Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Earthquake Map

Posted: July 11, 2012 in General
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Here is an interesting map put together that shows the location and intensity of every earthquake that has hit Earth since 1898 – makes for an impressive picture.

 

In between working to finish off a couple of short story collections, I’ve been doing some world building for an epic fantasy series that I’ve talked of before – The Oncoming Storm. Back some time ago I made a solid start to the first novel (almost 60K words) but it has been sitting idle for a while, something I want to rectify.

In contrast to my other stories, it is a more traditional fantasy, set to have knights and castles and princesses and all that. Yet, as ever, other ideas and inspirations have come in that threaten to change things up again. One thing especially among that are the Polish Winged Hussars, one of the most dominant, and striking cavalry forces of their time.

For a view of what they looked like I found this youtube clip.

So, I’ve been wanting to add something similar to the setting, but somehow retain the knights and also another group, the Warrior Brotherhoods, plus various other groups, which has led to a varied mix, and also decentralised, make up of the setting. I think I may have figured it out as well.

The setting comprises a number of states that form a unified League – while semi-autonomous, they are under a High King. Each state has their own nobles, with their personal collection of retainers. Normally this is where the Knights would figure, but instead I’ve made them more like the old Military Orders, such as the Knights Hospitaller, the Knights Templar, or the Teutonic Knights – independent entities that owe allegiance to no state or noble, but operate across all of them. The Warrior Brotherhoods operate in the same manner, but are a precursor to the Knight Orders, and aren’t made up of noble born like the Knights. The largest of the states, Liantria, home to the High King, is the one that uses the Winged Lancers. The nobles and their retainers form the various units of the Winged Lancers, and when combined they are a formidable cavalry force.

And one of these days I’ll get it all written up and a story finished…

Finally after a bit of an absence I’m making a return to posting – and writing. I’ve started studying again for the first time in many years, in a Library and Museum Technology course, and getting used to that again sort of interrupted other things, like maintaining the blog and doing writing. But I’m making a return.

What I want to comment on is about endings. Endings are important. Crucial even. A good one can make a story. A bad one, well, they can destroy it. There is an example floating around now of just that, but unless you are into computer games it may have escaped attention – though possibly not, as it has slipped out into the mainstream media in a few places.

I’m referring to Mass Effect 3, the last (possibly) instalment in the Mass Effect series, a space opera in the style of Star Wars or Star Trek. The first two games, and 95% of the last, are great games, with very good writing, characters and all that. Unfortunately then it has an ending so bad that it has sparked fan outrage like I have never seen before. The ending is jarring. Not only is it bad writing, but it falls victim to many other problems, including character derailment, plot holes you could drive a starship through, lack of closure, implications from previous events that are dire, and worse of all, the introduction of a character never even hinted at before to offer the hero three options, all of them unappealing, to solve the issue. Plus more. And it pretty much invalidates anything that had happened before.

Not surprising the fans that have been following the game since the beginning are more than a little upset, especially given they got precisely what they were promised they wouldn’t be getting.

Part of the problem is that it seems the head writer wanted to go with an ‘arty’ ending when it was completely against the general feel of the series to date, and worse, if rumours are to be believed, didn’t get peer review like the rest of the game did. It shows, if true. If not, then something else has gone horribly wrong.

So, endings matter. They are probably the hardest part of a story to write, at least for me. But they are rather important to get right.

Lego Men In Space

Posted: January 29, 2012 in General
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Now this is amusing – a couple of Canadian teens have sent a lego man into space.  Well, near space.

They strapped the lego man and a camera to one of those high altitude balloons and launched it, getting to the edge of space – and they were able to recover the lego when it finally came crashing back down to earth as well.

At least they can launch something into space nowadays, unlike the Australian space program, which vanished way back, or even the US one, which seems to be scrapping any prospect of manned space flight in the foreseeable future.  That kind of thinking seems very short sighted.

 

The Hobbit Trailer

Posted: December 22, 2011 in fantasy, General, Movies
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The Hobbit trailer is out!  Of course now we have a 51 week wait until we can watch it, so in the meantime keep hitting replay.  And then we have to wait another year for the second part.

One of the memorable things about the book is that it has a lot of songs and poetry, and by the prominent way one of them is part of the trailer, it would seem that they have included them in the movie.

End of the year is rapidly approaching and I still have a few things on the list that I want to see done by then, so I’d better knuckle down and get them done.

First up is to finish the re-edit/re-write of Winter Wolves. I’m down to the last 2K to go, so hopefully won’t be long. After that I need to work on a new cover for it, like the others of that series.

Secondly is to finish off Dawn of Wolves – it has been sitting there for a long while now. At 40K down, there is about 10K to go for it.

Lastly is to do another short anthology of short stories – somewhere between 3 and 5 of them. I’ve got a couple of collection in the works – just need to work out which to finish first.

Shortly I am going to be starting a bit of a shake up of the site – and the stories. That’ll be starting with a thorough re-edit of all of them, the first being the short stories. I will also be de-linking a number of stories from this site, leaving it just for the stories from the Mist and Shadows setting. The rest (including those not yet written) I’ll be listing on another site at some stage.

There may be some construction work in the meantime in case you stumble across anything broken.

While looking through youtube yesterday, I came across a series of videos made by the 2/95th Regt (Australia) – a group of Australian reenactors based on the famous 95th Rifles, written about by C. S. Forester in Death to the French, and by Bernard Cornwell in his Sharpe series.

In them they test the Brown Bess flintlock musket and the Baker Rifle that were used by the Britsh forces during the Napoleonic Wars, testing for rate of fire, accuracy and more. The information that I gleaned from it will be very useful – I’ll have to change a few things in the revamp of the various stories to take into account the new data I got from it.

Baker Rifle Ammunition and Accuracy

Brown Bess Musket Accuracy

Flintlock Musket Tap Loading

Baker Rifle Sustained Fire

We have a trailer now for the second half of this years Doctor Who season – can’t wait.

Lets see, we have Weeping Angels, Cybermen, Hitler, Rory punching Hitler, what looks like the eye of the Face of Boe and possibly River being eyepatch lady.

If you head over to Peter Jackson’s facebook page, he has added further material relating to the upcoming The Hobbit movies. In particular are two new production videos, and also photos of all thirteen dwarves – Thorin, Balin, Dwalin, Kili, Fili, Oin, Gloin, Ori, Nori, Dori, Bifur, Bofur and Bombur – in all their glory.

They are trying for a unique look for each of them, and there is debate about whether all of them are suitably dwarvish, especially regarding beards (or lack of length there of) and especially Kili. He seems to be getting the Legolas treatment, being the ‘pretty’ one of the dwarven band.

Dwarves have always been at the top of my favourite fantasy races (in the top four alongside minotaurs, trolls and phoenixes) so I’m very much looking forward to seeing them in action. It also has me hankering to write something with dwarves in it – proper bearded, hard as nails dwarves.