Hello, my name is…
1 – Hello, my name is Betty. Humanity has created many great and terrible things in its time in the sun. Spears. Stories. Swords. Plays. Guns. Movies. Nuclear weapons. Cat videos. What humanity has done with those creations is what has changed the worlds. They have brought joy and terror. Laughter and weeping. Calm and manic paranoia. Humanity can build worlds up, or it can bring them down. The very gift of sapience that makes humanity amazing, can also make them terrible. Humanity brings the twins, good and evil, wherever it goes. That is humanity’s gift. And humanity’s curse.
2 – Hello, my name is Jack. Sometimes I’m amazed at the kinds of life I find out in the worlds I go to. Sometimes it looks like something that could have grown up on Earth. Other times it is truly alien. And sometimes it’s twisted just enough that you can guess its origin if you look at it sideways. Like something that would be at home in Alice’s Wonderland or a Disney film. I can see why some people think that aliens talked to them to give them some of those ideas. Either that, or they had some really good drugs to spike their imaginations. Sometimes I wonder which possibility I would prefer.
3 – Hello, my name is Charles. We expanded into the galaxy slowly at first. It took years to plan each colony, years to travel between the stars, and decades before those new worlds became productive. But we spent the time and money to do it. Some have asked why we did so. It was so expensive to do this that no one could make a profit. The early colonies would have bankrupted anything short of the Great Powers, and a careful study of their economies shows how much they poured into the process. Protests against the wasteful spending were common in the Western Alliance. Not so common in China and Russia where protesters had a tendency to end up dead. But even there, the strain on the economies is easy to see. So why did we go? That is a very good question.
4 – Hello, my name is Betty. Humanity tamed the world and the animals in its quest to go forth and multiply. They turned wild plants could only feed the gatherers into field plants that could feed worlds. They turned wild animals into domesticated companions that could guard them or do their heavy work. Wherever they have gone, humanity has always created the world around it in an image that best fit humanity’s wishes. Sometimes these lands become veritable Gardens of Eden, while at other times they become Hell on Earth.
5 – Hello, my name is Jack. I grew up with the intelligent dogs and cats of Earth. And of course I met some of the catgirls that make Los Angeles famous. But something I learned out in the stars is that these modifications were real minor. Dogs and cats still walk on all fours. They’re just smart. And an extra set of cat ears and maybe a feline tail doesn’t turn a Japanese schoolgirl into some kind of alien hybrid. They’re still what they started as, just better. I’ve met people out in the stars that show just how minor the genetic modifications we’ve worked with are. I’m talking stuff that would be Big A Alien if quick study couldn’t find their genetic heritage. It makes me wonder what else is scattered out there in the stars. What people we’re going to meet in the depths of space.
6 – Hello, my name is Charles. Many humans have always felt the need to travel to new places and leave behind what they know. But this was most often a small-scale ordeal with no more than a single-family unit or so. The massive colony operations of the Twenty Second Century were another matter entirely. They consisted of tens of the thousands of human beings sent into deep space by the combined work of billions of humans on Earth, Mars, and Venus. What reason did our governments have to back the expensive colonial projects when much smaller and cheaper scientific expeditions could have been sent in their place? I have spent my life looking for the answers to that question.
7 – Forge of War 16 – Big Damn Heroes
8 – Election Day. Americans practice our God-given right to choose the government that represents us today. We go to the polls amidst deep divides between our cultures, but for over two centuries we do what few other nations have managed. We arrange for a (usually) peaceful exchange of power between individuals who may strenuously disagree with each other. And ourselves. This is no longer unique, but it is still rare. We should all celebrate our part in such a rare system. We should be thankful that we can grow up in a nation where the poll station is the instrument of political revolution.
9 – Grieving Day. After every election, there are losers and winners. Approximately half of the people will vote for one candidate, and the other half will vote for another. And somewhere in the mix there are a handful of people who will tip the balance to one side or the other. There is rarely a mandate in modern American elections, but there will be folks who say there is. Please remember that half of the people out there are grieving over the fact that their candidate didn’t win. Or being afraid that the world will end because they lost. But the sun will continue to burn in the sky. The Earth will continue to spin around it, and a new day will come soon. And America will live to see that day because we practice our revolutions in the poll station.
10 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Vietnam-era anti-war riots and bombings had created a generation of protestors that became teachers and politicians when they came of age. They inherited control at the beginning of the Twenty-First Century, and brought all their experience to the war of their choosing. To “fundamentally transforming” America as one of their Presidents is quoted as saying. They decried their foes in this war as not just wrong, but as evil. Disagreement was met with charges of bigotry, sexism, racism, religiphobia, and any of a number of other sins. As you may guess, their fellow Americans did not appreciate this.
11 – Hello, my name is Betty. Sometimes I wonder why we can’t all just get alone. The problem of course is that we all want something different. Sometimes we want what someone else has. Most of just shrug and go get something different. But some of us decide to take whatever they want, even if someone else has it already. These vultures who take from others will always have a negative impact on society, and they have contributed to the downfall of many civilizations. The only civilizations that thrive over the long term are those who keep the worst of their own vultures in check.
12 – Hello, my name is Jack. I do try to keep myself as unserious as possible most of the time. That’s because so many people take all parts of life so seriously you know. They don’t like to joke about anything. Every little setback is a worlds ending disaster. And everything that goes their way is the best thing the worlds have ever seen. But here’s the thing. And here’s the reason why. Well. One of them. If I worried about every little thing, I’d never have time to enjoy what I have. So I chose to smile and love the life I have. It isn’t always perfect, but I can live with that. I can love that. So that is why I laugh. Love. And live.
13 – Hello, my name is Charles. Power in early Twenty-First Century America was evenly split between large rural areas and densely packed urban population centers. They were two completely different worlds that rarely met in real life. The liberal urbanites looked down on their conservative rural cousins as deplorables and irredeemable as one of their Presidential candidates once said. The rural voters thought they were wrong. That made it rather difficult for the two to coexist in the end. The American election of 2016 is touted by many as the beginning of the end of the first American Republic. It is more accurate to call it one of many flashpoints along that road.
14 – Forge of War 17 – Boardwalk
15 – Betty – The Races of Humanity. The Earth branch of humanity has met many branches of humanity and other species since leaving the solar system. The Peloran are an example of a race that can almost pass for Terran. Their pointed ears and other features give them a rather elfin look, but with good makeup and careful grooming they can walk down the streets of Earth without being noticed. They have used this fact often to blend into our crowds, and there are stories of Peloran living in the more forested regions of Earth and her colonies. They always seem to want to get away from it all and rarely come to the big cities that many Earthers prefer. Their numbers are few, but they can be found.
16 – Hello, my name is Jack. Before Yosemite, I lived for the moment. The hour. The day. After Yosemite, I lived to kill the Shang. New Washington changed me again. I still wanted to kill the Shang, of course. But that is when I chose to become something like the man I am today. Everything before that is a prelude. The building blocks of a life. I’ve grown a lot since then. But that is when I became…me. Captain Jack of Hart Squadron. Space Cowboy. Well. Just Cowboy, I suppose. But Space Cowboy has a ring to it. Does it sound too pretentious?
17 – Hello, my name is Charles. The election of 2016 did nothing to heal the divisions in America. The social left who believed it their duty to fundamentally transform America into a more European socialist-style State were morally outraged that the backwards, deplorable, and irredeemable bigots of flyover country had somehow pulled enough votes together to vote their favorite racist into office. And they were quick to tell those redneck racists exactly what they thought about them. There were protests and riots. People they thought might have voted for the other side were attacked on the streets. The roads were blocked so well that even ambulances could not get through. People died.
18 – Betty – The Races of Humanity. One of the primary differences between Peloran and Terran humanity is the Peloran growth cycle. The Albion originally created the Peloran as test tube babies grown in artificial wombs. The first batches were all male, since they were supposed to be soldiers. They grew from implanted embryos to delivery in a month, as quickly as a rabbit. They manifested their superior intelligence immediately and could talk and walk within another month. They rapidly aged through childhood, and their healing factor began to manifest until they reached puberty at two years of age. That was when their superior strength and speed began to manifest. The plan was for the Peloran to be combat ready troops within two or three years of initial implantation. Puberty was where all their plans went sideways.
19 – Hello, my name is Jack. What I learned at New Washington was simple. And it was hard. Like the simple often is. It was also complicated. I know. That’s full of contradictions. Well, that’s life. Never as simple or easy as we would like. But what did I learn? A lot. But one thing was this. I couldn’t do what I wanted to do if I remained the same old fun loving party animal I’d been as a kid. But I also couldn’t do it if I let people realize I’d changed. What did I learn? I learned that the best way for me to win was to act like I didn’t care about winning at all. People don’t tend to take the party animal seriously. And one thing growing taught me was how to do a fantastic party animal.
20 – Hello, my name is Charles. The middleclass workers of Middle America were sick and tired of being told what to do by people who did not understand them. They believed that America was a fundamentally good nation, but mired in government corruption that was affecting their lives. So they voted for the people they thought might be able to drain the swamp. This was an allusion to the fact that Washington DC had been built on a swamp. Then they watched the leftist reactions with mixed humor and disgust. They made fun of the special little snowflakes who could not handle the concept of losing. They kept track of those who rioted or worse. And they went back to work or looking for work in hopes of making it through this crisis just like the others before it. Life changed little for most of them at first.
21 – Forge of War on Amazon. In 2205, we learned the answer to one of the oldest questions of all time. Are we alone? They brought medicines with them that nearly wiped out diseases, and extended the human lifespan into the centuries. They helped us study advanced technologies, and expand our colonies hundreds of lightyears from Earth. It was a golden age that many thought would never end.
Jack grew up in a world at peace, his only interests, partying and girls. But when a sneak attack killed millions of Americans, and wiped out almost everything and everybody Jack knew, he volunteered to serve and get some payback. But the Marines want more than people looking for revenge, and cybernetic partners demand a higher commitment. If Jack wanted to earn his commission as a Marine Corps fighter pilot, he had to let himself be forged into something stronger than he’d ever felt the need to be. A man willing to live up to the name of his squadron. A Cowboy.
Forge of War, third edition, is now live on Amazon if you wish to buy it. I have learned much about writing in the last three years, and put that knowledge into making this a much better version of what I wanted it to be. Now on to other stories I wish to write. In the meantime, you can get it here if you wish.
22 – Forge of War on Barnes and Noble. For the first time in years, Forge of War is available on Barnes and Noble once more. So if you have a nook, or just like the epub format that Barnes and Noble sells in, you can finally get the story once more. I do hope you like it.
23 – Battle of Fort Wichita. Republic of Texas Marine Corps Fighter Squadron 112, the Cowboys. deploying for battle in Earth space.
Shang warships confirmed in combat over the United States.
American defensive elements at Fort Wichita heavily damaged.
Peloran element surrounded.
American fleet elements heavily engaged.
Cowboys detached and performing flanking maneuver.
Engines deployed in tactical configuration.
Laser turrets deployed and defense grids optimized.
Gravitic cannons deployed and receiving targeting data.
Firing in three…two…one…
24 – Happy Thanksgiving. Today is Thanksgiving Day in America. We teach it was first celebrated between hungry Pilgrims looking for freedom from tyranny and helpful Indians giving them the food they needed to keep from starving. As with most things, truth is more complicated. But it is a good story, and closer to reality than fantasy. The modern Thanksgiving was initiated by President Lincoln in the middle of the Civil War. It seems like a strange time to be thankful for much, but there was method to that madness. And it has remained a yearly holiday ever since, the beginning of America’s Holiday Season.
I am thankful for many things. I am alive. My appendix exploded this year. The doctors at Saint Marys saved my life.
And then a car pulled out in front of me and I fell off my motorcycle, breaking five ribs. I was wearing full protective gear, and that saved either my life or my quality of life. And the other driver stopped. His insurance is not fighting it. I still hurt, but at least they are taking care of me financially. And I can heal. I am healing. I will heal.
I am thankful for the good tenants I have who pay rent and help me pay my mortgage. I am thankful for the family who is buying my house up north, so I can afford to pay my medical bills.
I am thankful for everyone who buys my books. You have no idea how much it means to me that you enjoy my stories. And the money is amazing. You have exceeded my every expectation on a stellar scale.
I am alive. I am financially solvent. I wake up each day happy to be alive. I go to work with a smile. I come home with a smile. I have a good life, in a nice city, in a nice State, in a nice country.
There is much for me to be thankful about.
My thanksgiving is real.
And so I wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all of you as well.
25 – First Battle of Alpha Centauri.
26 – Battle of New Washington.
27 – Forge of War. I’ve been pretty happy this week with the release of the Third Edition of my first book. Everybody’s first book feels like a masterpiece when you complete it. Then it hits the real world and you see what other people think about it. In my case, most people liked it and it has sold very well over the years. But there were some warts. One of the amazing things about the modern digital platforms is the ability to fix the warts and release the book again. Ten years ago, this would have been impossible. But the modern marketplace has been revolutionized by platforms like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. We live in a new age, and I am amazed and overjoyed that my words typed here in the comfort of my home can reach all of you out there, wherever you live. That is just…fantastic. :)
28 - Forge of War 18 - Independence Seven.
29 – Betty – The Races of Humanity. The initial Albion plan for the Peloran had been to accelerate their growth until puberty, and then spend a year maturing them through puberty as they were trained for combat. That would give them trained young soldiers in three years. It was an ambitious goal. It hit the real world of human nature when the first test cases entered their third year of life. Puberty is a difficult time for anyone, as their body changes and new hormones flood brains in new and amazing ways. But then imagine that you have only had two years of life to prepare for that, and then imagine that you have never seen a girl in your life. The first run of Peloran boys hit puberty like a sledgehammer, and the program ground to a stop.
30 - Hello, my name is Jack. Personal Assistants are common as I write this. I don't know if that will be true when you read this. But the basic modern AI package is common, often available as freeware on the nets. The more expensive Personal Assistant AIs can have celebrity models included in their basic databases. And there are always kids in their basements coming up with their own knock off celebrity AIs, or writing nude codes for existing AIs. Those are real popular, let me tell you. I didn't go for any of that. I went through the AI options and picked a rather exotic look for my Northern Minnesota home. A redhead with green eyes. And tall. I wanted tall back then. With those options locked in, I just kept hitting the “generate” button until the random model hit on something I liked. And that was it. My first home built Personal Assistant. My tastes changed over the years. So did she. But she was with me until Yosemite fell.