Cheeseburger Gothic

My ('splodey, stabby) summer reads

Posted January 27, 2016 into Books by John Birmingham

One of the small pleasures of summer I always look forward to is cracking the spine, or hitting download, on a new Cliff Hardy story. Peter Corris has been cranking these out since I was a teenager. I still remember reading The Empty Beach for the first time, and going back to it again and again, drawn by the pastiche of Hardy’s gallows humour, the uniquely Australian voice (well, it was unique at the time) and Corris’s way with transplanting the best elements of the hard boiled school to the bright golden shores of the harbour city.

I still have this year’s release – That Empty Feeling – to read, but just finished Gun Control (iTunes) as my bedside book. Cliff ages gracefully, but he does age. He’s a grandad now, still on medication for his heart attack a few years ago, and all around him his contemporaries are retiring from the game. He gets into fewer brawls and tends to take back up with him when he’s expecting one.

Back up in Gun Control comes in the form of an unusually temperate bikie gang leader, looking to establish his rule after the death of his former pack leader, a shady lawyer and crooked cop. Sydney is as much a character and player as ever and feeling my own understanding of the city fading with every day I’m away, I was taken by how well Corris stayed in touch with the place after moving to the north coast a few years ago. Then I found out, he’d moved back. Sucks for him I guess, but yay for the rest of us.

As always the maguffin in Gun Control is a client; a businessman who pays Hardy to investigate the death of his son. The coroner ruled it a suicide, but nothing is ever simple. Hardy is soon mixing it up with bikers, cops good and bad, dodgy lawyers and a couple of unfortunate muggers who chose the wrong granddad to have a go at.

A world away from modern Sydney, Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom (iTunes) is set in England between 866 and 876, during the age of the Vikings. It had been sitting in my pile o’ shame for years and I’m not quite sure what made me pick it up. Maybe seeing the TV series was coming up on Netflix or Stan. I thought, wrongly, that it might have been Cornwell riffing on the King Arthur saga, but it seems to have been based on an actual historical figure.

The narrator is Uhtred Ragnarsson, born a Saxon but taken by Danish raiders who killed his father when he was ten. Uhtred is raised by the Danes as one of their own, setting up a long series with a vengeance motif at its heart.

I tried to like it. It’s a good story, well told, but for some reason I just didn’t find it compelling. That says more about me than Cornwell. I couldn’t help thinking what this book needs is a gunned up platoon of 21st century SAS hard men somehow pulled back in time to kick Viking arse.

Hmm.

That gives me an idea. Excuse me a second while I rejig my writing schedule.

Anyway, would I recommend it? I guess I would, if you’re a fan of historical fiction set in that period. Cornwall is a great story teller, and hugely popular. It’s not his fault I didn’t get into the Kingdom.

My other summer read was the latest in David Weber’s Safehold series; Hell's Foundations Quiver (iTunes). If you haven’t been following the series, I can’t help you. We’re deep in the narrative woods now and as happens with a lot of these long arcs, if you haven’t been there for the whole thing, it will make no sense to you. I have been there, and at times it didn’t make much sense to me because there are now so many characters and plots and sub plots that I found it hard to remember who was doing what.

Still, it felt a more polished effort than some of the earliest titles. Weber has a few quirks that really grated on me as I rushed through the early novels one after another. We’ve discussed them before; his characters are forever chuckling for no good reason; he loves putting two men in a room to chat about nothing but exposition. Hell’s Foundation isn’t free of these sins, but they happen much less frequently. And the premise off the series, a sentient AI in a combat chassis thrown in amongst religious bigots to set off a holy war is as much fun as ever; i.e., heaps.

33 Responses to ‘My ('splodey, stabby) summer reads’

Surtac mutters...

Posted January 27, 2016
" I couldn’t help thinking what this book needs is a gunned up platoon of
21st century SAS hard men somehow pulled back in time to kick Viking
arse."
Stop. Hasn't this been done by Keith McArdle with 'The Forgotten Land'?

I'm sure I heard bout this from you and have downloaded and read it and enjoyed it.
Please get back to Cairo and the next Dave stuff. Or I will be very upset.

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Sparty mumbles...

Posted January 27, 2016
Haven't read last Kingdom, but the TV series was well made. However the lead was such a whinney brat f%*k wit he made Dave look mature! and forced me to root for the Vikings over the Saxons!
Again like Birmo, the fact that I found that a barrier to really enjoying the series is on me - strange because I hate it when book agents say things like "you need easily relatable, likable characters".

I think he was meant to be a bit of an unreliable narrator who matures later - just suspect we need episodes book-ended with the "mature version".

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SZF reckons...

Posted January 27, 2016
Speaking of historical fiction, Vlad: the Last Confession by Chris Humphreys is worth a gander. A (very) bloody account of the man who inspired Stoker's Dracula.
Your SAS hard men would want to make sure not to miss if they tried to f*ck with Vlad though. The guy kept a lot of stake makers in business...

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted January 28, 2016
Yes, but Vlad only retained the services of stake makers who were passionate about their art.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted January 29, 2016
You know you've found yourself a serious stake making craftsman if they refer to themselves as a "Maker of Stakes."

NBlob mutters...

Posted January 29, 2016
That, or their Marketing consultant said "everyone likes assonance."

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 29, 2016
Which is true: everyone does.

Lulu would have you know...

Posted January 29, 2016
Or they used the words 'bespoke' and 'artisan'.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted January 29, 2016
Artisan stakes: a soft start with notes of pine or oak (depending); a clean finish; aged to perfection. Gluten free.

NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 29, 2016
See no not everyone like assonance, some find it immensely irritating but by a strange quirk of fate many who appreciate fine stakes AND have disposable income are bandits for it. That is the genius of marketing.

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WA n'ker would have you know...

Posted January 27, 2016
SAS squad back in time sounds good Birmo, but what happens when they run out of ammo? Perhaps the "Philadelphia/Axis" type chronological quantum transposition event sends back the entire London Australian Embassy building? This would obviously include all the staff and equipment; secretaries, ex-SAS security staff with their cache of weapons, Defence Signals Directorate staff (including that weird guy with a doctorate in Ornithology), computers, back up generators, fuel supply, defence attache with honours from Oxford in the appropriate history and languages, foreign affairs and economics/trade people, and a good supply of Hill of Grace, Grange and Victoria Bitter.

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Guy is gonna tell you...

Posted January 28, 2016
I've read all the Last Kingdom novels and they are truly excellent. Much recommended if you like that sort of thing. From the man who brought you the Sharpe novels.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 28, 2016
I started watching the TV series last night. Brutal. But good. I'll probably stick with it.

Squid is gonna tell you...

Posted January 28, 2016
Yes I've read them all also.

I really enjoy them although he pumps them out a bit like Lee Child (who I also enjoy) with similar plot devices, but there has been some story progression in recent books that I have appreciated.

I think I feel an affinity for the story lines with my family being from the Old Country and having lived there for a few years. The family legend goes we are descended from the Vikings but that's likely complete bunkham.

Yeah that and the blood and guts and general disregard for the Christian church.

Guru Bob reckons...

Posted January 29, 2016
I watched the whole series after Christmas and enjoyed it a lot. Haven't read the book (or is it books?) yet, but Cornwall is probably the definitive historical military fiction writer these days... I have read his books set in Napoleonic era, American Revolution and Civil War, medieval times and others. Usually pretty good reading...

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Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 28, 2016

" is a gunned up platoon of 21st century SAS hard men somehow pulled back in time to kick Viking arse." There are now even more modern army against ancient army tropes thanks to an excellent Axis of Time series.


One of my favorites at the moment is GATE a Japanese Anime about when modern Tokyo is invaded through gate by a couple of thousand Roman legions from an alternative universe, which include mounted flying dragons after a couple of hours of havoc the Japanese's Defense Force wipes the floor with them then goes the gate and establishes a 'special region' so the JSDF can operate there.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 28, 2016
Sounds totally cool. Gotta find it. Gotta see it.

Barnesm reckons...

Posted January 28, 2016
I will eagerly await your erudite ruminations on this anime.

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Schweaty ducks in to say...

Posted January 28, 2016
Hi all, long time lurker, first time commenter. Or second? Anyway. Have any of you read the Cormoran Strike books? The ones by JK Rowling under the name of Robert Galbraith? He's another PI who manages to find himself in the middle of the investigation. I've just finished the third. Characters are interesting, stories move along at a cracking pace. Enjoyable!

WA n'ker reckons...

Posted January 28, 2016
Danke, Schweaty der lurker. I had no idea JK had written under a pseudonym, I'll check 'em out.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted January 29, 2016
Her first pseudonym was Andre La Plume. Fairly good Gothic romances.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted January 29, 2016
I had to read/review the first one for the Bookshow. Pretty sure I then reviewed it here somewhere.

w from brisbane ducks in to say...

Posted January 29, 2016
I've read the first 2 Comoran Strike books. I thought they were excellent. The two things I look for, character and atmosphere, are both superb. I haven't read the third one yet. I believe J.K. is planning 4 or 5 more. Best to read them in order. The development in the professional relationship between the two main characters is going to be a big theme in the series.

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Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 29, 2016
Cliff Hardy - sort of like the Royal on Bondi Rd which has seen a few fights, is feeling its age but still knows how to do cold beer through clean lines and an edible pub feed.

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Bondiboy66 ducks in to say...

Posted January 29, 2016
I've been meaning to read The Empty Beach for some time...being as how its set in my area and all.

Regarding the SAS/vikings thing - someone put out a thought bubble about a Marine force ending up in Roman times and how they would fare...google it I guess. Of course the main contention was they'd kick major arse until they ran out of fuel/bullets/etc. Still a cool idea though.

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Sudragon asserts...

Posted January 29, 2016
"Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen" by H. Beam Piper. The original (well, apart from Twains time travel story) and still the best.

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Rhino mumbles...

Posted January 30, 2016
Does the story actually move forward in the latest Weber?

Sudragon ducks in to say...

Posted January 30, 2016
It's moving faster than The Wheel of Time series.

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GhostSwirv puts forth...

Posted January 30, 2016
I read young upstart hot on JB's heels James Phelan's The Hunted and Kill Switch over the hols ... no #TheDave to distract me, after reading 'bout Corris' new Hardy I've a mind to re-read Peter Temple's Jack Irish novels - being a Melbourne boy I just love the atmosphere and the darkness of the stories.

dweeze mutters...

Posted February 1, 2016
Haven't read the books but can highly recommend the ABC film versions of Jack Irish - but I may be biased, having spent the bulk of my life in Melbourne too.

GhostSwirv asserts...

Posted February 1, 2016
Really like the ABC telemovies ... some of the best book 2 tv adaptations I've ever watched.
Can't wait for White Dog to be realised - I hope its the next telemovie they release.

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DarrenBloomfield ducks in to say...

Posted February 1, 2016
To my eternal shame I've never read Corris/Hardy. But, well, because JB is my master now, I have the ibooks version of "the dying trade" cicada 1980. So I'm away!
The foreword by Charles Waterstreet in this edition fills me with hope. Last year I hinge read another crime series I was late too: Jack Reacher.
I enjoyed that, but fallible that guy ain't. CW suggests Mr Hardy may Mr more mortal. And more likeable for it.
And then this "When we read Corris, we see ourselves, we laugh at ourselves, we cringe at ourselves, and finally we understand ourselves a little better".
I'm in! See you in 35 years/38 novels.

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Dominion, by CJ Sansom

Posted January 15, 2016 into Books by John Birmingham

Don't know how I missed this this, but when I get out from under my current deadline, I'm gonna check it out. Dominion, by CJ Sansom, an alternate history of Britain under the Nazi jackboot.

The Guardian writes it up thus:

... one of the thrills of Dominion is to see a writer whose previous talent has been for the captivating dramatisation of real history (in his five books about the Tudor sleuth, Matthew Shardlake, and the Spanish civil war novel Winter in Madrid) creating an invented mid-20th century Britain that has the intricate detail and delineation of JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth, though thankfully described in better prose.

The big historical sweeps seem credible guesses: the newspaper tycoon Lord Beaverbrook – an isolationist, pro-German equivalent to Roth's President Lindbergh – is prime minister, with the British fascist leader Oswald Mosley as home secretary, while Churchill is the leader of an underground resistance movement that occasionally daubs V signs in public places. In America, Adlai Stevenson has just won the 1952 election. In recorded history, Stevenson was thrashed by D-day hero General Dwight Eisenhower, but, in this version, there hasn't been an allied victory to gild Ike's reputation and so he hasn't even run for the Republicans.

Sansom is equally impressive in the depth of the background colour. Air-raid shelters – never, as it turned out, needed – are items of poignant incongruity. Conversations glancingly reveal that what we know as the London and Helsinki Olympics of 1948 and 1952 took place in quite different countries because of the alterations in the geo-political situation. Leading British authors of the period – EM Forster, JB Priestley, WH Auden – have disappeared ominously from view after criticising our political masters in Berlin. A massive picture of Hitler hangs in the lobby of the National Portrait Gallery.

10 Responses to ‘Dominion, by CJ Sansom’

Surtac mutters...

Posted January 15, 2016

I read this a few years back, and can happily recommend it.

It's a very good book and a fine addition to the subgenre.

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DarrenBloomfield has opinions thus...

Posted January 15, 2016
downloading ebook NOW

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she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted January 15, 2016
That sounds amazing. Will track it down immediately.

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DarrenBloomfield reckons...

Posted January 15, 2016
Ever since I first visited Spain in the early nineties, and saw how The long-lived Franco regime still echoed in the collective there (and Salazar across the border).
I'd read "Fatherland" of course, and also knew from history that Democracies in Europe were fading, even before the war.
I always wanted to write an alternative history novel that saw Europe avoid WWII, and what Europe in the 80s would look like if, like Franco and Salazar, Hitler and Mussolini had've ruled for decades.
Its why I loved the amazon Man in the High Castle take.
I guess it's a crowded space, too crowded for me and my novel!
Might have to rush out a space opera, get in first...

she_jedi reckons...

Posted January 15, 2016
I really loved Fatherland, and The Man in the High Castle just blew my mind. I love the whole "what if?" sense of alternate histories, particularly around WW2. You should give your novel a crack anyway, see how it goes :)

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Spanner mumbles...

Posted January 15, 2016
Is it available on audio? I've got audible credits to burn.

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Barnesm would have you know...

Posted January 15, 2016

Looking forward to it, but I don't agree with the reviewer's "one of the thrills of Dominion is..." that's not a thrill.

A thrill is a fistfight with Nazi Zombies whilst on a hovercraft failing through a crevasse in Antarctica while a nuclear weapon ticks down - thank you Mathew Reilly.

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GhostSwirv swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 16, 2016
I love the 'what if' - alternative history scenario, Dominion sounds verrrrrrry interesting.

James Herbert wrote an alternative WWII history yarn called '48 about the Nazis raining down on London a V2 missile containing a Black Death virus ... pretty sure if the real Nazis had something like that they woulda used it.

Some survivors have to flee infected zombie-like Blackshirts - Nazi sypathisers - who want to drain their blood for their fearless leader.

I'm going after the Dominion ebook before the nuke clicks down, now if i can just remember where I left my maghook?

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DarrenBloomfield asserts...

Posted January 18, 2016
I'm 20 per cent in to Dominion now, and it is very good.

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Rob puts forth...

Posted February 23, 2016

I bought Dominion. Its OK , if a little slow going. So I put it down for a week or two and I read a Zombie book which was also OK. But yesterday a copy of 'Look who's Back ' arrived , and by about midnight last night I really had to put it down and get some sleep. Its the alt-history time travelling novel we never asked for, but got all the same. Brilliant.

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Here be Monsters cover art

Posted January 4, 2016 into Books by John Birmingham

In a couple of weeks the mailing list will go live and those who've signed up will get an invite to grab this bad boy for free. Some of you contributed to this story, as I recall. It's since been redone and edited. I'm stoked to see it getting a day in the sun.

The cover art is by Will Heavy and I love it. It captures the best of the story in one image. I ran a contest at 99 Designs to get this result, and there were a couple of other really excellent offerings. I've noted the artists and will offer them some paying work later this year when the other books go into production. I'll also write up an entry about the 99Designs process which should hopefully be helpful to anyone thinking of using them. Not everyone loves the 99 model, and I do understand the critique of the contest process, but that process fast tracked me into a design marketplace where I can now source artists for commissioned work. I get art assets. They get a pay day. 99D takes a cut.

The first two HOOPER ebooks will be out late Feb or early March and again, early sign ups will get an invite to grab a free copy. I plan a soft release of each book, letting early subscribers have it free before bumping the price to full retail. And if early subscribers felt like leaving a glowing 88 star review... well, who would I be to say no.

31 Responses to ‘Here be Monsters cover art’

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 4, 2016
Cool!

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w from brisbane would have you know...

Posted January 4, 2016
I can't help but have a fondness for the zombie at the bottom left. He might be a murdering, cannibalistic, reanimated corpse; but at least he seems a patriot. In fact, I think I met him once at the cricket.

insomniac asserts...

Posted January 4, 2016
Yes, I think he was caught on the big screen tucking in to someone's skull. The media dubbed him 'Brain Boy'.

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NBlob asserts...

Posted January 4, 2016
I'm, er, not sold. It reminds me of the unicorn slash titles a few months back. Don't get me wrong, I'm up for some alt.time zombie stomping, the art just lacks, something. Menace?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted January 5, 2016
Just the right touch of menace. Promises lots of fun.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 5, 2016
Not even close, Blob.

NBlob would have you know...

Posted January 6, 2016
Not the first time. Remember when I said 'The Daemons of Buttecrack County' was an insightful allegory on Australia's troubled relationship with Jakarta.
Oh how you laughed.

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Sparty would have you know...

Posted January 4, 2016
where did the chick come from?
The guy looks like across between Han Solo and the Scottish bloke from Outlander (The TV series, not the movie with the other scottish bloke).
it does look a bit slashy- but somehow that seems right (slash as in genres / time zones rather than slash as in Kirk /Spock).

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted January 5, 2016
That is the idea.

Sudragon reckons...

Posted January 5, 2016
Needs more sword to be proper slash fic...

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted January 5, 2016
And the sword would have be a dildo

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted January 5, 2016
Well, of course. That goes without saying.

Sudragon is gonna tell you...

Posted January 5, 2016
I'd say pork sword...but that would be adding to the ham problem.

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DarrenBloomfield is gonna tell you...

Posted January 5, 2016
do thiose of us that signed over our soul (full of guns or otherwise) for the editorial experiment need to re-up for this, or are we pre-conscripted?

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted January 5, 2016
The Beta-reading crew is separate, but related. I can't legally add you to my mailing list. You must give me your soul by your hand. The links up top will take you where you need to go.
[evil chuckle][wait][did I just do my evil chuckle out loud?]

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted January 5, 2016
Yes, you did. And it was so cute. The way a newborn calf is cute as it stumbles around.

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DarrenBloomfield puts forth...

Posted January 5, 2016
thanks John.

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DarrenBloomfield has opinions thus...

Posted January 5, 2016
thanks John.
On a related topic, at the MWF you repeated something |I think I've read here - that you had filed away a stat about how few days food supply was on hand in major cities. And that you'd call on that fact one day.
My spouse gave me a Chrissy present that might be a good research tool for you: "The Knowledge: how to rebuild our world from scratch". Its a few years old now, but it's a cracking read. Might be of use to an author in a certain genre...? Here's a link to a review:
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/apr/03/knowledge-how-to-rebuild-our-world-from-scratch-review

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Therbs would have you know...

Posted January 5, 2016
That cover is from a story you wrote in Tench's voice I reckon. That seems a while ago now. Nothing like some capping of Zed.

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Rob mumbles...

Posted January 5, 2016
I really like it.classic pulp scifi art.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted January 5, 2016
That water colour aesthetic was exactly the look I was after. I can imagine it on an old torn hard back in the attic.

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Rhino puts forth...

Posted January 5, 2016
OK, a little lost. Is this the short that was included in that anthology a couple of years ago? Has it been expanded here?
That was my first little effort at contributing. Fond memories.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted January 5, 2016
It is the same short, with a slightly expanded ending. I'm going to be giving it away for mailing list sign ups. In a year or so when I have more of a back list, I'll swap it out for something longer.

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HAVOCK21 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 5, 2016
OK, Ill come out and say. WHAT THE FK!
The grip ( fore grip ) is too long on her ..er machine gun, WTF is he shooting...is it a sawn off shottie...???? if so why the two handed grip for s lide driven fkn auto and the colour... YOU GONE FKN SOFT OR FKN WHAT! AND....FKN...A N D .. the assault Riofle is bloody BLUE or is that a softer hue orf you FFASKES MAN get ya shit together!

Therbs asserts...

Posted January 6, 2016
He'd be using a flintlock pistol being from the late 1780's.

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HAVOCK21 asserts...

Posted January 5, 2016
Oh, just so that there be some sort of clarity around what I might be saying, it could do with a weeee bit of tinkering around the edges! IMHO

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Rhino mutters...

Posted January 7, 2016
Am I the only one that expanded the pic to get a better look at the chick's boobs?
Looking at you Boylan.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted January 7, 2016
Not I. But I am confident Monster Yuppy did the same.

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Rhino asserts...

Posted January 7, 2016
Is inappropriate to ask how TheDave universe fanfic thingy is going?
Cause, if it is, I don't want to be appropriate.
Not that that's ever been a concern really.
I apologize if you were expecting something different and didn't get it.
See what I did there? I crossed the post streams or something.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted January 7, 2016
Nope, it's not inappropriate. I'm looking at a mid year release. I'll write something up for a separate post. Gimme a few minutes.

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Shane swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 8, 2016
No wonder so many people actually plan what they will do when the zombie apocalypse comes!
Regarding the Hooper novels - just finished reading Ascendance (paid full price for the E books! Damn). Thought all of them were great, but the ending of Ascendance left a lot of questions open - can we expect further Dave Hooper novels? I'm sure you have been asked that before but have just found your blog

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Kindle Cover Disasters

Posted November 24, 2015 into Books by John Birmingham

I have to send the books off to art in the next few weeks. It's an exciting prospect. I only hope I can find something as tasty as the many fine entries at Kindle Cover Disasters.

Magnificent beasts like this.

And this.

20 Responses to ‘Kindle Cover Disasters’

KreepyKrawly puts forth...

Posted November 24, 2015
What has been seen cannot be unseen!!!!!! ARGHHHH! Where's the mindbleach!!!!

insomniac puts forth...

Posted November 24, 2015
I know. I looked at way way too many for my psychological well being. There are some sick bastards out there.

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Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted November 24, 2015
I can't help but think that these Kindle Covers were intentional.

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Spanner mutters...

Posted November 24, 2015
I'm not sure which is more disturbing the twink and beastiality with BDSM overtones or the Tenticle pr0n.
Excuse me while I go scrub my eyeballs with bleach.

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Lulu swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 24, 2015
Ow ow ow ow!!! My EYES!

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trib puts forth...

Posted November 24, 2015
There seems to be a bit of a theme with these...

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Surtac asserts...

Posted November 24, 2015

Saved on this occasion by my work cyber defence and cyber censorship regimes.

I only had to look at the two examples our Lord and Master explicitly showed us

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GhostSwirv has opinions thus...

Posted November 24, 2015
The expression on the Catman's face reminds me of how I imagine Professor Boylan must look in TheDave series.

A look of serene confidence married to a dastardly PNB knows best what's good for humanity visage - especially if all the good flows to PNB first.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted November 25, 2015
Truth be told, the cover featuring men in kilts with tentacles rings truer for me. Something to do with my father worshiping Cthulhu when he was a lad. Something like that.

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w from brisbane swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 24, 2015
I don't think I have read any Scottish sci-fi, but I've obviously missing out. The series certainly has an intriquing premise. The eight part series certainly has an intriguing premise.
<font style="color: rgb(69, 69, 69); font-family: UICTFontTextStyleBody; font-size: 19px;"><font style="font-family: -apple-system, HelveticaNeue-Regular, Helvetica; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); -webkit-tap-highlight-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0);">The group of burly men who lived and worked as soldiers in the Scottish highlands manning a remote military installation had a secret: they had all developed tentacles during a freak accident with a hyper-dimensional energy generator that made a rift in the fabric of space-time. Now, they hide their tentacles as best they can, but they can’t hide them forever. What happens when they go home? In the first book, Dan has a girlfriend who is going to be very surprised! </font>

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Barnesm puts forth...

Posted November 24, 2015

To be fair there are a lot of disasters in non kindle books covers. Of course none of yours Brimo.

Its an amazing publish niece the Cryptozoo porn gig. Bigfoot, lizard men, werewolves and tentacle horrors are all part of the broad church I think called Monster porn which one of the big names was Ms Viginia Wade and her 16 book run which began with 'Cum For Bigfoot' until the recent manufacoversy over monster porn.

NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted November 24, 2015
Mr Barnesm. That link. I may never look at Sasquatch the same way.

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Lobes ducks in to say...

Posted November 24, 2015
The blurb from 'Human Rights'

After landing in the pound after being abandoned by yet another family,
Ewan is convinced he's too old to be adopted out again. For a pet like
him, the only fate left is to be put down. But when Sir Jiat—of the City
Guard, no less—visits the pound, he goes straight to Ewan. Jiat prefers
the more mature pets and treats Ewan better than he's ever been treated
by any previous owner. Ewan sleeps at the foot of his master's bed, not
on the floor or outside; he is given toys and other pets to play with
and plenty of room to run; and he's fed on a schedule and eats very
well. But Ewan's love for his master begins to change, to become
something else, something more.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted November 24, 2015
Eew... Not that there's anything wrong with that.

insomniac reckons...

Posted November 25, 2015
Is it still bestiality if initiated by the cat?

Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 25, 2015
make you look at cat from Red Dwarf in a whole new light.

Bondiboy66 puts forth...

Posted November 25, 2015
To say nothing of characters from Skyrim etc...

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Lobes would have you know...

Posted November 25, 2015
Can you imagine the size of cucumber you'd need to fuck up a cat that big?

insomniac mutters...

Posted November 25, 2015
That was a lol and a half ... most excellent funny.

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Respond to 'Kindle Cover Disasters'

New covers; Felafel and Babes

Posted September 13, 2015 into Books by John Birmingham

Next year would have been the 20th anniversary of the founding of Yellow Press, which became D&S, which in both imprints published my early share house novels. Michael Duffy decided to get out of the publishing biz while the gettng was good, though. He was always much smarter than me. Because those books still sell, they needed a new home and I wasn't quite ready to self publish them.

So, they are now with Momentum, PanMac's indy/ebook outfit. To mark the move, each got a new cover.

Chapter One also got renamed, for the US market.

22 Responses to ‘New covers; Felafel and Babes’

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted September 13, 2015
Call me old, set in my ways, and resistant to change - being more comfortable with the long-time familiar, but I don't like either cover.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted September 13, 2015
Your time has passed, old man.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted September 13, 2015
God, I hope so.

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ShaneAlpha has opinions thus...

Posted September 13, 2015
So if JB wrote Falafel now would it still be a Falafel? Or would it be some sort of hipster nosh? He died with an artisanal goat cheese wrap just doesn't have the same ring.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 14, 2015
It has a wonderful ring to it. What a great idea.

Lulu has opinions thus...

Posted September 14, 2015
He died with a pulled pork slider? He died with a single-origin pour-over drip coffee?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted September 14, 2015
Yep. Exactly. Felafel and Tassie Babes are snap shots recording a specific moment in time. And that time is gone, replaced with something else. I think it would be fascinating to perform the same time/place/culture analysis that engendered Felafel and Tassie Babes on the Australia of today. Perhaps including some of the same characters. Who knows? Dirk could be a master of the universe today.

JG has opinions thus...

Posted September 14, 2015
Perhaps, He Died With An iPhone in His Hand.

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Rhino swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 13, 2015
Hmmmm, will my copies on kindle update?
<snort>
I crack me up.

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w from brisbane has opinions thus...

Posted September 13, 2015
People in book publishing know so much more than me about book publishing, but what is that black map of Tasmania doing dominating the Felafel cover? I really want to know. I want to learn and be better.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted September 14, 2015
The map of Tasmania, black or otherwise, features prominently in Felafel. It is the Tassie Babes Fiasco's mcguffin.

NBlob mumbles...

Posted September 14, 2015
And babes routinely deforest Tassie, so it resembles an isthmus. Or at least that is what I've learnt from Pr0n.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted September 15, 2015
I am not going to dignify that veiled obscene reference with a response, other than to observe that your comment seems to have a Brazilian aspect.

NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 16, 2015
No, that's just how I pronounce isthmus, it sound Portuguese with a strong German accent.

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balri would have you know...

Posted September 13, 2015
Will there be printed versions? Where can I get them?

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Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted September 13, 2015
Not a pube to be found.
I remember getting my copy and thinking, "Someone drew this on here with a bic pen." After a few minutes down in the dock office on 1000 Walnut I realized, nope, it was part of the cover.

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spokey puts forth...

Posted September 14, 2015
What makes a cover JB? I noted with the different covers for Dave that different markets get more 'splodey etc.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted September 14, 2015
Great question, Spokey. And one I could answer at length, but I have a column due and a plane to catch. I might respond in a separate entry.

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Rob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 14, 2015


I first read parts of the Tasmanian babes fiasco in Playboy magazine I think, when I moved to Australia. Probably the only time I read a magazine of the calibre for the articles. I think my brother in law gave it to me because it had an amazing cut out of the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars in it and Pamela Anderson. Pamela Anderson became a motif at art school. While everyone painted Rothko styled swooshy gestural abstract paintings. I painted Pamela Anderson wrapped in American flags because you know, its art school.

Looking forward to buying a new print of the babes fiasco.

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Halwes would have you know...

Posted September 14, 2015

only a sicko like me wants to buy a book with the underside of a cockroach on it. Tasmanian Babes would go like a scalded cat if it had some maps of tassie on it.

dweeze reckons...

Posted September 15, 2015
...or a balded cat by NBlob's call above! Sickos indeed.

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Halwes mumbles...

Posted September 15, 2015

And the winner is ... The Liberal party for the next ten years! I just hope that the poisonous, deluded, little churchy grub, Kevin Andrews, is relegated to having no influence

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Respond to 'New covers; Felafel and Babes'

Ghost Fleet. PW Singer and August Cole

Posted August 25, 2015 into Books by John Birmingham

Short review.

I loved it. If you enjoyed the Tom Clancy school of the 1980s and would like to see them redone with modern and future technology, just go buy it.

Longer, more considered review.

It's lucky Tom Clancy wasn't able to put hyperlinks all the way through his books. Not in the early years, anyway. This is what they would look like. A military thriller in which every mention of weapons technology is hyperlinked to an explanatory source. But even more than that, there are hundreds of other inexplicable links which break up the experience of just letting the story carry you along. It's an artefact of the authors' deeper purpose — to spin a cautionary tale for policymakers as much as for readers. But seriously, I really didn't need the footnote explaining how Arnold Palmer had been commissioned to design that golf course on which Marine Corps Osprey's were setting down. Just land the damn aircraft and start blowing things up. Sheesh.

I bring this up before even getting to what Ghost Fleet is about because those footnotes are going to piss a lot of people off. I tried to turn them off on my Kobo but couldn't find the appropriate checkbox. Maybe it would be easier on a Kindle or an iPad.

That minor aggravation aside (I stopped noticing them the same way we train ourselves not to see banner ads online) and with all the usual caveats, I really did enjoy this book.

Ghost Fleet is very Red Storm Rising, one of my favourite Tom Clancy books. It's set in the near future, the exact date being left vague, but feeling like twenty years out to me. That's long enough to bring a lot of cutting edge technology into the mainstream, but not so far removed from our present concerns as to morph into science fiction. China is ascendant, but the Communist Party has been swept away. The emergent hyperpower is ruled by a nationalist cabal of billionaire tycoons and the military. The US is not just in relative decline; a series of foreign policy misadventures and economic travails find it in absolute decline. China's ruling clique, which styles itself as the Directorate, discovers vast reserves of natural gas on the floor of the Pacific in an area still controlled by America. They decide the time has come for Washington to learn a few ugly realities about the new blanace of power. Or what the old Sovs would have called 'the correlation of forces'.

And so we come to the point, or rather the first point of this novel, a tour de force of just how US could be driven out of the Pacific in our lifetimes. The Chinese plan is not far removed from scenarios being war gamed by all of the great powers right now. The guilty pleasure of Ghost Fleet is seeing the scenario-building worked out in narrative form.

Like Clancy, Singer and Cole deploy a broad canvas with a lot of storytellers. They do return to a couple of favourites however, a Navy captain who fights his LCS out of Pearl Harbor when the Pacific Fleet is attacked there, his old man, a retired Navy chief petty officer who is recalled to service with thousands of other old salts when the 7th Fleet is destroyed, a female Marine who turns insurgent when Hawaii is invaded, a Chinese-American scientist whose research holds the key to a counter-attack, and one of my particular favourites a British-Australian billionaire turned space pirate. (Seriously, this character is great fun and provides the only comic relief in an otherwise pretty serious endeavour). There are dozens of others.

No it's not Tolstoy. It doesn't even make a pretense at being fine writing. A lot of the secondary characters are just Lego pieces to click into place when building the story, and although the writers take some time with their favourite characters to fill out their back stories and emotional lives, it's largely a paint by numbers exercise.

So fucking what. You don't judge these books by the standards of Tolstoy. You judge them on their own merits, and I judged Ghost Fleet to be such enormous fun that I decided to take a day off work to finish reading it in one big, guilty binge. It helped that I had a bit of a hangover after the Melbourne Writers Festival. I was able to convince myself I would not have done any worthwhile work on my own books. Also, it made me think I should really write some more stuff like this.

A lot of the pacing, character, and formatting problems (those hyperlinks!) fall away as the story begins to accelerate under its own momentum. By the time the US has put together its counterstrike (the second real point of the book) most of the lumpiness of the early narrative has smoothed out and it's a fast run to a very satisfying conclusion.

I enjoyed it. I'm happy to recommend the purchase.

Amazon affiliate link. (Hardback. But go the ebook).

Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War

64 Responses to ‘Ghost Fleet. PW Singer and August Cole’

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted August 25, 2015
Are you coming the raw prawn with me?? Arnold Palmer was commissioned to design a golf course on which Marine Corps Osprey's were setting down??

If true, that rocks my world, mate. Rocks my fucking world.

GhostSwirv asserts...

Posted August 25, 2015

Not only was Arnold Palmer commissioned to design a golf course for Osprey training but Mario Andretti was tasked to design a race track for Abrams M1A2 Tanks to take on Russian T-14s, on-loan from the Ukrainians ... and Mark Spitz was called upon to design a cluster of Olympic-sized swimming pools for HALO SEAL insertions - but somehow the design parameters where not explained properly and that programme was unexpectantly terminated.

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Aaron would have you know...

Posted August 25, 2015
I heartily endorse your desire to write more military thrillers. And call the hero Tolstoy.

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Blarkon mutters...

Posted August 25, 2015
"Also, it made me think I should really write some more stuff like this."
Fuck Yes. Who cares about characterization if there is an F22 skimming the waves with big arse ship splosions in the background on the cover?

NBlob asserts...

Posted August 25, 2015
+1

damian reckons...

Posted August 25, 2015
I think the beginning of the SF&F immersion I've taken on in recent years has been to work out whether I'd like to write it. Whereas maybe what I really want to write is more along the lines of Alastair Maclean (I lost patience with the 80s era guys in the 90s). Getting the balance of ingredients right is probably the main thing. Terse, double-fisted prose. Or something, no idea really and time burns like a fuse.

Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted August 27, 2015
Damian, if you can possibly break into writing through any other genre then for the love of God, go do that.
Don't get wrapped up in the mindless insanity of science fiction. Especially not after the spectacle which took place last weekend.

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Sudragon is gonna tell you...

Posted August 25, 2015
It's not available on Amazon.com.au. It is, however, over on Google play.

Peter in the bleachers ducks in to say...

Posted August 25, 2015
Also at iBooks. I re-read Red Storm Rising about 3 months ago. I'd forgotten how much I had enjoyed it back in the late 80's

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Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted August 25, 2015
Didn't Ralph Peters essentially write this novel back in the 1990s? Of course the bad guy was Japan, of all folks, not China. But it featured the same declining United States of America as the plucky come back kid.

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Aaron puts forth...

Posted August 26, 2015
I have seen loads floating around in book shops, very similar plot but because explodey goodness who cares.
I need to re read red storm rising, with some grilled meat on the side. Ahhh....

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Sudragon mutters...

Posted August 26, 2015
And I turn on ABC and there's Peter Singer talking about the War on Isis....

damian asserts...

Posted August 30, 2015
What program was that? That would be a cracker, and it'll still be available to download.

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Dick swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 26, 2015
I read an article on this book yesterday. I believe whilst it is a novel, the authors are seriously also trying to role play a definitely possible outcome, and they are qualified to do so apparently.

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ChrisB would have you know...

Posted August 26, 2015
Looks like my Sunday is now set...thanks JB

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Aaron swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 26, 2015
The appeal for me is not so much the explodey but the interesting ideas of how to take out a powerful opponent like the USA. A classic example was the war 2006 book, a combined Mid East force taking on the west using an air denial strategy. It sounded good anyway. Red storm had some good bits like that as well.

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Sudragon asserts...

Posted August 26, 2015
The trick is to write a book about a Superpower clash that isn't 400 pages of the extremely short period of time between 'launch warning' and 'earth-shattering ka-boom'

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TexasTeaserPony ducks in to say...

Posted August 27, 2015
First, should the Master write more military SF? Absolutely. It's his highest and best use.

Second, Murph, you may be thinking-I think-of another Clancy book in which the US did have a dust up with Japan--remember when Japan Inc was scaring the shit out of some people? Clancy wrote a book to capitalize on that happy time.

Peters wrote a really excellent book called The Red Army--highly recommended for nostalgic Cold Warriors--in which a Warsaw Pact invasion of Germany is told from a Soviet point of view. The ending was interesting, to say the least. Highly recommended. Peters is currently doing a series of truly remarkable historical novels of various campaigns and battles of the US Civil War. His Cain at Gettysburg puts Shaara's Killer Angels to shame.

Red Storm Rising was the best of all the various efforts to try to write a WWIII book. So, with our Master's recc, I'll be buying and reading Ghost Fleet on tonight's trip to left coast. Thanks for that, Lord and Master.

As a footnote, Clancy wrote one where the US and NATO smacked the PRC around--we were helping Russia as I recall. He wrote a lot of stuff. As time passed, it got pretty same-same.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted August 27, 2015
That Japan book featured an airliner slamming into Congress. I recall TC having to explain why he wasn't responsible for 911

Murphy_of_Missouri mutters...

Posted August 27, 2015
I remember very clearly back in the 1990s that everyone thought that Japan was the dominant future Asian power followed by a host of regional follow ons and that we, the United States of America were, doomed.

In an International Relations class at Park University (what do you get when you spell Park backwards) I basically stated that I thought their market growth was unsustainable and that regular predictions of U.S. collapse were just as regularly disproven. The instructor, an adjunct and my first encounter with one after two years of college, was convinced I was wrong. Well, history vindicated me with the collapse of the Tiger Economies and here in a bit I suspect when China implodes history will vindicate me again.






Dave W would have you know...

Posted August 27, 2015
I think you raise an interesting point, Mr Murphy.
When I lived in the UK for a few years, I was staggered and impressed at just how important the country is. From the outside we get the impression that the place is crap and really is just a faded superpower. From the inside, though, it's startling just how influential and necessary (from a manufacturing, research and facilitation/financial perspective- probably militarily too) the UK remains. I suspect the same is true of the US.
I'd say that reports of their deaths are greatly exaggerated.

Brother PorkChop reckons...

Posted August 28, 2015
Murph, you really think the PRC will go the same way as Japan and more recently, Korea? I would disagree, at least with the way it stands ATM. I studied Japan's economics and politics in the 80s when it was all Japan Inc. and Japan As No.1. I didn't agree with it then for Japan - too far, too fast and too naive. The PRC is a different beast and looks very much to the future and very long term strategies. Looked at the rare earth stats on ownership? Gold as well. It is at best uncertain and at worst, quite scary.

NBlob asserts...

Posted August 29, 2015
i miss the rambling geopolitic sessions we used to have in the old burger. Yeah the carpet was sticky and you wouldn't crap in the bathroom if you could avoid it, but geeze we tackled some big issues. Not so much with the "which ap on my iWatch do I like most."

Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 31, 2015
Their demographic ticking time bomb will do them in. I'm not overly worried about China in the near term, at least over the next fifty years.

NBlob asserts...

Posted September 1, 2015
The demographic issue will have interesting consequences, for me more interesting will be the shake out from the Ehrlich collapse of the natural systems (breathable air & potable water) economic concentration & disparity and GM tinkering. Each of these pressures have more than enough inertia to destabilise the People's Republic how they interplay will be intriguing.

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DarrenBloomfield swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 27, 2015
you had me at "

damian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 30, 2015
Just Testing

damian reckons...

Posted August 30, 2015
*takes a small bow*

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted August 30, 2015
Gold star.

NBlob mumbles...

Posted August 31, 2015
You know what's gunna happen now.

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HAVOCK21 mumbles...

Posted August 28, 2015
FK ME YES!!!!

its about time...thats YOU and TC..well he can't but you have no fkn excuse!...I'M BUYING IT!...got some time on me hands.
OH...and BTW. FKN NOT FKN HAPPY ABOUT MELB, but mum and dad come first...old boys been pretty crook!

NBlob mutters...

Posted August 29, 2015
Spend every minute with him you can comrade. Bung him in the shotgun seat while you do your chores. Once he's gone you'll regret every chance you had & didn't. I know I do.

AuntyLou swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 30, 2015
Missed the chance with Mum. Dad is living with us at the mo...trying to find the good stuff amongst the day to day dross. Grateful for the chance. Thinking of you and yours Havs (PS I know you don't know me from Adam but I am claiming a degree of Burgerhood which I am probably not entitled to but proud of nonetheless.)

NBlob reckons...

Posted August 31, 2015
If you identify as a burger, you're Burger enough for me.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted October 4, 2015
NBlob does not speak for the entire cartel. It takes more than self identification of Burgerosity. It takes a cash donation to me. Upon receiving said cash donation I will provide a certificate of Burgerhood.

AuntyLou reckons...

Posted October 4, 2015
Okay PNB! If you are willing to disclosed your contact details to some strange old lady on the interwebs...I am sure we can come to some arrangement. Or I can buy you a drink next time you come to BrisVegas. But I would really like that certificate! It can sit proudly between my Bronze swimming certificate & my BA (Bugger All) degree.

NBlob asserts...

Posted October 5, 2015
Don't do it AuntyLou, it'll be nothing but pen!s enlarging Nigerian princes from here to eternity.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted October 6, 2015
Yeah, but she will also get a cool certificate.

AuntyLou puts forth...

Posted October 7, 2015
Look...if PNB can throw in the name of that one food I must never eat in order to lose unsightly belly fat and a job that I can do from home & earn thousands of dollars only working an hour or two - I think we have a deal!

NBlob mutters...

Posted October 7, 2015
And another innocent falls to PNB's charm. The most distressing aspect is the propensity for PNB to be a "gateway" pundit to worse, far worse. Like GreyBread. Despite what the nuns tell you it's not that one toke on a joint and next thing your addicted to crack, but rather PNB erodes the standards by which you judge, loosens the scope of acceptable, broadens what is tenable. Then GreyBread seems rakish, daring even. Then that's the ball game.

AuntyLou swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 7, 2015
Quite some time since I have been called "innocent"! I have a tendency to be the somewhat wayward oldie in many groups. While I may have met my match in this crowd I reckon I could give the standard loosening of PNB & GB a run for the money! Play ball!!

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted October 8, 2015
Blob, the kind of "standards" you champion are the hobgoblin of little minds. I don't really know what that means, but it sounds intellectually pompous, thereby achieving my sophistic goals while simultaneously proving your point. I mean, come on, how cool is that?

Lou, we have a deal. I will begin preparing your custom certificate.

AuntyLou is gonna tell you...

Posted October 8, 2015
Yeah...no idea what you said PNB but...way cool! Sorry Mr Blob - like all women (ooh! gender stereotype alert!) I am a sucker for the bad boys! So looking forward to my custom certificate and lots more chats with my official Burgermates! (Please be aware that the exclamation mark is my punctuation mark of choice! It is used with gay- in the old fashioned sense- abandon. Please assume no particular level of excitement!!!)

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted October 9, 2015
Excessive punctuation use will jeopardize your Burgerhood.

AuntyLou mutters...

Posted October 9, 2015
Damn. And I thought I was solid.

NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted October 9, 2015
When he says "we have a deal" I'd urge you to engage counsel, count your fingers and pay very close attention to the fine print. Unrelated; you do have an arm, leg & first born?

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pedrogb mutters...

Posted August 29, 2015
Saw an article on it online, thought about it, but after your post JB I bought the ebook version.As a long time fan of miltary SF, anything by Tom Clancy, (and showing my vintage now) James Cobb or Eric L Harry I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would recommend it.

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Steve mumbles...

Posted August 29, 2015
I finished reading it yesterday, and enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed Red Storm Rising.
I honestly doubt that China would let itself get into a shooting war with the US. When you owe the bank a million dollars and can't pay, you have a problem. When you owe the bank a billion dollars and can't pay, the bank has a problem. China's biggest financial assets is its US debt holdings, which are in the hundreds of billions, if not trillions, and these would become worthless overnight if a shooting war started.

Nocturnalist asserts...

Posted October 3, 2015
The version I've heard for the post-GFC world is "When you owe the bank a thousand dollars and you can't pay, you have a problem. When you owe the bank a million dollars and you can't pay, the bank has a problem. When you owe the bank a billion dollars and you can't pay, the government has a problem."

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted October 8, 2015
Heavens no, when you owe the bank or a government many billions of dollars the creditor/debtor relationship transforms into a partnership.

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sibeen puts forth...

Posted August 29, 2015
So, just finished the book. For all the wrap JB gave it I must state that I just didn't love it. I didn't hate it, but love was still far away.
The disinterest started fairly early. For a book that was supposedly thoroughly researched there was a line near the beginning where China's monopoly on rare earth minerals is one of the tipping points for their ascendancy. Thing is, rare earth minerals just aren't that rare. In fact they are reasonably common. There's shitloads just lying around. I could dig up some in my backyard, not cheaply, but I could do it.
That sort of crap just turned me off.
As a China vs USA novel, it really didn't do that for me as well. I was hoping for a new and improved "Invasion" by Eric Harry. It didn't even come close. If you want visceral blood, guts, strategy, etc, the Harry novel wins in a canter.

Sibeen gives this book a big pfft.


NBlob puts forth...

Posted August 30, 2015
I've had a similar experience in a number of otherwise entirely adequate yarns. Page 5 or 6 some hand-waving or a clumsy Maguffin unsettles me for the rest of the yarn, meaning I never properly engage and find myself @ page 300, still unengaged.

HAVOCK21 puts forth...

Posted August 31, 2015
yall....remember that Sibeeeen is an engineer!..OK.....JUST SAYIN!.." fkn ducks for cover"

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John Birmingham mutters...

Posted August 30, 2015
Turn off the italics!

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robW puts forth...

Posted August 31, 2015
Ditto on the footnotes, they drove me crazy. When I read the book like you I was instantly reminded of Clancy, but not just Clancy. It reminded me wistfully of Birmingham's earlier work. I thought of writing him a note asking why he [Birmingham] didn't write more along those lines, but then realized he isn't my book bitch. *sigh*

NBlob mumbles...

Posted October 11, 2015
& book bitches

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted October 12, 2015
It has been my honor to be acquainted with a number of fine authors. None can be characterized as my "book bitch." If they were, then Doctor Funk and the Leather Pirates From Planet Love would be a published novel today.

And I take this opportunity to point out to the literary Powers That Be that there still is no AoT sequel (although long promised) and no fourth novel in the Nantucket series (never promised, but certainly something that needs to be done: I mean, seriously Steve, how cool would it be to jump a couple of generations ahead to a quasi steampunk world where the Wolf Queen of the Steppes seeks a reckoning?).

And Dean - you can stop writing those Odd Thomas novels. Please.

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TexasTeaserPony ducks in to say...

Posted August 31, 2015
Invasion *was* awesome.

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S.M. Stirling ducks in to say...

Posted October 3, 2015
I've got two objections to this scenario, one general and one specific.
General first: when was the last time two major industrialized nation-states seriously fought each straight up -- not through proxies, but head-to-head with mainforce units of their own national forces?
Answer -- 1945.
When was the last time nuclear weapons were used?
Answer -- 1945.
This is not a coincidence. It's now 70 years since the last Great Power war, and the reason is simple: anyone who can field major forces can build nukes, and nobody will accept a major defeat without escalating.
Shortly thereafter, we all go into the stratosphere, as fallout.
As the saying went in the 1980's, NATO's strategy for WWIII was: we fight with conventional weapons until we start to lose, then we fight with tactical(*) nukes until we start to lose, then we blow up the world.
Same-same here.
The -specific- objection is on the next rock.

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S.M. Stirling ducks in to say...

Posted October 3, 2015
OK, specific objection:
"China Rising" stories are so 2005. Rather like "Japan will eat our lunch" stories are so 1985, only it's not so generally obvious yet.
As usual, near-future SF focuses on yesterday's problem.
China has just run bugsplat into the "high middle income trap" and shows no signs of being able to to get out. To progress beyond that they'd need structural reforms so deep that even Japan hasn't gotten around to them seriously yet.
More fundamentally, like the Japanese and Koreans (and the Taiwanese and Singaporeans and other East Asians) the Chinese have effectively stopped having babies. Their urban TFR's are about 1 -- among the lowest in the world. This is not a matter of government policy; they're not having babies because they don't -want- to have babies.
What's more, like Taiwan (and following in Japan's wake) they're getting into the "more and more women refuse to marry" trap too; this pattern is common in East Asia once a certain development threshold is hit, starting among the upper-middle-class in urban areas and spreading. China is in the earlier stages but it's unmistakable. It's a consequence of uneven cultural modernization, and particularly devastating in cultures with a long tradition of universal marriage.
Add in the grotesque male-female imbalance in the younger generations, and you do not have a formula for a dynamic superpower. Countries with declining, (and rapidly aging) populations tend to become conservative, risk-averse and inward-looking, with a general attitude of grumpy depression.
Here's a graphic of Taiwan's population "pyramid", which as you can see has a distinctly non-pyramidal shape these days. Urban China's is about the same, and China is now majority-urban, with the countryside increasingly hollowing out and almost no young farmers.
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/graphics/population/TW_popgraph%202014.bmp

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Respond to 'Ghost Fleet. PW Singer and August Cole'