Thursday, December 31, 2015

Review of The Battles of the Coronel and the Falklands 1914 by Geoffrey Bennett

Author:  Geoffrey Bennett.
Title:  The Battles of Coronel and the Falklands 1914.
Publisher:  Pen and Sword Maritime.
Copyright:  1962, 2013.
Pages:  180.
Price:  $19.95 (US).

Overview & Impressions:
This is an updated reprint of the 1962 edition of The Battles of the Coronel and the Falklands 1914.  Geoffrey Bennett talks about about how Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock's squadron was sunk by the brillant Maximilian Graf von Spee at the the battle of Coronel.  The British loss was avenged a month later on December 8, 1914 when von Spee's force was sunk at the battle of the Falklands.

This books is a description of a lost age when commanders still were chivalrous and saluted each other.  The wireless played a significant role in the logistics of the British Grant Fleet.  The Germans had armed their cruisers to be "commerce raiders."  The British responded in kind by putting together task-forces to hunt them down.  Von Spee's force traveled across the South Pacific to meet the British armored cruiser fleet protecting South American waters.

Once the Admiralty lost that force, they put together another task-force made up of several battle-cruisers and sent them to the Falklands to intercept the Germans.  The rest is history.  Recommended reading on the 100th anniversary of the Great War.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Late December 2015 reading...

I'm working on The Battles of the Coronels and the Falklands, 1914 by Geoffrey Bennett.  It's a 2008 reprint of a book published in 1962.  I'm at page 101.  There are only 160 pages total.  I should have it done by the end of the week.  I'll do a full blog review when I'm done.

I also gave up reading Britain's Forgotten Wars:  19th Century Colonial Campaigns.  A friend loaned me the book and I don't have enough time to even do it justice.  I read Sri Lanka, 1804-1805; the Falklands, 1833; and the Maori Wars 1840s before stopping.  It's interesting.  Some of which I already read in Queen Victoria's Little Wars by Bryon Farwell.  I could spend the rest of my life reading about Victorian colonial campaigns, lol.

Another book I started this past week was Alien vs. Alien by Gini Koch.  She writes sci-fi parodies.  They're campy, fun, and over the top.  I'm only 100 pages in a book that about 486 pages long.  I don't know when I'll finish it up.  Hopefully by the middle of February 2016.  I'll have another review when I'm done with it...


Friday, December 18, 2015

Review of the The Hunt Begins by Robert Jordan

Author:  Robert Jordan.
Title:  The Hunt Begins:  Part One of The Great Hunt:  Book Two of The Wheel of Time.
Publisher:  Starscape.
Copyright:  2004.
Pages:  397.
Price:  $5.99.

Overview and Impressions:
I bought this book at an used book store.  I didn't realize it was a children's book until I got it home.  Robert Jordan's books are usually twice as long as this one.  It's the second one in the Wheel of Time series.  It's set like many high fantasy novels with two competing powers and an apocalyptic prophecy.

Magic is done by channeling.  The more a person can channel, the more powerful become.  The Dragon is the messiah who is reborn in times of strife to defeat the Dark Lord, a being of supreme evil.  Several millennia have passed since their first battle.  Rand, a shepherd, is the Dragon.  But he doesn't want to be a messiah or king.  He goes on a quest for a magical horn in order to cure a friend of a cursed dagger.  There's a sisterhood of witches who are good.  But the Dark Lord has corrupted even them.

Supposedly, this is the final age in the Wheel of Time.  And Rand needs to prove his mettle in order to survive all the magic and treachery he faces.  Jordan's writing style is solid.  I don't think I could have stomached through all the Wheel of Time novels he'd written.  Recommended.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Review of Latin America's Wars, Volumes I & II

Author:  Robert L. Scheina.
Title:  Latin America's Wars, Volume I:  The Age of the Caudillo, 1791-1899.
Publisher:  Brassey, Inc.
Copyright:  2003.
Pages:  569.
Price:  $29.95 (US).

Author:  Robert L. Scheina.
Title:  Latin America's Wars, Volume II:  The Age of the Professional Soldier, 1900-2001.
Publisher:  Brassey, Inc.
Copyright:  2003.
Pages:  530. 
Price:  $29.95 (US).

Latin America's Wars, Volumes I & II present a comprehensive history of the regions conflicts from 1791 to 2001.  I read sections or particular chapters starting with slave rebellions in Haiti to the Mexican Adventure, 1861-1867; the War of the Triple Alliance, 1864-1870; the Great Pacific War, 1879-1883, and the Spanish-American War, 1898 in Volume 1.  I also read the Chaco War 1932-1935 and Cuba interventions in Africa during the Cold War. 

There is a wealth of other conflicts in English concerning other conflicts throughout the Western hemisphere.  Recommended reading concerning the military history of Latin America.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Review of "Beyond the Reach of Empire" by Colonel Mike Snook

Author:  Colonel Mike Snook.
Title:  Beyond the Reach of Empire:  Wolseley's Failed Campaign to Save Gordon and Khartoum.
Publisher:  Frontline Books.
Copyright:  2013.
Pages:  578.
Price:  35.00 British Pound Sterling.

Overview and Impressions:
I finished Beyond the Reach of Empire:  Wolseley's Failed Campaign to Save Gordon and Khartoum by Colonel Mike Snook this morning.  It's an indictment of General Sir Garnet Wolseley.  The real blame lies with Prime Minister Gladstone wanting Egypt to abandon the Sudan.  His choice of sending General Charles "Chinese" Gordon was a mistake.  Wolseley's plans to use the Camel Corps and whalers were also another.  Starting in January 1885, instead of November 1884 was another.  Sending too few men, etc....

Col. Snook is an expert on the Battles of Abu Klea and Abu Kru.  He has a wonderful eye for tactical details.  He gives an another idea for a rescue plan that reaches Gordon in time and comes up with some practical possibilities.  However, I think the Sudan 1884-1885 ranks up with colonial disasters like Adowa given the final outcomes.  Recommended.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Review of The World of Tiers, Volume I by Philip Jose Farmer

Author:  Philip Jose Farmer
Title:  The World of Tiers, Volume I.
Publisher:  Nelson Doubleday, Inc.
Copyright:  1965, 1966.
Pages:  312.

Overview and Impressions:

I found this book at a used bookstore.  Its a collection of novellas.   The first one is called The Maker of Universes.  It's about a Lord, a godlike creator of private universes.  The main character, Robert Wolff, turns out to be a Lord who was exiled to Earth.  He regains his memory and seeks revenge against an Lord who took over one his private worlds with help from some of the locals who have been turned into animal-experiments.  The second novellas is called The Gates of Creation.  Wolff is forced to confront his father and renegade sister who want to kill him.  They've captured Chryseis, Wolff's lover, and set a trap for him on a water world in his father's universe.  How Wolff rescues Chryseis is the tale of the second story.

Farmer's writing held my interest.  I hadn't read any of his work in a long time.  I wanted to see what it was like.  It's aged well in the fifty years in which it was written.  Recommended.

More downsizing...

I decided to get rid of the 28mm RAFM Canadians I'd acquired from Sapper Joe.  I don't have the room to store them.  Space is now at a premium with the impending remodeling of the condo.  Still, I have an large unpainted pile of lead.  Not as large as Sapper Joe's or Warbeads' pile.  But, it's large enough.

Assuming I start painting in March 2016 again, here is what I have facing me...

1)  30mm Warmachine Steelhead Company mercenaries faction.

2)  30mm Warmachine Rhulic Dwarf mercenaries faction.

3)  15mm SYW Reichsarmee infantry brigade.

4)  15mm SYW Saxons infantry and cavalry brigades.

5)  28mm Masai warriors.

6)  28mm Colonial German infantry.

7)  28mm Sudanese Ansar army.

8)  28mm Viet Cong, US Vietnam Marines, and ARVN infantry.

9)  28mm Spanish-American War US & Spanish armies.

10)  28mm Mexican Adventure figures.

11)  18mm SYW Prussian army.

I'll see how far I manage to paint this coming year.  It will definitely be a challenge, lmao...

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

2015, where has this year gone???

I look back to 2015.  And I wonder, where has this year gone???

Last year, I was looking at my father's impending death.  Now, most of the issue resulting from it have been settled.  Things will get done around the condo next month.  I should be able start painting by March 2016.  While my painting has been shelved, I've been writing.  But my wargaming collection has taken a weird turn.

 I got rid of the following:

1)  30mm WHGB GW High Elves.
2)  28mm Trojan and Greek Bronze Age armies.
3)  28mm ECW Royalist and Parliamentarian armies.
4)  28mm Modern Afghanistan.

I added on the following:

1)  28mm Spanish-American War, 1898.
2)  28mm Riel Rebellion 1885.
3)  28mm Mexican Adventure, 1862-1867.

I really want to get back and paint several times a week.  I miss that.

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.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Review of Vicky Peterwald: Target by Mike Shepherd

Author:  Mike Shepherd.
Title:  Vicky Peterwald:  Target.
Publisher:  Ace Books.
Copyright:  2014.
Pages:  326.
Price:  $7.99 (US).

Overview and Impressions:
Vicky Peterwald:  Target is the first book in a new series by Mike Shepherd, author of Kris Longknife series and Jump universe.  Lt. Vicky Peterwald is the daughter of the Emperor of the Greenfield Empire.  Her life becomes expendable when her younger brother is killed.  Vicky's pregnant step-mother wants her dead.  Vicky Peterwald dodges numerous assassination attempts as she travels back to the Imperial palace.  She pleads with her naval superiors to save her life by saying she'll be their eyes and ears.  After two more assassination attempts, Vicky flees her home world for the safety of St. Petersburg, an out of the way star system in the Greenfield Empire.

Overall, Vicky Peterwald:  Target was a fast and enjoyable read.  Shepherd's writing flows at an energetic pace and there's plenty of action for a military sci-fi junky.  Recommend.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Late October 2015 reading...

I've been sidetracked the past two weeks.  I haven't gotten the reading I hoped to get done.  I'm only a third of the way through Vicky Peterwald:  Target.

I did finish another chapter this afternoon in "Beyond the Reach of Empire:  Wolseley's Failed Campaign to Save Gordon & Khartoum."  I'm now at page 170.  It doesn't paint a flattering picture of Sir Garnet.  I'd love to say something stupid in a fake English accent to liven thing up.  Alas, I won't.  I finished the chapter with the Camel Corps marching across the desert trying to reach Gordon in Khartoum.  It's like watching Titanic.  You know how it'll end.  However, you keep trudging through in the hopes of learning something new.  I've learned something new all right.  Never underestimate the stupidity of Victorian imperialism.  Or was that the Italians at Adowa?

Anyway, this one will take a while to finish.  I'll write a formal review when I'm done reading it...

WIP, 15mm SYW Saxon infantry brigade, 29OCT15

Here's a WIP, 15mm SYW Saxon infantry brigade I started today on my work table:

                                          15mm SYW Saxon infantry brigade and mounted command.

28mm Darkest Africa Game, 09OCT15

Here are photos from a 28mm Darkest Africa Game, 09OCT15.  It pitted Congolese natives vs. Arab slavers.  I ran the natives and lost playing a modified The Sword in Africa rules with Don Cox.

                                          28mm Arab Slaver army.

                                          28mm Congolese native tribe with a witch doctor.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Mid October reading...

I started Vicky Peterwald:  Target yesterday by Mike Shepherd.  It's set in his Jump universe.  On the plus side, it reads fast.  I'd like to devote more time to reading it.  The protagonist is an Imperial Duchess who is also a Lieutenant in the Greenfield navy.  I'm only on page 68.  I'll write a formal review when I'm done reading it.

I'm also reading "Beyond the Reach of Empire:  Wolseley's Failed Campaign to Save Gordon and Khartoum" by Colonel Mike Snook.  I'm at page 145.  This will be slower reading than the lighter military sci-fi book.  Problem is I'm only reading this book once a week.  The military sci-fi I read two or three times a week.

I like Colonel Mike Snook's premise that Wolseley failed to rescue Gordon and then deflected any criticism of his Sudanese campaign in order to save his reputation.  I'm planning on eventually painting up a 28mm Sudanese Ansar army.  This is getting me in the mood to do it.  However, I won't be done with this book for months!  When I do, I'll also have a formal review posted on my blog...

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Early/mid October reading...

When I haven't been assembling 28mm Masai warriors and 28mm Colonial German regulars, I've been hunting down books and putting databases of place to submit short stories/novellas/poetry.

I wasted an afternoon today looking up Writers Market 2016 at the local library branch.  There aren't that many places to submit short stories for fantasy and science fiction.  I only came up with one lead via writers market.  I submitted a short story for the third time.  I have no idea what I'll do with it if it doesn't get accepted someplace.  I'm running out of places to submit!

I tried writing short stories.  I'm short stories wind up becoming longer works.  I vowed not to write anymore.  I'm focused on writing two new manuscripts.  The first rough draft should be done by the end of June 2016.  I'll get the second novel done next year...

I'm looking at not painting for another 8-12 weeks.  Ugh.  I have too much to do.  I should be done with basing all the 28mm Masai by the middle of next week.  A warmachine order came Friday morning.  I got the last of my 30mm Rhulic Dwarf units and paint.  They are the next project in my painting queue once I get the 28mm Darkest Africa figures completed this winter.

I also rummaged around for reading material.  I talked to some friends about getting Horus Heresy No.4:  Flight of the Eisenstein and Horus Heresy No. 9:  Mechanicum.  The consensus was both of those books were good reads.  I also have a bunch of Ebooks to buy for my Nook in the following months.  However, Orion and King Arthur and Alien vs. Alien came in the mail this week, too.  It was cheaper to get the paperbacks than pay for the Ebooks.  Go figure..

Reading-wise, I read a chapter more in Beyond the Reach of Empire:  Wolseley's Failed Campaign to Save Gordon and Khartoum.  I'm also starting Mike Shepherd's Vicky Peterwald:  Target tomorrow.  Reviews will be posted when I get done with the books...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

WIP, 28mm Masai Warriors and 28mm Colonial German Seebattalion infantry

Here are photos of some WIP, 28mm Masai Warriors from Foundry and 28mm Colonial German Seebattalion infantry from Old Glory Miniatures:

                                          28mm German Seebattalion infantry from Old Glory.

                                          28mm Masai Warriors from Wargames Foundry.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Review of Hammer's Slammers: At Any Price by David Drake

Author:  David Drake.
Title:  Hammer's Slammers - At Any Price.
Publisher:  Baen Books.
Copyright:  1985.
Pages:  288.
Price:  $3.50 (US - OOP).

Overview and Impressions: 
I'd read David Drake about fifteen or twenty years ago with his Ranks of Bronze science-fiction novel about Romans legionnaires in space.  Since then, I hadn't touched anything by him.  I finished up Hammer's Slammers:  At Any Price tonight.  It was a collection of short stories about the men of Colonel Hammer's mercenaries.

Hammer's Slammers are mechanized grav tank/APC units.  Most of At Any Price takes place on the world of Oltenia.  It's a planet inhabited by humans and Molts, a race of teleporting reptiles.  The lizards are at war with the humans who settled the planet three centuries ago.  Hammer's Slammers have been hired to help win the war against the Molts.  An Oltenian general decides to make peace in order to end the bloodshed.  He uses Hammer's men as a way to make the lizards want to end the conflict.

There are two other short stories about guerrilla pacification.  I assume Drake based this on his Vietnam experiences.  He briefly talks about that at the end of At Any Price.  One story is set on a tropical world.  Another is on an Arabic world with a former Hammer's Slammer veteran as a local.

Being military science-fiction, there's lots action and violence.  Drake makes no bones about not making carnage and violence chic or bloodless.  I like that in his writing.  However, I find the reliance on mechanized forces a little disconcerting.  I would have liked more infantry/or combined arms action.  I guess I'm believer in having ground-pounders holding a piece of real-estate at the end of the day.

However, I enjoyed Hammer's Slammer:  At Any Price.  Recommended military sci-fi.    

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Review of The Unforgiven by Gav Thorpe

Author:  Gav Thorpe.
Title:  The Unforgiven:  Book Three in the Legacy of Caliban.
Publisher:  The Black Library.
Copyright:  2015.
Pages:  446.
Price:  $14.00 (US).

Overview and Impressions:
I'm disappointed in the ending of The Unforgiven by Gav Thorpe.  It's as if someone from GW's corporate office told Gav Thorpe to write the ending so as to keep the storyline of the WH40K universe intact.  I'd enjoyed reading this novel until the last twenty pages.  Then everything went to hell.  I feel like I've been cheated for all the time I put in reading Ravenwing and Master of Sanctity.

Getting to the plot, the Inner Circle of the Dark Angels deal with Cypher, who's come to supposedly save the chapter from a Nurgle led daemon plot sponsored by Typhus, leader of the Death Guard chaos marines.  There's double dealing, treachery, and a chaos daemon located in the Rock, the asteroid that serves as the Dark Angels' HQ.  It seem the daemon can reverse time and prevent Lion El Johnson from being killed.  Typhus wants the daemon for himself.

The daemon is one huge macguffin.  It opens up the warp from 10,000 years ago to the present 41st millenium.  Things go haywire from there.  Supreme Grand Master Azrael has the creature send everyone back their own time frames, including Typhus & his Nurgle plague Marines.  But the Dark Angels are responsible for the destruction of their homeworld.  It's the old time traveler argument of going back and becoming your own granddad.  Ugh.  I feel ripped off.

This will be my last WH40K battle-force space marine novel for sometime...

Read more The Unforgiven by Gav Thorpe tonight...

I read more of The Unforgiven by Gav Thorpe tonight.  I'm on page 250....

Still reading The Unforgiven by Gav Thorpe

I read to page 213 today in Gav Thorpe's The Unforgiven.  I'd like to be at page 250 by the end of tomorrow evening.  And I want to be done with the book by the end of next weekend.  I'll see how far I get.  I'm still not far long enough to write a proper review.  The Unforgiven has been enjoyable.  But it's pure WH40K popcorn fare...

I started Beyond the Reach of Empire:  Wolseley's Failed Campaign to Save Gordon and Khartoum by Colonel Mike Snook.  This is a serious books for those interested in the 19th century Sudan campaign.  Unfortunately, I'm able to devote one day (Thursday) to reading it.  I didn't get far (about 30 pages). The book is over 500 pages long.

I'm revised my reading.  Monday and Tuesday are devoted to reading manuscripts from a local writing group.  Thursday is my nonfiction reading.  The weekends are devoted to reading fiction.  I'll see how this goes.  A disciplined approach to reading is the only way I'll catch up on my reading piles.  I'm probably looking at least 25 books (both hardcopies and ebooks).  I'd like to be able to done with everything in 18-20 months.  I'd go 24 months if I'm only reading 100 pages/per weekend of fiction.  It should probably be about 150 pages.

I spend too much time wasting time on television, anyway.  I'm try to just watch what I record on a DVR.  Or watch watch something live if I'm done with my reading for a particular afternoon.  That's what happened today...

Eventually, the reading pile will be under control and I won't have to worry about it.  LOL.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Reading The Unforgiven by Gav Thorpe

I'm at page 97 of The Unforgiven by Gav Thorpe.  It's the third book in the Legacy of Caliban Trilogy.  It opened with the surrender of Cypher.  The chapters have skipped around with different battles happening on the planet of Tharsis.  Nurgle plague marines are trying to invade the planet along with Chaos cultists.  I'd like to get further.  But I'm prepared to stop there for now.  I'll write a real review when I finally get done with the book.  That will be sometime in October 2015...

Friday, September 18, 2015

New reading material...

I started The Unforgiven this week.  It's the third novel in the Legacy of Caliban Trilogy.  I also began reading Colonel Mike Snook's Beyond the Reach of Empire.  It's about Wolseley's failed attempt to rescue General Charles Gordon and Khartoum from the Mahdi's minions.  It's about 500 pages.  It's going to take me awhile to read both of these manuscripts.  I'll have reviews when I'm done with them...

Packed up the painting table for several months...

I'm done moving all my stuff to my parent's house.  It took several weeks.  However, I won't be able to paint until December 2015 because of all the impending construction that will be happen at the condo.  I had to significantly downsize my figure collection.

I got rid of the following stuff:

1)  28mm Bronze-age Greek and Trojan armies for WAB 1.5 (unpainted).

2)  28mm Modern Afghanistan collection (painted).

3)  30mm WHFB High Elf army (painted).

4)  28mm Viking army (partially painted).

5)  28mm English Civil War armies (painted).

Here is what I kept.  Unfortunately, the storage area in the basement is full...

1)  28mm Japanese Samurai (painted).

2)  28mm Chosun Koreans (painted).

3)  28mm Mongols (painted).

4)  28mm 1882 British (painted).

5)  28mm 1882 Egyptians (painted).

6)  28mm 1879 Zulu army (painted).

7)  28mm 1881 Boers (painted).

8)  28mm Congolese natives (painted).

9)  28mm Arab slavers (painted).

10)  28mm Belgian Force Publique (painted).

11)  28mm 1890s British infantry (painted).

12)  28mm German colonial troops (painted).

13)  30mm WH40K Dark Angel Deathwing Terminators (painted).

14)  30mm WH40K Blood Angels (painted).

15)  30mm WH40K Khorne World Eater Chaos Marines (painted).

16)  30mm Warmachine Protectorate of Menoth army (painted).

17)  30mm Warmachine Steelhead Company mercenaries (NIB).

18)  30mm Warmachine Rhulic Dwarves (NIB).

19)  28mm Masai Warriors (unpainted).

20)  28mm German Colonial Marines (unpainted).

21)  28mm Sudanese Mahdist army (unpainted).

22)  28mm Vietnam US Marine infantry platoon (unpainted).

23)  28mm Vietnam ARVN mechanized infantry platoon (unpainted).

24)  28mm Viet Cong company (unpainted).

25)  18mm SYW Austrians (painted).

26)  18mm SYW French (painted).

27)  18mm SYW British (painted).

28)  18mm SYW Hanoverians (painted).

29)  18mm SYW Hessians (painted).

30)  18mm SYW Saxons (painted).

31)  18mm SYW Reichsarmee (partially painted).

This list doesn't include the 18mm SYW Prussian and 18mm SYW Swedes I'd like to get to round out my 18mm SYW armies.  Hauling all the unpainted lead in individual Rubbermaid containers up and down stairs nearly killed me.  I have enough stuff to keep me going for years.  Given enough time, I should get everything done.  Assuming I don't add to my lead pile!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

More moving and unpacking...

My roommate and I moved my computer desk and bookcases this afternoon to my parent's condo.  I spent the evening unpacking books and rearranging my downstairs office.  I set up my laptop and printer before organizing the books, CDs, and DVDs.  I also backed up files on my old computer and removed files from mom's desktop computer.  The only thing left is to put Norton 360 on my machine and hook it up to the local wifi server this weekend.  I'll then no longer use my mom's machine...

I didn't realize how many books I had until I unpacked everything.  I have over 9 bookshelves worth of books.  That doesn't include the nick-knacks from my vacations to Europe and South Africa.  Being anal retentive, I organized all my books by subject and then by author on my bookshelves.  I still have too many books.  They're heavy, lol. 

Most of my books are military history.  One small book shelf contains books on the Vietnam War and Indochina.  Another book shelf is Battery Press reprints of Victorian military campaigns and my collection of Wargames Illustrated.  One bookshelf has Ospreys, while another has all my house-rules in three ring binders.  Only one bookshelf is dedicated to speculative fiction and fantasy novels. 

If one looked at my private library, one would come away with the impression I mainly read military history.  Even that is an eclectic mix.  I have books on Iraq, Afghanistan, and Chechnya to the Franco-Prussian War, the World Wars, and Seven Years War, and different 19th century colonial military campaigns.  There are also books on ancient Egypt and feudal Japan.  That doesn't include my growing list of ebooks...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Review of Master of Sanctity by Gav Thorpe

Author:  Gav Thorpe
Title:  Master of Sanctity - Book Two in the Legacy of Caliban Trilogy.
Publisher:  The Black Library.
Copyright:  2014.
Pages:  412.
Price:  $14.00 (US).

Overview and Impressions:

Master of Sanctity is the second book in the Legacy of Caliban Trilogy.  It's concerned with the Dark Angels and their hunt for the Fallen, traitor space marines who betrayer their primarch, Lion el Johnson, some ten thousand years ago when they destroyed Caliban, the Dark Angels' home world.

The novel features the 1st and 2nd companies of Dark Angels, namely, the Deathwing Terminators and the Ravenwing bike squadrons.  They are charged with capturing the Fallen.  Sapphon, the chapter's Master of Sanctity, deals with one of the Fallen, Astelan, in order to capture their leader, Cypher.  The Hunt goes from Piscina to the Nurgle daemon infested world of Ulthor to Imperial world of Tharsis where the Fallen are finally cornered when they lead an invasion of the planet against the Dark Angels.

Though this is a Dark Angel battle book, I found the number of Dark Angels involved in the fighting too Hollywood for my tastes.  But I lose with my Deathwing Terminators because of my propensity rolling "1s."  I shouldn't let my years of playing WH40K interfere with my enjoyment reading Gav Thorpe's novels.  This one was better than Ravenwing, which featured a bike attack of a space fortress!  The combined actions of Deathwing and Ravenwing companies worked well in Master of Sanctity

Recommended for Dark Angel fans.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Currenting reading...

I'm reading Master of Sanctity by Gav Thorpe.  It's the second book in The Legacy of Caliban Trilogy.  I'm at page 157.  I'll have a complete review when I get done with the book.  I hope to have read by the end of September 2015.  I also have The Unforgiven to read, too.  That's the third book in the series.

For those interested, it's a WH40K novel about the Dark Angels and their quest to track down Cypher, leader of the Fallen, who are responsible for the destruction of the Dark Angel's home world and the death of the chapter's primarch, Lion el Johnson.  My brother calls it wargaming ghetto porn.  I don't care.  I liked the first novel.  I'm enjoying the second novel.  So long as you know it's a release from The Black Library, it's simple popcorn fair.  The publishing arm of Games Workshop has attracted a few decent British authors like James Swallow.  Some of the books are awful like Legion of the Damned.  You have to find an author you like and read their works.  That way, you'll enjoy what you read.  That's what I've found with the WH40K novels I buy...  

I also went shopping for birthday and Xmas presents at a used bookstore today.  I found some buys.  I got my brother Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi.  He enjoyed Old Man's War (I didn't).  I also got him The Long Night by Poul Anderson and The Winds of Altair.  I got another friend The Last Chancers by Gav Thorpe.  It's a collection of WH40K shorts about Colonel Shaefer's "Last Chancers" Penal squads.  I added to my reading pile (ugh).  I bought a spin-off on Mike Shepherd's Chris Longknife series called Vicky Peterwald:  Target.  I also got a "Hammer's Slammers" novel by David Drake.  That's the problem with going to a bookstore, you'll wind up buying stuff for yourself.

Moving and other projects...

I've spent the past couple of weeks packing and getting ready to move.  All the books I had to give away are gone.  I'll spend this weekend and part of next week finishing my moving.  It's been gradual.

However, my painting table will the last thing to go.  I'm at my old place working a Warmachine Paladin of the Wall figure with some base coats.  I tried stripping a Warmachine Knight Errant squad with Pinesol.  I've moved on to Simple Green.  I'll see if that works.  If not, I don't know what to do.  I want the figures stripped.  But I don't want to kill myself.  No longer being an analytic chemist means I don't have access to organic solvents that would easily strip paint.

That's okay.  Otherwise, I'll have to give up trying.  I also have a 18mm fantasy orc football to finish for Mute Bystander.  I've had it for over 2 months.  Real life and my father's death got in the way of my painting.  I recently finished painting a 18mm SYW Reichsarmee infantry brigade.  I have another 18mm SYW Reichsarmee to prime and paint, also.  Then, there's the six month backlog of Warmachine Mercenary figures to assemble, prime, and paint, too, lol.

However, I did finish a novella about the Mongol invasion of Russia in 1223.  I wanted a novel.  I got a novella.  That's how most of my recent works have turned out.  I started writing it back in November 2014.  I got side tracked when I spent three months editing my first novel.  It's now on its third draft.  I then went back to writing the Mongol invasion novella.  I tried writing 1,000-1,250 words a week.  Steve King recommended writing a 2,000-3,000 words a day for an aspiring writer!

Again, life got in the way.  I took care of my dying father and ran errands for my parents.  It consumed much of my time.  I finished the Mongol novella last week.  I went ahead and line edited and revised the rough draft.  I'll bring it a local writers group for reading and critique later.  Have worked critiqued is my main stumbling block.  I can only have about 2,000 words read and critiqued each week.  It's good to have someone else give you feedback on your work.  I found it has been critical to my growth as a writer.

Given the fact I can only have so much critiqued, it governs what I can revise and edit each week.  Once I've have the individual critiques back, I edit and revise that particular section electronically.  Once I have a work critiqued, I then go back and edit it as a whole.  But I allow time between the completion of a critiqued work and the editing/revising of a particular piece.

My apologies for the boring litany of a writer, but it's whole I spend a good part of my time.  There's also keeping track of queries and rejections.  I have a pile of them.  A good piece of advice from a profession writer friend of mine was keep your day job.  Few make money being a published author.  No matter what someone may tell you...

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Free books to a good home...

I have the following books to give away to a good home.  First come, first serve.  You pay shipping.  I'll ship worldwide.  I take PayPal to reimburse the cost of postage.  I'll also ship the most economical way.  I have the following books to give away:

K-19:  The Widowmaker.
Yanks by John Eisenhower.
Not a Good Day to Die:  The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda by Sean Naylor.
A Distant Challenge:  US Infantrymen in Vietnam, 1967-1972.
HP Lovecraft's Dream Cycle:  Tales of Terror and Tales of Death.
The Arab-Israeli Wars by Chaim Herzog.

If interested in the books, then please email me at blakewoodwalker(at)gmail(dot)com

Be warned, I'm in the process of moving.  I won't be able to get the local post-office until later this week for estimates on postage.  Thanks.

Blake Walker

Saturday, August 29, 2015

End of August Blues...

My painting will be down for at least a month starting today.  I'm in the process of moving.  I finished my 15mm SYW Reichsarmee infantry brigade 1.  The figures' bases need to be flocked.  I need to pack up my painting supplies and paint table.  I've moved all of my painted 28mm historical figures to my mom's condo.  The rest of the figures are in the basement.  I have five boxes of unpainted figures needing to be moved.

I have to wait until the basement carpeting is cleaned and new carpeting is installed upstairs.  That could be another month.  That means I won't be able to paint until October 2015 at the earliest.

Joy of joys...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Review of The Wars of Atlantis by Phil Masters

Author:  Phil Masters
Title:  Osprey Dark Series No. 6:  The Wars of Atlantis.
Publisher:  Osprey Publishing.
Copyright:  2015.
Pages:  84.
Price:  $10.49 (US, ebook).

Overview and Impressions:
This is a fantasy history of the wars of Atlantis.  It involves Greek gods, Amazons, and Plato's Legend of Atlantis.  Phil Masters wrote an entertaining history.  Was there an actual Atlantis?  Who knows. 

I wrote a short story based on Plato's story.  Still, this Osprey is a work of fiction.  Edgar Casey's work has more truth to it than this ebook, lol.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Review of Troy: Last War of the Heroic Age by Si Sheppard

Author:  Si Sheppard.
Title:  Troy:  Last War of the Heroic Age.
Publisher:  Osprey Publishing.
Pages:  77.
Price:  $11.49 (ebook).

Overview and Impressions:
Troy:  Last War of the Heroic Age is a summary of Homer's Iliad.  It covers the mythology and history of the Trojan War.  Though I recommend Feagles' Iliad and Odyssey translations.  This Osprey is a good introduction to the subject.

However, I'm a student of classic antiquity.  I already knew the story behind the Trojan War.  If you want more info, read Wood's In Search of the Trojan War or Barry Strauss's The Trojan War:  A New History.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Review of Unbreakable: Book One in the Chronicles of Promise Paen by W.C. Bauer

Author:  W.C. Bauer.
Title:  Unbreakable:  Book One in the Chronicles of Promise Paen.
Publisher:  TOR.
Copyright:  2014.
Pages:  368.
Price:  $25.99 (US).

Overview and Impressions:

I enjoyed this book.  However, it took me two months to finish it!  The chapters were short and read fast.  My father's illness and death got in the way of me completing. 

Unbreakable is military sci-fi about the adventures of Lt. Promise Paen.  She's from a frontier world called Montana in the Republic of Aligned Worlds.  It's several centuries in the future and Terra no longer exists.  RAW is trying to defend its turf from the Lusitanian Empire, who'd like Montana for themselves. 

Unbreakable spends the first half building up to the conflict Lt. Promise Paen's mechanized marines the Lusitanian baddies.  Once things get moving, the action doesn't let up until the very end.  I enjoyed reading about Promise Paen and her marines.  His writing is solid.  But the technical details don't gloss over the human element.  This is a different story about space marines in their power armor.  It's worth finding online or at your local book store. 

Definitely recommended.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Some downsizing for an impending move...

My father died in late July 2015 from stomach cancer.  It was expected.  He'd been in hospice for over seven months.  I've been dealing with his funeral and family related stuff since then.

One thing I've haven't been able to do is paint on a regular basis.  I bought some new 28mm figures from Sapper Joe.  It was an old 28mm Spanish-American War project he'd decided to get rid.  I went ahead and bought an army of 28mm Old Glory Span-Am Americans.  I decide to complete things this month and get some more 28mm Old Glory Span-Am Spanish infantry, artillery, and command.

In desperation, I wrote a new TS&TF variant for the Spanish-American War called Yellow Journalism.  It needs to be play tested.  I also picked up some 25mm Napoleonics and 28mm Weird WWII figures from Sapper Joe.  I have no idea what I'll use them for.  They'll probably go into my trade pile of figures.  Unless I decide to put a small Sharpe's Practice game together...

Now that my father died, I'll be moving back to my parent's house to help take care of my mom.  I looked at my current collection of wargaming figures.  My collection has gotten out of hand.  I don't have enough space in the place I'll be moving to store all my figures cases.  So I started downsizing...

The painted 28mm ECW armies went.  My unpainted 28mm Trojan War armies also went to my friend Don Cox.  He got new armies, I got his remaining 15mm SYW Austrians.  He got the better deal.  But that's OK.  Don isn't getting my 28mm Spanish-American armies.  Once he saw the figures, Don started bugging me for them.

The PROBLEM is Don already has two COMPLETE 28mm Spanish-American War armies NIB that will never see the day of light.  I was lucky to get his remaining 15mm SYW figures from his basement of death.  I'm still waiting for him to find some 28mm Britannia British Colonial units he swears are still in his basement.  Don doesn't let anyone go into his house.  I joke about his kids having the mother of all estate sales when my friend finally dies.  It's not so much his figure collection, which is about 60,000 figures, it's the 500,00 pieces of LEGO that's in his house that his LEGO club will be fighting over, ugh...

My goal isn't to wind up like Don.  I want room to move where I live and work.  Hence, me getting rid of some of my projects.  I didn't like getting rid of them.  But I don't have the room to store all my stuff!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

WIP, 01AUG15, 15mm SYW Reichsarmee Dragoons

Here are some photos of WIP, 01AUG15, 15mm SYW Reichsarmee Dragoons:

                                          WIP, 01AUG15, 15mm SYW Reichsarmee Dragoons

                                          WIP, 01AUG15, 15mm SYW Reichsarmee Dragoons

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lament on the book pile...

I thought I'd post something on my blog before the end of July 2015.  I haven't had a chance to read.  I tried reading at a doctor's office today waiting for my mom.  I only got seven pages read before I gave up.  I'm still reading Unbreakable:  The Chronicles of Promise Paen.  I'm only on Page 93.  There are 330 pages total.  I'd like to make a dent in it this weekend.  I'll see if I can.

Unfortunately, I've added to my book pile.  I now have the following hard copies to read:

Kill Team by Gav Thorpe
Master of Sanctity by Gav Thorpe
The Unforgiven by Gav ThorpeT
The Sharp End by David Drake
Beyond The Reach of Empire by Colonel Mike Snook
Two H.P. Lovecraft anthologies of his short stories

Now for ebooks:

Mekong First Light
Germany Ascendant, 1915
The Lost Stars:  Imperfect Sword by Jack Campbell
Proxima by Stephen Baxter
Swords of Good Men
Age of Shiva
Such Men as These
The Last Stand of Fox Company
Memory of Water
Twilight of the Hellenistic World
The Protectors:  A Thriller by Trey Dowling
Eden to Armageddon
Troy:  Last War of the Heroic Age

I have no idea when I'll get around to reading my electronic books.  Maybe sometime next year...  Ugh!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Saturday night painting....

I got home this afternoon.  I've been painting some 15mm SYW Reichsarmee imperial dragoons.  This is the first painting I've done in a week.  I've missed it.  I'll get back to more painting in the coming days.

Between my father's death and funeral arrangements, I did the following:

1)  Write a 28mm TS&TF variant for the Spanish-American War of 1898.

2)  Read a couple more chapters of Unbreakable:  The Chronicles of Promise Paen.

3)  Sell off excess 28mm figures because of an impending move in the near future.

4)  Deal with a friend the 28mm figures he wanted sell off.

Yellow Journalism:  The Spanish-American War, 1898 is another The Sword and The Flame variant for the Cuban theater.  I asked about possible 28mm rules for Span-Am War and got mixed replies.  So I joggled the minds of the local wargaming experts on the subject and then modified my own TS&TF variants for the American, Cuban, and Spanish armies.  I admit my ignorance on the conflict.  But my rule variants need to be play tested and looked at by others before I upload it to TS&TF Yahoo Users Group....

I looked forward to reading Unbreakable.  It's military sci-fi about a woman space marine by a new author named Bauer.  Fate intervened every time I went to read it .  I can read only get a chapter or two at a time.  So I've had this book for over a month and only have 76 pages read so far...

I got rid of my 28mm ECW, 28mm Trojan War, and 28mm Modern Afghanistan.  I'll be moving to a new place in three months.  I'll have less space to store my figures.  I've accumulated too many figures.  I had to cut back for the sake of space.  I made a list of what I wanted to keep.  It came down to my 28mm Samurai, 28mm Koreans, 28mm Mongols, 28mm 1882 British, 25mm 1890s British, 28mm Colonial Germans, 28mm Colonial Belgians, 28mm 1882 Egyptians, 28mm Mahdist Ansar, 28mm 1880s Boers, 28mm Zulus, 28mm Congolese natives, 28mm Congo Arabs, 28mm Masai, 28mm Viet Cong, 28mm ARNV, 28mm Vietnam USMC, 30mm Warmachine, 30mm WH40K, and 15mm SYW.  I probably still have too much...  

A local friend is liquidating part of his wargaming collection.  He had some 28mm OG Spanish-American War Americans for sale.  I looked at what he had for sale in 28mm and contacted him.  I then got motivated to write a 28mm Spanish-American War rules variant for TS&TF.  Looks like I'll eventually get around to painting 28mm Span-Am armies.  After I get done with my 15mm SYW Reichsarmee, 15mm SYW Saxons, 18mm SYW Swedes, 18mm SYW Prussians, 30mm Warmachine Steelhead Company Mercenaries, 30mm Warmachine Rhulic Mercenary army, 28mm Mahdist Ansar, 28mm Colonial Germans, 28mm Masai, 28mm Viet Cong, 28mm ARVN, and 28mm Vietnam US Marines...


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Catching up on painting....

I spent today doing laundry and finishing a WH40K Bane Blade.  I took the GW vehicles outside to be sealed.  I'll have photos when everything is done.  Not much else is going on.  I made some space in the basement when I submitted some things for a local gaming auction.  I'm hoping what I put in sells this weekend.

I have a 15mm SYW Reichsarmee infantry brigade to get back to.  I hope to finish it by the end of the month.  But I need to get flags and more metal stands for my remaining 18mm SYW projects.  That's were things stand...

Thursday, July 2, 2015

WIP, WH40K Vehicles, 02JUL15

Here are photos of some WIP, GW WH40K Vehicles:

                                          WH40K Bane Blade, WIP, 02JUL15.

                                          WH40K Deathwing Land Raider, WIP, 02JUL15.

I've been working on them while I watch the CFL on ESPN2 tonight.  It's scary watching Canadian football because your local sports team is getting ground into dust by the opposition.  I began watching Canadian football last year.  I now know the teams and some of the players.  God help me!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Review of Cold Victory by Poul Anderson

Author:  Poul Anderson.
Title:  Cold Victory.
PublisherTor Publishing.
Copyright:  1982.
Pages:  282.
Price:  $2.75 (US).

Overview and Impressions:

Cold Victory is an assortment of short stories about the Psychotechnical League that rose out the ashes of World War III in 1958.  Science became the guiding force behind human development.  Prosperity became common place.  But automation and technology put human labor to waste.  Discontent and revolution soon followed. 

Anderson's short stories are set in this dystopian future.  They revolve around Earth, Mars, the asteroid belt, and Jupiter's moons.  Each of them has a retro feel to them.  Most were written in the 1950s.  Cold Victory reads quick.  It was nice change from WH40K novels to read some hard retro sci-fi.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Review of The Unremembered Empire by Dan Abnett

Author:  Dan Abnett.
Title:  The Unremembered Empire.
Publisher:  The Black Library.
Copyright:  2014.
Pages:  413.
Price:  $9.99 (US).

Overview and Impressions:

This book in the Horus Heresy series features the Ultramarines primarch Roboute Guilliman trying to salvage what was left of the Imperium as civil war raged between Horus's Chaos traitor legions and the Imperial loyalists. 

However, the Five Hundred Worlds are isolated from Terra due to warp storms.  Guilliman tries to rebuild civilization as refugees from all over the galaxy flee to his realm.  Assassins and primarchs also descend on Macragge.  There are also xenos led traitors and all sorts of plot twists as the novel progresses.  The reader also meets an insane Vulkan and Lion el Johnson, primarch of the Dark Angels who come to Macragge on a mission to insure Guilliman doesn't betray the Emperor in his attempt to save the Imperium.

Overall, a good read.  Recommended for WH40K fans.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Die Con 2015 AAR: 20JUN15

Here are some photos from Die Con 2015 at the Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville, IL:

                                          Pat Lewis' AWI 6mm game board.

                                          Dave Schaeffer's Blue Max game.

                                          Mark Johnson's 25mm Napoleonics game.

                                          Lance Western conversing with GM Pat Lewis.

                                          Adam Jones III's 1/2400 Battle of the Java Sea.

                                          Privateer Press Weekend 2015 at Die Con 2015.

Here are photos of the 28mm Franco-Prussian War Battle of Woerth:  August 6, 1870 using Chassepot and Needlegun.  Lori Brom was kind enough to provide participation prizes for for several of the players!

       Initial deployment.  Each side a 28mm infantry brigade, a cavalry regiment, and a battery of artillery.

                                          Bavarian movemtnt.

                                          Pat McGarriety ponders his next move.

                                          Pat McGarriety advances his regiment of Bavarian infantry.

     Lance Western waits to move his jagers.  They never did advance that far due to lousy movement rolls.

                Glenn Wilson looks on as Craig fails another command roll with his French cavalry!

                       Glenn Wilson failed another command roll after Craig's troops refused to move.

                                          The Bavarians regrouped and put the hurt on the French.

         The Bavarians succeeded in causing the French to fail army morale and won the game!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

June 2015 Projects

I decided to downsize some of my figures.  I'm running out of room in the basement.  I thought about things long and hard and came to the conclusion it was for the best.  I have years worth of painting to do.  I don't have room for everything.  That's the problem.  So...

I got rid of my remaining GW High Elf army.  I also am looking to get rid of 28mm ECW armies and a 28mm Mongol army.  I'd like to sell them locally because shipping would kill me.

I went ahead and started up some 15mm SYW Reichsarmee brigades.  I also primed some 28mm Bronze age Greek spearmen.  I have the following projects staring me in the face:

28mm Trojan army
28mm Bronze age Greek army
84 28mm Masai Warriors
42 28mm Colonial German Marines
28mm Sudanese Dervishers
28mm Viet Cong, US Marines, and ARVN
15mm SYW Reichsarmee
15mm SYW Saxons
15mm SYW Swedes
15mm SYW Prussians
28mm Warmachine Rhulic army
28mm Warmachine Steelhead Company army

This will keep me busy for YEARS.

On my literary efforts, I'm reading The Unremembered Empire now.  I didn't get to read much this week.  I'm also giving up on my efforts to learn ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.  I'll going to try and learn a living language.  I'll have to see what I want to do with all my books on Egyptian hieroglyphs.  It's been hard to consistently be able to study the subject with my daily schedule.  I should have made more of an effort.  But alas, things didn't work out...

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Review of Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Author:  Joe Abercrombie.
Title:  Half a King.
Publisher:  Del Rey.
Copyright:  2014.
Pages:  346.
Price:  $15.00 (US)

Overview and Impressions:
I liked Half a King.  Joe Abercrombie has a gift for writing.  I wish I could compose prose as well as he does.  The novel is set on a Viking Prince named Yarvi.  Yarvi is a cripple who's studying to become a minister of the gods.  He's on his way to take the take test when fate intervenes.

Yarvi's father and older brother are killed.  His mother, the Queen of Gettenland, forces him to become King.  Yarvi is betrayed by his uncle and cousin.  The story then gets into high gear as Yarvi survives slavery and eventually gets his revenge.  There are many twists and turns along the way.  I don't want to give away anything else.  Half a King is a fast read.  Recommend for fantasy readers.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

WIP, 28mm Vikings, 17MAY15

Here are photos of WIP, 28mm Vikings:

                                          WIP, 28mm Viking Bondi on the painting table.

                                         28mm armored Vikings and unarmored Bondi in need of flocking.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Review of The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Dreadnought

Author:  Jack Campbell.
Title:  The Lost Fleet:  Beyond the Frontier:  Dreadnought.
Publisher:  Ace Science Fiction.
Copyright:  2011.
Pages:  368.
Price:  $7.99 (US).

Overview and Impressions:

The Lost Fleet:  Beyond the Frontier:  Dreadnought was the beginning of a new series for Jack Campbell.  It featured Admiral John "Black Jack" Geary leading a victorious Alliance fleet into unknown space to find out more about the alien "Enigma" amphibians.  There were political dealings and the occasional rescue of Alliance prisoners from Syndicate space as the fleet progressed through human space.  Geary's forces finally encountered the Enigma as they went beyond human space into the aliens' territory.  In one star system, the Alliance fleet rescues a group of human survivors the Enigma had captured and held captive inside a hollowed asteroid.  The book ends with Geary being confronted by another alien force protecting a jump way his fleet intended to use.

Dreadnought was a good read.  I started with The Lost Star series and worked my way back to The Lost Fleet:  Beyond the Frontier.  There was also the original The Lost Fleet series that started with Black Jack Geary being revived from a hundred year hypersleep in deep space.  The Alliance slowly lost a century long conflict to the Syndicate Worlds.  Until Geary intervenes and led the Alliance to victory.  How that happened is the story of The Lost Fleet...

Recommended for military science-fiction fans.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Early May 2015 reading...

Real life has interfered with my free time.  I had to take care of business last week.  I still have some more things in need of accomplishment.  But that isn't due until later on in the month.

I spent the weekend reading.  The first book I'm working on is Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet:  Beyond the Frontiers:  Dreadnought.  I started backward with the Lost Fleet series.  I read The Lost Stars: Perilous Shield first.  I then picked up one of The Lost Fleet novels.  But I gave that book away as a going away present.

Now, I'm reading Dreadnought.  I'm about halfway done with the novel.  I've enjoyed it so far.  It's now getting interesting.  I'll write a full review when I get done with it.

I also have another fantasy book I started called Half a King by Joe Abercrombie.  It's a Viking fantasy novel about kingship and betray.  I've only gotten into the first couple of chapters.  Half a King moves.  I like the way Abercrombie writes.  I wish I had his way with words.  Its good to see an excellent author in action.  It's something to aspire.

But I'll confess.   I haven't read a fantasy novel in a long time.  I used to read tons of sci-fi when I was much younger.  I switched over to fantasy when I was in my early twenties.  By the time I'd reached thirty, I stopped reading genera fiction.  Most of my reading was straight military histories.  In fact, there was a period of time I didn't read at all.  It's only the past four years I've come back to reading genera fiction again.

My problem is with much of the fantasy novels.  They are badly written and sold as mega-series.  I'm not going to wade through 2000 pages of badly written fantasy novels by some hack.  But that is how most fantasy books are now marketed in the United States.  It takes a good writer for me to pick up a fantasy novel.

George R. Martin is one such writer.  Another is Gene Wolfe and David Eddings.  I enjoyed Glenn Cook's Chronicles of the Black Company.  But his later Black Company novels weren't as good as the original series.  But I'll also write another review of Half a King when I get done with it.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

WIP, 28mm Vikings, 24APR15

Here are two photos of my second 40 28mm Vikings.  I spent this evening working on them.

                                          WIP, 28mm Vikings.

            Overview of my work table.  Those needing painting out number the figures completed

Friends of mine told me about SAGA.  They have Anglo-Danes and Viking armies.  But SAGA only needs about 30-40 figures.  I currently have about 140 28mm Vikings right now!  That would be four SAGA armies at least...


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Mini-Review of Khan: Empire of Silver by Conn Iggulden

Author:  Conn Iggulden
Title:  Khan:  Empire of Silver.
Publisher:  Delacorte Press.
Copyright:  2010.
Pages:  387.
Price:  $26.00.

Overview and Impressions:
I discovered this author at my local library.  Conn Iggulden is an English writer who lives in Hertfordshire, UK.  He's written a series of books about Genghis Khan and the Mongolian empire.  He's also written books about Julius Caesar and the Roman empire.

I started reading Khan:  Empire of Silver to see how Iggulden handled writing about the Mongols fictionally.  It was part of my research for a historical novel I'm working on.  I love how the author was able to blend historical fact with his fiction.  That's a skill I'd love to have.

Khan:  Empire of Silver follows the Mongol invasion of Russia in 1238 and subsequent withdrawal of Mongol forces to select a new khan when Ogedai died.  The battle scenes are handled realistically and the narrative keeps things moving.  I enjoyed how Iggulden brought all the historical characters to life.

Unfortunately, my local library has only one copy off the Khan series.  Recommended for historical fiction reader.  Too bad Iggulden doesn't write straight military histories.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review of The Viking Wars of Alfred the Great by Paul Hill

Author:  Paul Hill.
Title:  The Viking Wars of Alfred the Great.
Publisher:  Westholme Publishing.
Copyright:  2009.
Pages:  169.
Price:  $26.00 (US).

Overview & Impressions: 
 I knew little about 9th century England.  This books is about the conflicts the Anglo-Saxons had with the followers of Danelaw.  Alfred the Great was Saxon king of the last English kingdom who defeated who defeated the Viking invades in a series of wars.  Despite being dethrone by his own privy counsel. 

Alfred the Great is remarkable for many reasons besides his victories.  He instituted religious reforms, started building programs and educational reforms throughout England.  Alfred also instituted jury trials and other civil reforms.

But the author's descriptions of the military battles are informative.  It's a treasure trove of ideas for Dark Ages wargaming.  Recommended.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mid April musings...

Things haven't worked out the way I thought they would.  I didn't get any gaming in this week.  I spent the time organizing my painting queue and actually sealing figures with gloss varnish.  I got the rest of my Warmachine Protectorate of Menoth figures finished and sealed today.  They are now drying.

The only thing I have left is the Covenant of Menoth Solo.  I'd like to get done with him tonight.  I also have 40 28mm Vikings to paint, also.  I started them earlier last month.  I moved over to the Warmachine stuff when I got to a breaking point with the 28mm Viking.  There are 40 more 28mm Vikings to paint along with 40 28mm Viking archers.  I have enough Vikings to do Stamford Bridge.  It's one of those things you think won't take long.  But then things mushroom.  And you have more figures than you intended...

I spent my resources getting a Privateer Press Battlfoam Tourney bag this month for my 30mm Menoth Army.  I'm planning on getting a second bag for my mercenaries in May 2014, too.  I'll then get the remaining 28mm Vikings I need in June 2015.

The only things left are 18mm SYW Prussians and 18mm SYW Swedes.  I offered to buy Sapper Joe's 15mm War of the Triple Alliance figures.  He wants to hold on to them.  I'll probably get all my 18mm SYW armies finished before he gets started on his 15mm War of the Triple Alliance.  It looks bizarre enough to game.  I just don't want to go to the trouble of organizing an order for figures if someone else had everything for sale.  I'll be more productive and stick with 18mm SYW...

Reading wise, I started The Lost Fleet:  Beyond the Frontier:  Dreadnought by Jack Campbell.  I'm also halfway through The Viking Wars of Alfred the Great by Paul Hill.  I've also gone back and am attempting to learn reading ancient Egyptian.  I'll see how that progresses...

Monday, April 6, 2015

WIP, Menoth Protectorate, 06APR15

Here's a photo of the WIP, Menoth Protectorate, 06APR15 I got done this morning:

                                          WIP, Warmachine Protectorate of Menoth, 06APR15.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Review of War Dogs by Greg Bear

Author:  Greg Bear.
Title:  War Dogs.
Publisher:  Orbit Books.
Copyright:  2014.
Pages:  291
Price:  $25.00 (hardback).

Impressions and Overview:
When Greg Bear's character fights and leads, you're straight in the action.  Some of the narrative found me leaving.  Human beings have made contact with an alien race called the Gurus.  They're in war with the birdlike Ants.  Human space soldiers pay the price to fight these alien invaders.

Bear does a great job with his descriptions of Mars.  I wish I could do his detailing justice.  But I can't.  Everything breaks down when his narrator finds fresh water and oxygen in an underground cavern on Mars.  The final third of War Dogs fell flat for me.  But the points leading up to it kept my interests.