Sword and Spaceship #sf

wewriwa
Welcome to weekend writing warriors. Many fine authors, and me, contribute short snippets for your delectation.

I was getting a bit stuck with Regency fiction, and decided to try hard SF. Swords and spaceships, no rayguns (yet), but plenty of action and as long as I’m logically consistent I don’t have to worry about historical accuracy (which is problematic as even the authorities disagree about what it was really like).

It seems to be working, the words are (so far) flying off my fingers and into the book.

In any case, here’s the start – a new midshipman is having her first session of weapons training on her first ship. Her instructor is not exactly impressed. Last week’s snippet skips ahead a few paragraphs from the one before. It’s after she’s finished her training for the day. The discussion of Scotland continues this week.


“Tradition,” Jamie said, “That and the accident.”

“The accident?”

“It’s a legend, but I was told as a wee bairn that all the books and films but the ones about the highlands were deleted, accidentally,” he winked, “on the first belt colony.”

“And by the time it was remedied, everyone spoke Scots; I heard the story.” Terry glanced at Jamie, “You’re mostly what, Chinese? Odd for a highlander.”

“The auld homeland’s muckle big lass,” Jamie winked, again, “Na stop tha’ frachtin and hurry it.”

“It could have been worse,” Terry sighed, “A Russian ship; vodka and potatoes for breakfast.”

“Or one from Texas, nae whiskey,” Jamie replied; Terry’s parents lived in Austin, “Do y’need a hand wit’ that?”

“Please,” Terry winced, “My arm.”

“Bruised but not broken; ye’ll need to see the Crank about that before tomorrow’s practice.”


Jamie explains in this bit the origin of the Scottish tradition in space. Outlander has a lot to answer for in this story.

Seriously, if we survive to make it into space, cultures and ethnicities will get a bit mixed up. Jamie, for example is “mostly Chinese” (his surname is McYu in the current working version), but speaks Scots with the best of them because he comes from a belter family and that is his cultural tradition (though maybe he’ll make or have moon cakes). Still I would think that some aspects of nationality and tradition will survive.

Operationally this mixture allows me to be sloppy with my Scots and insert it for color without worrying too much about accuracy.

You can see some of this in the UK, where curry is now a (or the) national dish of England. Thirty or forty years ago it was a fringe food, eaten by poor college and graduate students, one step ahead of the food inspectors, at dodgy Indian restaurants. It was something of an object of fun (see Dwarf, red, Lister’s food preferences), and now it’s an object of pride.

 

I’ve put up a couple of things on instafreebie. The first is a short story, To Court a Dragon.

The second is the start of a science fiction story in the same universe as Cynthia the Invincible, but set in 1893 Dartmoor, The Curious Case of Miss James. It’s available on Amazon.

The Art of Deception, first in a series of late Georgian/early Regency spy novels is now up.. You can get the first part here.

You can find my work here.

Sandhill Cranes #birding #alabama

Sandhill cranes often stop outside of Centre Alabama during the middle of winter.  This year is no exception.

The majority of the flock (about 1000 birds) has shifted to a new location. It’s one with better water and hunting. Unfortunately it’s a little further from the road.  There are still smaller flocks off CR22 where they were before.

Swords in Space #SF

wewriwa
Welcome to weekend writing warriors. Many fine authors, and me, contribute short snippets for your delectation.

I was getting a bit stuck with Regency fiction, and decided to try hard SF. Swords and spaceships, no rayguns (yet), but plenty of action and as long as I’m logically consistent I don’t have to worry about historical accuracy (which is problematic as even the authorities disagree about what it was really like).

It seems to be working, the words are (so far) flying off my fingers and into the book.

In any case, here’s the start – a new midshipman is having her first session of weapons training on her first ship. Her instructor is not exactly impressed. This snippet skips ahead a few paragraphs from the last. It’s after she’s finished her training for the day.


“Bloody hell Terry,” Jamie said when he saw her at the Midshipmen’s berth, “Chief Petty Officer Ames must have put you through it.”

Terry replied, “It wasn’t too bad,” She leaned on the column of bunks at one side of the narrow corridor that defined the Middy’s quarters.

“I’ve heard he doesn’t like grounders, but;” Jamie stood by his locker on the other side of the corridor; it held the few liters of space where he kept his kit.

“Jamie,” Terry replied, “I remember the Belters and Martians at Annapolis; scared by a few waves and a little wind.”

Jamie laughed, “They were scary; I could ha’ drowned,” He stopped laughing, “Nearly did, don’t you remember?”

“I do,” Terry said, “And I remember fishing you out; in any case I caught him with the flat of my sword.”

“You did,” Jamie guffawed, “That’s good. More than most of us do on our first lesson; I didn’t and I’m a belter;” after a bit, he added, “It’s formal dress … first jump.”

“Bloody hell,” Terry pulled the heavy woolen kilt from her locker; it was, as became a grounder, sodden gray; it had also cost the proverbial arm and a leg, real wool, not synthetic, and much to her mortification, her parents had to help her pay for it. Worse still, it took so much room that there wasn’t space in her kit for her lucky bear, “Why did the Serapis … I mean, why Scotland of all places – I’ve been there, the real one, not New Caledonia, it’s cold, boggy, and full of biting flies, not to mention dour people and awful food, haggis … good whiskey, though.”


Terry’s a little hard on Scotland.

Since sailors have a rather rude and rough initiation ceremony for sailing across the dateline, I’d expect something similar for the ‘first jump.’

Space on the Serapis is tight. Something like this:

Those who know their history will remember the Bonhomme Richard and the Serapis. Captain John Paul Jones was Scots.

Somehow I don’t think this version of the Serapis will fair much better.

 

I’ve put up a couple of things on instafreebie. The first is a short story, To Court a Dragon.

The second is the start of a science fiction story in the same universe as Cynthia the Invincible, but set in 1893 Dartmoor, The Curious Case of Miss James. It’s available on Amazon.

The Art of Deception, first in a series of late Georgian/early Regency spy novels is now up.. You can get the first part here.

You can find my work here.

Swords in Space #werwriwar #SF

wewriwa
Welcome to weekend writing warriors. Many fine authors, and me, contribute short snippets for your delectation.

I was getting a bit stuck with Regency fiction, and decided to try hard SF. Swords and spaceships, no rayguns (yet), but plenty of action and as long as I’m logically consistent I don’t have to worry about historical accuracy (which is problematic as even the authorities disagree about what it was really like).

It seems to be working, the words are (so far) flying off my fingers and into the book.

In any case, here’s the start – a new midshipman is having her first session of weapons training on her first ship. Her instructor is not exactly impressed.


Terry knew he was right, most of her class manned in-system freighters, glorified traffic cops, “I nearly got you.”

“In your dreams, lass; I was going easy; didn’t even break a sweat.”

Terry focused on her tormentor, “You’re right.”

“Spacer born, fleet trained;” The man beamed at her, “I’m used to low-G, you’re not … yet; the sweat doesn’t evaporate, no convection.”

“Oh, but I was … top of my class with the saber.”

The man laughed, “On Terra you’d spit me, but it’s different swinging a 10kg piece of metal when you weigh nothing.”

“55Kilo – all muscle and bone.”

“Nothing when there’s no gravity lass; It’s different.”

“But?”

“I know you can use a projectile weapon and hit a gnat at a half-click; can’t use them inside a ship.”


Radiation is one of the very real problems with space flight. Earth’s magnetic field keeps most of it from reaching us, but outside of that protective shield – say on the Moon or a trip to Mars – it puts a definite limit on human endurance.

In the story I’ve added a drug cocktail called ‘the juice’ that slows metabolism (for time) which incidentally turns off the sex drive, and protects the people from the effects of radiation. One of the characters remarks (later) that 400REM (the LD50) will barely give you a suntan. Of course, when they come ‘off the juice’ things can get interesting.

One thing I’ve not seen in other SF is what happens when a large mostly metallic object encounters charged particles while it’s moving at high speed – as would happen when coming out of a jump (Again one needs to invoke some sort of hyperspace to have anything like real time. Otherwise it’s ‘500 years later …’.) Bremsstrahlung or ‘braking’ radiation are the photons emitted when you stop a moving photon or when you slam into one at high speed. It’s how your dentist produces X-rays in that little box that the tech positions outside your mouth. It’s also somewhat dear to me as in a previous existence I used highly filtered X-rays (from copper) to probe molecular structure.

I’ve put up a couple of things on instafreebie. The first is a short story, To Court a Dragon.

The second is the start of a science fiction story in the same universe as Cynthia the Invincible, but set in 1893 Dartmoor, The Curious Case of Miss James. It’s available on Amazon.

The Art of Deception, first in a series of late Georgian/early Regency spy novels is now up.. You can get the first part here.

You can find my work here.

Sword and Spaceship.

wewriwa
Welcome to weekend writing warriors. Many fine authors, and me, contribute short snippets for your delectation.

I was getting a bit stuck with Regency fiction, and decided to try hard SF. Swords and spaceships, no rayguns (yet), but plenty of action and as long as I’m logically consistent I don’t have to worry about historical accuracy (which is problematic as even the authorities disagree about what it was really like).

It seems to be working, the words are (so far) flying off my fingers and into the book.

In any case, here’s the start – a new midshipman is having her first session of weapons training on her first ship. Her instructor is not exactly impressed.


The chief put his lips to her forehead, “Damn-me, you’re still hot lass;” He stepped back and spritzed her with ice water, “Can’t have a Middy dropping dead from heatstroke; not on her first day of training.”

The sweat streaming from her, Terry said, “I don’t get it; why the practice.”

“You did your training on Terra, didn’t thee?”

“Yes, Annapolis, then Colorado Springs; you know that.”

“Thought so; bloody ground pounder.”

“I can put you on report.”

“Not your training chief, you can’t;” This time the older man put the back of his hand on her forehead, “You’re getting better,” He sprayed her again, “Now that the gravity’s back.”

Terry stood and tried to stare the old man down; he laughed, “You’re not the first I’ve trained. Now sit, and that’s an order.”

“But… I excelled in weapons in the Academy, that and.”

“Lass,” the chief drew a deep breath; “If you hadn’t been top of your class, you would’na have been posted to the Serapis; no ground pounder would have.”


There is a reason she’s having to learn to use a sword well in zero gravity, but that will have to wait for another installment.

I’ve put up a couple of things on instafreebie. The first is a short story, To Court a Dragon.

The second is the start of a science fiction story in the same universe as Cynthia the Invincible, but set in 1893 Dartmoor, The Curious Case of Miss James. It’s available on Amazon.

The Art of Deception, first in a series of late Georgian/early Regency spy novels is now up.. You can get the first part here.

You can find my work here.

Carnitas in a Frying Pan. #recipe

Carnitas, Mexican roast pork, done in a dutch oven is one of my goto camping recipes. The only problem is that with just two of us, it makes for an immense amount of meat.

So I wanted to see how it works in a frying pan, in an oven, inside. In short, very well. Not quite as good as a large batch done over coals, but dashed good none the less.

Here’s the recipe:
flour pork with:

  • 1 cup (more or less) plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon powdered chili pepper (New Mexican is best, Cayenne will do).
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

The mixture ready to go

Place in a cast-iron frying pan:

  • 1/4 inch cooking oil
  • meat and flour
  • 1/3 can of beer (That’s what the bubbles in the picture are from. Not boiling it on the stove.)


Cover with foil and back for 2 hours at 350. The white bits are some of the flour that didn’t absorb moisture. They mix right in when you serve it.

Decoding Amanda, Symmetry

wewriwa
Welcome to weekend writing warriors. Many fine authors, and me, contribute short snippets for your delectation.

Since it seems that our Regency spy romance is much more popular than our science fiction, this post introduces the sequel to The Art of Deception. Amanda’s reading was interrupted by a summons to attend on her mother. Amanda’s mother made it clear that she must attend the assembly. After a short carriage journey, it only being six or so miles between Coalpit Heath and Chipping Sodbury, they have arrived. Mr Jameson just asked Amanda to dance, despite her interest in a mathematics problem. The set over, Amanda wants to return to her usual pursuits when her mother stops her. Amanda has just said a biting remark about the mysterious Mr Jameson, and her friend Louisa wonders why she is so sour. After the break for refreshments, the story resumes on the dance floor, where Amanda has agreed to another dance with Mr Jameson.


“Tell me, Miss Bentley about those figures; are you a devotee of the cossack art?”
“Until Mother took my copy of Hutton, I was,” Amanda paused, swept away by the figure; shen she returned to speaking distance, she continued, “I was working on symmetric polynomials, not that I’d expect a divinity student to … “
“Interesting area, I feel there is some deep structure there, but…”
“You know about them?”
“Surprised; I wasn’t always … studying for orders; before I received my calling.”
“You were a mathematician?”
“The way to perdition is paved … with equations, determinants and integrals.”
Amanda guffawed; then she blushed as heads turned to her, “No it isn’t and you know it.”
“That’s true, and I retain some interest in the field.”


My sincere apologies for abusing semi-colons. (The cossack art was the study of ‘x’s’ and ‘y’s’ i.e. Algebra.)

There are a couple of non-obvious links to my day job in this snippet. The most interesting is the idea of “Symmetric Polynomials.” The study of these led a certain Evariste Galois to develop group theory of polynomials in the late 1820’s. He wrote a formidable exposition on the theory the night of May 30th 1832 and promptly was shot in a duel in the morning of the 31st.

Galois theory forms the basis for much of modern communications and cryptography. The error correcting codes that allow us to pump gigabits of information through grotty fibre lines or watch DVDs come from his work. As does the mixing step in Rijndael or AES.

The idea itself is strikingly simple, albeit rather tricky to construct in practice. Prime numbers form simple rings or groups that are closed under multiplication and addition in modular (clock arithmetic). For example, if we keep multiplying by 3 mod 7 we have 1,3, 2 (9 mod 7), 6, 4 (18 mod 7), 5 (12 mod 7), and 1 (15 mod 7). It repeats forever after that and every number from 1 to 6 is a power of three mod 7. Therefor 3 is a generator in the ring mod 7. Cool (at least I think it’s cool). Most of the ways we exchange secret keys on the internet use this math, but with rather larger prime rings (where the primes requires 2000 bits or so).

Galois asked the rather simple question, “what happens if we use polynomials instead of numbers?”

This leads to the idea of irreducible polynomials and polynomial rings. Unfortunately the theory is too large to fit in the margins of this post.

The featured image shows a working modern reconstruction of a Turing “bombe” from Bletchley Park.

This snippet continues formal connection to the previous book in the series (the art of deception). Mrs Hudson’s academy doesn’t just teach deportment and other social skills.


I’ve put up a couple of things on instafreebie. The first is a short story, To Court a Dragon.

The second is the start of a science fiction story in the same universe as Cynthia the Invincible, but set in 1893 Dartmoor, The Curious Case of Miss James. It’s available on Amazon.

The Art of Deception, first in a series of late Georgian/early Regency spy novels is now up.. You can get the first part here.

You can find my, well our, works here.

Decoding Amanda, more gyrations.

wewriwa
Welcome to weekend writing warriors. Many fine authors, and me, contribute short snippets for your delectation.

Since it seems that our Regency spy romance is much more popular than our science fiction, this post introduces the sequel to The Art of Deception. Amanda’s reading was interrupted by a summons to attend on her mother. Amanda’s mother made it clear that she must attend the assembly. After a short carriage journey, it only being six or so miles between Coalpit Heath and Chipping Sodbury, they have arrived. Mr Jameson just asked Amanda to dance, despite her interest in a mathematics problem. The set over, Amanda wants to return to her usual pursuits when her mother stops her. Amanda has just said a biting remark about the mysterious Mr Jameson, and her friend Louisa wonders why she is so sour.


Amanda asked him, “What college are you with?”
“New college, why?”
“That’s where my Freddy is,” Louisa almost shouted; she added, quietly, “Though he’s not quite my Freddy.”
Amanda noticed her father, bludgeoning his way through the crowd to join her.
Once he arrived within hailing reach, he said, “There you are lass; I thought you’d enjoy the evening, despite those megrims.”
Amanda said, “Yes, you are right, as usual,” She paused, unsure of precedence, and then introduced her companions, “Louisa you know. This is Mr Jameson.”
“I saw you dancing with my lass; hope she didn’t disappoint, she gets so little practice.”
Mr Jameson nodded to him, “It was my pleasure.”
Amanda continued, “and this is Miss Mapleton – Are you with Mrs Hudson’s academy as well?”
Alice replied, “I’m a governess there.”


My sincere apologies for abusing semi-colons.

We had the power go out last night in Atlanta’s “Snowmaggedon II – the blizzard strikes back.”  No big deal in itself – this time the roads didn’t freeze so people weren’t stuck – and it’s already back on.  It was a decidedly cold and dark evening, although not more than a one dog night.

It raises the question, “How did you keep clean, when like most people, you couldn’t have a hot bath or shower?”

The answer turns out to be a mixture of techniques. One, quite obviously, is to use a cold wet cloth to wash the “pits and smelly bits.” That works, but isn’t actually how people usually cleaned themselves – or at least the rest of themselves. Dry linen cloths are surprisingly good at absorbing oils and grime. Through the end of the Victorian time – when geysers (a temperamental point source of hot water that used gas) and soap  were introduced (or in the case of soap re-introduced, Boudica and her merry gang of blue woaded Briton’s used it) – people dry-toweled themselves with scraps of linen.  I haven’t tried this, but have it on good authority that it works.

Hair, however, is a different story. A regency gentleman’s father had it easy – shave his head and wear a wig. By the early 1800’s this wasn’t an option for men, and it had never really been one for women. Hair powder and brushing served the needs. Somewhat imperfectly. You would dust your hair with an absorbent powder and brush it out.  The iniquitous tax on hair powder to help pay for the war may have lead to a change in style – moving from powdered and massive constructions to more natural looks, but the basic techniques survived until late in the 1800’s. There is a reason Regency Heroines spend so much time having their maids brush their hair.  Shampoo is much faster.

Of course, if these fail, there’s always perfume.

In fairness, I should point out that soap and soap-like compositions were highly caustic until the later years of Queen Victoria (1870’s). They’d have eaten your skin and dissolved your hair much like drain cleaner does today. So there’s a reason that soap wasn’t used for cleaning people.

This snippet continues formal connection to the previous book in the series (the art of deception).  Mrs Hudson’s academy doesn’t just teach deportment and other social skills.


I’ve put up a couple of things on instafreebie. The first is a short story, To Court a Dragon.

The second is the start of a science fiction story in the same universe as Cynthia the Invincible, but set in 1893 Dartmoor, The Curious Case of Miss James. It’s available on Amazon.

The Art of Deception, first in a series of late Georgian/early Regency spy novels is now up.. You can get the first part here.

You can find my, well our, works here.

Decoding Amanda Continued.

wewriwa
Welcome to weekend writing warriors. Many fine authors, and me, contribute short snippets for your delectation.

Since it seems that our Regency spy romance is much more popular than our science fiction, this post introduces the sequel to The Art of Deception. Amanda’s reading was interrupted by a summons to attend on her mother. Amanda’s mother made it clear that she must attend the assembly. After a short carriage journey, it only being six or so miles between Coalpit Heath and Chipping Sodbury, they have arrived. Mr Jameson just asked Amanda to dance, despite her interest in a mathematics problem. The set over, Amanda wants to return to her usual pursuits when her mother stops her. Amanda has just said a biting remark about the mysterious Mr Jameson, and her friend Louisa wonders why she is so sour.


Beyond them, the orchestra struck the final chords of the dance; Amanda nodded to Louisa, “Time to join the throng for refreshments.”

What a crush.”

Mr Jameson slipped in beside them, “It is; Do you mind if we join you in the queue?”

Despite her professed bad temper, Amanda found herself smiling, “Please … Mr Jameson, this is my dear friend Louisa Phillips.”

Mr Jameson bowed, slightly, exactly the correct amount that manners required, “Enchanted Miss Phillips;” he gestured to the woman he had been dancing with, “May I present Alice … Alice.”

The woman said, “Alice Mapleton, Miss Mapleton.”

Amanda said to Mr Jameson, “My friend, Miss Phillips tells me that you’re the chaplain at Mrs Hudson’s academy and on leave from Oxford.”

After glancing quickly at Miss Mapleton, Mr Jameson replied, “News travels quickly in these parts, doesn’t it? Yes, I’m on leave from Oxford and acting as chaplain at that august institution.”


My sincere apologies for abusing semi-colons.

The Chinese reportedly have a curse, “May you live in exciting times.” I’m not sure if that’s true, but the last months have been interesting to say the least. Any road, I’m back.

This snippet introduces the first formal connection to the previous book in the series (the art of deception). While I doubt they had academies for female spies, the British were remarkably organized during the Napoleonic wars. I can heartily recommend Roger Knight’s “Britain against Napoleon” if you’re interested in the real story. Much of the jobbery, nepotism, and blatant incompetence that allowed us Yanks to achieve our independence went by the wayside during this existential struggle. Not all, the army was crippled by cronyism until near the end of the war. It lead to various unrealistic – and costly – expeditions such as the invasion of Holland (the Walcheren expedition in 1809 is a great example).

 

 

 


I’ve put up a couple of things on instafreebie. The first is a short story, To Court a Dragon.

The second is the start of a science fiction story in the same universe as Cynthia the Invincible, but set in 1893 Dartmoor, The Curious Case of Miss James. It’s available on Amazon.

The Art of Deception, first in a series of late Georgian/early Regency spy novels is now up.. You can get the first part here.

You can find my, well our, works here.

Decoding Amanda, the story formerly known as the Divinity School.

wewriwa
Welcome to weekend writing warriors. Many fine authors, and me, contribute short snippets for your delectation.

Since it seems that our Regency spy romance is much more popular than our science fiction, this post introduces the sequel to The Art of Deception. Amanda’s reading was interrupted by a summons to attend on her mother. Amanda’s mother made it clear that she must attend the assembly. After a short carriage journey, it only being six or so miles between Coalpit Heath and Chipping Sodbury, they have arrived. Mr Jameson just asked Amanda to dance, despite her interest in a mathematics problem. The set over, Amanda wants to return to her usual pursuits when her mother stops her. Amanda has just said a biting remark about the mysterious Mr Jameson.


“That is unkind of you.”

Amanda blinked, and watched the figures on the floor; then she replied, “Yes … You’re right; I shouldn’t have said that Louisa – I don’t know why I’m in such a way.”

Louisa frowned, “It’s all those books … you used to be so sweet.”

“Was I? I apologize Louisa; my mother took the book I was reading … it was a present from Freddy.”

Louisa brightened at the name, “Freddy; how is he?”

“Well, I suppose; he hasn’t been sent down from Oxford … yet.”

“He won’t be … I hope,” Louisa blushed.

Amanda sighed, “He didn’t mention any females in his last letter.” How could he … Mother reads them first.


My sincere apologies for abusing semi-colons.

 

Amanda’s mother reading her letters is nothing out of the ordinary – the same thing happens to the heroines in Jane Austen’s books (the end of Northanger Abbey excepted).

Not much history this time. I’ve had a bit of a family emergency which is settling into a more routine situation.

 

 


I’ve put up a couple of things on instafreebie. The first is a short story, To Court a Dragon.

The second is the start of a science fiction story in the same universe as Cynthia the Invincible, but set in 1893 Dartmoor, The Curious Case of Miss James. It’s available on Amazon.

The Art of Deception, first in a series of late Georgian/early Regency spy novels is now up.. You can get the first part here.

You can find my, well our, works here.