Thursday, April 28, 2016

Review of Mekong First Light by Joseph W. Callaway Jr.

Author:  Joseph W. Callaway Jr.
Title:  Mekong First Light.
Publisher:  Presidio Press.
Copyright:  2004.
Pages:  222.
Price:  $7.99 (US).

Overview and Impressions:
Lt. Joseph W. Callaway Jr. talked about his time in the US Army from 1966 to 1968.  He served as a platoon leader in the Mekong Delta for six months in 1966.  He then went to being a special adviser for the Royal Thai army in 1967, who deployed to South Vietnam.  Lt. Callaway finally served as an officer at a Special Forces Base Camp during the Tet Offensive.

The author had a troubled childhood before settling in New Haven, Connecticut.  The US Army's Officer Candidate School straightened him out.  He then shipped to "Indian Country" along the Mekong Delta for six months as a platoon leader.  He lost many friends and acquaintances there.

Callaway was then transferred for a tour as a special adviser to the Royal Thai Army.  He said that was more PR than anything else.  Once he finished up there, Callaway signed on for an extension of his tour with the Special Forces.  Then, the Tet Offensive happened.  He was in charge of base security for a local MIKE base.  Things got interesting from there.

The author survived the conflict.  Though he hated President Johnson and distrusted the Federal government because of its conduct during the Vietnam War.  That's something that still resonates to this day.  Recommended.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Late April 2016 reading....

I'm trying to get back on track for my reading projects.  I started a new E-book called Proxima by Stephen Baxter.  I thought I'd give his works another try.  This novel supposedly won the British Science-Fiction award.  It's about paroled criminals being set to Proxima Centauri to colonize a planet there.  I just started the book.  It looks better than the one I finished, Titan.

I also read short stories in Analog Magazine.  I think I could have written some of these.  The first one about alien archaeologists on Earth millions of years in the future was appealing.  Nothing else stuck out.  The science articles were even blase.  So much for April 2016 issue...

I'm also trying to finish up Mekong First Light.  I'm behind on my nonfiction reading.  It'll take me two weeks to complete it.  That's another E-book.

I also have my local writers' novel critique group.  This month is the final installment of a Young Adult gargoyle novel set in New Brunswick, Canada.  I got the PDF yesterday.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Review of Titan by Stephen Baxter

Author:  Stephen Baxter.
Title:  Titan.
Publisher:  Harper Collins.
Copyright:  1998.
Pages:  437.
Price:  $23.00.

Overview and Impressions:
Stephen Baxter is a great writer when it comes to technical details.  His story lines are over the top.  The part about a human expedition to Titan was interesting.  A war between US and China over Taiwan was believable.  China dropping an asteroid on the United States and killing off the human race was ridiculous, given the amount of time I'd invested in reading his novel.

Alien life on Titan resurrecting the main characters after they died due to their nuclear reactors malfunctioning was another over the top exploit.  The feel good ending with aliens seeding microbes on distant worlds was okay.  If Baxter had entertained other plot lines, I would have been much happier with his story.

Recommended for the technical details concerning space flight, if anything else.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

WIP, 18mm SYW Reichsarmee infantry regiment

Here's a photo of a WIP, 18mm SYW Reichsarmee infantry regiment.  My painting project this weekend:



                                           WIP, 18mm SYW Reichsarmee infantry regiment, 16APR16.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Mid-April 2016 reading...

I spent the weekend reading and watching television.  I read some more in Titan by Stephen Baxter.  I'm now at page 268.  I'll try and get the rest of it read next weekend.  It's overdue for a blog review.  I'm disappointed the number of casualties the American astronauts take.  It's a small mission to begin with. 

I know the dangers inherit in interplanetary travel.  People will get killed settling the frontier.  I don't think it needs to be so dramatic.  I also know Baxter was trying to sell books.  So that was included.  The idea of America abandoning a crew of its astronauts because the country turns isolationist, I have a hard time dealing with.

There's also a lopsided naval war between the US and China over Taiwan.  To add more drama....

I also read 35 pages in Analog Magazine May 2016 issue.  Most of it was a short story about future alien archaeologists who dig through the Earth looking for remains of human culture.  This was an interesting piece.  It had an unique premise.  The aliens evolved from small animals living today to become intelligent species.  This is after humanity left the Earth for the stars.  One of the better shorts I've read so far this year....    

Painting on hold: part II

The saga of my painting tables continues.  The two brother contractors stopped work about a week ago on the basement.  Everything is junked up.  There are painted door frames on my painting table.  My books shelves are in disarray.  I haven't been able to paint since late March 2016...

The only thing I can do are watch television, read, and edit writing.  I'm bored with television and don't feel like reading.  I edited a novella early this morning.  I also primed a bunch of 30mm Warmachine figures.  Those figures wait to be painted on my gaming table.  But I can't get to my paints.  In the words of my late friend, I'm one sad panda. 

There is hope.  The contractors are supposed to come back Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday and finish the basement.  Two doors need to be installed along with new baseboard.  I wish I was handier.  Alas, I'm not.  The two guys doing the work are.  However, their doing it part time.  As their real jobs come first. 

So the basement sit unfinished.  And I mope because I can't paint...

Blake

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Scott McCoy, 1970-2016. RIP.

My friend of fifteen years, fellow gamer, and all around WH40K tournament organizer Scott McCoy of Aftton, MO died of a massive heart attack, Friday, April 8, 2016 at 9:15 AM local time.  He wrecked his car while driving in Sunset Hills, MO.  Scott was dead before making it to a local hospital.  He was 46.

I found out about it yesterday afternoon.  When I learned about funeral arrangements, I emailed and called people this evening.  I'm still in shock about his death, but not surprised.  Though it saddens me to say that. 

Scott was a successful computer network technician who spent the last fifteen years of his life taking care of his elderly mother who had dementia.  During the last several years, he worked as a publicist for Willow Tree Press.

Though I played WH40K with Scott, he gave me grief for my first love, historical wargaming.  He'd collected Space Marines and specifically Dark Angels since the Rogue Trader days.  Scott had a massive horde of Imperial forces.  I never got to see his entire collection.  Scott also dabbled in 30mm Warmachine.  He had Trolls and Protectorate of Menoth.  I learned to play Warmachine with Scott once WH40K fell out of favor.  Scott hated the way GW and WH40K in general were going.  He'd stopped playing as a way of protesting what the company became.

Scott used to run WH40K tournaments for Miniature Market here in St. Louis, MO.  He despised 7th edition WH40K and the whole power schlock army builds.  However, Scott was a sucker for mega-army deals.  He had enough assembled Space Marines to paint for five years.  This doesn't include the plastic sprues NIB.

I guess unpainted lead won't save you from the Grim Reaper. 

RIP, my friend.