Sunday, August 31, 2008

Boycott Uncle Hugo's

I will no longer do business with Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction Bookstore in Minneapolis.

I picked up the latest issue of the bookstore's newsletter at my P.O. box. After announcing that they were having a sale on used books someone inserted this charming paragraph:

We hope you can get here the first weekend, before the RNC begins, but who knows about the period while the RNC is in town. We suggest that you stop thinking of the RNC as the Republican National Convention and instead think of it as the Republican National Circus, with one team of clowns performing inside the convention center and a different team of clowns performing on the streets outside the convention center.

They have a right to their own opinion, regardless of how utterly distorted it is.

They do not have a right to my custom.

I've been doing business with them for three decades. Never again will I step into that store.

I would suggest a long term metaphysical destination for them but I have no reason to believe in the existence of Hell.

What are your questions on this block of instruction?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Way Of Being, Chapter One

The Way of Being

By Leslie Bates

Chapter One

March 5, 2150

10 Ursae Majoris System

The Federation Ship Epping Forest dropped into normal space off of Loki, the fourth planet of 10 Ursae Majoris A. Like most vessels in the service of the Federation Space Force she was armed. But she was not a proper warship, merely an armed transport. Even so she was not flying alone on this trip.

On the bridge of the Epping Forest the command pilot, Major Franz Bergmann, softly cursed in his native German. Like all citizens and officers of the Federation, Bergmann was fluent in Standard Anglic, he just didn’t want the curse to be understood.

The problem was that the other vessel in the two ship convoy, a chartered liner named Meridian had not yet reentered normal space with the Epping Forest.

Bergmann rechecked the status display, cursed again, and then turned to the young lady who was his executive officer.

“We will wait here until Meridian drops in.” He said. “Watch the shop.”

“Yes sir.” Said the Exec.

As Bergmann turned to exit the Bridge the communications panel chirped.

Bergmann turned back to see the Executive Officer reading the message from her station.

“It’s a Freyani patrol ship,” she said, “they’re asking if we require assistance.”

For a moment Major Bergmann contemplated the damage the tiny colonial patrol ship could do to a space going piece of junk like the Meridian.

“Tell them ‘no’”, said Bergmann. “But think them for the offer.”

Bergmann exited the bridge.

On the civilian version of the Ashland class transport the next compartment would be the forward passenger lounge, with the crew lounge in a separate compartment just forward of the engineering spaces. On the Space Force version there was no separation between the crew and passenger spaces as in most cases the few passengers who flew on military transports were members of the Federation Armed Forces.

Except on this trip they were carrying a V.I.P., the newly appointed Governor of the planet Loki.

Ian March Weymouth was a descendant of the founder of the Federation and as a child of privilege he would have been expected to travel out to Loki on the chartered liner Meridian. Instead he chose to take a cabin on the Epping Forest because he felt more comfortable on a military transport than on a civilian liner. But then Weymouth was not a normal child of privilege.

Unlike many members of upper class families, who would drink and otherwise party their way through elite universities, Ian Weymouth chose to enlist in the Regular Army of the Federation and served out the full twenty years to retirement. And though he retired from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel, Weymouth did not neglect his own education, earning a Doctorate in Political Science from the University of Minnesota.

So when the Federation President decided to appoint a Governor for the planet Loki, Ian Weymouth stood at the top of the list of candidates.

In the crew lounge Major Bergmann found the newly appointed Governor attacking a small pile of scrambled eggs with melted cheese sauce, hash brown potatoes, and toast.

Weymouth took a sip from his cup of coffee, and then spoke.

“Good morning Major,” he said. “I take it that we’ve arrived in the system?”

“Yes, sir.” Said Major Bergmann. “We are still waiting for the Meridian.”

“I’ll bet it’s going to be another sixteen hours.” Said Ian. “That would be a reasonable assumption, sir.” Bergmann replied, politely declining to cover the wager.

“Right.” Said Ian.

Before Major Bergmann could turn around the aft door to the lounge slid open and two Federation Marines entered the crew lounge and moved straight to the breakfast buffet line. First Lieutenant Otomo and Gunnery Sergeant Burnette headed up the Marine Security Detachment for the new Governor of Loki.

“Good morning, Skipper.” Said Lieutenant Otomo.

“Good morning, Lieutenant.” Replied Major Bergmann as he picked up a tray and joined the two marines in the buffet line.

“We’re waiting for the Meridian again, sir?” Said the Gunnery Sergeant.

“Afraid so, Gunny.” Said Bergmann.

Major Bergmann watched as both marines heaped scrambled eggs, and other stuff on to the plates on their trays. Lieutenant Otomo piled on sausage patties and hash browns, and Gunnery Sergeant Burnette opted for bacon and grits.

“I’d bet that its going to be another sixteen hours before they drop out of jump, sir.” Said Lieutenant Otomo.

“That would be a reasonable assumption, Lieutenant.” Bergmann replied, again declining to cover the wager.

Major Bergmann picked up a plate and started piling his breakfast on it. Scrambled eggs, corned beef hash, and hash browns, all covered with melted cheese sauce.

The three officers sat down at the table with the Governor and proceeded to devour their morning meals.

“So was there anything else of note, Major?” Ian asked.

“The Freyani are still running an anti-piracy patrol, sir.”

Freya was the other inhabitable world in the 10 Ursae Majoris system. It orbited the G5 binary companion of 10 Uma.

The people who colonized Freya believed in Laissez Faire Capitalism and being armed to the teeth. And they had no love whatsoever for the small band of “Apostolic Socialists” who had settled on Loki.

“I don’t understand why the Freyans would run a patrol over Loki, sir.” Said Lieutenant Otomo. “Don’t they hate each other?”

“They do.” Said Ian. “That’s why the Freyani are running the anti-piracy patrol.”

“It means, sir,” said Gunnery Sergeant Burnette, “that we are going to have a very interesting deployment.”

Everyone nodded in agreement.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Patrol Ship

I took a pencil sketch and fiddled with it in Photoshop.

This is the Freya Colonial Space Guard ship Reliable. The "S057" is her number in the Federation civil ships registry.

Here are the stats:

Ship: Reliable
Class: Type S-1A
Type: Scout/Courier
Architect: Lockheed Martin
Tech Level: 9

S-11122R1-020000-10000-0 MCr 50.238 100 Tons
Bat Bear 1 1 Crew: 2
Bat 1 1 TL: 9

Cargo: 12 Fuel: 24 EP: 2 Agility: 1 Pulse Lasers
Craft: 1 x 4 Ton Air/Raft
Fuel Treatment: Fuel Scoops and On Board Fuel Purification

Architects Fee: MCr 0.496 Cost in Quantity: MCr 40.310

Detailed Description

HULL: 100 tons standard, Needle/Wedge Configuration
CREW: Pilot, Gunner,
ENGINEERING: Jump-1, 2G Manuever, Power plant-2, 2 EP, Agility 1
AVIONICS: Bridge, Model/1bis Computer
ARMAMENT: 1 Triple Mixed Turret with: 1 Pulse Laser (Factor-1).
DEFENCES: 1 Dual Sandcaster Turret organised into 1 Battery (Factor-2)
CRAFT: 1 x 4 ton Air/Raft (Cost of MCr 0.600)
FUEL: 24 Tons Fuel (2 parsecs jump and 56 days endurance)
On Board Fuel Scoops, On Board Fuel Purification Plant
MISCELLANEOUS: 4 Staterooms, 12 Tons Cargo
COST: MCr 50.134 Singly (incl. Architects fees of MCr 0.496), MCr 39.710 in Quantity, plus MCr 0.600 of Carried Craft
CONSTRUCTION TIME: 38 Weeks Singly, 30 Weeks in Quantity

COMMENTS: Reliable is one of four surplus Scout/Couriers in service with the Freya Colonial Space Guard. The others are Resolution, Resister, and Red-Shift.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Just a reminder.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Way Of Being, Prologue

The Way of Being

By Leslie Bates


[Author’s note: While I’ve borrowed characters from the Urquhart Trilogy certain events happened differently or did not happen at all. Obviously the conflict that drove TO PLAY THE KING didn’t happen and whatever financial mischief that occurred in THE FINAL CUT was rendered irrelevant by the so-called Final War. And of course LEGACY never happened. No, I can’t say what happened to the tape. –LB.]

It was cold in the ruins of Moscow.

Yes, Russian winters were a bitch. But Allen Keller had experienced colder days in his native state of Minnesota. He was dressed comfortably for the morning’s event. Of course not everyone was as sensibly prepared for the weather and there was no shortage of whining, moaning, and groaning about it.

Standing with a military honor guard at a gap in the rubble that was once the wall of the Kremlin, Allen Keller waited for the last official delegation to arrive. There was a time when he would have expected the Italians to be late to today’s event but the only word they seemed to use these days was “Avanti!” Of course after the Vatican and most of Rome had gone up in a cloud of radioactive smoke this should not have been a surprise.

It had been years since a main force unit of the alliance, now known as the Omaha Pact, clashed with any organized opposition. But there were still insurgents and bandits to deal with in the territories controlled by the Omaha Pact.

A lifetime ago, when he was a mere rifleman on a grass cutting detail in the United States Army, Keller had once joked that his role in the big NATO war plan was to cut the grass around Red Square for the great NATO victory parade. Of course back then the Soviet Union was something to be feared. And if it was possible to win in a global nuclear was it would be the Soviet Union that emerged as the victor.

In a way that old joke was somewhat prescient. Not that there was grass to be cut, certainly not in the middle of a Russian winter, but that Allen Keller was in charge of the event that would bring to an official end to the final global war on the planet Earth.

And it wasn’t really a ceremony, only a simple act of justice followed by a simple act of disposal.

The chill air efficiently carried the sound of the last motorcade to enter the vast plowed expanse of Red Square. The sergeant in charge the honor guard called his troops to attention as the line of Humvees approached the former gate of the Kremlin.

The sergeant called out the command to present arms as the motorcade came to a stop. The rear seat doors of two of the Humvees were opened and a man and woman emerged from each of the vehicles. Keller greeted them as they approached. He nodded his head in a barely perceivable manner to the former occupants of the first Humvee.

“Your Majesty, Madame Prime Minister.” Said Keller.

King William the Fifth had inherited the position of Monarch of the United Kingdom when his grandmother, the Queen, his father, The Prince of Wales, and both houses of Parliament were effectively vaporized on the first day of the Final War. His prime minister, Sarah Harding, had been the protegee of Conservative Prime Minister Francis Urquhart and had been in Oxford attempting to reconcile with her estranged husband on the day the war started. A task made more difficult by her visible state of pregnancy at that time. However this didn’t stop her from inheriting Urquhart’s political machine and thus effective control of the United Kingdom, and bringing it into the Omaha Pact.

Keller then turned to greet the occupants of the other Humvee.

“Lady Urquhart, Commander Corder.”

The wife of Prime Minister Urquhart and his chief hatchet man were at the Urquhart estate in Southampton on the day the war started. Keller had his own suspicions as to what they were doing but he sensibly kept those to himself.

“If you will follow me, please.” Said Keller.

He led the official British delegation and the honor guard through the charred and shattered ruins of the Kremlin to a large heated tent next to a cleared area. He let the official delegation in before he entered the tent himself.

Upon entering the tent Allen Keller walked over to his boss, the President of the United States and Chairman of the Council of the Omaha Pact, John Andrew March.

“Everything is ready, sir.” He said.

“Let’s do it.” The President and Chairman replied.

Outside of the tent a set of bleachers had been set up. In front of the bleachers was a pile of wood that had been salvaged from the ruins of Moscow, some soldiers, and a Ford van that had been painted in army green.

When the official delegations of all the members of the Omaha Pact had taken their place in the bleachers behind President March, Allen Keller stepped forward, turned to the soldiers by the van and spoke clearly.


The side door of the van was opened and the soldiers reached in. Out of the van they dragged a white haired man in the tattered remains of a tailored suit. He had been bound and gagged. There would be no final words for him. The old man was dragged over and dropped on his knees before Allen Keller.

Keller spoke.

“Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.”

Putin glared up at Keller.

“You have been identified as an Enemy of Mankind. You are to be dealt with as such.”

A soldier in a black mask stepped up behind Putin, drew a Soviet era Markarov pistol from a holster, aimed at the back of the head, and fired one round in the old Soviet style.

Putin fell forward. Dead.

Other soldiers now stepped forward. They lifted up the corpse of Putin and laid it out face down on the pile of wood. Upon the body they placed the blood-red banner of the Soviet Union and then piled more wood on top. At the bottom of the funeral pyre volumes of Marxist literature and ancient copies of Pravda pulled from libraries and museums were laid down as kindling. One of the soldiers brought out a lighter and set an ancient sheet of newsprint aflame. Shortly thereafter the entire pyre was on fire.

The official delegations returned to their Humvees and drove to the airport. There was one more stop to make, one more act to witness, before everyone could return home.

With the end of one age comes the beginning of the next era.

At Cape Canaveral a massive rocket lifted off from the newly constructed Launch Pad 39-D. Aboard it was the Earth Return Vehicle for the first manned mission to the planet Mars. On it’s side was painted not the flag of any nation, but a flag with a white star within a white wreath on a blue field. The banner of the Omaha Pact. In two years another spacecraft would go out, it’s four-person crew would place human footprints upon the Martian surface for the first time.

There would further missions to Mars and other planets. There would be bases and permanent settlements to ensure that Humanity would not be trapped on one world and condemned to extinction. There would be new technologies such as fusion power, anti-gravity, reactionless thrusters, and ultimately the jump drive, which would take Mankind to the stars.

On that cold day in the ruins of the Kremlin someone within earshot of President and Chairman John March had said that world peace had finally been achieved.

March turned around and said. “Oh? Really?”


Monday, August 11, 2008

Quote of the Day

I've been putting this off for a while but I thought it would be a good time to do it now:

When the nations of the Omaha Pact came upon the smoking ruins of Moscow they decided to make an example that would be remembered through the ages.

The glassy ruins of the Kremlin were left intact. The forces of the Omaha Pact proceeded to demolish every whole structure or fragment of a structure within one hundred miles, not kilometers, miles of the Kremlin. Every brick was separated and smashed into small pieces, and every scrap of wood was burned to ashes. Every tree was cut down and uprooted and with every other form of plant life was also burned to ashes. When this task completed all the ground within one hundred miles of the ruins of the Kremlin was sown with salt.

While tourist groups are now brought across the Death Zone to view the ruins of the Kremlin, which remains as a monument to the evils of the Russian State, any unauthorized person, usually an ethnic Russian, found within the Death Zone is summarily executed and is covered with salt, lest the remains decay and renew the soil where he fell.

-- The History of the Omaha Pact, Joseph Douglas, University of Minnesota Press, 2150.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008


"Peace does not mean submission in the Freyani dialect of English. Some people had to learn that the hard way."

-- Ashleigh Dahl, The Path of Empire

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Earth in 2150

I made up this map of the Earth in 2150.

As you can see the colors denote the political status of various states and territories.

I also redrew some borders.