Forgive me splurging duplicate posts on both blogs, but see physical copies of my book is still a thing.
Friday, 9 November 2018
Thursday, 1 November 2018
I'm currently not very well. When my rheumatoid arthritis nurse told me I was being too hard on myself I realised I was going around in circles beating myself up for not doing enough, when the truth be told if I were in a full-time job I'd be signed off sick.
So there will be a short hiatus while I let all the medication I'm taking do its job. In the meantime here's a shot of me shooting an arrow.
An observation from shooting longbow is that I learnt that "yards" back in the day when bows were a weapon of war, rather than a hobby a person can enjoy at ones leisure, was shorter than an imperial yard, which we all know is 36 inches. Cloth yards were shorter, 30 inches, and therefore when the range of a bow is listed as 240 yards the modern equivalent is 180 yards.
With my 32 pound bow I can shoot out to around 120 imperial yards, which is 140 cloth yards.
So now I'm wondering if all those ancient wargame rules took this change of measurement into account? And who says wargaming isn't a useful hobby, as clearly I've learnt something new.
Thursday, 18 October 2018
These are the model reference pictures I sent to the artist who drew my covers. Above is the model that he used for Bad Dog.
Above is the picture I sent for the cover of Strike Dog. And below is the picture I shot in response to seeing the cover for Ghost Dog.
Wednesday, 10 October 2018
Newly promoted to the rank of Captain, Tachikoma will now lead another off-world mission. This time to retrieve advanced alien technology.
The problem is that her team will have to travel to a planet where the pillars only open once every six months. The timing for their return is crucial to the success of the operation.
Waiting for them is an unforeseen destiny. Can Tachikoma return all her people alive along with alien technology that will change the world?
Cutting-edge scientific theories underpin the mystery that drive this thrilling military SF roller-coaster ride.
Testimonials for Bad Dog
“This story is great, with a very firm grasp of the Marine Corps lifestyle.”
– Sgt D. Barrow, USMC
"High concept, high calibre character-driven Mil-SF. Compulsively readable."
– Alex Stewart aka Sandy Mitchell author of the Ciaphas Cain series
Buy This Book
Monday, 1 October 2018
I've been feeling a bit out of sorts, because the side-effects of my medication is a bit rough, which is why I missed last weeks post.
I felt I needed to do something to cheer me up that wouldn't get bogged down if fiddly details. So I got these models out of the box and cleaned them to get the grease off. I find windscreen wash, which has isopropyl alcohol and a wetting agent, is good for this.
Anyway, this was about the limit of what I could manage.
Monday, 17 September 2018
|The claw arms are magnetized and not only move, but are also swappable.|
I side stepped the whole Corpsman issue in Bad Dog by the simple expedient of having the company deploy from a CSN Hornet, part of a MEU. In Strike Dog and Ghost Dog my Corpsman character Keith deploys in a MARPACE power armour suit.
However, the next Tachikoma novel, Red Dogs, the story really requires the Corpsman to be part of a combat armour squad.
My thoughts behind the CASE-2X-M: Mod 2 are that it's a engineering variant optimized for medical interventions. Hence the claw arms for opening up damaged Dogs to remove their occupants.
|Arms swapped over into the stowed position. And I need to unbend that gun part.|
This also of course means I have the option on now building a CASE-2X-E: Mod 2 engineering variant. Oh the burden of having ideas.
But before I build that I actually have to build a CAS-1-Mod 3E Ape combat armour engineers suit, which will feature in my next Gate Walker series story: Two Moons. All fun to do. Just have to get some more parts together. I see an order with Dream Pod 9 in my future.
But before I build that I actually have to build a CAS-1-Mod 3E Ape combat armour engineers suit, which will feature in my next Gate Walker series story: Two Moons. All fun to do. Just have to get some more parts together. I see an order with Dream Pod 9 in my future.
Monday, 10 September 2018
I'm been doing some priming. It's easy to do, and doesn't hurt my wrists too much.
Back here I painted up some Dream Pod 9 GRELs to use as HOS (Human Operator Surrogates). They never quite rocked my boat for a number of reasons: they were all left-handed, with only two poses I could use. So, I decided to see if these NuCoal infantry would work as androids?
There are more poses, which floats my boat. Right handed, which is good. Just not sure if they are bulky enough?
Still noodling about whether or not they work for me. I stood them next to my super heavy tank conversion to see how they look. Seems promising.
Monday, 3 September 2018
I found that I had these figures in my stash of shame. They're all lead castings, so they were looking a little sorry for themselves as they had darkened with age. I decided that something had to be done to prevent them from deteriorating further.
A thorough going over with a glass fiber scratching brush cleaned them up, and in one of my rare spurts of enthusiasm I ended up priming them with mat white Humbrol enamel. My go to primer for metal miniatures.
I no longer remember who made these, and there was no identifying mark on their bases, which is not that surprising given that I doubt they were licensed replicas.
|That's not really Ro-Jaws, it's a generic droid from some other range that I had hanging around.|
My plan is to paint them in green and red to match the comic. But first I will need to do the black for the shadows.
Wednesday, 29 August 2018
As those of you who follow my writing blog will know I've had a bit of a setback with my rheumatoid arthritis, which has meant going back on medication. This has discombobulated me considerably. I've not felt like doing anything much.
Even when I did feel like making something, my hands would tell me otherwise. Good news is that things are slowly improving.
As you can see, I managed to get the third of my Special Forces team Ape combat armour suit completed. Not only that I had a spurt of enthusiasm and got the primer out too.
Wednesday, 1 August 2018
This is the command variant of Army Ape combat armour suit. Yes, I am that obsessive about building all the different variants of the combat armour suits that appear in my novels. What can I say?
Above shows the rear, while the picture below shows a side view of the main armament, which in this case is meant to be a Browning fifty cal.
I'm still working on the third version of this suit.
Tuesday, 24 July 2018
Finally got around to finishing off the conversion for the recoilless rifle for Espera's CAS-1-Mod 3 Ape combat armour suit. The delay being down to Real Life stuff, some of it health related that just got in the way of doing stuff.
Side view above, and rear view showing the inverted Heavy Gear engine packs.
Still the most pleasing part of this conversion is the M134 minigun on the arm. Labour of love to make that. Now all I have to do now is repaint the model. Easier said than done.
Friday, 13 July 2018
|Interesting map seen at a brocante (boot sale), which caught my eye.|
We were lucky again to be invited to visit our friends in the south of France. And I can only say how grateful we were for their generosity in putting us up and taking us out for meals. We had a lovely time.
Temperature ran up to 36 degree centigrade, which for my American friends translates to 96.8 in Fahrenheit. So for many of my friends in America, a tad cool. But for a British Rose, hot enough. We swam in the swimming pool, which was the maximum extent of any exercise.
|And at the same brocante I saw this old tinplate Hornby train set. Who would've thought.|
Tuesday, 26 June 2018
In my imagination, I see myself riding through the glen, wind blowing through my hair, shooting arrows. If only. Mostly melting into a puddle or when indoors, huddling next to the aircon.
Anyway, enjoy the heatwave while it's here. This being Britain, it probably won't last.
Tuesday, 12 June 2018
|Work in Progress: left to right: third attempt at making Espera's recoilless rifle, next is McAdams's command variant, and though I went with a different weapon, this is a Nguyen's Ape combat armour suit (see below for more info).|
I was just writing a cool action sequence for a character in a combat armour suit. But on reflection, it's clear to see that by describing the weapon loadouts I created a force that was functionally different to the one I described in Bad Dog.
That is what I would call, creatively serendipitous.
Anyway, I've been looking at my Ape suits (acronym for: Autonomous Pilot Expert-system) and in particular Sgt. Espera's weapon loadout. In Strike Dog I describe him having a recoilless rifle, but my first attempt at instantiating one was less than satisfactory, and I rebuilt it using the parts I had for the Marine gauss rifle. Comparisons of both can be seen here.
Hence this new build. I still have to do some further work involving Milliput, but I'm liking the shape and feel.
I have parts for three more Army Apes tucked away, so my plan is to make half of CASDA 5136. The other six mechs would be identical, as in carrying the same sort of loadouts. My thoughts being that each half of the detachment was a mirror of the other. Like this.
Combat Armor Suit Detachment Alpha 5136
Captain Anthony Downey, detachment commanderSo, Espera is the heavy weapons specialist, hence he carries the big recoilless rifle. Though a fat lot of good it does him, but to say more would be spoilers.
Master Sergeant Campbell, operations and team sergeant
Staff Sergeant Morales, combat engineer
Sergeant Mary Lewis, communications
Sergeant Schmidt, medical
Sergeant First Class Frank Radoslovich, weapons
Chief Warrant Officer 1 Andrew McAdams, assistant detachment commander
Sergeant First Class Thomas Nguyen, assistant operations and intelligence
Staff Sergeant Julia King, combat engineer
Sergeant Miguel Sanchez, communications
Sergeant Daniel Robinson, medical
Staff Sergeant Juan Espera, weapons
Monday, 4 June 2018
I'm happy to announce that Break Out, story four in The World Of Drei series is now available to buy on Amazon.
The civil war rages as Russian Federal Republics forces continue fighting the Visegrád Baltic Alliance. The war carries on during the coldest winter to grip the country in more than a century.
In the midst of the confusion, a new threat emerges. An enemy cybertank that attacks without fear.
Now, Lieutenant Morozova must rise to the challenge and lead her platoon into battle. Seventh Rota's third platoon must be the eyes for the newly formed battalion tactical group, and seek out the enemy.
Break Out is the next episode in ongoing The World of Drei series, continuing on from Terror Tree, Mission One, and Regroup.
Buy This Book
If you've not yet read any of the stories in this series then all four of The World of Drei stories can be found here. And, you can see some reviews of Terror Tree here.
Tuesday, 29 May 2018
As you may be aware, on 25 May 2018 the EU General Data Protection Regulation EU (2016)/679 (GDPR) comes into force in all EU member states.
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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Good sci-fi read with one foot planted solidly in the real world
Ok, I'm not a professional book reviewer. If you are looking for a critique on the art of writing, move along. I'm just a reader, and a retired military member and all of my thoughts start from there.
Truthfully, it is a pretty good story. I think it reads a bit like a short story, which I can appreciate. Don't get me wrong, I like a good Lord of the Rings style epic as much as the next guy, but now and again I like something shorter and to the point. This book scratched that itch. I found it pretty compelling from start to finish, and I can't wait for the next book to come out in print (I think it is already out in electronic format, but I like paper). I love a good near-future story where things are just different enough to make your imagination kick into gear, but not so foreign that I'm sitting around thinking "What's a flingledorp and why on Earth is this one attached to the hangwopper of a flogtrud?" Look, I want to follow the story without too much confusion. Pollard succeeded for me. I'm a 20 year veteran of the Navy and I'll say that about 99% of all the jargon, personalities, and events feel dead on which really added to my enjoyment and the believability of the story. For those of you with less military experience, Pollard does include a nice glossary in the back of the book so you don't get lost in all the TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms... military loves them).
I don't know if I have any downsides to relay, but I'm pretty easy to please. I'm hoping there is more to come soon.
And here are some more reviews...
This the author first novel and I got totally absorbed from the first page to the end.
This is SF Military but don't expect finding super-uber soldiers or extraterrestrial advanced enemies fighting each other in remote galaxies, no "Starship Troopers" rehearsal at all. On the contrary, set in in the last quarter of the XXI century, the book provides a glimpse of what could be a very realistic progressive evolution of modern tactical warfare and weapons... in a geopolitical context that will also be familiar to the reader, where a reconfigured US (called "Confederated States" but not yet explained in the book what happened) is challenged by an increasingly assertive China in a remote region in Afghanistan.
The book focuses in a Marine recon unit and the pace of the action is truly good.
The atmosphere is very realistic thanks to the extensive and thorough(full) military research undertaken by the author that you can follow in her personal blog.
After I finished reading the novel, I really eager for more. Luckily a second part is very close to publication.
I can strongly recommend the book and if the sequels are as good as the initial work, I can see Ashley Pollard becoming a reference in this writing genre
Excellent book. A fresh view on near future power armor warfare. I felt that I was reading a good story and not the writer's opinions on how they live their own life, which is hard to find these days in any genre.
This book caught me pleasantly by surprise. I had settled into the near-future military action and begun to suspect that powered suits were the extent of the Science Fiction, but then it took off in a totally unexpected direction which I won't spoil for you. I ended up thoroughly gripped and unable to put it down until I knew how it played out. I love SF and it's great to find a new writer with ideas as well as genuinely good writing. I look forward to more.
Monday, 21 May 2018
People who get uptight over cultural appropriation forget that cultural appropriation has led to such wonderful things like mecha, and of course the great British Indian curry tradition of Chicken Tikka Masala.
Anyway, I found this poster in Japanese for the game and just had to share. It's good to see that there's a growing community of modellers and players over there too.
Monday, 14 May 2018
From left-to-right: The first when she was a sergeant in Bad Dog, riding inside a CASE-2X; the second in her Strike Dog officer combat armour CASE-2XC; and finally, "loaded for bear," in Ghost Dog in her CASE-2XC: Mod 2.
And, if you've read Bad Dog, and feel like doing so, I would like to point out that my novel is eligible for this years Dragon Awards.
Friday, 11 May 2018
Purpose of said purchase I hear you ask?
If truth be told, this is to be made up for size comparison shots with my mecha, because I like to keep things in perspective. The one thing that bugs me is the distortions made to vehicles for wargaming. It's my bugbear, I carry it with pride.
And just look at how cute the model is. Also, the accessory pack shows that in my heart I'm as much a wargame modeller as wargamer.
Thursday, 10 May 2018
|Work in Progress: four innocent Sheridan and one AMX Takara tank models went into the making of this pile of parts.|
I want to get the idea across that my cybertanks are different from the one in Ogre/GEV universe. I presented a sketch here. The inspiration behind the design comes from the Soviet Obyekt 279, which I talked about here. All I've got to do now is put in the hours to turn a pile of parts into a representation of a Panzer Jäger Mark One.
How hard can it be?
Judging by all the pieces I've I've turned my donor models into, harder than I'd like. I've just moved onto the Miliput is my special friend when building up a tank hull's phase. I may be a while.
Thursday, 3 May 2018
|Work in Progress: Brass and stainless steel tubing barrel originally for a recoilless rifle I made up.|
|Gribbly parts from my spares box, gunner from a Sheridan.|
So, even though progress has been slower than a snail race, I am managing to move models through the production line. Painting though remains a thing that I have to be in the right mood to do.
|For size comparison next to a Takara 1/144th scale T95 Black Eagle.|
Tuesday, 24 April 2018
|Work in Progress: not glued together, which is why the gun barrel is on the ground.|
I'm in the process of making up a third variant of Tachikoma's Dog. This is based on the description of her combat armour in the Gate Walkers book three, Ghost Dog. I started the project knowing I wanted to add an over the shoulder mount.
This third Dog is "loaded for bear," mounting a large rifle, as well as sporting a rocket pack.
|Work in Progress: showing barrel fabrication.|
As you can see I took a backpack from a Stone Mason twin-set which I had bought a while ago from Dream Pod 9, when you could only get the Stone Mason in pairs. So, this leaves me short for making up the other model.
|Look at this lovely, pity it was the wrong type of recoilless rifle.|
I started to make up a recoilless rifle using a Dream Pod 9 part, called a very light field gun. I even added exhaust ports. I was feeling very pleased with the work, but thought the barrel was a tad long and needed shortening. Which I did.
However, I'd forgotten what I wrote in my novel, wrongly remembering I'd said she used a recoilless rifle, whereas in fact I wrote recoilless gauss rifle.
The gauss being the important part of the description.
There was some cursing. A gauss rifle is an entirely different beastie, and more to the point a design that I have already made on two previous occasions.
After discussions with Fritz, one of my specialist Beta readers, I realized I needed to think more about Corpsman Keith's role. As a result, I'm putting him in a Corpsman's combat armour suit , which will appear in book five; Dead Dogs (provisional title). So I've started to make up Marine Engineer combat armour suit, which I've teased elsewhere.
Before then though, I need to finish writing Two Moons, which has an Army engineering combat armour suit, which I'm also currently designing.
More will be revealed in due course.
NB: You can see how the models are used to inspire the cover art for my novels here.
Tuesday, 17 April 2018
|Taken with my Olympus 7-14mm F2.8 Pro, at 7mm, F5.6, 0.3 secs, ISO 200. Crop from 64 megapixel Hi-Res shot. Disappointing picture, as F5.6 didn't provide quite enough depth of field.|
I was being all distracted by stuff on the internet, which was not doing my mood any favours. So ordered, I sat at my workbench, and made up three Heavy Gear Accos for my Bad Dog project. I say Bad Dog Project, but as has been pointed out to me, everything is Bad Dog.
I blame it on working on my Bad Dog universe novels for the last five years. Five years, which is a thing in and of itself too.
|Also a little soft because it was taken at F5.6.|
I will remember to check that the camera is set to F8 in the future.
Friday, 6 April 2018
Here are the links to parts one and two.
To say that the discussions around military SF can become somewhat fraught as a result of the conflict generated amongst the readers is probably an understatement.
Hence this series of blog posts to raise these issues, and address them. Especially the opinion that people who read military SF are in some way bad, and that those authors who write the stories have a conservative political agenda.
Taking the latter point first.
While some authors do write from a conservative perspective, not all writers do. Therefore to make such an argument is to fall into the trap that has a number of different logical fallacies.
As for readers of military SF being somehow bad, from a notion that they have been brainwashed by right wing propaganda, and will therefore end up as sociopaths, I can only sigh.
I repeat again that this argument is based on logical fallacies that do not stand up to scrutiny; the psychological research on the subject of the influence of media on the behaviours of people can at best show correlation, and correlation is not causation.
The difference between the two being that it's easy to correlate connections between events, but that doesn’t mean that one caused the other.
This is as a result of how we think by using heuristic analysis to come to conclusions.
The research into thinking processes has revealed that we have a large number of cognitive biases, and that the beliefs and opinions we hold are more likely to be wrong than right.
Let me repeat that.
Our beliefs and opinions that we hold are more likely to be wrong than right.
People tend to believe that they come to hold their opinions from looking at the evidence, but the research shows that people form opinions, and then look for evidence that supports their choice.
Furthermore, people tend to discount evidence that challenges their beliefs.
So, if anything I've said has caused a strong emotional response, that's a clue that an underlying assumption has been triggered. The thing about emotions is that they should serve you, not you serve them.
War is the ultimate expression of conflict. And just because some authors write about conflict in ways trigger a strong negative response, doesn't mean that writing about war is wrong.
What the research into reading and playing games about warfare shows is that the assumptions being made about what that does to people is flawed.
Conflict is at the heart of the human condition and avoidance does not serve us well.
Wednesday, 4 April 2018
Continuing on from Part 1, what if anything do stories about war tell us about what war is good for?
Probably not a lot in the bigger scheme of things, because telling people what war is good for is probably not the primary remit of story telling in Western culture.
However, wars are fought for a wide number of reasons.
When those reasons ally with the maintenance of one’s society in the face of others who want to force change where change is unwanted, and though war involves lots of bad things happening to good people, good things are created too. The argument of avoiding war is one that has to be tempered with the costs of avoiding war, because while wars are frightening things, they're an illustration that there are no simple answers to some problems in life.
If science fiction is a genre that speculates about the effects of technological progress on society, where technological changes are driven by the need for victory, then military SF stories must therefore be a valid topic.
However, as I have observed, war is more than individual fighting; war is an institution.
Therefore like all institutions the people who work within the confines of the military hierarchy have a set of beliefs and theories based on reasoning from years of tradition as supporting evidence. If military SF fails anywhere it is in focusing on tactics, and not giving the reader a strategic context, with the necessary understanding of the operational problems that the military has to face.
The old adage in the military is that amateurs talk tactics while professionals talk logistics underpins my observation.
I can see that this makes writing a military story that works at the level of the character motivation a bit of a challenge. Especially if one wants to keep the story interesting; as descriptions of sergeants reading off loading manifests is probably not going to make for the most exciting conflicts.
Though as I write this I know I have a scene about checking the manifests of containers about to be loaded on trucks for a mission. So it can be done.
Assuming that one agrees that stories are driven by conflicts arising between characters and events; otherwise known as the plot, then yes, one can argue about the merits of each individual story, and its value.
But here’s the thing; if you don’t like a story it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have been written. Or that people should stop reading it, because that's an opinion.
Remembering that opinions may be driven by feelings, because opinions are things that we hold dear. As such emotions/feeling cannot be subject to rigorous testing to be used as proof of anything much.
Another recommendation of a book, which I thought was well worth the time it took me to read it, Michael Z. Williamson's A Long Time Until Now. A quick overview here.
More in part three, which will be out on Friday.
Monday, 2 April 2018
Military science fiction is a sub-set of the SF genre, and readers of mainstream SF novels can be quite divided in their opinions about the merits of such stories.
There have even been editorial opinion pieces in on-line media. The Guardian, for example, ran an article complaining that using imagery of future wars to entertain reveals deluded beliefs that writers hold about modern conflict. The writer then proceeded to use this assumption to divide the genre into good versus bad stories. Not on the merit of the story, but judging them through the lens of political beliefs, and starting their polemic by quoting from Edwin Starr’s song War with its chorus line response of, "absolutely nothing!"
Therefore to write a military SF story as one’s debut novel into the field can be seen as a message about the author’s political stance.
However, stories involve conflict, and stories about war are just about conflict writ large.
Over the years I have commented on military science fiction books that I love, and on reflection my feelings remain the same. Avoidance of, or failure to discuss the importance of conflict, and the cultures that arise from conflict is to put one's head in the sand.
If you've never read any military science fiction I recommend the following without equivocation.
Starship Troopers by Robert A Heinlein, I discussed it more back here. A book that can easily be misunderstood and misconstrued. It's theme is service, and the responsibility citizens have to defend their polity, which I see as a discussion of Greek City States. In short, we can learn from history.
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, also discussed at the link above, is a book that talks about alienation from society, through the lens of time-dilation, which makes it SF. Far less controversial than Starship Troopers, because it's talking about the human condition, rather than politics.
Orphanage by Robert Buettner, which I discussed here, also talks about alienation of soldiers from society. But in this case, the effects of training to become a soldier, which the title of the series alludes to. Unlike the first two standalone books this is a series of five novels.
The Heritage Trilogy by Ian Douglas starts with Semper Mars. I discussed it here. It's a favourite of mine, but it also talks about culture. In this case, the culture of the Marines, which is a lot of fun. And it's a trilogy of trilogies.
The Compleat Bolo by Keith Laumer. Again the first link will take you to where I discussed his work. This collection of stories about self-aware tanks are seminal to the concepts of artificial intelligence in the science fiction genre. I recently re-read my copy to reacquaint myself with the tales, which was a surprise, because my recall of them was different than the experience of the re-read.
It gave me lots of ideas for my The World of Drei homage to Laumer.
On that note, I will finish. More in part two.