Tuesday, 24 April 2018

CASE-2XC: Mod 2 Backpack WIP


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.

Moving on.

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

Accos, Thousands of Them!

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.

My beloved told me to do something creative.

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 took both this pictures with my wide-angle zoom, but currently my camera settings are all over the place after upgrading the firmware. Hence both these pictures got taken at F5.6, which means the depth of field gradient is soft.

I will remember to check that the camera is set to F8 in the future.
  

Friday, 6 April 2018

Military SF Genre: Part 3

  

 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.

Summary

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

Military SF Genre: Part 2

  

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.

Addendum

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 SF Genre: Part 1

  

 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.