The Veil War

"and then I was like, 'Holy crap, goblins!'"

Category: Asides

A new Gustav

My second son and fifth child was born this morning:


Joseph Samuel is a healthy nine pounds and 21″. He and mom are sleeping peacefully while I keep inquisitive other children away with bribery and death threats.

The Desert of Stars

Friend of the Veil War and Really Big Idea alum John Lumpkin has a new book out – The Desert of Stars. The sequel to Through Struggle, the Stars is just as good as the first – no sophomore slump here. If you like hard sf this is something you want to be reading. The world that John has created is plausible in its politics and history and realistic in its portrayal of future technology. In fact, there’s only one real departure from our current understanding of physics: the wormhole gates that allow FTL travel between Earth and her colony worlds.

If you’ve ever wondered what space combat might be like, these books will give you a taste of what real space warfare might be like. All and all, an excellent read; a ripping yarn of space war and interstellar espionage. Highly recommended.


It is a wondrous age that we live in.


You can create your own Retro-Futuristic image right here at Cornelius Zappencackler’s Derange-O-Lab, with the Pulp-O-Mizer. (Step right up to the Vivisectorium.)

Call me Michael

Got this for Christmas:

St. Michael the Archangel

Because of this, and because my wife is awesome.

Tab clearing

My new, five-day a week commute is rather grueling. So I’m finding being home sick is rather refreshing.

Here’s some stuff I’ve been reading that you may find interesting:

  • An OCD-afflicted individual investigates: How Strong is a Hobbit?
  • John C. Wright offers a very fine post on Retrophobia.I read two posts recently that touched on the same topic, namely, the way writers handle female characters in historical fiction and heroic fantasy.

    Both reinforced my opinion that Political Correctness is, at its root, undramatic and the enemy of the arts in the same way it is illogical and the enemy of science and reason, namely, because it is ahistorical and inhuman.

  • Energy, Secession and Leverage: “If the South went out of the Union as a bloc, it would take most of the natural gas, nuclear power, over half the oil and refining capacity, and a third of the coal. The Yankees aren’t going to just gallop into the restored Confederacy on horseback like they did in the nineteenth century.”
  • Home distillery.
  • Author Tobias Buckell used kickstarter to get a book published. Detailed and fascinating analysis. Perhaps something I should consider?
  • tvtropes is an evil, evil website. If you have a few free hours, start here and here and see what happens when you follow the links.

Ever wondered how the Marines jury-rigged digital cameras and cell phones to their M4s, and went about shooting goblins? These informative videos should give you an idea.

The setup:

The action:

h/t Garaballo


This has nothing to do with the Veil War, but I found it interesting. A while back, some researchers claimed that they had evidence that a comet had hit North America around 11,000 BC. Most scientists poo-pooed the idea, and went about securing government grants like good scientists.

Undeterred, the researchers went out and found more evidence.

Albert Goodyear, an archaeologist in USC’s College of Arts and Sciences, is a co-author on the study that upholds a 2007 PNAS study by Richard Firestone, a staff scientist at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Firestone found concentrations of spherules (micro-sized balls) of metals and nano-sized diamonds in a layer of sediment dating 12,900 years ago at 10 of 12 archaeological sites that his team examined. The mix of particles is thought to be the result of an extraterrestrial object, such as a comet or meteorite, exploding in the earth’s atmosphere. Among the sites examined was USC’s Topper, one of the most pristine U.S. sites for research on Clovis, one of the earliest ancient peoples.

“This independent study is yet another example of how the Topper site with its various interdisciplinary studies has connected ancient human archaeology with significant studies of the Pleistocene,” said Goodyear, who began excavating Clovis artifacts in 1984 at the Topper site in Allendale, S.C. “It’s both exciting and gratifying.”

Younger-Dryas is what scientists refer to as the period of extreme cooling that began around 12,900 years ago and lasted 1,300 years. While that brief ice age has been well-documented – occurring during a period of progressive solar warming after the last ice age – the reasons for it have long remained unclear. The extreme rapid cooling that took place can be likened to the 2004 sci-fi blockbuster movie “The Day After Tomorrow.”

Firestone’s team presented a provocative theory: that a major impact event – perhaps a comet – was the catalyst. His copious sampling and detailed analysis of sediments at a layer in the earth dated to 12,900 years ago, also called the Younger-Dryas Boundary (YDB), provided evidence of micro-particles, such as iron, silica, iridium and nano-diamonds. The particles are believed to be consistent with a massive impact that could have killed off the Clovis people and the large North American animals of the day. Thirty-six species, including the mastodon, mammoth and saber-toothed tiger, went extinct.

Then here’s a funny quote:

The scientific community is rarely quick to accept new theories.

And why might that be?

a 2009 study led by University of Wyoming researcher Todd Surovell failed to replicate Firestone’s findings at seven Clovis sites, slowing interest and research progress to a glacial pace. This new PNAS study refutes Surovell’s findings with its lack of reported evidence.

“Surovell’s work was in vain because he didn’t replicate the protocol. We missed it too at first. It seems easy, but unless you follow the protocol rigorously, you will fail to detect these spherules. There are so many factors that can disrupt the process. Where Surovell found no spherules, we found hundreds to thousands,” said Malcolm LeCompte, a research associate professor at Elizabeth City State University and lead author of the newly released PNAS article.

Catastrophic explanations for geological events have been out of favor for most of two centuries. Alvarez’ Dinosaur Killer asteroid was one of the first non-uniformitarian ideas to gain general acceptance, but the that happened safely in the distant past. We know that something hit Siberia just over a century ago – the idea that something larger and more devastating hit us doesn’t seem like that unreasonable of an idea.

Just imagine what that would have looked like.


As in, the SF Subreddit. To which I submitted the Veil War in a fit of unreasoning social media optimism. Go here and upvote and/or comment and see if you can get me a movie contract like the Marines v. Romans guy.


Added a question in AskReddit, for which I am genuinely interested in seeing what sort of comments appear. “If the earth was invaded by aliens, how would you use reddit (and other tools) to organize resistance and fight back?”

Behold the Orc

Here is an interesting, if annoying article: Ecce Orcus! An Argument for Humanizing the Orc. Hidden behind a morass of politically-correct fog, there is there a good point. Orcs shouldn’t be nothing more than evil minions.

In Tolkien, Orcs were perversions of the elves and inherently evil – or at least thoroughly predisposed to violence and badness and therefore easily harnessed by evil. In most fantasy literature that orcs or goblins appear in, they tend to follow Tolkien’s pattern as they do in most other ways even as they fail to give them as much personality as Tolkien did.


What I did on my summer vacation

Among other things, I read a few books – the first books I’ve read since last Fall.

  • The Oilman’s Daughter – by Ian Healy and Alison Dickson – I got an advance copy of this, and it’s great fun from two of our Really Big Idea authors. Loved it. Not available yet, but you’ll want to read it when it comes out. Atomic space trains. Pirates. Need I say more?
  • The Mongoliad – by Neal Stephenson and others – Not up to normal standards of Stephensonian verbosity, but a fun read with lots of swords.
  • Ashes of Candesce by Karl Schroeder – Fifth and concluding book of the Virga series. Virga is a world of air, a bubble in space heated by a fusion sun. Steampunk and singularities, a great conclusion to a great and richly imagined series.
  • Through Struggle, the Stars by John Lumpkin –  another Really Big Idea alum. This book has some of the best hard sf space battles I’ve ever read. Well thought out, well written, and an interesting universe.
  • Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez – I loved Freedom(tm) and Daemon, and was not disappointed with this one. Drones using algorithms derived from aggressive ant species – great read, and really creepy in places.
  • The Apocalypse Codex by Charles Stross – I have loved the Laundry series, but although I did enjoy this one, it felt like it was treading familiar ground. Hopefully, now that Howard is getting promoted, we can get to the excitement of Case Nightmare Green in the next book.
  • The Devil in the Dollhouse by Richard Kadrey – only 99 cents! Read this because the previous several books in the Sandman Slim series are pure adrenaline awesomeness, and I couldn’t wait two more weeks until Devil Said Bang comes out. Fantastic books, all well worth your time.

Right now, I’m reading Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis, and next up is Liminal States by Jack Parsons and The Thousand Hour Club by George O’Har.

Update: Well, Devil Said Bang came out, so I read that. Pure awesome. I have rarely had as much fun with a series as this one, and the level of quality has, if anything, gone up with time not down. Finished Bitter Seeds, which is grim but fascinating. An alternate WWII with British sorcerers and Nazi cyborgs. Will have to read the sequel. Liminal States is loaded up on the Kindle, and that means I need to buy George’s book.