Book 17. Part Two. 13 (end p2)

This is the end of Part Two. I’ve mentioned Part Three, currently underway, will be from Lt. Eloise Patel’s POV as she has been arrested by a faction of the Canadian government.

They, the Canadians, are realizing that things have turned against them. Riding high from occupying the former US Midwest ten years ago, they thought their problems of access to resources and – more importantly – a place to move as the ice and snow of the Maunder Minimum continues to come south, were over and it seemed to be champaign and roses. For a few years.

Then Yukon and British Columbia fell to the Russian Empire. A couple of meeting engagements around Winnipeg. Then Winnipeg under the ice; Edmonton under the ice and road and rail lines to their western provinces cut just as a Russian brigade shows up to claim it all. At the same time, with Canadians on the Ohio River, Empress Faustina incorporates Kentucky into a new imperial province. A few months later, she sends her niece, Aurelia, at the head of an army to bring the Northern Federation of Maine, New Hampshire, and surrounding communities into Friend & Ally status; Aurie goes even further, prompting the Archbishop of Montreal to reopen the matter of Quebec’s independence.

All of this, plus the imperium and the Russians have reactionless motors and fusion weapons. Factions of the Canadian government are now scared and scared governments do stupid things. How stupid? We’ll find out in Part Three.

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Book 17. Part Two. 3

Here I begin to go down a rabbit hole I had no intention of ever – ever – exploring. Time travel stories are not hard science fiction and also very dangerous from a causality standpoint. Time travel into the past is boring and stupid; as Larry Niven once noted, it is just a child’s wish fulfillment of “make it didn’t happen!” Into the future, with a presumed return to the present? Similar “Sound of Thunder” problems.

My work-around is my faith. As a Catholic, I believe God sees everything in His “unbounded now.” Past, present, future, to a mortal mind is just NOW to Him. So long as I keep close track of what I’m writing over the next few installments, I should make it out of this without sounding like a complete idiot.

BTW, “Lest Darkness Fall” is a spectacular book.

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Book 17. Part Two. 2

Hope everyone is having a fine Easter. Below, we drill down on just what has happened – that they know – to the Empress and her son, Bob’s older brother. Aurelia prays for a miracle. Hey, it’s Easter… I’m not going to disappoint! A wild Kalí appears.

Not really sure where this is going, to be honest. Carryover from “Regent:” Bob does not like his cousin’s new man. I wonder why?

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Book 17. Part One Summary, 2/2

Wrapping up the summary.

Konev and his men tend to the Canadian Lt while alerting higher-ups. To their surprise, Gen. Suvorov himself shows up in one of their reactionless motor ships. With Konev in tow, they move to the temporary HQ outside of Moose Jaw. Konev, using what little he knows of Centurion Hardt – Patel’s friend – manages to break the ice with her.

The next day, Reina interferes and orders Patel returned before things get worse. Konev and Patel set up a rendezvous with her unit just SW of Winnipeg, which, though further south, is already under the ice; the two lakes to its north acted as highways for the ice sheet, already halfway to Grand Forks. At the rendezvous point, Hardt and his team, backed by one of their S-3 flying saucers, meet them, inviting both the Canadians and Russian scout teams to a meal in a nearby abandoned golf course clubhouse.

There, the three team leaders, Konev, Patel, Hardt, stay alone on the outside deck in the freezing weather to talk frankly to one another about what seems to be going on around them. Messengers run out with orders for all three from their respective commands. Knowing more than he should – we’ll see why in the next installment (or you already know if you have the good sense to read Obligations of Rank) – Hardt renders Patel unconscious and, via some subterfuge, abducts her.

Some quotes below the fold.

Continue reading “Book 17. Part One Summary, 2/2”

Book 17. Part One Summary, 1/2

My original idea was to see how the Russian Empire – under their Prime Minister, Thinking Machine Reina, went about taking Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba off of the Canadians. Alaska and British Columbia are already in their, well, her, hegemony, but there’s just too much oil and natural gas out there to be ignored. Russian heavy industry is building kilometer-long transports in orbit for shipments of materials to Mars, and even with reactionless motors, that demands massive amounts of energy.

The preface of the book is Major General Suvorov of the 77th Brigade having a teleconference with Reina. He and his men are in Calgary. Half of their supplies are on the other side of the Rocky Mountains. He requests a delay of three days. After some back-and-forth, Reina agrees, but states that if he’s not in motion on day four, he’s dead. She is not a nice person.

Part One is about Sergeant Sergei Konev and his scout unit, just beyond the tip of the spear. He’s 25 and from a village outside of Maikop. His #2 is Corporal Zais, an Itelmen from Kamchatka. Their first assignment is due north to Edmonton, to see if it needs a regiment to take and hold it. They find it already under a meter of ice and snow.

[For those of you unfamiliar with my future history, it presumes a Maunder Minimum beginning right before the Breakup. A little ice age.]

They proceed to Medicine Hat and strike a deal with the Mayor, who is already thinking himself independent of Canada. Pushing a little on then coming back, they come under fire. The mayor has been assassinated by Russian Special Forces troops, Spetsnaz, who belong to a military faction opposed to Reina. Konev and his unit are rescued by Centurion Bob Hardt and his men from the imperium, there as observers to the impending Russian occupation. As Russia and the imperium (and Japan and the Habsburg Empire) are the four spokes of the Polar Alliance, they occasionally work together. Reluctantly.

Some things happen and Konev’s unit is sent northeast to see if Saskatoon is also under the ice. On the way they encounter a peddler with a horse-drawn cart. He’s deeply creeped out by this. Some hours later, they see that Saskatoon has been abandoned. However, a small tribe of locals, preparing to leave to the south, are burying four of their own. They describe how a demon, disguised as a peddler, stole the flesh off of the four before killing them.

They move southeast to reunited with the brigade around Regina. Told to scout ahead east once more, they come to a surprise stop outside of Brandon. The Spetsnaz who killed that mayor have taken a Canadian officer prisoner, dragging him behind their vehicle like a dog. A fight between the units nearly ensues and Konev takes possession of the prisoner. He immediately realized he is a she: Lt. Eloise Patel. Concussed and battered, she can barely stammer out her name and rank, only saying a single name before passing out: Bob Hardt.

Wrap up of Part One tomorrow. Some pull quotes below the fold.

Continue reading “Book 17. Part One Summary, 1/2”

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.

“New Russia” An Update

Been awhile since I’ve mentioned what’s going on here, so there’s this. I’ve the proof copy of “Regent” in-hand and am about 1/3 through, looking for errors. A half-dozen, so far; a letter missing, a ” missing, that sort of thing. The MS for “Imperial Entanglements” is complete and my cover artist working on that. It’s format shall be similar to my other short story collection, “Empire’s Agent,” with a large, single image on the front and 2-3 on the back, all reflecting one of the stories. It may fly in the face of my “put a face front and center on the cover” policy, but we’ll see.

I got to about 23,000 words in “New Russia” and ground to a halt, again. I was able to get all three important characters, Sergeant Konev, Centurion Hardt, and Lieutenant Patel, together. And then they received orders to not be, due to politics in St. Petersburg, Ottawa, and wherever Regent Aurelia happens to be at the moment. That scene corresponds to the last scene of “Regent,” where Aurie gets shocking news from Russian PM Reina. Rather than continuing to follow Konev, and what may play out with their army politics and that odd demon they met, this will be a section shift to Bob Hardt’s (really Robert Hartmann, Crown Prince) perspective, as he and the rest of the family are called for by the regent.

I think he just abducted Eloise Patel, thinking her life in danger if she returns to either Canadian capital. I should know more later today. Hopefully another 18-22k words, then I’ll have to fold all that back into whatever the Russian are doing. No clue right now, of course, but they’ll tell me when they are ready.

Happy February

In the US, it’s the shortest month for a reason.

Just as a clearinghouse update, here’s the news: my copyeditor has returned the blood-soaked body of “Regent” to me. I wanted to begin implementing editorial changes last weekend but remain focused on writing – imagine that. He also is in possession of “Imperial Entanglements,” but since I’ve not moved on what I have, that’s not urgent. The description for both of those are in the mind of my cover designer; not heard from her since Sunday so I’m hoping she’s not frozen in her central German home.

Work on “New Russia,” and the more I think about it, the less I like that working title; I’ll give it time, continues. From cutting my way back about 2000 words to 8000 and restarting the story, I’m now just over 14,000. I’ve introduced Canadian Lt. Eloise Patel from part two of “Obligations of Rank,” as well have touched on her non-relationship with “Robert Hardt.” There is still much Russian Army internal politics I do not get, so once past the next one or two scenes, I may have to take a day for research and notes. I remain convinced I can get the raw MS to my copyeditor by the end of March, which shall count as a win for my “3 Books in 3 Months” challenge.

Not confirmed yet but I may be hosting a panel at Imaginarium about Expert Systems (not AIs; the first person to say that gets the noose) in writing and graphic arts. The title should be “St. Tay, Pray for Us.” Understandable to any regular reader here.

That’s about it for now. Back to Manitoba. It simplified things when I realized Winnipeg is under the ice already, effectively cutting off central Canada from eastern Canada. I’m sure the Russian Major General breathed a sigh of relief when that overhead imagery came in.

Black Forest Colour

Sunday. Sunday! SUNDAY!!

(that might resonate a little for those of you over the age of fifty; if not, just press on)

By forcing these out, I am essentially chasing myself. To keep a steady flow of installments going, I need to stay 1k-2k words ahead. Weekend updates for me to be reasonably sober and do my damn job.

Below, we meet someone from “Obligations of Rank.” Someone who is not at all happy about his current assignment. If you walk away from the imperial family to try to lead your own life, getting jerked around by the Empress’ lacky is insulting.

And a tired and hungry Jimmy sure as hell runs his mouth more than he should. And yes, that is a “Pulp Fiction” homage by Robert.

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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.