“…For the Glory of the Skies…”

Note: I wrote this while I was still flying EMS, thus the odd tense changes and rough prose.

I haven’t flown with Steve on the med crew since I’d made captain. Like many of our nurses and EMTs, he works at a couple of other hospitals when he isn’t be-bopping about in our King Air, and our schedules missed each other. So when he flops into the right seat that early morning out of Denver, I don’t know what to expect. (Steve will say he didn’t “flop.” After being on the run since one in the morning, everyone flops, author included.)

Anyway, we depart Denver at five something, heading eastbound. The sturdy turboprop slides into the clouds at twelve thousand feet, and stays in them. And stays. Puzzled, I look for stars and try to figure out how the layer has gotten so thick in the ninety minutes since we’ve landed. Then I see the morning star and catch myself. The paling sky blends into the clouds so well that it masks the horizon we’d crossed fifteen hundred feet after entering the deck. As the plane chugs up to nineteen thousand feet, we can see dying thunderheads silhouetted purple against the northern skyline. “How high are they?” Steve asks. Continue reading

The Buzz-heard Round the World

So, Friday morning, the sun was rising, the grackles were gracking, other birds chirped, a few joggers thudded past, and four very large birds settled into the neighbor’s ornamental plum-tree. Very large birds. Dark, large birds. One of the four lumbered off before I could get a quick photo.

Probably not what the neighbor wanted to see as he opened the blinds and started on the first cup of coffee.

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How Free is Speech?

Expression has never been truly free, so long as two or more people were involved. The moment Thag threatened to punch Og’s nose for insisting that mammoth tasted better than sloth, a limit existed. Og could continue to declaim the virtues of mammoth, but he also understood that there would be a reaction to his words and it might involve physical rebuttal, so to speak. However, the State did not attempt to prevent him from opining. That would come later, with the advent of the State and, I suspect, of state religions. Continue reading

Inevitable Empires?

Ancient Rome. China from the time of the First Emperor until 1912. The Mughals in South Asia. The Ottomans. The Inca, Aztecs. The Holy Roman Empire and its successor, the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nations, 800 – 1806. The British Empire. The Russian Empire. We humans seem to have a habit of building super-kingdoms and calling them empires, to the point that science fiction and fantasy have absorbed the pattern. What causes people to do this? And are they all truly empires? Continue reading

Green Beer Day

OK, not really. For some this is a day to honor one’s Irish ancestry and heritage, and to eat corned beef and cabbage and potatoes, drink good beer (Guinness, Harp, et al), listen to Irish music, and honor the efforts of an early Christian missionary who is associated with Ireland although he is a Briton. If you are a politician in Boston or New York City, you’d better be seen at an Irish event, or your absence Will Be Noted.

Yes, this is an Orthodox icon of an Irish saint from Britain. Next question?

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Scribble, Scribble, Scrunch into Corner

So there I was, peering over Old NFO’s elbow, trying to read the accession number on the little tag hanging off the 1878 Smith and Wesson .44 Russian, so I could record it along with the fountain of information pouring forth, but the floodgate had opened, hands were moving and it was all I could do to write down numbers, names, and details. Peter Grant was looking at another revolver, inspecting some modifications, and I couldn’t remember if I’d written that one down yet or not. Five more revolvers lay on the counter in front of us, swords and spears and a few maces hung from brackets on the wall, and Dorothy Grant had wisely tucked herself into the corner with a book, well clear of overflows of enthusiasm. The curator alternated between making note of what had been looked at and asking questions. I had unleashed a monster: knowledgable experts with nearly unlimited examples to inspect, poke, and teach from. What hath Alma wrought?!? Continue reading

The Powers

The Powers play roles in the Cat stories (some of them) and are central to the three-volume alternative history set that starts with A Carpathian Campaign. They also appear in the novella “Cities and Throngs and Powers,” and in two stories in Tales from the Upland They choose a few humans and others to act as their avatars, so to speak, in exchange for knowledge of the land. But what are they?

Short answer: I have no idea. Continue reading

Inspired by Music?

Somewhere in my TBR stack, I have a short-story anthology inspired by music by Rush. And I know there are books that have been kicked off by certain songs or instrumental compositions. But only three times has music driven me to write something, in both cases scenes or chapters, not entire books (yet.) Continue reading

March State of the Author

Tired and enjoying Spring Break.

The second draft of the next-plus-one Cat novel is done. At the moment it is around 106,000 words and includes another encounter with the Pack, a secret from Joschka’s past that threatens to shatter his relationship with Rada, an oversized, waltzing fox, and a honeymoon (with werewolf. Maybe.).

The next Cat novel is being edited for late May release.

I have not heard from the acquisitions editor about the RajWorld books, so I will plan on adding them to the rotation for 2017.

The next Colplatschki book is being edited for a September release.

I have a few short-story ideas bouncing around that I will work on, and am waiting to see which novel insists on being written next. A follow-up to Language of the Land may be in the works, or it might not. I’m not sure yet.

Cheap Clothes: Musing on the Luxury of Modern Life

While picking up something at Le Mart du Wal (as we refer to it around Redquarters), I started thinking about the price of clothing, comparing now to history. The short version? Incredibly, unimaginably inexpensive to cheap in terms of time needed to make it, labor needed to make it, and the amount that can be produced. When it comes to textiles, Earth has never been so fabulously wealthy. How we got here is a fascinating story. Continue reading