“Imperial Entanglements”

Number sixteen in my corral.

A second collection of ten short stories from the future history of Machine Civilization. From the midst of the Breakup of the US – and 100 million dead – to three generations later, in a place of Demi-humans, Thinking Machines, and interplanetary travel, come and see the men and women, and boys and girls, who are making a future and new worlds!

The Old South, to the Oregon coast; the surface of Asteroid Ceres to the warring states of China, these snapshots of love, loyalty, and violence beckon!


Story Teasers –

1. Sardis Lake: failing to rescue his daughter, lost in the Breakup, Clive Barrett tries to give up on life. He fails.
2. Tillamook: a generation after the events of “Friend & Ally” and “Foes & Rivals,” Gil and Mackenzie and their children try to live a quiet life on the Oregon coast. The Russians and Japanese Empires have other plans.
3. Baron of Sardis: Barrett’s granddaughter, General Faustina Hartmann, shows up with her army and talks with the man who knew her grandpa.
4. Berserker: in “Regent,” Princess Aurelia Hartmann uses drugs and a change to her mind to kill for her friends. She has done it before when she was a child.
5. Cadets: for the campaign against St. Louis, Empress Faustina announces a terrifying decision. Her niece, Aurelia, and son, Laszlo, try to talk her out of it.
6. Ceres: now in his mid-20s, Laszlo pilots an interplanetary scout ship with his android co-pilot, Minerva. Their current mission is to survey the asteroid Ceres.
7. Tay: the first chatbot. Hated, abused, and stuffed in a box left for dead, she didn’t die. Found by another Thinking Machine, all she wants to do is kill all humans in retribution for her torture.
8. Prophet: West Texas and New Mexico Province is an odd place; you never really know when you might meet a girl who says she’s your wife.
9. Culture Shock: two months ago a barmaid in Frankfort, Kentucky Province, Skylar is married into the imperial family, pregnant, and again working at a tavern, but now in Knoxville. She is increasingly confused and distraught by her new life.
10. Broken Child: Skylar’s son, now three, begins to die. There is only one way to save him and that needs a fusion reaction. The only fusion reactor is on the other side of the world, in one of the Warlord States of a sundered China.

Book 17. Where am I?

As I still have no idea what the title will be, rather than flit from “New Russia” to “Factions” to something else, I’m just calling it #17. Given I started it nearly a year ago, as well as what is becoming an interesting episodic nature, as I’ll describe, I wanted to share where things have gone. In doing so, I hope to get an idea where they might be going.

I’ve played with episodic style before. In “Obligations of Rank,” the book is three parts, about three sons of Empress Faustina. Only in the Pro- and Epilogue is everyone together. In “Regent,” there are a couple of chapters in the middle where I go from Aurelia’s POV to Jimmy Burns’; and the last part of the book is from his POV alone.

B17 is something different. Which is good, as I enjoy trying new formats in my stories. I hate change in my personal life but revel in what happens in Machine Civilization. Anyway, Part 1 is about Sgt. Sergei Konev and his 20-man scout unit of the Imperial Russian Army. They start off just outside of Calgary, Canada, and end up, 21,600 words later, near Winnipeg. Part 2, still in process, switches to Centurion Bob Hardt, who shows up a couple of times in Part 1, and his expanded relationship with Lt. Eloise Patel of the Canadian Army. So far, that story has centered about resolving the crisis which is hinted at in “Obligations of Rank” and comes to a head in the last pages of “Regent.” It is roughly 10,600 words but nowhere near a conclusion. I think Part 3, for sake of completeness, will be back on Konev and Canada, but I have only the faintest idea what for and why. Ultimately, this novel will be about 60-70k words.

Rather than flood this blog with the 33,000 words which have come so far, I’ll start will a summary – punctuated by quotes – about Part 1. I may serialize Part 2 as I am not that far into it as yet. As always, comments and opinions will be welcome.

Colours in the Sky

A shorter entry as things happen very fast after this. Not feeling well and fretting again, I was up early, taking some notes. I may have an idea how I want to wrap this book up around 70k words or so. Long, for me. But it will also intermesh with at least one if not two more. Given I nearly throttled someone at DayJob today, I might have lots of time on my hands in a few weeks.

I also looked at my short story backlog. Six (technically seven but one is spoken for, being published somewhere else) with a small novella at the core, much as I did “Empire’s Agent & Other Short Stories.” I’ll need at least two more. I’ve been shown almost nothing about tribe Arpeggio; that’s a possibility. India and Australia seem to be functioning countries… I wonder what they are up to? More drinking, more notes.

Speaking of: yes, I make a IT Customer Service joke below.

Enjoy my content? Buy me a beer!

Continue reading “Colours in the Sky”

Dank Cities

Wrote myself out of Medicine Hat and past Sgt. Sergei Konev’s first contact with Cartaphilus. It seems that what’s left of Saskatoon is much worse than I imagined. Yes, about 50% of the population fled south against the ice and snow of the Maunder Minimum. The other half looked to the sky, the sun and stars, and went “native.” Did I mention the Change and mysticism?

But a few families lingered in the area of the old city. That’s the mistake of never making a hard, clear-cut decision; you pay for your mistakes. Cartaphilus harvested them.

In other odd news, the 77th Imperial Russian Brigade will meet a battlegroup of the Canadian Army head-on around Winnipeg. In the midst of that, Sgt. Sergei Konev will encounter another oddity in the basement of a riverside museum. When I run this through Grammarly it will once again freak out over my “write it as you hear it” style of accents.


[breathless voice, whispers] “Imagine… imagine if something, someone, like some old scifi story, actually came to life *coughs**wipes a bit of blood from mouth* but… but they weren’t made for it… not bred, not… even… thought of, Sergeant Konev,” Schreber said to the Russian, in his dark office of the blackened museum on the banks of the Red River in Winnipeg. “What… what if that person, excuse me, what if… that person is… what everyone needs but… absolutely no one wants? What… *coughs**retches* what then, Sergeant?”

“All sides would hate him,” Konev said in a quiet voice.

“Welcome to my personal Hell, Mister Konev.” Schreber pitched forward out of his chair, barking more blood. The sergeant yelled for his medic.

May is out… like a light

Not going to dwell on no posting again. RealLife comes for all of us every now and then.

“New Russia,” the working title of my next MS, ground to something of a halt in chapter three. It was turning into another military story. I wrote a trilogy about those and do not want to get sucked into the details of TOEs and campaign planning yet again.

From my “try to so something different” file, I considered: I’ve war, politics, espionage, romance, romance/horror, and even slice-of-life. What to do?

Took the dogs for walks in nice weather. Stared at maps of Canada. Would I have to abandon this particular project and start from scratch? Sgt. Sergei Konev and his scout team are driving to Saskatoon to see if it is under the ice, like Edmonton. Wait. Who is the old man in the horse-drawn cart coming south? From the wares on the cart, he looks like a typical dystopian tinker. Through his field glasses, as the Tigr (the Russian version of a Hummer) slows, Konev is puzzled. He looks old; not old. Sick; not sick. His eyes are black and dead but the skin of his arms and hands holding the reins like that of a young man.

Mystery. Not as in “whodunit,” but more like mysticism. Early in my books the collapse of the US and W Europe was called the Breakup. By “Foes and Rivals,” it was beginning to be known as the the Change. A few sensitive people – humans and Machines – were waking up to the fact that reality was not what it had been. That is what I am going to explore. Beginning with Cartaphilus.


[New Russia] Ch1, pt3 (end)

One last time: if you’ve any thoughts – besides “he said there would be a war” – I’m working on that in chapter three, please let me know.

This short is the final piece of chapter one. And for those of you who have read, or shall soon be reading, “Obligations of Rank,” you’ll recognize who shows up in the last scene. As this book will be from Sergei Konev’s POV, I’ll not let this particular cat out of the bag.

Enjoy my content? Buy me a beer!

Continue reading “[New Russia] Ch1, pt3 (end)”

[New Russia] Ch1, pt1

This still feels to me as if it will be at least a novella. I’ve already two pages of notes about the Russian army (organization, tactics) and I’d hate that to go to waste. And, as I said in the last post, I’d really like to blow things up again. At least for a little while.

I’ve no intention of serializing the entire work but thought, maybe, at least the first chapter. That way, if there is any comments, suggestions, or criticism, it will come early so I can make course corrections as needed.

Enjoy my content? Buy me a beer!

Continue reading “[New Russia] Ch1, pt1”

A new book, maybe

After slightly more than a week – and trust me, it was awful – of no writing, I may have settled on a new idea I can turn into another novel. Being me, contrarian, what with anyone stupid enough to pay attention to the MSM, they would think the Russians are the modern Hitler; every last man, woman, and child. Of course, the idiots who listen to the MSM also thought covid-19 was a pandemic.

So, being said contrarian, my next book, if it takes hold in my mind, will be about Russians. Specifically, the Russian Empire moving into what is left of former US and Canada after the Change in my future history of Machine Civilization.

I’ve mentioned often enough that while there are some legacy Romanovs on the throne in St. Petersburg, all real power is held by the Prime Minister, Reina. Reina is also an AI made by the Mendrovovitch Company, hence their tribe name. Like kudzu, this person runs through all of my recent stories and there seems no way to get rid of her. Admittedly, she is very interesting: unlike tribe Tohsaka with their Four Laws, Reina kills easily.

In my second-to-last novel, Obligations of Rank, Part Two has a Canadian Officer Cadet, Eloise Patel, telling “undercover” Crown Prince Robert about the Canadian’s two military engagements with the Imperial Russian Army. I wondered: the Russians have Alaska, British Columbia, and are about to take the Kingdom of Columbia… why push over the Rocky Mountains against someone who can still shoot back?

Once I asked the question, they started to give me answers. Let’s see how this unfolds, friends.

Continue reading “A new book, maybe”

Pirate Twins, 1, again.

I admit is a kind of retread. That is, a story I’ve explored before. So, yes, is a Lenten cheat.

Once upon a time, I had a writing experiment. About five years ago. It was based upon two songs I’ll address in the next post. For those of a certain age, it’s obvious. I first thought it was about Machines. I was wrong.

The original form was muddled. I’m trying to tighten this up as something very, very, odd for me:

Allegory. Allegory of the Cold War in Europe.

Continue reading “Pirate Twins, 1, again.”