In Marvel comics, the X-Men struggle to have their humanity recognised. But in real life, the United States Court of International Trade ruled that the X-Men are not human.
In Psychomachia, one of the most popular poems of Medieval Europe, the personifications of Christian virtues fight the vices in a bloodthirsty battle royale. Decapitation, strangulation, squished eyeballs, vomiting bloody teeth…
Leia and Luke crash land on Mimban, are arrested by stormtroopers, fall in with a pair of drunk aliens, escape, float on giant lily-pads, then chop off Darth Vader’s arm. This is the official 1978 novel sequel to Star Wars.
The sci-fi author and pacifist H. G. Wells invented one of the first miniature war games.
From 1864 to 1904, a vast underground network smuggled illegal books into Russian-controlled Lithuania.
Ally Sloper, created and drawn by the husband-wife team of Charles Ross and Émilie de Tessier, was the first recurring comic strip character.
The Dutch Renaissance scholar Desiderius Erasmus wrote a textbook of rhetoric in which he illustrated the flexibility of language by writing the sentence “Your letter delighted me greatly” one hundred and ninety-five different ways.
In 1605 Miguel de Cervantes published Part 1 of Don Quixote, the first “modern” novel. In 1614 an unidentified author wrote an unauthorized sequel: the first fanfic of the first modern novel.
Although the character was inspired by many real-life spies, the author Ian Fleming took the name James Bond from an ornithologist.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was written by a German author under the pseudonym B. Traven. Who was he? We don’t know.
For the several of the first modern Olympic Games you could win a gold medal in sculpture, painting, music, literature, or architecture.
In 1947 the English author Dennis Wheatley wrote a letter to the dystopian future he thought was coming and buried it. Twenty-two years later the letter was uncovered. It had not aged well.
Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books have a long history in the Soviet Union and Russia, from illegal translations in the 1960s to a film in the 1980s to an unauthorised retelling sympathetic to the orcs in the 1990s.
Mix egg yolks, dates, honey, vinegar, oil, wine, shallots, and herbs, and then add a roasted flamingo. This is Apicius, one of the earliest surviving cookbooks.
The Poison Damsels of ancient Indian mythology were assassins who could kill someone with a look or a touch.