Cheeseburger Gothic

Off topic, but important information for whiskey drinkers.

Posted May 14, 2010 by John Birmingham
Savo posted the following comment in the Claret House thread below. But I thought it was worth a stand alone effort.

I had a ‘vertical’ tasting of singles a week or two back. I chose a whiskey I knew I could get a good spread of ‘year-age’ on and one that I knew the majority of my entourage enjoyed. A year or so ago we had a tasting where, amongst other things, we sampled 12 y o Glenfiddich against a 12 y o The Glenlivet and The Glenlivet was miles and miles ahead, so I bought a 12, 15, 18, 21 and 25 year old The Glenlivet - a smidgen less than a $1000 worth of booze for the one sitting.

We did the tasting as we have done the previous years and came up with the result that the $600 25 year old whisky is not particularly or even noticeably better than the $220 21 y o, in fact the majority preferred the 21 year old. It was a H U G E disappointment to me as the organizer and the person who had spent all of my friends money on a spirit no one particularly liked! But it went further, the $120 18 yo was as good as the 21 y o.! The 15 wasn’t really in the race and regardless of how good the 12 y o was in a field of other 12 year olds, it did not rate at all in this group of runners.

I’m pretty sure this has nothing to do with the particular topic but … shit … that is nothing unusual for the Cheeseburger.

So if you are in a position to buy a $120 bottle of THE GOOD STUFF, buy an 18 year old The Glenlivet. It sounds pedestrian but do not mock the popular brands, they are popular because even their lowest common detonator IS GOOD.

30 Responses to ‘Off topic, but important information for whiskey drinkers.’

jennicki swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 14, 2010
I think I did some horizontal tasting back in college. I don't really remember.

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NBlob asserts...

Posted May 14, 2010
Not being much of a Scotch / Irish Whikey drinker, I'll volunteer what I know about.

I am very happy with my recent Duty Free bottle of Makers Mark, but I need it to drown my sorrow at the apparant demise of Stolichnya Crystal.

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Chaz is gonna tell you...

Posted May 14, 2010
Interesting,and very informative Jb thank you.

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Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted May 14, 2010
Irish Whiskey I am allowed to have. However, Trinity said, "No More Scotch."

I agree with her. Scotch does not agree with me.

That said, I recommend Bushmills. When I get paid this week, I may try a bottle of the black label to see what that is like.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Medway has opinions thus...

Posted May 14, 2010
'burger + Ontopic = Oxymoron = Faff

I lol'd the other day when i saw a number plate "321 FAF"

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Darth Greybeard is gonna tell you...

Posted May 14, 2010
In me younger days (shut up Bob) I liked Glenfiddich better than now. Either it's changed or I have but I agree the Glenlivet is much better. Had some Glenmorangies a while back, one matured in Sherry casks and one in Port. Throw in a couple of others and it made for some fine tastings. Laphroaig is still my favourite. I love the peaty, almost seaweed kind of taste. Bruichladdich is on the menu as well the noo. They seem to make about a dozen varieties but we picked 3D-second edition. It's good but I think I'll try a different one next time. Sigh - so many scotches and only one liver.

And Black Bush is a fine drop as well Murph.

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted May 14, 2010
Murph, "Scotch does not agree with me." unfortunately it would seem that Rum agrees with no one, often violently and that hasn't stopeed most people drinking it.

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sibeen swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 14, 2010
*splutters*

$120 for a bottle of scotch, you've got to be fucking kidding me.

*Takes calming sip of Rochford Basket Press Shiraz*

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Bondiboy66 would have you know...

Posted May 14, 2010
Murph, Bushmills is an excellent drop. Pity I only get to drink the stuff when I visit my parents - my father is a big fan, having gone so far as to visit the distillery whilst on a trip to Ireland. My disposable income, such as it is, doesn't stretch to bottles of whiskey unfortunately...perhaps when the weather gets a bit colder though.

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Lobes puts forth...

Posted May 14, 2010
The Balvenie 12yo Doublewood FTW

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Jyggdrasil mutters...

Posted May 14, 2010
Lagavulin when I can, otherwise its Laphroaig.

In my xp, $100 - $120 is the sweet spot when buying scotch. A cheaper bottle will very noticeably taste as such, while much more expensive bottles will taste only marginally better (and subjectively 'better' at that).

Anything below $50 should be used for starting the BBQ.

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NBlob would have you know...

Posted May 14, 2010
Bondi, If I may expand.

A friend and I have been talking about this for years, my example is his five grand TV. Where does functionalism meet a taste for the finer things?

A clapped out old Datsun (car, not Geoffery) will get you from A to B exactly the same as a Ferrari will. Same same, I can see the same ABC news on an old trinitron as JBs "love that may not be mentioned" Bravia. I'd really like an late 70's Stainless Steel Rolex Submariner, but a friend with a $3K Tag Huer makes me roll my eyes.

So, when does good taste become an obscenity?

I like good quality Vodka and Bourbon and will pay $50 or even $60 a couple of times a year, but like you I can't see myself forking over a hundred bucks plus for a bottle. To me it doesn't really matter how much better it is, a $5000 bottle of wine is a wank.

I doubt there is a benchmark or agreed tripping point, but it is (mildly) interesting to ruminate on.

Before I get sledged, I absolutely get & appreciate Savo's guidance that best does not equal most expensive when it comes to Scothc.

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NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted May 14, 2010
Sh!t sorry Bondi, that was supposed to be @ Sibeen.

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Abigail swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 14, 2010
Medway, Snap for words forever linked to one source! I can't see the word "Faf" or "Faff" w/o thinking of JB.

And, I thought Scotch *was* Whiskey. I really thought I'd seen it written down as "Scotch Whiskey"

meh.

Clearly not a drinker.

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Bangar puts forth...

Posted May 14, 2010
I'll admit to buying some of the better bourbons on occasion, otherwise I drink "improved" and coloured water.

NowhereBob, buy cheap vodka and put it through a water filter (jug type) a couple of times, though don't leave it in the jug put it back in the bottle.

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Moko puts forth...

Posted May 14, 2010
I like Makers Mark. Haven't bought one for awhile coz I'm only a sipper. Can't remember if it was 50 bucks or 80 bucks a bottle. Well wroth it though. Fucken delicious.

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Alan would have you know...

Posted May 14, 2010
This is very interesting indeed! I've always eyed off the older years when buying the Glenlivet 12yo and felt like a chump. I don't feel so bad now.

The 15yo Jameson however is definitely worth the extra pennies.

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Medway puts forth...

Posted May 14, 2010
@Greybeard: "In my younger days"... before jesus rode dinosaurs across the earth, using his lightsabers. Right?

@Abi: Words association is terrible. Fingers crossed JB doesn't die from Typecast.

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Darth Greybeard puts forth...

Posted May 14, 2010
Et tu Medway?

Incidentally, Gaius Julius (or "Gay as" Julius as we called him behind his back) actually said: "Et tu Ornusbarba?"

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Trashman swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 14, 2010
If you're buying whisky it's got be Macallan. 18 year old or better.

I got my Dad a 30 year old for his birthday a few years back that I'm hoping to inherit one day as there's never a good enough reason to open the bottle!

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roki would have you know...

Posted May 14, 2010
Hi from a longtime lurker and very rare commenter.

One that hasn't had a mention here, but is worth it, is Highland Park. Top points to JB for mentioning it in one of his novels, I tried some recently and was surprised by how full of peaty character it was for a Highland whiskey.

Also, I visited the town of Bruichladdich years ago and stuck my head through the gate of the distillery at about 5:25 pm.

I said "I know you're about to close, and I'll be taking the tour tomorrow but couldn't resist sticking my head in for a look."

They said "Come in for a dram!!!"

I like Bruichladdich very much. Their 15 year old is stellar. I rated it as better than their 18.

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savo would have you know...

Posted May 14, 2010
The 25 y o came in the most ornate presentation box I've come across http://www.theglenlivet.com/xxv/ . Whilst tracking it down, I found an advert for it with the words "contents incidental" which was a bit of a worry. I first started doing the tastings partly because someone asked me what would be a good whisky to buy their boss. I now know. At this one, we got to try a bottle of booze none of us would ever, under normal circumstances, buy and drink. I'm not even sure it was meant to be consumed.

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Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted May 15, 2010
Bondiboy, I actually find a bottle of Bushmills to be rather economical. At $20 per bottle, I can usually stretch it out over a two week period (which was standard in the Uniguard era of security work). This last bottle I got (my first in nearly three years) made it through most of the month of April.

I also find that two fingers of Bushmills is not as ruinous on my waistline as the 12 pack of Dos Equis, the six pack of Founder's Pale Ale, and the other beers I've had over the last two weeks up to the end of finals.

So when I get paid tomorrow, I'll get a couple of bottles. Thing is with summer upcoming, Irish whiskey isn't the typical beverage of choice. I suppose I could switch back over to bourbon of some type but I'm not a Jack Daniels fan anymore (drank too much of that in Korea and it seems like I'm sipping tea).

NBob, I have a horrible rum related story from my year in Korea. When we meet in person, I'll be sure to tell it to you. It was not a shining moment to be certain.

Maker's Mark, which I bought a bottle of back in 2005, seemed like it was a bit too spicy and sweet to me, like it was laced with cinnamon. I didn't care much for it.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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lostatlunch puts forth...

Posted May 15, 2010
so... the 25 year old goes better with coke?

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NBlob asserts...

Posted May 15, 2010
OK, looking good for tonight.

I'll be busy until 16:30ish, at that stage I'll head for this mana bar.

Although I'll be a bit pised off if it's actually a Man bar where someone has set Havock up to meet a "well dressed young men."

SpyNat, do you still have my mobie #? I'll text you so you can advise of last minute changes in plan, alibis or required PPE.

GC, if you call in can you pop a row c ticket under the counter for Bob N? If not I'll just take my chances @ the door.

Medway. Nice one brother!

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Abe Frellman has opinions thus...

Posted May 15, 2010
Dont rate Sullivans Cove guys.

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BruceGaryNigelson asserts...

Posted May 15, 2010
Hey - off topic and a bit late but anyone want some free tickets (2) to the Tassie Babes show tonight? Not feeling 100% so unfortunately am going to miss it. Spring Hill pick up. Number is 0418158549. Cheers.

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted May 17, 2010
Roki, I am just starting in on a new bottle of Highland Park. It is the bomb.

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Bondiboy66 is gonna tell you...

Posted May 17, 2010
Struth Murph, I wish I could get Bushmills for $20 a bottle! More like around the $60 here for the 10 year old (with thanks to boozle.com). Haven't had Makers Mark for ages either - I got some at Christmas one year from my boss at the time. I do rather like Wild Turkey when going for bourbon also.

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Therbs asserts...

Posted May 17, 2010
Thanks Savo and JB for expanding my flippant request of Abe to review Sullivans Cove. Abe, I'm glad Bedes helped you out and thanks for being my proxy on tasting the stuff. Hope Bedes didn't swear tooooo much. If the SC its similar to some of the Speysides then I know what to expect (or not bother with). i think it was a Speyburn which was my intro to the singles. I was impressed but then tasted better.

Lobes - thanks for the tip on The Glenlivet 18 y.o. I'll be looking for something when my bonus gets up and that sounds like a fair option.

NBob, Moko - nothing wrong with Makers Mark, its one of my standby bourbons. Usually one of the chains runs it at discount, I usually pick it up for about $50, sometimes down to $45.

I notice Highland Park, Mcallan and Laphroaig getting mentions for the singles and fair enough too.

Murph - Bushmills isn't bad at all. A venerable Irish which would make a handy standby.

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Respond to 'Off topic, but important information for whiskey drinkers.'

Gotta luv the merch.

Posted May 12, 2010 by John Birmingham
I'm in a kind of limbo at the moment. Tomorrow, probably late in the day, I'll send the last edits off to New York for the US edition of After America. I've already taken my hands off the Australian version and will play no further part in its production. From now on I move out of the gentle, somewhat smoky 19th century gentleman's club atmosphere of the editing departments, and into the hard, brushed steel and polished concrete killing house of marketing and publicity.

This is actually one of my favorite bits of the whole gig. I love sitting around with the marketing mavens thinking up new ways to get the media to run stories on my book instead of somebody else's. I love blocking out the dates for the tour and working my way through the schedule as it's presented to me. I love the merchandising. You gotta love the merch.

I'll post the tour dates as they become available. But for now it looks like there might be two trips to Melbourne and even the slim possibility of a couple of days in Perth.

I'll be interested to see what I can do with twitter and Facebook for this tour. Twitter in particular played a large part in helping me get the book written, what with my regular updates screaming about how many words I was going to write that day, and occasionally posting my fave line of the day. (None of which Sweet Jane liked. Go figure).

I'll be doing a talk at the Wheeler Center in Melbourne, and am thinking of structuring it a little like a lecture. Something about the use of social media in the creative process. As part of that I'll be going back through some of the threads we ran here, pulling out your comments and suggestions about stuff like how to travel across post-apocalyptic America, or what the ecology of the US might look like a couple of years after The Wave.

For now, I'm looking for an illustrator to knock up some greeting cards with scenes from the book and a single line of dialogue underneath. I want them done old-school, like they've been ripped straight from the pages of a Boy's Own Annual circa 1953. I reckon that will look fucking awesome.

52 Responses to ‘Gotta luv the merch.’

Stacey0 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 12, 2010
Totally rad. Where's Sydney's gig though?

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Ian Kath is gonna tell you...

Posted May 12, 2010
Like a 21st century image of Lewis and Clark looking West over the great open pasture that is the U.S. with out man.

A new version of manifest destiny.

I like it a lot.

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sparty puts forth...

Posted May 12, 2010
Boys own idea is great - infact I tried to do some AoT fan fiction like that- but realised my drawing skills of Raptors and Panther tanks has lapsed somewhat in the last 30 years....

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Jason Ensor is gonna tell you...

Posted May 12, 2010
A visit to Perth would be very welcome indeedy and AustLiterature Twitter would certainly play its part in promoting the dates of your visit. I thoroughly enjoyed "Without Warning" and look forward to "After America" very much.

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BrianC puts forth...

Posted May 12, 2010
'course you love this bit, its the rock star bit.

As for ideas on how to pimp the book. Take a page from John Ringos book and use Facebook to your advantage. You should have a fan page for you under your control. If you don't go do it now, ill wait.

All set up great.

This is what you do release snippets of the unedited proof one a week for the 6 weeks leading up to the release of the book. Get your publisher to note on its webpage that you are, note that you are in your blogs. Post the sections as "notes" not status updates, make a status update about the note. This way people can come back easily and read it.

Post random lines from the book on twitter.

And this above. Live like the rockstar gonzo journo you want to be cause in 6 months you have to start writing the sequel.

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girlclumsy asserts...

Posted May 12, 2010
Let me know if I can be of assistance Facebook/Twitter wise - I love doing promotional things for creative works. Had a reasonable amount of success with the plays.

I often wonder if I should've gone into marketing and PR. For books/the arts/charity etc - it must be a lot of fun.

The illustrations sound great.

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EnjoyMedway asserts...

Posted May 12, 2010
Ohh, so my suggestion was far from the desired. Right. Gotcha.

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Abigail has opinions thus...

Posted May 12, 2010
Will be only too happy to promote the book on my page by posting links/flyers.

Great news!, glad you enjoy this part of it. I hope you'll get to Sydney otherwise I'll go to Melbourne...but Sydney's, you know... soooo much closer... ;)

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Orin asserts...

Posted May 12, 2010
Hey Havock - can you organize my seat at the Wheeler? You did a FKN AWSM job last time.

Next book - Without Warning / After America Facebook Game. It is like Mafia Wars, but with Rhino and Boylan.

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Moko has opinions thus...

Posted May 12, 2010
If you need security on this expedition let me know.

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Matthew K swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 12, 2010
WW and AA obviously tap into some sort of zeitgeist, a long standing fascination with being The Last man On Earth plus a a fear of mass extinction, some sort of societal angst, probably stems from the love of ruins inherent in Romanticism.

There was this American faux documentary that somebody mentioned on the burger, it was about if mankind disappeared, and then there was the Omega Man - that one goes back a bit.

Anyway this is obviously an idea that constantly bubbles under the surface of late 20thC/ early 21st C society.

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Matthew K is gonna tell you...

Posted May 12, 2010
Whoops, posted too early, didn't cut down. Was just thinking out loud. Don't tell the merch guys all that cod philosophical bollocks JB!

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted May 12, 2010
"For now, I’m looking for ..."

Far Fkn out! You are harnesing other creatives to your wagon. A pleasure in the past only enjoyed by magazine editors and the like.

You have a vision in your head that you need to desribe to the publishing marketing mavens. It's a good thing you are a trade qualified Describerer.

I like the idea of 10 designs of post cards [simple graphics, primary colours, a catch line and a link] in 50 coffee shops in 50 major cities around the world marketing tactic myself. But then again I'm not up with the twiteratti thing.

A CBG demographic study would be interesting, but you'd never trust half of us to give straight answers to any questionaire. And Jane would probably eat hers.

Orin, A Red Dead Redemption kinda engine running maps of the battles in NYC (and others we are yet to read) would be mind-bendingly cool. I'd sugest JB is way ahead of both of us already.

How much would the H man sh!t if he had to play as The Rhino?

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HAVOCK has opinions thus...

Posted May 12, 2010
I'll send you some of the sketches we knocked up of me, BRANDISHING A FKN BIG GUN and the limp dead fkn carcass of a RHINO, that aint pettin any fkn kitty cats any fkn more at the base of a smokin fkn ruin I just created in NEW YORK CITY. WICKED, FKN GOD LIKE actually

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HAVOCK ducks in to say...

Posted May 12, 2010
NBOB..if, IF and that a fkn rather large big arse fkn IF i might fkn well add, the RHINO got set up as a character, IT WILL BE A COLD FKN DAY IN HELL before it made its way into my machine. MORES like the DISC would become a CLAY, well not so clay, TARGET

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HAVOCK has opinions thus...

Posted May 12, 2010
ORIN..YES, but this time i'm demanding TWO fkn AWESOME TOP OF THE FKN LINE RESERVED FOR DEAD SET FKN LEGENDS seats

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NBlob asserts...

Posted May 12, 2010
Excuse my while I have a litle nerdgasm.

I first thought when reading the Paris extraction in F.I. that the scenes had a spatial feel like a first person shooter. Very um mapped? [15m turn right, 40 m, right through doorway, left up the staircase...] I had the same experience reading a couple of Caitlyns battles in AA. Like JB had it all drawn up on a big whiteboard and paced us through it.

The question is A: did JB write with a possible future game in mind, B: did his gaming dictate his imagining then writing, or C: am I full of crap ?

Either way how cool would team playing the contested boarding of the Aussie Rules be.

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Barnesm mutters...

Posted May 12, 2010
Gotta get a Book trailer online, all the authors are doing it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1JdPvyy93I

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X58RPS665V0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ou1s3t6q2Q4

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John Birmingham asserts...

Posted May 12, 2010
I use google maps to plot ut the fight scenes. That's why it feels that way. But FPS aesthetics do come into as well.

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Timmo mutters...

Posted May 12, 2010
Matt K,

I think you're right on the whole "last man on earth" zeitgeist/angst/fear thing. The concept's been around for a long time, it's just the mechanism that changes, reflecting the issues of the time e.g. 1950's to 80's it was kind of the nuclear winter scenario, reflecting post-WW2/cold war issues and fears; long before that I imagine there was the whole avenging God scenario.

Lately, we seem to have moved into the post global warming apocalypse scenario.

I seem to have been exploring lots of post-apocalyptic stories of late - I just finished The Road by Cormac McCarthy (though it never goes into much detail on the cause of said apocalypse, just the aftermath). I've also been playing Left 4 Dead 2, in a zombiepocalypse, and I watched The Book of Eli and a C-grade zombie flick called Evilution on the weekend.

So, next on the post-apocalyptic agenda is WW (once I've finished Final Impact). Other suggestions anyone?

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Murphy mutters...

Posted May 13, 2010
Per battle scenes like Caitlin in Paris, a few comments.

I think one of Birmo's great strengths as a writer is that he is able to describe, exactly, how such fights evolve. It is possible, I suspect when he is using a real location, to go to that place and walk the route of the fight.

In most other novels and stories, even those written by people with military experience, it is difficult to figure out exactly what is going on. A lot of trigger pulling and spectacular kill scenes of cardboard characters we don't care about.

I also like the fact that Birmo works (a typo had "Birmoworks" hmm) very hard to make certain the fights are tactically plausible.

And if you actually care about the characters involved (as many care for Caitlin), your sense of unease that she might get popped increases as she works her way through the fight.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Leo euler reckons...

Posted May 13, 2010
I am looking forward to the book coming out.

I was not able to see John when he came to America last year; however, I was able to get the Australian version of Without Warning. Since it seems both books are coming out at the same time this time (more or less?) maybe I'll make an extra effort to see John next time he comes over.

-Samuel C.

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Tucker Dwynn asserts...

Posted May 13, 2010
Look forward to reading AA.... Any mention of what happens when the Indonesian Tsunami hits on 12/26/2004?

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Moko mumbles...

Posted May 13, 2010
What's the difference between the Ocker and Seppo versions?. Just the 'u's and stuff?

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jennicki puts forth...

Posted May 13, 2010
Y'all talk differently then us, Moko. I've lent my Bridget Jones's Diary out to lots of people, and have gotten a lot of complaints that they couldn't follow the way the English talk...that's actully one of my favorite parts of the book in my opinion!

You can't have a book with America in the title and not come to the US. It's anti-American. These colors don't run. So, you know, you'll have to come here. Preferably to Chicago, they don't read in Detroit.

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lostatlunch puts forth...

Posted May 13, 2010
I still have some leftover WW merchadising including with the 8 foot inflatable Rhino... very popular with the Darkwoman.

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NBlob asserts...

Posted May 13, 2010
No criticism intended.

I agree with Murph %100.

In JB's back catalogue most engagements have significant friendly casualties. This is important for me to suspend my disbelief. A crew of 20 surviving an entire campaign (apart from the bookish cute one for dymanic tension) always struck me as unreal.

I'm looking forward to JB's promised bleak, grim & dark in AA.

ScoobyDoo endings suck donkey balls.

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Boscolamb mumbles...

Posted May 13, 2010
Detroit got the big screw last time JB came up here. It would be nice if he could come by. I'm sure he has lots of fans in the midwest. I've purchased multiple copies of his books for the Libraries I work at. They must be popular as I rarely see them on the shelves.

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Therbs ducks in to say...

Posted May 13, 2010
For promotional stuff we're here to be exploited. Word of mouth goes a long way. e.g. with the AOT series I lent Weapons of Choice out to a couple of friends and they ended up buying the other two. That's how I got into Matt Reilly's gear, a friend recommended Ice Station to me. Once people are hooked on an author they keep an eye out when book shopping. The choice in bookshops is so vast that it overwhelms consumers, hence we develop "brand loyalty". That's how I got into AOT in the first place. I'd never heard of it until I saw the whole trilogy at K Mart, double blinked at the author's name, checked that it was the same guy I'd read before and bought the trilogy.

Love the "Boys Own" concept, its a cracker. Anything quirky or gimmicky is worth a shot to bring the brand to the forefront of readers' minds. In Sydney, try giving out a BBQ King duck pancake with each purchase. I'm sure BBQ K would love to contribute to a joint promotion.

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jennicki ducks in to say...

Posted May 13, 2010
Boscobob this is very true. My library had a long reserve list for JB's books, I ended up joining another district library so I could get my hands on them! And I should thank him profusely, my new library is way more awesome then the old one.

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jennicki mutters...

Posted May 13, 2010
Is After America available for pre-order yet in the U.S.?

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jennicki ducks in to say...

Posted May 13, 2010
BoscoLAMB I mean, soz, there are too many bobs!

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jp puts forth...

Posted May 13, 2010
JB - postcards are a great little ad to drop into cafe's to mix in with all their arty-farty ones, especially if they're designed as you say... but then with a little quirk, eg your boy's own nostalgia with the added bonus of a blot of bright red where a .50 cal popped a head. Reminds me of HOT FUZZ when Nick Frost's character shows Peggy what he's drawn in his notebook: a sweet little flip-book of a guy -- f*ck it, just check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBgCLZFWAIA&feature=related

My two cents is to hold a competition to have your readers design their own book trailer and upload it to a dedicated youtube page that links here. The Burgers can vote for a fav (call it, say, the Pervert's Choice Award), and you can pick the top three. They can win signed first editions or somethin'. See my pub's example for my apoc series, going live end of the month:

http://www.a-lone.com.au/

BTW, I'm picturing this drawing of Hav as having him look like Ned Flanders sans shirt. Am I right?

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NukemHill would have you know...

Posted May 13, 2010
You are planning a U.S. tour, yes? Right? Right????

If you are going to be in the DC/Baltimore area, dinner's on me.

F*ck me. August 17th for AA in the U.S.? That sucks rocks....

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Rhino puts forth...

Posted May 13, 2010
This so rocks ... Rhino in full cigar chomping glory on a greeting card with the line, "No siree, Mr. President, you don't get these pettin' kitty cats."

I'd like 15 dozen boxes pre-addressed to Havock's Pondo, please.

I liked my blog/photos of "People reading WW before Havock" that I did for the first one. May have to do that again.

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Rhino mutters...

Posted May 13, 2010
Darkman ... and I know that you appreciate that the inflatable Rhino is durable and water proof as well.

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Rhino has opinions thus...

Posted May 13, 2010
Orin ... I always did like the cut of your jib. Need to get the code monkeys working on that.

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Chaz mumbles...

Posted May 13, 2010
'even the slim possibility of a couple of days in Perth' yeah probably about 2 micron thin!!

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Naut mumbles...

Posted May 13, 2010
Rhino, I loved your “People reading WW before Havock” series. Aside from porn it is probably the best use of the internet I have ever seen.

Now waiting for the sex scandal photos of Warnie, two naked Pommie chicks and the inflatable Rhino.

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Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 13, 2010
FKN brilliant - an inflatable Rhino in every bookstore to promote AA. Get video of Hav unkowingly walking into a shop populated by one of those cigar-chomping replicas. Okay, we need to cost these things out and set up a distribution schedule to coincide with the launch of AA.

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Brian asserts...

Posted May 13, 2010
Rhino at Wheeler Centre. Gotta have more headroom then a bookstore . . .excepting some of the Borders I guess.

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Naut mumbles...

Posted May 13, 2010
I intend to have an inflatable rhino in my window at home.

It will be a better security device than a photo of Dolph Lundgren.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1173697/Burglars-tie-woman--flee-house-realise-shes-married-action-hero-actor-Dolph-Lundgren.html

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jennicki ducks in to say...

Posted May 13, 2010
Aww, your book comes out when Medway's here, we'll have to by your book together!

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Orin would have you know...

Posted May 13, 2010
If you are clever - Medway can bring you a copy directly from Oz as it is released here a month earlier.

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jennicki puts forth...

Posted May 13, 2010
Ooooh. But that would mean I'd have to be clever!

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HAVOCK puts forth...

Posted May 13, 2010
An Inflatable RHINO will make a great Figure 11.

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Rhino ducks in to say...

Posted May 13, 2010
I'm looking forward to my entree into the Macy's Christmas Parade ... America's newest ACTION HERO - THE RHINO as a 25 foot tall balloon float.

I hear they are thinking about removing the Spiderman float to make room for my avatar. That is the amount of hysteria they are anticipating.

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Boscolamb mumbles...

Posted May 14, 2010
Jen, K'zoo has one of the nicest looking libraries in the state of Michigan. It has received nation-wide recognition when it was renovated. Glad to hear JB's books are equally popular there. I have a long patron hold list for his newer titles. He's my favorite Oz writer.

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted May 14, 2010
Rhino, I was in NYC for the thanksgiving parade '91.

The prospect of dozens of marching bands, hundreds of batton twirlers, and phalanxes of teenage cheerleaders under a giant inflated Rhino is a bit too close to the Golden Bull worshipers as mentioned in the old testament don't you think?

I can easily imagine one disgruntled Bachus Marshian sniping from a roof top, muttering "I'll give you fkn pussy cats."

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NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted May 14, 2010
Hey JB, don't we get a photo of the finished MS ?

I always had an image of you laying back against pillows, looking smug, smoking a cigarette and with the MS beside you on the bed (discrete placing of bedclothes covering it's nudity.)

With the caption "Well, I fkd that puppy."

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jennicki has opinions thus...

Posted May 14, 2010
Boscolamb, Kalamazoo really does have a gorgeous library. All of them, actually--Central and Oshtemo are really cool. The architecture is sweet.

I also have cards for Parchment District and Portage District libraries. Because the like 6 libraries in Kalamazoo aren't enough for me.

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Alan asserts...

Posted May 19, 2010
Still need an illustrator? Email me if you don't have anyone doing it yet. I'm a professional based in Sydney. I like the idea.

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Respond to 'Gotta luv the merch.'

Day trip

Posted May 5, 2010 by John Birmingham
Moko will be pleased to know that it wasn't all free games and drinkies for me in Sydney yesterday. I also managed to pick up a cold, probably on the flight going down. Still, totally worth it. I spent most of the day in at Rockstar Studios, watching a play-thru the first couple of hours so I could get an impression of the game world they've built -- which was amazing, a real fucking joy just to pass through -- and then a couple of hours in the afternoon playing a few missions myself. I also did quite a bit of talking about games narrative, as it's an area I'm thinking about getting into in the future, and a specialty of Rockstar of course. But that's not something I bother writing up here, since it'd be kinda dull. I am going to write up the trip for Fairfax, probably later this week, so I won't give too much away now, but I can say that the two things I was most concerned about turned out not to be a problem at all.

Firstly having played so much GTA IV, and having been impressed by Liberty City as such a dense and layered, almost Matrix-like creation, I was worried that Red Dead Redemption would have trouble re-creating the same rich gaming environment in what is effectively a wilderness. After all the space between the small frontier settlements occupies what looks like about 98 maybe 99% of the playable area in the game. I couldn't help but think back to earlier versions of Mechwarrior where you spent ages in transition across empty wastelands when moving from one action sequence to another.

Not a problem.

The wastelands in Redemption are incredibly rich both in their artistic realization and the gameplay possibilities. Even the ecology is fantastically detailed and complex and a major factor in gameplay not just every now and then when you stumble across a tripwire setting off a pre-programmed action sequence, but rather in every single moment you are out there. Nor is it just grizzly bears and rattlesnakes and packs of wild dogs you have to contend with, there are any number of two legged critters out there looking to do you harm. There are hunting challenges, treasure to find, and a seemingly infinite number of randomly generated side missions to distract you from the main narrative arc.

The other thing I was worried about was the combat. Because of the era in which the game is set there won't be any plasma cannons or grenade launchers. How could they possibly make the combat even fractionally as intense as a shooter like Modern Warfare? Well they can, and they've done it without trickery or bullshit. Even the smaller firefights in the lesser side missions are totally fucking intense in this game and there is an optional Fallout 3 style targeting system that is enormous fun to use, and occasionally very, very necessary.

I'm very much looking forward to playing this when I get my review disc in a couple of weeks.

And sorry Moko. I got a show bag too.

20 Responses to ‘Day trip’

Orin has opinions thus...

Posted May 5, 2010
Started playing Fallout 3 GOTY edition - lots of wandering around a fairly well populated post-apocalyptic wasteland. A few burgers recommended it back when it came out - glad I checked it out.

Did you end up finishing Mass Effect 2?

StarCraft II soon. AWSM.

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HAVOCK reckons...

Posted May 5, 2010
Hang on a FKN MINUTE.

Firstly, I'm failry certain that numerous people are still waiting for the BFBC2 smack down and we constantly get the WE ARE TOO BUSY SHITE or the THE STORM FRIED ME GEAR, or the KIDS broke me gear, OR the HEAD SET AINT WORKING or the AH its fkn QLD and nuffin fkn works fkn excuses to playing with the rest of us GODs who happen to populate this planet and PROP UP your Bunnyfied fkn ego.SO.

YA bloody effin mongrel, GET ON LINE, FK the REDDEAD dump mob, bit of shit and get connected before somebody accidentally caps YOUR FKN CARCASS...SHEEZ!.

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HAVOCK mutters...

Posted May 5, 2010
HEY!..where did all the comments fkn go!

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HAVOCK swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 5, 2010
AHH...they are back again. Just got tapped and told by the machine that I am posting comments toooooo quickly and need to slow down some. SEE, HAVOCk is faster than a computer or servers etc etc

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Moko puts forth...

Posted May 5, 2010
OH NO YOU DID-ENT. lol

I grew up reading George G Gilman (pseudonym) and his 'Edge' series of western books that defined 'The West' for me and were described as "The Most Violent Westerns In Print". I fucken loved those books. This game has got me thinking about that series again. I soaked them up like a sponge. This is one reason I'm REALLY looking forward to RDR. Even considering the third person aspect which gives me a rash. Nothing worse than standing at the door way of a building and you've only got like 50 degrees of view into the room and the depth of vision is blocked by roof eaves and top of door frames. How did they go with that?.

I saw a cool cover system in one vid where he skids up to boxes for cover. Nothing worse than being AT cover and the fucker won't duck or some shit.

So what was in the show bag?.

You KNOW I've been waiting for this write up. lol

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TJX is gonna tell you...

Posted May 5, 2010
Slightly Off-Topic, but I gotta ask - Why arent you a PC gamer?

Also, you should really ditch MW2 and give Battlefield Bad Company 2 a try. It's like MW2 for grown ups. :D Not saying you're one of those immature FPS console gamers, but I find that MW2 attracts too many of those kinds of players.

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HAVOCK mumbles...

Posted May 5, 2010
TJX... some of us, like me and you and moko and chaz have the capability to play BFBC2..other!...well, lets just say that stiffness of internal structures is not ....there!

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TJX has opinions thus...

Posted May 5, 2010
I have to admit though, the look and feel of MW2's single player storyline/campaign makes me think of what a movie of Without Warning should be like. Epic, cinematic, full of military mayhem and a soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. :D

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted May 5, 2010
There'll be plenty o' multiplayer in Redemtption, Havsy. We didnt really get into it yesterday, but it looked awsm too. Up to 16 online and the entire map to roam over.

TJX, i try to keep games off my 'puter. Bad for deadlines.

Moko, you're going to love this game if you loved those books. It's great. In the showbag I got lotsa tee shirts, a GTA coke spoon, the soundtracks from San Andreas and Vice City, a copy of Bully, stickers, and bar of Redemption soap (fer cleanin grime an' bloodstains).

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AgingGamer would have you know...

Posted May 5, 2010
I'm now officially excited about this game as I too played GTA IV to death and loved it. It will be interesting to have a sandbox to play in that isn't Sci-Fi, fantasy, or gritty urban environment.

GUN was one of my favourite Wild West sandbox games from a few years back but was lacking in the substantial side quest department.

Sir Birmo I think it might be prudent to organise a multiplayer night for the bounders club to prevent them getting unruly and drinking all the good Whiskey. BFBC2 sounds like the front runner at this stage.

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John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted May 5, 2010
Ooh, and just found a copy of Midnight Club LA in my show bag.

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TJX is gonna tell you...

Posted May 5, 2010
Ah, one of those people that likes to keep playtime off their work machines, lol. I understand. Well BFBC2 is available on all consoles as well.

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Orin mutters...

Posted May 5, 2010
Try to keep games off my computer .... right ... so what's happening when Diablo 3 comes out ... will THAT be kept off the computer?

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NBlob would have you know...

Posted May 5, 2010
Oh god how I miss freebies.

Lovely lovely freebies.

I used to work in conferences & events, I used to get showered with allsorts of goodies (My favourites are the seagate camelback & Petzl.)

Now as a humble public servant it's considered uncool.

Bastiches.

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TJX swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 5, 2010
@ Orin

Heh, the only thing that distracts me on a computer during work is my Internet browswer.

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sparty mumbles...

Posted May 5, 2010
Looks a Fantastic game- the wild bunch come alive...

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Orin swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted May 5, 2010
JB plays pure about the deadlines, but when Diablo becomes available he's basically toast.

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Moko mumbles...

Posted May 5, 2010
I loved the Wild Bunch. Takes pride of place in my DVD collection.

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Toxteth O'Grady mumbles...

Posted May 5, 2010
Ah well, as long as you Burgers are distracted, I'll feel safe leaving this (Mechwarrior 4 released for free) here without worrying about you getting your dirty grubby fingerprints all over it.

As for Red Dead Redemption - (from wikipedia) "Every multiplayer game, both free-for-all and team based, will begin with a Mexican standoff" makes me giggle like a japanese schoolgirl. Now where did I put that Ennio Morricone soundtrack...??

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Murphy puts forth...

Posted May 6, 2010
Maybe at some point in the next five years I can get a couple of gaming systems of my own, then I'll have a clue about what is going on with the gaming world.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Respond to 'Day trip'

Okay, lets try that again.

Posted April 30, 2010 by John Birmingham
Raw manuscript.

34 Responses to ‘Okay, lets try that again.’

Quokka would have you know...

Posted April 30, 2010
I clicked to enlarge that image and it shrank.

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NBlob reckons...

Posted April 30, 2010
Success!

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Quokka reckons...

Posted April 30, 2010
Indeed, Nbob, if its an attempt to thwart the nitpickers in the peanut gallery.

I was hoping to see what the professional nitpickers get up to.

I've tried 'enlarge text' in the View bit of the toolbox but it doesn't help.

Do I have to go onto the flicker thing to do that, or is it time to upgrade the script for my glasses again?

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zeniph reckons...

Posted April 30, 2010
v interesting, worth the wait, cant believe the micro management of it though

full size img here makes it a bit easier to read the markup notes

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3603/4564229876_e087b8ddef_o.png

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NBlob asserts...

Posted April 30, 2010
Pretty hard to read though, next time would it be possible to scan it at a higher res or something? looks sort of like a phone camera shot.

Maybe it's flikr file size limitation.

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Quokka ducks in to say...

Posted April 30, 2010
I can't read it at all.

And it's giving me flashbacks to my grade 10 history assignments. The teacher would circle my most creative offerings in red pen and then write scathing corrections in green.

How do you cope with that?

Valium? or Scotch?

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Abigail mumbles...

Posted April 30, 2010
Wow JB, so this is your scribbled upon draft? cool. And you have really nice handwriting ,if that's yours.

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Brian has opinions thus...

Posted April 30, 2010
What I like is the scibbled 2 with a question mark . . .like . . .he wasn't sure what came after 1. Its a good thing his literacy skills are up to scratch . . . .

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Rhino is gonna tell you...

Posted April 30, 2010
Oh, man, Havsy old man, that has got to sting. THE Author originally felt that the Rhino was such an important character that he gave him the first line of his next BLOCKBUSTER BESTSELLER.

Wow ... I'm kind of glad that they decided to move this to another chapter ... the sheer awesomeness of my entrance would tend to overwhelm the average reader. Also, considering this will be an "airport" novel it wouldn't be very safe having people standing up in their seats screaming, "OH MY GAWD IT'S THE RHINO!!!" I wouldn't feel good about endangering people in that manner.

I can't wait to get my advance, signed, copy.

Havsy, don't cry mate ... you'll have your turn ... surely you will ... I hear that James Patterson is looking for a new transgendered hero(ine) with an Aussie accent.

Regards,

Rhino

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Paul Nicholas Boylan asserts...

Posted April 30, 2010
"But It seems i’ve got some fuck knuckling around to do first."

As a proponent of the fuck knuckling arts and sciences, I am delighted to see this fine example of productive fuck knuckling. It is my fervent hope that your example inspires others to fuck knuckle, soon and often.

Ah, to be young again, when fuck knuckling was free, easy and without care. How I yearn to return to the days of casual fuck knuckling. But nostalgia often softens memory's sharp edges. Fuck knuckling can be, and often is, hard work, as your example amply illustrates. Bravo, Sir. I cannot wait to read the completed work.

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John Birmingham reckons...

Posted April 30, 2010
Yep, the resolution's not great. Unfortunately to repro the page properly from the pdf takes 14.5mgs. My flickr limit tops out at 10. I'm working on it, but as I said this was more in the way of a tester to iron out these very issues.

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Moko mumbles...

Posted April 30, 2010
I'm sorry, you don't dick around with 'pettin''. It's personality.

Quok. Click to view in Flicker, once in Flicker at top left it say's "all sizes" with a box, click that, then from there you can download the original scan.

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Quokka asserts...

Posted April 30, 2010
Ta Moko. I'll try that later.

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girlclumsy mutters...

Posted April 30, 2010
Neat! This might sound a very stupid thing to say, but it's so interesting to see the journey from simple typed letters to proper book formatting, font, the texture and thickness of the paper, the cover...

I guess it makes me think that all books start out somewhere... maybe I could start something that could one day be a book!

Cheers, Nat.

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Matthew K mumbles...

Posted April 30, 2010
Interesting.

And I see from flickr that JB has invested some of his enormous wealth in some serious Star Wars figures. I know, my parents wouldn't buy me the whole set in 1979 either...

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_Soliloquy_ mumbles...

Posted April 30, 2010
I think I want to be an editor. That looks like fun.

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Abigail swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 30, 2010
I'm with GC, there's something really powerful about seeing this draft and despite how flippant it may sound to comment upon your handwriting ,JB,the point is we barely ever see anyone's hand writing anymore and therefore we miss out on the traces of work and imagining and re-thinking and emphasis and idle mistakes, all the subtleties...

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John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted April 30, 2010
thx to zeniph too for the tip about taking a screenshot. much smaller file size.

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Rhino asserts...

Posted April 30, 2010
Oh, Havsy is silent ... must be this coupled with the fact that Australia is importing U.S. sperm that is causing his silence.

He is having a bad, bad day.

R.

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Patricia puts forth...

Posted April 30, 2010
When's it supposed to be ready JB?

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Sweet Jane Says mutters...

Posted April 30, 2010
Argh! Birmingham, I can't even degrade you for that bit. It's just too sad.

J.

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zeniph ducks in to say...

Posted April 30, 2010
glad to help out - dont get why you cant just upload the images here and make things simple for youself but I'm sure you've got your reasons...

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Tarl has opinions thus...

Posted April 30, 2010
Hey - Kipper is 44th US president? That's Obama's slot!

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Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted April 30, 2010
Tarl- this was set before Obama became Prez.

JB - this writing gig of yours just keeps on looking like way too much hard work.

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sparty mutters...

Posted April 30, 2010
thats interesting- particulary the little things. Not surprised it's not coming first though - is it a little too genre?, for a writer who does "genre with a twist" -is that fair to say?.

Having said that i think all tecnothrillers should begin with the "44th president of the united states swung round from the window facing the rose garden in the oval office to his chief of staff..." and you nailed that!

More of this stuff please...

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Albion Love Den has opinions thus...

Posted April 30, 2010
Cool. So, is this in A4 format? Double sided, or just single?

Also, does that say Day 1 in pen on the top right? If so, assuming the chapters will be marked on a timeline?

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Murphy puts forth...

Posted April 30, 2010
Has anyone forwarded this entry to SFSignal yet? This is exactly the sort of thing newbie aspirants should see. Any writer worth a damn is going to spend a lot of time doing just this sort of thing.

In fact, if I were handing out more take home essays, I'd probably use this sheet as an example of what a professional should be doing with their writing.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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First Week of Lifeguard Training, among other things. « Murphy’s Pondering Tree: Mark II mutters...

Posted May 1, 2010
[...] John Birmingham has an interesting image up at his blog. It is this. [...]

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HAVOCK asserts...

Posted May 2, 2010
In the interests of Planetary harmony I am exercising severe restraint...and NOT FKN CAPPIN INDIVIDUALS!

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Rhino is gonna tell you...

Posted May 3, 2010
I'm sorry Havsy ... I'm too busy filling cups for export to respond at the moment. Please leave a message for my publicist and she will get back with you ASAP. You may recognize her ... she was one of Birmo's bunnies that got a green card to the States. Just a little perk of membership in the Circle of Trust and, of course, being a bona fide action hero on several continents.

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Rhino ducks in to say...

Posted May 3, 2010
I mean, you did read that blurb from the reviewer, eh? Brawny. heh heh heh.

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Matthew K has opinions thus...

Posted May 3, 2010
Initially I thought that Kipper should be pressing the flesh and asking "Where are you from?" etc, but asking where people are from in Post Wave America brings up the fact that most people are from places that, in effect, don't exist anymore. Nor their families, friends, hell even their pets are gone.

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gtrof is gonna tell you...

Posted May 4, 2010
Ah can't wait for After America! Real interesting seeing the edited draft Birmo!

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted May 4, 2010
Mr. Rhino sir.

You are a very bad man.

Well Funny, but very bad none the less.

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Respond to 'Okay, lets try that again.'

Some fan fic for monday.

Posted March 29, 2010 by John Birmingham
And if Mr Savo could copy this across to the mini-b that'd be tops.

The Southern Approaches Command

After The Wave III

By

John R. Johnson

Prologue

It was over a year since the Wave, as it was called, hit the United States, Canada and Mexico. Every person living in the boundaries of the tear shaped wave had disappeared. The wave had covered all of the United States, except for a portion of the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. All of Canada south of an arc which extended from Oregon, brushing Edmonton, and the southern half of Hudson's Bay was gone. The northern two thirds of Mexico from Belize to Acapulco was lifeless. The survivors in southern Mexico had fled south. Afraid the Wave would expand and take them.

The Wave, after a year, had disappeared as mysteriously as it had appeared. During that time civilization had started coming apart at the seams. Many had celebrated the demise of the United States but were now regretting the reality. Already some people were talking about the "golden age" when America had kept sanity in the world and put limits to the ambitions of despots.

In every country were men who were trying to hold things together. Some were more successful than others. So far the most successful had been the new President of the United States, James "Kip" Kipper. Working from the new Western White House in Seattle he still controlled the U.S. military, around the world, and when push came to shove it was still the most powerful in the world. A few nuclear exchanges had convinced most of the world leaders to back off a little in their grab for power. The situation was still dangerous but slowly things were settling out and positions were becoming clear and leaders were able to see where they stood in the scheme of things.

When the Wave occurred many of the surviving Americans were evacuated to New Zealand and Australia and Asian countries. The reduced resources of what remained of the United States couldn't support all of the survivors. Since the Wave had disappeared there had been talk about what to do with the Americans but no decisions had been made about resettlement yet. China was talking about keeping the Americans who had gone there for "their own safety and well-being."

USS Matinicus (WPB-1315)

The Southern Approaches

The Gulf of Mexico

One year after the end of the Wave

William "Wild Bill" Elliott squinted against the bright sun reflected off the clear blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. He shook his head as he looked at the huge container ship the Matinicus has intercepted. The stench of unwashed bodies was almost over powering, even a hundred yards away. He had been expecting the huge crowd refugees, men and women and children, lining the ships rail. What got him was the flag the ship was flying. He wondered when was the last time the Papal flag had flown on a ship (he had to look the flag up to know what it was) and what was going on. He watched the Matinicus' boarding party, accompanied by two passengers, heading back to the cutter. Oh well, he would be getting answers soon.

"Skipper, here's the latest intelligence from the navy." said Lt. (junior grade) Jose Cabrera, his executive officer. "Naval Intelligence says they back tracked the ship on satellite photos. Apparently it left Rome about three weeks ago. Stopped for a few days in Spain and the Azores before heading across to America. The ship stayed far enough south to miss Cuba and then turned north a day and a half ago. That's why it's so far into the western Gulf. They don't have anything else on it." He started to close the message board then stopped. "There's also a weather advisory from the Air Force. There's a storm kicking up in the South Atlantic off the coast of Africa with a possibility of turning into a hurricane."

"No suggestions on what to do with a ship full of refugees?" Elliott asked. "This is the first but I'll bet you a months pay it won't be the last. Just a few general guidelines would be nice." He picked up the bridge phone. "Cookie, it doesn't look like there's going to be a problem. I'm going to keep the crew at general quarters though, just in case. See the crew gets something to hot to eat and drink in the mean time." He felt better knowing the cook and mess steward would pass the words and the crew could relax a little. He looked back at Jose. "Sorry, don't mean to be grouchy. I think this ship is just what it seems. A refugee ship and nothing else. I want to see the petty officer in charge as soon as he before I see our guests."

Before Jose could answer he was interrupted by the squawking of the bridge phone. Elliott picked it up and listened for several minutes. "Looks like another situation developing. Remember that contact radar picked up heading this way? Radar says they have another contact which could be trying to intercept the first target. They are both about five hours away. After we finish up here we'll go investigate."

"Aye, aye, Skipper." Jose grinned and said dryly. "You know, skipper, when we got back from the mission to Miami and they said you were being given the Southern Approaches Command I kind of envisioned something a little more … impressive than one cutter trying to cover the whole Gulf of Mexico." He turned away, "I'll have the boarding party bring our guests as soon as they are aboard."

"I'm sure as soon as they send more cutters there will be a change of command to someone with a little more clout." Bill looked at the boarding party’s RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat) pulling alongside. " I imagine this will be an interesting also."

***

Father John Bibzier Torbert, clutched his briefcase as he stood on the deck of the  coast guard patrol boat and looked around before reaching down to give a hand to Rabbi Malachi Throne as he scrambled aboard. There were several crew members manning machine guns sipping on mugs and eating sandwiches. For a moment he looked at the refugee ship he had just come from, feeling the weight of responsibility for all the lives aboard.  He wondered what the captain of the Matinicus would demand as a bribe. There were rumors the US navy was turning back all ships heading for the east coast of what had been the United States. There were also stories that the captain of this patrol boat had sunk a refugee ship trying to make its way to Florida and then left the survivors to drown. He hoped the captain would accept the bribe without being too greedy, like the patrol boats in the Mediterranean had become.

"Petty Officer Dupuis, the captain wants to see you on the bridge immediately," an alert, middle aged officer said. "I'll escort our guests to the bridge."

"Aye, aye sir," the petty officer saluted and turned to leave. "This is Father Torbert of the Knights Hospitaller and Rabbi Throne. They are in charge of the people on the ship."

"Father Torbert? I'm Lt. (j.g.) Jose Cabrera. If you and the Rabbi will follow me I'll take you to the captain." The officer waited attentatively before continuing. " I heard of your order but didn't know it still existed. But then I'm not up on the various religious orders."

"Our order is almost eight hundred years old." Father Torbert said. "Rabbi Throne and myself were picked to organize these refugees and to try to find a safe haven for them and possibly more in the future. " They followed Lt. (j.g.) Cabrera along the main deck toward the bridge.

"Skipper, this is Father Torbert of The Knights Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem and Rabbi Malachi Throne. They are in charge of the refugees." Lt. Cabrera said leading them onto the bridge. "Father, Rabbi this is Lt. William Elliot."

Lt. Elliott tilted his head for a moment listening and spoke quietly to the helmsman, before turning back to Father Torbert. "The Knights Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem? I believe your order was originally a military and medical order. Fighting the Turks and Ottomans and trying to win back the Holy Lands." Bill said. " If I remember correctly they changed their name and are now an  order based out of England and France and now medical missionaries or something. So what are you doing so far from home, Father?"

" The Pope has told all the orders to help resettle the refugees as much as possible. " Father Torbert said. " Our Grand Master selected me and fifteen other priests, all with combat experience, to help these people build a new life. It was felt a settlement in America would be an enormous asset and easiest to send refugees to. At the same time even these few thousand make a dint in resources, so it relieves the pressure on resources available in Italy."

"Sounds like a pretty tall order," Bill answered. "Okay, what do you have aboard your ship and what's your destination?"

"There are four thousand eight hundred and thirty five refugees on board, plus the officers and crew of the ship," Father Torbert said. "That includes eight hundred Americans, who decided to come with us rather than wait for your government to arrange for their transportation, three hundred and fifty Spanish and Portuguese, one hundred Greeks, fifty Albanians and five hundred Jews. The rest are Italian.

"I see," Bill said softly. "Your people must be standing on each others shoulders to get that many aboard one ship. You're luck there wasn't a storm. You could have lost half your people living in the containers." He looked back at the ship again. "Just what are you planning to do in America? Almost five thousand city dwellers will find it hard to survive. What skills do you have? Do you know how to raise food? Make your own clothing and tools?"

"I thought of that when I was given this assignment," Father Torbert said. "I consulted with some experts and we picked a number of older people, in their sixties and seventies and older to teach the old skills. I picked engineers, technicians, farmers and gardeners, tailors, machinists, doctors, nurses, and teachers. We even have a retired neurosurgeon who is studying up on gynecology."

"There were a number of farmers from kibbutz' in Israel visiting family in Rome when the Wave occurred," Rabbi Throne put in. "At the suggestion of the Israeli ambassador they remained in Italy and when this opportunity was presented they  volunteered to come with us and show us how to farm." Rabbi Throne shrugged, "It's felt the time is come once again for the Jews to…disperse… and give things time to settle. Even if Israel is destroyed we will survive and rebuild someday. Five other rabbi's and myself will teach the word and ensure everything that has happened is remembered."

"I see," Bill said. "The Italians, and I assume the other countries, are glad to get rid of some people they consider useless and Israel is taking the long view in case something happens to Israel. Well I can't blame them for that. But why should we allow you into the United States, what's left of it. Like I said even with someone to teach pre-mechanization skills it's going to be very hard to survive." He held up his hand. "Never mind, I see you are determined. So tell me why you should be allowed to land?"

"I have a copy of the passengers and crew manifest, by name, age, occupation and nationality," Father Torbert said, pulling a thick sheaf of papers and two envelops from his briefcase. He ignored the restraining hand Rabbi Throne put on his arm. "There is also a letter from the American Ambassador in Rome and a personal appeal from the Grand Master of our order."

"You still haven't answered my question," Bill said, taking the stack of papers and the envelopes. He handed the passenger manifest over to the messenger of the watch. "Take these to my cabin and I'll examine them later." He opened the top letter and read it. "Typical diplomatic double-talk. To hear the Ambassador tell it butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. Where were you planning to land?" He opened the next envelop and read it, face starting to turn red with rage.

Father Torbert felt his stomach clinch as he realized his mistake. He could sense the other crew members on the bridge straightening and turning hard stares on the two visitors. "Sir, please forgive me," he tried to backpedal. "I'm so used to the patrol captains in the Mediterranean I misjudged you. Please, captain, if these people, especially the Jews, are force to return to Europe they will not be allowed to land. If we go to South America there is a good chance they will be imprisoned and maybe enslaved.  Don't punish them because I made a mistake in judgment."

"The Holy Father has decided to resurrect all of the military orders in their original concept. His Holiness says with the changing times we must go back to basics in the defense of the church. We must try peaceful means first and then, if that doesn't work use alternate methods." Father Torbert felt beads of sweat breaking out on his forehead. "The Pope is afraid we might be entering a new dark age and he is trying to take steps to preserve as much of the knowledge as possible. He has ordered the reopening of remote, isolated monasteries and the military orders to protect them. The Church is working to try to make things better and ease international tensions but he is also making contingency plans in case thing get worse." Father Torbert voice was shaking. "Please, Captain. You must not punish these people because of me."

"Very well, Father." Bill said, taking deep breaths to control his anger. He waved to the bridge crew to relax. "That's the kind of mistake that could get you and all your people killed. I should feed you to the sharks for an insult like that and if you do it again I will."

"I understand and it won't happen again," Father Torbert felt a chill go down his spine at the utterly calm, reasonable tone the captain had used. "We haven't decided where to land yet. We were hoping to have more information before we made a decision."

"Delays like that can be fatal," Bill said. "We escorted several contract civilian support ships here from Puerto Rico. They each carried a platoon of marines and some engineers. We left the USS Neptune in Galveston, TX. They are checking the conditions of refineries and oil wells. Another, the USS Macon,  is in Mobile, AL surveying the damage and conditions along the Gulf coast from Tampa, Fl to New Orleans. They report the levees in New Orleans have broken and most of the city is flooded, also the Mississippi River is still highly toxic from the runoff from the pollution and acid rain last year."

"Thank you, Captain." Father Torbert said again, tuning to leave. "If there is ever anything I or my order can do we will be glad to help."

"Just a minute, Father." Bill held out the letter he had been clinching in his hand. "You might want to keep this in a safe place. A hundred thousand pounds stirling in a blank letter of credit on the Bank of England can be tempting to some people. Hang on to it and maybe you can use it to buy things you colony will need to survive."

***

USCGC Matinicus (WPB-1315)

Six Hours later

"Bridge," Elliott said into the bridge phone. He listened for several minutes. "Very well, report any changes in course and speed." He hung up the phone and turned to Jose. "That was radar. The contact should be in sight shortly. It's moving pretty slowly. We should intercept it in about an hour. Good thing we intercepted the Albatros first and got it turned around." He shook his head. "It really brought back memories seeing a Point class patrol boat again. Which reminds me on our next report we need to include the information that Venezuela has added more machine guns and a deck gun to the armament.

"What are your plans, Skipper," Jose asked? "It sounds to me like someone doesn't want to continue enjoying the socialist utopia of Venezuela."

"I'm afraid you're right," Bill said. "I'll play it by ear after I find out for sure who all the players in this little game are. Pass the word that I don't want anyone getting a little trigger happy. Intercept should be as planed so we'll go to General Quarters in fifteen minutes." He looked at the sun low in the darkening sky. "We'll come up on them from the west. If there's any light left, and it's pirates and they want to fight, that'll make it hard for them to get a good target."

"You got it, Skipper," Jose replied. He started to leave then paused. "Skipper, am I mistaken or are the number of ships heading toward the United States, what's left of it, increasing? We spent over a month going up and down the coast of Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and we only met the pirated cruise ship and the refugees from another ship who landed before we arrive on scene. We've only just arrived on station and here we have three ships in one day and I understand the navy has turned back a number of ships from Europe approaching the northeast."

"They are increasing and we'll be seeing a lot more in the coming days." Bill said. "All the navy ships in the Atlantic are tied up intercepting ships from Europe and turning them back." He smiled wearily. "I haven't had any direction but until I do I see our job as sorting the true refugees looking to build a new life from the looters and get rich quick artists. They'll all be coming and maybe I'm an idealists but I mean to sort through the … crowds… for the true seekers and turn the spoilers back, if possible."

"I hadn't thought about that," Jose admitted. "Hopefully everything will settle down now and return to some part of normal."

"Not anytime soon," Bill said. "I think we are decivilizing fast. You heard Father Torbert talking about making sure to include elderly people for their pre-industrialization skills?" He grimaced. "Look at what’s happening in parts of Africa and South America. Reports of pandemics and ethnic cleansing. They're killing off the people who know how to make things run. When those people are gone who is going to keep the machinery running, much less build new ones. And not just mechanical machinery but I'm talking about the machinery of government. That being said I think the world will be lucky if we stop at a 1930's level of technology. But it's all going to be a mix, 1930's tech next to 2000 tech. It's part of our job to see if we can lessen the slide."

"I think Southeast Asia will be okay. They grow enough food for their people and once you get out of the cities the life is still basically the same as it has been for hundreds of years." He frowned thoughtfully. "China might split into two or three new countries, their problem is two fold. The government has tried to rule by supposed committee for years, and in the process built up their own ruling elite. And a lot of farmers were displaced and thrown off the land during their industrial buildup, they are really pissed off."

"If India and Pakistan can keep from nuking each other they might be okay, too. But the next few years are going to be vital. Our job is to try and see people have those years to start recovering."

"You know, Skipper, I've known you for going onto fifteen years and I've never heard you talk like that." Jose said thoughtfully. "Maybe I've become something of an idealist too because I like the sound of that. The crew and I will back you all the way."

***

An Hour later

"Skipper, she's a 130 ft, fishing trawler named the Santa Maria, she must be forty or fifty years old. Looks like she's doing her top speed." Jose reported from the deck above the bridge. He was using the big eyes, 27 lb swivel mounted binoculars. The big eyes weren't infrared but their light gathering capabilities was unsurpassed. "I'm surprised they can even get eight knots out of her, much less ten knots. She's sitting low in the water like she has a heavy load. " With the big eyes he could see an ant crawling on a wall a block away. "I'm glad we intercepted that patrol boat out of Cuba first and that she decided to turn around without any fuss. Otherwise we'd be working against the clock here. "

"Jose, she's not answering any of our hails and she's altered course since they sighted us." Elliott said.  He looked at the dark evening sky and reached for the bridge phone. "I'm going to put a few shots across her bow to stop her. Get the boarding party ready to go and get some spotlights on her so we can see what's happening. "

***

"Boarding party, what do you have?" Elliott said into the radio handset. He listened for a moment. "Bring the leader back with you so I can talk to him." He signed off and waved Jose over to him and spoke in a low voice. "The ship is Venezuelan and has almost two hundred people aboard."

"That's about par for the day," Jose said. "More refugees to vet and send on their way." He picked up the 1MC bridge public address system. "All hands, this is the XO. The trawler is full of refugees. We don't think there will be any trouble but stay on your toes just in case."

***

"Skipper, this is Mr. James Musco Boulware a passenger on the Santa Maria." GM2 Robert "Bobby" Dupuis spoke in a Brooklyn/Haitian accent. He was born and raised in a Haitian neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY of Haitian parents.  "I felt you should talk to him and hear what he has to say."

"Captain, I'm Jim Boulware, late of Texas and Guyana. I was there on vacation with my family when the wave hit. There were about  ten or twelve thousand Americans in Guyana, either living there or tourists." He grimaced. "Anyway about four months ago Venezuela invaded and took over Guyana and Brazil took Surinam. The first anyone knew was when marines started landing in Georgetown. " His face twisted for a minute. "The Venezuelans rounded up all the Americans and secretly shipped us out to a prison camp in Maracaibo." He shrugged, "There was an American trained doctor there to treat the prisoners. We became friends and he agreed to help with an escape attempt if he and his family could go with us."

"We know about the invasions. We had requests for help from the governments of Guyana and Surinam. Unfortunately there was nothing we could do. A combined Venezuelan and Brazilian army tried to take French Guyana but Sarkozy had sent  troops to secure the place. They kick the Venezuelan and Brazilian armies out." Elliott looked hard at Boulware. "There was a university professor on sabbatical in Venezuela when the wave hit. It was reported he had been selected by the prisoners as their representative to Chavez and the US government. He's been reporting the internees are well treated."

"I know that tranzi son of a bitch!" Boulware exclaimed. "He and his goons come around to the camps trying to recruit people to help him "set up a new and legitimate government and a workers paradise", that will restore the rights of the little guy and stop the destruction of the planet by big corporate interests. Of course he will be the one in charge." He spat on the deck. "He thinks the sun rises and sets in Chavez' ass."

"I'll need written statements on that from you and your people." Elliott swore softly under his breath. "But first things first. Just how many are on that boat?" Elliott asked. "As low as she is in the water we were afraid she would sink. Also who's in command?"

"Yes sir," Boulware said. He took a deep breath to control his anger. "There are one hundred fifty three Americans and thirty-four Venezuelans. The ship is commanded by Jorge Hernandez. He is the grandfather of the doctor who helped us and owns the ship." His speech started to speed up. "Captain, before we left we heard rumors that President Chavez is assembling an invasion force to try to take parts of Mexico or the United States. You have the get the warning out so they can be stopped."

"Slow down so we can get this right." Bill said. "XO, get the yeoman up here to write all this down." He turned back to Boulware. "Now start at the beginning and tell us everything. Especially anything you know about the forces making up this invasion force."

***

USCGC Matinicus (WPB-1315)

Nearing Galveston, TX

The two days later

"Skipper, here are the latest messages, the first one is a priority." Jose said. "There are several messages there that you need to take a look at. Looks like we have new orders."

Elliott read the top message and glanced at the ones under it. He shook his head and moved over to the chart table. He looked at the chart for several minutes. "We are ordered to rendezvous with the USS Gary (FFG-51). We are suppose to cooperate with the commanding office and assist him in any way we can." Elliott shook his head again. "Doesn't tell us much does it. The rendezvous looks to be an oil platform." He looked at the chart again and measured the distance with protractors, estimated time and speed. "If we remain in Galveston just long enough to refuel we can be there the day after tomorrow."

"I looked the Gary up in Jane's as soon as I saw the message coming in. She was homeported at Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan when the wave hit, part of DesRon 15." Jose said. "Don't know why she would be here now but it looks like she's going to be head honcho on this invasion fleet thing." He paused for a moment then grinned. "Skipper you might want to take a look at those two messages that came in just before the orders."

"What the hell," Elliott exclaimed. "I've only been a lieutenant for a few months. What the hell is Admiral Brimo thinking of making me a Lieutenant Commander. There must be a mistake. Get a message off asking for clarification."

"The message below that is appointing the commander of the Gary as USNAVGULFDEFCOM," Jose said. "That might have something to do with the promotion. That translates as US Navy, Gulf Defense Command." He grinned, "I'll get a message off right away though. By the way the next message down says there is definitely a hurricane headed our way."

***

USCGC Matinicus (WPB-1315)

At rendezvous point

Elliott stood up in the pitching RHIB and grabbed the ladder to board the USS Gary. He was in a foul mood, being summoned to the Gary stuck in his craw, but orders were orders. He straightened in surprise as the bosun's pipe thrilled. He saluted the flag and then the officer of the deck, requesting permission to come aboard.

"Lt.-Cdr. Elliott. I'm Lt. Cruz," the OOD saluted. "I've been ordered to bring you to the captain. If you will follow me, sir."

***

"Lt.-Cdr. Elliott, welcome to the Gary. I'm Cdr. James Tiberius Shigita," said the captain of the Gary. "And before you ask my father was a Star Trek fan." He grimaced, "We'll go up to the CIC in a moment but first I wanted to see you in private. I want to make sure we don't have any problems because it looks like your boss and my boss are in a pissing contest. I was under orders to meet a convoy of ships in the Bahamas when I got a message making me USNAVGULFDEFCOM and ordering me to rendezvous with you here. Then I get a message promoting you to Lt.-Cdr. I'm not sure what's going on but I wanted to get everything straightened out before we start planning our operations."

"Well, I hate to say it but a few months ago, when the Coast Guard Caribbean Group commander was killed in a car accident, the navy tried to take over all Coast Guard assets in the Caribbean." Elliott frowned, "I guess it left a bad taste in Admiral Brimo's mouth. He appointed me Commander, Southern Approaches' Command when he ordered the Matinicus on this mission. I think he sees another grab by the Navy."

"That's all we need," Cdr. Shigita said. "Commander, Southern Approaches' eh. I guess that explains the USNAVGULFDEFCOM. Admirals!" He shook his head wearily. "How do you think we should handle this?"

"I have no experience in naval operation," Elliott said. "Law enforcement, fisheries, smugglers, I can handle. Planning a naval battle is something new. I'll leave that to you. Speaking of which what's the latest from Naval Intelligence"

"Once they knew there was something to look for they were pretty efficient," Cdr. Shigita said. "They spotted a Venezuelan naval force leaving port and headed this way. It looks like Venezuela might have a deal with the Columbians because one of the spy satellites spotted a Columbian force headed north in the Pacific. That's why you and I are getting to play the Lone Ranger and Tonto." He looked at Bill, "What do you know about fencing? That was my favorite sport at the academy."

"Fencing, isn't that with long pointy pieces of metal?" Elliot joked. "Seriously I don't know anything about the sport. What's that got to do with our situation?"

"I always liked sabers best," Cdr. Shigita said. He stood up and headed for the hatch. "Most people believe when you block a saber swing you use the edge of your blade. Actually you try to block with the flat of the blade so you don't ruin the edge. That's what I'm going to try to do with the Venezuelans, deflect their attack. Let's go to the CIC and I'll show you what I mean."

"Why are the Venezuelans and Columbians trying this now?" Elliott asked, following Cdr. Shigita from the cabin. "I mean after what happened to Venezuela last year I would think they would be scared to try anything."

"The Venezuelans and Columbians figure they can get away with things now that they couldn't last year," Shigita said. "They think that now we have a civilian president we will be hamstrung as far as nukes are concerned. They might be right but we still have other weapons. Without the Wave the prize is much larger. Intelligence thinks the Columbians just want the Panama Canal. The Venezuelans really hate our guts so there's no telling what their objective is." He shook his head. "If this attack fails I think the whole Venezuelan, Columbian, Brazilian thing will fall apart. Each one wants to be top dog and doesn't trust the others so it's not going to hold together."

***

USCGC Matinicus (WPB-1315)

Underway in the Gulf of Mexico

Five Days later

"Jose, what's the status on the radar? It been down for five hours already," Elliott asked. The XO had just stepped through the hatch onto the heaving bridge. "Without the radar we're like a blind man in a crap game. We aren't going to have much luck."

"Skipper, the tech's report they've found the problem and should have the radar operational in about forty-five minutes," Lt. Cabrera reported, bracing against the heaving deck. "Looks like the antenna motor is out. Luckily we have a spare in supply. What's the situation now?"

"This weather isn't making anything easier," Elliott said, bracing against the roll of the ship. "Why did we have to have a hurricane now? The good news is the weather satellites show the hurricane turned north yesterday toward Texas or Louisiana." He shrugged. "Never mind. The situation is that without the radar we're groping like a blind man. We're relying on the Gary for position reports on the enemy fleet and that's hard while trying to maintain radio silence. We're already out of position." He held onto the bridge rail as the ship took another roll. "How do the men feel about this operation?"

"Personally I think I know how the last legion in Britain felt when Rome withdrew." Jose said. "Outnumbered by the barbarians by a thousand to one. Knowing there will be no relief. But also knowing just by being there on the wall it gives civilization one more day." He shrugged. "The men haven't thought about that aspect. They just know that you think it's important and that's good enough for them."

***

Elliott picked up the squawking bridge phone. "This is the Captain." He listened and then turned back to the XO. "The radar is back on line. They have a number of targets about twenty miles southeast of us. I'll be in the CIC if you need me."

As Elliott left the bridge the messenger of the watch announced, "The Captain is off the bridge."

***

Elliott cursed under his breath. If he was right the enemy convoy had changed course and the Matinicus was on the wrong side of the convoy formation.  The original op plan called for the Matinicus and the Gary to attack in conjunction. The Matinicus was suppose to light off every piece of electronics she had to try and fool the enemy into thinking she was the major ship of the attack formation. So much for operational plans.

On the other hand it looked like the Venezuelans hadn't seen the Matinicus. They had moved three of the four frigates escorting the convoy to block the Gary. If the Matinicus could get close enough before being seen she could get in some licks on the convoy.

He looked at the intelligence summary. Four escort frigates; the General Salóm (F-25), the General Urdaneta (F-23), the Mariscal Sucre (F-21), and the Almirante Brión (F-22).   The RORO (roll on, roll off) was carrying troops. That was the same ship used in the attack on the base at Guantanamo Bay last year. The oil tanker, Dixie Vengeance, was carrying fuel and the motor vessel Rim was probably carrying ammunition and supplies. Those were the major ships. There were three other smaller ships which could be carrying supplies or troops. Two LST's,  the Capana (T-61) and the Los Llanos (T-64) and a Ciudad Bolívar class supply ship, the Ciudad Bolívar (T-81). The Bolívar was a new ship, only a few years old.

He looked at his watch; another hour before the Gary was suppose to open her attack. He studied the plot for a moment then picked up the phone and called the bridge. "XO, this is the captain. Bring us to three quarter speed. Change course to 213 degrees relative. We will be going to general quarters in half an hour."

He looked back at the plot. Now came the hard part, waiting.

***

Elliott braced against the side of his bridge chair. The Matinicus was rolling heavily, if not as heavily as the day before. Another twenty minutes before the Gary would start the ball rolling.

"What the… Shit!" Elliott spat out. He watched the distant tracers rising lazily  from the sea and then there was an explosion in mid-air. He snatched up the bridge phone when it squawked and listened. "Thanks XO. Looks like enemy escorts picked up one of  the LAMPS helos and shot it down. I'll be damned if I know what they were doing in the air in this weather." He listened for a moment. "Okay! Keep me informed on what the frigate on this side of the convoy is doing. Maybe we'll get a chance to slip in and get in some shots while they're distracted. Captain out."

"Godd…. ! The shits hitting the fan tonight," He growled. He watched the streaks from four separate positions on the horizon. Missiles… there was no mistaking the exhausts nor the tracer rounds arching toward the convoy. The explosions lit up the dark horizon. He grabbed the phone again as it squawked and listened. "Keep track of those torpedoes. I'd hate to get hit by one of own shots. Any indication of the damage done by those missiles?" He listened. "You think the Gary and two of the enemy escorts are damaged? The Gary and one enemy frigate has slowed down and the other is dead in the water. What's the situation on the escort on our side of the convoy?" He grinned wolfishly. "You mean she's left her position. Go to full speed and lets close on the convoy. Let's see if we can get a couple. If you can, get a course to either the RORO or the tanker."

He stepped to the bridge radar repeater and looked at the blips. Already he could tell they were changing course. The question was if it was part of a dispersal plan or more like an ant hill that had been stepped on.

***

"Gunny Barron, this is the captain," he said into the bridge phone. "We're headed toward two ships which I believe are the RORO and the tanker. It'll take about twenty minutes to get in range. In the dark they are going to be hard to spot visually. Let's try to get as close as possible to the targets so hold your fire until the last minute. If we're spotted then don't wait for orders to fire. The primary target is the RORO. After that lets see if we can get the tanker. CIC will direct your fire as needed. Good luck!"

***

Elliott looked through his binoculars. He could see the targets even in the dark. Two of the enemy ships, an escort and one of the LSTs, were burning and the convoy ships were silhouetted again the glow. Both target ships were well within range. He picked up the bridge phone to order the guns to open fire. Before he could say anything the RORO seemed to heave up out of the water. Moments later Elliott felt the shockwave.

"What the hell happened, sir?" someone on the bridge asked in a dazed voice.

"A Mk-48 torpedo from the Gary must have gone off under her keel. That will take out the surrounding buttressing, and hang the ship by the bow and stern as the shockwave does the damage.  " Elliott answered without thinking. "Bring us to course 265. Now lets get that tanker." He ordered, grabbing the bridge phone. "Gunny, we're going after the tanker. Open fire as soon as you get a clear shot. Try to hit the bridge first and then try for the fuel bunkers. But take any shot you have."

Seconds later the Matinicus shuddered as the M242 25 mm Bushmaster chain gun opened fire. The first couple of shots were a little short. After that you could see the march of hits along the hull and deck of the Dixie Vengeance as the shell fire moved from the bow toward the bridge. Within seconds the glow of flames could be seen where the incendiaries hit.

Through his binoculars Elliott could see frantic activity on Dixie Vengeance's bridge. He ordered course corrections as the tanker tried to turn ponderously away from the Matinicus.

He was startled out of his concentration by the sudden blare of sirens. It took a moment to realize the Dixie Vengeance had turned into path of  the Ciudad Bolívar (T-81). It was mesmerizing watching the two ships headed toward disaster. Everything seemed to move in slow motion until with a scream of tortured metal the bow of the  Ciudad Bolívar slammed into the mid-ships of the oil tanker. The tanker was pushed under water as the Ciudad Bolívar rode up over it. As the Dixie Vengeance slowly came up out of the water crewmen could be seen running on both ships.

Elliott gave hurried orders for the Matinicus to change course away for the two ships. He could already see oil and fuel spreading from the two ships. He prayed the fuel wouldn't catch fire until the Matinicus was a safe distant away.

He felt the shock wave as the fuel on the tanker caught fire and exploded. He last impression was of something dark coming toward him and then blackness.

USS Neptune

Sick Bay

Galveston, TX

Ten Days later

Bill Elliott knew his eyes were open because he could see a white glow, even though he couldn't see anything else. He managed to blink his eyes a few times and finally he could make out some hazy details. Bending over a table next to the bed he was on was a blurry figure. He tried to speak but only a very faint croak came out. His next attempt was a little louder and attracted the figures attention.

"Cdr. Elliott, take it easy. I'm Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Fuller." HM2 Fuller said. "You've been injured and you are in the sick bay on the Neptune. Take a sip of  water and then I'll notify the doctor." He used a plastic bottle to squirt water into Elliott's mouth.

Elliott hadn't realized how thirsty he was until he felt the cool relief of the water spreading through his body. He just had time to comprehend the USS Gary's ships patch on the corpsman's uniform before he drifted off into a cloud of white mist.

***

Elliott awoke to the sound of a chain being dragged across a deck. He opened his eyes to see his executive officer picking up his hat to leave. He cleared his throat and almost smiled at the way the XO jerked around. He stared at the beds jammed together in the sick bay as the XO jerked back the cloth divider and shouted for a doctor. Then he was floating on white clouds again.

***

Elliott roused with a doctor taking his pulse. He opened his eyes and looked around the small isolated area.

"Ah, good! You're awake! I'm Dr. Blau," the doctor said. "You have had some serious injuries and have been in and out of consciousness for the last two weeks." The doctor wrote on a clipboard from the end of the bed. "If you can stay awake I'll have some food brought and your executive officer is here."

"I'll stay awake and send in my XO." Elliott ordered quietly.

***

Elliott was propped on a pillow eating the last of the soup the corpsman was spoon feeding him when his executive office, Lt. (jg) Jose Cabrera arrived. He motioned Cabrera in with a nod of his head.

"Captain, I'm glad to see you in such good condition," said Lt. (jg) Cabrera, putting down a message board. He waited until the corpsman left then shook his head. "Bill, we've known each other for over twenty years and I've never seen you look worse." He grinned, "In fact I've see dog turds that look better than you do. Seriously though I'm glad to see you up and almost around."

"Good to see you to, Jose," said Elliott. "Give me a rundown on the situation. They won't tell me anything."

"No problem, Skipper," Cabrera said. "To start with you have a concussion, your right arm and leg are broken and you have some broken ribs…"

"I wasn't asking about me," Elliott interrupted. "I meant the Matinicus and the whole situation here. For instance, I see a huge number of beds jammed into a sickbay that was never meant to hold that many. What happened to the Gary?"

"We had 11 crew killed and twenty wounded. You are the only one on the bridge to survive." Cabrera said somberly. "The Gary took several hits and lost her propeller. We had to tow her back to port. She lost 23 killed and 40 seriously wounded. I think only about six or seven crewmen were not wounded. The only officer on the Gary that's fit for duty is an ensign. " He closed his eyes tightly trying to shut out the memory of the trip. "Cdr. Shigita is in even worse shape than you are. He's still in a coma. The doctor is setting up a med-evac. " He shook himself. "The good news is the enemy fleet turned back. Also the Columbian fleet in the Pacific turned back when they got word of the battle. We are doing what repairs we can on the Matinicus and the crew of the Gary are trying to do something to fix her up. However both ships need a period in the yard to get the job done right." He looked at Elliott. "We picked up a few survivors from the tanker. They said half the cargo was gasoline. That's why the explosion was so powerful."

"Sounds like I missed the rough part." Elliott said quietly. "What's the situation here? From the little I can see from this bed there's a lot of work to be done here."

"Well, Skipper, I'm kind of glad you asked." Cabrera stuck his head out of the partition and called, "Come on in. He can see you now."

Elliott watched in trepidation as six men crowded their way into the partitioned area. He recognized them. Capt. Doyle Ingram (USMC), Fr. John Bibzier Torbert, Rabbi Malachi Throne, Jim Boulware, Dr. Blau, and Capt. John King of the Neptune.

Elliott knew he wasn't going to like whatever was coming. He close his eyes, maybe it was a bad dream and they would be gone when he opened his eyes. He opened one eye and sighed. They were all still there.

"Okay, Skipper. the good news first," Cabrera said. He pulled a message from the message board. "Admiral Brimo is sending two more cutters, the  Chandeleur (WPB-1319), the Farallon (WPB-1301).  and a buoy tender, CGC Dolphin (WPB-87354). They will be assigned to the Southern Approaches Command. They will also bring extra personnel to try to get some more cutters reactivated. Families will follow when transport becomes available. They should have left San Juan today. Also two more refugee ships from Europe have arrived in Mobile and seven boats from South America arrived in Galveston. No telling how many just landed on the coast. That's the good news."

"Now for the bad news," he said, pulling out another message. "This message came in from the President appointing you, as the senior military officer, as temporary administrator of the Gulf Coast region." He grinned. "I checked with a lawyer among the escapees from Venezuela. He said in effect this make you military governor until elections can be held. Elections will be affected by whatever state laws the elections are held in. The message also orders all military commanders and civilian leaders in the Gulf region to report to you in person." The others all nodded.

"Don't try to slough this off on me," said Captain King. He had seen Elliott's eyes turn calculatingly toward him. "The Neptune is a civilian ship under contract to the Navy and the government. I'm not eligible to be the governor." He grinned happily. "Better you than me. I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole."

"It gets even better," Cabrera said, pulling out two more messages. "A Mr. Van Jones, Assistant Under Secretary of Homeland Security, first ordered all refugees to be interned in temporary camps until a complete background check can be made on each refugee." Cabrera hesitated for a moment. "I have a few contacts in Seattle and they tell me that Jones is very liberal and is building his own empire inside Homeland Security." Cabrera held up the second message. "Then he ordered the military to collected all weapons in their areas and secure them to prevent use by unauthorized persons, because guns in private hands are dangerous. The marines have established the camps and are holding everyone as ordered."

"Why the hell did you do that, Captain Ingram?" Elliot said angrily. "I thought better of you after Florida. How the hell are you suppose to accomplish your assignments if all your men are tied up as prison guards and where are you getting the food to feed them with?" His voice was rising in anger. "On top of that what are you doing here? You're suppose to be in Mobile, f**king Alabama."

"Sorry, sir!" Capt. Ingram snapped to attention. "Orders were for military commanders and civilian leaders to report to you in person. Father Torbert is a pilot and we got a small plane operational and reported here as ordered."

"I have my men guarding the pris… er … refugees as ordered." He said rigidly. "I have been unable to search for weapons and food supplies located close to the detainee camps will soon be exhausted. Sir, I need twice as many men as I have available to carry out the orders."

"At ease, Captain. I owe you an apology." Elliott looked seriously at the marine. "I shouldn't have let my temper get out of control. I could plead my injuries or the situation I found myself in. Never the less I should have exercised better control."

Elliott looked around. "Get some chairs in here so we can be comfortable and then I want a report from each of you."

***

Elliott leaned back on the pillow. He was incredibly tired. His head hurt, his arm and leg ached and whenever he took a deep breath he felt a stab of pain from the broken ribs. But he couldn't afford to take a painkiller, there was too much to be done.

"Jose, send a message to the Farallon to proceed to Pascagoula, Mississippi and see what it will take to get the shipyard there operational." He took a deep breath as he mentally ticked off the first item on his mental list. "Next I want a work party, to include an corpsman, a electrician and a machinist, to check out the hospitals here in Galveston and start getting one operational. I want the wounded moved there as soon as possible."

"Captain Ingram, you do the same when you get back to Mobile. Release all the so called detainees and get back to your job. If there are any questions tell them that the refugees have all been checked by me personally." He paused to think for a moment. "Gather as many weapons as you can and issue one to every adult or individual who can demonstrate they know how to use them. Set up classes in marksmanship and gun safety. People are going to tend to scatter, especially after the orders we received from Seattle. We will not be in a position, most of the time, to protect people. They will have to protect themselves. Any questions so far?"

"What happens if someone shows up demanding the guns?" Jim Boulware asked. "After all the orders were issued to confiscate them and some official might decide he has to take them away."

"Until my orders are countermanded, after I am no longer in charge, you have my permission to shoot the son of a bitch." He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block the pain.

"Alright! I'll make sure the word gets passed." Boulware grinned happily.

Elliott stared at Boulware after the outburst. Then he shook his head. Not even a Texan would be crazy enough to actually shoot someone like that. (He was wrong as he found out a few months later. Asst. Undersecretary Jones and fifty special security personnel, going to Texas with stated purpose of enforcing the new government regulations and arrest the 'incompetent buffoons" who failed to implement said regulation. Their plane flew into the ground half a mile from the end of the runway, during a violent storm. The investigation cleared the ground controllers of any wrong doing.)

"Next, we can't afford to screw around with six or seven sets of local laws. Post notices that state and local laws are hereby rescinded until local populations are large enough to enact new laws." He smiled wickedly. "We are going back to basics. Until we can enact new laws the US Constitution will be the law. See that copies are printed up and distributed to every man, woman and child in our jurisdiction. The Constitution and American History will be taught in every class in schools as soon as they are up and running. This might be changed later but for now it will be done, at least in the area under my control. A lot of laws have been passed over the years which are no longer applicable under the present circumstances. It would be ridiculous to try and enforce them just because they are on the books."

"Check among the refugees and see if we have any civil engineers." He said seriously. "It might not seem like a big deal now but wait until the water stops running and the toilets back up. And don't forget doctors and nurses. Also check for teachers and lets get schools back open. Until I'm over ridden the official language will be English. There are going to be a lot of people coming, all with their own language. Everyone will need a common language to be able to communicate. And History and government."

"I'll check among the people in Mobile for teachers," volunteered Rabbi Throne. "If there are no qualified teachers I'll see about finding parents to teach. I'll also make a list of subjects which must be taught and which can wait until later."

"Very good, Rabbi." Elliott said. "Mr. Boulware, do the same for Galveston. Also you and Father Torbert and Rabbi Throne, I want you to assemble a group with some legal experience to figure out how to give land titles to refugees to unclaimed land." He shook his head. "Americans with proof of ownership will still own their own land. We need a way to get title to refugees with no claim and a way to register the titles.  Maybe something along the lines of the homestead laws. And I want the law easily  understandable to a layman without the need for a lawyer. Also have them come up with local laws concerning murder, stealing, etc. Then have the citizens in your areas vote on them." He paused thoughtfully. "Start organizing elections so civilian government can start taking over the responsibilities of getting things organized."

"That's all for now. Any questions?" He waited a moment. "Okay, get started on everything and we will meet again tomorrow at noon. I want to see some progress on the items we just went over." He snapped his fingers. "Make up lists of things that need to be done and recommendations. We'll go over the list and decide what to do and in what priority. Capt. Ingram, Father Torbert and Rabbi Throne, you should plan to leave as soon as possible after the meeting. I'm sure you all have things waiting for you that needs to get done."

After the others had left Cabrera rolled his eyes to the ceiling. "Are you crazy? As soon as someone files a complaint with Seattle they will relieve you." He stared at Elliott in understanding. "You're trying to get relieved aren't you and you figure the quickest way is to have a lot of people start complaining about your high handed policies?"

"I estimate it will take about a month for enough complaints to go in and get me off the hook." He snorted. "Military governor, my ass! There are probably a number of liberals in the refugees who will be falling over themselves to be the first to file a complaint. Make sure everyone has access to communications with Seattle." He sighed. "I guess you had better get that lawyer you mentioned, if he can be trusted, to start going over federal laws and see what we need to maintain basic rights and see justice is done."

"I'll get on it right away." Cabrera said. "As the Chinese say it looks like we're living in interesting times." He looked down and then pulled the blanket up over the sleeping Elliott

The End

27 Responses to ‘Some fan fic for monday.’

HAVOCK has opinions thus...

Posted March 29, 2010
DAM!...good job...very good job!

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Scott would have you know...

Posted March 29, 2010
Good stuff!

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Matthew K mumbles...

Posted March 29, 2010
Enjoyed that, thanks. Authentic sounding details of US Naval life, can almost smell the sea.

Overall though I found the dialogue and the identities of the speakers to be a little crudely presented. And PLEASE we don't need reminding more than once in a paragraph of a character's full name and title; i.e. "Lt. (j.g.) Jose Cabrera", once he's introduced at the beginning of a scene then thereafter he, or any other character, can be referred to by their surname/nickname.

Sorry, minor details but they did grate on my nerves after a while. Overall I found it readable, realistic and credible.

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NBlob asserts...

Posted March 29, 2010
I'm really interested to see how JB deals with the repopulation issue. We already know that Miguel makes it from what I still think of as the Aussie Rules mob, to Texas.

It is going to be an interesting ride. Roll On Fathers Day!

Nice work sir, very nice work, the bribe offer took me an extra read to work out, that's not a bad thing.

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NukemHill is gonna tell you...

Posted March 30, 2010
I've noticed a rather interesting (and depressing, frankly) theme echoed here in this story. As many of you are aware, we in the US are going through some interesting times. The political scene is as polarized as I can recall, and many say probably since at least our Civil War in the 1860s.

The divisiveness lies mostly along a pretty clear fault line: on one side are the self-identified Progressives. They feel it is the role of the government to provide as many safety nets as possible for the population, in order to protect them from harm--be it financial, physical, spiritual, etc. This results in an ever-burgeoning centralized government, with accompanying bureaucracies, laws, regulations, et al. In order to fund this, new taxes, levies, fines, and tariffs are being enacted.

On the other side lie the "Self-Determinists" (my word). This group is made up of traditional libertarians, fiscal conservatives, small-government conservatives, etc. They argue for reducing government reach, smaller bureaucracies, fewer laws. One could call them Traditionalists, or Constitutionalists. They strongly believe in a very limited and strict interpretation of the Constitution of the United States. Get the government out of our lives. Let the American people determine their own course, make their own mistakes, live, learn, and move on. Give the states back the power they are granted in the Constitution.

Currently, the Tea Party seems to be the focal point of this philosophy of governing. The actions of the current administration, along with those of our Congress, have galvanized this movement, and the popular sentiment seems (one can never really know with public opinion polls) to be on the side of the TP. I don't know if this is merely a short-term phenomenon, or if it is indicative of a genuine sea-change. That is probably a critical aspect of the point I'm about to make.

All this is to say this: The sentiment expressed by Elliot (though not explicitly) is that the Constitution is paramount. It is the governing document under which all local and state policies will be established. A return of states rights, the teaching of history, self-determination--these are stated goals of his. Now, it is couched in thumbing his nose at DHS, but the author makes it clear that Elliot has the support of the populace in his endeavors (if I'm interpreting the "accidental" plane crash properly...).

But there is an interesting premise to this story, and one I've encountered elsewhere, as well. It takes a catastrophic event to reset the playing field. Because of The Wave, the previously omni-present federal government has been destroyed. Given this, the ability for "locals" to re-establish self-governance is paramount. And they have the ability to re-adopt the Constitution (in a strict-constructionist manner) as the basis for their government. Without interference from the federal government!

A different twist on this would be "Executive Orders", by Tom Clancy. He uses a catastrophic event (the mass death of nearly every elected official through a plane attack on Capitol Hill) to attempt a "fresh start". And this theme shows up in other books, as well.

What I find depressing about all of this, if you will indulge me a bit more, is that it seems nobody (unless I've missed it somehow) really believes (and here come my true colors!) that we can reverse the monstrous growth and over-reach of our federal government without some sort of catastrophic event that at least partially, if not completely, incapacitates the government as it stands today. Either through an exogenous event (The Wave; a terrorist attack), or through the even greater horror of a second civil war. But without a massive, violent shift, there is no way to reverse the course. It certainly implies that the political process is either too ineffective, or too corrupted (or both), to enact what many feel (myself being one of them) to be necessary clampdowns. Which makes me wonder at how the current Tea Party movement will evolve. Will it keep to a strictly political exercise, in an attempt to change the system from within? Will it be able to bring about those changes politically? Or will it be faced, eventually, with a decision to make: keep butting against an immoveable object, or start to act outside the system? There are plenty of militia movements and groups in this country. I used to think they were a bunch of crackpots. And, indeed, there are those in existence. But there are many more (in spite of what the press would have us believe) that strongly believe in the Constitution and what it stands for. If enough people lose faith in the system, then I fear the militia movement may explode in popularity, with all of the dangers that implies….

I could go on. Anyone who's read this far--thanks for indulging me. This seemed to be as good a place as any to voice a deep-seated fear of mine--either we're moving inexorably towards a totalitarian federal government, with lots of power residing in very few, unchecked, hands; or a fearfully violent shift will strip that power away, and return it to the people. And that the current system doesn't allow for a non-violent reversal.

Good story. Thought provoking (obviously!). Obviously, there are nits to pick, but I think Mr. Johnson acquits himself quite well.

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mckinneytexas has opinions thus...

Posted March 30, 2010
Good read, although that Adm. Brimo seems kind of lame. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.

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Matthew K mumbles...

Posted March 30, 2010
Thanks Nuke, that articulates questions I've been having about the worrying polarisation of US politics.

Although I'm a Brit and have never visited, I'm sort of worried by the tone the Republicans have adopted of late, even though I might well agree with the sentiments they express I feel they take them to ridiculous extremes.

It matters because I don't want to live in a world dominated by China.

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Roberto Teixeira is gonna tell you...

Posted March 30, 2010
Very nice, Sir.

I have to say that I didn't buy into the Venezuelan-Colombian deal. Those two hate each other's guts. Colombia is a US ally, btw. Of course, in the aftermath of the Wave everything is up for grabs.

Also I don't think Brazil -- a wuss of a country if there ever was one, with barely a military to speak of -- would invade Suriname. Brazil is the kind of place that would probably propose a multilateral commission to discuss the feasibility of starting an international inquiry on the legality of giving Suriname to Chavez.

But other than that, thanks for this. Loved to hear some ideas of what might have happened after the Wave... anxiously waiting for Without America.

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Murphy asserts...

Posted March 30, 2010
It'll be interesting to see how the issue of reconstituting new states will manifest itself in the next couple of novels.

For instance, will the new US Government simply restore states based upon their historical boundaries when the population reaches a certain target level? If you use the Northwest Ordnance as historical example, then you'd need around 60,000 voting adults to establish a state constitutional convention and apply for admission back into the Federal Government.

Or will they create new states to replace the lost ones, consolidating are perhaps combining former states into larger entities?

Another question to ask is this? An age old debate in US History is the nature of the power of the Federal Government as opposed to State Governments? How will this manifest itself? Will the Federal Government assume more power by virtue of the absence of State Governments or will their be a more pronounced turn toward the power of State Governments due to the communications/geographic/transportation issues of the post wave world?

You might have some states and territories get it into their head to do their own thing, which was certainly the case during the Articles of Confederation Period stretching from the Revolutionary War to the Summer of 1787.

Things to ponder.

As for American History, I've been teaching it now for three years at the community college level. If you had caught me in 2007 I would have argued for an old school approach to US History emphasizing the Founding Fathers, the Constitution and the like. I still teach it that way but I find, strangely enough for me, that I have been trying to find ways to work other aspects of our narative into the course. Issues such as the nature of America's ascendency to regional then global power status, minority and gender rights, and of course, the nature of Federal versus State Power.

The next question is this. These folks will be teaching the U.S. Constitution. All well and good as I do that. But which INTERPRETATION will they teach? Jeffersonian or Hamiltonian? There are pros and cons to both schools and whats more, the difference in interpretation shapes our current day political debates about the nature of Federal Power.

Things to ponder.

Oh, another historical period to consider would be the Reconstruction Era from 1863 to 1877 and examine how the South was brought back into the Union. With mixed results and at the expense of 4 million freed African-American slaves.

Things to ponder.

As for Brazil, they have a fairly substantial military and one that is well respected. I wouldn't count the Brazilians out of anything.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Matthew K mutters...

Posted March 30, 2010
O missed the whole Venezuelan-Colombian deal. Good point Mr Teixeira.

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John Birmingham reckons...

Posted March 30, 2010
Uh, everyone does realise this is fan fic, right? I didn't write it. It is from the dashing pen of John Johnson.

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Matthew K mutters...

Posted March 30, 2010
Yeah yeah. We're just giving it it's due and seeing how well it fits into the canon is all.

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Alcibiades would have you know...

Posted March 30, 2010
Very good!!!

Theres just one problem I have (and this is just from the book/universe/setting, not this story per se.

I sat down after reading the book during a slow time and by the time I was done had two pages of what I KNEW was either 1) correct or 2) demonstably probable about the Wave. But aside from the possibly cryptic comment by the President at the end, its presumed no one knows anything, just as you can bet that there are some fairly significant probabilities for what happens now its gone.

While deductive reaoning isnt always right, presuming no one is using it makes my teeth itch.

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NukemHill swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 30, 2010
JB. Yes, of course. I think everyone's clear on that. It's a great piece of fan-fic. And frankly, it has stirred the muse within me. I've contemplated scenarios set within your WW/AA universe, but haven't really set my mind to putting "pen to paper", as it were. Reading this, and gestating over my previous comment, has me seriously considering taking a stab at it.

If I do, I'll send it to you. Thanks a ton for providing a forum in which we have the freedom to express ourselves this way.

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A ‘poor western to arab death ratio!’ « The World According to Me… asserts...

Posted March 31, 2010
[...] Gothic also hosts a nice piece of fan fiction from The Wave section of the [...]

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NickC reckons...

Posted March 31, 2010
Murph

For the readmission of States, there'd be a lot of pressure to restore the status quo. However, once the first State had been admitted with different boundaries, it'd be a lot easier to make further changes.

Interestingly, given the likely spread of resettlement is going to be initally out of Seattle, almost immediately you'd have debates as to whether California should be admitted as one or more States (as one state in time it would again come to dwarf the other States in population) and whether to merge States such as Wyoming, Idaho, the Dakatos etc to reduce their disproportinate political influence.

This would also tie into the question of whether you incorporate Canadian or Mexican territory as States too, I guess.

There probaly would be great pressure on the president and his successors to restore as many stars to the flag as quickly as possible.

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El Coqui puts forth...

Posted March 31, 2010
I like it very much.

However, it does need a bit of editing, too many repetitive ranks or those use in the wrong context. Example, on conversation, is commander not Lieutenant commander. The same for Lieutenant Colonel, you address them as Colonels.

I too have problems with the Colombian turnover. They not only hate each other guts but if Chavez is dumb enough to start a war with them, the smart money is on Colombia.

One element missing is aviation. We could have flown strike missions from reopened bases on the gulf states.

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Murphy is gonna tell you...

Posted March 31, 2010
Nick, if it were yours truly running the country (and I'm not) the first thing I'd do is secure the Western Seaboard. Then I would try to secure strategic positions as far east as possible using relatively intact urban centers with vital commo and transportation links.

Personally, I think it all boils down to rivers. I'd want to secure the Missouri, the Mississippi and the Ohio at the very least.

I think I'd also want to secure key points on the Eastern Seaboard. Miami is intact as of Without Warning and a palce for El Coqui to perhaps base a little fan fiction. I can see Puerto Rico moving into that territory to secure it.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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El Coqui ducks in to say...

Posted April 1, 2010
Well, I can use my fighter pilot POV for some of the reopened air bases. The question is where, any suggestions?

Personally, I think that we need\ to secure Barksdale? in LA early on as that where the B-52s and their nukes were based. Probably with elements of the 65th Infantry.

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NukemHill asserts...

Posted April 1, 2010
Question. Would any of the Canadian northern early warning sites remain active? I.e., what used to be part of the NORAD early launch detection network, I believe, and now serves as part of the continental air defense?

I'm really curious how the North American continent would be defended from concerted efforts by the Russians and/or Chinese to bring light brigades into the interior US and lock down some of the juicier military and scientific installations. It would be a shitstorm at the least, and possibly impossible to reverse until the invaders decided they'd gotten enough of what they wanted.

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Murphy mutters...

Posted April 1, 2010
It is not easy to get to the United States. Once you are here, it is not easy to support yourself. Ask the British during the War of 1812 or the Revolutionary War. I suspect anyone attempting an incursion into CONUS would find it difficult to get here, difficult to sustain themselves and difficult to prevail.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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savo swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 3, 2010
Will do Admiral.

Had a lightening strike and still working off a netbook.

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John R. Johnson reckons...

Posted April 5, 2010
I want to take this opportunity to answer several critisms of my story.

The comment about Admiral Brimo being kind of weak. First the Admiral is headquartered in Puerto Rico, which has a function government infrastructure. His only knowledge of the situation on the ground (or sea) are the reports he receives from the local commander (Elliott). Also the orders from the civilian dederal government in Seattle are direct to the highest military officer in the local area. Effectively cutting Elliott from Adm. Brimo's chain of command and setting up an independent command.

NEXT:

Jose: What can I say. 27 years of calling a J.G. a Lt and only writing j.g. or Lt. Cdr in reports and I should know better. I have made the appropraite changes in the story to remove a nummber of them. I will be happy to send you the amended story if you like.

Comments about the supposed Venezuela, Brazil, Columbia coalition. I have made several corrections/additions which I wll post here.

"We know about the invasions. We had requests for help from the governments of Guyana and Surinam. Unfortunately there was nothing we could do. A combined Venezuelan and Brazilian army tried to take French Guyana but Sarkozy had sent troops to secure the place. They kick the Venezuelan and Brazilian armies out. Surinam probably could have kicked the Brazilians out but the Dutch were even more wishy-washy than the Brazilians." Elliott looked hard at Boulware. "There was a university professor on sabbatical in Venezuela when the wave hit. It was reported he had been selected by the prisoners as their representative to Chavez and the US government. He's been reporting the internees are well treated."

Frankly I was torn wheither to use this or say the Brazilian government had been overthrown after the Wave. I decided if there had been an overthrow the situation in country would have been too unsettled to support an invasion of Surinam.

NEXT.

"The Venezuelans and Columbians figure they can get away with things now that they couldn't last year," Shigita said. "They think that now we have a civilian president we will be hamstrung as far as nukes are concerned. They might be right but we still have other weapons. Without the Wave the prize is much larger. Intelligence thinks the Columbians just want the Panama Canal. The Venezuelans really hate our guts so there's no telling what their objective is." He shook his head. "If this attack fails I think the whole Venezuelan, Columbian, Brazilian thing will fall apart. Each one hates the other, wants to be top dog and doesn't trust the others so it's not going to hold together."

NUKE: I agree with many of your statements. I think this country is teetering on the edge of civil war. God! I hope not. However, I would rather see a reform come about by because of an outside force than civil war. In the event of civil war there will be hatred and ill feeling for a long time to come.

My paternal grandmother was born and raised in GA (as was I). She was born in 1897. I remember her saying one time that she was 14 years old before she knew 'damn yankee' was two words. I would really rather not see that much animosity between our citizens again. Unfortunately I see those feelings starting to grow today.

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John R. Johnson ducks in to say...

Posted April 5, 2010
I want to take this opportunity to answer several critisms of my story.

The comment about Admiral Brimo being kind of weak. First the Admiral is headquartered in Puerto Rico, which has a function government infrastructure. His only knowledge of the situation on the ground (or sea) are the reports he receives from the local commander (Elliott). Also the orders from the civilian dederal government in Seattle are direct to the highest military officer in the local area. Effectively cutting Elliott from Adm. Brimo's chain of command and setting up an independent command.

NEXT:

Jose: What can I say. 27 years of calling a J.G. a Lt and only writing j.g. or Lt. Cdr in reports and I should know better. I have made the appropraite changes in the story to remove a nummber of them. I will be happy to send you the amended story if you like.

Comments about the supposed Venezuela, Brazil, Columbia coalition. I have made several corrections/additions which I wll post here.

"We know about the invasions. We had requests for help from the governments of Guyana and Surinam. Unfortunately there was nothing we could do. A combined Venezuelan and Brazilian army tried to take French Guyana but Sarkozy had sent troops to secure the place. They kick the Venezuelan and Brazilian armies out. Surinam probably could have kicked the Brazilians out but the Dutch were even more wishy-washy than the Brazilians." Elliott looked hard at Boulware. "There was a university professor on sabbatical in Venezuela when the wave hit. It was reported he had been selected by the prisoners as their representative to Chavez and the US government. He's been reporting the internees are well treated."

Frankly I was torn wheither to use this or say the Brazilian government had been overthrown after the Wave. I decided if there had been an overthrow the situation in country would have been too unsettled to support an invasion of Surinam.

NEXT.

"The Venezuelans and Columbians figure they can get away with things now that they couldn't last year," Shigita said. "They think that now we have a civilian president we will be hamstrung as far as nukes are concerned. They might be right but we still have other weapons. Without the Wave the prize is much larger. Intelligence thinks the Columbians just want the Panama Canal. The Venezuelans really hate our guts so there's no telling what their objective is." He shook his head. "If this attack fails I think the whole Venezuelan, Columbian, Brazilian thing will fall apart. Each one hates the other, wants to be top dog and doesn't trust the others so it's not going to hold together."

NUKE: I agree with many of your statements. I think this country is teetering on the edge of civil war. God! I hope not. However, I would rather see a reform come about by because of an outside force than civil war. In the event of civil war there will be hatred and ill feeling for a long time to come.

My paternal grandmother was born and raised in GA (as was I). She was born in 1897. I remember her saying one time that she was 14 years old before she knew 'damn yankee' was two words. I would really rather not see that much animosity between our citizens again. Unfortunately I see those feelings starting to grow today.

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John R. Johnson is gonna tell you...

Posted April 5, 2010
I don't know how the previous message got posted twice. I apologize to everyone for the double post.

Savo: I you like I will be happy to send you most recent version of the story with the above corrections for posting on the miniburger site. I still can't figure out how to post it there. Just send me an email address and I will send the story as an attachment. Send it to me at jewelld@cox.net.

Thanks!

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El Coqui asserts...

Posted April 6, 2010
John:

Just send me a copy whenever you can. Paula picked up "No greater Love" formerly "sheepdogs and badges" for issue 29 of the Gazette. I am giving Sarah Hays, John Harvell, Neil and you credit for your yeoman work as proofreaders. Once again thanks.

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savo puts forth...

Posted April 6, 2010
John R. Johnson just use the ... er, oh the mailing address is gone from the top left hand box.

Can you send it to birmoverse at yahoo dot com dot au

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Respond to 'Some fan fic for monday.'

Thursday Writing Blog: answers, precious answers!

Posted March 25, 2010 by John Birmingham
Well, today's blunty seems to have developed a life of its own, leaving me time to pop in here and do a supplementary writing blog. Girlclumsy asked why it is I don't provide a lot of character descriptions in my novels. But then she answers that question herself by saying how much it annoys her to have to read extensive physical descriptions of characters, most of which presumably do not accord with her own imagined view of that person. That's my reasoning. As a reader I much prefer not to be told about every freckle and item of clothing. Most people will make a very well informed judgment about how they imagine a character should look based on just a couple of paragraphs acquaintance. Beyond the most basic signifiers of gender, race and maybe some indication of physical presence, leave it to the reader I say.

Aging Gamer asked whether I could recommend any writing courses. I am in two minds about this. I'm not going to run these courses down. I have spoken to quite a few graduation ceremonies for university students who've gone through three or four years of her writing degree, and having been forced to sit through the readings, I can assure you the quality of work they turn out is excellent. So they've obviously learned something. On the other hand I have been paid at times to give writing classes and I always felt guilty taking the money. The punters enjoyed the experience, and I imagine they thought they got something out of it, but I wouldn't like to boast about moving any of them closer to publication. I think over 20 years I've had one person who credited a class I gave with helping them break into the profession. There are hundreds of these classes available every year, many of them taught by really good writers, really successful individuals. I just don't know whether they're worth it. As a baby author I wouldn't have bothered going to one.

One thing I can tell you is that the purely commercial "writing school" style courses you see advertised every now and then are a total waste of money. You should have nothing to do with them. If you're serious about it, enroll in a university course. QUT has a particularly good one.

Finally, Abe asked about the odds. What chance your manuscript will get picked up from the slush pile. What chance that you out of the thousands of writing school graduates and undiscovered, unread geniuses toiling away at home, what chance that you will emerge at the head of the pack?

Depends. Sorry, but it does. It depends on whether you're a bit of a crazy, which lots of writers are, and lots of would-be writers really are. Publishers are very good at spotting crazy people. It depends on whether you're writing commercial fiction or deeply personal, heartbreaking work of staggering genius style fiction, or poetry, or something in between. You'd better be really fucking good if the latter is the case. And it depends on how good your first paragraph and your first couple of pages are. If you don't get them upfront, into the bin with you. Hughesy could probably tell you how many unsolicited manuscripts turn up the agencies and publishers every month, but nationally I would guess that it would run into the hundreds. A couple might get picked up each year.

34 Responses to ‘Thursday Writing Blog: answers, precious answers!’

Chaz puts forth...

Posted March 25, 2010
Interesting. I guess the best thing is to get the thing edited and then write about something people want to read.

Oh and write the damn thing in the first place (thought I'd chuck that one in before anyone pointed the fnger)!

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NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 25, 2010
"It depends on whether you’re a bit of a crazy"

Tick.

Whoo hoo! uber-author lifestyle of 'Blow & hookers titties' here I come.

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Quokka would have you know...

Posted March 25, 2010
Who you calling crazy, boy?

On a whining note, just got back from the library where they had the latest 'One book many Brisbanes' on display. Took a flick through it and its a heap of short stories from local authors most..(OK, all) of whom I probably wouldn't read.

WTH happened to the days when there was some sort of competition for that, the purpose of which was to find fresh new talent?

Aside from which, I thought we'd all learned Lesson One - nobody reads collections of short stories.

Grumble grumble.

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Moko reckons...

Posted March 25, 2010
Self publishing worth it on various fronts?.

Think it comes down to quality in the end.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted March 25, 2010
Yes, Moko, my large and menacing friend, it is likely to come down to quality in the end, but quantity has a quality all its own - and that's why my strategy to become a published author of semi-autobiographical science fiction/action/adventure/fantasy is to make sure that my novel "Rick Venture: First Attorney in Space" lands on the top of every single slush pile in existence! Somewhere, whether it be in a London publishing house or in a Beijing alley, someone is reading the first sentence of "Rick Venture: First Attorney in Space"!

If I can get enough of my novel, "Rick Venture: First Attorney in Space," on enough slush piles, then the law of averages means that it is only a matter of time before someone reads the second sentence.

The prospect is thrilling.

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John Birmingham mutters...

Posted March 25, 2010
Quokka, they still do the comp, AFAIK. In fact an old university friend of mine just won a grand and publication in the one coming out this year.

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Quokka puts forth...

Posted March 25, 2010
Excellent!

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Naut swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 25, 2010
Firing Attorneys into space to test new spacecraft, eh PNB?

Seems more humane and less of a waste than monkeys and dogs.

Anyway I have to believe that quality and persistence with a dash of ingenuity will invariably eventually win out. The craziness probably helps with the persistence part.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 25, 2010
Nautilus, I find your lack of faith disturbing.

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Abs asserts...

Posted March 25, 2010
Moving right away from lawyers in space for a sec, there is a grand doco on ABC 1 tonight at 9.30 called 'I, Psychopath' ( :p PNB )

Why mention it here? because it has much relevance to all writers who are thinking about character. Especially 'baddies'. This afternoon I listened to Phillip Adams interview two guests on his show (for O/S people who want to get it- ABC Radio National, Late Night Live, first broadcast on Wed at 10 pm, and repeated today at 4 pm).

It was absolutely fascinating. He interviewd the guy who made the doco as well as the world's foremost authority on psychopathy- Prof.Bob Hehir (and there were emails from Sam the psychopath in question).

One of the most interesting things about it was that psychopaths are not all killers and that they're not as bright as you are lead to believe. So it dispelled a lot of myths and injected some subtlety. Highly educative.

Anyway, 2 reasons why I thought it'd make a useful character study are-

-The subtle ins and outs of bad people are often missing in books so that kind of character often comes across as tinny and unconvincing.

-We lay people don't *really understand much about baddies and here is a golden opportunity to learn from the experts before applying to writing.

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Abs mutters...

Posted March 25, 2010
PNB-I fully endorse your statement "Quantity has a quality all its own" (having become acquainted with Yuri over at your place, foremost unpublished author)

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Abs is gonna tell you...

Posted March 25, 2010
"Purely commercial writing schools"-Indeed. The travesty that dare not speak its name.

Although, are there any free classes?

I would think the worth of writing classes becomes apparent only when you make a real connection with your teacher and it has to be a two way street. If the teacher is enamoured of your abilities,and you want to please them, you are effectively in a special little relationship and you will succeed. The other students will miss out and they'll pick up the sympatico between you and be resentful and envious and they'll slip downwards out of despair. That last kind described me and many others in my last writing class at the ANU. Me and the rest, save for one writer, were not the pets and we pretty much got ignored as individual writers. It makes me feel slightly sceptical of author-run classes.

That's about how it works, I think.

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Madam Morgana puts forth...

Posted March 25, 2010
There WAS a competition for "One Book", Quokka. If you'd like to read one of the fish they rejected, I'll email you my submission!

Lots of us may never get published. Hell, I'll still keep writing. Nothing else is so much fun. Where else (other than in a Telstra call centre) do you get to play God, making universes and manipulating your prose puppets?

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Quokka reckons...

Posted March 25, 2010
The psyche ward, from the sounds of things.

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Abs is gonna tell you...

Posted March 25, 2010
I should add, btw, that I got the idea to put that info here when I saw what you wrote ,JB, regarding why you don't put much detail into your characters.

See, there's a,ot ot be said for having an entire life story for a character and what they're wearing but to say only about 2 % of what you ,the creator, knows.

For example, The film (ok not a book) Fatal Attraction uses that holding back information technique very effectively, I think. Glenn Close said she knew what was psychologically the matter with her character but she refused to name it publicly. I think that adds depth.

It is rather irritating when writers tell you too much about a character because you get stuck in a corner trying hard all the time to see the writer's character as well as your own interpretation of the character. It's especially bad when you go see a film adaptation and all of your imaginings are ruined for you.

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Abe would have you know...

Posted March 25, 2010
Thanks! Looks to me like I should take the opportunities to write when they present themselves and keep jotting down the funny anecdotes from my time in the GFC as I experience them.

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Orin ducks in to say...

Posted March 25, 2010
William Gibson made the following comments on Twitter the other day:

---

Ever notice there's no real description of how Cayce looks? Aids projection on the reader's part.

We fall in love with characters the way we fall in love with people: projection's foremost. Let the readers see what they most want.

A character "based" on someone couldn't start to feel alive to me. I'd be unable to forget I'm writing.

I have no very definite idea of what my protagonists look like; fill them in daily with people I see on the street, photographs...

---

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Murphy is gonna tell you...

Posted March 26, 2010
If you are looking for a definition of crazy, openly wishing that an editor who rejected (screwed) your story might get hit by a bus probably qualifies.

Try, if at all possible, to avoid attacking editors. You'd be amazed at how incredibly hard it can be sometimes.

On the character bit, I like what Stephen King says about description. Basically in a nutshell he says to let the reader fill in the blanks and use the wordage to concentrate on other things.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted March 26, 2010
Orin - William Gibson is not the kind of writer you want to reference here. He is also quoted as saying "The future is already here. It just isn't distributed evenly." See what I mean?

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MickH ducks in to say...

Posted March 26, 2010
As well as being slightly crazy, you have to have a huge ego in the form of a monster self belief system that rides over any negative input. An example some of the shite that is written in here about editors ditching hard written MS after a few sentences or the author has the fucking audacity to write about clouds. You can't listen to that type of bullshit. You just have to do it. And you do it because you have a need to mostly. If you need a roll model for that you can't go past Stephen King.

For my part, I desperately need a decent peer network that can help me grow. Without any feedback, how can you improve? Qokka, any ideas?

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Abs has opinions thus...

Posted March 26, 2010
JB I wasn't sure what you meant by crazy. Did you mean, you have to be slightly crazy to want to do it because of the life, or do you mean there are all of these baby writers who are by nature very crazy and they will never leave that little village by virtue of the fact they are nutcases?

I'm willing to concede, just btw, that I have met a lot of would-be writers whose personalities leave me cold.I also haven't met tha many who I find sufficiently grounded to keep things in perspective. Coincidence? I think not.

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John Birmingham mutters...

Posted March 26, 2010
Quok, I once used my influence at Random House to get a book contract for a friend. I should have known better. He wasn't scizoid, or OCD or anything like that. He was a very talented writer. But he was also a raging egomaniac with no real people skillz beneath an eggshell thin veneer of charm. When he didn't get what he wanted he would throw things around the publishing house. Literally. Throwing and yelling.

That's what I mean by crazy.

MickH, too true. You do need iron will and self belief (just not the crazy, book throwing, shouty kind of self belief). But really, don't go describing clouds in that first par. I mean it.

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NataliatheRussianSpy mumbles...

Posted March 26, 2010
That was my character question. I'm good at answering myself myself.

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Abs reckons...

Posted March 26, 2010
JB, I think you @ 8.28 Meant Abi, not Quok. I don't mean that in the sense that I'm *correcting you, just making sure it was my particlar query you were referring to.

I loooove egomaniacs like that, they're hilarious. At arms length.

SpyNat- you saved yourself a lot of spit and bother then :)

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MickH reckons...

Posted March 26, 2010
“Ingrid lounged against the timber rail of the heaving liner, letting the vigorous sea breeze wash around her naked form still hot and sweaty of her resent exertions. The late afternoon sun dipped threateningly towards the sea obscured by the large formations of billowing clouds on the horizon. To Ingrid’s eyes they merged and swirled to form huge phallus’s that bobbed and throbbed in glistening splendour. She shuddered deeply and turned to observer the slumbering form on the bunk inside. It was time to give Sven another workout.”

:)

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Abs mumbles...

Posted March 26, 2010
hahaha. mickH, you could enter that in the "worst opening sentence of the year" contest.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted March 26, 2010
Speaking of awards for bad writing, there are two writing contests I've entered and never mind losing. The first is the Bulwer- Lytton Writing Contest that gives recognition to the worst opening sentences for a novel ever written. Edward George Bulwer-Lytton himself, a contemporary of Charles Dickens, was wildly popular in his day, but is now remembered for penning the simply awful opening sentence:

"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

My favorite winning entry was written by Richard J. Savastio of Media, Pennsylvania for the 1983 contest:

"As she fell face down into the black muck of the mud- wrestling pit, her sweaty, three-hundred-pound opponent muttering soft curses in Latin on top of her, Sister Marie thought, "There is no doubt about it: the Pope has betrayed me."

My second favorite contest is the Bad Hemingway Contest, where professional and amateur authors from all over the world - try to write the worst thing imaginable in the style of Ernest Hemingway. The winner gets a trip to Florence, Italy, and a dinner at Harry's American Bar.

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Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted March 26, 2010
Abi I suspect JB was getting back to my 'Who you calling crazy, boy?' query.

Although he has yet to return my completed mental heath report by email...

Back to what I was saying about listening to writers speak, I just got glued to radio national's book show, with sociologist Hugh McKay (sp?) discussing his book 'ways to escape' at the Perth Writers Festival.

He was talking about the figures on how many people disappear, every year, and how 1% are never seen again.

He got a novel out of that idea.

He pointed out that its impossible to know what motivates people to up and go and in effect, kill off their old identity and start anew - because you can't find them and ask them - so eventually he got around to tackling that problem via a work of fiction.

I was rivetted.

This is why I love the book show, you get to listen to those recordings of writers at festivals etc. Radio Nat tends to cherry pick the best ones and you get so much insight into what makes that particular writer tick and where they get their ideas.

A lot of extra cleaning gets done around my house while I'm listening to the book show so if nothing else, its good for that!

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Lobes reckons...

Posted March 26, 2010
LoL PNB that is a TERRIBLE sentence. I think I shall make it my FB status!!

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Abs asserts...

Posted March 26, 2010
PNB, Oh yes the Bulwer- Lytton is hard to resist.

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Abs has opinions thus...

Posted March 26, 2010
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/mar/26/oddest-book-title-award

Another one related to that category which you might enjoy.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan asserts...

Posted March 26, 2010
More than that, Lobes. It is a terrible first sentence of a really, really awful novel that I would LOVE to read. THAT's what it's all about, baby.

I seriously pursued recognition for my bad Hemingway - a very short story entitled Breasts Like White Elephants (a totally hilarious title if you know your Hemingway, and if you don't, then you are just no good). For a brief time I corresponded with Ray Bradbury and Gary Dahl (the inventor of the Pet Rock) both fellow contestants. We spent many hours vehemently disagreeing about which of our stories was worse. My relationship with these notworthy individuals ended, however, when I tried to borrow money.

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hughesy asserts...

Posted March 31, 2010
When I was in the biz, we refered to the people who weren't crazies as 'proper people'.

A proper person is a normal person, full of humility, self consciousness and shyness.

A proper person can be taught how to overcome their average human reticence, but a mad person cannnot be dissuaded from it.

Normal people, when put on the spot and have to talk about their work in public come across as affable, interesting and ;just like me' - mad people come across as Hitler, or worse, Tony Abott.

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Abs is gonna tell you...

Posted April 1, 2010
That's so spot on correct, Hughesy.

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