Friday, November 27, 2015

Review of Orion and King Arthur by Ben Bova

Author:  Ben Bova.
Title:  Orion and King Arthur.
Publisher:  TOR Publishing.
Copyright:  2011, 2013.
Pages:  373.
Price:  $7.99 (US).

Overview and Impressions:
Orion is an immortal servant of Aten, the Golden One.  Aten is part of a group of beings known as the "Creators" who evolved from human beings millions of years in the future.  The Creators are deities who can travel through time and mold time/space with their minds.  Aten wants King Arthur to die so his empire of Saxon barbarians can conquer Europe.  Anya, Orion's lover, opposes Aten and the other Creators who seek to change history.

In the interplay of time travel, there's a danger the Creators will actually write themselves out of existence by destroying the their current timeline.  In this book, Orion learns to master time/space and become a deity, instead of one of Aten's creations.

Ben Bova's a literary master.  His writing style is effortless.  It was very easy for me to read this book.  I believe it's a lost art.  It only comes with years of practice.  Being an expert storyteller also helps.  I remember some of his earlier work.  It was refreshing to read something new from the master.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Oddball 19th Century Wargaming...

I've fallen into oddball 19th century wargaming by accident this year.  I bought figures from Sapper Joe.  He had 28mm Spanish American War US troops and 28mm RAFM 1885 Canadian infantry.  I added on 28mm Spanish American War Spanish and 28mm RAFM Metis trappers and 28mm Plains Indians for Cree allies.

Here's where things get weird.  I'd originally thought about doing Russo-Turkish War or 1877.  My friend, Lance Western, didn't want to bother with it.  Neither did Don Cox.  So I shelved it.  Then Sapper Joe tells me he's getting rid of his 28mm figures.  I look at the list.  28mm SAW figures.  28mm Riel Rebellion figures.   So I find out has rules for the 1885 Riel Rebellion and The Sword in Mexico.  But no rules for the Spanish American War.

So what do I do?  I write a variant called Yellow Journalism:  The Spanish American War, 1898.  I also get a bunch of Weird WWII miniatures/Pulp miniatures from Joe (along with a bunch of 28mm Napoleonics from Foundry).  I try selling the 28mm Napoleonics.  No one wants them.  So I send them off to a friend named "Ramming Joe" Isenberg, who plays 28mm Napoleonics while running a Call of Cthulhu campaign (because of that, I love Isenberg, he's great).  He appreciated the figures.  And I solved the problem of getting rid of them.    

In another wheeling deal, I trade my extra 28mm Riel Rebellion figures I got from Sapper Joe and Don Cox to a Canadian gentleman for some 28mm Mexican Adventure French Foreign Legion figures.  Now, I have figures for the Maximillian Adventure.  I look around for rules.  I came up with The Sword in Mexico and The Wooden Hand of Captain Anjou.  Looks like I'll be saving for Foundry figures to game Camerone 1863, ugh.  What have I done?

Late November/December 2015 reading....

This month saw me make book purchases.  Gifts for others and presents for myself.  I picked up two Dresden Files novels by Jim Butcher.  He's an urban fantasy writer who has a wizard character named Harry Dresden working in Chicago as the only mage in the phone book.  People have recommended Butcher's writing.  He's also produced some steampunk novels, too.

Other authors I picked up were Kim Stanley Robinson and Sandy Mitchell.  Kim Stanley Robinson is a writer from the UK who won the British Sci-Fi Writers Award for his Mars trilogy.  I bought Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars.  I also heard interesting things about him.  Most of his writing is hard sci-fi.  I also bought "Hero of the Imperium" by Sandy Mitchell.  It's a compilation of his earlier Ciphas Cain stories.  I read "The Emperor's Finest" and liked it.  I'm hoping the first are as entertaining as his last novel.

Right now, I'm reading Ben Bova's Orion and King Arthur.  Bova is an excellent author.  It's been easy for me to read his works.  The story flows along without effort.  I believe that's a lost art among today's writers.  It's something that comes with years of practice and toil.  And some people are gifted storytellers.  Ben Bova is one of them.  I used to say that about Greg Bear, too.  But I've been disappointed in the two Greg Bear novels I've read in the past 16 months.  I didn't like the way Wardogs fell apart the last third of the story.  I put all this trouble reading his book and the floor fell out under me.  That hasn't happened with Orion and King Arthur.  I'll have a review posted when I'm done with the novel.

Battle of Abu Klea: The Climax from "Beyond the Reach of Empire"

I read Chapter 10:  The Battle of Abu Klea:  The Climax this evening in "Beyond the Reach of Empire" by Colonel Mike Snook.  I'm at page 305.  There are a total of 510 pages in the book.  The Mahdist Ansar closed in with the British square.  Colonel Fred Burnaby of the Blues was killed fighting outside the square.  The British rallied and repelled the Arabs out of the square.  But there were a lot of casualties, both among officers and the enlisted.

The battle lasted 15 minutes.  But the Ansar withdrew from the British lines.  Some of the Arabs tried engaging the British in single combat.  Most were cut down.  Many of the Mahdist wounded feigned death and attacked unsuspecting British infantry after the battle.  That led to Imperial officers shooting wounded Arabs.  That happened both in the 1884-1885 and 1898 Sudanese Campaigns.

Next, the aftermath of Abu Klea...

I forced myself to read tonight.  We ate Thanksgiving late this afternoon.  I got bored with television.  My brother wanted to watch "The Walking Dead" and "Fear the Walking Dead."  I made sure to finish Chapter 10 so I can eventually complete the book.  

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Battle of Abu Klea: Part II from "Beyond the Reach of Empire"

I spent this morning reading Chapters Eight and Nine in "Beyond the Reach of Empire" by Colonel Mike Snook.  They were about the beginning and middle of the Battle of Abu Klea - January 14-16, 1885.  The British relief column is getting ready to meet the Ansar defenders at Abu Klea.  The Camel Corps goal is the Jakdul Wells some four miles distant.  General Stewart elected to meet the Dervishers in the open after the Madhists were failed into being goaded to charge the British forces behind their entrenchments.  Chapter Nine stopped with the British square being strung out and a group of Ansar infantry attacking the gap.

So far, a good read.  I'm at page 264.  It's taken me a while to read this book.  I'll have a formal review when I get done reading it in several months.  The books is over 510 pages long... 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Weekly reading of "Beyond the Reach of Empire" - Approaching Abu Klea

I finished Chapter 7:  Approaching the Battle in "Beyond the Reach of Empire" by Colonel Mike Snook.  It involves the Camel Corps preparations for the Battle of Abu Klea.  I've only been reading a chapter a week, so it's going to take me awhile to complete this book (more likely months).

Why do similar battles with a different cast of characters in the same terrain happen only a century apart?  Only God knows...


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Command Con 2015 AAR

Here are photos from the games I ran at Command Con 2015 in St. Louis, MO, November 6-7, 2015.

                                          28mm Boer War Game.  Boers waiting for the British advance.

                                          28mm Boer War Game.  Photo 1.

                                          28mm Boer War Game.  My shooting was awful.

                                          My first 28mm Boer platoon bolts when the British charge.

                         The second Boer platoon also bolted.  Glenn Wilson's British won the day.

                                          28mm French and Indian War game using Muskets and Tomahawks.

                                          Mark Johnson's 25mm Napoleonic game.

                                          28mm Sci-Fi games using Pulp Alley rules.

                                          Larry Freeman's Star Trek Armada game.

                                          15mm SYW, Battle of Minden - August 1, 1759. Photo 1.

                                          15mm SYW, Battle of Minden - August 1, 1759, Photo 2.

                                          15mm SYW, Battle of Minden - August 1, 1759.  Photo 3.

                            15mm SYW Battle of Minden - August 1, 1759.  British retreat off the board.