Monday, September 07, 2015

Another Unused Portion

I was attempting to rewrite (steal) the Watershed scene from The Tactics Of Mistake by Gordon R. Dickson but I wasn't happy with it:

For Colonel Thomas Kearney the operation had gone off without flaw and with no casualties for his men.  The objective of this operation was a small mining town on one the minor outer colony worlds.

Vance was a barely habitable and tidally locked moon of a Jovian class gas giant that in turn orbited a red dwarf star.  The initial settlement had served as a way station for the exploration and colonization of better worlds further out from Earth.  But a more detailed survey of the world had found recoverable minerals in the platinum group and a rare earth element used in the manufacture of hyperdrives.

The world was named for Sir John Vance, an Australian astronaut employed by the Martian Relocation Project.  Although the MRP had set up their own outpost on this world they also opened it to settlement dissident groups from Earth.  What made the operation possible was the fact that not all of the settlements had joined the newly independent central government.  But for Colonel Kearney this action was also a step forward in the recovery from two disasters.  The minor and most recent was the defeat of the unit that left him with a bit less than three hundred effective soldiers out of was once a first class mercenary regiment.  The more distant and most devastating to him was the loss of the home world and his family to what was in practical effect a band of invading savages.

The first part of operation was a night march through the forest bordering Federal Republic of Vance and the dissident colony of Vermillion.  The march to the objective was illuminated by the reflected light of the gas giant planet that was permanently fixed on the southern horizon.  The objective of the operation was the town of Runoff and the mining sites surrounding it.  Which was a cluster of homes, small businesses, and offices. Very few of the people were awake at the time and once the mercenaries were in position their unit simply walked in and seized the town. 

With the streets, the government buildings. and the local militia armory of the town secured Kearney ordered the transmission to the client of the code for the successful mission.  But as Kearney waited for arrival of the sponsors there was unfinished business to be dealt with.

Kearney sat at the official desk as the Mayor of Runoff was dragged in.  The Mayor was barefoot, unshaven, and hastily dressed.  He looked around the room and shook his head before speaking to his captor.

“So you think you’re special?”

“We’re professional soldiers.”

“You’re only criminals.”  The Mayor replied.  “Did you kill anyone yet?”

“No.”  Kearney replied.

There was no resistance from the police or any of the civilians that were awake.

So much for the sea of armed civilians.  Kearney thought.

The Mayor looked directly at Kearney and spoke.

“Then if you leave right now and cross the border back into Vermillion you and your unit may yet get away.”

Kearney mentally dismissed the statement and placed a document on the desk before the Mayor.

“Sign it.”  Said Kearney.

The Mayor briefly scanned it and then replied.

“No.”  Said the Mayor.  “You are nothing, you have no authority and thus no power over any of us.”

Kearney stared at the Mayor for a moment.

How can he say that?  He thought.

“I can have you shot.”  Kearney replied.

The Mayor looked Kearney straight in the eyes and then calmly replied.

“In that case you will actually become something, but it would only be a diseased animal that should be put down quickly and with mercy.”

Kearney could not believe what he had just heard.

Is he insane?

The Mayor spoke again.

“Now you should lay down your arms, go home, grow up, and get a life.”

For Kearney and his men this wasn’t possible--there was no place they could call a home.  With
the refusal to sign the surrender document Kearney sent the Mayor downstairs to the town jail with the police officers that were on duty and other elected officials.

The local sun was beginning to rise as the gee-vee arrived with two well dressed civilians.  The first man represented the sponsor of the operation, the Superior Mining Company, and the other was an official of the official central government.  Superior Mining originated on the Iron Range of Minnesota in the late 19th Century and the firm had barely survived into the Interstellar Era.  But under new management the firm would expand again by exploiting the resources found on the colony worlds and shipping them to Earth.  Or it did until the extinction event that killed most of the population and the advanced civilization of Earth.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Somewhere in Space, Time, and Stereo

If a mere human could perceive this being it would appear to be a giant bat like entity with alien features and if that human could hear the name it would sound like Skippy.

And the being truly hated to be called Skippy.

And now it this point in space and time it would appear to be speaking to another being like itself.

“Les, we need to talk.”

The other being turned to reply.

“I’m not Les--I’m The Other Les.”

Skippy winced and replied in annoyance.

“I know that,” it said. “but we still need to talk.”

“What about?”

“It’s this new timeline of yours, The Committee was very clear that you were to do no more displacements.”

“It’s not a displacement--it’s a duplication.”


“On the original timeline the Resolution will arrive at the intended destination and The Old Man will see what had happened to the Earth as a result of the Yellowstone Eruption and then expire. Then the ship’s company will bury him on the grounds of the old Fort Snelling National Cemetery with full military honors and with a printed American flag–The End.”

“What?” Said Skippy. “Why not bury him at the Arlington National Cemetery?”

“The Old Man is from the Twin Cities, it’s a Minnesota thing.”

To a solidly material being it would appear that Skippy had paused to think for a moment before speaking again.

“What The Committee is really upset about is that you didn’t finish your last project.”

“It was spinning out of control,” said The Other Les. “I didn’t expect the people in Tienanmen Square to lynch Chairman Mao.”

“And what did you expect?” Said Skippy, “The Spanish Inquisition?”

As if on cue the familiar red-clad figures of Cardinals Ximenez, Biggles, and Fang appeared at that point of space-time.

Skippy spun suddenly and shouted at them.


“Right...” Said Ximenez and they vanished just as suddenly.

Skippy was annoyed to no end. Ever since the Spanish Inquisition Sketch had been broadcast the three characters were popping up all over time and space. It was as if they were now an inherent component of space and time.

Skippy then returned to the matter at the immediate manipulator appendage.

“So you didn’t expect Mao to be lynched?”

“No,” said The Other Les, “the people loved him.”

Skippy replied.

“Les, what you have to remember is that totalitarian states operate on the principle of Doublethink--Freedom is Slavery, War is Peace, and so on--when the principle of Doublethink is applied to the concept of Love what comes out is Hate. And given what that terminal orifice did to the Chinese people it would have to be pure unalloyed hate.”

The Other Les nodded.

“Okay, I can see that.”

Skippy then spoke again.

“And the other thing The committee is upset about is the reboot of your current project--why?”

The Other Les replied.

“It’s easier to write from an objective perspective and I missed the opportunity to show an interesting meeting between historic figures.”

Who?” Said Skippy. “George Orwell and Ayn Rand?”

For a moment The Other Les stared out into the yet to be defined dimensions of time and space.

No, no, NO!” Skippy shouted. “DON”T YOU DARE!”

Saturday, August 01, 2015

A Decision

I've decided to follow the example set by Ayn Rand and place the novel I'm writing in a slightly different universe.

One difference is obvious.

On this evening it was beginning to snow.

In most respects it was just another Monday for Evelyn Alexander Keller.  After a day of classes at the Minneapolis Technical Institute he had just finished another two hours shift at the Fanny Farmer candy shop on the northwest corner of Fourth Street and Second Avenue in Downtown Minneapolis.  The part time job was the source of income that paid for the tuition and covered the financial burden of his hobbies.

And on the day before his twentieth birthday he decided to treat himself a bit early.  TSR had just released the Deities and Demigods book for Advanced Dungeons And Dragons.  Although his primary interest was in science fiction and the Traveller role playing game he was willing to play D&D on occasion.  And of course he kept himself up to date on the rule books.

His immediate destination was The Little Tin Soldier Shop.  This was a small store just off the southwest corner of Lake Street and Bryant Avenue in South Minneapolis.  The owner was a veteran of the Korean War and in the retail area up front he sold war games and miniature combatants to adults and role playing games to naive young fellows like myself.  In the back of the store was the gaming area with several folding tables where war games were played during business hours and on some nights after closing time.  Except on Thursday nights when the floor was open for gamers to try to sink each others carefully painted miniature warships with imaginary cannon fire.

When he arrived there was one copy remaining on display of the book.  As he picked it up someone spoke.  It was a teenage boy and by the accent and attire he had to be a rich kid from the Kenwood section of Minneapolis.
“I want it.”  He said.

Keller turned to the boy and replied.

“Kid, you should ask Don if he has any more copies in stock, or when the next shipment from TSR is due.”

The kid responded.


Keller replied.

“Don Valentine, that’s the gentleman behind the counter, and if it looks like he’s been through Hell it’s because he has.”

The kid looked at Don and then spoke to Keller again.

“My uncle’s the Vice President.”

Keller was not impressed, there were a number of things he could have said about outgoing Vice President Walter March, but he decided to be polite.

“Kid, one thing that you have to learn is that Reality is Real and that in reality you’re not entitled to a damned thing.  Your relatives and the social and economic status they have means absolutely nothing in the real universe.”

He then had a thought--and then a second thought--it may be a bit early to introduce the lad to Metaphysical Realism.

Keller spoke to him a last time.

“Kid, just to the the south of Lake and Hennepin is a store called Orr Books.  Take the money you were going to use for Deities and Demigods and ask the clerk for a copy of A Collection Of Essays by George Orwell.  And when you get home go straight to the essay titled Politics And the English Language, it’s a real eye opener.”

And it’s a real mind opener, too.  He thought.

With the conversation over he paid for the purchase, skipped the planned visit to a nearby record store and went directly home.  Upon arrival he went straight to his room and turned on the radio.  KQRS, the local album rock station was now reporting that John Lennon had just been shot to death in New York.

Shit.  Keller thought.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Some procedures actually work.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Scene from The Novel

Carl Grant had arrived on Freya and checked into a hotel in one of the suburbs of Landfall..  But he had to wait a full local day for the scheduled meeting with the defense secretary as all local government offices were closed on what would have been a normal business day. 

Why was this?

Grant left the hotel early for the meeting and hailed one of the taxicabs waiting at the cab  stand.  It was a Ford Galaxy sedan that had seen service as a police car and was now painted in the company colors of red and white.  The driver appeared to be entering middle age with glasses, a mustache, and a fringe of blond hair.  And he wore his old style M1911A1 in a shoulder holster.

The driver asked a question.

“Where to, sir?”

“The Planetary Government Center in Landfall.”

“There are multiple buildings on the site,” said the driver, “so what department are you visiting?”

Grant answered.

“The Department of Planetary Security.”


The driver switched on the meter and electric motors hummed as the cab pulled away from the hotel.  But something about the way the driver responded to him seemed a bit odd to Grant.  It was as if he were speaking with a long term veteran soldier.

“Is there a problem?”  He asked the driver.

“No sir, it’s just that the Founders wanted to call it the War Department, but the groundhogs
wouldn’t allow it.”

Grant responded.

“The Federation authorities?” 

“Yes.”  The driver replied.

And then the driver asked his own question.

“Are you a writer, sir?”

“Yes.”  He replied.  “Of military theory for the most part, of works such as On War by Clausewitz.”

The driver’s response was a surprise to him.

Vom Kriege by General Karl Maria von Clausewitz.”  He said.  “I tried several times to read the complete Standard English edition and the damned thing always put me to sleep.”

“Well military theory is not for everyone.”  Grant curtly replied.

The driver quickly and clearly responded.

“The thing is that Clausewitz began to write at a time when Kant was barely cold in the ground and Hegel had just started his emissions.  At that time the intellectual culture in Germany was already in deep trouble with clarity and brevity already going out of style.   

Grant had not expected a lecture on intellectual history from a common working man.

But he responded.

“I wrote a book on military doctrine titled Future Forces: Organization and Doctrine.”

“I’ve read it.”  Said the driver.

“So how do you feel about it?”

“I think Colonel Simmons wrote a fairly good review of it.  He clearly understood how the citizens out here on the colony worlds would respond to an invasion by your Future Force but didn’t explain the why...”

Grant sneered.

“Simmons...that moron...”

The driver solidly interrupted the sneer

“I served with him when he was a battalion commander in Afghanistan--and we don’t give out Sky Blue Berets as supermarket promotional items--even to West Point graduates.”

“So you were in the Quarantine Force and then retired out here?”

“No.”  The driver replied.  “I enlisted here and served on Earth.”


The driver smiled before answering.

“Because that’s where the enemy combatants are.”

Grant thought for a moment and then spoke again.

"Do you feel that the Quarantine Force are all true warriors?”

“Hell no!’  The driver suddenly snapped back.  “The goal of every warrior is to impose his will upon his victims.  And our mission in the Quarantine Force is to hunt down and kill warriors.”

Present tense.  Grant thought.  He spoke with hostility in the present tense.

Grant was now concerned for his own safety.

Is there a round in the chamber of his gun?

The cab then entered the main drive of the Planetary Government Center and stopped at the DPS Building.  Grant paid the fare in cash and without a gratuity.