Okay, somebody stole May.  I blinked, and it was gone.  Local police have no suspects, but I have a feeling that it was either the illuminati, or the Boulder County Commissioners.  Either way, I’ll never get it back now…

     Work at the FAA has been brutal, our thunderstorm season hit early, and the patterns we’ve faced have been ugly.  Nothing like a line of thunderstorms 600 miles long to mess up the system.  I have had an opportunity to see the control room from a different viewpoint lately…

     I work on a crew that butts up against a senior crew on one end, and a junior crew on the other.  I’m senior on my crew, could have been on the senior (A) crew, but chose to avoid working mids and hence selected B crew.  That means that one night a week  (Tuesday), I’m working with more experienced controllers, and on Wednesday I work with mostly junior.  The way the evenings run on either day show the differences between 20 years experience, and 7.

     Monday nights, when we’ve had bad weather, we’ve gotten through with much less drama and panic and screaming than similar weather on Tuesday nights.  It’s not that the senior controllers are all that much better, individually, the b crew controllers are almost as skilled with routine operations.  The experience shows as the senior controllers handle the pressure, coordinate with each other, and keep coming back for another round.  The juniors get clobbered, and tend to be gun-shy the rest of the night.

     There are other differences, junior controllers tend to use one or two main “outs” when confronted with a difficult situation, senior controllers have a much larger ‘bag of tricks’.  Sometimes the one or two outs that the junior has learned just can’t be applied.  Also, senior controllers work faster, even though they speak more slowly (which increases pilot comprehension and hence reduces repeating instructions). 

     On the other hand, the junior controllers aren’t jaded.  They’ll come back the next day fresh and ready to try it again.  Senior controllers have a “been here, done it too many times before, gonna get clobbered again and it’s gonna hurt, oh well..” almost Eeyore-ish attitude to another day of thunderstorms. 

     Anyway…  One year, ten months…  Not that I’m counting…

TTFN
Jim

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     I’ve been working (with my brother) on a short story for the Grantville Gazette these last couple of weeks.  It is a different world working on a project for a targeted audience, inside a pre-defined world.  I’ve actually been doing a fair amount of historical (or hysterical?) research as I go, trying to keep both characters and locale accurate, historically, as well as fictionally for the series 1632. 

     We started by bouncing ideas off each other, looking for something that hasn’t been done in the world yet, as well as trying to play to our strengths, we eventually started on “Ole the Weatherman” (Tentative Title).  Ole, a norwegian student and part time fisherman, ends up learning how to forecast the weather.  We’ll see where it goes.

     On the research side, I’ve found it necessary to track some historical characters from that era, both those mentioned in previous books, and those as yet unknown.  We eventually selected the historical character, Evangelista Toricelli, an Italian scholar and occasional correspondent of Galileo.  Galileo played a part in the novel 1634 The Galileo Affair, which runs takes the up-timer Americans (from the future) to Venice and eventually Italy as Galileo’s trial by the catholic church comes to a head.  It’s a good read, really well researched and fun.

      Toricelli eventually became known for inventing the Toricelli Barometer in 1643, but there is an interesting gap in his real history from 1631, when he wrote Galileo in support of his theories on planetary movement, just prior to his incarceration by the inquisition (“No-one expects…”  <wince> (sorry, inside joke)) until his publication scientific papers and reappearance in 1641, when he returned to the public eye.  We’re going to take him from 1633 or so and run with it, having him end up in Germany, where he gets tapped by the future-americans to help establish a weather forecasting office.  There are other twists we’re working is, so…  Stay tuned.

     Why a weather forecast unit? That has to do with my observation that in the series, though weather reports are mentioned by many writers, none have taken the time to define the how, where and why.  Weather forecasting without computer models or satellite feeds was in real life far different that the forecasting we have now, and in the 1632 universe, that’s exactly what they’ll have to do.  Though there was some beginning research into weather data back then, forecasting didn’t really take off until much later, at least on a scale other than locally.  We’ll see if we can turn it into an interesting story.

     Imperfect Hope has been tabled for a while.  However, it’s not forgotten, and every so often I think of something and write a note to myself.  A growing folder of random thoughts awaits me when Jeff and I finish our project.

At any rate…
CLear skies,
Jim

Hey, all.

     Took some much needed time off, Irma and I spent a couple of days up in Estes Park at the Stanley hotel to celebrate our 15th anniversary.  Didn’t do anything but rest, relax, and hike.  We had really nice weather, warm for this time of the year, and normally windy this time of year Rocky Mountain National Park was clear, sunny, and not much below freezing, made for a really relaxing hike.  We both came back refreshed, and I’m ready to write something.

     To get me in the mood, I dug out some writing prompts and tackled an amusing one, write a short bit from the point of view of a rope about to snap. 

    “Shaddup, If I hear you groan one more time, Mast, I’m going to snap.  You think you have it so tough, well let me tell you, mast, you don’t know what tension is.”  Rope creaked as another gust of wind stretched him taut as the mainsail belled out under the growing gale winds.

    As soon as the gust let up, rope sagged for a moment.  Under his breath, he mumbled to himself.  “No respect.  I’m pulled this way and that, and only time I ever get off is when I get so wound up my head’s tucked under my ass so tightly I can’t move an inch.  Splashed with salt water.  And so help me, if those stinking sailors smear that tar on me again, I, I, I don’t know what I’ll do.” 

    “You think you got problems, Haul line?  Try life as a belaying pin.  Either I got you wrapped around my neck, or I’m plucked outta my hole and swung left and right smacking hard headed sailors about by the first mate.  That’s right, discipline, rope.  And you ain’t got it.”

    “Shaddup, I said, you and mast both.”  Rope readied another curse, but fell silent as he caught sight of the rogue wave bearing down on ship.  “Ohhh, man, this is gonna hurt.”, he said to himself, then shouted over the wind.  “Hang on, fella’s, here it comes again…”

     The point of a writing prompt for me is to just write, don’t edit, don’t revise, so, there it is.  Now to tackle something with more meat…

Clear skies,
Jim

     Well, I took my own advice, and changed my channel for a bit, I put Imperfect Hope on a back burner, and started fiddling with some ideas for a short story for the 1632 slush pile.  I have jotted down a couple of IH ideas and filed them away with the rest of the stuff for when I get back to it, but otherwise, I’ve put a fair amount of effort into just clearing my mind of the logjam that had developed…

     Writing a short for the 1632 universe is a complete change of channels for me.  Going from an entirely self-created universe to a shared world with some pretty exhaustive rules is a challenge.  I read a fair amount on the ground rules for writing there, they all make sense, (and would make really good sense in a shared ifgs writing world).  Major characters are “owned” by specific writers, new writers may petition to obtain rights to one of the 3000 or so “uptimers” known to have existed when Grantville jumped back to 1632, or may create any number of non-historical, non-major characters for their stories.  Technology has major restrictions, for example, no airplanes were transferred back to 1632, so when the Grantville army needed an airplane for scouting, they had to cobble one together using a vw bug engine and a relatively primitive design. 

     I’ve been bouncing ideas back and forth with my brother, comparing notes on “what we know”, between my aviation background and his engineering background.  Jeff had spent a fair amount of time working in the north sea, and so has met some unique characters both on the offshore oilrigs, and on the mainland itself.  Me, I’ve dealt with aviation ups and downs, seen technology change over the last 23 years (oh so slowly in our bureaucracy), and handled many types of emergencies, from “ohgodfireinthecockpitwegottalandthisthingnowcentercanyouhearus” to an open-cockpit 1930’s era restored monoplane stuck on top of solid cloud layers, no navigation equipment, and no holes in the clouds within 100 miles.  The latter is something that just might translate to a good 1632 type story.

     See, the way I figure it, one of the biggest lacks in the down time of 1632 for aviation wanna-be’s (after the shortage of reliable aircraft powerplants is addressed) is navigation and weather.  No gps nav systems, no vor nav aids, no radio beacons.  No satellite weather forecasts, no current upper wind readings, no dopplar radar.  A pilot flying from point a to point b in 1635 will have to reinvent (or resurrect) dead reckoning navigation if he wants to fly in any kind of weather.  Even flying visually, there will be very few roads to follow.  Visual navigation will rely on geographic features, not terribly easy even in clear skies visibility 100 miles.  If you’ve not flown somewhere before, you’ll have almost no visual references to tell where you are, one small hamlet will look exactly like another, and unless you’ve planned your flight carefully, chances are you’ll be lost most of the time.  Rivers will become critical for knowing where you are, and since cities tend to be near rivers, they’ll be a useful air highway…

     My job as a writer is to introduce a stick of gum into the gears, though.  One storyline to fiddle with involves a young swede or nordsk, trying to learn his now profession as a United States of Europe certified “weather guesser”.  Stay tuned, we’ll see if anything comes of the concept…

Anyway, more to come
TTFN,
Jim

     Weather forecasting today relies on computer models and satellite feeds.  60 years ago, though, forecasters depended on amassing hourly readings from all across the US, fed to the weather forecast offices where trained scientists analyzed the data and gave out limited forecasts.  Predicting conditions beyond a day or so was iffy.  Local conditions could be predicted several hours in advance with some accuracy, but…  Not the degree that we have now. 

     Since navigation and weather go hand in hand in early aviation, I think I’ve got a good story to piece together.  Gonna toss an idea football back and forth to Kuala Lumpur and see what come up.  More to come soon…

Welcome to 2011.  And I thought 2010 looked like science fiction.  Time to look back at accomplishments of the past year…

     Okay, enough of that.  Things I didn’t get done:  Imperfect Hope.  Yah, I know, it’s been number one on my topics these last few months.  Time to change the channel…

     Got a note from my brother Jeff a few weeks back (Hi Jeff, know you’re reading this), He’d gotten a short story published in the Grantville Gazette, a ezine dedicated to Eric Flint’s 1632 universe.  For those of you unfamiliar with it, it is a shared world speculative fiction (sci-fi) series based on the concept of a time-transference of a small area surrounding Grantsville, WV from the year 2000 back to 1630 germany right smack in the middle of the 30 years war.  Eric Flint set up some very specific rules about writing in that era, most important of which is that the modern resources available to the uptimers (those from the year 2000) are restricted to an accurate inventory of what was actually in Grantville at the time of the transfer.  Population 3000 or so, coal miners and librarians and school teachers, no rocket scientists, no aeronautical engineers, no lost detachment of special forces soldiers on leave. 

     The grantville Gazette is an ezine consisting of non-fiction articles on recreating technology under those circumstances, historical references and conjecture on societal changes, and fiction short stories or serials based around the events of the print books co-written by Eric Flint.  Some years past, Jeff wrote a non-fiction article on “oil mining”, a low tech source of much needed hydrocarbons that the Transplaced Grantsville residents might use.  From that article came his short story, co-written with Kiwi (I believe) Kerryn Offord about another potential low tech means of obtaining oil in 1634.  It’s a good read, I have to admit. 

     Because it’s published in an E-zine, I shouldn’t post the entire story for the entire world to read, since it is a subscription e-zine, but they do allow previews of about half the story without buying a subscription.  You’ll find it online at http://grantvillegazette.com/ .  For those interested, email me and I’ll “loan” you my copy to read as long as you promise not to spread it willy-nilly about the internet.  (I’m sensitive to the needs of copyright protection, and since writers to ezines get paid through the ‘zine’s subscription, if you subscribe, you’ll be supporting starving writers like my brother…  And perhaps me…)

     Not that he’s starving, he and Bess Anne are in Kuala Lumpur living in a 3700 square foot penthouse working for a multinational oil company, and has to walk 15 minutes to his office on some upper floor of the Petronas Towers.  Other than being half a world away from the triplets, I suspect he’s doing fine.  😉 

     I hadn’t kept up with the 1632 series of late, though it’s always been a fascinating storyline to me.  They’ve been pretty strict about keeping the limits of the recreation of technology realistic, and I’ve enjoyed the meshing of historical characters such as Galileo (tried for heresy in 1632 historically, I won’t tell you how the writers have changed history in the book dealing with that case), and Richelieu with fictional characters such as Tom Stone (resident “non-traditional chemist known to the locals as stoner) and his rather undisciplined teenage boys, and challenging topics such as the catholic reformation, the plague, and politics, politics, and more politics.  Give it a read.  Perhaps I’ll have a short story there someday…

Anyway, more to come soon, I promise…
TTFN,
Jim

     “That’s the last of the cargo, sir”  Captain Lanso Malring tugged on his thin beard and eyed the wagon-sized pile of crates, barrels and sacks stacked up on the end of the stone pier, then acknowledged the bosun with a wave dismissing the lading crew.  The offloading had taken far longer than anyone had expected, but at least they’d finished before the brunt of the approaching squall hit.  His vessel sat on the leeward side of the stone causeway, only partially shielded from the building waves, even now spray was crashing across the pier, driven by the erratic gusts.  A pair of sailors finished loading a hand cart with some of the supplies, they kept their heads hunched down on their shoulders against the icy wind-driven water as they pulled the two wheeled cart down the pier toward the weathered shack at the other end of the pier.

     Captain Malring turned to the red haired man who had stood silently beside him the entire time the cargo was being unloaded.  “My men will finish moving the supplies to the supply shack at the other end, won’t take but a few minutes.  You sure you don’t need anything else?”   A minute passed with no response from the passenger, and the captain wondered again why anyone would take the job offered by the coastal league to tend the lighthouse, but then revised his opinion, if anyone would take such a job, it would be someone as enigmatic as this person.  He’d offered little more than the occasional grunt or nod of assent during the entire 3 day journey from  Port Whiterock, the longest conversation he’d had with anyone had been with the cargomaster about his personal gear when the gruff sailor had noted that some of the supplies seemed more appropriate for delivery to a brewery than a lighthouse, to which the mysterious passenger had replied, “who says a light house can’t be a brewery”.

     The above blurb is a writing practice I sat down to and keyed out over a pair of breaks at work.  There’s been no polishing, editing, or rewriting.  It is a germ of an idea I’ve floated around relating to a tie between the the ifgs storylines of D’oril, and the literary storylines I’m working from.  The lighthouse referred to is also a tie with another story concept within the d’oril world I’ve occasionally referenced, Lighthouse, lighthome.  That story isn’t well placed within the timeline yet, parts of it fit well with a precursor civilization that fell apart long before the confederacy of Imperfect Hope arose, but I haven’t figured out the connection to the K’tath and their timelines.  Where will it go from here? 

     SInce it’s been 6 weeks since I last posted, I feel I should apologize.  All I can say is, holiday travel can be a bear, and I’ve been doing this for nearly 23 years now.  Guess I’m starting to wear out.  On the plus side, I managed to get a 2 week vacation the last two weeks of december, first time I’ve ever had holiday vacation time.  Irma and I didn’t actually go anywhere, instead the first week was prepping for christmas eve dinner, and week two (right now) is rest, rest, and rest.  We’ve done a couple of day trips up into the mountains, lots of snow there, and until today, none around here.  But, today, it’s snowing, so we’re staying in, and Irma’s going to make some chile verde con puerco. (green chile pork stew)  Yummm.

     I mentioned 23 years.  Mandatory retirement is 2 1/2 years away, unless congress and the FAA change the rules, something they’re threatening with the continued controller shortages.  I’m betting there will be some changes, but I’m still planning on stepping out of the ATC biz then, unless they offer some really good incentives to stay.  I’m not holding my breath.  However, the concept of retirement doesn’t seem real yet.  Most people don’t have the option to retire (with relative security) as early as controllers do, on the other hand, the stresses of the job make it a health risk for many controllers to continue, thus the reason for the mandatory age 56 retirement that stands right now.  The talk is that medical waivers are going to be granted based on health and some expanded requirements to keep our medical clearances. 

     Back to writing.  No progress on Imperfect Hope, some progress on background details, and a eureka moment regarding my writing habits.  These last few days of unfettered rest has opened up my creative channels, with the observation that being a controller wears me out much more than I thought.  I’m still thinking through the implications, and considering ways to keep the fatigue monster from chewing me up once I return to the grind next week.  Any suggestons (besides more scotch?)

     Anyway…  More to come, (he promises)  Watching the snow fall outside makes me think of D’oril…

TTFN,
JIm

     This always seems to be the busy season for me.  Yardwork (winterizing), Work-work (transitioning from summer thunderstorm season to winter “ski-season” traffic patterns, and getting the house ready for the holidays tend to fill most of my time.  Despite that, I have managed to do some writing, if not on Imperfect Hope, at least with the goal of getting back into the groove.  With the silly season passed (er, election season), things are looking up. 

     Last post, I commented on “writing what I know”, at least with regards to the lore and history of the D’oril world that I know very well.  Writing these last two weeks has put me back into that era, 60-100 years prior to the time of Imperfect Hope.  Since most of my lore from that time focuses almost exclusively on the D’oril forests of the K’tath and the incursions of the Tallux empire, I do have to provide some background on what is happening around the rest of the world.  I’ve made an effort to divorce the D’oril lore that references the IFGS lands that surround the k’tath homelands, and made good progress on replanting the characters I want to bring from the IFGS D’oril to the ‘book’ D’oril lands.  So, where do I begin…

     Obvious to me are the K’tath characters, with one exception all of my own creation.  Brandis, of course, as well as the NPC k’tath characters I developed while writing the IFGS games that took place in D’oril.  The Sen’anth (in the IFGS games, never actually named, just referred to by title, was killed by plotline mid Sha’te Valley (a player motivational event that didn’t have the emotional impact I’d hoped for, but one I can refer to in the book version).  Kira, the deadly quiet Kel’anth, trying to hold the badly outnumbered kel together against the empire’s legions.  Other fringe NPC characters also created for the games include Cinda and Merrick, of the Inn of the Stumbling Friar.  Their backgrounds, though never explored in the games, provide me with a great starting point for the surrounding areas.  Also of the k’tath, though not of that race, is Merlissa, a PC character that was tightly intertwined with Brandis’ early character history.

     South of the E’tel river, the non-k’tath have a couple of regularly appearing characters.  Merrick, for example, is actually an Empire refugee.  He came to the lands south of D’oril from the empire some 10 years or so prior to Sha’te, one of a small handful of survivors of a shipwreck from an Empire expedition searching for wintergem sources along the western coast of D’oril.  A senior non-com (I hadn’t decided whether he was an imperial marine, or a legionnaire), he found the lands south of D’oril to his liking, especially the relative freedom from oppressive government.  Cinda, the (in the games) stereotyped bar maid of the Inn of the Stumbling Friar, was also a refugee in a character history that was never explored in the games either.  She came from the lands to the south, fleeing the chaos following the fall of “the eleven kingdoms” just prior to the confederacy beginning to pull itself together. 

     Then there were the villains, most notably Phorix, Beauty, Grannach, and Yam’to.  Those four were the core of the Sha’te storyline, each representing an characteristic of the empire that PC’s could relate to, or despise.  (all had some elements of each).  I’d written a lot about their pasts within my game lore, stuff not released to the players but instead intended to help me and the NPC’s portraying them fill out their character. 

     The events surrounding Sha’te are both well defined and vague.  Vague in that, for the IFGS games, the empire had the clearly stated but vaguely motivated goal of conquering the area north of the E’tel, well defined in that they had put into a straightforward strategic plan to obtain that goal, and the ‘good guys’ (players and k’tath) were in the way.  Because of the way IFGS games are run, the sha’te storyline necessarily had the players react to the empire’s plan.  Had I made Yam’to’s strategy too complicated or convoluted, the IFGS gameline would have been overly complex.  Translating that to the Imperfect Hope world mostly involves revising the empires motivations, in part through the wintergems found in the D’oril forest, a source of magical power now hard to find in the empire but necessary for the emperors continued hold on the far-reaching lands he controls).

     I’ve found my thought process interesting, though, as I dig deeper into the sha’te era, I find more interesting projects to tackle.  So, do I sidetrack myself, or focus myself.  Stay tuned for the answer, soon…

Clear skies,
Jim

 

Yeesh, september was an ugly month, three overtimes in four weeks really sapped my interest in writing anything.  It’s over, though, and I’m back…

     I did do a thorough read through of Imperfect Hope, draft 1, and marked up some inconsistencies (okay, a lot).  What leapt out at me was that my writing errors had a lot to do with the fuzzy history before and after sha’te valley in my IFGS D’oril world, and the years leading up to “present time” in imperfect hope.  I hope to correct those errors with a couple of strategies…

     One, as I work through IH again, I will allow myself to sidetrack and fill out background information as needed to make the storyline more consistent.  For example, background history on the Baron of Bruils, a minor player in IH so far, but whose actions some 15 years past has a great deal to do with the chink in the confederacies security that the empire is exploiting.  Going from an unspecified scandal to actually going back and writing the events as a story in itself will give me more food for thought, and unblock other aspects of the storyline.

     Two, I’m going open up another story to work on that takes place well before Sha’te that will help me define the confederacy and empire and the as yet unmentioned (here) island kingdoms to the south.  I found that, in reading IH through, I obviously made some assumptions about what the readers knew that just isn’t explained well enough.  By writing out these precursor tales, I’ll have a better background to write from as I do the rewrite in Imperfect Hope.

     Another light bulb moment came a couple of weeks back when I was wool gathering, and remembered the old saying, “Write what you know”.  I ‘know’ the sha’te era front and back, and I’ve been creating a lot of the Imperfect Hope era on the fly.  Thus, I’m going to allow myself (I know, starting to sound undisciplined) to write about stuff from the IFGS timeline when I feel like it, or when I need a break from IH.  I’ve no idea what may come out of it, but the goal here is to get back to “having fun”.

     ALong the lines of having fun, I started fiddling about with a story from the SHa’te era, or rather one that begins toward the end of that time, and bridges the gap from then to now.  I’ll post a blurb from it at the end, something to lighten up the political downer that follows…

    Back to the mundane, then.  I hate political season with a passion.  Hate ads (Oh, I’m sorry, did I mean partisan campaign ads?), foolish wing-nut amendments and issues, and those anonymous campaign phone calls.  It is clear that the politicians only (capital letters again, ONLY) concern is getting elected or reelected.  The other side is wrong, and since they’re wrong, we hate them, and you should too.  It’s made all the worse since I’m listed as an independent, both parties feel the need to tell me how to think.  Knowing how the government works from the inside (at least within the FAA), I know that 99.9% of what the politicians are telling us they’ll do is pure bunk, couldn’t do what they promise if they owned all branches of the government.  All I expect from this, and any other election, is that:

1)  My taxes will go up, somebody out there resents (hates) me for my relative success and wants me to pay.
2)  My services (or services to people who are really in need) will go down, somebody will figure out a way to scam the system and drain resources from those who really need it (which leads to number one again).
3)  Whoever is in power will tell me it is the other parties fault.
4)  Whoever is not in power will tell me that if they were in power, things would be better.
5)  Left wing and Right wing nut-jobs control both parties, and they have no interest in listening to a moderate.
6)  Tivo everything, and skip the ads and maybe I’ll maintain my sanity.

Lest any of my readers think I’m hiding my head in the sand and ignoring issues, I’d like to suggest otherwise.  I read a lot about the issues affecting us, from all sides of the debate.  I make up my own mind on those issues, and refuse to allow either party tell me that, since I support/oppose a particular issue, all of my beliefs must then line up with (or against) umpteen-thousand other issues, and therefore I must vote for them.  I don’t let a political party tell me what to think…

Unlike too many of the people I work with, or know.

<Sigh>

Anyway, I’ll be glad when it’s over again. 

That’s it for now.  Keep those cards and letters coming, introduce yourself, or otherwise make your presence known.
TTFN,
Jim

Oh, a blurb…

“That’s the last of the cargo, ser”  Captain Lanso Malring tugged on
his thin beard and eyed the wagon-sized pile of crates, barrels and
sacks stacked up on the end of the stone pier, then acknowledged the
bosun with a wave.  The offloading had taken far longer than anyone had
expected, but at least they’d finished before the brunt of the
approaching squall hit.  His vessel sat on the leeward side of the stone
causeway, only partially shielded from the building waves, even now
spray was crashing across the pier, driven by the erratic gusts.  He turned to the red haired man standing beside him and asked if there was anything else they could do for him before they shoved off.  A
minute passed with no response from the passenger, and the captain
wondered again why anyone would take the job offered by the coastal
league to tend the isolated lighthouse, but then revised his opinion, if anyone
would take such a job, it would be someone as enigmatic as this person. 
He’d offered little more than the occasional grunt or nod of assent
during the entire 3 day journey from  Port Whiterock.
..

     Part of the depth of the Imperfect Hope world is the past, as represented by the characters that I’ve either developed while writing IFGS D”oril games, lore, and player-characters I’ve adopted into the world.  I’ve touched on how I intend to keep some character concepts whole from my ‘borrowed’ character list, while adding a bunch of depth that fits the PC’s into the D”oril world more seamlessly.  One way I’m doing this (as I get back into a writing habit, yes, it’s coming back slowly) is to rework character histories by changing where they are from, and putting more detail into their past than the pc histories I pored through while I was writing D’oril games.

     Imperfect Hope references a few “old campaigners” that IFGS’ers may recognize, the most obvious being Brandis (a no brainer, since his background is the basis for all of my D’oril lore).  Because IH takes place some 50 or so years after the Old Campaign (here after known as OC), the ‘great heroes’ of the past have faded into legend, tales of which have actually been lost because of the turmoil following Sha’te Valley, and the chaos following the fall of the old kingdoms south of D’oril (unrelated to sha’te).  The old kingdoms, from which many of the heroes of SHa’te came, fell into a series of ugly wars against each other and outside influences (greed and poor leadership), much of the legends from before then were forgotten in the confusion as new heroes and more important (read immediate survival) issues abounded.  Only in a few areas (The Inn of the Stumbling Friar, for example, or the monasteries of the triad, or among the k’tath) are the histories kept whole.

     The confederacy, which has risen from the ashes of the old kingdoms, is still in its infancy, and is more concerned with cementing their position within the western realms of the continent than recalling the heroic times before the troubles.  The one time stranglehold on power that the old aristocracy held is now shared almost equally with the mercantile trade families that held the coastal towns together in the face of barbarian invasion, and the triad, whose monastaries provided intellectual sanctuaries inland, and their questors, who stepped in to protect areas of civilization as many of the aristocratic strongholds and families fell.  The aristocracy held on to it’s top position, but only barely.

     Thus, the Old Campaigners are mostly forgotten, despite their crucial role in staving off the invasions of the Empire of Tallux.  However, they are not forgotten in the Empire, rather they are remembered with a mix of hatred, respect, and awe by the leadership, aristocracy, and middle classes.  (The slaves, of course, know little of life outside their small world, but the legends of Beauty and the Free-warriors of the east are still talked about, much to the dismay of the emperor and his supporters.)  The empire’s current leader, taking the heart of the lessons from his father and the priesthood, takes into account his lessons and the memories of how the Old Campaigners opposed the empire in his plans to establish a foothold near the wintergem forests of D’oril.  However, none of the old campaigners remain, except…

     According to my storyline, the “OC” involved in Sha’te were never replaced by young up and coming’s, since the situation in the new confederacy wasn’t conducive to the methods of the “OC” (freelance, involved outside their own lands helping others or merely helping themselves (mercenary style).  Instead, the type of adventurer who would have become an “OC” instead ended up either involved in the triad questors, the mercantile trade families, or outright tied to old school ruling class families.  Free-lancing (outside the questors, and that is an entirely different animal) ceased to be when societal survival wasn’t guaranteed.  To put it another way, The powers that be couldn’t afford to let their ‘free-lancers’ go, and so ways were found to keep them within society. 

     Except for one.  The last of the independent Old Campaigners.  The Red Mage.  Rumored to be in his 80’s already, a (some say bitter, some say merely crazy)wispy grey and red haired recluse who disdains almost all civilized contact.  He lives on his own island off the coast, brewing his own ale.  His recipes are slowly becoming legendary (some say magical), which he trades or sells only to a privileged few customers, including the Inn of the Stumbling Friar.  And that is the story that I’m going to visit this week as I jump start my creative side, the story of the last human survivor of Sha’te Valley. We’ll see if a short story comes out of it…..

TTFN,
Jim
 

     If you’re expecting a poetic moment, sorry to disappoint.  However, I will comment on one of our recent weekend to-do’s.  One of the fence posts between our property and a rental home next door was damaged sometime in the previous renter’s tenancy (probably by the junk trailer they backed into their yard when they moved out in the middle of the night to skip out on their overdue rent), and this spring, some high winds finished the job, breaking it off such that the whole section of fence wobbled until we got it braced.  The owner, ( a rather cheap-skate real estate agent who bought the house when her client couldn’t sell it during the recent housing market crash), couldn’t be bothered to help fix the fence his tenants damaged, so we bought the materials and fixed it ourselves this weekend.  It seems likely that the owner is now fixing the place up to sell (we hope), at the very least, perhaps he’ll be a bit more selective on whom to rent to.

     Word of warning.  If you ever have a choice of hiring someone to replace a fence post, and doing it yourself, Hire the worker, no matter the cost!  I’m afraid these old bones will never recover from the digging down about 4 feet to extract all of the old fence post and concrete that was holding it in.  I’ve used my pick axe before, but breaking up clay, and breaking concrete and rotted fencepost and clay is…  A younger man’s job.  The fence is repaired, though.

     One of the previous renters (from a bit more than a year ago) was, I’m afraid, a stereotype bad neighbor type.  He was the one that damaged the fence with his trailer, some of their other tricks included storing their truck topper (peeling paint and rust) in their front yard (and sometimes he’d actually place it in our front yard, because he had lawn tools and other junk laying where he’d normally keep it).  One day I heard a gas-powered string trimmer revving up next door, accompanied by the sound of laughing and screaming kids.  From my deck, I could see his two mullet-haired boys (10 and 12 or so in age) playing, the older one was chasing his younger brother around the yard with the trimmer.  No adults in sight.  I asked the older boy what he planned to do if he actually caught his brother with the string trimmer…  (Great, future leatherface in training???)  His reply, in thick stereotype hillbilly was, “Uh, I dunno, he runs pretty good, dont he?”.

     One of the landlords other tenants (who stayed only about 5 months) moved in in the middle of the night, moved out of the middle of the night, and regularly moved mysterious plastic trashcans from his garage to his truck regularly in the middle of the night.  No, we’re not spying on them, these antics were observed several times when I was returning home from an evening shift, my truck headlights illuminated them (2 mid-twenties young men and their hooded helpers) rolling 2 filled trash cans down the driveway and all four of them hefting them into the back of their own truck.  Strange and scary…

    So now the house if being fixed up, with loads of new drywall disappearing into the house, lots of sawing and hammering and a dumpster’s worth of construction trash piling up.  Since we’d been good friends with the previous owners (who moved out a couple of years ago), we know that the basement was already finished, so it must be repairwork being done.  Hmmmm……   (Please let it be sold…)

     Writing:  I’ve taken a trip back to my roots, or sorts.  In an effort to break my doldrums, I’ve been rooting around in the past of doril, digging up old stories to rekindle my passion for writing.  I”m looking at writing a short, possibly about beauty, or perhaps the “old crew”, Brandis, Wulluff, Evro, Delanore.  Nothing earth shattering, just something to get me going again.  I’ll post it (or excerpts as I go) here.  Hold me to it, patient readers.  And please, comment.  (especially you anonymous readers, I know you’re out there, I just don’t know who you are…  😉  )

Anyway, more to come, but I’ll post tonight and write more tomorrow for later posting…

TTFN,
Jim