On Domestic Unrest

On Domestic Unrest

I’ve written about domestic unrest before. It was a major theme of Lex Talionis. It underlies much of the situation in the Maelstrom Rising series. And here it is, raising its ugly head again. Inciting incidents are hard to pin down. Many have been lies. In some cases, an actual death was twisted to make the dead man a martyr. In this case, it appears that a genuine act of police brutality (almost universally condemned, with the accused cop having been arrested and charged, then the charges upgraded) has been used as the inciting incident. This is not a Reichstag Fire, or a Mukden Incident. A genuine crime was committed. However, while it might not have been as quick as the mob would have liked, it was being dealt with within the system. So, why the outrage? Because it is useful. It has become apparent over the last few weeks that the Minneapolis Police Department desperately needs reform. It has little to do with race; a woman was murdered by a police officer from his car while she stepped out onto her front porch in her bathrobe, after she had called 911. A quick viewing of a video of Minneapolis cops in riot

The New Cold War is Heating Up

The New Cold War is Heating Up

In the wake of the Wuhan Coronavirus, the new cold war with China isn’t getting any cooler. It seems that my predictions that China was going to step up the aggression in the aftermath were pretty on. (Man, I hope I can get the Maelstrom Rising series done before things really go pear-shaped…) Hong Kong Hong Kong has been the first on the chopping block. The protests in recent months have been largely in response to the Hong Kong government’s proposal for an extradition law (that would have made Hong Kong citizens subject to extradition to the PRC for crimes under PRC law). It was taken as a sign that the HK government was increasingly subject to Beijing. The law was withdrawn after the protests, but things haven’t exactly calmed down. The PRC’s National People’s Conference recently decided to impose a National Security Law on Hong Kong. A similar law had been proposed by the HK government in 2003, but was withdrawn after protests. Now, Beijing is directly imposing it. The US has recognized this move as effectively the death of Hong Kong’s de facto independence, as announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “After careful study of developments over the

A Bit of a Shakeup

A Bit of a Shakeup

I’ve been a bit quiet lately, I know.  That’s because I’ve been a little busy.  The business side of this author thing is getting a bit of a shakeup. I’ve recently been picking James Rosone’s brain on marketing.  He’s been doing rather better at this than I have, and he’s had some wisdom to impart.  So, I’ve been trying to put it into practice. The Maelstrom Rising series is now something of my flagship series, and James has strongly suggested that I concentrate on it for the time being.  You might have noticed new covers in the sidebar.  That’s part of the shakeup. It’s also why Strategic Assets has been moved to the front of the queue.  (And yes, if you click on the image, it will take you to a preorder link.)  Enemy of My Enemy is still in the works, but the Brannigan’s Blackhearts series needs some more work. I also got Strategic Assets outlined in two days, started the first draft on Friday, and it’s already over 13k words in.  Pulp Speed is back, folks.  Hopefully I can maintain it, because this series got big.  (As in, “probably 14 books long, not counting the anthology” big.)  Trying to give the broad

Incident at Trakan Part 3

Incident at Trakan Part 3

“Rare earth minerals, several fortunes in heavy metals, and more M’tait artifacts than anyone has ever seen, let alone had a chance to get their hands on without them turning explosive,” Troop Captain Nikoilo said.  “No wonder they tried fighting us over it.” “It was still stupid,” Vakolo growled.  They were standing in the entry chamber that the Caractacans had cleared.  It was now the Sparatan groundside command post, with Sparatan troops on security at the various openings, some descending into the pits to explore the nether regions of the base.  Vakolo himself was in combat armor, standing next to the troop commander at their hasty command and control station where a portable holo tank had been set up, updating the base layout and troop dispositions as reports came in.  “They were vastly outnumbered and outgunned.  They should have had the wit to surrender immediately.” “I have yet to meet a pirate who would qualify as a great thinker, Strategos,” Nikoilo said dryly. Vakolo just looked at him, but the Troop Captain’s helmet was as faceless as his own.  He just shook his head.  He should take the man to task for the remark, but if any of his men

Maelstrom Rising and the Wuhan Coronavirus

Maelstrom Rising and the Wuhan Coronavirus

So, the question has come up, whither the Maelstrom Rising series in the aftermath of the Wuhan Coronavirus?  It was originally floated as question about whether people would really want to read more about the world unraveling while it appears to be doing just that in real life.  It’s since turned into a different question: Since the original backstory was written before the coronavirus outbreak, how would it effect the overall storyline?  After all, there’s no mention of a global pandemic in the backstory.  And how would the current crisis play out in such a way that the backstory remains mostly intact? I think it’s actually somewhat simpler than I might have thought. The economic fallout from all of this is going to be far worse than the death toll from the disease itself.  The global economy is taking a huge hit, that will only get worse as quarantine measures continue.  At the same time, global interdependence has also taken a blow that it might not recover from.  (There were op-eds published several weeks ago, bemoaning the fact that the coronavirus has dealt a blow to globalization that it might never recover from.) The rapid spread of the coronavirus, both due

Incident at Trakan Part 2

Incident at Trakan Part 2

Squad Sergeant Jules Ncube crossed himself as the dropship began its final braking maneuver, gee forces pressing his armored form deeper into his acceleration couch.  He had not yet faced the M’tait in combat, and while the initial scans of the planetoid below had led Centurion Waylander to believe that there were no actual M’tait present, he had seen enough combat to know that the initial orbital reconnaissance was rarely to be relied upon entirely.  There were always things below that the radar, lidar, and thermal and optic telescopes couldn’t quite see. The dropship began to shudder a little, and in the visual feed on the flatscreen in front of his face, Ncube could see the faintest trace of an orange nimbus start to flicker around the truncated, conical hull.  It was nowhere near some of the fiery displays he’d seen on hot drops; the nameless planetoid known only as Trakan Target One had only barely enough of a trace atmosphere to warm the hull a little.  Almost as soon as it had formed, the nimbus was gone, as the dropship’s drive accomplished more to slow its descent than any aerobraking could hope to. The horizon was a golden line

The LOTR Movies Aren’t Really Tolkien

The LOTR Movies Aren’t Really Tolkien

Yesterday, a friend posted on Facebook that the Lord of the Rings movies did the character of Boromir dirty.  I countered that those movies did every character dirty, with the possible exception of Sam and Gollum.  The best parts of the movies are the visuals and the soundtrack. This is because Peter Jackson, Phillipa Boyens, and Fran Walsh don’t actually understand Tolkien’s work.  They certainly lack his subtlety.  (Yes, I’m going to go into some detail on what they got wrong.  Some.  Those who don’t like people trashing movies for screwing with the source material might want to stop reading now.  Because I’m not going to stop, because it’s my blog.)  And every character change they made watered down the character. First of all, Aragorn didn’t need an arc, where he agonizes and broods, worried that he shouldn’t be king because wanting power is bad.  Because The Lord of the Rings isn’t the entirety of his story.  It’s the culminating chapter of a long life of hardship, toil, and duty, that has led him to this point, where it is time to take up the mantle left to him.  He’s got the experience, he’s got the hard-won wisdom, and he knows that

Incident at Trakan Part 1

Incident at Trakan Part 1

I originally wrote this as a newsletter draw for the separate The Unity Wars newsletter.  Since I’m folding the series into my main author “brand,” I’m going to serialize it here. Trakan System Tyrus Cluster 4,400 hours since the fall of Oram Prime Seventy-five starships hung in the black, only the faint starlight reflecting off their hulls.  Ahead, the star designated Trakan on most starmaps was little more than a slightly brighter pinpoint of light amid dazzling myriads. The largest formation of ships was made up of angular, chisel-nosed battlecruisers, painted a bright blue, with the wreathed Sigma emblem of the Sparatan Space Force only dimly visible in the star glow. Nearby floated two dozen broad, dumbbell-shaped star cruisers, their hulls a deep red that almost looked black in the dimness of deep space.  The characters etched on their flanks were alien; tehud symbols spelled out each ship’s name and its place in the Vergsegeilith Task Fleet, out of Bilbissari. Two ships didn’t fit with either group.  The three-sided, coppery arrowhead bore no markings whatsoever, but was immediately identifiable as belonging to the Order of Shufa, one of the most secretive and rarely seen of the galaxy’s Military Brotherhoods.  The silvery

Wuhan Coronavirus and IO

Wuhan Coronavirus and IO

Not being an epidemiologist, I’ve generally tried to avoid talking about the Wuhan Coronavirus (go piss up a rope, Uncle Xi).  And the current disruption has got me wondering just how I’m going to continue the Maelstrom Rising series after this, when it comes time to pick it up again.  But that’s not what this post is about.  There are far more knowledgeable people to talk about the Wuhan Coronavirus itself (and how incomplete and inconclusive much of the data is).  I’m going to talk about the comprehensive Chinese Communist Information Operations campaign related to it. The Wuhan Coronavirus first appeared in Wuhan, China, sometime in December, 2019.  It was not initially identified as such; there were inexplicable cases of pneumonia, and they were increasing rapidly. Communist countries being what they are, the initial response was more geared toward keeping word from getting out.  After all, everything is always perfect in the Workers’ Paradise.  So, on January 1st, the Wuhan Public Security Bureau summoned Dr. Li Wenliang and accused him of “spreading rumors.”  Dr. Li publicly repented of his “misdemeanors” and promised not to commit further crimes, presumably after being worked over a little.  He wasn’t the only one, either;

Getting Into Science Fiction

Getting Into Science Fiction

With the Maelstrom Rising anthology well in the works, Enemy of My Enemy also in the works, and several other projects in development (yes, including a possible new Jed Horn story), I’m preparing to re-launch The Unity Wars.  Some of you are familiar with my first science fiction work, but a lot aren’t (which is why the re-launch).  I published the following on theunitywars.com a couple years ago: What is The Unity Wars? Well, it’s an upcoming series of science fiction adventures.  The best description so far is, “The Clone Wars crossed with The Horus Heresy, with influence from the Lensman series, Hammer’s Slammers, and Farscape.” Confused yet?  Hopefully also curious and a little excited. I fiddled around with writing science fiction  for several years before I became an action-adventure writer.  It was mostly Star Wars and Wing Commander flavored at the time.  I’ve always enjoyed science fiction, specifically what can often be described as “space opera,” adventures in deep space and on distant worlds.  And I’ve also always wanted to go back to it. A few years ago (before Disney Star Wars, which we won’t go into), I got a wild hair and asked myself, “What if the Star Wars prequels were