Hello, my name is…
1 - Charles - Olivia Wyatt Captain Olivia Wyatt had no interest in working for me, you know. I do not believe she trusted me. But she did trust Jack. They fought and worked well together. He convinced her that my project was worthy of her time in the end. And so she gained command of an ancient light carrier named Normandy. It was her mission to protect my colony expedition, to escort ten thousand colonists to a new home in alien space as a message that we would always be coming, no matter what they did to us. It was her mission to take the dream of Wolfenheim and make it a reality. The stories about her are right. She fought with honor and distinction, and entire races owe their survival to her and her people. She truly was what my project needed. A leader.
2 - Jack - Ariel Ariel lost everything because of me. My plan. My execution. Her loss. Her ship. Her career. Her name. She had to create a new identity and disappear from the world she’d been born to. But at least she got another ship in the bargain. It was the least I could help arrange. Normandy was a century-old light carrier, but the Peloran upgraded her real good. Full gravdecks. New weapons. Better fighters. Better everything. They made her into a dangerous weapon of war, and Ariel took her into battle more times than I can count with my boots on. And you know what? She was the perfect girl for the job. She protected the Wolfenheim Project with all the honor and dedication she’d ever displayed in her first career. Her second life was just as amazing as her first. Maybe even better. She was worth every second I ever spent defending her flanks, and I would gladly do it again if given the chance.
3 - Medron - Big Robots and Pirates - A Tale of Two Movies I saw the new Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean movies in the last two weeks, and in many cases they are the same movie. In other ways, they are completely different. They are both a kind of origin story, adding history and gravitas to the more simplistic movies that predated them. Transformers has more story in this one movie than in all of the other Bayformers movies combined. That is not a good thing.
Transformers was in dire need of an editor willing to cull sacred cows and stuff genies (or wizards) back into the bottles they came from. I didn’t dislike the movie. I also don’t really LIKE the movie. It’s a meh movie. It is full of the some of the best filmed or cg created scenes in the entire franchise. From fan service scenes where Bumblebee actually shows up as a Volkswagen, to them showing us how the Witwickys fit in the world of Transformers. And the fight scenes throughout are almost perfect. You can see the action in crystal clarity as if Bayformers lost the shaky cam. The problem is that the story that brings all those awesome scenes together is…too busy. Too chaotic. Too complicated. We move from cool scene to cool scene in a blinding flash of story bits that serve more to confuse than to inform. What Transformers needed was to cut out a third to half of the movie, and then embellish on what was left. It would have made a great movie that way. As is, it is a meh movie. It’s taken me a week and watching another movie to figure out how to say what I feel. If that doesn’t say anything about Transformers, I don’t know what will.
Pirates on the other hand, was a fun movie to watch. It also has much more story, and was a very complicated movie if you delve into the story. But the story is shown more and told less. And that is the key. Pirates never seems to TELL us anything. It shows it all to us, from Jack Sparrow’s origin to what could be his utter end, in dribs and drabs that leave us wanting more. Pirates was a fun movie to watch, and I find myself wanting to watch it again. And if that doesn’t say anything about Pirates, I don’t know what will.
4 - Medron - Happy Independence Day Today is the day to remember what generations of American patriots have fought for. We remember their sacrifice, and we celebrate what they gave us. We remember the Declaration of Independence that brave men signed in the face of a worldwide empire. We remember those who signed the Constitution we live with two centuries later. We stand outside in the evening light and celebrate the birth of our nation by blowing a piece of it up. Today, in typical American fashion, we celebrate our Independence Day.
5 - Charles - John Park John Park tutored me in languages during my formative years. He explained how they were created by the underlying cultures to a young man more interested in girls than language. He taught me how to woo girls in a dozen languages, and how to question every sacred cow of nations and cultures. And he taught me to question the traditions of my family. My father did not appreciate this once he discovered the extent of John’s teachings and banished him from the family, but my father was too late. John made me the man I am today. Then he joined the church, became a pastor, and spent a century staying out of the news. I tracked him down after that, and it was not long before he was part of the Wolfenheim Project.
6 - Jack - Kara Dawn and Dorothy have many sisters. A whole gaggle of them joined the Wolfenheim Project once it started kicking with gas. Kara was one of them. I heard rumors that some fine upstanding young gentlemen were moonlighting in the area, and some of our people were complaining, so I went to investigate. That was when Kara walked on in and was accosted by one of those gentlemen. She was soon explaining to the young man exactly why he had made a mistake in that dark alley. He was lucky the only thing he tried to steal was her handbag. I don’t think he would have walked away if he’d demanded anything more. She told him what she thought of him over ten minutes in multiple languages, and she didn’t repeat herself once. Then she walked away, leaving him hanging by his middle fingers, and went on about her way. I arranged for his boss to see the footage and the fine upstanding young gentlemen ceased to be an issue. And I reminded myself to never underestimate Kara’s mastery of human communications.
7 – Betty – A Primer on the Races of Humanity – Branan The Branan left their homeworld less than a century after the Albion disappeared. Technically, they’d left numerous times in the years before, using the Albion shuttles to place satellites in orbit, and do all of the other things a young spacefaring race does. But those were tiny ships that could take only a few people and small amounts of cargo into orbit. A few brave souls floated through the system on exploration trips that took years, far out of reach of any help if there was an emergency, and beamed their findings back home. But most of their time was spent no further out than the outer orbitals. Then the Branan began sending larger boosters into orbit to assemble great interplanetary spacecraft. Albion shuttles controlled the first of them, but the Branan built their own complete spacecraft in time. And that was when they began their true colonization of their home star system.
8 - Charles - John Park John Park helped the Wolfenheim Project for years before it was time to launch. And then he left with it when the time came. John’s stated reasoning was that my father would be unhappy with anyone he thought might be involved, so John wanted to get out of the line of fire. I think that John simply wished to see new horizons. A century in one place can become boring after all. Whatever his true reasons, John Park became a valued member of the Wolfenheim Project in short order. Though considering how many Johns were part of the project, they soon came up with a new name for him. Most of you have never heard the name John Park. He traveled so far away that his name faded from memory. Most people call him Preacher now. Preacher Wolfenheim to be more specific. Yes. That Preacher Wolfenheim. The one with the Pilgrim Cross.
9 - Jack – Kara Kara was always the sister who was most interested in language. Cybernetic intelligences communicate with each other completely differently than we do, on more channels than we can imagine. They use spoken language to work with us, but many of them consider it a slow and clumsy form of communication. But Kara loved the art of speaking and she practiced it all the time. Some people even called her a chatterbox. But the fact is that she could communicate more with her tongue than most cybers ever tried to. And she always preferred a good philosophical argument over anything else. It was the art of communicating deep and personal ideas through the slow and difficult medium that is language that entranced her. I suppose that’s why John interested her. Preacher John, not any of the other Johns. They were fighters. Preacher was…well…a talker. He could talk the spots off a cheetah, and Kara could convince the cheetah it looked better that way. You could say they got along like a house on fire.
10 - Medron - Revisions I’ve learned a lot about writing in the last few years. The first thing I thought I knew after decades of writing stories is that I was at the top of my game and ready for the big leagues. I was sorta right. I was at the top of my game. And the big leagues of being an actual published author are rather nebulous when you think about it. On the plus side, I did pass that test of actually publishing and selling a book. On the minus side, I had a lot to learn about writing. The learning wasn’t always easy, and it led me to do a full rewrite on Forge of War because it just didn’t live up to what I wanted it to be. That rewrite took almost as long as it took to write the book in the first place, but it is what I want it to be now. And I’ve published it in dead tree format as well, and of that I’m doubly proud.
The trick is though, that in the rewriting, I broke some of the continuity of the stories I wrote later. So I’ve been doing some minor revisions in them as well. The most radical is the separation of Dawn into two characters for the Wolfenheim series. I was not fully happy with how I’d handled that originally, even as I was writing it, but I couldn’t say why. And it worked. But the more time I’ve learned about writing, and the more time I’ve spent writing, I started to understand what my subconscious had been telling me at the time. I was being lazy. In a story that felt like it had too many characters, I was trying to lower the number of characters by combining two that shouldn’t have been combined. So, the revised version of Wolfhenheim Rising I’m working on now is fixing that. It’s a very easy switch in most cases, though I did have to cut a few lines of dialog that I particularly liked. I plan on recycling them for later.
The point is, that I’ve reread and sometimes revised every line of every story I’ve published in the last few years to match the rewrite of Forge of Wars. Call it the decision of the author. Has it helped my sales? No. New books drive sales. But my hope is that having a better set of stories will help my sales better in the future. And whether that hope works or not, I can say this. I am more proud of what I’ve published now than I was in the past. So in that alone it was worth it.
If you want to see what I’ve done with the stories, contact me. I can arrange for you to get a look at it. And if you want to see what I write next when I continue Wolfenheim, I can arrange that too. I’m very close to jumping back into that unexplored territory that will…shall we say…have a profound impact on the universe of Jack of Harts. :)
11 - Medron - Life Under Obamacare I’ve told the story before. I had healthcare insurance before Obamacare. It was 100 bucks a month and did what I needed. I spent several years without healthcare after Obamacare ended my insurance, though I finally got Obamacare this year after last year’s medical drama. The premium is over 700 bucks a month now.
Here’s the new part. It still doesn’t cover the first two or three thousand dollars. And after I meet the deductible, and after I meet the “maximum out of pocket expense” when Obamacare should be stepping in and covering everything, it really doesn’t. Every time I have any medical expense right now, Obamacare covers about half of it, and sluffs the rest off on me. So I’m paying 200 bucks a month to pay off the loan on last year’s healthcare, plus I have a 700 dollar a month Obamacare plan, plus I’m paying on this year’s still expanding expenses.
And just one more kick in the pants? Even though I’m paying two different companies that Obamacare won’t pay off, on time, they continue to send me phone calls and letters threatening to send me to collections if I don’t give them more money, faster. This is why, today, instead of writing stories, I’m collecting my second yearly financial statement so I can apply for financial aid to cover my medical costs.
I’ve sold one vehicle and a house in the last year with no plans to replace them, and that money is going to pay the medical bills. My own government has done more financial damage to me in the last eight years than anyone else has ever done.
This is life under Obamacare. God help us all, because the government surely won’t.
12 - Charles - John Smith I needed to recruit many people to turn Wolfenheim from a dream into reality. John Smith was one of the more important ones. He commanded the fighter group that defended Wolfenheim, and gave them a chance when the time came to fight our enemies. Rumors leaked that he had been a Cowboy before joining the Wolfenheim Project. We released them, and then refused to comment on them. They could not possibly be true, you know. We knew all of the living Cowboys were at Sunnydale, preparing to attack the Hyades Cluster. It is a good thing nobody knew about the Gemini Project at the time, or there may have been some uncomfortable questions. It is an open secret now, so I can confirm in this journal at least. Yes. John Smith was a Cowboy. And no. I am not prepared to say which one he was, even in this journal. That is his secret to tell, not mine. But know this. He was a brave Cowboy in his time. And he earned every accolade he received as part of the Wolfenheim Project.
13 - Jack - Anna Anna was like our friend Mister Smith. She was a Cowboy before they joined the Wolfenheim Project. Yes, I know who she was, but I’m not going to tell. That’s not me being a snot. I just don’t want to tattle on her. She was always judging me as unworthy back in the day, completely unfairly I might add, and I’m not going to give her any more ammunition in that direction by letting the secret slip out. Not that it’s nearly as much of a secret now as it was back during the Wolfenheim Project’s early days. But it’s the spirit of the thing. She chose to start a new life, with a new name and a new identity, so she could help the Wolfenheim Project succeed. And you know what? I respect that enough not to spill the beans even now. Honest. Scout’s honor. You gotta ask her who she was cause I ain’t telling.
14 - Betty - A Primer on the Races of Humanity - Branan Betelgeuse is an old red supergiant that has been blowing chunks of itself out into space in successive waves for eons. The star itself would cover our own star system out to the Jovian orbit, and outer shells of water, dust, and energy that used to be the star spread far out beyond our own Neptune or Pluto. It’s a large and dangerous system to fly through, but the Branan didn’t have to fly though most of it when they began their first colonization program. Their homeworld was one of six small planets orbiting the gas giant closest to Betelgeuse, and that gas giant continually plowed a reasonably safe course through the star’s outer shells where its planets and moons could live in general peace. So their first “interplanetary” colonization efforts were actually very short hops to other planets orbiting that very same gas giant. They were dangerous enough to start with, especially in a system like Betelgeuse, but they gave the Branan a taste for interplanetary colonization that would forever drive them in search of new frontiers.
15 - Charles - John Smith We created the rumors that John Smith was a Cowboy because it would help us recruit more people to the Wolfenheim Project. The Cowboys were already famous at the time, some might use the word infamous, and the name brought much attention to our project. And John Smith was as photogenic as anybody could wish for the face of a new project. He was certainly much better looking than Malcolm or I ever were. And he compared favorably to Olivia, who was a hero in her own right. The two of them did wonders for our press. The Hero of Serenity and New Earth on the one hand, and the ridiculously name John Smith on the other. No one ever believed that was his real name, and the rumors that he was a former Cowboy forced into a new life by vengeful superiors played off the reality of Olivia’s ridiculous court martial. Those two were a perfect storm that gave the Wolfenheim Project life. And John Smith played his role with a baby-faced innocence that was magnificent. Yes, I am proud to say that he was a Cowboy. He was one of the best of us.
16 - Jack - Anna I didn’t see Anna very much back in the day. I was busy fighting while she was helping jumpstart the Wolfenheim Project. But I saw her sometimes when The War brought me back to New Earth. She was always happy and chipper and cheerful and all the other qualities that make people who are not morning people want to shoot first and not apologize later. I think I suspected who she was just from that. Yeah, I wasn’t in on that part of the plan at first. Plausible deniability. But I think I knew in the back of my mind. She was one of the cutest little killers I ever met. She was a joy to be around, unless I hadn’t had my morning dose of caffeine yet, or when she was giving me that judgmental look. Completely unearned on my account, I assure you. Few people are better to be around than a cute girl bouncing around and smiling at everyone she meets. She was good for Wolfenheim.
17 - Medron - The American Future America is over two hundred years old now, but we face divisions the like of which we have not faced in many decades. We’d had a series of single party systems before that. First the Federalists believed in the unmatched power of the Federal government to rule and were soon defeated and utterly destroyed by Jefferson’s Republicans who believed in a less powerful Federal infrastructure. They were shattered in turn by Jackson’s Democrats who burst out of the Republican party and left its remains to burn on the political fires. They used their iron lock on the Federal institutions to return escaped slaves to their masters and sent the Indians west of the Mississippi. And then they began to fight amongst themselves over what political aims to push, opening the road for a little third party candidate under a new political party with an old name to sneak through a victory with only forty percent of the vote. The Democrats were so offended and outraged by the new President that they refused to accept him. They called for resistance and armed rebellion, and they attacked the American forts that refused to surrender in the areas they controlled. And so began America’s Civil War.
The one party system died in that Civil War, and never again would one party rule without any real opposition. Oh, the political fortunes of the Republican and Democrat Parties have waxed and waned over time, but in all but a few times there has always been a decently powerful power base on each side. The Democrats rebuilt their power using the methods and axioms of the Progressive and Socialist Left, demanding greater Federal power over all sectors of the economy and culture. The Republicans on the other hand transitioned from being a purely Anti-Slavery Party who sought to use the power of the Federal government to end that institution, to a party that supported less Federal power in a more Economically decentralized Right style of governance.
Economies rise and fall, just as political fortunes do, and the Republicans rode high in the twenties, only to fall in the thirties and forties. Then came a time of political balance as the culture went Left for a time, until the seventies when economic and cultural flames burned bright. We lurched Right as a country then, and our economy and self image rose in equal measure, only to fall again when our economy collapsed a mere two or three decades later. Then we lurched Left once more.
American politics have become a battleground where we are constantly pulled Left and Right over issues as complex as foreign policy or as simple as a right to live in a never ending, knock down drag out fight that will accept no compromise.
The Left wants to fundamentally transform the country because they think the sins of America outweigh our virtues. And they seek to drive out all who would oppose them in order to cleanse our nation of our poisonous past. The Right on the other hand believes that our nation’s virtues outweigh our sins, and would like to raise their children in something like the world they grew up in. So they fundamentally refuse to take one more step down any path the Left pushes.
Neither are willing to compromise on anything short of absolute victory or to compromise on any single issue for fear of weakening any part of their battle line. And those in the Middle who see good ideas on both sides are seen as traitors to both sides. That is why both the Left and the Right aim so much hatred and vitriol at the political Middle.
And like it or not, that is why Trump was elected. Middle America was sick of dealing with the candidates of both the Right and the Left. They didn't accept the chosen Left candidate, and they wouldn't accept those the Right pushed. So they used the more open Republican nomination process to champion ANYBODY who wasn't establishment.
They didn't back Trump because they liked him. They did it because he was at war with both the establishment Left and Right. And that is why both establishments are at war with Trump. They cannot allow him to be successful, because if he is, it will critically weaken both of their battle lines. And so they shun him. They fight him at every step, they label him illegitimate and unworthy. They call his supporters Deplorable or worse. They call for armed resistance.
One of the background ideas of Jack of Harts is that it did break down. We had what is generally called a Second Great Depression, but has other names as well. Some called it a Second Civil War, because in some ways it was. The country fractured into smaller polities like the Republics of California and Texas, or Dixie and New England. America survived in the end, in a way, but it was fundamentally different in many small and some large ways. When I first wrote Jack, I did not believe we would get better as a nation until we got much worse. And in the time since I first did so, I have seen things get worse. And as much I love the future of my Jack universe, I would really prefer that we not repeat the NEAR future I wrote out.
Because I wrote a future where both sides are so afraid of losing an inch in their political and cultural wars that they carpet-bombed anyone who dared to support someone they do not approve of…until the very fabric of our culture broke under the strain of it all. A social collapse like that is bad for everyone, and I don’t want to see it happen in any place where I happen to live. So I caution those who preach resistance and rebellion…on either the Left or the Right…We have lived for nearly two centuries without significant armed conflict in America. Please do not bring that streak to an end…
18 - Medron - An Atlas to Time, Space, and Bonfires I just got a copy of my first short story in print. Case Gemini is in the wild! It’s part of An Atlas to Time, Space, and Bonfires, an anthology of a couple dozen short stories by numerous authors. All of it science fiction of one flavor or another. I got it in dead tree format because I’m one of the cool kids on the inside. You can get it in ebook form right now, though the management is hoping to get the physical copy in your hands via online sales in the future. Then you’ll be just as cool as me. ;) In the meantime, gaze upon the awesomsauce that is a printed book with an awesome cover underneath one of the computers I wrote my short story on. Yes, that is a custom Jack of Harts skin from a little company called Skinit that makes beautiful covers for all kinds of different electronic devices.
19 - Jack - Caroline Murphy I had the misfortune of dealing with more stuck up, incompetent Pennsylvania Star Fleet officers than I care to remember. But there was this time off the New Washington orbitals when a squadron of Russian raiders came in for a quick nip at one of our relief squadrons. I was doing my best to keep them busy, but I didn’t have enough fighters to stop them. Then this destroyer squadron came flying in out of the sun under full stealth. The Russians outmassed them two to one, but never saw them coming until it was too late, and that was all she wrote. The Russians broke and ran for hyperspace after the first salvo, and then it was time for me to thank my new heroes for saving my life. That was the day I met Commodore Caroline Murphy. I don’t know what Pennsylvania promotions board messed up and actually promoted a capable officer, but I’m awful glad they did. I may be just a bit biased in my opinion, though.
20 - Charles - Dana Murphy The Pennsylvania Star Fleet is composed primarily of destroyer squadrons, the better to parcel out squadron command positions to people with the right political connections. They have a higher ratio of squadron Commodores and fleet Admirals than any other American navy, though many of them do not live up to the standards that other navies require. Commodore Dana Murphy is an exception to that rule. She would have had a squadron command in any navy, and Star Fleet had recognized her outstanding talent by giving her one of their newest heavy cruisers. The rest of her squadron was much older, built primarily from ships retired from Federal Navy service decades ago, but a cruiser squadron of any kind flying the Pennsylvania flag is a rare testament to the trust and authority the Commonwealth is willing to give an officer. I am certain that she would have been promoted to Admiral within a year had Wolfenheim not left New Earth when it did. That trip had more consequences than even I anticipated.
21 - Betty - A Primer on the Races of Humanity - Branan The first homebuilt Branan spaceships were slow affairs, propelled by rocket boosters and using spin sections to generate gravity as they traveled between the nearby planets. The Albion shuttles had their own gravplating for internal gravity, but the Branan couldn’t duplicate that technology, so they made do with ships not far removed from those we used to explore our own star system. It would be decades before they improved their ships enough to brave the depths of the Betelgeuse system and navigate to the other two gas giants orbiting their home star. They spent decades more colonizing the planets orbiting those giants as they continued on to explorer the outer reaches of their star system with better and better spacecraft. And then they decided it was time to follow their creators into the interstellar deeps.
22 - Jack - Caroline Murphy I fought with Caroline Murphy a few times back during The War. And then there was this one day out at Sunnydale when we were assembling the fleets to attack the Hyades. Wolfenheim came through looking to stock up on consumables and I went over to share a beer with my favorite starship captain. And that was when this destroyer squadron came off the New Earth Run and started broadcasting for all to hear. I took one look at Caroline’s transmission and told Olivia to never underestimate that woman. Right before I exited stage left and got out of the line of fire. I took the time to message Caroline before she followed them out system. We may have had a heart to heart about Wolfenheim, but she was a product of the Pennsylvania Families. And she was stubborn. I suppose that’s a bit like the pot calling the kettle black, but we parted on civil terms, and she disappeared into the wild black yonder. I spent the next two decades wondering what came of her out there. Then I found out. Then everyone found out.
23 - Charles - Dana Murphy It took mere days for word to arrive back home that the Wolfenheim Project had departed New Earth. Commodore Dana Murphy’s sister and her destroyer squadron followed in pursuit, but the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania knew destroyers would be unsuitable for a pursuit operation that would cover hundreds of lightyears at the minimum. So they chose to send a larger cruiser squadron to follow and reinforce Dana’s sister. That is how Dana became involved with the Wolfenheim Project, of course. They thought the optics of sending a sister to support her sister far from home would make their triumphant return more compelling and attractive news for the networks to gush over. They were right on one point. It did make the news. And the networks did fight for the right to interview them. It took far longer than they expected though, and they did not appreciate the news that was written in the end. As many of you remember, Dana Murphy and her sister made a truly compelling story when they returned to Earth after War’s End.
24 - Medron - The State of BattleTech I’ve spent most of my adult life playing BattleTech. I’ve read just about every novel, sourcebook, and anything published under the BattleTech name. I’ve known more about BattleTech fictional in universe history than the real world history I live in. I’ve gotten into deep philosophical discussions about the factions and beliefs that populate this universe. I’ve been a beta tester and fact checker for numerous published BattleTech works over the years. I’ve run BattleTech campaigns for years. I’ve been a FanPro Commando and Catalyst Agent running official games in my hometown. I’ve run BattleTech games at Gencon, one of the greatest experiences in gaming if I say so myself. ;)
I’ve seen BattleTech wax high, and wane low over the literal decades that I’ve been part of the game. I remember when the first Harmony Gold lawsuit happened and Ral Partha had to throw away dozens or hundreds of miniatures that became known as the Unseen. I remember FASA closing shop and wondering if BattleTech was dead forever. And then it came back and that was when I chose to volunteer to help.
One of the things I tried to do from the inside of the Demo Teams was clarify the rules on what miniatures we were allowed to use in official events. The rules when I started were…convoluted and…well…not very simple. And knowing the way rules lawyers always look for such issues, I looked for and brought them up for internal discussion when I found them. I wanted to make certain that all of us volunteers knew without the shadow of doubt which miniatures the company would allow us to use on our official tables. And that we would be able to have a solid rule set already in place so we could inform players what is allowed by the rules and the company so they would know that we weren’t just being nasty people. That we were doing what we were doing so the company would not be sued. And a very good set of rules was made.
That time is long gone now. I was released from the Demo Team years ago after starting a discussion in the private Demo Team forums on how the Robotech Tactics game messed up the very good rules we had. I’ve stepped away from BattleTech since then. I’ve spent most of my time writing my own fiction and creating my own universe. Publishing my own stories and making money on it. But I’ve watched BattleTech, and I smiled as I saw the Newseen versions of many of my favorite old BattleMechs released. New art. New look. And yet evocative of the designs I loved. Not the same by any means. But good enough. Certainly much prettier than the Reseen versions that hit every branch of the Ugly Tree as they fell from the sky.
Today I learned that Harmony Gold has sued several BattleTech related companies over the Newseen created by Catalyst and over the similar versions created for MechWarrior Online. Now I can see why HG would be interested in something like…say…the Warhammer or the Phoenix Hawk, which were licensed from the original Macross cartoon just as Robotech was. But I notice they are also saying that BattleMechs like the venerable Atlas are infringing on their rights of ownership over warrior robots.
I think they are getting into “Suing Hasbro” regions of crazy legal maneuvers here, but I may be wrong. The courts of law and copyright have brought down some crazy rulings over the years. And one never knows what will happen when you trust the future of your business to a court of law. But I know this. I remember what the first lawsuit cost us as a gaming franchise, both for the fans and the companies that have continued with the game. I do not wish to see another lawsuit do that to us again. So I look on this lawsuit with great worry. And I hope we are able to weather it better than the first one.
25 - Betty - A Primer on the Races of Humanity - Branan Some people describe Betelgeuse as a rogue star barging through the stellar neighborhood on the lookout for stray moons, planets, or even stars to feed its faltering furnace. Most of the stars have managed to escape on their own courses, but at tremendous cost to their planetary systems. Betelgeuse’s five companion stars and what remains of their planetary systems are a legacy of this rogue path through the galaxy. These small stars orbit between one and three lightyears from the supergiant with some surviving gas giants that have guarded small planets and moons of their own during their difficult trek through the cosmos. It was these systems that the Branan targeted with their first interstellar colonization missions.
26 - Malcolm - Dana Murphy I grew up with Dana Murphy. It is the way life is when your families are clients of someone as powerful as the Hurst Family. They give lip service to the idea that all well-bred people are equal, but when it comes to real life practice, some people or more equal than others. Our families were lucky enough to be part of their sphere of influence though, and that influence gained us access to the best private schools and vacation destinations. Dana and I were part of the same class from kindergarten all the way to our senior year of high school. We knew each other well and found ourselves navigating the same social circles. Just about every boy wanted her, and most of them got her if the rumors are true. I was not immune to that particular wish. She was the captain of the cheerleading team, and I was a not-so-star football wide receiver. I saw a lot of her over the years, and I was definitely not immune to anything that had to do with her.
27 - Malcolm - Caroline Murphy I grew up with Caroline Murphy. Sort of. She was younger than me, so I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about her. Or being with her for that matter. She was simply the younger sister, always hanging around at Family functions or practicing on the field when I was out. She was part of the junior varsity cheerleading team, so I definitely saw her on a regular basis. I even remember rumors that she had a thing for me, but a year’s difference in age is an eternity to a teenager, and my mind was ever on her older sister. It was all or nothing with her, and to my teenage hormones, Caroline was nothing. Such is the infinite wisdom of youth. There are times I wish I could go back and kick some sense into my younger self. Though I was so hard headed back then that I’d probably break my foot if I tried. The point is, I remember Caroline. And the more I remember, the more I wonder what could have been had I the eyes to see.
28 - Betty - Primer on the Races of Humanity - Branan The Branan targeted the closest of Betelgeuse’s companion stars with their first interstellar, slower than light, rocket propelled colonization craft. It took decades to cross the relatively tiny interstellar gulf in sleeper ships carrying a few thousand individuals, but their crews found that interstellar space was far safer to navigate than that found in the depths of the Betelgeuse system. More colonization ships took to space in the decades and centuries that followed, until every major and minor rock in all six of Betelgeuse’s systems was colonized. More sleeper ships followed, filled with immigrants who wanted to live a new life under new stars, and their colonies thrived as time marched on. The total population of the dozens of small worlds, scores of moons, and untold numbers of asteroids in the Betelgeuse systems numbered approximately one trillion souls when we finally made Contact. That was more than every human being alive on every one of our 23rd Century Core Worlds combined.
29 - Malcolm - Dana Murphy Dana Murphy was one of the most popular girls in school when we grew up. I found myself entranced with her many charms. And if I could have said it so well when I was that age, I might have actually gotten somewhere with her. Then we graduated and went to different colleges, and like high school classes all around the world, we drifted apart. I pretty much only saw her at Family functions until I was…invited to leave the Family. I even more rarely saw her after that. I grew up into the strapping young con artist most of you know from stories, and she became one of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Star Fleet’s premier Commodores. I followed her career path, and I knew she’d grown up, but the human mind is a fickle thing. The face that ever remained in my mind was the one I remember from our senior year in high school. It was quite the shock when the grown up version of her finally chased my Wolfenheim Project down. And me. She most certainly caught me, I assure you.
30 - Malcolm - Caroline Murphy Caroline Murphy grew up in time. I forgot her entirely. I don’t think I even remembered that she existed. Dawn had to remind me who she was when we met in the Pleiades. But I don’t truly forget things. I just file them away in the dark recesses of my mind and forget where they are. I began recovering some of my memories of her as time went on. Her family had a nice pool, and they hosted lots of parties back in the day. The entire junior varsity cheerleading team would spend weekends lying out there, baking in the sun and going for the whole “no tan lines” thing. Ah the things that get the attention of a teenage boy. I should have spent more time with Caroline and her friends. I shouldn’t have passed them by because they were a year younger. I should have realized that her older sister had her sights on far more important men than I. And you know the really important thing? The more I remembered about Caroline, the more I realized that she never bought into all the Great Family nonsense. She left enough clues for me that I should have noticed that, amongst other things. But I was young and stupid back then.
31 - Medron - What’s God Got To Do With It? Those of you who pay attention to science fiction may have heard that the new Star Trek series has boycotted God. Seriously. The word God is no longer allowed. They say that is in reflection of Gene Roddenberry’s vision. The problem with that argument is that God has always been part of Star Trek. Religion and faith have been there since the very beginning.
In one episode of The Original Series, Kirk met the actual Greek god Apollo and told him we had no need of him. That one God was quite adequate. In another episode, they visited a world where a Twentieth Century Roman Empire reigned supreme and they worshiped the Son of God. And do I even need to mention Star Trek V: The Search for God? What about Next Generation’s Q, a being who certainly thought himself a god and wished us to worship him. And then there was that little sideplot where DS9’s Sisko became the Emissary of the Gods of Bajor.
God, Religion, and Faith have been integral parts of many of our best stories. The original Battlestar Galactica and Babylon 5 touched or wallowed in these concepts, and it made them richer for it. And many other great science fiction stories in print and video alike have wrestled with those concepts.
God, Religion, and Faith are part of my Jack of Harts universe. Jack himself is a…wayward Christian. He was raised in the church but…well…like many young adults he has gone a different path. He didn’t precisely reject his faith, but he certainly lost it over the years. Malcolm and Charles are two men raised by Great Families who did not believe in God. They were raised as princes of the universe who need hold no other gods above them. And their mentor, long ago sent packing for the cardinal sin of not believing in the greatness of the Families, became a Christian pastor and began a new life of service to humanity. Their faiths, or lack thereof, are recurring themes in my stories.
God, Religion, and Faith are part of our culture, and ignoring them does a disservice to the stories we wish to write. What is humanity without God? Without religion? Without faith? Communism answered that question for us in the real world. The Hunger Games are a fictional example of how low humanity without decency and faith can fall. I can think of few things worse than a society where they are banned…dismissed…boycotted.
And so I write stories about a future where we did most things right. We created a world we would want to live in, not simply one that makes for exciting stories. A world where someone can grow up in peace. A world where, in their own ways and despite the trials they all went though, the main characters all found a good path to adulthood. My world is no Utopia, but it is far closer to that than a Dystopia.
We still have faith in the ultimate decency of humanity. And that faith is the central conflict of my stories. The Alien Shang do not share our faith in the decency of our humanity. We are a threat. We are not worthy. And so it is up to our brave heroes to stand up and not go quietly into that night. To have faith in themselves, their friends, and many they’ve never met.
And that is where I borrow another of Gene’s old rules. Members of Star Fleet did not fight one another in his vision of humanity’s better future. And in my stories, the Cowboys do not fight each other. They have their faults, but they are the best of us. They are the ones with the courage to stand forward, to volunteer to defend those who do not or cannot. They are a team, standing side by side in defense of the civilization behind them. A civilization we could be if we do more things right than wrong. If we create a world we would like our children to grow up in.
I have faith that we can do that. And so I write it. And so I hope you read it.