Andrew Girle's Blog

Crime and Speculative Fiction Blooking

Posts Tagged ‘free fiction’

Pseudo NaNoWriMo – looks like I’m Mister Ten Percent

Posted by Andrew Girle on November 29, 2012

Ten percent is great when you’re on commission.

Not so good when you’re shooting for 50,000 words and manage 5000 or so in 30 days.

Damn.

On the plus side, I doubled the number of words in my current Minim Opus (see what I did there?)

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Not NaNoWriMo

Posted by Andrew Girle on October 29, 2012

My last post on here was at the end(ish) of July.

I hope nobody was holding their breath for an update!

A couple of my writerly friends and I have decided to use the NaNoWriMo concept to get our collective (water barrels/posteriors… oh what the hay… BUTTS) into gear.

The plan is to write 50K words in the course of the month.

I have the characters, structure, world building and rough outline of the story already done – no flying by the seat of THESE pants.

Still, 2000 words (give or take) a day is going to be fairly intensive. There will be little or no editing done, and what starts as 50K may end up 25K in the cold light of day. We’ll see.

Wish me luck!

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Space fighters!

Posted by Andrew Girle on April 30, 2012

Anyone who ever watched a WW2 movie with dogfights between fighter planes, then saw Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica will know that dogfights in space are just awesome.

Of course, with no atmosphere, dogfights in space are also not going to happen like the movies. Sorry. Don’t believe me? Others have spent an enormous amount of time thinking on this concept, so get yourself a drink of your choice and head over to Atomic Rockets – make sure you do it on your own time, because if you are genuinely interested, you’ll spend a lot of time there!

Now one reason advanced for fighter planes and aircraft carriers in our history is the problem of horizon, and weapon range. Ships at sea are limited by the curvature of the Earth (radar provides a bit of extra reach); having aircraft to patrol puts your ‘eyes’ massively further out, and equipping them with missiles allows ships to engage the enemy without ever having to fire a shot themselves.

In space, it is argued, there is no maximum range for your weapons (no atmosphere, remember? Energy beams go on forever, and shells / missiles can keep going until they smack into something). The apparent limiting factor for weapons is the amount of ammo you can carry (for shells and missiles) and the amount of heat you can dissipate before you melt (for energy beams).

Likewise, just like the ocean away from a coastline, space is pretty empty. Seriously. Spotting a target against a star field is not difficult, nor is using infrared to pick up the heat radiating from it (don’t believe me? Go back to Atomic Rockets – you missed some bits. I’ll be waiting.).

So, we have weapons with unlimited range, and no limits to visibility. Alas, this spells doom for fighters as we know them, right? I mean, bigger ships with better defenses and armour are so much more survivable, so fighters are a waste of effort, right?

Maybe not.

Because nobody has been able to prove Einstein wrong, nothing can go faster than light. Yeah yeah, I know, it’s science fiction, but hey – let’s at least accept that science has a role to play. Targets obviously don’t WANT to be hit, so they are going to be manoevring – where your target was at the time of firing may not be where it will be when your ravening beam of directed energy crosses the gulf of space. So to try and hit your target, you need to predict an area, a patch of space that it is most likely to be in, and fill that area with shells / missiles / laser beams / coilgun accelerated titanium skulled frogs, or whatever. It’s called deflection, and fighter pilots have been doing it in dogfights since the first pistol was carried aloft in a flimsy craft in WW1.

Now, I’m not an engineer but I can pretty much bet that due to ammuntion constraints / recharge rates / heat dumping, that area is going to be pretty small, unless you accept very low probabilities of a hit.

Big ships are going to be less able to manouevre (well, maybe not, they may have bigger motors, but don’t bugger up the narrative flow NOW of all times), so if they want to keep their own chances of being hit down, they have to maintain a longer range. Fighter class ships will be lighter and zippier, so they can keep that chance of being hit at an impressive minimum.

Here is where it gets clever. The fighter can pick a range near the big ships where it is unlikely that they can be hit, but the target, being so much larger, is still well within the fighter’s engagement envelope. And even if they can’t carry heavy beam weapons (unless they are powererd by fusion collapses, but that is part of my story so you’ll have to wait for that one) they can carry enough shipkilling missiles that they can’t be ignored. Nor can their kamikaze capacity.

So what do you, as the target, do? Why, carry your own fighters of course, that can go out there and keep the enemy away from that engagement range sweet spot. And lo and behold, fighters are BACK!

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A teaser, from a sci fi story I’m working on.

Posted by Andrew Girle on April 25, 2012

Yes, I know you won’t recognise all the characters. I just enjoyed writing the scene so much I though I would share.

xxx

5. The Captain meets his crew

The police prisoner transport squealed to a halt on the tarmac at the base of one of the LD841’s landing struts. A heavyset officer in shell armour walked along the flank of the boxy vehicle, opening the individual transport cells with his palm print.

From the passenger door, the Second Engineer stepped out. He brushed his grease-grey overalls clean of the clinging local dust and squinted at the row of dishevelled crewmen and women blinking at the bright morning sunshine. He shook his head. Each of them sported lumps and bruises; split lips and torn clothing.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he began in a mild voice as the police transport moved off. “You are a disgrace.”

There was a low murmur in response from the group, but nobody’s lips moved.

“Quiet in the ranks!” He bawled and began to stalk down the line, each pace bringing him level with another battered face.

“I’ve been Fleet since I was sixteen years old. I’ve seen more action than all of you put together. Don’t challenge me on that, I looked you up.” He reached the end of the line and spun on his heel.

“My father was Fleet. My Grandfather was wet-hull Fleet on Earth! And …” his tirade was interrupted by the blaring of private ground car horn as it weaved across the landing field. It stopped and Ramone stepped out, his undamaged ship suit crisp, but his eyes bleary. He blew a kiss into the car, and Rose drove off, her snake tattoo glistening in the sunlight as she waved goodbye.

“Ramone Rodriguez reporting, sir!” bellowed Ramone, drawing himself to attention and snapping a salute so crisp you could hear the air tearing.

“Fall in, Rodriquez.”

Ramone marched with perfect, precise steps to the end of the rank, did an immaculate about-face and stood at ease. The Second Engineer glared at him and shook his head.

“As I was saying; all of you are a disgrace. You were given a seventy two hour shore leave. That time expires in a little over two hours. As Watch Officer Discipline, the very last thing I expected to have to do is get your sorry little arseholes out of gaol, before time. Never, in twenty years relative, have I been so disappointed.”

He paused at Goofball, and glared at the egg sized lump on her hairline. “Fighting.”

Two more paces and he looked Ramone up and down. “Fornicating.”

He spun on his heel and slow marched back along the rank, until he stopped at Sean. “And what in the name of the Martyr’s bleeding arse is a charge of …” he took a slim data tablet from his pocket and tapped the screen, “… randomly supplying intoxicants with intent?”

Sean pulled himself up straighter, staring directly ahead out of a swollen blackened eye. “I stood a round for another jump team, sir.”

Tap. Tap. The screens flipped. “It says here that you were handing out stim packs on the street, outside licensed premises.”

“They tasted like rodent piss. We gave them away.”

The Second Engineer slid the tablet back into his pocket and shook his head slowly in disbelief.

“Have standards slipped so far? Two hours left. Two full hours.”

Nobody said a word.

“There is going to be a full dress inspection at 0800. Here. Then we lift. Anyone not here in full ribbons and perfect creases gets left behind. Senior Paramedic Sean Mulholland report to me; the rest of you, fall out.”

Sean turned to face the Second Engineer, who simply said “Catch,” as he lobbed an oblong. A slight juggle and fumble occurred before Sean realised what it was. An old fashioned leather wallet. He flipped it open to see a wad of notes inside.”

“Sir?” was all he managed to say.

“The Base mess is five hundred paces that way, and I wish to remind you that you are still officially on shore leave. Don’t let the standards fall any further.”

*

At 0800 the next morning, the Second Engineer roard, “P’rade! P’rade, atten-hut!”

Two dozen boots slammed into the steel hull plates and a dozen faces winced through blazing hangovers.

First Officer Flynn Rothman stepped forward.

“Thank you, Buffer. I have the parade.”

The Second Engineer saluted smartly and replied, “Sir, you have the parade.” He spun on his heel and marched off to the side.

“Ladies and gentlemen, allow me formally welcome you aboard the LD841. Further, let me congratulate you on managing such neat shaves over the top of the bruising.”

Rothman let his gaze roam across the crew. Every uniform was perfect; the collection of service ribbons and medals on display would not have shamed a crew three times the size.

“This is a new ship, of a new class with a new mission. Many of us have served on capital ships, undertaking rescue and retrieval missions when we weren’t prosecuting the war.”

The First Officer paused. He became aware of one of the parajumpers staring at him. She was tall, with pale skin and dark, dark eyes. In fact, he realised, she was staring at his sleeve, where his wounds stripes were. He blinked, then carried on.

“Our mission is search and rescue. Dedicated search and rescue. Crews that go down in enemy space, or ground combat teams that need urgent medivac. Crews in engagements where nobody can be spared from the fighting for the rescue effort. The broken angels for whom there is no hope.”

“We are unarmed. Not defenceless, but unarmed. The heaviest weapons on board are the side arms of the paramedic teams. We have the legs of a smuggler and the wings of an eagle. Ladies and gentlemen, between us we are going to make this ship soar.”

 

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The Talking Sword – hiatus

Posted by Andrew Girle on August 17, 2011

I have smashed against a brick wall in my development of the talking sword stories. That wall is an inability to avoid preaching morality when I come to the culminating scene of the current storyline; as a result I have put it to one side to pull out and ponder. The story is still there in the back of my head, but (as they say on Writing Excuses) the voices are just not yammering to have their story told.

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The Talking Sword – Sword of Justice, post 14

Posted by Andrew Girle on June 23, 2011

As winter drew to a close a plan began to take shape in Lucca’s head. Firstly, she reasoned, she had to get close to
Auric to seek her revenge. But to do so, she would have to adopt a disguise – no Celt would be granted an audience. But if she disguised herself as a Roman woman she would not be able to carry the sword. It was too bulky to disguise, and worse, if she was captured with it her life would be forfeit, it being an
ancient rule in Roman lands that women were not to bear a soldiers arms.

This left the option of disguising herself as a Roman man, or more precisely youth. Lucca was tall for a Roman born woman, making her about average height for a Roman teenage male. She was about the right age for a foot messenger, one of those in the employ of wealthy merchants whose task was to run from place to place with packets of documents.

While technically they too were not supposed to carry weapons as large as swords, everyone knew the borders were dangerous places and the sight of a
messenger openly bearing a sword was not unusual. Of course, there was also the possibility that the sword could be disguised, but that could come later in the
planning.

The other advantage was the loose tunic that messengers wore. Lucca was quite distinctly a young woman, and to make her disguise work she would have to bind her breasts with cloth strips. Even so, she would need the extra concealment of her figure that the tunic would provide.

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The Talking Sword – Sword of Justice, post 13

Posted by Andrew Girle on May 23, 2011

“Ah now I understand, that was the famous Soldiers Stamp. Probably more effective if you were wearing thick soled army boots, I might suggest.”

“You might just have a point there.” Lucca gingerly put her foot back down.

“Was that supposed to be some kind of silly joke?” asked the sword sharply.

“A joke? What are you talking about?”

“I’m a sword. Of course I have a point. It largely defines what I am. Without a point I would merely be a fire poker.”

Lucca retrieved the piece of cloth from the ground and wrapped the sword again, taking care to leave the hilt bare. Then without speaking she limped back to her bed in the unmarried women’s long house, where she slept a troubled sleep filled with dreams of revenge and blood.

“Sword?” Dawn’s voice was quiet.

“Yes?”

“For some reason, I think I’ve heard the name Lucca before.”

“Oh? It is hardly common; in fact it was not common even in Roman times.”

“It is strange. It is like I know the name from a dream or something, or I heard it a long time ago.”

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The Talking Sword – Sword of Justice, post 12

Posted by Andrew Girle on May 21, 2011

“Battle practise, commence!” The sword spoke
sharply, it was an order not a suggestion.

With that, Lucca felt herself dragged through slashes
and stabs and recovers, her left hand moving an imaginary shield about.

“Alright, I believe you, I believe you!” gasped
Lucca after a minute of furious swordplay with an imaginary opponent. “I
recognise those moves; they are Roman soldier sword practise!”

“Oh? Where have you seen them before?”

“When I was little, before Auric murdered my father,
the guards at the house used to teach me. They thought it was funny, watching a
little girl waving a kitchen knife around because she couldn’t lift a sword.”

“There is nothing funny about swordplay.”

“I don’t laugh about it anymore, not now that I have
been in battle. You did miss something that they showed me.”

“And what would that be?”

Lucca shoved the sword forward at belly height,
twisted it, then took a pace forward and stamped her feet savagely. She let out
a small cry and lurched sideways, hopping on one foot.

“I must say I cannot imagine how hopping on one leg
would be a fearsome fighting skill.” The sword said. If it had been a person,
their top lip would have been curled in a sneer.

“Ow! I stamped on a rock in the dark; I think I
broke my foot!”

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The Talking Sword – Sword of Justice, post 11

Posted by Andrew Girle on May 16, 2011

***back after a couple of weeks delay, here is the next installment***

“I shay, dooth youth mind thtaking me out of thish cloth?” The voice was muffled.

Feet crunching on the dirt made crisp by the evening frost, Lucca didn’t pause as she lifted the wrapped sword. Carefully she took the corner of the cloth in the tips of her fingers and pulled it aside.

“Thank you. Much better. Can’t see a thing with that over me. Rather disconcerting, although I imagine it would be a nice way to get some peace and quiet if I need a nap.”

“So not only can you talk, you also need to sleep?”

“Actually, I don’t know. Only got created a little while ago, remember? Although there are some things I do know. Fighting, for instance.”

“I hoped you would know about fighting. But tell me, how do you fight? Do you need someone to hold you?”

“So it would appear. If there is a hand on my hilt, I can guide it. Like this…”

The cloth dropped to the ground as Lucca, her hand on the grip of the sword, struck a pose.

“First position,” said the sword, and involuntarily Lucca’s left hand formed a fist at waist level to her front, her sword hand also at waist level but with the sword forwards and a little bit up.

“Battle practise, commence!” The sword spoke sharply, it was an order not a suggestion.

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The Talking Sword – Sword of Justice, post 10

Posted by Andrew Girle on April 25, 2011

“There will be no difficult decisions in bringing Auric to justice, old man. He murdered my father. I will see him pay for that.” She reached forward and took up the sword. The sharkskin of the hilt clung to her palm, and she allowed the weight of the blade to swing back and forth in lazy arcs.

“Not like that! Hard arm, loose wrist! Good grief, don’t you know anything?” A harsh voice echoed though the small hut.

Lucca looked around wildly. The druid had not moved, and it wasn’t his voice. Besides…

It had spoken in perfect Latin.

The druid smiled, his white beard crinkling, “Good luck to you and your new companion on your quest, child.”

Lucca raised the sword. It was the same sword, there seemed nothing different about it. No magical glow or extra inscriptions.

“Don’t you know it is rude to stare?” Again the faultless Latin, only this time Lucca had the feeling that it was the sword that had spoken.

“Did you say that?” Lucca squinted suspiciously.

“Of course I did. Do you see anyone else here?”

“How… but… I didn’t know swords could talk!”

“It’s a big world, lots going on. There are a lot of things you don’t know. You should really try and learn something new every day.”

Lucca narrowed her eyes and tightened her lips to form an intense glare. “My father used to say that.”

“Did he now?” There was a sound like a man nervously clearing his throat followed by, “He sounds like a clever man, your father. Tell me, do you have a plan to bring Auric his justice?”

The druid stood up. “You have much to talk about. I am tired from this task you gave me, and I wish to sleep. Please be so kind as to leave an old man in peace.”

“Yes, yes of course. Thank you for this, I will never forget it!” Lucca wrapped the sword in a length of woollen cloth and walked out into the chill night air.

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