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 inĀ 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

Force Fields and Wombow Carts: Tech Mixes on Colony Worlds

Sci-fi readers are wonderful people. There are things they take in stride (so long as they fit the world) that other readers might collide with, bounce, and stare at as they wondered who put the wrong words in the blender. Spaceships unloading into a depot that also has animal-powered transportation? Why not. In many ways, depending on the nature of the world, or the type of colony and culture, high tech for big things and low tech for small things makes perfect sense. Continue reading

Writing Womanly Women in Fiction

How do you write womanly women in fiction? I hit that question hard when I started the first of the Colplatschki Chronicles, Elizabeth of Starland. I’d been writing Rada Ni Drako, and while she is many things, some of which I can’t say here without getting at least an R rating and I try for PG-13 at worst, she’s not overly feminine. At least, not for a very long time, or in most company. Auriga Bernardi lifts the bar higher, because she’s never going to be a professional soldier like Elizabeth von Sarmas was pushed into becoming. And I have a sense that the female lead in the Bronze Age story is going to be even less aggressive than Auriga. What does that mean? And how do I do it without having the character turn into something from one of those caricature Victorian morality stories? Continue reading

The 19th Century – 1789-1914?

I went into history because they said there would be no math. I was probably not the only one, because in European history, people refer to the 19th century as “the long 19th Century,” and start it in 1789, ending in June 1914. Which some uncharitable souls, who likely majored in the hard sciences or math, take to imply that historians can’t add. We can, but events don’t always line up neatly with years that end in 00, and grand sweeps of the spread of ideas and technology tend to ignore calendars. Continue reading


For some reason, I just can’t seem to write a story without religion in it. I suspect it comes from two things. First, I’ve studied a lot of religious history so I’m not-quite primed to see it in cultures and events. Second, because of the trend in sci-fi from the 1950s-1980s to omit religion or to make it the bogey-man of corrupting superstition and social control. Religion forms a critical sub-plot in the Elizabeth novels and in the other Colplatschki books to varying degrees. Rada Ni Drako’s conversion to Christianity sets up some of the internal conflicts that explode in the next Cat novel and some of the external conflicts that play a role in the following book. Religious change and an end-times belief drive part of the plots of Renaissance and Hubris. So it should come as no surprise that religion pops up again in the currently-called Rajworld books. Continue reading