Monday, December 26, 2016

WIP, 30mm GW High Elves, 27DEC16

Here are photos of a current WIP, 30mm GW High Elves:



                                          WIP, 30mm GW High Elf Spearmen parts.


                                          Assembled 30mm GW High Elf Heavy Weapons.


                                          Putting together 30mm GW High Elf Spearmen bodies.

WIP, 15mm Roman Gladiators, 26DEC16

Here's a commission piece I did for Mute Bystander (Glenn Wilson).  He has a 15mm arena for gladiatorial combat games in 15mm:

                                         WIP, 15mm Roman gladiators, 26DEC16.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Late December 2016 reading....

Here's what I've been reading this past week:

1)  Tour of the Merrimack:  The Myriad/Wolf Star by R.M. Meluch.  See previous blog entry.  Finished this past week.

2)  The Gate of Futures Past by Julie E. Czerneda.  Sira di Sara, Captain John Morgan, and the Om'Rey are aboard an alien spacecraft that's taking them to their home world.  Just got started it yesterday so I'm not that far into it.  The intelligent spacecraft operates by telepathy.

3)  Sedan, 1870 by Douglas Fermer.  I finished up the Austro-Prussian War and dealing with German unification in the 1860s.

4)  Four Days in September by Jason R. Abdale.  I started a military history book on the battle of the Teutonberg Forrest in 9 AD.  Went into detail about Imperial Rome's history and the subsequent conquests of Germania.

5)  The Lost Stars:  Imperfect Sword by Jack Campbell.  General Drakon's power armor division takes on the remaining Syndicate "snakes" on Ulundi while the Midway fleets deals with CEO "Mad" Hua's battleship group in orbit around the planet.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Review of Tour of the Merrimack: The Myriad/Wolf Star by R.M. Meluch

Author:  R.M. Meluch.
Title:  Tour of the Merrimack:  The Myriad/Wolf Star.
Publisher:  DAW.
Copyright:  2005, 2006.
Pages:  650.
Price:  $8.99 (US).

Overview and Impressions:
The crew of the USS Merrimack are at war with the Roman Palatine Empire, who desire to conquer the galaxy.  In the 24th century, America's best devise a containment strategy of Roman's ambitions.  Then the alien Hive ran amock Roman's outer colonies and crushed the empire.  The Romans are forced to ally with the Americans to defeat the inhuman invaders...

The Myriad is a story about the Merrimack rescuing an alien race in the Myriad, a globular star cluster when the core star holding it together becomes a singularity or black hole.  Wolf Star is about Roman attempts to capture the Merrimack after they get a hold of her sister ship, the Monitor.  The Hive plays an important part in both stories.  However, you need to read The Myriad in order to understand the following novels in the series because of its twist ending.  It caught me off-guard.

Recommended.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Mid-December 2016 reading...

Here's what I've been reading recently:

1)  Tour of the Merrimack:  Wolf Star by R.M. Meluch.  I left the Merrimack being boarded by Roman boarding parties and the defenders repulsing them.

2)  This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie E. Czerneda.  See blog posting.  Finished this weekend.

3)  The Lost Stars:  Imperfect Sword by Jack Campbell.  General Drakon and his division of power troops attacked an internal security fortress manned by Syndicate World "snakes."  The invasion and liberation of Ulundi was a trap for the Midway forces.

4)  Sedan, 1870 by Douglas Fermer.  Started a study of the famous French disaster that ended the Second French Empire in September 1870.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Review of This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie E. Czerneda

Author:  Julie E. Czerneda.
Title:  This Gulf of Time and Stars.
Publisher:  DAW.
Copyright:  2015, 2016.
Pages:  458.
Price:  $7.99 (US).

Overview and Impressions:
This is the seventh The Clan Chronicles novel by Julie E. Czerneda.  The Clan is a telepathic race of teleporters who settle in Human space.  Their leader is Sira di Sarc, Speaker of the Clan.  They have a problem with their reproduction success.  Female Choosers can kill an unsuccessful mate (unintentionally).  In desperation, Sira falls in love with a human telepath, Jason Morgan.  The two successfully bond.

Sira also faces assassination attempts by a race known as "Assemblers," who want to eliminate the Clan from Trade Pact space.  Sira and Morgan jump from world to world as the Assemblers chase after them.  They finally wind up on Cersi, the world the Clan originated.  The native Om'ray are being used as cattle between two different races, the bird-like Tikitik and slug like Ood.  The Clan's arrive upsets the balance between the two rival species.  The Ood eventually attack the Om'ray, the fleeing survivors join the Clan in a giant starship that takes them to their home world.

The different alien races are well thought out.  I couldn't predict the outcome of the novel.  The Clan were an offshoot of the Om'ray, who were descendant from the Hoveny, an advance race of telepaths.  The politics and intrigue of the Trade Pact kept me guessing, too.  The bad guys were spelled out at the beginning.  I assume they'll so up in the following Reunification novels.

Recommended.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

End of the year regrets and resolutions...

When I moved last year, I had to downsize my figure collections.  I got rid of 28 mm Reil Rebellion figures, 28 mm Spanish-American War armies, 28 mm Trojan War armies, 30 mm High Elf army, and some 28 mm Napoleonics.

I regret selling off the 30 mm GW High Elves.  Now I'm redoing that army.  It's more expense to replace the figures now.  I want a fantasy army to fight some local gamers.  I have no regrets over selling the rest and giving the Napoleonic figures away as a present.  I only have so much room where I currently live.  My collection of figures are now in GW figure cases.  I spent a small fortune on figure cases....

So I'm currently assembling GW High Elves.  Here is my painting schedule for the next year and beyond:

2017:

1)  Finish up 28 mm Masai Warriors.

2)  Work on 30 mm GW High Elves.

3)  Paint 30 mm Warmachine Rhulic Dwarfs.

4)  Assemble and paint small GW WH40K Adeptus Mechanicus army.

5)  Paint 28 mm Viet Cong fighters.

6)  Paint 28 mm  ARVN Rangers platoon.

7)  Paint 28 mm US Vietnam Marine platoon.

2018:

1)  Paint 28 mm Sudanese Mahdist army.

2)  Purchase and paint 28 mm Amazon army.

3)  Purchase and paint 18 mm SYW Swedes.

2019:

1)  Purchase and paint 18 mm SYW Prussians.  That completes my 15mm SYW armies.

2)  Purchase and 28 mm French Foreign Legion and 28mm Republican Mexican & Mexican irregulars for a 28 mm Camerone game.

3)  Purchase and paint 28mm terrain for a 28mm Camerone game.

2020:

1)  Purchase and paint 15mm Chilean, Peruvian, and Bolivian armies for the Great Pacific War, 1879-1884.

2)  Purchase and paint up 15mm terrain for a 15 mm Great Pacific War game.

3)  Bastardize stats for home rules to handle a 15 mm Great Pacific War game.

I'm unsure on the last thing.  I wouldn't mind doing 28 mm Russo-Turkish War forces.  However, it might be too costly.  The Great Pacific War in 15 mm is more manageable.  I'm trying to keep my figure purchases to a minimum next year....

Peace,
Blake

Saturday, December 10, 2016

WH40K AAR: 10DEC16

Here are some photos of a WH40K game I played with a friend today:



                                          Hostile Contact (Curtis Turner) moves his Space Ork hordes.


                                          I foolishly advance Deathwing towards their doom.


                                          Space Orks start mopping up my Space Marines.


                                         After the game, picking up everything.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Review of The War of Spanish Succession by James Falkner

Author:  James Falkner.
Title:  The War of Spanish Succession 1701-1714.
Publisher:  Pen & Sword Publishing.
Copyright:  2015.
Pages:  281.


Overview: 
I read this book on my Nook e-reader.  It's a critical study of the War of Spanish Succession.  Louis XIV put his grandson on the Spanish throne.  The Allies declared war in protest.  The conflict dragged in most of western Europe.

The French had the largest armies, but the worst led generals.  Many marshals were royal bastards who didn't know how to command.  The generals who knew how to fight weren't gentlemen and didn't get along with their compatriots.  The Allies were no less fractured.  The Dutch didn't want the British to leave Holland.  The Austrians were only concerned with Italy.  Eugene of Savoy had his hands full keeping his army in the field fed and clothed.  Marlborough had similar problems with his forces.

In the end, the map of Europe went back to its antebellum borders.  The French and Spanish lost influence and property, while England became a maritime power at the expense of the other European powers.  But it was a long and drawn out war that should be settled much sooner than it was...

Recommended.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Review of Dhampir by Barb and J.C. Hendee

Authors:  Barb and J.C. Hendee.
Title:  Dhampir.
Publisher:  Roc Fantasy.
Copyright:  2003.
Pages:  376.
Price:  $6.99 (US).

Overview:

Dhampir grew on me.  Its about two fantasy vampire hunters and their travails with a group of vampires.  The fantasy named vampire infested land seemed too over the top.  The mixture of English named characters didn't do much for me in a fantasy Slavic setting.

It was basically "Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Lord of the Rings."  The action kept me reading.  It took a while for things to get going.  When it did, things got interesting.  It should be noted, lots of characters die in this book.  These are not the sparkly vampires of Twilight.  They're old school fantasy vampires who want to defend their turf from the two vampire hunters, who just want to retire.  Recommended once things got going....

Early December 2016 reading...

Here is what I've read so far this week:

1)  Dhampir by the Hendees.  Full review on my blog.

2)  The War of Spanish Succession by James Falkner.  I'm at 1707 of the conflict.  The Allies are having trouble uniting against the French.  Louis XIV wants peace.  But on his terms.  The Allies have expanded their war aims to unobtainable goals.  The result is more war neither side can afford...

3)  Imperfect Sword by Jack Campbell.  The soldiers of Midway are sent into a trap against CEO Harris and his minions on Ulundi.  The good guys have begun their ground attack as the enemy sets their sights on the Midway taskforce....

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Late November 2016 Reading....

Here's what I've read so far this month:

1)  Dhamphir by the Hendees.  Fantasy vampire hunter novel.  "Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Lord of the Rings."  It took a while to get into the action.  The last twenty pages made up for it.  I'm at page 84 of 350 pages total.

2)  Wolf Star by R.L. Meluch.  More travails involving the USS Merrimack and her sister ship the USS Monitor against the Roman Palatine Empire for control of the galaxy.  I'm now at page 400 of 685 pages of the dual volume Tour of the Merrimack:  The Myriad/Wolf Star.

3)  The Lost Stars:  Imperfect Sword by Jack Campbell.  I'm about at page 120 of page 350.  The Syndicate rebels at Midway have launched an invasion of Ulundi, a neighboring star system under the control of a rebel Syndicate CEO.  I've enjoyed the Lost Stars series so far and I've been reading it on my NOOK E-reader. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Arm surgery and subsequent gaming adaptation...

My right arm is now been beconstructed.  I don't remember much of the surgery.  It was brutal and compact.  My right is usable and recovering. The ansethima knocked me out for several day.  The days of me painting mass arms are over.  I can work on smaller figure scales with fewer figures  I'm looking at WH40K Cult of the Mechanicus and 30mm Rhulic Dwarf army.  But I'm done buying things in bulk.  Though I've been painting in bulk. Take care and know my basal skin cell cancer was comp;etely removed.  Now, if only my hobbies would cooporate....

Blake

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Mid-October 2016 reading: part II

Here's what I've read this past week:

1)  Wolf Star by R. M. Meluch.  Further adventures of the USS Merrimack against the Roman Palatine Empire in space.

2)  Imperfect Sword by Jack Campbell.  I'm about four chapters into this novel.  It's a fast read.  It's about the Midway star system and its quest for independence from the Syndicate Worlds empire, which is breaking up after a century long war with the Star Alliance.  The main characters discussed sending their underlings on a dangerous mission.

3)  The War of Spanish Succession by James Falkner.  More about warfare in the Age of Reason in the early 1700s.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Mid-October 2016 reading...

Here's what I've been reading this week:

1)  Imperfect Sword by Jack Campbell.  Third in The Lost Stars series.  Personalities around Midway star system and their former master's attempts to retake it.  Shows the chaotic break up of the Syndicate Worlds empire.

2)  Finished The Myriad by R. M. Meluch.  I'm now reading Wolf Star.  Myriad had an interesting ending wormholes and time travel in a globular star system.  Sets the stage for the United States vs. the Roman Empire in space.

3)  Finished The Last Stand of Fox Company by Bob Drury.  Review is now on the blog.  Brutal reading from start to finish.

4)  Started The War of Spanish Succession on E-book.  More about European warfare in 1700.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Review of The Last Stand of Fox Company by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin

Authors:  Bob Drury and Tom Clavin.
Title:  The Last Stand of Fox Company:   A True Story of US Marines in Combat.
Publisher:  Atlantic Monthly Press.
Copyright:  2009.
Pages:  273.

Overview and Impressions:

This was a hard E-book to read.  Its the true account of Fox Company, US 7th Marine Regiment at the Chosin Reservoir during Thanksgiving 1950.  The unit struggled to survive against overwhelming odds when it was attacked by the Chinese People's Liberation Army.  Part of a military miscalculation by General Douglas MacArthur, 8,000 American soldiers might have been slaughtered by the Red Chinese in the mountains of North Korea. 

How Fox Company survived is a story unto itself.  Let's say, it hurt reading about all the frostbite and walking wounded, besides the dead and dying.  I haven't read much about Korea.  The Last Stand of Fox Company killed any desire I had to game this conflict.  The reality of the brutal fighting when most of America wanted to forget it set the stage for the later Vietnam malaise.

Recommended.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

28mm FPW Game, 01OCT16: AAR

                                         French Foreign Legion troops waiting for the Bavarians to advance.


                                         Hole in the Bavarian center.


                                          What's left of my regiment advancing into the French firing line.

Overview:
Horrible die rolls and bad luck got me in this game.  I'd wanted to GM.  I got suckered into playing 28mm 1870 Bavarians.  I have enough room to run a 28mm brigade aside for Chassepot and Needlegun.  I have entire 28mm French and German divisions for this game.  I should have stopped with an infantry brigade each.  Little did I know I wouldn't have the room to run a full game.

Getting back to the game.  My camera died toward the end of the game.  It's still recharging tonight.  I advanced my infantry regiment towards the enemy.  I blew numerous command rolls for my Bavarian artillery.  I blew further rolls for movement.  The French had a grand time drinking their cherry and shooting me up.  Much to my fellow gamer's discuss (Sapper Joe).  See his blog for further mayhem regarding me and my dice.  All Joe did was complain.  That's par for the course with Joe.  However, I hoped he enjoyed the game as much as the French players (Mute Bystander and Hostile Contact).

Peace,
Blake

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Early October 2016 reading...

Here is what I've read so far this week:

1)  Proxima by Stephen Baxter.  Book review is on the blog.  I don't know whether to recommend it or not.  It took six months to read.  That's far too long to finish an ebook.  I made a vow to read at least 50 pages per day when I do read...

2)  The Myriad by R. M. Meluch.  The Merrimack engaged the Hive.  The bugs are ugly and uglier to deal with.  Interesting concepts with wormholes and time travel inside a global star cluster, though.

3)  Dhamphir by the Henlees.  Started a fantasy book about vampire hunters who want to retire from their jobs of hunting the undead.  Will see how it works out...

4)  The Last Stand of Fox Company by Bob Drury.  Read about the 1st Marine Corps Division to break out of the Chosin Reservoir in 1950.  They about reached Fox Hill and the tattered remains of Fox Company by marching at night through the snow covered mountains and hills.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Review of Proxima by Stephen Baxter

Author:  Stephen Baxter
Title:  Proxima.
Publisher:  Roc Books.
Copyright:  2012.
Pages:  490.
Price:  $7.99 (US).

Overview: 

This book took about six months to read.  I spent one day a week reading four chapters.  I finished off the remaining 90 pages today.  Proxima is about the colonization of Proxima c by UN convicts left from Earth.  There's a cold war between China and the remaining UN states.  The UN gains access to "wormhole" technology.  The Chinese want it.  The two sides wind up destroying Mercury and killing off the human race on Earth....

Yuri Eden and Stef, a UN major wind up using a wormhole that takes them to another M class star system.  They wind up meeting a Roman who demands why they're there.

Stephen Baxter's books have a way of destroying the home world.  The idea of a new cold war in space was interesting.  But I have trouble accepting the same premise in two different books that the human race is too stupid to survive.  Yet, I still have to figure out who created the wormhole technology...

Regards,
Blake     

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Late September 2016 reading....

Here's what I've read this week:

1)  Tour of the Merrimack:  The Myriad/Wolf Star by R. M. Meluch.  Read another chapter in The Myriad.  The UN earth politicians in the book are as nerve racking as the real one.  Chapter 8 had LEG (League of Earth Governments) gave the commander of the Merrimack flack for staying at an alien's home world in a globular star cluster.  The Merrimack was on a Bug hunt for the Hive, an alien life-form who likes eating other organic races.  The UN pols have trouble dealing with the fact that Hive can't be reasoned, they'll wind up on the lunch menu if they interfere too much....

2)  Proxima by Stephen Baxter.  Yuri Eden and his family go to Mercury from Proxima c.  His wife decides to become an astronaut again.  She takes her daughter back to earth.  Yuri can't go home because of the show trials of the Heroic Generation and their heirs.  Eden would wind up being punished again if he headed back to earth.  He chooses to go back to Proxima c the way he came through the alien gateway.  Stef, an engineer, joins him in their return trip to Proxima c...

3)  The Last Stand of Fox Company by Bob Drury.  The Marines endure more encirclement and besieging as the battle takes its toll on Fox Company's effectives.  Enough to move a grown man to tears...

  

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Review of Andromeda's War by William Dietz

Author:  William Dietz.
Title:  Andromeda's War.
Publisher:  Ace Science Fiction.
Copyright:  2014.
Pages:  356.
Price:  $7.99 (US).

Overview:  This was my introduction to William Dietz's Legion of the Damned Series.  Andromeda McKee waa a human platoon leader in the Legion.  She hid from the current Empress who murdered her family in a palace coup.  Lt. McKnee had several chances to kill her Sovereign. 

However she balked each time.

Now, McKee was on a god forsaken world in charge of native pacification and given the task of bringing a local troublemaker alive or dead.  Her problems mounted from there.  An alien race decided to invade the star system.  The Empress's Imperial yacht crash-landed on the planet.  McKee is in race to find the Empress and rescue her former commander and lover, John Avery.

The novel was good.  I didn't have trouble following the writing.  I've read enough military sci-fi to know good from trash.  Dietz's workmanship showed in his craft.  The politics involving the Legion, Navy, Marine Corps, and Militia were realistic.  The Legion got the jobs the other services didn't want.  They also got the conscripts and cyborged criminals no one else wanted, either. 

Overall, recommended.

Mid-September 2016 reading....

Here's what I've read the past few days:

1)  Andromeda's War by William Dietz.  Finished reading it this morning.  A review is on the blog....

2)  Proxima by Stephen Baxter.  Yuri Eden and his family take a light speed subway ride back to Mercury from Proxima c via an alien gateway.  Things are getting interesting...

3)  The Last Stand of Fox Company by Bob Drury.  More Marines picking up ammo drops by US pilots.  The Marine pilots get their packages on target.  The Air Force just drops stuff out as wooden crates smash in the snow.  The remaining Marines get ready for another day of combat on the Chosin Reservoir with the Chinese PLA.  Ugly reading....


Thursday, September 8, 2016

More "Real Life" getting in the way of reading....

Once again, "real life" got in the way of reading.  Here's what I accomplished:

1)  Andromeda's War by William Dietz.  Waiting to read more.

2)  Proxima by Stephen Baxter.  The survivors on Proxima c make contact with the UN personnel left to monitor their whereabouts on the planet.  The Per Adlux left everyone without coming back.  But Yuri Eden found an alien gateway leading somewhere....

The rest of my readings will have to wait until next week before I  can update them.

Regards,
Blake

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Early September 2016 reading...

Here is what I read this week:

1)  Andromeda's War by William Dietz.  I read several chapters this weekend.  I'll going to try and read more this Friday and Saturday afternoon.

2)  Tour of the Merrimack:  The Myriad/Wolf Star R.M. Meluch.  The USS Merrimack is an globular cluster trying to find the alien Hive and put an end to their predations on sentient life.  It's getting interesting.

3)  Proxima by Stephen Baxter.  I didn't read anything this week.  I'm planning to read more next week.

4)  The Last Stand of Fox Company by Bob Drury.  It's the morning of day three of Fox Company's stand on their hill in the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.  Fox Company's Captain said they'll hold no matter what, because they're Marines...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Late-August 2016 reading...

I wasted a good part of the week watching Olympic soccer.  I also watched Chelsea in the English Premier League, too (go Blues).  However, I did find time write, edit, and read.

Here is what I read:

1)  Andromeda's War by William Dietz.  After sitting on my ass watching television, I got around to reading the first chapter on Monday morning.  Looks like a good read.  Caught my interest.  It's about a Terran officer in the Legion of the Damned given a thankless job to bring in a native renegade.  I'd like to read the majority of it this weekend if possible.

2)  Tour of the Merrimack:  The Myriad/Wolf Star by R. M. Meluch.  Terran Empire run by Americans vs. the Palatine Roman Empire for control of the galaxy.  Have some critters called the Hive who want to munch everything to death getting in the way.  Fun so far.  Only at page 91 out of 690 pages.

3)  Proxima by Stephen Baxter.  Yuri Eden got older and wiser.  His group of survivors are headed to the equator of Proxima c in order to avoid the coming winters.  Interesting news that an Earthlike world was discovered in the Proxima Centauri star system this week.  It's called Proxima b....

4)  The Last Stand of Fox Company by Bob Drury.  More wounded US Marines fighting off Chinese PLA infantry attacks at Fox Hill in the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.  Aside from the battle scenes, its some of the most of depressing reading giving the stupidity of the American high command in Japan...

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Completed 15mm SYW Saxon infantry and cuirassier brigades, 18AUG16

Here are photos of the completed 15mm SYW Saxon cavalry and infantry brigades for Koenigs Krieg 2nd edition:



                                         15mm SYW Saxon Cuirassier brigade and engineer wagons.


                                         15mm SYW Saxon infantry brigade.

WIP, 15mm SYW Saxon infantry and cavalry, 18AUG16

Here are several photos of recently painted WIP, 15mm SYW Saxon infantry and cavalry:



                                          15mm SYW Saxon infantry brigade, 18AUG16.


                                          15mm SYW Saxon cuirassier brigade, 18AUG16.

Mid-August 2016 reading: Part II

My ambitions didn't match what I actually accomplished.  Here is what I read:

1)  Andromeda's War by William Diatz.  This is a Legion of the Damned novel starring Lt. Andromeda McKnee.  She's been assigned to a god forsaken planet to help pacify it.  Her Legion platoon has also been given a thankless mission to bring in an alien troublemaker, too.  I've never read the series.  But I heard Diatz is a good writer...

2)  Tour of the Merrimack:  Myriad/Wolf Star by R.M. Meluch.  I tried reading some more Monday.  Never quite got going.  I'll try to read more next week.

3)  Proxima by Stephen Baxter.  Yuri Eden and his partner, a former astronaut, met up with more human survivors on Proxima c.  Meanwhile, a human engineer met up with her double from another universe.  Their meeting went down with "Earthrise," human like super computer AI in Paris, France.  They tried to figure out who built the wormhole on Mercury that caused Karen's double to come into this existence...

4)  The Last Stand of Fox Company by Bob Drury.  More wounded US Marines holding off more crazed Chinese PLA infantry battalions in the Chosin Reservoir in 1950...

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Mid-August 2016 reading....

Here's what I've finished and started so far this month:

1)  Working God's Mischief by Glenn Cook.  Finished the book Saturday.  Review has been posted on the blog.  I laughed out loud because of the author's writing.  It felt like Croaking from the Black Company novels in a medieval fantasy setting.  Fun read.

2)  Tour of the Merrimack:  The Myriad/Wolf Star by R. M. Meluch.  I started the Myriad last week.  I'll try reading when I can.  It's interesting.  American Terran Empire vs. Roman Empire in space vs. alien bugs named the Hive.

3)  Promixa by Stephen Baxter.  The main protagonists and their child discover other humans on Proxima c.  The novel is getting weird in some ways with alien wormhole technology, though.

4)  The Last Stand of Fox Company by Bob Drury.  I finished a chapter were Fox Company made it through the first 24 hours of battle.  Their siege by the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army lasted a week.  But the Americans were airdropped radios, batteries, ammo, and 82mm mortars during the day.

Warmachine Mark III Demo Game, 10AUG16

I played a Warmachine MK III demo game with a friend named Andy Mitchell last night.  He ran a battle box version of Magnus the Traitor.  I and Damiano and some warjacks. 

The changes with Warmachine MK III are the following:

1)  Point costs for figures have been doubled.

2)  Warjack points for individual spell casters have been tripled.

3)  75 points is the average point cost for a regular game of Warmachine MK III.  Battle box games as "zero" points.  You use the Warjack Point allowance of your warcaster to come with your battle force.

4)  You can now premeasure during your turn.

5)  Warjacks gain one free focus point for being in the control area of your warcaster.

6)  Some stats and abilities have been changed depending on a model's card. 

7)  Any Mercenary force can work together. 

8)  Everything else in the basic game is the same as MK II Warmachine.

Andy went first with Magnus.  He moved his warjacks and then cast several spells.  Not knowing what I was doing, I cast an upkeep spell and moved my warjacks.  The second turn, he advance Magnus again and got another shot off on my heavy warjack.  I had Damiano fire his personal heavy warjack's cannon back.  I damaged one of his heavy warjacks.  Magnus activated his other warjack and wrecked my heavy.

There are no more wrecked warjacks.  You just take the model off the board.  I had my remaining Bucaneer warjack and Damiano retreat behind hard cover for a turn before calling the game.  There was no way I'd win...

Warmachine is a simple game to figure out once you know what the stats are.  There are stats for Movement, Melee, Ranged Attack, Defense, Armor, Power/Strength, and Command.  For Melee and Ranged Attacks, you subtract your MAT/RAT value from the enemy's model's Defense.  That is the roll you need for successfully attack on 2D6.  You can spend a warcaster's Focus to get another 1D6 on Attack and Damage rolls. 

Damage rolls are handled similarly to Attack rolls.  However, you take your model's STR&POW state and subtract it from the enemy model's Armor value.  That is the number needed to damage it on 2D6.  You also roll a different colored 1D6 for Warjacks to determine the location of damage on the model.  So that regard, the game is like Battle Tech concerning the Warjacks/Colossals.  Damage to living models and warcasters' are straight damage roll.  Loss all your warjacks/or warcaster, then you lose the game.

Warcaster's also have focus points.  That allows them to cast magic spells and boost their warjacks' Attack/Damage rolls.  Focus points are allocated at the beginning of the warcaster's turn.  You need to think ahead about how you're going to use your focus points.  They regenerate each turn.  Hordes has a similar thing called Fury for a warlock's Warbeasts, though they are used differently in Hordes as opposed to Focus in Warmachine.  Both games are interchangeable... 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

WIP, 18mm SYW Saxon Cuirassiers, 08AUG16

Here's a photo of WIP, 18mm SYW Saxon Cuirassiers, 08AUG16:


Review of Working God's Mischief by Glenn Cook

Author:  Glenn Cook.
Title:  Making God's Mischief.
Publisher:  TOR Fantasy.
Copyright:  2014.
Pages:  598.
Price:  $8.99 (US).

Overview and Impressions:
It took a while for Making God's Mischief to warm up to me.  Piper Heckt is the main hero, a Germanic landkneckt who can kill gods with special black powder weapons.

In love with the Grail Empress, Heckt leads the Army of Righteousness on crusade against the Premans for control of the Holy Land.  He uses his own family and the Shining Ones, minor gods from forgotten religions, to act as his general staff.

There are also the forces of the Night who lie in waiting to pounce on Heckt's latest enterprise.  And the usual medieval fantasy politics that mirror real world history.  Towards the end, Making God's Mischief was fun to read.  I laughed a lot.  The author has a way with words.  I wish I could as creative.

Recommended.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Early August 2016 reading....

Here is what I've read in the past week:

1)  Working God's Mischief by Glenn Cook.  Read about 250 pages over the weekend.  The main character, a Landskneckt wizard, is getting interesting with his patron, the Grail Empress.  The Empire is getting ready to launch a Crusade for the Holy Land.  Heckt has trouble keeping the old gods who are indentured to him in line. 

2)  Analog Magazine September 2016 issue:  I finished reading the latest issue on Sunday.  I'm not impressed by the remaining short stories.  I think I could do a better job writing them.

3)  Tour of the Merrimack:  The Myriad/Wolf Star by R. M. Meluch.  I started reading The Myriad while waiting for my mom at a local hospital on Monday.

4)  Proxima by Stephen Baxter.  Yuri Eden and his partner are raising their daughter on Proxima c.  The novel flashed back to Mercury where a UNI major opened a wormhole to another world.  Took a while for me to warm up to the novel. 

5)  The Last Stand of Fox Company by Drury.  Saga of the 7th US Marine Regiment's Fox Company at the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.  Fox Company is now surrounded by thousands of Red Chinese regulars.  

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Painting projects for 2017 & beyond....

I can't believe it'll be August 1st tomorrow.  This year has cruised by me.  However, I didn't start painting again until February 2016.  I'm so behind on my current painting projects, I don't really know where to begin....

Proposed Painting Schedule:

2017:
1)  70 man 30mm GW High Elf Army.  I know.  I sold my old GW High Elves off.  I got talked into doing 28mm Fantasy again.  I bought a bunch of new 30mm GW High Elves.

2)  90 figure 28mm Eureka Miniatures Amazon Army.  Another 28mm fantasy army to fight my 30mm GW High Elves using the OOP Warlord Rules.

3)  90 man 28mm Viet Cong infantry company.  Part of a too huge 28mm Vietnam game using Ambush Valley.  I should be running three squads aside instead of whole platoons.  Ugh.

4)  36 man 28mm Vietnam US Marines infantry platoon.  US troops for said 28mm Ambush Valley game.

5)  32 man 28mm ARVN Ranger mechanized platoon.  Thought I'd do something different.  ARVN Rangers looked interesting.  I also have the 28mm M113s to go with the four squads.  Part of 28mm Ambush Valley.

6)  30mm Warmachine Rhulic Dwarf Army.  The figures are already primed and based.  Just need to paint and dry brush them.  Should take a month to do.  The other 30mm Warmachine army took several weeks.

2018:
1)  230 man 28mm Mahdist Ansar Army.  This finishes my 28mm British Colonials for Africa.  It's a Sudanese army that could be used for 1880s to late 1890s.  This will probably take an entire year to paint.  I have no plan for the Indian subcontinent.  I leave that to adventurous others.

2019:
1)  18mm SYW Swedish Army.  Swedes to fight my 18mm SYW Prussians.  However, the Swedish Army was horrible during this time period.  The Prussians faced them off with third line troops.

2)  18mm SYW Prussians.  They finish all my 15mm SYW collections.  I have no plans to collect 15mm SYW Russians.

2020:
1)  40 figure 28mm 1863 French Foreign Legion company.  This is part of my future Camerone 1863 game.  Some of the figures are already painted.

2)  120 figure 28mm Mexican Republican army.  The comedic relief for the Camerone 1863 scenario.

3)  6mm 1980s Angolia.  Good news is I have all the micro-armor painted for this game.  Bad news.  It needs to be based.  I want to use Fist Full of TOWs, III for rules.

Painting plans for the rest of 2016....

I'm currently working on 15mm SYW Saxon cuirassiers.  I also have a 15mm SYW Saxon infantry brigade to finish painting.  Those figures should be done by Labor Day 2016.

I also have the following to work on for the rest of 2016:

84 28mm Masai Warriors
42 28mm Colonial German regular infantry

That should take me through X-mas 2016.  I'm also working on 18mm Fantasy football teams for Mute Bystander.  He also has another project of 15mm Roman gladiators for me to paint afterward.  That should take me until New Years Day, 2017...

Blake

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Late July 2016 reading....

This past week, I read the following:

1)  The Lost Fleet:  Beyond the Frontier:  Guardian by Jack Campbell.  I finished the book and posted a review on the blog.

2)  Making God's Mischief by Glen Campbell.  Read 50 pages in a new fantasy novel about a mortal who kills gods in a fantasy medieval world set during the Crusades.  Interesting premise.  I'll see how it plays out.

3)  Analog Magazine/September 2016 issue.  Interesting article on artificial intelligence.  I don't know if I'll renew my subscription.  Things have been hit and miss regarding short stories and writing articles.  Read 50 pages in Analog this weekend.

4)  Proxima by Stephen Baxter.  The main character becomes a father and the native "builders" moved the lake the humans depend on ten klicks by busting up a dam.  Read three chapters.

5)  The Last Stand of Fox Company by Drury.  Read another two chapters on the Chosin Reservoir saga of the 7th US Marine regiment in 1950.  Now in the second day of battle. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Review of The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Guardian by Jack Campbell

Author:  Jack Campbell.
Title:  The Lost Fleet:  Beyond the Frontier:  Guardian.
Publisher:  Ace Science-Fiction.
Copyright:  2013.
Pages:  407.
Price:  $7.99 (US).

Overview and Impressions:

Alliance Admiral "Black-Jack" Geary has his hands full in The Lost Fleet:  Beyond the Frontier:  Guardian.  Geary has to lead his vessels back to friendly space.  His travels take him to the former Syndicate World of Midway, where he beats off an enemy fleet.  After packing up with the liberated locals, Geary's fleet moves onto other Syndicate Worlds who offer guerilla resistance to his demands, even though the Syndicate Worlds have sued for peace and lost their century long struggle against the Alliance. 

Though trial and error, Geary comes home with an alien battleship and friendly "wolf-spider" extra-terrestials named the Dancers.  However, the war has not been kind to the home front.  The Alliance is on the verge of collapse and civil war itself.  The Dancers want to go to the cradle of humanity, Sol itself.  Geary takes his flagship, the Dauntless, with the rest of the Dancer ships to Sol, which is demilitarized.  There, he is forced to deal with a minor power who has been holding Sol hostage. 

After smashing the upstarts' flotilla, the Dancers proceed to Earth to return the body of a former astronaut who died in Dancer space.  The aliens land in Lyons, Kansas, the dead man's birthplace...

I devoured this book and read it through several sessions.  I'm a fan of Jack Campbell.  He writes decent military science-fiction.  After reading several of his series, some things repeat themselves.  But that is the nature of sequels.  Recommended.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Mid-July 2016 reading: part III

I spent the weekend reading.  Here's what I covered:

1)  The Lost Fleet:  Beyond the Frontier:  Guardian by Jack Campbell.  Determined to make a dent in it, I read another fifty pages.  I was sucked in following Alliance Admiral "Black-Jack" Geary as he led his flotilla from Midway to Alliance space through a "hyperlink" system.  Even though the Syndics have been defeated, they still want to wreck Geary's plans to get home.  I'm only a third of the way through Guardian.  It's getting interesting...

2)  Analog Magazine July/August 2016 Issue:  Some of the stories are good.  Some aren't.  The nonfiction articles have been interesting concerning the art of writing.  Outside of a steampunk novella, I'm about done writing original material.  Most of my time has been spent editing.  I'm at a point I want to stop editing and just write.  I'm afraid that might not be until the end of summer.

But the Niven short story was disappointing.  I thought the trick ending was rather shallow for someone like him...

Regards,
Blake

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Mid-July 2016 reading: part II

I spent this week on my NOOK e-reader.  I read several more chapters in Proxima.  Yuri Eden and another survivor spent their time in an alien "fall-out shelter."  Some that was designed to withstand solar flares from Proxima Centauri.  The two protagonists were away from their shelter and were forced to spend time with the "builders," natives of Proxima c. 

The action then moved back to Earth with a scientist who studied a fuel source for interstellar travel being recalled back to Canada for a meeting with several bigwigs.  One being a hologram of the computer complex that ran North America.  That is where I left on on Proxima by Stephen Baxter.

This morning, I read more in The Last Stand of Fox Company by Drury.  Fox's first platoon had been overrun by the People's Liberation Army.  The company's second platoon held their ground, but lost half of their effectives.  Dawn was coming and it was still snowing on Fox Hill near the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.  I'm been impressed by what the Marines went through.  And this is only Day 1 of the week long battle!

I'll have more blog postings as I read more chapters read in my electronic and hard copies...

Blake

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Mid-July 2016 reading...

I spent the weekend reading.  Here's what I accomplished:

1)  Analog Magazine July/August 2016 issue:  I read another 35 pages in Analog Magazine.  There was a story about a sentient Chinese starship and its wayward captain stranded in a newly discovered star system.  The second story was about an alien anthropology professor teaching on Earth.  His subject was the "Stone Age," lol...

2)  The Lost Fleet:  Beyond the Frontier:  Guardian by Jack Campbell.  I read another 50 pages in my latest The Lost Fleet:  Beyond the Frontier novel.  Admiral "Black-Jack" Geary had a tour of an alien battleship his fleet is towing back to Alliance space.  Geary also has a game of chicken with Syndicate CEO Boyens fleet over the Midway star system, which Boyens bugs out via a Starjump portal...

Those are my latest selections.  I'll post more as I continue reading.

Monday, July 4, 2016

WIP, 18mm Fantasy Elf Football Team, 04JUL16

Here's a completed 18mm Fantasy Elf Football Team for a friend of mine:




Early July 2016 reading...

I spent the weekend editing a manuscript.  That set my reading time back a few days.  Here's what I got accomplished:

1)  Proxima by Stephen Baxter.  I read another three chapters on my NOOK e-reader.  The main characters are conversing with their robotic advisor on Proxima c, an Earth-like planet circling Proxima Centauri.  The star is a red dwarf that supports alien life-forms.  The human colonists are learning more about them and try communicating with them...

2)  The Last Stand of Fox Company by Drury.  Read another chapter about a night attack on the Marine company by a battalion of Chinese Peoples' Liberation Army infantry in November 1950 on the Chosin Reservoir.  This was also done on a e-reader. 

3)  The Lost Fleet:  Beyond the Frontier:  Guardian by Jack Campbell.  Picking up with Admiral "Black-Jack" Geary and his Alliance Fleet in hostile territory near the star system of Midway.  Just got through the first chapter before I had to put the book down this weekend.  Ugh!  I started with The Lost Stars series.  Campbell originally started out with The Lost Fleet series.  I read some of those books after getting started on The Lost StarsThe Lost Stars is based on the characters who rebelled from the Syndicate World's empire at Midway.  The Lost Fleet series is complete.  The Lost Fleet:  Beyond the Frontier is still going (I think).

4)  Analog Magazine/July/August 2016:  Read a short story about a British princess falling in love with an alien ambassador.  Followed by nonfiction on possible future energy sources.  I'm still behind on my weekly reading for Analog Magazine, though... 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Saturday, July 2, 2016

WIP, 02JUL16

Here are photos of some of my WIPs:



                                          WIP, 18mm SYW Saxon Cuirassier Brigade, 02JUL16.


                                          WIP, 18mm SYW Saxon Infantry Brigade, 02JUL16.


                                          WIP, 25mm Ral Partha High Elves, 02JUL16.


                                          WIP, 28mm German Colonial Infantry, 02JUL16.


                                          WIP, 28mm Masai Warriors, 02JUL16.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

28mm Darkest Africa AAR: 25JUN16

Here are photos of a 28mm Darkest Africa game I ran today using The Sword in Africa:



                                         Belgian Force Publique took on colonial Germans in Tanzania.


                                          Both sides went to open order to avoid casualties.


                                          Each side tried to get the upper advantage.


The Belgian player's commander routed away.  His army subsequently failed army morale and withdrew.

Review of Small Favor by Jim Butcher

Author:  Jim Butcher.
Title:  Small Favor.
Publisher:  ROC Fantasy.
Copyright:  2008, 2009.
Pages:  545.
Price:  $9.99 (US).

Overview:

The narrator, Harry Dresden, is a no-nonsense wizard who lives in Chicago, IL in this urban fantasy novel.  His brother is a "good" vampire and Harry's being courted the military arm of the Catholic Church to combat fallen angels.  While Mab, the Queen of the Sidhe, wants Dresden to be her new mortal champion. 

I enjoyed the book.  However, parts of it were somewhat predictable.  Dresden would almost get killed in battle and someone would rescue him.  This novel is full of battle magic.  The explanations behind how "magic" works is believable.  But Small Favor moves like a roller coaster.  Think Merlin meets Philip Marlowe.  There's mafia and fae dealings involved in this novel.  Followed by court politics.  It's part of a larger series called The Dresden Files.  Though magic is at the heart of the story...

Recommended.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Late June 2016 reading...

I spent another weekend reading Small Favor by Jim Butcher.  I got another 100 pages into it.  I'm now reading it again today.  I'd like to get another 50 pages done this weekend.  The narrator is Harry Dresden, a wizard/private investigator.  His beat is Chicago set in urban fantasy.  This is the first book I've read in the series, The Dresden Files.  It's been entertaining....

I read The Last Stand of Fox Company by Bob Drury yesterday.  I'm only reading a chapter a week.  Because of that, it's been a slow go.  The book is about the 7th US Marine Infantry Regiment at the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.  I finished the opening chapter where a Chinese People's Liberation Army infantry battalion has attacked Fox Company on a snowy November night.  I'm amazed how unprepared we were to deal with the Chinese during this conflict.  Or what a loon MacArthur was...

The beginning of the week had me try and read Analog Magazine.  I started a novella.  But I got side-tracked Sunday afternoon.  I'll try and do better this Sunday.  I also read 4 chapters out of Proxima by Stephen Baxter.  He managed to kill all of the convict settlers off except for Yuri Eden and a marooned Australian astronaut on Proxima Centauri c.  There are other lifeforms on the planet, which is an Earth-like satellite of a red dwarf star.  It's getting to the point of first contact between Eden and the "builders."


Friday, June 17, 2016

Mid June 2016 reading...

I continued with the three books I've been reading.

In no particular order, I read another 110 pages in the Dresden Files' Small Favor.  The protagonist dwelt with hobgoblin faeries.  He and another character killed hundreds of them by exposing them to light.  I'm now at page 262 out of some 500 pages...

On my NOOK, I read two more chapters on several Ebooks.

One is called Proxima by Stephen Baxter.  His main character, Yuri Eden, a convict from Mars, has been marooned with a group of colonists on Proxima c, which is a planet that obits a red dwarf.  However, they've discovered higher lifeforms on the planet who have so far ignored them.  I'm only on page 120 out of 490 pages...

The last ebook is The Last Stand of Fox Company by Drury.  It's about the 7th US Marine infantry regiment at the Chosin Reservoir during November 1950.  The Chinese Peoples' Liberation Army has just attacked the surrounding Marine detachments on a snow winter morning at 2 AM...

I hope to have the Jim Butcher book, Small Favor, completed in several weeks.  The Ebooks are a much slower go.  I'll have full reviews on the blogs as I complete them.

Blake

Thursday, June 16, 2016

WIP, 30mm Steelhead Mercs: Part II, 16JUN16

Here is a photo of a WIP, 30mm Steelhead Mercs:  Part II, 16JUN16.




The figures were primed Leather Brown Army Painter Spray Primer.  There's a heavy Merc Warjack, 1 solo, and 10 Steelhead Company Rifles.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Completed 30mm Warmachine Steelhead Merc Infantry, 14JUN16

Here's a photo of my complleted 30mm Warmachine Steelhead Company Merc infantry, 14JUN16:



                                         30mm Warmachine Merc infantry, solo, and warcaster.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Early June 2016 reading: part 2....

I'm getting into Proxima by Steven Baxter. 

The main characters have just settled in on Proxima c.  The UN staff dump them off and tell them to fed for themselves on the planet.  The idea of setting up penal colonies for our refuse sounds a lot like the settlement of America or Tasmania.  And these are the people have been paroled from a cryogenic deep freeze cell after serving their prison time.

One question that isn't directly answered are penal colonies a good idea in deep space?  I thought we be above our ancestors' prerogatives.  I guess we aren't .   The book is starting to get interesting...

 I'm also reading The Last Stand of Fox Company by Drury.  The night time attack by the Chinese Liberation Army is about to start.  I stopped reading there....

I also read Small Favor by Jim Butcher.  Harry Dresden is fun to read having a White Vampire for a brother.I haven't read too much fantasy recently.  It's mostly been Sci-Fi.  My brother is the opposite.  He reads mainly fantasy and doesn't touch sci-fi that often...

Blake
 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Early June 2016 reading...

I'm trying to keep up my reading.  I was only partially successful this week.  I read another chapter in The Last Stand of Fox Company by Drury.  I'm still at the part before the 7th Marines' epic last stand in November 1950.  I have a low opinion of General "Dugout Doug" MacArthur.  I don't know what President Truman was thinking when he had MacArthur in charge of the United Nations' command...

I also read another chapter in Small Favor by Jim Butcher.  It's part of the Dresden Files with its urban fantasy Chicago.  It's pure fun.  I've enjoyed it.  I plan on reading more tonight once everything gets settled.  I need to go back and read some more on Proxima next week...

Regards,
Blake

Thursday, June 2, 2016

WIP, 18mm SYW Reichsarmee infantry, 02JUN16

Here are photos of my two 18mm Reichsarmee infantry brigades.  They are now completed:



                                18mm SYW Reichsarmee infantry brigade no. 1, 02JUN16.



                             18mm SYW Reichsarmee infantry brigade no. 2, 02JUN16.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

More WIP, 28MAY16

Here's more WIP, 30mm Warmachine Steelhead Company Mercs, 28MAY16:

                               
                                          Base Coats done on 30mm Warmachine figures.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Late May 2016 reading....

I read some more in Stephen Baxter's Proxima.  I got the point where the main character, a minor criminal is on Proxima c.  I also read another chapter in The Last Stand of Fox Company by Drury.  Fox Company was ordered by its CO to dig in during a snow storm that would be the coldest winter in 30 years.  All before the fighting breaks out between them and the Red Chinese in November 1950...

I'm also reading Jim Butcher's Small Favor.  Another book from the Dresden Files.  It's urban fantasy set in Chicago...

WIP, 30mm Warmachine Steelehead Company Mercs, 27MAY16

Here's a photo of some WIP, 30mm Warmachine Steelhead Company Mercs, 27MAY16:

                       1 Merc Warcaster, 1 Merc Solo, 20 Steelhead Halberdiers, 6 Merc Cavalry.

Monday, May 23, 2016

WIP, 15mm SYW Reichsarmee infantry brigade no. 2, 23MAY16

                           WIP, 15mm SYW Reichsarmee infantry brigade no. 2, 23MAY16

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Mid-May 2016 reading and painting projects...

The only time to myself is in the morning and evening.  I'm taking of remaining parent full-time for the near future.  As far as reading projects for this week, here we go:

I read several more chapters in Stephen Baxter's Proxima.  It's an Ebook on my NOOK.  I'd like read some more tonight.  I also started Jim Butchers's Small Favor.  It's a Dresden Files book of urban fantasy set in Chicago.  It's a more interesting read than Proxima.

I also have a nonfiction Ebook on my NOOK called Last Stand of Fox Company.  I plan on reading more tomorrow afternoon.  It's on the Choshin Resivoir during the Korean War.

As far as painting, I got all my remaining 28mm figures based and primed.  That was a massive job.  It includes:

200 28mm Sudanese infantry
25 28mm Sudanese cavalry
85 28mm Masai warriors
42 28mm Colonial German infantry
90 28mm Viet Cong infantry
32 28mm ARVN infantry
4 28mm M113s
36 28mm Vietnam US Marines

I also scored a painted 30mm Warmachine Cygnar army, which also includes a Stormwall colossal.  I've done well.  Though I still continue work on my 18mm SYW Reichsarmee infantry brigade #2...

Blake

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Early May 2016 reading...

It's been hard finding time to read while taking care of my remaining parent full-time.  I have some downtime this afternoon, so  I'm updating the blog.

I started reading the Ebook,The Last Stand of Fox Company this past week.  Its about the 7th US Marine Corps Regiment at the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.  It looks interesting, but some grim reading.  I managed to get the first chapter done.

The second reading project is Proxima by Stephen Baxter.  It's about paroled criminals settling Proxima Centauri in the 22nd century.  I'm only 27 pages into a a 490 page novel.  It looks to be more believable and less over the top than the last book of his I read, Titan.

I also read a novella this morning in Analog Magazine.  It was about clashing tribes on a ruined world.  Very Mayan/Aztec like with New World Spaniards thrown in good measure.  Reminded me of the conquest of Mexico meets Star Wars.  It was about 40 pages longs.  Hopefully, this will be a more interesting magazine issue.

I'll have formal reviews of the novels when I'm done with them to post online....

Blake

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. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Early April 2016 reading: Part II

I started a book by a local author named Erin Whaley.  It's her manuscript about vampire hunters in Eastern Europe.  I need to read more.  I'm only 50 pages in.  It's pretty good.  Quick read.

I also read another 25 pages in Mekong First Light by Lt. Callaway, Jr.  He was in Vietnam in 1966-1967.  Interesting reading about the VC infested Mekong delta.  Most of my 28mm Vietnamese figures are Viet Cong.  The book is giving me ideas for scenarios...

Blake

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Complaint about Osprey Publication's new Epub book format

I tried reading MAA:  Armies of the Great Pacific War, 1879-1883 on my NOOK tonight.  The uniform plates were small with the plate description underneath the picture.  The earlier Epub Ebooks had the plates taking up a whole page.  I use Osprey's primarily as uniform guides.  I'm better off getting hard copies of the MAA booklets I need from here on out.  I don't like the Epub format for my NOOK concerning the newer Ebooks.  It defeats the whole point of having Ebook copies of the booklets.

My two cents,
Blake

Friday, April 1, 2016

I'm falling apart...lol.

This week hasn't been a good week.  I have an ear infection.  I'm been taking care of a parent who's sick.  I spent a good part of the week in bed sick.  I'm getting around to doing things today.

I haven't read.  I haven't really written anything.  I revised a bunch of short stories I'm submitting for publication in Europe.  The basement that has all my painting supplies is torn up.  I can't paint.  I can't type.  I can't assemble models.  I've been too sick to go outside and spray figures. 

Some week, lol.

And on another sad note, Sapper Joe's dog, Indie, had to be put down this week due to an aggressive liver, kidney, and brain cancer.  It's never easy losing a beloved pet.  I'll see how Sapper Joe does today when I meeting him for lunch...

Blake

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Late March 2016 reading....

I have a huge surplus of both Ebooks and hard copies to read.  I'm reading at least two books per week.  Today, I read 74 pages in Mekong First Light by Lt. Joseph Callaway, Jr.  It's been an interesting read so far.  Callaway talks about his family time growing up in Alabama and New Caanan, CT.  He also talks about him joining the US Army and becoming a 2nd Lieutenant.

Callaway goes into the background of America and Vietnam during the 1960s  He also introduces the area where his platoon patrolled, the Mekong delta.  Some it was brown water navy patrols.  Some of it was airmobile flights.  I like the way Callaway writes.  I was sucked in from the moment I started reading.  I need to catch up my nonfiction reading.  I should have this book done by the end of April 2016.  I have ten more books to read on Vietnam and Indochina.  I'll space them out with other books on WWII, WWI, and ancient Rome...

Regards,
Blake

Monday, March 21, 2016

Trying to get 30mm Warmachine Steelhead Company Mercs primed

The contractors have struck in the basement.  I don't have anywhere to paint.  This isn't good.  However, I'm going to begin priming my 30mm Warmachine Steelhead Company Mercs tomorrow.  I'm doing the ones in armor Army Painter Plate Mail Primer.  The rest shall be done in Army Painter Leather Primer later this week. 

Hopefully, I can start painting on them.  I have about 120 points of Warmachine Mercs to paint this year.  I need to start now to finish them by autumn.  Assuming nothing else comes my way, ugh...

Blake

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Analog Magazine, April 2016 Review

I started subscribing to Analog:  Science Fact and Fiction again this spring.  Last year, I let my subscription lapse.  I didn't have time to read the short stories each month.  Magazines piled up unread as my father died.  I'd make a conscious effort to read each issue, this time.  I read April 2016 issue of the magazine.  The first half had some interesting stories.  The rest were fairly blaise.  I noticed a near lack of military sci-fi.  I'm hoping for more interesting stories with next month's issue.

The problem is there's such a limited market for sci-fi short stories.  I've written my share.  I've also written novellas.  Finding a paying market for your work is a challenge in this economy.  That's part of the reason I've looked to oversea's markets.  I should submit to Analog Magazine sometime, I know I can do better than some of the writers they've featured in their previous issues...

Blake

Friday, March 11, 2016

Mid-March 2016 reading....

I finished Twilight of the Hellenistic World and posted a review online.  I'm also reading Titan by Stephen Baxter.  I'm 100 pages into the novel.  It feels like future history from the past.  It's interesting.  And it has me thinking.  America has given up on manned space exploration.  Our government institutions don't want it.  It's up to other nations to surpass our role in space flight.

That troubles me.  Given the collective stupidity of the American population concerning science and technology, we pride ourselves on reality television and sporting events with little regard for the future.  The Romans had their bread and circuses until the Empire collapsed due to the barbarians.  Maybe climate change will force the same thing to happen to us.

Just a thought...
Blake

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Review of the Twilight of the Hellenistic World

Authors:  Bob Bennett & Mike Roberts.
Title:  Twilight of the Hellenistic World.
Publisher:  Sword and Pen Books.
Copyright:  2012.
Pages:  284.

Overview and Impressions:
This covered the last century of Greek rule before the coming of the Romans in the 2nd century BCE.  The authors looked at the different city states on mainland Greece, Macedonia, the Seleucid empire, and Ptolemy Egypt.

Macedonia played a major part in the history of mainland Greece.  I was surprised how active the various Greek polises were when it came to regional politics and alliances.  Philip V's reign was filled with ever-changing alliances as he sought to dominant the Balkans.

The Seleucid empire waxed and waned depending on her ruler.  Antiochus III crippled the Ptolemies in Egypt.  The Seleucids were able to dominant the eastern Near East while lashing out he regional rival.

However, the Ptolemy state stagnated under the tutelage of various regents  Egypt managed to lose many of her Levant positions to the Seleucids.  The Romans were still messing around the Carthaginians during this time.  She took a more active part in the Easter Mediterranean after the battle of Zama in 202 BCE.

Overall, an interesting book of neglected history.  I wish there was more on the Greek Successors available in English than what is currently offered.  Though the era could have been renamed, "Age of the Mercenary."  Recommended.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Early March 2016 reading: part II

I read 35 pages of the current issue of Analog Magazine Sunday.  The stories have been hit and miss.  Some are good.  Others aren't memorable.  I have kept up with it.  I'm not sure if I'm getting my money's worth.  Only time will tell...

I also read another 25 pages in Titan by Stephen Baxter today.  There was a scene with the Columbia shuttle crashing in 2004.  Problem is the book was written in 1998!  I don't know how he got that right.

Part of Titan is the dismantling of America's space program, which has already happened.  Technically, the book is excellent.  I've enjoyed it so far.  But I feel like I'm reading things that have already happened...  

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Early March 2016 reading...

This week, I'm reading Titan by Stephen Baxter, a UK engineer, about a manned mission to Titan in search of possible organic life.  I'm also read another 75 pages in Twilight of the Hellenistic World.  This week I read about the Seleucid Empire and its wars with Ptolemy's Egypt.  Much of the fighting happened in the Middle East and Iran.  I'll write a formal review when I'm done with the Ebook...

Blake

Friday, February 26, 2016

Review of Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Author:  Ann Leckie.
Title:  Ancillary Justice.
Publisher:  Orbit.
Copyright:  2013.
Pages:  422.
Price:  $16.00 (US).

Overview & Impressions:

Breq, the narrator of Ancillary Justice, is an AI trapped in a female human's body.  She was in charge of the Justice of Toren, a troop transport in the service of the Radch Empire.  Her vessel is destroyed and she left desiring vengeance.  She encounters one of her old officers, Seivarden, who was trapped in a stasis unit after his ship was destroyed a thousand years before.

This book makes use of impersonal pronouns in the Radchian language.  At the beginning, it took me a little while to figure that out.  A race of aliens have introduced a virus that divides the Lord of Radch into a dozen competing parts.  This brings about civil war.  Breq and Seivarden are trapped into serving the "good" Emperor of Radch who manages to destroy his rival AI components.

Having an AI as a narrator was original.  But I was turned off by Leckie's abuse of she to describe masculine characters.  I think it defeats the purpose of English pronouns.  However, what do I know?  She won a Hugo and Nebula for her debut novel.  First of three in the Imperial Radch series.  Interesting reading...