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Alternate 707

Posted March 8, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

An interesting question has come up in the Beta edit of Cairo. Harry and Julia catch a flight from London to Cairo, via Rome, on an augmented 707, ie a passenger jet based on the original design, but updated with the accelrated technology of the post-Transition 1950s.

One editor insists the 707 was already in service by the time of the story, approx 1954, to which I replied this is an augmented analog of that original design. Why not go up to a 737 then, he asked?

I don't think it's likely. I can see the Temps jumping to jet travel a lot quicker, and getting something like a 707 into the air well before it was due. But I don't see them being able to accelerate their technological base to the point where they can magic up advanced late 20th Century kit just because they've read a wikipedia entry. They're rocking 1970s miniaturisation in the 1950s, sure. But not 1990s.

Still, I will throw the debate open to the floor.

39 Responses to ‘Alternate 707’

S.M. Stirling would have you know...

Posted March 8, 2016
I agree, particularly when you're talking about economically feasible mass production rather than making a one-off at vast expense.
It's a matter of materials and machines to make machines to make machines. The 1950's could make 707's; with augments to their production methods they could make -lots- of -improved- 707's. And they'd know the next steps, so by the mid-60's they could make lots of 747's and such.
The difference would be that instead of having a few early 707's in the mid-1950's, they'd have lots of them.
They know -what works- so they can avoid lengthy preliminary stuff and avoid dead ends.
Incidentally, when they do catch up with the 2020's, they're going to be in a bit of a fix, because their R&D model for 40 years will have been based on reverse-engineering future tech rather than pushing the envelope themselves.
At that point they're going to have problems with the institutional culture that all their specialists will have been in for their entire professional lives.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 8, 2016
Good point about the train wreck in the 2020s. I can see that being a real problem in public research institutes. But I imagine private corporations such as the rapacious Slim Jim Enterprises would be pushing as fast and hard as they could into undiscovered territory.

S.M. Stirling asserts...

Posted March 9, 2016
Only if it paid -- and it won't pay until all the stuff the uptimers brought with them has been commercialized.
They'll have lost the experience of doing fundamental research by that point -- their scientists will know what the uptimers know about basic stuff, but they won't have the experience of finding it themselves.
This will require adjustment.

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S.M. Stirling is gonna tell you...

Posted March 8, 2016
Innovation is partly concepts and partly basic materials science and production techniques.
Eg., if you could take an AK-47 or an Uzi back to say 1900, any of the world's big arms makers could have duplicated them in a month or so.
They'd have gone: "Wow, radical coolness!" but there wouldn't be anything they couldn't immediately grasp and make -- the result would be slightly less reliable and a bit heavier, but not much. They knew about gas-operation and blowback.
Laser sights would be an entirely different kettle of fish; they wouldn't understand the principles and they couldn't duplicate the mechanisms monkey-see monkey-do.
They could understand the -concepts- behind a jet engine, but they couldn't make it -- the alloys and so forth would be beyond them. They probably could with a decade or so of intensive effort if they had the engineering data, though.
(Nb: they'd wonder about the tactical doctrine behind the AK and the Uzi, though -- both are solutions to problems that hadn't been articulated in 1900, mostly ones that arose in 1914-1918.)

Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted March 9, 2016
Per innovation and invention, I do wonder how the society would evolve. I doubt that they would simply become the equivalent of Pakistanis in the mountains making perfect copies of AK-47s, at least not in the United States. It is too easy to see contemporary engineers, mechanics, and techs pouring over blueprints and while admiring the work also going, "Wait . . . why did they do that? You know, I think this might actually work better."

The innovation and invention might go off in some oddball directions. I doubt that the alternate versions of say, Steve Jobs, or other such folks, are going to be content to merely copy from their prime timeline counterparts. Assuming that they are born in the first place. It may well be that the further from the Transition the timeline gets, the more distorted follow on events may become.

S.M. Stirling mumbles...

Posted March 9, 2016
They won't -just- be copying, but they don't -need- to do any fundamental research for a generation -- they're playing catch-up technologically, and they had three generations of pure research handed to them.
By then they'll have gotten into the habit of moving on to the next uptime step.
New stuff will start up again, but it'll take a while.

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Stuart ducks in to say...

Posted March 8, 2016
The 737 was launched to service the short to medium range market, it's not applicable as an 'upgrade' to the 707 which was always built as an long range jet (relative to the standards of the time). The key technology upgrade to the next generation of jets wasn't the electronics, it was the turbofan, especially in the high-bypass configuration, as opposed to the turbojet which powered the first and second generations (707, 727, 737). Turbofans were a big leap forward in efficiency. The 707 was upgraded to low-bypass turbo fans in 1960 which I think would match with your augmented version

Timbo has opinions thus...

Posted March 9, 2016
This, so much. Have a look at the 100 series 737; it ain't the versatile machine the modern ones are.

http://modernairliners.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/msa_737_100.jpg

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insomniac mumbles...

Posted March 8, 2016
There's nothing to say an augmented 737 couldn't be an aircraft in service, it's just that Harry and Jules happened to be flying into Cairo in the 707. It doesn't have to be the latest tech with everything just because.

Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted March 9, 2016
Why would it be a 737? The 707 is a long range aircraft whereas the 737 is a short haul aircraft?

The next step in the design ladder would probably be a 767, which is going to be outside the capability of the Contemporaries to reproduce.
I could see, possibly, an effort to produce an earlier variant of the 747. But the point which is being forgotten is that these things have to make money for their owners. Without an economic need, one is unlikely to sink the crazy amounts of money into pushing to far ahead of the development envelope.

Thus I'd argue sticking with a 707, perhaps heavily upgraded, certainly with some design characteristics lifted from more advanced aircraft that could easily be incorporated into the earlier design.

insomniac asserts...

Posted March 9, 2016
I agree with sticking with the 707. My point is there will be many different aircraft in service, and you could move to any of the 7X7s, but that doesn't mean you have to use them in the story.

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pi mumbles...

Posted March 8, 2016
I don't know man, you could learn a lot from wikipedia, but I think you're barking up the wrong tree.

http://archive.cnx.org/contents/c400f8a0-5268-4d6c-a384-b3f513ee613a@4/digital-system-design-chapter-1-part-1-historical-background-of-ic-technology

It all depends on how much time you have to develop fabrication plants and develop silicon (and other) refining techniques. Imagine how many avenues you wouldn't go down when choosing the materials that you were going to be using for developing IT infrastructure? Imagine if you all still had the war-footing and industrial capture, and could apply it to techniques you already knew were going to work.

Add on to that project management and development management techniques (like Agile) and you get advanced proto-type development tools as well. Things get developed faster and better. I don't think it would take very long at all before you're producing things that start testing the boundary of what we're currently doing today.

pi ducks in to say...

Posted March 8, 2016
Imagine if you could put John von Neumann onto it...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_von_Neumann



Dirk reckons...

Posted March 9, 2016
or even a thinktank with the likes of Galbraith, Heisenberg, Bohr, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Forbes_Nash,_Jr. and Arthur C. Clark

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johnb78 mutters...

Posted March 8, 2016
707 entry into service is 1958, not 1954, so there's already a notable advance on OTL (another relevant question is, how does the Transition affect the Comet program? Do we end up with an eight-year headstart on commercial jet aviation because the first jet airliner doesn't fall apart from pressurisation stress and poor manufacturing practice overlap...?)

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted March 8, 2016
One of the Betas asked about the Comets. I haven't put them in the text, but will study them for the long form AoT novel that'll follow Stalin's Hammer.

Murphy_of_Missouri has opinions thus...

Posted March 9, 2016
Comets have a terrible initial safety record and never recovered from that in the original timeline.

Dirk would have you know...

Posted March 9, 2016
that's is true Murpy, but metal fatigue - the main safety thing that plagued the comet - would be known now in the 20-20 (or 2021) hindsight you would have now.

Bangar is gonna tell you...

Posted March 9, 2016
At least there'll be no square windows ;)

Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted March 10, 2016
Square windows and jets certainly do not seem to mix well, do they?

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Geekstreet swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 8, 2016
Any thought of Concorde? It first tested around '68, used heavily developed versions of the prevailing turbojet engine paradigm, probably took loads of input from post-war military experience in supersonic flight. Nothing too radical in materials science or production technologies that couldn't be accelerated by a couple of decades or more following a good diet of Wiki.

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Trevor Pyle mutters...

Posted March 8, 2016
You explained it pretty well in the Original Trilogy. I may have drawing and schematics of how to build an iPhone, but that doesn't mean that I have the photolithography necessary to build the processors. I can't build an A9x processor, but my scientists DO know how to build an 8088. And they use that to build a 386, who then use that to design the titanium crystal fan blades for the latest generation of GE high-bypass turbofans.

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Murphy_of_Missouri mumbles...

Posted March 9, 2016
The Comet has been suggested but in our timeline it didn't have a great safety record, nor was it very popular.

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Sparty swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 9, 2016
Murph - Comet it was ground breaking that's why it didn't have a great safety record and led to discoveries about metal fatigue....1st Transatlantic Airliner - British 1st (and only) Super Sonic airliner- British. Enuff said.
But I agree on the 707 - and to take a real world case - its taken us 60 years to advance out own computing and manufacturing tech to gain the benefit of reverse engineering the Roswell UFO to produce the TR3B with adaptive camouflage and gravatic propulsion http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread517987/pg1

Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted March 9, 2016
I don't think they are going to have the capability to produce a Concorde that early either.

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Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted March 9, 2016
I think one point which is being missed in this discussion is that of economic need/demand.
It is one thing for someone to say that the military needs a certain item and then justify it, to a degree, with a bottomless defense budget.
It is quite another to expect a civilian organization to subsidize something that is not going to make them any money, short of getting supplemental funding from the government to engage in such research.

The 707s are right on the cutting edge in our timeline, a long range aircraft. I don't see any viable alternatives which wouldn't require a great deal of explaining.

It should also be pointed out that we had a similar debate years ago concerning whether or not the Contemporaries could develop F-86s, AH-1s, UH-1s, and A-4s after Final Impact was released. I'm certainly in favor of having the latest cool stuff on the page, but it should be buttressed by a smidgen of a reality check.

Or, just asking the simple question.

Who is going to pay for it?

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Dirk reckons...

Posted March 9, 2016
Economics and other issues in an alternate Europe.
The altered state of Europe will be a factor also in this, as are the military and economic consequences of it all.
Let's elaborated:
707 vs Comet
So BOAC is flying 707 these days. Or at least something that looks like it. This would mean that a lot on industry policy in the UK (or even in Europe) as we know it in out timeline is out of the window. Britain was iot about 4 years ahead on the US in jet design and associated airplane development, and highly selfcentered in construction. Airplanes and to a lesser extent ships were the main exports of Britain at the time, so what did replace that? Reliance on a not independent India? Tank production i.e. Nato standard tank is the Centurion? Not letting become Germany the industrial powerhouse it is today, by killing of VW and or Mercedes (which would be killing for Nato rearmement btw) to strengthen the likes of what would become British Leyland? So would a V force made up off B-52's. Would this happen? A partly demobilized Britain would have to create about 2-4 milion jobs to get ex servicemen to earn a keep. This excluding the women who are kicked out of a job in our timeline.
How is Western Europe organised?
Germany is bigger, France is smaller, Southern Italy is a bananarepublic. So NATO would be less powerfull but also less divided as it would have been in our time. De Gaulle would have been less of a factor (and be in charge of a frontline state), Germany led by Adenauer (who would have been killed most likely) or Willi Brandt would have a bigger say, as would have the Benelux block. A European Union? Probably in an accellerated process even. Not just Coal and Steel but a freetrade/freetravel zone from (United?) Ireland to Switzerland (also a frontline state) and from Finland to franco-Spain. And Churchill was in favor of this and if he played his cards right have a role like Merkel now. The additional trade would make up for a part of the extra economical growth. Also the Marshall plan (the other thing to pay for this) would be implemented, opening up Europe for US exports and getting Europe's agriculture and industry back on track.
Yes as Pi sayed, modern techniques would be implemented and follies with 20-20 hindsight killed in the crib. But will this kill national interests? Does Europe go "Warsaw pact" in weaponsdesign (for the most part with the exception of Chechoslovakia the WP used the same weapons) ?
Military consequences
The Red Army in it's heyday iot would have +/- 50.000 tanks. NATO was in a tankkilling mode (an emphasis was laid on mobility - tanks, cheap tankkilling weapons and airpower) and had tactical nukes as part of its defence strategy. To do this economically you would have to stick to uniformity in weapon systems (i.e. one type of battle tank/fighter/bomber/APC/artillery) and a shitload of them, same ammo for everybody, one command and control structure, more ships to protect your sealanes and or a greater US presence in Europe, compulsary draft for soldiers and automation of certain parts of defence (minefields, automated air defences etc.) and a fixed amount of your GDP to spend on it. So not the 2% as is the NATO standard but maybee 5-10%. Nationalisation of the defence industry to keep prices down. Investing in infrastructure to ship troops around more quickly
Question is would that be feesible?

Murphy_of_Missouri ducks in to say...

Posted March 9, 2016
I suspect given that the Marshall Plan would have less territory to cover, given that more of it is under Soviet Control, that it might be possible to create a more unified, transatlantic economic policy.
One issue Britain may want to watch for is the collapse of their industrial economy circa the 1960s. It might even accelerate given the conditions extant in the new post war timeline. It would seem to me that the key would be a reform of the nation's education system which could provide workers needed for the post-industrial economy, rather than continuing to churn out cogs for factories soon to go dormant.

Dirk swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 9, 2016
Yes. Education is a key. But it's part of a triad. the other things being infrastructure and agriculture. But there is nothing wrong in learning at least one foreign language (English is compulsory here since the late fifties) and scheme's like Erasmus in which you can study in other parts of Europe.

But there is more low hanging fruit. Building houses with roofs facing south for example. You know solar energy will come online sometime in the future, so prepare your housing stock for it in advance. Make your infrastructure redundant in the sense you add extra room (an integrated pipe or something like that) on either sides of roads, rails and rivers so you can simply roll out optical cabeling (FttH or copper in the 50s-60s) when it comes online.
And be prepared to have Europe feeding itself in stead of relying on food imports from US/Aus/NZ. In a submarine warfare scenario it weakens the effect on a starving population.

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GhostSwirv mutters...

Posted March 9, 2016

While Comets and 707s to 737s are all very nice ... surely Harry is flying Jules to Cairo wearing his own personal Jet Pack?

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DarrenBloomfield is gonna tell you...

Posted March 9, 2016
first: read "Rebooting Civilization: Survivors’ How-to Guide for Restoring Technology after the Apocalypse" (by astrobiologist Lewis Dartnell). It's not timetravel - but outcome is the same - he traverses the practical ground - and all the implicatiosn - of trying to rebuild technology when you have all the constituent parts except being able to actually do it. It's a brilliant read. Excerpt and review here:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/rebooting-civilization-survivorse28099-how-to-guide-for-restoring-technology-after-the-apocalypse-excerpt/
On the 707/737 debate. I feel they'd almost certainly augment the 707 rather than leap. The economics of aircraft production, and amortising a massive sunk cost compels it. Not sure even the disruption from uptime is enough to tip that.

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Aaron would have you know...

Posted March 9, 2016
I think it would ultimately encourage innovation now that everyone knows the future is waiting. reverse engineering will still happen but having to work it out still requires creative thinking. I think there could be a sideline mention of how some nations might decide to invest in developing their means to develop stuff for long term advantage. Also I wonder just how fast you can push development even with the future knowledge as some interests would want to protect their existing advantage.

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S.M. Stirling mutters...

Posted March 9, 2016
One big impact -- the main reason economic planning doesn't work well on the whole is that you can't predict the future. You don't know what will work, so you try a lot of stuff and let competition winnow it.
But in this timeline, they DO know what will work, and why. They're operating by hindsight.
It's like a country playing catch-up rather than one pushing ahead into unknown territory.

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S.M. Stirling would have you know...

Posted March 9, 2016
To take a specific example: industrial policy and planning policy generally in the UK was a terrible clusterfuck after 1945. (Take a look at the horror that is Milton Keynes.)
So there's an opportunity to avoid a lot of errors -- no Groundnut Scheme.
Some of the same mistakes will be made, because of strong institutional pressures and "motivated reasoning" about how X would have worked with a bit of tweaking.
But a lot could be not made.

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted March 9, 2016
Check out this recent Freakanomics podcast: http://freakonomics.com/podcast/i-pencil/ if nobody knows hot to make a pencil, what chance metallurgy leaping 60 odd years?

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DarrenBloomfield ducks in to say...

Posted March 10, 2016
Meiji period Japan - the opening up of Japan to the world from mid 1800s is a good analog to technology from the future - the West really was the future to a fuedal society. It leapt from the medieval to modern in about the same timeframe JB is requiring the whole mid-20th Century world to do so.
Thus far it seems to be working out as well for them as for the Japanese...

Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted March 10, 2016
Second this, and good call, Darren.

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DarrenBloomfield has opinions thus...

Posted March 10, 2016
Don't encourage me Murph - I could go on about this all day. I'm an economist by training (*hissss*) and the Meiji period (and Weimar republic) have kid of roped my in (as they marry my love of history - both economic and military history). It is fascinating.
Which is why I love alternate history stuff: seeing how great writers juxtapose plausible do overs with what we know imperfect actors did the first time around. There's a great line in "Cairo" - that sums it up nicely.
"This world wasn't making the same mistakes all over again. It was making a whole new bunch, all of its own."
This is exactly what would happen!

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NBlob mutters...

Posted March 11, 2016
Sorry 'bout he bold, not entirely sure what happened there.

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Respond to 'Alternate 707'

The Cairo Beta is available

Posted February 26, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

For those very special people who signed up early.

I'll be more active around here now that I'm done.

I'm planning two weeks in Beta, three weeks in pro-edit, a week's production and then it gets released.

The draft came in at just under 40 000 words. I still plan to release this volume for free. Partly to drive subscription sign ups, partly because everyone has waited too long for it.

The next book is tentively titled Stalin's Hammer: Paris.

Hard core AoT fans will be happy to know that as yet unseen original series characters and ships will be returning for that.

The final installment will be Stalin's Hammer: Moscow.

33 Responses to ‘The Cairo Beta is available’

KreepyKrawly mutters...

Posted February 26, 2016
How do we know if we're "Special"... ß-Þ

MuttsInc asserts...

Posted February 27, 2016


If you walk past a mirror, stop and introduce yourself, you're special in so many ways.

If, however, you feel a compulsion to lick your refection, that's perfectly normal behaviour.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted February 27, 2016
Well, that, of course, depends on where and what you are compelled to lick.

MuttsInc has opinions thus...

Posted February 28, 2016

seems there's a shortage of the letter L in my computer, unless refection is what I meant...and I hadn't run that thought - where and what to lick - any further in case the temptation to try it became overwhelming...

okay; tried it...kept my eyes closed though...

I taste strange...

NBlob would have you know...

Posted February 28, 2016
Show of hands; who is surprised?
Yep

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ShaneAlpha ducks in to say...

Posted February 26, 2016
I still think Stalin's Hammer : Dubbo would be better.

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she_jedi mumbles...

Posted February 26, 2016
*Squeeeee!* Well my weekend will be lost in beta editing then.

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Blake ducks in to say...

Posted February 26, 2016
"partly because everyone has waited too long for it."
Based on that logic, George RR Martin & Patrick Rothfuss are going to be paying the readers for the delay...
(Probably the jibe works more widely with the onlybformer, but i finished 'Wise Mans Fear' this week and am thus feeling a bit like an Apple fanatic with a new macbook)

Spanner mutters...

Posted February 28, 2016
Oh it works for Rothfuss. I'm like some sort of word junkie waiting for the next book.

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guy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 27, 2016
Excellent news, but I'm looking forward to the Paris one even more. A very different France to the one we all know and love, with 15% of the country occupied by the Red Army and the French political establishment split between former collaborators, former resistance fighters and communist stooges. All of them blaming the Americans (and to a lesser extent, the British) for their misfortunes.

Paris thoroughly trashed by the Nazis, their buildings lying in ruins with their famous art collections looted and either buried in coal mines in Soviet occupied territory, transported to Moscow or destroyed in Berlin.

French pride and arrogance can be a diplomatic minefield at the best of times. This is not the best of times.

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NBlob asserts...

Posted February 27, 2016
Huzzah. I guess I'd better buy me some Rome first

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Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted February 27, 2016
Tap, tap, tap, tap . . . still waiting.

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HAVOCK21 asserts...

Posted February 27, 2016
Special as in.

I AM A FKN GOD! YA MUPPETS!!!!!!!!!

YEAH BABY TEARIN IF FKN UP COME GET SOME....

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HAVOCK21 ducks in to say...

Posted February 27, 2016
OK
Back to likin inta shape this masterful fkn tome!.

Therbs asserts...

Posted February 29, 2016

By which you mean:

*cap fkn muppet here*

*fkn 'splosion here*

*50 cal burst here*

*nuke Beijing!*

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jennicki asserts...

Posted February 28, 2016
Oh Havock. :)

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Spanner has opinions thus...

Posted February 28, 2016
Mr15 is re-reading Weapons of Choice. I may have um confiscate it for reasons so I can re-read it.

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MuttsInc reckons...

Posted February 28, 2016

I'm planning two weeks in Beta, three weeks in pro-edit, a week's production...

Okay, here's my problem : That sentence probably makes a whole bunch of sense to some people (that ain't the problem) but to me it could be the holiday manifesto on a cruise ship (that part there; that's the problem).

I build houses for a living; I utilise technological advances such as the hammer, and nails. Sometimes even a nail-gun. And concrete. Not a computer, for which people are thankful - I type with one finger on my left hand and one on my right, constantly looking for letters; my backspace key has a shiny, smooth hollow in its centre - worn from making mistakes.

Any assistance would be invaluable. Thanks

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted February 28, 2016
OK. Beta editing. The raw first draft goes to a dozen or so punters who volunteer to read the awful piece of shit because (1) they want to get the story before anyone else, (2) they have a mental illness which manifests itself as unbridled pedantry, or (3) they like to edit. (See 2).They make changes, suggestions, comments to the document and I edit the story in line with those suggestions etc. That takes about two weeks.The manuscript then goes to a grown up professional editor, who gets paid handsomely for, well, editing. That also takes a couple of weeks.When those changes are all made, the book goes into 'production'. I hire an artist to do the cover and somebody who knows how to write code to turn the Word document into html. They bundle up the words and pictures and send me an ePub file (for iBooks, Kobo etc) and what's called a Mobi file, which is the format used by Kindle.I then upload the files to the various online bookstores where they'll be available and wait for the gold plated hovercraft to glide in.

she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted February 28, 2016
If one suffers from (2) and (3) how does one get to be a grown up editor, and not a pleb beta editor? (Asking for a friend).

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted February 28, 2016
A degree in Editing and Publishing, followed years of indentured penury and slavish internship.

Dirk ducks in to say...

Posted February 28, 2016
hmm you could do the epub/mobi part yourself after the last edit: https://calibre-ebook.com/ has a nifty feature that makes those from pdf/doc ... just a thought.

Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted February 29, 2016
Thank God I'm just the military consultant and not the line editor. I'm fairly certain my eyes would bleed if I had to do that job.

insomniac would have you know...

Posted February 29, 2016
How much difference does the crowd editing make? Does it allow for your proper editor to consider deeper things without being distracted by a few misspelled words, for instance?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted February 29, 2016
Crowd editing has got to save time and money. Depending on the crowd, of course.



John Birmingham reckons...

Posted February 29, 2016
The professor nailed it. Beta editing cuts down the basic trench work by the pro editor and probably cuts my bill in half.

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MuttsInc swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 28, 2016

Sir, thank you very much.
I'm rather embarrassed the boss had to come out on the factory floor and explain all that; I'm also kind of humbled - as an avid reader of some five decades vintage - that I haven't given the process due consideration : I walk in a book store, there they all are. Breathe deep and hold it. Then I buy one, go home and read it, make suitable noises of appreciation (or get three chapters in and bin it) and go back to the store for another. Repeat the next day.

I don't know jackshit about editing but I do have a healthy dose of OCD. Are there vacancies in the industry for people who don't know what they're doing but are extremely particular about it? (I don't do sock drawers or arrange hovercrafts alphabetically)

Whilst I'm parading my ignorance, one other aspect bothers my inner-pedant : As the author, you slave your guts out and are happy with the final product; the (highly-paid) editor says blah and blah and gotta change this and that, but you disagree, vehemently. Is his opinion a lock, or are civilised dummy-spits on your part permissible?

My apologies for taking up so much of your spare time; I had no idea it was that complicated and time-consuming to get the work published.

Perhaps you could suggest a forum where wanna-be writers go to ask dumb questions, pour out their latest bucket of unreadable swill and be chastened back to their day job? I'm outta my depth here; I just enjoy the craft of writing. Bit like walking onto a nudist beach with all your clothes on and everyone knows why...

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jason would have you know...

Posted February 29, 2016
I have a degree in editing and your use of the word pedantry does not in any way offend me. In fact I think you may be understating the level of detail obsession demonstrated by this sub genre of humanity.

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DarrenBloomfield swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 29, 2016
It appears I'm no longer special, since my inbox is bereft. Oh woe is me. Is this the very definition of first world problems?

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Rhino reckons...

Posted February 29, 2016
In the event that y'all forgot - it is GOOD to be The Rhino.

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DarrenBloomfield puts forth...

Posted March 1, 2016
""... alcohol being the elixir of Satan and the ruination of all virtue."
Man I need a drink.

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HAVOCK21 is gonna tell you...

Posted March 1, 2016
well...i have to say its pretty fkn good, so much betterer now I have finished editing the fkn thing and getting JB to understand just how to describe in detail with alomost the smell what 3 feet of sharpened steel does, when ran from crotch to gullet, taking into account the various pops and hisses that emanate from the newly formed opening.

Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 2, 2016
I reckon you just wanted to put in a fart joke

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Respond to 'The Cairo Beta is available'

First of the freebies roll out

Posted February 2, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

After test firing the system early this week, I pushed the big red button on the mailing list today. Everyone who signed up for it should be getting their first letter with a link to a free copy of Here be Monsters over the next day or so. The release is staggered because Mailchimp's software decides when you are most vulnerable to my approach.

It's nice to see the book out in the wild, even though the story has been published before. It's not just a tease for the mailing list. Monsters was a test run for me, to shake out the process of releasing titles without a major publisher behind them. I learned something at every stage.

The next big step is to release Cairo. I'm looking at mid-March for that and then monthly releases of the other Stalin's Hammer titles and the new Dave Hooper books through until September.

I do have some real anxiety about this.

Not so much about the whole scheme failing. I have readers. They buy my books. I love them with a deep, physical intensity for this. But I also have trade publishers who are important, and I hope they can see the sense in me walking this path. By building the list I build a marketing machine to sell their books. By publishing new works in the original trilogies, they'll sell more of their backlist too.

And bottom line, I just couldn't make ebooks work across multiple contending publishers. The slot machine only pays out when you have one title released by one publisher, globally, simultaneously, at the same price. It really wasn't fair to my local ebook publishers either. Momentum, the Pan Mac imprint, would do all the work on a manuscript, take all the risks and then find themsevles locked out of 97% of the English language market.

I felt guilty even sending them manuscripts.

So, bottom line, there are new books coming in all the old storyworlds – Axis of Time, the Disappearance, Hooper – but I'm doing them myself, to industry standard, while still working on mass market trade published fiction.

Anyone who hasn't signed up to the list and would like to, can do so here: http://eepurl.com/bxdqjP

And anybody who feels like writing a review of Monsters has somewhere to go now.

67 Responses to ‘First of the freebies roll out’

balri has opinions thus...

Posted February 2, 2016
I read the first few pages and I like where it's going

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JG mumbles...

Posted February 2, 2016
Thank you very much, John.
Very generous of you. I'll read Here Be Monsters over the coming week or two. Ta also for the link to post a short 88-word review at Amazon, which I'll write pronto, once I'm done reading.
Cheers.
Joanna




JG has opinions thus...

Posted February 4, 2016
Done and dusted. Review posted.
Joanna

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Jbtoo is gonna tell you...

Posted February 2, 2016
I am not worthy, but I am appreciative and I will read and review

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Surtac ducks in to say...

Posted February 2, 2016
I have successfully deployed the weapon in this theatre of operations but gmail wouldn't let me reply to tell you so.

Btw. I loved it. More at some stage would be good if the schedule allows.


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pmacleod mutters...

Posted February 2, 2016
Ripping yarn. I would not normally read a zombie story but this was great. Almost like a Hornblower novel with a bit of scifi. Keep sending out teasers like this and I will buy the ebooks immediately you post them for sale.Thanks for a great read.PM

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Sharpy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 2, 2016
System worked well. Cheers Guv

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she_jedi would have you know...

Posted February 2, 2016
I can feel an epic *squeeee* coming on. Apparently Mailchimp thinks I'll be most vulnerable to your approach at 10am while at work, which oddly enough is pretty accurate.

I'm looking forward to fleeing my workplace and consuming this bad boy, then I shall write an 88 star review per my Master's instructions. Thanks JB!

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ShaneAlpha ducks in to say...

Posted February 2, 2016
Still a whacking good read. ( I have the original bookmarked in my browser)
I actually never expected the next part of this universe to be about their escape from Sydney.
I always imagined a longer novel where American rebels sneak into Sydney to try and find some future tech or knowlege to fight the British Empire with so that they can be independent again. Perhaps with some French supporters.

ShaneAlpha has opinions thus...

Posted February 2, 2016
and obviously Rhino and Boylan are involved.

Rhino reckons...

Posted February 3, 2016
Obviously

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Peter in the bleachers puts forth...

Posted February 2, 2016
All good through the dreaded IPad. Gmail said it arrived at 12.59 am. Bit early to start reading at that time! Thanks for trying something new JB. Looking forward to Cairo. Any chance of Branch McKinnon ever re-appearing in one form or another?

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insomniac reckons...

Posted February 2, 2016
All good downloading to the heathen Nexus 7 into the Kindle app. I'll try to read soon and also come up with an appropriate set of 88 words, although my pile of shame is building up, if such a thing is possible on a tablet as it doesn't increase in height. Still have my Dan Carter biography to start, and if that can't get me going, what will?
Actually I have a vague plan to obtain, if possible, a set of biographies for numbers 1 to 22 of the 2015 world champion All Blacks.

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Sparty swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 2, 2016
Forgot how good the "voice" and framing device in this story is. Review left. Steampunk next?

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted February 2, 2016
Why not? Stoke the boilers!

GhostSwirv has opinions thus...

Posted February 5, 2016
My lawyers are watching closely for any appearance of a U-Boat.

Mind you when I say 'my lawyers' I mean the guy PNB recommended knew their way round alternative history copyright lore.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted February 6, 2016
My influence on the Scribe is nill. I forcefully instructed JB to depict
Professor X Boylan as a tall and handsome babe magnet. I was quite
firm in my demand. It didn't happen.

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Rhino would have you know...

Posted February 3, 2016
Received.
Read.
Reviewed.
2 reviews shown on Seppo Amazon as of this morning. Mine was first (of course) and a second 5-star appeared overnight.
When you review don't forget to pimp the mailing list.
Birmo - action item for you is to get a link to sign-up on CBG. Probably in the works.
Waiting with breathe abated for #TheDave fanfic. Should do something similar for The Disappearance for late 2016. I need an excuse to return to Rhino, Agent of Echelon. LOL.
And does anyone want to read the continuation of Mutph's nuptial weekend ... The continuation of The Bachelor Party?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted February 4, 2016
I would. But only if I appear as a character in the story - a handsome, tall, sexually attractive gentleman with a full head of hair obscuring his otherwise pronounced saggital crest.

And I need to smell good. That is very important to me.

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she_jedi reckons...

Posted February 3, 2016
I have read and reviewed oh Captain my Captain! If only Amazon would allow ratings of more than 5 stars. SOOO limited Bezos, get your act together!

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Surtac has opinions thus...

Posted February 3, 2016
A technical question about the book John if I may.

Does it have an ISBN or ASIN or some other pesky cataloguing id? It would make it much easier to add to Librarything if it did.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted February 3, 2016
It has both, 'Tac.
ASIN B01BBJPZI0ISBN: 9781311903174
Both numbers get assigned after submission, which is why you don't find them in the book.

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Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 3, 2016
Enjoyed it again. Love the Tench voice.

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BigWillieStyle would have you know...

Posted February 3, 2016
OFF TOPIC - can PNB or Murph explain a couple of things? Why do the caucuses in Iowa & New Hampshire matter? And what is it about Ted Cruz that people in Iowa would find so appealing? Ta.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted February 3, 2016
They matter because they are the first states where real people have to make an actual decision, and because of something elusive and possibly illusory that is coveted by the political class called "momentum" - aka "the Band Wagon Effect."

The people in Iowa who find Ted Cruz appealing are fundamentalist pseudo christian neo fascist under educated corn farmers who want nothing more than to replace American civil law with Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Ted Cruz pretends to be an fundamentalist pseudo christian neo fascist who wants to replace American civil law with Leviticus and
Deuteronomy. And he pretends to admire corn farmers.

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pitpat has opinions thus...

Posted February 3, 2016
Thanks JB, crazy brave hope it all works out. Unfortunately I am one of the very few who uses kindle app on a windoze phone as my primary digital fiction device and after faffing around with it for a couple of minutes realize I will need to get a third party app. Not a biggie, I will sort it out when after I get through some work. Might just be the excuse I need to get a half decent tablet. Cheers and Beers ( or rum in this case)

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted February 3, 2016
You're that guy?! I wondered who that was.

pitpat is gonna tell you...

Posted February 3, 2016
I just like to support the little guy who is being monstered.

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Gutz swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 3, 2016
Was going to write something insightful but only the word pisscutter comes to mind!

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DarrenBloomfield mutters...

Posted February 3, 2016
"What Hell is this, sir?"
Sydney.
I knew it. I FKN knew It!!!
Darren (in Melbourne).

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DarrenBloomfield ducks in to say...

Posted February 3, 2016
Jeez, the exchange rate is crap. I put in 88 stars at Amazon, and only got 5 up on the site.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted February 3, 2016
I blame Vargas Llosa.

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jennicki would have you know...

Posted February 3, 2016
Just signed up for my copy!
*evil laugh* Smithers, grab the crochet blanket with the least amount of holes, and some sort of chocolate delight. It is time for the zombie lit.

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NBlob mutters...

Posted February 3, 2016
Huzzah

Huzzah for the scribe. Only criticism; far to short. I was just getting into the swing and it was over. Like when a hooker or therapist says "times up." I guess one doesn't get much in exchange for one's immortal soul these days.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted February 3, 2016
Not your soul anyway.

damian mutters...

Posted February 3, 2016
It's sad really. There was a time when you'd get good drinking money for NBlob's immortal soul.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted February 4, 2016
Don't listen to them, Blob. I can get you top dollar for your soul, and my commission for arranging the sale will be very reasonable.

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dweeze mutters...

Posted February 3, 2016
I read it. I enjoyed it heaps. I went to post a review. And got this:
"To submit a customer review: you need to use an Amazon account that has successfully been charged for a purchase."
I'm so tight that I never fed the beast of Bezos before...and I aint gunna start now. But, I will promote the link elsewhere.

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sibeen puts forth...

Posted February 3, 2016
I find it nearly beyond comprehension this attempt to butter me up with with freebie. Look, I know this would work on bottom feeding scum, that Boylan for instance, but an upstanding member of the community like myself - I feel sullied.
Note this may be as I'm in Canberra this week on an urgent job. I just don't have time to be faffing around, and won't get to this until next week.
SOB.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted February 4, 2016
Being bottom feeding scum has its perks. I got a free book! And today I'm going to get a free lunch when I tell my mate that I "accidentally" left my credit card at home.

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ChrisB puts forth...

Posted February 4, 2016
Got my email this morning. Been smiling all day. Thx JB!

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GhostSwirv asserts...

Posted February 4, 2016

"A thing that might be dreamed of by a Wren in the grip of opium"

JB you are a genius ... and using the Coat Hanger as a zombie bungee-jumping staging post was just delightfully inspired.

Much more please ... Captain Tench is my new favourite.



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Miss Maudy has opinions thus...

Posted February 4, 2016
Ahhh the serendipity... I'd just closed the Kobo on my last read and was pondering what to read next, when what should pop into my inbox but a missive from JB. Click here and your reading decision is solved. Excellent work and timing, sir.

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted February 4, 2016
I'm really curious as to why Mailchimp decided to send Miss Maudy and ChrisB's letters 24hrs after everyone else. Resumable it's firing these things off according to some algorithm.

Miss Maudy puts forth...

Posted February 4, 2016
Oh, it arrived Tuesday I think. I was forced to do housework on Tuesday night because my minions had no clean undergarments meaning no playing on the internets for me. It wasn't until last night that I discovered it - it went to my real-life email as distinct from my futzing around on the interwebs email.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 4, 2016
@ Miss Maudy - best comment yet. Beautifully evocative. Sincerely. Please don't ever imagine your existence is mundane. We are made richer that, when you play on the internets, you spend some time here.

insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 4, 2016
JB, that's what happens if you get Tony Abbott to do work for you ... oh, sorry ... wrong male chimp.

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she_jedi mutters...

Posted February 4, 2016
I will confess to a fatal to felines level of curiosity about how Captain Tench managed to woo and wed the kickass chick he rescued from the Opera House. How on earth an upright 18th century gentleman from a time where universal suffrage was the stuff of dreams and women were merely property managed to reconcile his upbringing and societal values with a gun toting 22nd century feminist would be fascinating to discover.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted February 4, 2016
Yes. Yes it would.

NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted February 5, 2016
Mz She-Jedi, I can only speak from personal experience but I'd guess it went something like;
This chick is So Fricken Awsm that I will lay down everything to have her at my side.
What I'd be more interested to work out is what He "brought to the table" that wooed her. I hope it isn't something as mundane as a high status protector for her & Thomas, but you know chicks are often more calculating when it comes to the care & protection of offspring. I also hope she doesn't have a *thing* for Mr D'arcy & Jane Fricken Austen.

GhostSwirv mutters...

Posted February 5, 2016
The only way we'll ever know how Captain Tench captured the heart of his good lady wife Jennifer and the trust of her son Thomas would be for someone like She_Jedi, JG or ShaneAlpha to put their not so delicate thoughts into words.

Or JB you could just get PNB, Havoc and Rhino to ghost-write it like you usually do.

she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted February 6, 2016
NBlob I heartily agree on the high status protector thing, AND the laziness of a Jane Austen fetish. And that's writing as someone who has developed a Pavlovian response to Colin Firth in a wet shirt from the first time I saw that version of Pride and Prejudice.

GhostSwirv, I had not choice but to accept your challenge. I can't begin to write in Tench's voice, so I had to take a more neutral narrative. Hope this helps:

Captain Tench was staring at his mother again. Thomas felt sorry for him; the captain usually stared at his mother with a look that could only be described as baffled admiration. “Poor Tench,” Thomas thought with slightly malicious sympathy. “He’s got it bad.”

“Do you think my mum’s hot?” He sidled up and asked the captain innocently. Right on cue a look of instant concern crossed Tench’s face as he turned to look at Thomas.

“I... Is the heat distressing her?” Tench asked doubtfully, swinging back to look at Jennifer, who looked considerably cooler and unruffled by the suffocating heat of Sydney in January than did the captain, clearly dissolving in the heavy wool and linens of his uniform. “Perhaps she’d like a parasol to shade her? I’m sure one of the ladies would have a spare.”

Thomas started to laugh at the misunderstanding, then sobered at the politely baffled expression on Tench’s face. “Not, hot, as in the weather,” he explained. “But...” and here his ten year old vocabulary started to fail him. “You like her, right?”

Tench’s face brightened. “Oh yes, I admire Madam Jennifer greatly. She’s an extraordinarily brave and resourceful woman. You must be very proud to be her son.”

“Um, yeah. She’s awesome.” This wasn’t going quite the way Thomas had expected. He WAS proud that his mum was a total kickass gun toting super babe, although that dive into the harbour with an army of the walking dead after them may have taken ‘total kickass’ a tad too far. It was Thomas’s turn to brighten, as inspiration struck. “Even before the zombie apocalypse, all my friends thought she was a total MILF.”

“A what?” Tench gave Thomas that look that adults do, when they don’t know the meaning of the lingo, but they know there’s something suspicious about it.

“Oh yeah,” Thomas was warming to his subject. “That was a couple of years ago though. She appreciates a man who thinks she’s still got what it takes to be one. You should go talk to her about it.”

“Oh.” Tench looked apprehensive. “A... MILF, you say?”

she_jedi mumbles...

Posted February 6, 2016
And part two:

Jennifer had finished cleaning her gun and was scrounging through a bucket of spare bullets to reload it, when a shadow fell over her. She looked up, to find Captain Tench hovering at her elbow with an open parasol that was suddenly shading her, and proffering a hip flask. She reluctantly took the vessel from him and took a cautious sip. It was water, which briefly disappointed her, although she’d swear she tasted a trace of leftover rum.

She raised an eyebrow at the captain, wondering what this latest bout of chivalry was about. She knew he meant well, but damn this boy had some strange ideas at times.

“Master Thomas was concerned that you were feeling the heat,” he explained, waggling the parasol in explanation. “And I tried to get you some milk, but the goats still haven’t recovered from the journey. Although, I’m not sure how milk would assist with relief from the effects of this weather....”

“Milk?” Jennifer repeated in astonishment. “What made you think I’d want milk?”

“Well, Master Thomas said that even before the advent of the Scourge, all his friends thought you were.... now what was the phrase?”

Jennifer froze as a sudden wave of rage overtook her. “He didn’t say ‘MILF’ did he?”

“Why indeed! I believe that was the phrase.” Tench stopped at the look on her face, and took a step backward as Jennifer got to her feet and advanced on him.

“Tell me EXACTLY what my son said to you,” she demanded.

“Er...” Tench clearly knew something was up, and clung to the bro code a second too long before he quailed at the look on her face. “He inquired as to whether I believed you to be ‘hot’....”

That meddling, shit stirring little twerp. She should have tossed him in the harbour and left him there.




Tench stared in baffled astonishment as the murderous look on Jennifer’s face suddenly lost focus, and she turned away.

“THOMAS!” She called for her child in a shout that would have done a Highland Grenadier sergeant proud, in that it carried clear across the encampment, with just the right mix of a summons and an inherent threat of extreme violence should that summons be ignored.

“Will you excuse me Captain?” Jennifer asked, taking the parasol from him and closing it. In her hands it suddenly acquired a more sinister shape. “I need to talk to my son.”

“Of... of course, Madam,” he replied, bowing to her, and then executing a retreat that was definitely bordering on hasty, but not yet tipping over into undignified. He took back all the instances that he ever thought the women of his own time were baffling enigmas. They had nothing on the mystifying Gorgon that a woman of the 22nd century was capable of becoming.

GhostSwirv mutters...

Posted February 6, 2016

Excellent prose She_Jedi ... how indeed will Tench overcome a meddling Thomas to win the heart of fair maid Jennifer?

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted February 7, 2016
Filed under U for Useful.

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Steve reckons...

Posted February 4, 2016
I was hoping Samuel Marsden (the flogging parson) would make an appearance. Nothing like a good dose of violent sadism for those thrice-damned zombees.
Love your work.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted February 5, 2016
He's a good pick for the sequel.

AKM. puts forth...

Posted February 8, 2016
<pricks up ears> .....Sequel....? Noice. Swoit; even.

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nick is gonna tell you...

Posted February 5, 2016
i loved it , although i can imagine writing in the voice of Tench would make life hard for you.be very interesting to do the story from other characters view points , almost like a oz version of world war z , uptimers , aboriginals , french explorers who may sail past ect . perhaps lotsa opportunities for fan fic , although i would not horrify you with my spelling / grammar....again thanks heaps

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DarrenBloomfield mumbles...

Posted February 5, 2016
I really enjoyed it. Thanks.

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AKM. ducks in to say...

Posted February 8, 2016
Received my copy, much obliged. Privileged to be in on the ground floor of such an adventure.
The evolution of publishing- 'tis a wonderful thing to watch.

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JG asserts...

Posted February 10, 2016
Hi. Just wondering if others can see all the reviews for Here Be Monsters. Last week there were seven (when I posted mine up on 2 Feb), but today I could only see one there (one by Peter O, posted 8 Feb). Strange. Was looking forward to reading all the reviews - all five star reviews.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted February 10, 2016
Huh! That's weird.

insomniac mumbles...

Posted February 10, 2016
disappeared for me too

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TL ducks in to say...

Posted February 17, 2016
Haven't read it yet but blown away by the audacity and effort of the whole venture (um, hope it works out). Even for a novella that's a serious amount of time invested. Will buy a paid book to assuage feelings of guilt.Confession: I only occasionally stumble across Cheeseburger Gothic but do you have a more detailed outline of the Kafka-esque mess that online publishing seems to be? (If not, blog post topic suggestion?)Cheers

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MuttsInc would have you know...

Posted February 23, 2016

Got my copy today (thank you) and did a security scan on the computer (no malware installed or hacking tools piggy-backed in) and still have some (small, insignificant) amount of money in my bank account and all my naked pictures (and yours) remain on file.

Not that I'm untrusting; if everything was free we could all stop this 'work' shit and get drunk(er). That's not it at all.

I was reading your scribing's on feeling physical love for your readers; I looked over at my bookshelves, saw the spine of Weapons of Choice and my balls did this weird little retraction thing in my pants. Dunno if they were happy or freaked out, but I thought you should know before you write anything else about free and love.

Sir, thank you for the literature, my apologies for what's beyond my control.

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MuttsInc has opinions thus...

Posted February 29, 2016

Just finished reading Here Be Monsters; thank you the freebie.

How I (personally) differentiate 'good writing' from a 'good story' : The inside of my skull becomes one of those small plastic dioramas - the liquid filled ones depicting a fixed scene (usually contains tiny pseudo-snowflakes) that when shaken, allow the contents to swirl around before settling slowly upon the base.

When I read Monsters, the floor of my head was Sydney Harbour, and I stood on the ship's deck. The sky was a dome (as is the inside of my head and the aforementioned diorama) and the writing painted pictures; sound and smells were added; emotions made manifest and I didn't know which direction to turn, such was the spectacle - a problem solved by the narrator. I was inside the diorama, and it was somewhat of a surprise to discover that Sydney Harbour fits quite comfortably inside my head.

That's not being pretentious and I hope your pockets don't smell of urine when they dry out.

Simply saying "I enjoyed it" seemed rather pithy and abrupt; especially considering for a short time there, I actually was a member of the ship's crew (though nobody passed me a shot of rum, more's the pity)

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Respond to 'First of the freebies roll out'

A truly horrifying writing app

Posted January 29, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

I can't believe I'm going to buy this thing and actually try use it. Flowstate. A writing app. First, I already have more than enough writing apps on my desktop and other iDevices to keep a basement full of monkeys cranking out War and Peace sequels for a year. Second, this thing is... frightening.

It's designed to promote 'focus' and focus is good, right? But it doesn't just depend on a full screen environment; it deltes what you've written if you stop writing for mre than five seconds.

Five fucking seconds!

I stopped for about half a minute in that second par just to ponder an awkward piece of phrasing. I'd have lost the lot. Bad enough after a couple of lines. Can you imagine the howls if you actually did crank out the words for half an hour and then lost them all?

((Shudder)).

Anyway. The whole thing is so crackbrained I can't help myself. I have to give it a try. I'm including a link to the app store so that I can at least get a couple of bucks back via my own associate payment. I don't recommend anyone else try this at home.

21 Responses to ‘A truly horrifying writing app’

Murphy_of_Missouri ducks in to say...

Posted January 29, 2016
No, I think Kung Fury is what we needed.

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Lulu puts forth...

Posted January 29, 2016
Five seconds??? To quote Truman Capote, "That's not writing, that's typing."

MuttsInc swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 23, 2016
if you read between the lines (that'll be humorous in a tic) you'll observe the rationale for an instructional (re)exploration of methamphetamine and a user-friendly sequel to the classic, this being - 'On The Road, (Part Two) If I Stop I'll Lose It'

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insomniac puts forth...

Posted January 29, 2016
Are you going to go for the 30 minute option?

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted January 29, 2016
Gah! You made me lose everything!

insomniac puts forth...

Posted January 29, 2016
I'm all for trivial solutions, so perhaps holding down a little used key like slash or a number while you are thinking would be a solution to losing everything. When your time is up, do a search and replace on that keystroke.

Dave W swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 29, 2016
Tired-one, that sounds like a true public servant work-around.

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Stephen would have you know...

Posted January 29, 2016
Have you ever tried Write or Die? writeordie.com
Sounds like a similar idea, but not quite as likely to lose your work (though there is a Kamikazi mode).

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HAVOCK21 mutters...

Posted January 29, 2016
yeah...well something tells me that this might not be good for me, the computer or the fkn software maker!!

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GhostSwirv swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 30, 2016

Double GAAAHHH!!!
Using that freakin' app its taken me three days to type this response!

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Babes would have you know...

Posted February 2, 2016
I think I'll hold out for the app that has a cute little person pop up every time you write another hundred words that says varying iterations of, "That was brilliant!/I am in awe of your remarkable talent!/the masses will be clamoring to read this!/etc." ;-)

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted February 2, 2016
Yeah, that I'd pay fifteen bucks for.

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jennicki would have you know...

Posted February 3, 2016
I am trying so hard to write a novel, JB. But I seem to have developed ADD around the same time smartphone and Netflix appeared on the horizon.
Surely just a coinky-dink.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted February 3, 2016
Shirley.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted February 3, 2016
I wrote a novel, Jenni. No one liked it. But I don't care what they think. In my heart I know I write good.

damian mumbles...

Posted February 3, 2016
I've recently learned that you need to use a coffee cup to weigh a smartphone down when you put it in a sink full of water.

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jennicki reckons...

Posted February 3, 2016
I get the shakes when I'm too far from my smartphone.
I would read your novel, PNB. Fo sho.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted February 4, 2016
Great. Just great. Another person who hasn't read Sex Slaves of the Congo by Jason Dante (my pen name)....

I am getting very tired of my continuing lack of literary celebrity.

GhostSwirv would have you know...

Posted February 4, 2016

Was that you?

I thought you were Jarryd Diamonte who penned the semi-autobiography Sex Slaves of the Mongrels?

insomniac reckons...

Posted February 4, 2016
OMG PNB! That was you? I loved that book! I thought the scene between Lumumba and Dikembe was especially poignant. And that escapee lass with her alcoholic dog was genius.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 4, 2016
I am told that it has been said that Lumumba and Dikembe are an edgy postmodern Troilus and Criseyde. I have no idea what that means, but I am taking it as a compliment.

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Respond to 'A truly horrifying writing app'

I thought I invented the word 'bloodpot'

Posted January 22, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

But apparently I owe some licensing fees to Woody Guthrie, who first used the term when writing about Donald Trump's racist old man, who used to be his landlord.


I suppose Old Man Trump knows

Just how much Racial Hate he stirred up

In the bloodpot of human hearts

When he drawed That color line

Here at his Eighteen hundred family project ....

The whole, strange story is at Quartz.

10 Responses to ‘I thought I invented the word 'bloodpot'’

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted January 22, 2016
Welcome to the party, pal. Imagine my personal chagrin when I learned the term "nimrod" used in a pejorative sense did not originate with me.

Nocturnalist mutters...

Posted January 22, 2016
I ran into "nimrod" as an insult in Calvin & Hobbes and couldn't get my head around it. Where was the negative in being compared to a mighty hunter of legend and one of the X-Mens' cooler enemies?

Lulu mumbles...

Posted January 22, 2016
Reports on the British parliamentary debate about whether to deny Donald Trump entry to the UK reminded me of great British insults like 'wazzock' & 'twazzock'.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted January 22, 2016
"“I used it when I was a kid,” says Harding. “It was fairly common in the north, in Lancashire and Yorkshire.” According to Harding, it takes its name from the habit of medieval kings to “take a crap on a shovel”. The royal turd would be “wazzed” out of the window and the wazzock was the tool for performing this operation."

JBto ducks in to say...

Posted January 22, 2016
I love this so much

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Therbs ducks in to say...

Posted January 22, 2016

I thought up the word "wankgull" but it never caught on.


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DarrenBloomfield reckons...

Posted January 22, 2016
I can't understand why "Captain's Call" (Itself ripped off from Julia's 2013 Captain's Pick of Nova Perris surely?) beat out "Buttecracke" for Macquarie dictionary's word of the year. Robbed.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted January 22, 2016
I blame Vargas Llosa.

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DarrenBloomfield mumbles...

Posted January 22, 2016
whenever I hear you invoke Senor Llosa, I always picture you calling out "Llosa!" in that McBain-style pose, crying out "Mendoza" <img class="irc_mi" style="margin-top: 49px;" src="http://i.imgur.com/M7835Ax.jpg" width="540" height="514">

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DarrenBloomfield has opinions thus...

Posted January 22, 2016
damn, that didn't work.

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Respond to 'I thought I invented the word 'bloodpot''

"It wasn't much of a race riot."

Posted January 21, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

Late last year I spent a couple of days rolling up and down the freeway between my quiet, vanilla flavoured hilltop suburb, and The Wood, aka Woodridge, which is more of a Hilltop Hoods suburb. Indeed I was hanging out with a couple of rappers Mad Mike and Junior Finau, subjects of an SBS doco going to air on 26 Jan.

I don't do a lot of this kind of work these days, mostly because I can't escape the gravity well of Planet Parenthood. Even the few days I spent in the Wood were a challenge to fit in with everyone else's end of term schedule.

Still, I'm very glad to have had the opportunity. Columns and blogs they come and go, but this sort of work can resonate for a long time. It was a rare privlege to meet the artists too. Something else I don't do as much of these days.

Junior’s parents were forever reminding him of the sacrifices they had made to get the family to Australia, of the opportunities and future that awaited him now he was here. He repaid them early, with a 10-day suspension from school for fighting in the car park. He explains that he was protecting his cousin and his rep. Yes. He understands it was dumb.

During the interview to talk his way back into school, he told the deputy principal he was going to be school captain. Everyone laughed at him, but he turned that back on them in his final year, when he was duly elected to the position.

He heard the same laughter a few years later in court, during those wild years, when he was explaining to judge why he should go free after he’d been pursued through the city by helicopters and police dogs.

He’d gone to Southbank looking for a fight. Some homies had told him some other homies, who’d done this thing, that disrespected the other thing, they were in the city, in the tourist and entertainment precinct. Payback time. Junior was up for that, but the cops had his number. And they had helicopters and dogs. Junior’s backup was missing in action. He laughs it off, now that he can.

“People be like, ‘yeah, you a legend, bro, I got your back, I got your back for life, bro’. And I’m looking around thinking, ‘well, where the fuck are you now?’.

Read it all here. (And admire the beautiful html work!)

11 Responses to ‘"It wasn't much of a race riot."’

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 21, 2016
The html work is actually fairly impressive.

In LA "the Wood" refers to Englewood (South Central LA). NBlob and SWMBO have been through part of it on our way to the Watts Towers. I was impressed by how well they controlled their fear.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted January 21, 2016
He's been jabbering about it ever since.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted January 21, 2016
I said I was impressed with how he controlled his fear then. Afterwards? No comment.

NBlob puts forth...

Posted January 21, 2016
Well, you did have a handgun of a calibre you could fit a squirrel down the barrel. And you plied us with liquor and fine nomables. After you left I was stuck hanging with those peaceniks in Pasadena who don't own A Single Gun!

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 22, 2016
I didn't tell you, but I also had a Louis Vuitton hand grenade. I love LA.

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AuntyLou asserts...

Posted January 21, 2016
That is just beautiful. I worked for a solicitor in Woodridge in '81. It was a tough place then, and I mostly saw people on some of their worst days, but I met some real characters that I remember to this day. It looks much more multicultural now but the sense of place still remains. I (scrawny 19 y.o. female ) was only really scared twice - once when some yoof tried to set fire to the office by blocking the only entrance/exit with flaming junk mail. The other when I was catching the train alone after working pretty late and the local knife wielders were the only others in the compartment. They gobbed off a bit but I think they were on their way to a decent fight so I was ok. But most folk were just regular people. Like your Mad Mike said "It's all the struggle. " Quite the piece. Kudos

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Rhino mumbles...

Posted January 22, 2016
In ones and twos people are delightful.
In mobs and tribes they should be exterminated.
Great piece. Sorta' like a Boyz in Da Hood Lite. LOL.
I have a great idea for a new Scared Straight program ... you ship your hood rats lite to Atlanta, Detroit or LA for a month and we'll send them back as model citizens. Or master criminals. Damn, unintended consequences.I need to think this cunning plan through.

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Squid has opinions thus...

Posted January 22, 2016
Thanks, that was a great piece JB.

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she_jedi ducks in to say...

Posted January 22, 2016
That was really great, thanks JB

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Guru Bob mutters...

Posted January 23, 2016
Great article...

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted January 30, 2016
Nice one JB, it's been sitting in my 'to read' tab for a week. It's damned hard to find a new story in among the multigenerational misery.

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Respond to '"It wasn't much of a race riot."'