Cheeseburger Gothic

Some Felafel Artwork

Posted February 19, 2012 by John Birmingham
A couple of years ago I was wandering through West End when I passed a café with some interesting art hanging from the walls. It was the bright, cartoonish intensity that caught my eye. I like cartoons.

A couple of the pieces that really appealed to me obviously appealed to some other punters as well because they had red stickers on them. But I put aside that disappointment for something much more exciting. A commission. The artist, a young bloke by the name of David Jones, was easily contacted through the café and even more easily convinced to read one of my books and render it in color on canvas.

The book was Falafel, and this was his interpretation of it. Apologies for the lighting, it's not perfect. The wall on which I have this piece hung is angled away from the sun. Those of you familiar with the book may find it amusing to try and identify the episodes he's chosen to paint.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

6 Responses to ‘Some Felafel Artwork’

sean court would have you know...

Posted February 19, 2012
I actually read in launz

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Moko puts forth...

Posted February 19, 2012
Pepsi challenge to match them all up. Croikey.

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JG reckons...

Posted February 19, 2012
Lovely painting, JB. Matches the tone and humour of Felafel perfectly. Trying to remember where the pink teapot fitted in. Love it. :D Hot day in Brisbane. I've been reading your Weapons of Choice this humid arvo. Up to Ch 28.

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Therbs mumbles...

Posted February 20, 2012
Good pic with the FKN Paddle Pop Lion down the bottom left. To me the style is Spanish Mambo.

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abi puts forth...

Posted February 20, 2012
Got a bit of a headache so just cannot be bothered re-reading the blurb up the top--my apologies. I read it earlier but I don't know if you meant you've got this on your wall, JB, but I absolutely love it and if this guy makes prints of it, I'd be first in line. Yeah, it's brilliant.

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JG is gonna tell you...

Posted February 21, 2012
P.S. Just noticed your fan fic link here (Mini Burger). Funny... hadn't noticed it there before. I hope someone does a PhD about your blogging history and the culture/s it engenders online, JB. I find it all fascinating, esp the personalities that arise, the power struggles, alliances, wit, creativity, humour, topics, etc, etc. It's like the Mickey Mouse Club, only meaner, leaner, better.

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New book outline.

Posted January 24, 2012 by John Birmingham
Below is an edited version of the pitch I wrote up for the new series. I've cut out some commercially sensitive stuff, some in house chatter, some industry BS. What's left is a pretty good outline of what I'll be writing next. It's also a good template for how to pitch a book idea (although you need to bear in mind I have excised all of the marketing content).

 

 

Meet Dave Hooper. Marine engineer, oilrig fire boss, single dad, drinker, fighter. A man who has selfishly squandered great intellectual gifts and the luck of his Irish grandmother on dissipation and boorishness. A loveable asshole, but really, an asshole. The Jimmy McNulty of the small, clubbish world of oilrig disaster response.

Hooper is the sort of guy who fights fiercely to be with his children, but inevitably lets everyone down when he’s allowed anywhere near them. The things that make him great at one of the most dangerous jobs in the world – physical courage bordering on recklessness, a pigheaded refusal to accept the odds when they’re stacked against him, a lack of respect for any authority which hasn’t earned it, directly, on the fire line with him – all make Dave Hooper ill suited to decent company and parenthood.

We find him, at the start of his saga, experiencing a moment of clarity about the mess he has made of his life and the lives of everyone who ever loved him. Divorce papers await his signature back in small, stale-smelling room he has moved into on the Deep Horizon drill rig. Even his own lawyer, who he hasn’t paid, is telling him to sign them and give up. He’s beaten. His soon to be ex-wife loves him, really she does, but she just can’t be with him any more and nor can their two boys, she insists. David Hooper is a bad influence.

Suffering from a hangover and struggling to recall the details of the two hookers he left asleep in a hotel room paid for BP back onshore, Hooper can only agree. For the sake of his sons he has decided not to fight, for the first time in his life. He’ll sign the papers, say goodbye to his boys and let them go. It would be best for all, even though his wife plans to take them back to Nantucket.

And then, at his lowest ebb, the world as he knew it passes into history.

The Deep Horizon drill bit punches down through a capstone hidden tens of thousands of feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. It cracks open the seal between the world of men and the Under-Realms, allowing monsters back into the light.

At first it seems an everyday emergency. A shattered drill bit, a splintered drive shaft, an explosion, a fire. A day at the office for Dave Hooper. So much easier than dealing with women and their needs and feelings and their demands and their lawyers and the expectations and frustrations and the never-ending fucking migraine of coping with the hell of other people…

And then suddenly it’s not normal because two of his guys are screaming. They’re not burned. They haven’t been caught in a blow out or a secondary explosion. Something is… eating them. Something covered in crude oil and looking just like one of those things in that Lord of the Rings movie he took the boys to. The one that gave them nightmares for a week. This thing… orcs they were called in the movie… this thing has ripped the arm right off of Marty Grback, and Marty Grback has some pretty big fucking arms.

Dave Hooper doesn’t think. He acts. He charges the… thing, the orc, whatever it is, swinging his axe and splitting its skull with the first mighty blow. With a second, short and brutal strike he all but takes off the head, a nobbled, snarling animalistic skull that is all fangs and giant suppurating warts. And when he does that something happens.

He feels the life of the creature leaving it and some of that malign force seems to stay with him. As though he has leeched a small portion of its strength by the act of taking its life.

The creature, a demon, soon named an ‘orc’ by the mass media, is the vanguard of an old evil come back into our lives. The monsters of our legends were not just legends. They once walked the Earth were cast down by an older God who feared they might imperil his chosen kind. They live on in our myths and stories of the major demon archetypes, of vampires, werewolves, ghosts and demons. Of dragons and orcs and zombies and souleaters. All cultures have their own tales of them because all cultures share a common, long forgotten human history, a history of our near extinction at their hands.

When the Deep Horizon punches through the barrier between our world and their prison it releases our deepest fears in material form.

Has mankind grown strong enough to fight back? Can our magic, our technology and discipline and armies match the massed hordes of the Under Realms?

The story of dark magic and its monsters coming back into the world will mostly be the story of Dave Hooper, a flawed hero, an everyman champion who was there at the birth of the new, dark age and comes to lead the human resistance and fightback. A man who has greatness thrust upon him, he becomes our champion simply by being the first man to kill one of the Accursed. He did indeed steal some of its life essence and strength, and although he does not know it, the weapon he used, the humble fireman’s axe was likewise imbued. It is a strength that will grow with every enemy he takes down.

At first however Hooper is most concerned with saving his men, and then the rig, and then as the world falls apart, with his kids.

Magic is back, and it’s bad news for mankind. While our technology is more than a match for the power of the Under Realms – a dragon is easy meat for a Stinger missile – the hyper-complex, fragile nature of the modern human societies that make things like Stinger missiles and Apache helicopters will see them collapse when cities can no longer sustain themselves in the face of primal panic.

Importantly, although this book has obvious fantasy appeal, it is actually the technology and military elements that I want to emphasize. In the end, although Hooper is crucial, he cannot win on his own. Humanity must rescue itself and the tools we will use to do so are the weapons and the cultures we have crafted over the millennia during which we’ve been free to develop. For thousands of years our brutal, Hobbesian natures were the sorrow of the human condition. Now our hunger for war, our madness for weapons, will be the saving of us.

That, and a man called Dave.

105 Responses to ‘New book outline.’

Chaz puts forth...

Posted January 24, 2012
Have to say this is likely to be so cool...
Especially when the usual suspects try and ally themselves with the FOD!

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leesargent reckons...

Posted January 24, 2012
Wow, thanks for sharing that JB, on two levels.

First off that sounds really good and I can't wait to read that. Secondly it's interesting seeing how you pitch the story. Have you already finished writing the book or do you pitch the general idea first and then jump in (I think I can guess from your intro but I'm curious about how far you get through before pitching).

Cheers
Lee

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Sweet Jane Says would have you know...

Posted January 24, 2012
Otherwise known as Ash in Marvel comics...

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Blarkon would have you know...

Posted January 24, 2012
The word EXPLOSION only appears twice in that pitch. Does this mean that this series is aimed at the more literary crowd?

And asshole is spelled with 'arse'

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Sweet Jane Says would have you know...

Posted January 24, 2012
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ash_Williams

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JG has opinions thus...

Posted January 24, 2012
I don't really do snark well, so I'll go for honesty. Gush alert ahead.... Wow! That sounds amazing, John. What a mind you have! F*ckin genius. Love everything about your (edited) pitch. Love Dave, the flawed hero protagonist. You will make all things monsterish cool. Congratulations again on a magnificent idea and pitch. :))

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Sweet Jane Says ducks in to say...

Posted January 24, 2012
No-one does it better than Bruce Campbell.

Birmingham, seriously... Dude, if you need a pop-culture researcher and a researcher with knowledge of literary figures, classic and pulp, I have the knowledge and am familiar with many works of prose and poetry.

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Sweet Jane Says ducks in to say...

Posted January 24, 2012
"Ash ranked eleventh on UGO.com's "Top 100 Heroes of All Time" list, describing him as "An egomaniacal, complaining, misogynistic goon", but also the best "demon and zombie killer ever to be portrayed on the silver screen". They additionally praised the character for his humility at the conclusion of Army of Darkness, in returning to his own time.[12] Empire ranked him the twenty-fourth "Greatest Movie Character" on their list of 100, calling him a "truly iconic horror hero", and a "delirious, delicious, dimwitted" parody of action heroes.[13] He was also ranked number 77 on Fandomania's list of the 100 Greatest Fictional Characters.[14]" ~ Wikipedia

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GhostSwirv is gonna tell you...

Posted January 24, 2012
Love it JB - shared drinks with you in Melbourne last year during Angels book tour when you alluded to an airstrike against a mythical target(s), was intrigued then am so hooked now.

This could be the mashup of the century ... high-tech weps vs. old-school dark magic!

Can't wait to read it - stop writing #unAustralian tweets and get onto this!!!

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Monster Yuppy would have you know...

Posted January 24, 2012
When SJS comes back, she makes a fucking entrance.....

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JG reckons...

Posted January 24, 2012
Hey, Monster Yuppy. Happy New Year of the Dragon. I'm yet to breathe fire here (except I was born in the Year of the Rabbit). You'll be in vogue with this new series. I wonder if there'll be a Yuppy Monster character.

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mrblenny mutters...

Posted January 24, 2012
Sounds sweet, does anyone who kills a demon-thing in melee combat absorb powers or just our hero? As a bit of a fantasy reader this sounds pretty good, hopefully our hero does not turn out to be the last ancestor of a great line of old kings though like most fantasy novels blergh!

Did you get the idea when Southpark had BP accidentally release cthulhu? :-p
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riSt9lJz2vQ

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Darth Greybeard has opinions thus...

Posted January 24, 2012
Are these so-called monsters - hypothetically of course - looking for some human advisers? Cultural Consultant to His Infernal Excellency has a nice ring to it. Not that I'd betray my species for any inducements such as extended life, wealth, power, hot demon chicks and so forth.

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bob puts forth...

Posted January 24, 2012
awesome, can't wait. although at the moment i'd settle for AoV.

dude, write faster please!

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WalkingShaw has opinions thus...

Posted January 24, 2012
SJS it's not Ash Williams it's Dave Hooper. By JB not Marvel.
Nuff said... JB want those ebooks first chief.

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Bangar swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 24, 2012
Sign me up! I expect edged weapons.

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Bondiboy66 ducks in to say...

Posted January 24, 2012
"Like".

I'm liking the Opening of Pandora's Box concept. And the absorbtion of the strength of the enemy is a concept done by Micheal Moorcock with his ''Elric'' series...as well as a comic series called ''Blackhawk'' that appeared in 2000AD comics years/eons ago, to name but two....although in those cases the life essence strength thing wore off after a while. Guess I'll have to wait for the books to see how your treatment differs JB. And heaven knows there is a plethora of material to reference when it comes to Evil Mythical Creatures!

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HAVOCK mutters...

Posted January 24, 2012
who else ya gunna call when you want to CAP FKN MUPPETS..even, EVIL deep, dark millennia fkn old MUPPETS!.

FKN HAVOCK

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Stevo Di Devo mumbles...

Posted January 24, 2012
Summoning Cthulu Anytime soon JB? Possible Cthulu/Kolhammer/Caitlin face off with Dave coming to save the day? I like Dave already....

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tqft is gonna tell you...

Posted January 24, 2012
Unlike Greybeard I can be bought (cheap too - make an offer).

Unfortunately I may not have the depth of knowledge as Greybeard or SJS, but I will settle for less hot demon chicks.

I don't really like horror as such but I have read some Lovecraftian stories. And I am getting a taste for Zombies (I am not sure that is a good thing).

However I think one is more likely to find a elder demon in the BP boardroom than the Gulf of Mexico.

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damian mutters...

Posted January 24, 2012
Hrm. At first I thought: I don't see this as "the same" as Evil Dead, close genre-mates perhaps but a quite different focus. But then I thought: hopelessly flawed but sympathetic, even charismatic anti-hero, armies of darkness, genre literate affectionate self parody, machines versus magic... Third thought: those are all key archetypes for the genre anyway, you have to do those just to participate.

The self parody and references are necessary, and should be many and wide but IMHO get annoying when laid on too thick. At least where it's distracting from the plot. Making some of the characters genre literate works, I guess.

Greybeard: I hear there's a bunch of stuff listed at http://jobs.greatoldones.ry

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HAVOCK mutters...

Posted January 24, 2012
This is Evil dead, meets THOR, meet Reign of Fire. Arc Angels...and Dragon and yeah..FK YEAH!. AMRAAM's strapped to dragons after you have inherited enough powers from slain demons, trained by Good DEMONS..( whatever a good demon is meant to be called I have NFI)..etc.

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Barnesm reckons...

Posted January 24, 2012
If is lovecraftian monsters then Charles Stross's creation Bob Howard of ' The Laundry' will be stuck in the middle of it.

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Matthew K asserts...

Posted January 24, 2012
Yes, thank you JB, I never had time for all that Chthulu horror stuff. All I can think is "I wonder how that thing would handle a main battle tank?" Now we shall find out.

Can you take on John Norman's odious "Gor",next please? I truly loathe it's premise that what modern women want is to be raped and enslaved and would love the slave trading musclemen to have their arses kicked by an army of women.

Anyway, rant mode off.

Havock comment of the week:" EVIL deep, dark millennia fkn old MUPPETS!."
(Were those the two old geezers in the stalls?)

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Bunyip is gonna tell you...

Posted January 24, 2012
JB, I'm a big fan of Larry Correia, so a venture into this genre is something I can look forward to ( am looking forward to the A0T stuff, but hey).

Apart from the 'plosionary goodness which we have come to expect from the AA series, the idea of a McNulty flavoured flawed paladin sounds cool. Are all the beasties coming out from the Under Realms going to be bad and nasty? Is this a dualistic conflict, or are there shades of grey? Are there neutral or vaguely useful allies for Dave et al down there?

Also curious, is magic going to be just something used by the Big Bad and it's minions? If not, there could be some fun there with some bumbling and reluctant mages wielding esoteric forces in the name of humanity. Yep, I watched too much Buffy...

Sounds cool. Bring on the B 52 carpet bombing...

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Bunyip would have you know...

Posted January 24, 2012
Matt K, having read a wee bit of HP Lovecraft, the idea of a Dimensional Shambleresque beastie materialising and dematerialising in the midst of a fire fight could be scary stuff.

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted January 24, 2012
Mr Blenny. It'll be explained, but no, he's not the progeny of an old warrior king line. Just a firefighter who lopped the noggin of an orc. For which you unlock an achievement and get some super powers, if you're the first in a particular province of the Over Realm. Or the Above. Or whatevs. So there'll be a few hero's here and there, but Dave is our guy.

In ref to Bunyip, no, we don't get to use magic, unless you're talking about a hero, like Dave. We don't need magic. We have guns.

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted January 24, 2012
Yeah yeah, sounds cool, Orcs + Xplodey goodness 'n stuff.

But seriously Where The Fuck does SJS get off?

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Matthew K swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 24, 2012
Anyway it sounds like you're not afraid to make your protagonist a bit of a twat, that adds depth and credibility so is good, flawed hero and all that. The days of us relating to absolute paragons of virtue are gone.
I lent my sister a werewolf book but she absolutely hated the principle character because he preyed on people every full moon and she did not want to relate to that at all. So one can take this whole ambiguity thing too far.

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Sparty ducks in to say...

Posted January 24, 2012
JB Question:
I'm curious, would you have pitched it the same way to your publishers if you didn't already have a strong reputation for rapidly achieving suspension of disbelief of your readers in a realistic circumstance (I'm thinking AoT)?

Its great that McNulty is now a quotable archetype!

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Matthew K swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 24, 2012
Oh yeah Bunyip, if the eldritch horrors can teleport whenever they want then HomSap's hi tech hardware is all for naught.

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John of Sparta mumbles...

Posted January 24, 2012
Go for it! Can't wait!

Was there a "Stormbringer" legacy buried in there too?

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John of Sparta is gonna tell you...

Posted January 24, 2012
Ah, read the comments now, and I can see I wasn't the first to spot the Michael Moorcock legacy.

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Leo euler would have you know...

Posted January 25, 2012
It sounds fun! A technology vs. magic story can be very interesting, and for some reason it instills a vicarious pride in our civilization.

I'm guessing one of the big questions in the story is: how intelligent are the invaders? Are they like the Lizards, (or the Race if you prefer, but it seems so supremacist to me...)? Or do they have a special kind of cunning and acumen?

But then why were they driven back, before the rise of technology? Internal dissent? A guy like Dave? etc.

-Samuel C.

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Murphy asserts...

Posted January 25, 2012
I predict fairly heavy use of fifty cal sniper rifles for dealing with many of these nether world creeps. But what I want to know is this.

Will their be fairies and if so, when can I get my pixie dust?

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mumbles...

Posted January 25, 2012
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh C'thulhu R'lyeh wgah-nagl fhtagn!

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Mc KinneyTexasSenatorTeaserPony ducks in to say...

Posted January 25, 2012
So, who's going to hold down the fort in Texas? Seems to me this story calls for a Teaser Pony.

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Biosciencewino would have you know...

Posted January 25, 2012
Inadvertant Pandora's box openning by modern man. Once this genie is out of the bottle can it be put back in? Is this a fight to the death or can we put a cap on it?
I am looking forward to the way the wacky Southern Church men interpret the "return of evil". Obviously we need a few referneces from The Book of Revelations.
Don't forget to mention the effect on BP's share price and the class actions against the company!
Can't wait JB, can't wait!

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Surtac reckons...

Posted January 25, 2012
Sounds great to me, as a long time fan of Elric, Conan and the whole Cthulu Mythos of HPL and Clark Ashton Smith.

And if, as John alluded to at the last Canberra meet-up, the story "The Demons of Buttcracke County" is a tasty teaser for that universe, then I think we're all in for a wild ride!

Go for it, JB!

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NBlob asserts...

Posted January 25, 2012
Q?
"They once walked the Earth (but) were cast down by an older God who feared they might imperil his chosen kind. "

Sooo, I guess Chris Hitchens gets to eat some humble pie. I can see a scene where scuffling holymen fight like wet chickens over who has The incantation or magic water to cast the evil back down, or at least to summon the "older God."

But to my question, as discussed in an old magic VS science blog, I always wonder why the arch villain don't just reach out & smote from miles away, once we accept magic, then there is no logical limit to the efficacy of that magic. If I can have a Mystic Sword, Jocks of Fortitude, or a Bangle of Whatever then why not a Over The Horizon lightening bolt?
How are you going to effectively limit the magiking?

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hughesy is gonna tell you...

Posted January 25, 2012
our technology and discipline and armies !!!!???

Bwahahahaha

It's a comedy, right?

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Timmo reckons...

Posted January 25, 2012
PNB,
I thought I told you not to go invoking C'thulhu via the Internet...

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Paul Nicholas Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted January 25, 2012
Yes, you did. But I belong to a decadent, evil culture on par with the Nazis (or so I am informed by an impeccable source). So why not invoke C'thulhu via the Internets? Huh? Why not?

BTW, cool idea for a series, JB.

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Brother PorkChop mumbles...

Posted January 25, 2012
So the Gulf of Mexico April 20 oil spill in 2010 was not actually Hallibuton's fault? Nor BP's? It was the first attempted breakout of the bogeymen!! And here I was thinking Halliburton were all evil trolls and should be put out of business.
All in all, nothing that a battery of 105s couldn't fix.

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YB puts forth...

Posted January 25, 2012
The comments above remind me of the "SIMPSONS DID IT" kid from Southpark who complains that any plot or archetype has already been done in a Simpsons episode. The wonderful 'who cares' factor there is that as long as you drive some creativity through the archetypes, you can still come up with great story and entertainment. I also note that most of the things mentioned are 20+ years out of print/ off the screen. Perfect!

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Mat D mutters...

Posted January 25, 2012
"Orcs" better check with Peter Jackson incase you go breaching a copyright of sorts.

Awesome go the fantasy military mash up, sounds epic JB. So how do I go about being written in and have my face chewed off or beaten to death with my own limbs by one of these rampaging beasties?

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SpringfieldFats mutters...

Posted January 25, 2012
So, I take it this was a simultaneous pitch to Bioware/Bethesda as well then? I'm playing dragon age at the moment and continually think 'if only I had a gun, these frakking blood mages and their stooges would be much easier to kill' as I die for the umpteenth time.

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Sweet Jane Says has opinions thus...

Posted January 25, 2012
South Park - Imagination Land

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0995577/reviews

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Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted January 25, 2012
No, not quite, Jane. How about this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mJxTmyZFHU&feature=related

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Darth Greybeard has opinions thus...

Posted January 25, 2012
Last words of the guy in front of Dave Hooper. "My, this is Orcward."

And dammit Damian, I clicked on that link! I trusted you man. My dream job . . .

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HAVOCK mutters...

Posted January 25, 2012
I sooo hope we get a chance to cap the BLONDE wench who is the ice queen in NARNIA!..fk yes!

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mumbles...

Posted January 25, 2012
Cap her?? I want to make sweet love to her. Over and over again. From multiple vantage points.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mumbles...

Posted January 25, 2012
Please don't tell my wife. She won't understand and it won't go well for me.

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Timmo mumbles...

Posted January 25, 2012
Wasn't she also some kind of Ice wench-queen in the movie of Pratchett's Hogfather?

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HAVOCK mutters...

Posted January 25, 2012
Armies of Darkness V the Army of GOD..or HAVOCK, no match really, will cap the fkrs all day everyday everywhere!. SO I should be THE lead

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Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted January 25, 2012
Better not have any fkn elves or wizards. That'd be crossing the Kiwi Hobbit Smugness line. Not really that into the fantasy stuff. I always thought that a good machine gun with grenade launcher would sort out spell casters, sword wielders, elves, orcs and those annoying fucking hobbits. Cap 'em all, but first steal their souvenir D&D tea sets and ebay them to role players.
Be interesting to see how an orc stands up to an AK47 going at full tilt. Lots of green goo on the ground I'm hoping.

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CathieT swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 25, 2012
Sounds like these little suckers will be worth waiting for!

P.S. Dave sounds just like my kinda bloke - you know the ones who aren't up themselves to start with!!

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John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted January 25, 2012
AK 47. When you absolutely positively have to killing every motherfucking orc in the room.

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HAVOCK mumbles...

Posted January 25, 2012
This is kinda like playing HERATIC

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HAVOCK asserts...

Posted January 25, 2012
HERETIC... and H2, by RAVEN...fkn AWESOME!..back in 1994..lol..fkn long time ago!

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Therbs mutters...

Posted January 25, 2012
JB - given that its 3 books and that civilisation is on its last legs I reckon the old AK could stand the test of retro technology. Aside from that there's so many of the fkn things lying around that it would become the prime anti-monster weapon. Just need to make sure you get some of those guys on board from Pakistan who make the ammo. In fact Pakistan would be a great place to arm yourself and grab some fighters who are used to hiding from enemies. They could blow up the Creature From The Black Lagoon with IED's.

It would absolutely fkn rip if Godzirra makes an appearance.

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peterb mutters...

Posted January 25, 2012
Just cut out the flab mate - angels is too bloody fat - you let some rubbish go by there ..

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Bondiboy66 mutters...

Posted January 25, 2012
Hmmm D&D - modern weapons mixup....my mates and I did that very thing way back when I were a spotty teenage geek. One scenario involved orcs vs a team of WW2 Germans and it don't go well for the orcs. Another had yours truly playing a Vietnam era American SF soldier who was transplanted into a D&D world. There were advantages such as weapons power, accuracy and range, and disadvantages such as little armour protection and no idea of magic. It was fun, at least until the whole party (my character and my mates' fantasy based characters) died horribly at the hands of some powerful demons or some such. I can go into more geeky details but won't because typing on an iPad shits me.

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Mark Duffett swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 25, 2012
Always good to work in some Judeo-Christian references for maximum resonance and impact (think Raiders of the Lost Ark). I suggest some judicious quoting of Revelation 9...

"All this has happened before. And it will happen again" also strikes me as a phrase you could use ;)

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WarDog puts forth...

Posted January 25, 2012
@Timmo she also played the Arch Angel Gabrielle in "Constantine".

Speaking of which, if there's infernal nasties, then I presume their opposite numbers will also be making an appearance? I do love alien and inscrutable faeries and angels.

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Scott ducks in to say...

Posted January 25, 2012
No good beasties please. If humanity can't stand on it's own it doesn't deserve to survive. Nukes lots of tactical nukes. Won't be used until after some of the green voting districts have been eaten.
Can't wait to see someone like Hanson-Young saying to an orc "we need to sit down and have a dialog*crunch* choke hack spit!

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted January 25, 2012
Peterb, sorry, less character devel, more splodey. Noted.

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sibeen has opinions thus...

Posted January 25, 2012
Sibeen sounds like a good name for the leader of the underworld.


*just saying*

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peterb mumbles...

Posted January 25, 2012
I'm cool with splodey, just want more tinsion before and after splopey - enough of days of our lives please - and I'm not ok with Cruise playing Reacher either. Child gets a letter here.

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NBlob mumbles...

Posted January 25, 2012
I think everything I've read anything of JB's I have liked, so it should make an interesting yarn.
But.
It would make a Fkn Epic game.
1st person shooter: hunting Orc, Zed, & other Anthropoforms.
(With no vested authority I hereby decree plural Orc = Orc, like sheep & fish.)
Sandbox potential -wander a scorched & infested earthscape, gathering survivors, battling the horde.
Flight Sim: F15 dog-fighting flocks of small, slower but more manuverable dragons.
Big Picture strategy: can you bottle 'em back up?
Even stupid MMRPGs for spotty yoofs.

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drej swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 25, 2012
Sounds awesome. Really hoping we get some Apache action. My fave bit of milpwn kit.

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Lobes has opinions thus...

Posted January 26, 2012
Sounds pretty cool, like Doom but on an oil rig instead of Mars. Then you throw in some dragons and orcs and stuff and you get a mash up techno-thriller fantasy book with a geopolitical span like World War Z.

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Murphy puts forth...

Posted January 26, 2012
You know, some of these creatures are probably smart enough to figure out technology.

Thus, an Ork with an AK might be pretty nasty. At least that is what the folks at Warhammer 40K think.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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andyf ducks in to say...

Posted January 26, 2012
hmmm
have you read 'pantheocide' some similarities- but that was all god-bothery based
if a creature is killed the item doing the killing gains power,,, me likey.
how long before someone works out that you need to collect up the bullet pieces and recast em?
or you could put loads of pieces on the front of a curved block of c4---
claymore +1 anyone?

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Robert puts forth...

Posted January 26, 2012
If Lovecraft wrote "The Hellfighters". Mix in some Clancy and Cthulhu gets his comeuppance. Might be worth a read, or better a script treatment. Sci-fi Channel is running this kind of thing currently. I hope you make the sale!

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Robert is gonna tell you...

Posted January 26, 2012
The Warded Oz? Magic Men at Work? Careful not to step on Brett's toes while mucking about with underworld magic.

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ChrisB asserts...

Posted January 26, 2012
FINALLY! A book about 'middle earth' that I can get into. Frak'em all, JB. Any chance we can take a few hobbits out too?

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Trowzers ducks in to say...

Posted January 27, 2012
Any chance of some epic sea monster? Something that requires the REALLY heavy artillery would be pretty fun :D Otherwise it sounds like your enemies will be all infantry-types.

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Legless mumbles...

Posted January 27, 2012
Bin done. Checkout Monster Hunters International by Larry Corriea

http://www.amazon.com/Monster-Hunter-International-Larry-Correia/dp/1439132852

Actually, try reading anything by Larry Corriea - he has some interesting ideas on how psychic powers could work.

Also,

This thing… orcs they were called in the movie… this thing has ripped the arm right off of Marty Grback, and Marty Grback has some pretty big fucking arms.

It's almost impossible to pull a man's arm off, without leverage, no matter how strong you are. All you'll end up doing is pulling the man off his feet and towards you. Unless, as well as being incredibly strong, you're also incredibly fast - which might make your orcs just a little too tough for anyone to handle even with a magic axe. It's the little details.....


(I know, I know - everyone's a freaking critic......)

Looking forward to this coming out. Right up my street. If you ever want a proof-reader...........

Cheers

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T2 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 27, 2012
Birmo, I think you are perhaps this generation's equivalent to, Irwin Allen. To me, that's high praise. Seriously.

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Sweet Jane Says is gonna tell you...

Posted January 27, 2012
A pocket universe triangulated under the waters between australia, new zealand, and australia... "they were placed at the end of the earth in a pact with -------------. it's time for the earth to end" - trickster ... the oldest god

hero = former college football player and heisman winner from the uni of okla

im covered with cats

football player from American samoa degree in petroleum engineering ou has one of the best in the world

pocket universe immune to plate tectonics

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Bangar would have you know...

Posted January 27, 2012
Legless, Marty had been keeping the railing between them ... guess that didn't work out so well for Marty.

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Legless mutters...

Posted January 27, 2012
Bangar - yup, that would do it.

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Guy has opinions thus...

Posted January 27, 2012
President Obama got rather shirty about leaking some oil into the Gulf. Can you imagine what he would say about orcs and stuff? "My fellow Americans, I just want to make it clear that BP will be paying for all the damage caused by the dragons and vampires they have irresponsibly unleashed..."

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John Birmingham asserts...

Posted January 28, 2012
Actually, I like Jane's ideas. And I might just steal Guy's too.

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timmystyle reckons...

Posted January 28, 2012
Parker and Stone might sue

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Durand ducks in to say...

Posted January 28, 2012
There's a couple of different types of dramatic tension you can write into a book.

Dramatic Tension 1: Technical
The orcs are invading. The problem is, we don't know how to technically wipe them out because ... (pick one) there are too many of them / we can't locate where they're from / they have this hard chitinous armour.

Dramatic Tension 2: Moral
The orcs are invading. The problem is, we can't kill the orcs because that would make us morally culpable, because ... (pick one) killing the orc leader kills the heroine / the orcs are actually ordinary people under mind control / we have not yet explored the cultural diversity of their organically grown yoghurt.

The thing with orcs is, there's no moral tension. They're completely evil. And they live underground where there are no civillians, so we can set off nukes without worrying about collateral damage. And as soon as we read about the orc eating Marty Grback's big fucking arms, us readers are like "Sod them", and would start lobbying our local MP to release the hounds. So we need technical tension.

But then, why can't we just drop a nuke on the underworld at the end of the first act and be done with it?

Unless ... the plot is actually like this:
http://xkcd.com/734/

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Sweet Jane Says puts forth...

Posted January 28, 2012
A place, a mother that gave birth to warriors, both male and female, people that endure was needed to surround the portal. The Trickster chose the end of the earth to those in the oldest lands, a place undiscovered by most, the South Pacific. His eye fell upon the Maories, Samoans, Pacific Islanders and the original Australians as the ones to cast spells, hold caution, but be ferocious should the idea clash with the ideas of others. unedited

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Sweet Jane Says would have you know...

Posted January 28, 2012
You can put a Texan as a sidekick on the rig. The University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas football fans hate each other. If you used this angle, you could use the n-word. "This isn't even a tan compared to the luscious ladies of summer break." it adds controversy with the opportunity to do the right thing.

us lost 10 Samoans in the recent wars, and two returned with medals We have a plethora of samoans on pro football and university teams true story - there's a high school on american samoa that specializes in making football players and the armed forces are the number one employers in american samoa

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JP swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 30, 2012
Nice. And I'm writing about a serial killer? Pfft, some guys get all the fun.

I can see your movie opening now: a kid in pyjamas playing around in his backyard, on the skirts of a town, north-east America. Green rolling hills stretching out beyond the back fence. Sun shining birds chirping all that. He's got a Gandalf figurine duking it out with Buzz Lightyear while being chased from a t-rex 'You shall not pass!' versus 'To infinity and beyond' and 'Rarr!' etc... then, an almighty rumbling splits the stillness. Labrador sniffs the air and crawls into his kennel, hunkered down with paws over his nose. Kid stands, peers up at them hills. A stampede? It's huge... Buffalo? Nope. Orcs. Awesome. Kid runs inside, where mum and dad are having breakfast. 'Come see the orcs!' 'Not now Jimmy.' 'But dad!' 'I said not -' Dad stops. The dining table vibrates. Looks over his paper, out the glass doors of the patio. WTF? He goes out on the deck. 'Martha... get my shotgun.' 'What?' He puts on his glasses. 'Get my... holy shi-' The hills erupt. That first swarm was a point company. Now there's a few divisions of the fuckers rolling forth, like someone kicked open a fireant colony. We pan up and above the house, looking down at the town, wider still to reveal the outskirts of a bigger city - it's like a wave of crude oil is about to wash over it...
BOOM. Title sequence, then:
'DAVE, two weeks earlier.' Think Bruce Willis from Armageddon but taller, rangier, less of a pussy. Sittin' naked in his filthy little room sharpening his axe. Well seasoned hickory handle, gleaming 8 pound head, not what you'd pick up from Walmart - this thing's a fucking heirloom. Dave's eyeing his wedding band on the desk. The tan-line of it on his finger shows takin' it off was no small feat. 'Fuck the ring.' Takes a swing at it - tries to slice it in half but he's still drunk, hits the floor in a daze. Took out the desk though, and with it the divorce papers. Puts the ring back on. Picks up a bent smoke. Goes outside. Lights up. Bright morning sun, middle of the fucking ocean. Takes a leak off the side of the steel walkway jutting out off the oilrig - and right into the last skiff returning from the Havana whore-run. Right onto his boss. Dave, butt naked, smoking, gives them a thumbs up, scratches his arse and sighs. 'One-a-them days huh...'

All right then, I'll let you write it. Back to my boring arse stupid serial killer bullshit...

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Sweet Jane Says mutters...

Posted January 30, 2012
Mind you don't duplicate "Sanctuary," Birmingham.

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Therbs puts forth...

Posted January 30, 2012
jp - don't stop now!

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Guru Bob mutters...

Posted January 30, 2012
John Ringo has played a little in this patch although his demons turned out to be aliens in the Looking Glass series of books:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Into_the_Looking_Glass

Well worth reading...

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Durand reckons...

Posted January 30, 2012
So back to why we can't just nuke the orcs and be done with it...

Everything, both living and undead, needs to eat. It's just that the underworld eats souls. And what is oil but a sludge of trillions of souls of our long-dead ancestors?
That's why the demons flock to the huge reservoirs of oil beneath the ground. And that's why orcs can come to the surface via a stream of oil pulled up through the earth by Dave's rig.

And it's also why a 21st century military, with all the firepower in the world, can't just nuke the orcs. You have to use older weapons that don't rely on gunpowder. Axes. Swords. Electric egg-beaters.

The problem is, it takes a while for the world to work this out. All we know is that orcs start to appear wherever there is oil. And so in the mass panic that ensues, nobody wants to go near a petrol station. And the world economy grinds to a halt.

But that's just the first act.

Oil becomes much less valuable. And other energy sources much more so. Australia, Canada and Kazakhstan, who collectively supply 63% of the world's supply of uranium, become vast treasure houses. People notice that Australia is only guarded by a few dodgy Collins class submarines (currently at the mechanic, waiting for parts that won't arrive). Kazakhstan, governed by a tyrant, becomes an economic superpower for the first time since the days of the Silk Road. And then they are promptly invaded by Russia.

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted January 30, 2012
Think I'm gonna give up and just have the publishers commission you lot.

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joe ducks in to say...

Posted January 30, 2012
huh. JB does Orcs. Derp.
well, a second gold-plated volvo would probably look OK in the garage......

Orc Horde versus an entrenched firebase with squad-support weapons, mortars...not much contest.
Orc horde plus a decent mage/illusionist versus above unit, not so much.

Thing about magic, its not limited by physics, more by the imagination.

Just say some tricksy Imp alongside said Horde could render the Orcs invisible/silent.
Maybe it could make double base propellant fail to function.
Or, (to follow in Tolkein's and Lovecraft's footsteps a little further) what if they could directly affect the minds of those defending Humanity?

I'm picturing grunts seeing their brothers in arms turn into dire monsters before their eyes and pulling the trigger on their own side.
Fighter pilots somehow fogetting to keep an eye on the fuel gagues, or even the artificial horizon.
Four-Star generals twisted by Dark Powers to make the worst of decisions, putting all they seek to protect in even greater peril.

Definitely a large canvass you could apply your talent to!

just.. please... don't end up writing some WoW/WH40k- hack Fanfiction - there is enough of that out there already.

I also quite like the idea of traditional lore and witchcraft gaining new power with the opening of this prison. Abovementioned magical Imp dies an agonising and horrific death from the curse set upon him by the last breath of a dying tribal Papuan shaman.....

If you choose to rationalise/justify such a device, you might consider a unifying element to traditional/superstitious/religious practice: faith and belief.
Such that, a genuine prayer from a true believer of any religion, or a heinous hex from a devout voodoopractitioner... might even work!

Linking this invasion of ancient evil to a subterranean world of petroleum deposits could go a long way toward pushing the modern world to the brink: If every active oil well became a separate source of nasty gremlins... I would think
A) the mid-east be even more FKD than normal
B) the price of a barrel of crude might hit negative territory ("we'll pay you to take it away and burn it!")

Maybe the supply-chain petroleum companies and their workers could be the undercover vanguard of the invasion. I always thought those console-operators and petrol tanker truckies were THE DEVIL.......!

Lots of cool things you could do.
Hope the publishers bite.

PS i Love the idea of a Fire-Axe of Destroy Evil. love it.

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joe is gonna tell you...

Posted January 30, 2012
Damn your eyes Durand. you type faster than me it seems ;P

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joe ducks in to say...

Posted January 30, 2012
Im unsure of the petroleum link to gunpowder/modern propellant, but the USN would certainly need to ramp up its use of algae-sourced biofuel to keep chasing Krakens around the sea-lanes with nuclear depth-charges!

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Durand is gonna tell you...

Posted January 30, 2012
Joe, I was thinking that you can't shoot guns on an oil rig, lest it all catches fire.

But I like the idea of separate oil fields having separate numbers of demons. It would mean that the price of oil actually rises. Whoever is left with the last working wells gets to be rich.

Thomas Friedman of the New York Times regularly points out that the higher the price of oil,the more "assertive" the oil dictators get, and the more terrorism gets sponsored etc

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Durand has opinions thus...

Posted January 30, 2012
But let's say the price has crashed. Imagine this, from somewhere deep inside the bowels of the Sydney Convention Centre.

"... and so I say to you, the shareholders, you think the orcs are bad? No. They are a miracle. They will save Blackwood Oil, and make us all rich.

The biggest problem oil companies like us face is finding the oil in the first place. Despite our technology, we really don't know where to look. So we spend millions of your dollars drilling dry holes in the ground, hoping, praying, that we'll find something that pays the bills.

But now we've discovered orcs, who can smell an oil field through three miles of rock. All we have to do is capture some, get them to tell us where the oil is, and every dollar you invest will be returned a hundredfold.

And remember, they're orcs. So they're evil. So we can use all methods available to persuade them. And it'll be, you know, moral.

Ladies and gentlemen, there's a race on to capture the first orcs, to lay the first claim to the undiscovered oil fields around the world. So why invest with us? Because out of all the armies in all the world, only Blackwood employees have defeated orcs in combat. In short, we have a secret weapon..."

***

Meanwhile, the secret weapon was sleeping off a hangover ...

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Matthew K reckons...

Posted January 30, 2012
Sweet Jane Says says: "im covered with cats"

You know I've always had this mental image, and that coincides exactly.

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andyf is gonna tell you...

Posted January 31, 2012
maybe the effectiveness of weapons could be something to do with ferrous metal?

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John F. Opie would have you know...

Posted February 1, 2012
The basic premise is sound: remember, orcs and their ilk are created beings, not bred. This means massive numbers of orcs are available, much like Heinlein's bugs or Ringo's Posleen, and the implications of these works of fiction carry on into this realm.

If the replenishment ratio is soldiers(r)<orcs(r), then it is automatically a losing game; best way to start things off. Ringo's Posleen are frightening because there are simply so damn many of them. The same was true, on a slightly larger (interstellar) scale with Heinlein's bugs. Individually inferior, but as Comrade Stalin said, Quantity has a quality all of its own.

The idea of a human champion is basically good: the problem is that there is only one of him, and ultimately, given the above, he will be overwhelmed by mass attacks. Hence there has to be a transfer mechanism that imbues others with his characteristics: I leave that as an exercise to John Birmingham.

In comparing both Heinlein's and Ringo's worlds, it is the nature of what makes men fight that forms the basis of success and ultimately victory. The cost is always very, very high.

Of course, that's also what makes great fiction. :-)

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Therbs puts forth...

Posted February 1, 2012
Orcs love oil so they can be used as oil prospectors? Love it. (imagine a Walter Brennan type-as-orc doing a prospector happy dance then getting blown into orcy gruel by a hellfire missile)

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Sweet Jane Says puts forth...

Posted February 3, 2012
Fools, you have no idea what an orc is.

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Respond to 'New book outline.'

Soviet Occupied Europe v2.0

Posted January 11, 2012 by John Birmingham
I find it useful to have this map by the 'puter as I'm drafting up AoT4. With the dead hand of communism sketched out in fetching pink. With Berlin an irradiated wasteland, Divided Rome is now the main urban arena for Great Power rivalry. You'll see the Sovs also grabbed themselves some waterfront real estate in southern France.

53 Responses to ‘Soviet Occupied Europe v2.0’

Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 11, 2012
So do we have a situation of North Rome versus South Rome?

I wonder if the terrain there would even permit such an arrangement?

I ought to give a map of Rome a look sometime and ponder the matter a bit.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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NBlob would have you know...

Posted January 11, 2012
ooh direct Med access.
That'll mean Constantinople / Istanbul can go back to being an insignificant backwater. No longer being the bottle point for the Black Sea.

You've condemned Italy to financial ruin (70 years earlier than in our time line) by the Red Army taking 90% of the industrial capacity. I heard an Italian (from the North natch) say that without the Milanese, Genoese & Bolognaise (te he) Italia would be a 3rd world nation. While in the south they have pretty good soil in the volcanic areas, the rainfall is so extremely seasonal that they get about a quarter of one growing season each yeear.

Florenzia is home to a number of er organisations are going to play merry hell with the occupiers. I can see a collectivised farm manager tearing his hair out when a thousand people who first hand witnessed an assasination "Didn't see Nuffin."
& Corsicans have an excellant track record of peaceful occupation by invading forces. Not.
$10 says the Macedonians have the first Velvet revolution. They'll get utterly smited. Smited with bells on, but they are ethnically & culturally malcontents who won't stand still for any shenanigans. (Much RESTEPC)

Oh man, major ripples for post war immigration to Aust.

What about the poor old Royals from Monaco? They didn't do nuthin. (Except take in the remaining Romanovs)

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Sean mumbles...

Posted January 11, 2012
How is Yugoslavia playing out here? Still self-liberated and Tito and moving toward nonalignment? Or did the Soviets get there first?

As mentioned Italy is basically going to be a non-industrial country, probably as backwards as Spain (but minus the Fascism) was in 1945.

The Mafia and the Camorra are going to be very significant players in post-war Southern Italy in this timeline, unless the US army is a lot more proactive in preventing them from filling the post-Fascist power vacuum than they were in our own timeline. As a potential anti-socialist bulwark, they may even end up pretty cosy with the US occupation.

Speaking of Spain I would assume an earlier and more complete rapproachment with Franco is going to occur, too...

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Blarkon would have you know...

Posted January 11, 2012
Do you use a 1945 era map to avoid all the fun name changes?

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John Birmingham asserts...

Posted January 11, 2012
But of course. This one just lets me keep the big picture in mind.

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Therbs mumbles...

Posted January 11, 2012
Soviet fashion houses in Milan ftw. Let me see what's left in Europe. Breweries, vineyards, gelato, French and Italian tucker, Nordic goddesses, Amsterdam. All good. Them Commies have stuff all chance of holding onto all of their conquests for a goodly period. The Balkans will be a major shit fight if Tito isn't brought on side by Stalin and if the rumours are true those two weren't really besties.
Lots of room for James Bond shenanigans in this Europe.

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Naut puts forth...

Posted January 11, 2012
You didn't have a red highlighter?

I would have expected them to have more of a foothold in Southern Italy. My understanding is that there was actually a resonably sized Communist movement in Sicily and let's face it, the Italians don't do democracy all that well.

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Blarkon reckons...

Posted January 11, 2012
Italians could mess up libertarian anarchism ;-)

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Stevo 73 would have you know...

Posted January 11, 2012
I just finished re-reading the AOT trilogy and found it hilarious that you had Bolt and Akerman as footsloggers who get nailed, comedy gold!

However back to topic, how far has the nasty fallout drifted around good 'ol Germany? I imagine that some of the nice wine areas of France will be having some glow in the dark vintages.

What is the life span of weaponised anthrax in soil, that proved to be the wall that stopped the Sov advance?

I imagine the Frenchies would be a little pissed at losing Marseilles, being the largest French port, and having a nice line of sight over to north Africa and their lovely oil.

What of Stalin, in the adjusted time line you had him already losing his shit in 1944.... How long until someone gets the balls to give him the arse?

Also what is going on in Afghanistan, hell all the 'stans, the Sovs were pushing there as well?

What about the war in Vietnam? Surely Uncle Ho who had been so well looked after by the US in the adjusted timeline, would not be that big a fan of the Sov version of a workers state. Hell in our timeline, the Vietnamese turned on their Chicomm buddies and beat the crapper out of them several times in a row.

The Sovs had no naval presence left in the East, but had troops lodged in the south of Japan. Did they get fried, or is Japan now half commie......

So, so so many pathways to look into!

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John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 11, 2012
Yes there are.

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Moko swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 11, 2012
OMG I loved the AoT series.

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Bunyip would have you know...

Posted January 11, 2012
Malta is like Hawaii, but at grappling distance.

Switzerland.

Algeria would surely want to swing loose early. Surely De Gaul would be busy keeping a lid on the French Communist Party. Tunisia is independent or still a part of Southern Italy?

Egypt and the fkn Canal....

Albania > 'hosting' sub and missile boat bases? Possibly some R-11 Zemlya aka SS-1B Scud-A? Range 270km conventional / 150km nuclear.

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damian would have you know...

Posted January 11, 2012
I forget the effect of your alt.history on the eastern front... actually I think I haven't looked at aot3, so it's not so much forgetting. I'll have to grab that one.

I'm depressed seeing a place called Kaliningrad already on your map. Are we farther into 1945 than May or so?

I'd suggest re-reading some bits of Eco ahead of deciding upon a front between different partisan organisations in Italy. There's some very vivid description of Piedmontese partisan activity in Foucault's Pendulum. If you're seeking the recognisable and interesting, is Rome the most interesting or is maybe Florence or Venice? Naples had an awe-inspiring post-liberation wartime reputation, as the place where an entire Liberty ship was stolen from the harbour..

In general, I'd be a one to plug for dieselpunk nostalgia as a contrast to the retrofuturist themes. I suspect the juxtaposition would have useful narrative benefits. And of course if you were to put a Bf109G or Ju87G (the two significant "Gustav" aircraft) in some interesting plot position, I'd be much indebted for the memorial. Rescuing someone nice (as opposed to "important") from besieged Koenigsberg would be favorite, but killing a Soviet tank would be fine too.

Of course, if we were talking about the Ju87G, I'd be offering you a fine counterpart to Skorzeny in the person of Hans Rudel... http://www.badassoftheweek.com/rudel.html

Of course, not having read Final Impact, I've no idea if the chap in question already turned up as a character of yours...

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damian mumbles...

Posted January 11, 2012
Oh, NBob - Istanbul/Constantinople/Byzantium as a backwater? I don't think that's ever been the case or ever will be. I recall a lot of glowing references to "Buzdantio" (when I took ancient history and classical languages subjects) as THE biggest and most cosmopolitan metropolis in 500BC or so, certainly more so than Athens... whatever the Black Sea means in terms of great power navies, it'll always be important to commerce and trade, and to the simple fact that people use the water to get about.

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damian mutters...

Posted January 11, 2012
Stevo - the Vietnamese are famous for throwing out the USA once, and the Chinese twice. Unarguably the first occurrence of the latter was the greatest of the three.

I distinctly remember the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in the late 70s. Do we look back on that as anything other than humanitarian now? I've no idea, not a subject I kept up with....

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damian would have you know...

Posted January 11, 2012
Oh and Birmo - if you haven't read any Heinrich Boell, I seriously recommend getting a translation of his novella And Where Were You, Adam? Though a lot of his stuff is simply gold. Children are Civilians too, Christmas not just once a Year.

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Guy would have you know...

Posted January 12, 2012
Am I right in assuming the Vatican remains as a neutral area in this divided Rome? The Sovs got more of Italy than I had assumed from reading the books but less if France. It's almost as if the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies had been reborn. The Russians got Austria as well, I see. I wonder if they also got the secret dump of artwork and gold that the Germans stashed near Linz? Or did the Germans get it back before the Russians overan the place? If not then Britain - and maybe Spain are the only major European countries to preserve their major gallery and museum collections. We already know that the Louvre is a smoking pile of rubble. Good for the UK tourist industry at least!

I had also assumed that all of Greece would be in the Soviet camp, but it appears that the southern half of the country is in Allied hands. Did the German occupiers of Crete and the Greek islands hand over to the British forces operating out of Cyprus and Egypt rather than wait for the Russians to arrive? A sensible move on their part if so.

On the plus side for the Allies, they have rather more of Germany than in OTL, even if much of the eastern part glows in the dark. What about Finland, I wonder? Did the Finns manage to hold onto Vyborg and the other bits that the Soviets stole from them in OTL? I hope so - Marshall Mannerheim is one of my heroes.

A map of Asia would be equally interesting. the books suggested that most of the continent was overun by the Communists. I am assuming that the then British bits - India, Burma, Arabia and Palestine were spared? Vietnam as a Western bastion in a largely Communist Asia would be an irony. No doubt in close alliance with Thailand and maybe Cambodia? Australia and the US would presumably be maintaing a strong military presence.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted January 12, 2012
I have nothing intelligent to contribute, and I am afraid to crack any jokes for fear of disrupting the flow of conversation. I am just so enjoying reading the interchange and knowing this is actually going to happen. AoT4. Wow. I'm going into the busiest bar in Davis tonight and buying a beer for everyone to toast the concept, the encroaching reality. I'm buying, so the cheer should be substantial even though comprehension may be missing.

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Sturt puts forth...

Posted January 12, 2012
A few random thoughts:

. So, no Atlantic Treaty and no NATO, I'm guessing?

. Fiendishly difficult naval strategy calculations for the Mediterranean. Just an example: where would you place allied naval forces to best limit Soviet expansion? Not an easy answer. That means lots of potential ship-based explodey goodness based on miscalculations, to me, and probably (therefore) rapid acceleration of submarine ballistic missile tech.

. Brindisi is full of spies no later than 1947. It's the Vienna of the new West. In this world as in our own past, Albanians flood Italy by boat.

. Switzerland is now the capital of the world's fashion industry.

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Mallow would have you know...

Posted January 12, 2012
What happened to mussolini? I haven't heard him mentioned once in the AoT Trilogy.

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damian reckons...

Posted January 12, 2012
Sturt: Gib, as per the Napoleonic era, maybe Malta; definitely combined forces in Egypt covering the canal. Significant air power buildup across North Africa. From the map, looks like the Allies have a free run in the southern Med and the Aegean, so you'd want to keep the cork in on the Dardanelles too. NB, the existence of saltwater ports in the Med doesn't automatically mean you can get a fleet there from the Black Sea, unless you are able to build it in place. Any major shipbuilding places on the Adriatic coast of the Balkans and North Italy? That'd leave the Marseilles and Genoa regions...

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FarmBoy has opinions thus...

Posted January 12, 2012
Per the book I was shocked that you had the Soviets getting so far into W. Europe, especially with the unconventional warfare in the East. However, looking at the map, I would suggest that the lines in the East would go through Austria and Czech instead of along the pre-war borders. In addition, the dividing line in the east would be irregular more in line with the army thrusts.

Finally, it would be hard for the Soviets to keep into the 50's that part of S. France.

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Murphy puts forth...

Posted January 12, 2012
The Marshall Plan worked pretty well the first time around. Given the state of Europe at the end of Final Impact, there is no reason why it wouldn't work again. Stalin is going to be very hard pressed to deal with the sort of economic leverage the United States can bring to bear.

The To Do List of the United States of America should probably include the following items:

1. The Marshall Plan, which will fuel economic growth, provide jobs and dampen down the usual post-war economic slide.

2. Implement a domestic jobs program specifically designed to soak up veterans who are not necessarily interested in going to school. This should help avert the post-war downturn to a degree.

3. Slow down post-war demobilization and scale it back to a more reasonable level rather than the typical pell-mell dash to mothball everything and everyone.

4. Create NATO.

5. Rearm and Stand Up Germany as a Republic as rapidly as possible. Put Patton in charge of it with the proviso that he will indeed end up canned if he makes the mistakes of the original timeline.

6. Do Not, under any circumstances, give in to calls by European powers to retain their colonial possessions, to include Great Britain. Instead, aid in the decolonization effort with a Marshall Plan that includes providing economic aid as a means of fostering favorable relations with these new countries.

7. Establish the United Nations with revisions to the Security Council to ensure that the veto of one nation is insufficient to stop collective security efforts.

A few thoughts.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted January 12, 2012
Fucking wonderful. All of it.

NATO or not NATO?

Where else on earth, where else in what moment in history, has that question even been asked?

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mutters...

Posted January 12, 2012
Seriously. Am I alone here in my inebriated ecstasy (Rubicon IPA)?

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Murphy asserts...

Posted January 12, 2012
Boulevard Wheat here, soon to be followed by the venerable Bushmills.

I should note that my To Do List mainly pertains to Europe.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted January 12, 2012
I can already see I'm gonna to write about a dozen of these things, just to get going. Got some backfill ideas already.
Invasion of Hawaii.
Harry vs Skorzeny: The Smackdown.
The Quiet Room and Joe McCarthy.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted January 12, 2012
Yes, you will, won't you?

MOOHAHAHAHAHAHAAA.......

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Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted January 12, 2012
John, in the end, all that matters is what is cool.

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Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted January 12, 2012
I think we've got some Hawaii type action laying about in the boneyard somewhere. Mayhaps I'll take a bit of time to blow the dust and rust off of it for possible reworking.

As an aside, I can't imagine the Japanese simply letting the Sovs roll over their forces in Mainland China. The Nationalists nor the Communist Chinese would be too hot on that either. The situation in Asia might be a great deal more dynamic than one might think.

A smart move might be to identify certain Communist leaders who are, essentially, nationalist by nature. Ho Chi Minh is a prime candidate for someone who, if managed properly, could have been a friend and ally as opposed to an enemy. Additionally, given Vietnam's traditional disdain for any occupying power (this I got courtesy of a very fine book on Vietnam sent my way by Bangar a few years back) I suspect Ho Chi Minh might welcome a United States which was prepared to back up their independence, no matter which form of government they decided to establish.

Perhaps a more sophisticated and nuanced policy might manifest itself as opposed to the simple black and white, "Better dead than red," nonsense which led to our nation's support of more than one dictatorship over the decades.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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HAVOCK asserts...

Posted January 12, 2012
NO...skip it all and go straight for the 5 year on smack fkn down between everybody and the fkn SOV's.

AND at the same time do the back story on Willet and action shes been in.. OH HELL!, who really fkn cares it AoT and ANYTHING would be fkn good so stop fkn around etc etc and get ya arese into gear!

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WarDog reckons...

Posted January 12, 2012
What Havock said.
Pull your finger out and get it written John. We're all waitin'.

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Trashman ducks in to say...

Posted January 12, 2012
Murph, the Marshall Plan is a great idea, just please include the UK this time?? We were broke and had rationing into the 50's last time round!
Also, re the colonial posessions. Most people would agree with letting them go. Churchill was the odd man out at the end of the war in in the UK in that he wanted to keep them/the Empire. However, just dropping them with no preparation could be even worse. A Marshall Plan for decolonisation is fine for moving the economy (great idea), but that doesn't help run the country. It takes time to gain that skillset in enough people to do so. Do you think France would go along with this idea? I know they will have bigger problems, but they may see colonies as assets they can't afford to lose while they try to liberate southern France.

Happy to be proved wrong if I've missed anything.

For the question that Stevo asked about the life span of weaponised Anthrax - it's into decades. Just google or wiki 'Gruinard'. It's an island off the west coast of Scotland that was used for biowarfare testing in the 50's. It only got declared safe a few years ago. I believe most of the tests were Anthrax. It still has warning signs up.

Finally, bioweapons have been used. The West has nukes and they have been used. (The red lines have been crossed already). The UK and US have strategic bomber fleets. Other than numbers and some bloody good tanks, what would the Soviets have to counter this?

Just looking forward to the showdown. No Cold War this time!

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Guy is gonna tell you...

Posted January 12, 2012
The British have a long-standing interest in Corfu (the locals even play cricket!)and it would have been relatively easy to send a Royal Naval party out from Bari to snatch the island before the Russians occupied it. A useful base to keep an eye on Albania.

JB seems to have used a post-cold war map with no Yugoslavia. I'm assuming that Stalin, knowing that Tito was no friend of his thanks to the history books from the Vanguard, would have had Tito quietly killed and put a yes-man in his place.

The implications of not having an East Germany are interesting. Our East Germany prided itself on being a better socialist state than the Soviet Union. In addition to dealing with the glowing ashes of Berlin, the Allies will also have to cope with the "no-man's land" created by Himler's chemical weapons. And on top of that there is the whole nasty business of denazifiation on Germany. Much more difficult this time round as so many of the "good" Germans who ran the place after the war in OTL were killed by Himmler after he discovered what they would have done.

Finally the Italian situation is a bit like our version of Korea. The poorer, more rural and more backward south of the country is in the hands of the West while the richer and more industrialised north in under Communist rule. Pleanty of US investment will no doubt be forthcoming. How long will it take before the south overtakes the north as an industrial powerhouse?

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HAVOCK ducks in to say...

Posted January 12, 2012
the whole issue of AFRICA and Oil, gets REAL FKN INTERESTING with the Sov's having unrestricted access to the Med.

I see a version of SOSUS getting installed in the Med. Gibraltar just took on Vastly new importance as did Spain. Then thing Suez.....FKN HELL!

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Matthew K would have you know...

Posted January 12, 2012
Ooh so much of interest here, and I have too little time so I'll confine myself to one observation: Communism had a kind of anti-Midas touch - everything it touched turned to shite. So despite it holding a lot of cool stuff it won't be understood, valued or maintained. I think that Communism was essentially ham fistedly reductionist in it's attitude, (but that itself is a reductionist attitude... Aargh).

So yeah, Havock's right - Gib's important and The Rock could be the site of an epic air-land-sea battle with "El Calpe" looming out of the fog of war cannons firing out of the gun emplacements and tunnels cut in the rock, commanding the Straits, dominating the Pillars of Hercules.
See? there's so many cool names for the place Gibraltar has to have a walk on part!

Spain too... It's strategically important and run by an anti communist but, on the other hand, I want to see Franco get a good kicking.

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Guy has opinions thus...

Posted January 12, 2012
Havock is indeed right about Gibraltar. In teh AOT universe it would be even more important than ours. If you've ever been there the tunnels through the Rock are awesome. During the war Gib saw very few attacks - those that did take place were mostly by Vichy French aircraft - and there were very few casualties and very little damage. The civilian population was, ironically, evacuated mostly to London and to Malta - where they were very heavily bombed.

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Sturt reckons...

Posted January 13, 2012
@Guy, Havock: I thought about the critical role of Gibraltar and when you realise that there are Sov ports in Marseilles, Genoa and Venice the entire Mediterranean becomes a naval battlespace. Choking off Gibraltar (feasible) makes the Suez Canal a critical escape route for Soviet ocean access. If you assume information parity (in the AoT world) I can see, as Murph suggests, a resource war between the US (can't remember - did Roosevelt die?) and Stalin to gain naval superiority, focused on the Med. Sovs would have little choice but to plough south through Iran, or wrest Egypt/Palestine, if they wanted true blue water access. If the US can hold Egypt (which may not be possible once Qutb finds out about his fate) they can contain the Soviet navy inside the Med - but that raises the incentive for Stalin to try to break out by any means possible (ie, nuclear subs). Man I wish I had the talent to write that up.

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Mc KinneyTexasSenatorTeaserPony ducks in to say...

Posted January 13, 2012
Way, way back, when we were chatting about AoT3, I expressed confusion as to how the Sovs could move so quickly through some of the most mountainous, inhospitable-to-mechanized-armies terrain in Europe. I still don't get it. The West would have seen those efforts early on and were much better positioned to beat the Sovs to the Med along the French coast, given the minimal Nazi opposition available in the south of France. That said, when is the book coming out?

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xenodyssey ducks in to say...

Posted January 13, 2012
As you say so many possibilities. I've just re-read the AoT trilogy.

What ended up happening on Korea, did the commies take the whole of the peninsula in the timeline or could we see the Korean war 2.0?

Would like to read a Willet short story. Or the further machinations of The Quiet Room.
Prince Harry vs Skorzeny would be good too. Or a story about Mike Judge and Karen Halabi at Combat Optics.

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HAVOCK reckons...

Posted January 13, 2012
couple of other things popped out too:

Firstly, I'm not sure that given the knowledge of previous history, that Stalin would be patient and play what we once knew to be the superpower game. He might undertake this for a small period of time, but I would then expect big moves.

The ME..well he will know its got the oil..so thats prolly the end game or the treasure, the US and UK need to be out of the way, but other nations are industrialising as well so I see a potential for this big arse BOOM, in the following style I might add. TBC

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JG would have you know...

Posted January 13, 2012
Skipped over your comments, brethren. Another time. JB - thanks for reminding me that I should read your three AOT books sitting on my bookshelf (an excellent purchase at the last Lifeline Book Fair in Brissie). Handy map of Europe, so thanks for that also, bro. Hey... no, forgot what I was going to say. It'll come back to me. ................................................... ............ .......................... ......................... ................. ............... .................. ................ Oh yes. Won't be able to get to your AOT books until I finish my book club books. Am joining two book clubs at Avid Reader (West End, Brisbane) this year: the Good Sex Book Club and the Australian books Book Club. I'll be reading a lot in 2912. And writing. Ciao, JB and co. See you 'round like a rubber duck. :)

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HAVOCK mumbles...

Posted January 13, 2012
I see a qaulative advantage about to go up against a quantative advantage. No matter how Stalin thinks or other look at it, the simple truth will be they have vast numbers of man and will run the vast numbers of equipment. Stalin knows the west will continue too outstrip him in the tech stakes.

I see a punch into Africa and hell and fast hard large push into Egypt...and here is where the different techs/ doctrines will come into play. Imagine ACR’s of the Allies going up against echeloned shock armies, rapier V club in the sand on a GRAND FKN SCALE!. Given the desert is the skips and kiwi’s playground which they seem to be fkn near kings of historically!, I see maybe two or three teched outta their heads ACR’s duking it out in the desert, Maybe Barnes and Toohey all tanned up and rippling in the gleaming sunlight!.

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damian would have you know...

Posted January 13, 2012
Couple of things.

Havock, Stalin would already have oil, by way of the central Asian fields, the ones that were the reason for Germany invading in the first place.

As for the Med: as I alluded and others have discussed, Gib is the main Allied naval position, got to close those straits. However if the Allies have the Aegean, and can keep the Dardanelles closed, then any Soviet Med fleet must be built in place either in the Marseilles or Genoa regions, or the north Adriatic coast.

Failing that, and if Allied combined forces could not hold Egypt, the canal could be rendered semi-permanently inoperable with a scorched-earth demolition/evacuation and followup air strikes, either or both potentially involving nukes. From a naval point of view, this is (like the emphasis on Gib) another recapitulation of 18th century battles... (cf http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Nile).

Or without nuking it, the canal's ownership might be affected by ownership of the coasts either side or the Red Sea, and if they are different, an air war over it.

Also or interest (for that region) is what may have become of Irgun and whether any of the events that lead to the state of Israel in OTL might have occurred. Lot of things that aren't obviously a result of the Holocaust in OTL...

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Stevo 73 asserts...

Posted January 13, 2012
Sorry guys been busy for the last few days.

@Damien, with regard to the Vietnamese side of the conflict that I mentioned, Uncle Ho used the US constitution and declaration of independence to draft his first effort at a nationalist Vietnam constitution, and even approached the US during WW2 for support. Poor old Ho wanted Viet Nam for the Viets, a noble idea.

He went to Chicomm because they were close and had "similar" political beliefs, however as a timeline showed to me in the War Museum in Saigon and the Army Museum in Ha Noi, the Viet Namese have been fighting the Chinese for close to two thousand years, their time of cooperation was the odd two decades out!

Now (in the altered timeline) there is no need for the "American War" as they call it, as if the US and allies support Ho and his mates prior to kicking the Japs out, and pump lots of dollars and arms in, a Viet Nam for the Viet Namese is the logical conclusion.

Also there is no need for battleground testing of things like night vis gear, air to air IR missiles, disruptive pattern camouflage, or flack jackets (which the conflict was very good for...) the air cav concept, as the uptimers have it all already.

The Viet Namese certainly went and kicked Cambodia, in fact without googling, I think it was after their big fight with several Chicomm regiments in 1975, possibly around 1977, the central govt in Ha Noi said it was in response to Kampuchea's attack on some crappy island (big excuse) and this continued till 1979.

I suppose the big question is........ which of these events would not occur IF the US did not run in to the country in 1964/5 to support the south, but supported Uncle Ho in a nationalist government... not commie but, nationalist........

All this leads us towards a much more interesting world to live in...

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Matthew K has opinions thus...

Posted January 14, 2012
Actually Gib could be even cooler it would be like a fortified asteroid out of a Space Opera SF book: miniguns popping out of concealed openings, missile batteries all along with humungous great old fashioned naval cannons firing shells the size of VW Beetles.

As to USSR: As Havock says the Sovs have vast quantities of (ill trained) manpower which they will use clumsily, wastefully and inefficiently and drown their enemy under waves of conscripted peasants. It's what they've always done.

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Therbs mutters...

Posted January 16, 2012
There has to be a role here for the FKN Paddle Pop Lion!

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Guru Bob reckons...

Posted January 17, 2012
What about this - with USSR controlling most of the Med and Europe and with the fore-knowledge of what happened in our timeline - Joe Stalin would be much less inclined to let Jewish refugees head off to Palestine to set up their own country, instead deports them all to Siberia (which he actually did to a lot in our timeline as well).

Does Great Britain even keep any measure of influence in Middle East anyway in this scenario? So probably no state of Israel happens in late 1940s - that would have enormous impacts down the track...

No 1948 war, no Suez crisis - Nasser comes to power earlier in Egypt and works closely with Soviets to esnure Israel never happens, Saudi royal family could be deposed by either socialist, nationalist or fundamentalist insurgencies, the Shah of Iran consolidates his power and doesn't get into bed with CIA, all sorts of interesting scenarios with France not strong enough to be a real player in North Africa...

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Guy is gonna tell you...

Posted January 18, 2012
Bob - in it's early days Israel was a highly socialist state. Many of teh Jewish settlers thought Stalin was a wonderful man. This feeling was particularly strong in theKibbutz movement. The Soviets were quick to recognise Israel, albeit within the unworkable 1948 boundaries, and that recgnitin has been maintained by Russia to this day. The Soviet attitude to the Arab states was much less enthusiastic by and large. They regarded teh Arab monarchies as archaic and corrupt (which they were) and had a general prejudice against muslims, especially brown-skinned muslims, which reminded them of thier own troublesome minorities in the south of the USSR. It was only after Israel turned towards America that the Russians bagan to actively support the Arabs.

It's quite possible that in the AOT timeline Stalin would strongly encourage "his" Jews to emigrate to Palestine to set up a Soviet satellite state of Israel. The West might then end up suporting the Arabs against them.

The British meanwhile would be keen to leave much of the region as they were bankrupted by the war. They would doubtless want to maintain their presence in Iran if possible and would no doubt be happily showing the Iranians video from the future of what would happen if they ever became a theocratic state under the Ayatollahs! Given the loyalty of the Arab Legion in Transjordan, just about the only really effective Arab military force in the 1940s thanks to the remarkable Sir John Glubb ("Glubb-Pasha") they might keep a British military presence there, which might also keep the pro-British King safely on his throne in Iraq? |Meanwhile the Americans would have to step in themselves if they wanted to maintain a western presence in much of the rest of the Middle East, especially in Syria, which might not maintain its French occupation.

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ChrisB would have you know...

Posted January 18, 2012
JB: Didn't McCarthy bite it in a battle sometime around '43-44? None-the-less, FREAKING awesome map and possibilities!

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John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted January 18, 2012
Yes he did! Thanks Chris.

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Guru Bob is gonna tell you...

Posted January 19, 2012
Guy that alls ounds pretty plausible - but I don't think there would be as much enthusiasm for a Jewish state in the Middle East by the powers that be. They may end up going for the Mauritius option instead...

However I couldn't see the proto-Israelis staying quiet on any front when they have access to our timeline's history of the Israeli state.

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Guy ducks in to say...

Posted January 19, 2012
Bob - I seem to remember a schene in teh final AOT book with Himmler receiving a report about the Jews in Jerusalem starting to call themselves "Israelis" and getting the better of the Arabs in the fighting which had broken out. Doesn't mean that they would ultimately succeed in building a state, of course but it seems likely.

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Respond to 'Soviet Occupied Europe v2.0'

Notebook.

Posted December 14, 2011 by John Birmingham
I did a favor for bookshop recently and they paid me off with a Moleskine notebook. At any given time I normally have half a dozen notebooks to hand, but they're usually pretty budget. If I'm heading out the door to a job I tend to grab whatever piece of crap is lying around that I can write on. Often at the start of a new book project I'll assign a leftover school exercise book as the project notebook for that title, but there's nothing special or magical about it. Just something to scratch a few notes in.

I quite like this Moleskine thing, however. It has a wonderful, old world analog feel to it. Like something Hunter Thompson may have used. Or Kerouac before him. Or Hemingway in Spain. Or, more appropriately, some grubbing roundsman on a Chicago tabloid in the 1920s.

I don't want to fetishize it, because I've come to understand there is a whole world of Moleskine fetish culture out there, particularly on teh interwebz, where thousands of people seem to be in headlong flight from digital convenience back to analog clunkiness. But I've been making an effort to carry the thing around with me and use it in the way that writers are supposed to use notebooks. To jot down thoughts, observations, plans, to take notes and so on. It's been an interesting exercise for somebody who hasn't really picked up a pen in 20 years.

I divided the notebook up into a couple of parts. A sort of inbox which takes up most of the 1st half, where I jot down those immediate notes that might get scribbled onto a post-it if I was at my desk. I've also been using it to jot down a few things while I've been doing this year's restaurant reviews, and occasionally to block out ideas for a blog or a column or a feature when they come to me.

About half way through there's a little tab, behind which I've set aside a bunch of pages for ‘books’. I tend to take my time writing in this section, as it is where I compose and work through ideas for the next series as they occur to me.

At the backend of the notebook I have a few pages given over to what I think of as ‘the long arc’. This is stuff I may not get to for months if not years. But stuff that is worth storing somewhere permanently. For instance a friend contacted me by e-mail the other day with an idea for a graphic novel that I thought was kind of brilliant. I'm so deeply mired in negotiations and preparations for the next longform series, and of course the e-books I'm trying to write over the Christmas holidays, that I have no time to spare to think about it. But it's a cool idea and one that could be totally worth investigating somewhere down the road.

All of these things are possible to keep track of with digital devices, of course. And I'm still working my masters shiny precious gadgets like a fiend. It's perhaps because of that, that I'm also enjoying unplugging, slowing down and writing a few things out the old-fashioned way each day, including a brief diary entry before I go to bed. How odd it is to write something like that with no expectation that anybody anywhere will read it.

Unless I gather up all of my papers, as I do every couple of years, and ‘donate’ them to the University for state library for a tax write off.

65 Responses to ‘Notebook.’

WarDog has opinions thus...

Posted December 14, 2011
John, I really think you need a Fedora and an overcoat to go with the notebook. And some swirling mist in the background.

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John Birmingham asserts...

Posted December 14, 2011
Yes. Yes I do.

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Medway swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 14, 2011
See, I had a similar idea to your notebooks using one of those A5 Art pads, and I'd just doodle or write whatever in there. I got halfway there, by putting a pen in my bag, but that A5 book has just sat there on the floor next to my bed.

I think I use twitter as my 'notepad', these days. Not sure if that's a good thing.

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John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 14, 2011
Annabel Crabb (Down, Abe!) does the same thing. Uses her parliamentary twitter acc to 'take notes' for her column.

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beeso ducks in to say...

Posted December 14, 2011
I too am known for an addiction to the technology, particularly of the fruit kind. but i find that there is something in my brain that prefers hard copy for planning and the like. I still have those massive calendar blotters and a heap of coloured pens on my desk at work for helping my working week.

I think you'll like this film clip JB http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgfa8YpE5x8

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melbo swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 14, 2011
Is it really a flight back to "Analog clunkiness" or just a genuine appreciation for handwriting as a vanishing art?

I love a notebook and always have one on me. I could go one of those moleskine thingies. And a new pen. I haven't gone a day without picking up a pen since I first learned to write. I would miss it.

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John Birmingham reckons...

Posted December 14, 2011
I always avoided Moleskines cos of the expense. I thought they were taking the piss. And I guess I didn't buy this one, but the idea that it would have cost me over twenty bucks encourages me to use the thing

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JG is gonna tell you...

Posted December 14, 2011
Thanks for your generous advice, John. Very helpful. I bought myself a Parker roller ball pen and a special notebook for Christmas. I intend to write in 2012. JG :)

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Blarkon puts forth...

Posted December 14, 2011
Mrs Blarkon went way beyond moleskin and got me Italian leather Duomo notebooks one year for my birthday. http://www.duomo.com.au/

They are stunning - cost more than some Android tablets - but are so nice that I'm not sure that I have anything worthwhile to write in them ;-)

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John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted December 14, 2011
That's actually a recognised pathology, well, recognised on the internet - the inability to mark the first mark in a virgin notebook.

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Blarkon asserts...

Posted December 14, 2011
They sit by my desk. I occasionally take them out and smell them. I even went and got a special architect's clutch pencil to write in them because ink seemed so crass (also as a lefty smudge city).

Need magic hand made paper that autosyncs with Evernote.

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Blarkon would have you know...

Posted December 14, 2011
Maybe I could desecrate a few Moleskines before working up to the Duomos.

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John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted December 14, 2011
Knock yourself out, kid.

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coriolisdave has opinions thus...

Posted December 14, 2011
I need to scribble things down in order to remember them, and after trying a bunch of different options ended up with one of the thinner moleskine 'journal' notebooks - basically the size of a passport, it slips into a pants pocket and doesn't weigh them down. Also, as it's grid-ruled it's handy for scratching out sketches and woodworking plans.

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted December 14, 2011
For snippets I hear & hate to forget I write myself text messages and keep them in unsent drafts.
EG: Anecdotage, Teratogenic, Opsimath & Appaphenia. & quote for the year; "Outside of a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it's too dark to read." Groucho Marx

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Bunyip mutters...

Posted December 14, 2011
For years I used those little red and black covered note books, specifically because they would fit in a shirt pocket. About a year ago I realised I had lost the one I as I was wandering round an airport. Wandered into the airport bookshop/stationary store, and all they had were these wanky overpriced little pocket notebooks.

I bought it anyway. I got one with squared pages. And I really dig the little pocket thingy inside the back cover. Gonna need a new one soon, but. This one is filling up with stuff.

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Therbs is gonna tell you...

Posted December 14, 2011
I've found that beer coasters these days are impossible for note taking. Both sides are filled with graphics and printing. Its a fucking disgrace. Its probably meant the end of many a Miles Franklin award winning tome.

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sibeen puts forth...

Posted December 14, 2011
I've normally got at least two of those 5 subject note books on the go at the one time, the fancy one with the different colour pages in each section. It's got to the stage that a few of the engineering firms that I subcontract to reckon the easiest way to put me out of the business would be to pinch my notebooks.

Nowdays I also carry around am iPad as that can store all my spreadsheets and diagrams, which saves me from having to carry around that load of paper, but for actually taking notes as I walk around a site or attend a meeting, nothing beats a pen and paper. It even opens faster than one of those new fangled apple notebooks.

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Trowzers mutters...

Posted December 14, 2011
In our graphic design course, our teachers made special mention of allowing blank space on business cards for taking notes/mud maps etc for other people, because them people were more likely to keep them! If I ever find myself designing beer coasters, I'll be sure to include a notes section on the reverse :)

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted December 14, 2011
S'funny. I had it with me an hour or so back when I went down the post office to send off some shit. Stopped into Riverbend, the local bookshop, for a coffee afterwards.


Oh.

All right.

For a coffee and a piece of fudge. Didn't have my phone with me cos it was recharging at home. So I had to amuse myself making a few notes while I waited. It was very restful, altho I did feel like a bit of a wanker, or even worse, an unpublished poet*, writing in my moleskine at the bookshop.

*I am aware of the tautology.

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Blarkon ducks in to say...

Posted December 14, 2011
There is space in our collections for "John Birmingham's Book Of Splodey Poetry"

I mean seriously. Who the fuck has done a technothriller in verse? It would be art and snark and splosions in the same thing. You could wear a beret.

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NBlob asserts...

Posted December 14, 2011
You only look like a wanker if you chew the end of your pencil with a far off expression.
Or if you dress like Greybeard.

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Mayhem's Mum is gonna tell you...

Posted December 14, 2011
I have A5 spiral notebook with the words "1970's computer" printed on the front. It is better than a laptop computer, most notably because it never melts when lightning strikes the Oubliette. This happens more often than you would expect, thanks to the bizarre scientific experiments conducted by my Lord and Master Greybeard (Keeper of the Torch, Bringer of Gruel, Mutator of Rats).

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tqft is gonna tell you...

Posted December 14, 2011
I carry a list of books, dvd's, games & cd's i want to buy so when I walk into a bookshop or whatever I don't have to guess if I have it already and I try not to buy anything not on the list. Saves me time & money.

But plenty of white space for taking notes.

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Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted December 14, 2011
" Kerouac before him", wouldn't that only be if you wrote it on a roll of tellyprinter paper?

"I don't want to fetishise this"....too late.

Wow you have access technologies undreamed by these writers except in their wildest imaginations, the very riches of history from across time and space and the ability to record these details in a thousand ways to make connections so complex you need 7th dimensional maths to calculate them and you are waxing rhapsodic about stuff kids make in year 2 art projects.

Kicking and screaming you will dragged in to the 22nd century.

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Murphy mutters...

Posted December 15, 2011
Back in the Uniguard Era before teaching, I wrote first drafts on a notepad (not moleskin) at work. This after laptops were banned by management, perhaps for good reason. It is worth pointing out that once they did that, my productivity went up. I'd write the scenes during the week and transcribe them during the nights and weekends for editing and revision.

Today, ironically enough, if I have time, I find that I have to type whatever fiction I have out. That said, I think there is a lot to be said for slowing down and writing your ideas out longhand. I miss the feel of the pen skipping across the paper, the sound of the tip scratching against the surface when it is quiet. To me, that is the spark of creation.

Quiet and solitude, that lost country I once lived in. How I long to return to it someday.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Mayhem's Mum asserts...

Posted December 15, 2011
Mr Murphy, Sir, if you want peace and quiet you are welcome to join me in the Oubliette. No sound but the scritching of little rat claws across the stones, the slow drip of moisture from the moss covered walls, and the faint echo of evil laughter from the Laboratory far above. It's very peaceful.

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HAVOCK mutters...

Posted December 15, 2011
Interesting JB, you are almost there, you see, Mole Skin is the pure,unafflicted with ARSELICKNESS and FKN SNOBBERY of the Catlle , cow cocky farmer, B * S’er, RED NECK, Roo killing, fkn BUMDY RUM PIG Bush ute.

I’m trying to picture you in Mole Skin pants, opening up a pocket to right on, then again, if you were a god like me, the FKN PANTS WOULD BE WRITTEN ALL OVER, with CHICKS TELEPHONE NUMBERS. B & S FKN LEGEND!,

HEY, you put the CAT mudflap on the Volvo ute and ya 6 footer aerials or fkn what. Thats something you could donate to the book worms.

Fkn mole skin books, fk me, I’m fkn shatterd to be honest!

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HAVOCK swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 15, 2011
ooops, FKN POCKETS to WRITE on and thats B & S'er, fkn asterisk fkn shite, and well, I'm just having visions of people rubbing the MOLE SKIN...it AINT FKN GOOD

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damian ducks in to say...

Posted December 15, 2011
I have been in the habit of carry around a Quill product called "Fat Little Notebook" in recent times. A spiral side-bound item, it fits a coat or cargo pocket reasonably well.

I've avoided smaller (pants pocket sized) notebooks, since the incident where one went through the laundry, taking some useful information with it. I don't remember what it was, I wrote it down so I wouldn't have to.

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Nocturnalist swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 15, 2011
I do really like Moleskines. Getting unduly hung up on them, or on any brand of something, is a bit of a danger - I never want to be That Guy who just *cannot* write without this brand of notebook and that brand of fountain pen and I dunno, whatever else. I still do plenty of longhand work in eighty-nine-cent exercise books from OfficeWorks. But using the good stuff, whether a Moleskine or one of the other brands that seem to have sprung up to get in on the fashion (there's one with an Italian name that I forget, the thick-spined Zap Books that Borders used to sell, and an Australian one called Nora Whynot that I've been using for notes for the latest works) is a little like dressing a bit better for an occasion, or bowing in at the start of a martial arts class - it helps give my headspace a tiny nudge out of the regular everyday shit and into "okay, serious now".

The little passport-size ones are excellent but I find I use the A5s much more often, usually the ones with the brown card covers. I can use those for just notes still, but if I want to write actual prose I don't have to keep breaking into a sentence to flip pages.

Actually I've found that a really good exercise to try and train myself out of ponderous storytelling habits has been to make myself write a complete story, beginning-middle-ending, that fits into a double-page spread of an A5 Moleskine. I feel I've got some real benefits out of that.

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Bunyip reckons...

Posted December 15, 2011
Havock, when I used to manage outdoor works crews, I used to write down phone numbers etc on the thigh portion of my overalls. I found it helped if I a) only used biro b) washed them that night.

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John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted December 15, 2011
Yeah, I've been happy enough with this new notebook to consider dropping a coupla books on a decent exercise pad as the 'bible' for my next book series. Character sketches. Back story. Working out narrative arcs etc. (Mostly cos I suspect I could get a nice tax write off for the library donation later). But I do wonder how I'd structure the thing. With a shitty two buck exercise pad I dont feel the need to be that organized or even neat.

Hmm, maybe I should get one.

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Nocturnalist swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 15, 2011
Something that's worked for me in the past: get a stack of A4 lecture pads from a newsagent or stationery place - I go with the 48- or 64-page ones. Then get one of those thick leathery zip-up compendium things, with the pockets and pen-holders inside one cover and the ring-binder rings in the middle. Then you can have a pad for each thing you're working on, organise them inside it how you wish, swap them out as your on-the-move workload changes, and keep a spare at the back for miscellaneous notes/wild surmises.

I don't do this as often now because the smaller books go better with my laptop pack but I still use the compendium thing on occasion.

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Blarkon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 15, 2011
The other thing is that you can draw the splosions.

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HAVOCK mutters...

Posted December 15, 2011
Having now actually considered what JB was saying, or I guess at least alluding too, it would be rather remiss of me not to ensure that all who visit this here blog are made aware, or at least we make a concerted effort, sustained even, to drive the message home.

I’m not one for long winded deliveries, especially when , say for example, A punch in the face stops the person talking as good as asking them to shut up, but, this, well…. It is rather simple and from a MALE perspective, the soft, supply texture, aromas wafting whilst the mid wanders to god like thoughts, simply from its touch…the purveyed sense of FKN HELL ITS WICKED, it’s the FKN BEST, ya ya. Is not quite as good as the realization that the emotions generated from writing in a mole skinned book, are the same as writing on the side of a Mercedes, Lambo, Aston Martin or the likes….you know its good and its FKN BAD!

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Trowzers asserts...

Posted December 15, 2011
This is about the only reason I could think of that I'd want an iPad- http://bamboostylus.wacom.asia/video/. Wacom are generally very good at their shit, and I could definitately handle an alternate to sticky fingers on a smudgy screen. I'm hoping one day there will be a smaller, more mobile digital notepad using something similar to Wacom's pressure sensitive drawing stylus, with notes divided into digital 'pages' that could be used as-is or converted to text for use in a Word processor, and equally suited to drawing and making sketches and mudmaps as well as taking notes (kind of like the Microsoft Courier seemed like it would be, before it was canned). That would have me way more excited than the iPad.

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ChrisB reckons...

Posted December 15, 2011
Any sort of non-erase-y notebooks work great at games; however, if you are going back to Moleskines, keep in mind the fedoras nowadays have the band sewn in, no room for the 'PRESS' card jammed in. (I know, I tried to find one for my 1st stint as a sideline reporter back in Oct.) Had to settle for a re-pop version of a late '60s thin-bill Fedora.

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John Birmingham reckons...

Posted December 15, 2011
Trowzers, I liked the look at the Bamboo as soon as I laid eyes on it. But do you think I could ever find one? Nup. So the other day I ponied up $25 for a Cosmonaut.

http://www.studioneat.com/

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coriolisdave mumbles...

Posted December 15, 2011
I think this is where I point out that you can get a whole array of different-styled stylii from Deal Extreme from the grand cost of $2.50. Picked myself up a bunch (including one very similar to your studio neat) for a tenner.

Free postage, too.

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John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted December 15, 2011
But I spent twenty five bucks on mine. Plus postage. So it must be better. it must!

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Blarkon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 15, 2011
Trowzers - Windows 8 on ARM tablets (iPad thin, but with built in handwriting recognition - which has been awesome since Vista). My current tablet (ep 121) http://www.asus.com.au/Eee/Eee_Pad/Eee_Slate_EP121/ is good - but only has around 4.5 hours active battery - the ARM tablets should get iPad like battery lifetime without Android's general arseiness.

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Legless swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 15, 2011
I now keep all my my notes in the cloud - instantly synced to my horde of devices. No danger of ever losing my precious thoughts, ideas and flashes of inspiration.

On the move - my Android phone or tablet. Working, my laptop or workstations. I don't know how I managed before Dropbox. Have an idea, hammer out a few words in a text editor and save it in my Dropbox folder on whichever device I'm working on. A few seconds later and it's copied across all of my switched on devices and available to me on whatever machine I'm working on. An absolute Godsend.

Cheers

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Blarkon mutters...

Posted December 15, 2011
Evernote might be more useful for that sort of thing - cross platform sinking without having to open any files - you just do it from the app. If there's a platform that Evernote hasn't been released on, I've yet to find it.

http://www.evernote.com

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Mayhem's Mum reckons...

Posted December 16, 2011
All well and good, gentlemen, but storing your musings on electronic devices means that when you write something awful it will be preserved forever in the net. Do we not all have some cringeworthy scribblings crammed into the bottom of our bedside drawers? When one has matured as a writer one can burn those literary embarrassments. One cannot set fire to the internet. You may think that it is easy to rid oneself of online atrocities stored on the internet by merely pressing the delete button but thanks to the Cloud you would be mistaken. Those atrocities will always be retrievable. Truly there times when I am tempted to return to slate and chalk notetaking.

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Alex Gould ducks in to say...

Posted December 16, 2011
For all of the tech wizardry available these days I must say I LOVE my moleskin diary. Been using them for the last 5 years, still have everyone in my desk drawer. Strangely I'm waiting for the day when I get called in front a court room and asked about a particular date, at which point I will blow the dust off the old diary, unhook the black elastic band, shuffle aside old receipts and the like and declare.....well "it appears that I had lunch with the lads at 'Marque', shortly followed by beers, then a night out." You can't do that with the gadgets, most likely you will have had several devices since then, lost data due to unfortunate system restores and then found the Cloud wanting due to not paying your monthly subscription fee for all of that valuable disk!

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NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted December 16, 2011
's funny. When I pull out My notebook, it usually means that someone is about to have a very bad day. But my notebook is blue, has the Qld Gov crest on the cover and has pages and pages of badness, stupidity &/or villainy.

Oh & Alex, note taking can be a two edged sword. I once decided to track my consumption of alcohol, so I jotted down each drink in a little notebook. It turns out my estimate of 4-5 standard drinks per week was, er, conservative.

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Therbs is gonna tell you...

Posted December 16, 2011
I once used coasters to try and take minutes of a pub session for the purposes of posterity. The first few ended up being quite funny. After that was unintelligible garbage interspersed with pictures of genitals, sharks and explosions.
Luckily the Cloud didn't exist back then.

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Mayhem's Mum reckons...

Posted December 16, 2011
I once used coasters to try and shift a refrigerator. A word to the wise: this does not work on stairs.

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Sweet Jane Says mumbles...

Posted December 16, 2011
I showed-up just for the-hell-of it to say, "Go to hell, Birmingham!" No reason... I just felt like saying it to somebody.

Hunter S. stored everything in his mind until he crawled back to a typewriter. I keep a few notebooks and decorate them according to the place I plan to be. Nothing has as much potential than a blank notebook. Who will write the last "great" Gonzo book? Who has seen the lizard people in all their vileness? We'll see. This will be the last generation for the genre. People forget that Hunter's books were largely parables of politics mixed with Anthropology.

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ConspiracyCat has opinions thus...

Posted December 16, 2011
Hey, Sweet Jane, I love the Great Gonzo too. But I prefer the Swedish Chef. Beaker's pretty cool. But you can keep Fozzie Bear.

@ Mayhem's Mum. A word to the wise isn't necessary. It's the stupid people who need advice.

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted December 16, 2011
Hey Birmo, I know the pool ponies came back a little er, soiled & deflated last time, but if we promise to take slightly better care this time, can we race your crazies?
How would one weight / handicap them?
Either I or Abe could take bets, Abe would probably give more accurate odds, but my novelty bets would rock.
I'll offer 10:1 on SJS getting half way down the track then degenerating into a hissing, spitting, thashing ball of angst & self recrimination going nowhere.
Mayhem's Mum would probably bite the opposition @ the starting gates. Or perhaps through the starting gates.

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Richard M. Berthold is gonna tell you...

Posted December 17, 2011
I just want to say that I am a professinal historian (antiquity) and have enjoyed immensely your alternate history. In the acknowlegments to Designated Targets you referred to the works of Stirling and Flint as "much superior"; that is crap. You have an eye for the differences in cultures that these guys miss, such as the observation that people from the near future would be constantly choking on the cigarette smoke of the 1940s. Little stuff makes it more believable. Stirling recognizes, unike others, the economic scale necessary to manufacture something like firearms, but in his River of Time books, for example, his Bronze Age characters think just like moderns, rather than in the mythic terms and modes force on them by the totally different conceptual world they live in. Likewise, Flint's 30 Years War books fail to recognize the very different mindset of pre-industrial Europeans, especially in the area of religion. So far your books have dealt with modern society, but I expect that you would do a better job of capturing the very different minds and cultures of, say, preclassical societies. And if you ever do something dealing with antiquity, feel free to inquire - or read my Greek history. Keep it up.

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Nocturnalist mutters...

Posted December 17, 2011
I'm with CCat on Beaker and the Chef, and I'm also an eternal admirer of Waldorf and Statler. But I fear I'm a borderline heretic for thinking that Doctor Teeth is cooler than Animal.

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robert puts forth...

Posted December 17, 2011
I've always loved moleskines and damned the expense I've used them. Blarkon's comment about the Duomo journal got me thinking, though. I've always loved old leather books. Duomo doesn't sell to the US, but a google of 'Italian leather' and 'journals' brought immediate results. It quickly led me to the world's most expensive leather journal, at $9,500. As that is beyond the credit limit on my plastic quickly sought alternatives, and then landed on a custom leather website that produced leather covers for moleskines notebooks as well as leather "recession" bags for laptops, iPads, and tablets.

In no time at all I had ordered a leather bag for my laptop, and leather carrying case for my new iPad, and a leather cover for the moleskine notebooks. Just so you know, Blarkon, your off-the-cuff comments were powerful suggestions and I'm now $400 poorer.

Plus, I have buyer's remorse. But not much.

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coriolisdave puts forth...

Posted December 17, 2011
Ah Robert, I suspect you've stumbled across my favourite peddler of leather porn.. Saddleback Leather. I'm still fighting the urge to buy a backpack.. and a folio.. and a wallet.. and..

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ChrisB has opinions thus...

Posted December 18, 2011
Fozzie Rules (its the hat) however Sam the Eagle is a close 2nd.

Hey JB, what of the AoT character / technology inclusion contest?

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abigail mumbles...

Posted December 18, 2011
Late to the party this week. Beeso, don't know if you'll notice this message but I wanted to say that film clip / music for Mantra was great, and I see what you mean for JB.

Therbs, I reckon yourt writing (and you know I love your style) sounds exactly like you jotted it all down spontaneously in a book. Or a coaster , yes, more likely.

JB, I think using a quill & parchment makes for more spontaneity than looking at the dull little letters on the square keys. My theory is that typing is an industrial activity so we have mixed associations with it, historically.

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Blarkon ducks in to say...

Posted December 18, 2011
Duomo has several "levels" of notebook.

This one is pretty nice: http://www.alittleluxury.com.au/products/duomo-amalfi-journal-tan-13cm-x-18cm&cName=gifts-duomo

As is the following: http://santinas.com.au/tuscany-journal-medium-tan.html

You can probably call Santinas and get them to ship to you in the USA.

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Blarkon reckons...

Posted December 18, 2011
Oh and Dammit Robert - $100 iPad case and $600 Bag. Dammit.

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ConspiracyCat swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 19, 2011
Yeah, JB, what Chris B said. The second bit, not the bit about Fozzie - whom I still say you can keep (hat notwithstanding).

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John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted December 19, 2011
Yeah, I really oughta judge that comp.

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savo reckons...

Posted December 19, 2011
"How odd it is to write something like that with no expectation that anybody anywhere will read it."

I seem to recall something call Axis of Time growing out of "... with no expectation that anybody anywhere will read it."

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John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted December 20, 2011
Yep. Times change.

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Blarkon has opinions thus...

Posted December 20, 2011
Robert - after this thread I picked up two more Duomo today from http://www.maisonliving.com.au/catalog/Duomo-128-1.html - they take phone orders and are happy to ship internationally (I went with the tuscany journals - 12x17 and 15x21)

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Respond to 'Notebook.'

Some thoughts on shorter books

Posted December 2, 2011 by John Birmingham
I can't recall who said it, and frankly I can't be arsed googling it up, but some famous author once said, “I don't have time to write short stories.”

I always understood the gist of what he meant. (I do remember it was a male writer). The discipline and demands of writing a short story can be a lot more onerous than the simple crushing effort of having to wrestle a 200,000 word manuscript across the line.

I'm starting to understand that down in my meat, however, as I get into e-books, almost all of which will come in at novella length, say 40 to 50,000 words. That might seem like a lot to somebody who doesn't write books for a living, but when you're used to sprawling out over a couple of hundred thousand words and 7 or 8 narrative arcs, each with their own point of view, a novella turns out to be a very constrained experience.

For me, the first question is, who's going to tell this story? In AOT that's not an idle question. By the time I got to the Disappearance trilogy I'd learned to restrict myself to a small ensemble cast. That wasn't the case with Weapons of Choice. It leaves me a lot of, ahem, choices, but that's not necessarily a good thing. Option paralysis can sit in.

Do you want to do social history? Then you need someone like Slim Jim. Do you want to do front-line combat? Then you'll need a soldier, and I have an elegant sufficiency of them, but which one to choose? Pavel Ivanov for some behind enemy lines shenanigans? Capt. Willet for a little Tom Clancy style naval action? Or Julia Duffy because, well because she's just awesome. And how long to spend with an overview character such as Kolhammer? I have big plans for the Hammer, and he could probably do with his own book, but a storyline like that is best embedded in a full-length novel, which of course I'm not writing.

When it comes time to sit down and write the e-books for the Disappearance universe, there'll be a lot less faffing about. I already have the first two books in that series plotted out. The characters pick themselves, as the survivors of Angels of Vengeance. But for now, I'm finding the return to Axis of Time to be a real question of focus.

76 Responses to ‘Some thoughts on shorter books’

TheFKNPaddlePopLion reckons...

Posted December 2, 2011
The Kohlhammer book should be called "Stop: Kohlhammer Time!"

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Paul Nicholas Boylan puts forth...

Posted December 2, 2011
Nope, nope, nope. Can't go there. As a reader, as a fan, I want it all. I want Slim Jim. I want Pavel. I want the Hammer. I want front line combat. Hell, I want fucking Professor Manning Pope's ghost haunting the theoretical physicists of that altered time line to duplicate, if not perfect, his experiment because they suffer from the same fevered dream. I want the team that builds the Thor orbital bombardment system to have the colonization of space in the back of their minds just as Von Braun did when he helped Hitler terrorize London with V-1 and V-2s.

But I don't necessarily want all of it all at once.

Every medium for creative expression has vistas and limits that shape the art produced. An artist embraces the vistas and adapts to the limits. You re most definitely an artist. If e-books are necessarily short (which I accept arguendo only) then all it means is that an e-novel needs to be serialized like Dickens serialized his novels when he published his greatest works bit by bit in newspapers.

I know this doesn't really solve the problem. You still need to make choices of what and who to include. But, if viewed as part of a larger, continuing work (even if that is never realized for pragmatic reasons) then making those choices isn't like a death sentence for a character or the end of a story line, and that should make it a bit less onerous.

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Timmo reckons...

Posted December 2, 2011
Go with the awesome Ms Duffy.
That is all.

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Murcan Downunder reckons...

Posted December 2, 2011
Who says it has to be the POV of one of the existing big characters? Why not write about how the transistion effects some minor or not seen before 21C or temp?

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Murcan Downunder puts forth...

Posted December 2, 2011
Who says you have to write from the perspective of any of your major players? Why not show how some minor or unknown character 9either 21C or temp) deals with the transistion?

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Murcan Downunder puts forth...

Posted December 2, 2011
Silly Wordpress.

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sibeen would have you know...

Posted December 2, 2011
Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah .

Like I really give a shit. Just get them out there, do it quickly and stop the blathering.

I don't ask for much but as these things are only going to be reasonably short then I'd expect a minimum of two released per month. Of course, if you stopped faffing about you could probably up this to weekly.

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HAVOCK puts forth...

Posted December 2, 2011
i'm with Sibeen ...to a certain extent, in that, I WANT THE FKN THINGS NOW, dont give a toss what you do to accomplish it, pint of blood, first child to the devil or whatever...just stop fk arsing about and get it DONE

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HAVOCK mumbles...

Posted December 2, 2011
BUT it has top be the full bottle with AoT, its simply too fkn awesome to m,ake it a sml kinda ..ua knw. OK, I nearly got sentimental then, just ..hope to it my good man!

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TheFKNPaddlePopLion asserts...

Posted December 2, 2011
"BUT it has top be the full bottle with AoT, its simply too fkn awesome to m,ake it a sml kinda ..ua knw."

Dunno what the FK he's trying to say or if that grammar is even street-legal, but FK YEAH!

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Sparty puts forth...

Posted December 2, 2011
with a novella for want of a better word, can you just let an idea and momentum just take over?

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TheFKNPaddlePopLion swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 2, 2011
's all about finishing each book on a FKN cliffhanger so you go "HOLY SHIT - GIVE BIRMINGHAM TRUCKLOADS OF CASH TO WRITE THE NEXT BOOK"

Cos watching him blow truckloads of cash on stuff like Airsharks would just be cool.

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Sparty swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 2, 2011
Prince Harry / Princess Liz slash fiction?

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John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted December 2, 2011
Eeeeew!

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Mayhem's Mum swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 2, 2011
Seconded.

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Abe Frellman mutters...

Posted December 2, 2011
I vote for a Lt Nguyen POV.

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Abe Frellman ducks in to say...

Posted December 2, 2011
...starting from when, as a kid, she helped in her dad Luke's restaurant and starred in his show Luke Nguyen's Vietnam. I hear she is a dab hand at a pho gai.

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Albion Love Den would have you know...

Posted December 2, 2011
I'd always pictured novellas as one-narrative stories. Considering how both of your trilogies hint at story arcs from all characters starting outside of the main story thrust, I've always been interested in a more developed complete story package from just one character at a time. Ie - tell Kolhammer's complete story, as it then dovetails with the main book series. As a writing (and reading) exercise, telling each story using a different literary device (ie - swapping POVs, styles, etc) would be seriously interesting.

Not sure if any of this makes sense.

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Bunyip swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 2, 2011
I'd go for new characters. One of the things I like about some of Gibson's cyberpunk books is the cameos from previous major characters.

Having said that, Prince Harry would be fun. Sub Saharan Africa could be very interesting...

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Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 2, 2011
Willet definitely needs a novella along with Mike Judge.

As for social history, meh, don't do that. Go blow some shit up.

Ivanov might be the way to go for that.

Or better yet, give me some Lonesome Jones.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Lobes reckons...

Posted December 3, 2011
+1 for Lonesome and Ivanov.

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HAVOCK puts forth...

Posted December 3, 2011
MURPH...WILLET IS THE FKN BOMB!!!!!!!!!!

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Bondiboy66 has opinions thus...

Posted December 3, 2011
I'm conflicted. Yes I'd like to know what happens to everyone, but for starters I like the mil-porn aspect of the Jones/Willet/Ivanov characters. Some though, may have to be left alone. I could see Prince Harry retiring to Buck House post war, and flouncing about in polite English society. I could see Duffy pulling back to more peaceful pursuits, perhaps getting the contraceptive thing turned off and punching out a tribe of rug rats. The Kolhammer/Quiet Room angle would be interesting to see played out. As for Slim Jim, well he kind of shits me!

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The gasman mumbles...

Posted December 3, 2011
Look. Can we just have a new edition of "How to be a Man" please?

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Mayhem has opinions thus...

Posted December 3, 2011
I've been doing a heap of reading on my Kindle. Have to agree with PNB! Serialise, it's a great way to go! I have heaps of collections, even of stand alones, with characters who develop personally and professionally through the series.

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Moko has opinions thus...

Posted December 3, 2011
I want it as like a radio play ... with acting and sound effects and shit.

If I keep whinging and carrying on about it like an 8 year old I might get my way eventually.

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Unpossible mumbles...

Posted December 3, 2011
You mean it's not already out yet?
Look what I found over at the angus and Robertson ebook site:


Product Details
ISBN: 9780730499282
Category: Fantasy Fiction
Format: ePub
Publication Date: 2011-11-01
Publisher: Voyager
 
A Captain Of The Gate
A ?What if? story of the Cold War ... a small piece of alternate history of the period told via a biography of one of its players, Lieutenant Branch McKinnon, an adventurer in a different post-WWII world of American isolationism. This alternate history from a very popular and bestselling Australian writer gives the reader a different perspective on history and where we are now!

Btw, this bestselling Australian writer goes by the name of John Birmingham...

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted December 3, 2011
Unlikely Brother Moko, but maintain the rage.

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Unpossible would have you know...

Posted December 3, 2011
Imitation is flattery, right? Even deceptive, borderline identity theft could be flattery...

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Mayhem's Mum asserts...

Posted December 3, 2011
Mayhem dear, reading is not good for you. It overheats a lady's brain you know. If you have time to spare between kneading bread and handwashing your smalls, come and visit your dear old mother in the Oubliette. We can do a spot of cross stitching or you could help me latch hook a new toupee for your father. I can even make you some of those lemonade scones you like so much. There's not much rat in them.

No?

I understand. You're far too busy to waste time visiting elderly parents for Christmas. Never mind. I shall just go back to scraping moss from the Oubliette walls. Bah humbug.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan mutters...

Posted December 3, 2011
I suspect, for arcane and eldritch reasons, that Mayhem's Mom is a bloke.

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Bangar would have you know...

Posted December 3, 2011
Paul but that would make Mayhem's Mum, Mayhem's Dad.

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TheFKNPaddlePopLion mutters...

Posted December 3, 2011
So that whole "Lick A Prize" Ratcicle thing was some sort of FKN euphamism?

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Bunyip mumbles...

Posted December 3, 2011
JB, maybe you are looking at this the wrong way. Instead of 'who shall I focus on, and what bit of the setting do I want to develop', maybe you should look at what fun and dramatic changes there might be from the original timeline, and then try to see if there is reason that any of your initial set of characters would be involved.

But then, as Havock has so eloquently pointed out, Willet will still be around. And submarines are rather similar to spacecraft. Crowbars get launched from space, yes?

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Paul Nicholas Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted December 3, 2011
Does Willet speak Russian?

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Mayhem's Mum ducks in to say...

Posted December 3, 2011
Only when he is in a hurry.

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted December 3, 2011
Unpossible, that's amazing.
I somehow ended up with a cassette in the early 80's that was sold as a hot hit's type compilation of current big hits, but on listening turned out to be recorded by nobodies.
I wonder what the legalities are?
It doesn't read like Birmo, it could be argued that it diminishes His brand.

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Mayhem's Mum mumbles...

Posted December 3, 2011
Mr NBob, Sir, this is a valid point. Mr Birmingham's writing shines through despite obviously having been edited by a monkey on speed. An inferior writer with such atrocious editing would only be of use to Nigerian princes with throat cancer who want random email account holders to help them smuggle their billions out of Dubai to help poor little orphan children. Unless Mr Birmingham wishes to identify as a Nigerian prince I would advise him to sic his lawyers upon all imitators forthwith.

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T2 reckons...

Posted December 4, 2011
I just finished reading, Stephen King's novel, 11/22/63. Honestly, it was a great read, up until the end for me. The thought of going back in time and stopping the Kennedy assassination has long been a fantasy of mine. I read all 849 pages like a hungry wolf, but in the end, I was disappointed with King's conclusions.

Why, does it seems, that altering the timeline has to result in even worse things happening? Why can't there be a happy ending where the alterations did good and served mankind better? Is not stopping an evil man, who did an evil thing, a good thing? If so, then why not allow the universe to accept the changes, and be better for it?

That being said, I would love to see the AOT series continued and hopefully see something good and righteous result from the changes, even if there are also lesser bad things that result too.

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Robert reckons...

Posted December 4, 2011
Oh, my! Your fans will eat you alive, JB. Before you sit down to write the AOT story from the perspective of the little matchbook girl, you might give thought to using the model of the 1632 series--that is, shop out your short stories to others, both fanfic makers and actual authors. Run a website organizing the whole thing and create a style guide and story ideas trading post. Manage your trademark. Then sit back and let the cash roll in. Seems to work for Eric Flint...

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Paul Nicholas Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted December 4, 2011
Flint regrets fostering that model.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan asserts...

Posted December 4, 2011
He won't tell you that directly, but you can tell it is true by the lack luster way he slices his black truffle.

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ConspiracyCat swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 4, 2011
@ Mayhem's Mum - WW had crap editing, true, but it was better in AA. I thought so, anyway. Sad, that, because I liked the crap editing - it distracted me from all the gratuitous gore, and guts, and gnawing off of legs.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted December 4, 2011
The gnawing off of an appendage is never gratuitous: it is a powerful archetypical symbol common to the myths underlying all extinct and extant human cultures. Jung wrote about it extensively. Even Wilhelm Reich agreed about it's symbolic importance, although he also implied erotic aspects absent from any ancient or modern literary tradition. But then, Reich was sort of freaky that way. I'm not kidding. Look it up. Total loon.

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Mayhem's Mum has opinions thus...

Posted December 4, 2011
Ms ConspiracyCat, indeed the editing had improved by After America. In my opinion this was due to the weightiness of the tome which made the editor's ministering superfluous. It begs the question whether his current red crayon jockey can ride a novelette successfully. Mr Birmingham would be well advised to engage the services of an editor who can ably handle the less verbose novelette without mangling it beyond recognition. If he chooses to retain his current editor he had best stock up on bananas.

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Nocturnalist swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 4, 2011
+++The gnawing off of an appendage is never gratuitous: it is a powerful archetypical symbol common to the myths underlying all extinct and extant human cultures.+++

And also a handy defence against the effects of Azgoth poetry.

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savo asserts...

Posted December 4, 2011
You also have a lot of side stories (which you mention in passing as if it is naturally something the reader should know about - a nice touch BTW) to fill that can be done, rather than setting the stories post WW2.3.

I'll have to re read the lot again but off the top of my head is the occupation of Hawaii.

I agree with Bondiboy about Slim Jim. He's not the character, O'Brien is, everything Slim Jim is, is due to the expert puppeteer O'Brien (and by extension Kolhammer).

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Monster Yuppy is gonna tell you...

Posted December 4, 2011
I am with Moko.
I am gonna whine til I get my own damn way.
Works for most politicians....

Write the bloody thing will ya !
With chicks. And guns. And chicks WITH guns.
And chicks who like chicks who have guns.......

Excuse me. I must depart for a few minutes.

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ChrisB would have you know...

Posted December 4, 2011
Might I suggest a muppet character...they seem to be popular as of late.

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TheFKNPaddlePopLion asserts...

Posted December 4, 2011
You could do muppet porn. Call it "Fucking Muppets"

The sequel could be about them all going to the hat shop. Call it "Cap the Fuckers"

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Moko is gonna tell you...

Posted December 4, 2011
It's amazing how many people get a hard on for our man Hav.

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Mayhem's Mum ducks in to say...

Posted December 4, 2011
Mr Moko, Sir, this is unsurprising. Mr Havock is a legend. He also makes a tantalising tea cake.

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schalmer mumbles...

Posted December 4, 2011
Now I am not a kiwi, nor a kiwi sympathiser, but i was wondering if there is a chance that Captain Charles Hazlitt Upham VC and bar might escape from Colditz Castle to become a character?

Where can i buy an autographed copy of your latest?

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Lobes mutters...

Posted December 4, 2011
I really liked the 1632 universe that Eric Flint created but it was totally ruined for me when he let some muppets create absolutely awful books about it. Cant be bothered reading it or even him now.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted December 5, 2011
I'll read what Eric writes in the 1632 series and I will take a chance on any of his collaborations with anyone on par with David Weber (there is some amazingly satisfying explody goodness in 1633). But I agree about the rest.

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted December 5, 2011
Off topic warning.

Reports this morning that the US has misplaced one of it's unarmed stealth drones off the western edge of The Stan, oops into Iran.
The Iranians are claiming that they A: shot it down, B: took control via cyberwarfare kung fu, C: overwealmed it with thier superior moral position.
The American authorities have said it went out of control & crashed.
Cool, fine & right, I assign equal credibility to both sources.

But What If the (one would assume) pretty shmicko security protocols could be over-ridden?
I don't credit the Iranian Armed Forces with the IT Kung Fu much above "switch it off & back on again" but there are other players & interested parties with high dan levels of kung-fu and these platforms, some armed with air to surface missiles, are operated over a network. And I understand that _all_ networks are vulnerable to some degree to an attack.
Interesting, to mix my martial arts metaphors, if a Black Hat could Judo style use the White Hat's strength against them.

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted December 5, 2011
@ Moko RE: 4/12/2011 @ 6:41 pm
He is the epitome of a renaissance man: sensitive, caring, engaged with raising his children, well read, a broad range of knowledge & experience yet willing to listen to others, can shout in four languages, in touch with his feminine side and, yet retaining all of that early 70's V8 masculinity.
He's the man that all women (& some men) want and most men want to be.
Except for the height thing and the keyboard skillz. While good things may come in small packages, not a small packages are good things.

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WarDog mumbles...

Posted December 5, 2011
@TheFKNPaddlePopLion Peter Jackson did it already. Go watch "Meet the Feebles".

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Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted December 5, 2011
So the Willet, Halibi, Jones and duffy types get to star in explodey tales. Works for me.
The Quiet Room could be teased out. I'd love to see some more of Rogas and his team causing grief to muppets.

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NBlob reckons...

Posted December 5, 2011
Further to drone comment.
Peter Singer has some pretty odd ideas, many of which I disagree with. But just because I disagree doesn't mean he should be dismissed out of hand. I reserve that for loons / evangalists & Greybeard.
http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/philosopherszone/the-morality-of-robo-wars---pw-singer/3701744

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HAVOCK mutters...

Posted December 5, 2011
in case any fkn MUPOPETS MISSED THIS fkn LITTLE FKN GEM!!

"@ Moko RE: 4/12/2011 @ 6:41 pm
He is the epitome of a renaissance man: sensitive, caring, engaged with raising his children, well read, a broad range of knowledge & experience yet willing to listen to others, can shout in four languages, in touch with his feminine side and, yet retaining all of that early 70?s V8 masculinity.
He’s the man that all women (& some men) want and most men want to be.
Except for the height thing and the keyboard skillz. While good things may come in small packages, not a small packages are good things."

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Paul Nicholas Boylan puts forth...

Posted December 5, 2011
Well, now I feel socially awkward. I thought Moko was talking about me.

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Bangar ducks in to say...

Posted December 5, 2011
Wardog you beat me to it!

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JP has opinions thus...

Posted December 6, 2011
I'm pretty sure that quote was from me, over martinis ;-)

I think Twain wrote:
“I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
And he defo wrote:
“It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.”
And a good one for writers:
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

Anyway, novellas = awesomeness. After a couple you'll get in the grove. My 2 cents, break down into 3 major acts and that way you'll have your momentum sorted; and if it's a series, treating them like good episodic television would be cool.

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted December 6, 2011
Like a 117 year old wispy bearded Japanese haiku sensei he has the power to use words to unveil new levels of meaning.

"MUPOPETS" = muppets to the power of poppets

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NBlob mumbles...

Posted December 7, 2011
Back on topic.

JB you mention the confinement of novellas. I think this fits quite nicely with the concept of episodic novellas. I'm a fan of the HMAS Havoc story line, so I could see 3 Novellas describing tours & battles across the canvas of the Battle for the Coral Sea 2.4.1, 2.4.2 & 2.4.3 Each ep with it's own voyage, on-boat conflicts between Roy Flemming, Lohery, Willet & Wookie & whizzo explodey battles.
Ditto the rise & fall of the Slim Jim Empire. (2.5.1 2.5.2) Rat cunning & street smarts will only get SJ So Far, then hubris or egotistic refusal to acknowledge a threat will bring him undone. I can see him setting himself up as El Presidente for life in say Guyana and coming to a sticky end underestimating the locals.

I think I understand the complexity of the planning task involved. X10 if each ep is to be able to truly stand on it's own. But then again if one was to watch a single ep of a big HBO miniseries, how much would you get from it? Or read a single book from a trilogy? I think this may be making a rod for your own back. I suspect that the online availability of the ebook make it less likely that a reader will "come in halfway through." Those few that do, I suspect will be more likely to then purchase the preceeding ep, than to abandon you all together for another author.

Perhaps an advantage of an E platform is the ability to hyperlink a potted history of each character in a sort of addendum at the end of the document.

One aspect of the WOC trilogy that I muchly enjoyed was descriptions of both Macro (@ theatre level command intrigues) & Micro (@ bugs & long grass.) I think you did well balancing the two extremes. Juggling this within a much shorter unit will be, I imagine, far more difficult. Without lapsing into the formulaic, so long as each ep has both you'll kep your regulars (IE: Me) happy.
You have discussed your plot planning tools before. I imagine it's scalable to an extent.

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Sweet Jane Says is gonna tell you...

Posted December 7, 2011
Readers with only tabs will belong primarily to a different generation. Let go of the big rambling. Think of the gonzo self you loved in university. Think of all those short graphic novels that were made into movies. Let yourself be as bloody and triple X as you want to be. Shake-it-up! Or, not... How strong is your spine; how fine is your whisky?

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Paul Nicholas Boylan puts forth...

Posted December 7, 2011
Oh, Jane. I love you.

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Mayhem's Mum would have you know...

Posted December 7, 2011
Professor, Professor, Professor. My Lord and Master Greybeard (Keeper of the Torch, Bringer of Gruel, Scoffer of Seafood) asserts that you were informed of the true identity of various Cheeseburgergothic sockpuppets. Yet you seem unaware of the scuttlebutt regarding Ms(?) Sweet Lorna Jane. One would assume that if you were aware, you were being somewhat creative with the truth when informing us that you do not swing that way.

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Bunyip mutters...

Posted December 7, 2011
Mmmn.... sockpuppets.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan asserts...

Posted December 8, 2011
Jane is a bloke? Okay, then I love him - in a completely socially acceptable way, I assure you.

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JG puts forth...

Posted December 11, 2011
Wow! That's mind blowingly shattering. What a fantastic cover! You must be so pleased with it, JB.

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JG is gonna tell you...

Posted December 11, 2011
@PNB: I am a Master of Social Awkwardness. I think I shall write a manual on the intricacies of social awkwardness. Come to me for lessons. Master Ninja, Joanna :))

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John Birmingham asserts...

Posted December 13, 2011
Been a week or so since I dropped into this thread but there's some good shit here. NBob, JP and Jane, (of all people!), made the most interesting points I think. I really like the idea of embedding background info in the the ebook so that people can read up on the, er, background. A nit like some of the guides Peter F Hamilton has written.

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Guy reckons...

Posted December 14, 2011
Personally I'm hoping for more about teh situation in Europe following the Soviet "liberation" of much of the continent. Bring Captain Halabi back to the colours!

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pi mutters...

Posted December 15, 2011
The great thing about the axis of time story, is that you could advance it by many years (20? 30? 50?) and really run with the story. You could change the tone of the story immeasurably and still maintain the core of the original story.

But if you wanted a never-ending experience, within a single universe, of "what the fuck will he think of next?!?!", you can't really go past the axis of time. Even the simplest sort of thing, like having the internet in the 50's, or even birth-control... things we just accept as 'the way it is' that would have radically different outcomes on the culture of that time, would be great to read...

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Respond to 'Some thoughts on shorter books'

Back to it.

Posted November 15, 2011 by John Birmingham
Yesterday I set about repairing the damage done to waistline and productivity by the AoV Drinking Tour. An hour and a half under the house with the weights, jump rope and heavy bag. Then a full day at the keyboard to crunch out a coupla columns, a longish essay for The Spectator and yet another iteration of the plan for the next book series.

I took about two kgs off before the tour, knowing I'd overindulge. Wasn't enough. Sigh. Who'd a thunk there were so many spare calories in an all martini diet.

Anyways, props and thanks to all who ventured out and caught up. It was a slightly different tour for me cos I kept getting whipped off to the outer wastelands for the gummint's Get Reading program. Made for less time to sit and sip at whiskey with y'all as is my wont.

Even Saturday, at the play, I was still on the clock, having to hurry myself home shortly after the curtain fall.

Now, it's back to work. I have an Axis e-book due in two weeks.

Yikes.

D'oh. And Blunty.

54 Responses to ‘Back to it.’

ChrisB asserts...

Posted November 15, 2011
Two weeks! That's just in time for my b-day and my Kindle self-gift. Besides, sippin' whiskey always helps grease the verbal wheels. Good luck!

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Mayhem's Mum asserts...

Posted November 15, 2011
Mr Birmingham, Sir, did you not realise this was all a plot? Gaining weight perpetuates a sedentary lifestyle. Your Burger friends know that a fat man is more likely to sit in front of a typewriter and write more books than he is to embark on a long jog. They are, indeed, counting on it as they have all finished their copies of Angels and are thirsting for another swig of explodey goodness, to use the vernacular.

Unless you want your Burgers to succeed in converting you into a human bean bag, I would advise you to set up your voice recorder thingy in your gymnasium.

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Murphy reckons...

Posted November 15, 2011
Go, go, go, go!

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Blarkon reckons...

Posted November 15, 2011
Neal Stephenson's new novel has a writer who writes while walking on a treadmill. This seems like a form of torture to me.

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damian puts forth...

Posted November 15, 2011
I'm still working on a way to be able to write beside, or indeed in, the pool. The practicalities there are less about waterproofing, more about shade.

About halfway through Hamilton's "Night's Dawn" trilogy at the moment, and I guess I've decided I'm about halfway through my SF genre survey for the purposes of the exercise anyway. The second half will be less space opera and milpornI think I've kind of lost track of what those purposes are, except perhaps to "catch up", and at a lower level, to decide whether I can write SF, or want to.

I'll be doing a similar genre survey of crime fiction after this, but becoming increasingly conscious of time drifting away - it's been a little over a year to get to a self-declared halfway point on SF, for instance. I'm not particularly up to date on literary fiction either, and still don't want to rule that out as an option (especially, as some *ahem* commentators indicate there's a gap at the moment where literary fiction does not appear to concern itself with "big" issues, or explosions, a gap I'd be delighted to write to).

Anyway, the working week takes more than just these days. I'll identify an appropriate middle ground one of these days, I'm sure.

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jennicki is gonna tell you...

Posted November 15, 2011
I'm glad I'm not the only one who was off the wagon. Though I was off for more than two weeks, sadly. But I've been doing Weight Watchers for the last 3 weeks and I'm back to working out, too.

Good to have you back, JB!

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted November 15, 2011
Alcahol bad.
Fri night after indulging considerably more than I should @ a charity long lunch I found myself on mate's new snowboard-simulating 2 wheeled skateboard. (Sweet toy BTW)
Precipitously gaining speed.
Co-ordination & control - fair.
Night vision - poor.
Decision making capacity - very poor.
Subsequent injury - minor but bloody.

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted November 15, 2011
@ Murph. "Go, go, go, go!"

I imagined JB "Going over the Top" Somme trench style. Briefly.
Then I remembered the Bunnys, Manse, Hover Crafts & Bravia powered digital immersion facility the image kinda evaporates.
Not so much a grim GI or determined Digger, as a cravat wearing playboy bothered by totting up last month's bar bills.

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Timmo reckons...

Posted November 15, 2011
Blarkon,
There's a new Neal Stephenson novel? Sweet!
JB just snuck in in time with AoV, now that I've opened the cover... Stephenson will be something to savour for later.

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Chaz is gonna tell you...

Posted November 15, 2011
Thats from picking all those extra pieces of pork from the special fried rice, thats what that is!

'Even Saturday, at the play, I was still on the clock, having to hurry myself home shortly after the curtain fall.' thought that was because of your advanced age you need to head back for your horlicks!!

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Mayhem's Mum reckons...

Posted November 15, 2011
Horlicks is fattening.

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Therbs asserts...

Posted November 15, 2011
The recent burgering with yourself, Paul Boylan and HTBAM being the focus central has been aces. Lots of burgerati I haven't previously met and others I have. Even made it to Redcliffistan on the week-end! Fine times, good people, lots of fun.

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damian has opinions thus...

Posted November 15, 2011
Yes, I must work a new Stephenson into my genre survey. Still haven't read Cryptonomicon either, probably a glaring gap...

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Paul Nicholas Boylan would have you know...

Posted November 15, 2011
I am a neophyte of the mysteries of Artemis.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan asserts...

Posted November 15, 2011
Sorry. I am a bit drunk (Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA, John - a real man's brew) so I am also a bit confused by my last post here. Perhaps I am affected by some obscure spirituality.

Naw. Not likely.

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Timmo mumbles...

Posted November 15, 2011
Me too, Paul - on all points (apart from the bit drunk bit...)

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Paul Nicholas Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 15, 2011
Are you Aussie? Why didn't I eat and drink with you when I was there?

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Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted November 15, 2011
PNB, I need to know WTF it is you said to my spouse that has him convinced you're a Raelian. Please explain.

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Bunyip puts forth...

Posted November 15, 2011
JB, am disappointed with the unscientific web poll thingy on the the latest Blunty. There is no option for "News which has video of Eric Abetz in the stocks being pelted with rotten fruit."

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BrianC ducks in to say...

Posted November 15, 2011
Thanks for comming out JB, i dont remember much after you left. I woke up on the couch with un eaten maccas and terrible headache the next day. No-Idea how i got home.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan asserts...

Posted November 15, 2011
WTF is a Raelian? If it is anything like a Vegetarian, then I deny it utterly.

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Therbs would have you know...

Posted November 15, 2011
Paul - obscure spirituality? That happened to me once after drinking some moonshine vodka in Poland. Another consequence was rapid onset of alcoholic dementia. But that's fucking Poland for you isn't it.

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Paul Nicholas Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted November 15, 2011
It sure as fuck is, mate. I love Poland.

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MickH has opinions thus...

Posted November 15, 2011
same q JB
You doing any book signing here in Brissie?
Or did I miss it?

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abigail puts forth...

Posted November 15, 2011
"Are you Aussie? Why didn’t I eat and drink with you when I was there?" -- PNB, that's fantastic; you're so Greek.

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Mayhem's Mum swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 15, 2011
It's all Greek to me.

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Moko asserts...

Posted November 15, 2011
Mmmm Ouzoooo...

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sibeen has opinions thus...

Posted November 15, 2011
Still haven’t read Cryptonomicon either, probably a glaring gap…

PROBABLY? FUCKING PROBABLY!

Sheesh. A fucking masterpiece

*takes deep breathes*

*reaches for a calming stubbie of stout*

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Sparty asserts...

Posted November 15, 2011
"I have an Axis e-book"

You had me at "Axis"....

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Bunyip asserts...

Posted November 15, 2011
Sparty, this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Birmingham#Axis_of_Time_Trilogy

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damian puts forth...

Posted November 15, 2011
sibeen: Steady on there old boy.

I read Anathem, and thought for that author it was a pretty impressive achievement. I thought Diamond Age wasn't bad and could forgive its problems. Snow Crash had some good ideas, but was inconsistent and too many of the set pieces assumed an ideological position that I found difficult (not least the attempt at a parody on public sector work that rang more true for the private sector workplaces I've seen than any public sector ones). I think Stephenson is bright and talented, but hasn't escaped some relatively serious cultural prejudices that unfortunately happen to be ones I dislike: not his fault, but there you go. I think Anathem was the best of his I've read - both in terms of the imagination behind it, and that it's the closest he's got so far to hard SF (the "S" part in Snow Crash is a bit of a joke, and is pretty superficial in Diamond Age). I can almost tolerate the obligatory parable against altruism in Anathem... but to be honest that is one area in which I am a weak man.

So no, haven't read Cryptonomicon yet. I feel I have the measure of the author, and there are higher priorities. I do expect him to impress, perhaps even surprise me. Hence being interested in a new work. I will certainly get to it, but I'm not in any particular hurry.

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Blarkon mumbles...

Posted November 15, 2011
Snow Crash is a bit of a piss take on the Cyberpunk novel. You should pick that up within about 5 minutes of Hiro Protagonist trying to deliver his pizza ;-) - Diamond Age is aimed at putting the last nail in Cyberpunk's coffin. ReamDe isn't as chock full of ideas as other books - it's a fairly straight forward splodey action book. You may have missed the author's tounge firmly planted in the author's cheek.

Stephenson is one of the cleverest guys out there. One of the few I can think of off the top of my head in the same lague is China Mieville, William Gibson, Vernor Vinge, Ian McDonald, Iain M Banks and Alastiar Reynolds. (oh and John Birmingham, who, as we know, has a talent and genius measured on a Hertzsprung–Russell diagram)

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted November 15, 2011
D:
I'm still a little freaked out that your recreational reading is so, uh, strategic.
I read pretty much anything that comes within grabbing range. Excluding Very rare planned purchase like Birmo's, I will read whatever is available, most recently a boxed set of Gerrard Durell old old old titles that came into my hands, before that Mr Flannery's slightly less than AWSM Explorer's Notebook (F'k he's good, just ask him) and before that re-read a Non Fiction about the Kublai Khan's attempted Invasion of Japan & the original Kamakaze.
I'm feel like I read bezerker style & feel a touch shabby against your chess master approach.

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MickH puts forth...

Posted November 15, 2011
same q JB
You doing any book signing here in Brissie?
Or did I miss it?

same q JB
You doing any book signing here in Brissie?
Or did I miss it?

You doing any book signing here in Brissie?

YOU DOING ANY SIGNING IN FUCKING BRISBANE???

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sibeen mumbles...

Posted November 15, 2011
<b<sibeen: Steady on there old boy.

OLD? Fucking Old!

I'll have you know you young whippersnapper that I'm not, no way, not even close, to middle aged. Why, I'm still a whole 3 months and 29 days shy of my 50th birthday...old...indeed!

On a more cerebral note, I was apprehensive going into Anathem. I'd slogged through the Baroque Cycle and whilst I'd found the writing in this trilogy to be amusing , sometimes brilliant, and nearly always thought provoking, the story didn't hold together too well. Orin nearly turned me off actually reading Anathem as he described it "as a heavy read", or something like that, so I was expecting a heavy trawl through something similar to the three previous tomes. I found it a great read, although in my young, humble opinion it is only his second best book.

Cryptonomicon isn't anything like that. This is Stephenson's magnus opus. Like a lot of Stephenson's work I'm not sure that it can even be described as SF. This book does rate as one of my favourites, and I've probably read it on at least five occasions. Just a rollicking tale using Stephenson's magical use of the written word; made up technology (the description of the Galvanic Lucifer is a sheer pleasure) , made up places and a cast of characters that makes the book just a pleasure to read.


"Old"...harrumph...*stomps off in an agitated way to my Horlicks and milk and a decent hot water bottle*

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Abe Frellman is gonna tell you...

Posted November 16, 2011
Hey Sparty, long time no hear. We've missed you.

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John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted November 16, 2011
Lulz.

Glass of water for Mick!

I'm at Riverbend on 23 Nov. I think.

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MickH reckons...

Posted November 16, 2011
pant! pant!
:)
thankz

(but hey! it got a response! :) )

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Mayhem's Mum asserts...

Posted November 16, 2011
Mr MickH, sir, I am glad to see you finally found your pants.

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Darth Greybeard ducks in to say...

Posted November 16, 2011
Oh Mick! Oh no! Not . . . Mayhem's Mum? Eeeuugh.

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damian mutters...

Posted November 16, 2011
[In a rush - this is probably less thought through that I'd prefer, but what the heck]

Didn't find Anathem heavy going at all, the contrary really. Though it's certainly the sort of reading from which you get more for putting more into.

Yes, Snow Crash contains elements of parody. I didn't say it was bad, just inconsistent with a plot that seems only there to connect the set pieces and jokes, many of which don't work for me. Parody often is more instructive about the author than it is about the subject matter. To me it reads like an early novel which shows promise. He had found his authorial voice, but hadn't quite learned to control it yet at that point.

I'm not convinced by an author's capacity to direct a genre consciously. Such activities are usually identified retrospectively by others. Indeed where an individual author believes or suggests she is doing so I'm inclined to disregard her thoughts on other things too.

I don't really rate books or authors, other than by my inclination to read more of them. I am inclined to read more of Stephenson, but this is tempered by wanting to read some others first. I still need to explore the work of Greg Egan, for instance. And thank you, Orin, for your off-the-cuff first tier: I haven't looked at Reynolds, Vinge or McDonald yet and so far I've found your taste in these things a pretty good guide.

Like I said, my current exercise is about catching up across a genre I've left alone for far too long :), partly with a view to working out whether I want to write in it, or can. Still haven't quite decided on the second part of the question, or the first really. I think of the authors you've listed, the most thoughtful I've seen (which probably isn't the same as "cleverest") is Banks.

Anyhow - have a whole crime fiction project ahead of me too, starting with Peter Temple. I'll be glad for recommendations in that space as well :)

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Orin swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 16, 2011
Good books to start with for each author:

Reynolds - The Prefect
Vinge - A Fire Upon The Deep
Ian McDonald - River Of Gods.

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abigail has opinions thus...

Posted November 16, 2011
Damian, I've read Truth by Temple. Very Hot writer as far as I'm concerned--pared back; some beautiful sentences. Found it a little hard for a while to work out who was describing the scenes and who was feeling what, but it's like Shakespeare: you just melt into it eventually.

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Timmo mumbles...

Posted November 16, 2011
Wow,the conversation has moved on a bit but, "Are you Aussie? Why didn’t I eat and drink with you when I was there?".
Yes I am - a Brisbanian in fact, but probably in the same boat as MickH and one or 2 others, missed the opportunity, and they whisked you off North too quick...
Sorry to miss you, but I hear you'll be back in the not-too-distant future?

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Timmo has opinions thus...

Posted November 16, 2011
But back on the topic de jour...
I really enjoyed Anathem but I think I need to give it a re-read to kind of follow the story.

With so much to think about in all Stephenson's books, and no end of interesting facts, I do find that it sometimes distracts from the telling of the story. Although that may depend on what one thinks the story IS.

For example, in the Baroque Cycle, I often found that interesting facts such as boating tactics with deep and shallow hulled boats, stood out from the narrative like the proverbial dog's bollocks, but it was also what I loved about the books. BUT... if the story really is just a way of linking the histories being told and those interesting facts, then the narrative is almost incidental.

That said, I'm enough of a fan that I just ordered Reamde, plus the remaining Stephenson back catalogue that I don't yet own. Yay for reading!

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Timmo reckons...

Posted November 16, 2011
Oh, and Orin/Damian/Blarkon. Do you have any tips on the best of Iain Banks to start with?

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abigail ducks in to say...

Posted November 17, 2011
Oh, Damian--just one more recommendation for you in crim-fic style. Dorothy Porter wrote this very interesting , I suppose noir-style, one. It's called The Monkey's Mask and it's in the form of a poem. Not a long read and God it's clever.

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damian reckons...

Posted November 17, 2011
Timmo, I just started with Consider Phlebas, and worked through the Cultue novels in order of publication. See his Wikipedia page for the list. I also read one of his recent literary novels, The Steep Approach to Garbadale, and liked that a lot. Haven't got to the early stuff he made his name with like Wasp Factory. Will do eventually.

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damian has opinions thus...

Posted November 17, 2011
Erm - Culture, that is.

Abi, noted with thanks.

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Orin reckons...

Posted November 17, 2011
I'd start with Use of Weapons - good stand alone Culture novel. Player of Games is also good.

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Guy ducks in to say...

Posted November 18, 2011
Really looking forward to the Axix e-book. Really really looking forward to finding out what the Wave was all about in the third book of the trilogy. We keep hearing about JB doing publicicty tours in Australia and in the States but we'd love to welcome you to London. What about it JB?

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damian reckons...

Posted November 18, 2011
Oddly - and this seems counter to everyone else's experience - I found Use of Weapons the hardest going of Banks' work. Possibly to do with the sort of onion-ring structure, and the need to hold a lot of state in your head. I agree about Player of Games, and I had seen a recommendation to start with that one before I in fact started. But I figured that it was only the second published, so if I read Consider Phlebas first, that's just one extra novel in the way and I still capture the chronology in a useful way. But that could just be me.

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Blarkon would have you know...

Posted November 19, 2011
Chronology isn't as important. But if you've read Use of Weapons, yeah go whith Phlebas.

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TheFKNPaddlePopLion mutters...

Posted November 27, 2011
Manhattan In Reverse by Hamilton is great.

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