusion with the Roman Empire centered around Constantinople.
  • Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome: Hiccup invents the pantograph, five hundred and sixty-one years before it was invented in Real Life.
  • Bi the Way: Gunnar admits that he likes both men and women.
  • Internal Reveal: Heather tells Fishlegs and Hiccup that she's pregnant.
  • The Reveal: Mildew reveals in his private thoughts that he was responsible for the death of most of his clan.
    Oh, Mildew had danced the day that the clan hall had burned with all of his relatives inside. He had, after all, barred the doors when they'd assembled for a Clan Thing and set the blaze himself. He still heard his father's screams like music in his dreams. The father who had rejected him, who had cast him out for keeping what was his for himself!
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  • Wham Episode: The chapter ends with Mildew discovering another Night Fury exists.


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