What is UnWelcome Neighbors

by Erl Tyriss

What is Unwelcome Neighbors? It is several things. It is a setting for various fictional creations, but also encompassing a thematic series of creative works.

UwN (UnWelcome Neighbors) is in setting terms three a parallel universes of Earths and Milky Way galaxies. Each has been touched by similar events in ancient civilizations. These civilizations were able to bridge the dimensional barriers of each universe and contact their counterparts in the parallel universes.

Over 200 million years ago a species, later to be called the Deiwos by humans, built a series of very advance technological constructions. One of those constructs is an advance set of hyperspatial gates, that the Deiwos built at many sites throughout the Milky way galaxy. These gates twist space/time to allow travel between the gates at all points within the network. Those gates had the potential to even cross outside of the universe.

The other construct was a basement pocket universe that underlay, but connected to, the local galactic group. The Deiwos filled this lumscent space with energy and particles till it became a complete plenum. This lumscent plenum became a power source and communication medium for the Deiwos civilization.

In one of those universes the Deiwos decided to advance the work of their predecessors by combining these two massive construct. This plan was considered significantly in three universe. The outcomes were drastically different in each of these three.

The first universe is identified by the writer title of the Dissolution Wars. In setting, once the Deiwos started to communicate between the universes, the Deiwos would come to be called this universe the Bleak. In the Bleak, the consens between the Deiwos feel apart about connecting the hyperspational gate network to e lumscent plenum. There was great concern that the result could cause sufficient spatial distortion to slowly destroy the whole local galactic group by collapsing the local space into a large galactic size singularity.

The disagreement lead to eventual total wars that spanned millenia and destroyed the galactic wide Deiwos civilization. The result was to treaty that split the galaxy with a clear neutral dividing line between the various Deiwos societies. The Deiwos lost most of their past civilizations influence and capacity. New species would go to the stars and build new civilizations in the place where the Deiwos had lived and walked.

The second universe is identified by the writer’s title of Taraka Indriya. In setting, once the Deiwos started communicating between the universe, hey called this universe the Bliss. In the Bliss, the Deiwos were able to discover the flaw in their merger plans and adjusted the engineering designs. The leaders of the Deiwos galactic civilization were able to persuade all of the dissenting factions to allow the project to go forward, and thus the Deiwos civil war was avoided in this universe.

The lack of galactic level strife would see the Deiwos continue to dominate the stars for millions of years. As younger species developed into space faring technological societies, they would always encounter aspects of the Deiwos presence. This would and did lead to minor strife and tensions, yet the Deiwos made room for these newcomers.

The third universe is identified by the writer’s title of the Enduring Realm. In setting, once the Deiwos started communicating between the universes, they called this one the Broken. In the Broken, the Deiwos pushed through with the engineering merger, despite the violence of the dissidents. The fear of an eventual galactic collapse into a singularity was found to be incorrect, but such vast metric engineering was found to have another price. The adjustment done in the Bliss were not done in the Broken, so dimensional tensions and strain was created . These stressors caused volumes of resulting hyperspatial lumscent plenum to be unstable. The new structure placed strain on prime space/time, but also tore into other space/times showing the Deiwos wee not the first civilization with these vast space construction ambitions.

From these other spaces came strange forms of life, some not even following the natural laws of the prime universes. The Deiwos of the Broken would find themselves having to defend their home galaxies against some of these strange life forms.

These three parallel universes would find connection through the actions of the Deiwos. In time the Deiwos and other civilizations would find ways to communicate and travel between the Bliss, the Bleak, and the Broken.

These three universes each represent connected but separate settings for a variety of fiction, each with their own genre. The next post will discuss the worldbuilding aspects of the human civilizations of each universe of UnWelcome Neighbors.

Planned Midgardr series of novels

The Midgardr Series is a planned connected 6 novel series where all novels are set in the same setting and with similar thematic tones. The tones draw from a wide range of Germanic mythic and legendary cycles. The concept is not just to draw from the Nordic branch of Germanic mythology, but also try and draw themes, concepts and stories from other branches such as the Eastern Germanic, often mixed with Western Slavic legends, and Anglo-Saxon myths.

The setting is an Alternate Earth with a deep ice age, which has only moderate size ice walls; but where the ice sheets retreated completely in the prime Earth, in this world the Ice Age continues at a reduced scale. This leads to global temperatures being cooler and sea levels lower. Another given of the setting is the existence of systems of magic, magical creatures, and immortals.

The six novels are titled the following:

  1. The Valkyrie’s Test
  2. The Old Marshal’s Tale
  3. The Elven Forest & the Enchantment of the Crepuscular Light
  4. From War Maiden to Conquering Empress
  5. Twilight of Death & Dreams
  6. Steward of Crows & Ravens

The plots have some overlap. The Old Marshal is set in the British Isles and the lowlands of the exposed sea bed, Doggerland. This is part of a larger European empire that goes deep into the north and mainland Europe.

The idea of the Valkyrie’s Test is set in a place on Earth in the far North where the younger immortals are tested and trained. The immortals who are worshiped by mortals as gods do not have an overbearing presence upon this Earth, but keep various domiciles upon this world to aid the mortal humans they try to protect from other immortal monsters and species.

The Elven Forest is a reluctant alliance between Germanic alfar, or elves, and a human tribes against greatest threats deep in the heart of primal forested Europe.

The War Maiden is set in the Pontiac Steppes where older Germanic and Slavic ideas mixed with Western Steppe legends. Here nomadic tribes of Europe fight among themselves and face the very different Asian steppe nomads whom they meet across the seas of grass that connect both regions.

The later two, Twilight of Death & Dreams and Steward of Crows & Ravens are a retelling of the myths and legends of the Germanic gods, but with an extensive twist. Due to the greater scope and power of these greater immortals the story goes beyond just the Midgardr world presented in the other stories.

The whole series is thematically connected and planned to reference each other subtly.

UnWelcome Neighbors is a literary experiment

Unwelcome Neighbors is a space opera setting. That is the first thing that can be said about it. But it goes just a little further than that in its themes and subgenre parts. The attempt in creating the setting and the stories set within it, were to experiment with a wide range of science fiction subgenres across a vast scope.

Unwelcome Neighbors is one story setting but within the setting it is not one universe, but two universes connected by the actions of ancient civilizations within the Local Group of galaxies. As a writer this has allowed me to work with my coauthors to experiment with a number of different thematic genres, while still sticking to a space opera setting in size and scope of time and space.

There are whole story arcs of broad strokes and sometimes narrow focus set within the UnWelcome Neighbors setting. Each is connected and has a distant impact on the others, even when they are of different genres.

The first universe operates under the title of the Dissolution Wars. It was first created with an eye for trying to write military science fiction with a harder science fiction edge. Far too much military science fiction over the years has failed to give the reader a full impression of just how vast interstellar distances are, especially upon a galactic scale.

For the moment the Dissolution Wars are divided into two story arcs; the Artisans of War & the Tranc Wars. Both are military science fiction, and only tentatively connected in plot, even though occurring in the same galaxy at roughly the same eras.

The Artisans of War deal with the antics and tribulations of Humanity as it expands out from the Solar System and finds both allies & foes. This covers a period from 3100 A.D. up through 5100 A.D. and leads to numerous advances. Throughout the entire period Humanity is still fragmented politically and culturally. This has been the reality for the entire 10000 years of human civilization so far, there is no reason to believe the future will be that different, especially as humans spread out to the stars.

The Tranc Wars deal with a series of millennia long wars between a species known as the Tranc and various other interstellar traveling sapience, who find dealing with the Tranc difficult, often violent. The purpose of those stories is to try to capture an alien perspective looking at conflicts and interstellar efforts spanning the equivalent of centuries of human time.

The second universe operates under the title of the Enduring Realm. The focus of this setting and the stories set there is more of an attempt to tell a science fantasy epic with more than just an idle sop to hard science fiction and science concerns.  Science fantasy, soft space opera, or planetary romances are all similar genres that have long been popular going back to the works of Edger Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom stories.

Science fantasy has its appeal of escapism and often merely carries the trappings of science fiction settings and futuristic technology to make it more appealing to certain fan bases. There is nothing wrong with such stories, but often it leaves the question could such grandiose stories be told with more hard science fiction focus. That is the literary experiment for the Enduring Realm.  There are many fine examples of previous, and much better writers achieving such  literary experimentation, but these are my humble attempts at doing  the same.

Keys to Tartarus, chapter 1

Max sat at the large desk late into the night. After completing the algorithm development by hand, he was now programming the computer to handle the necessary calculations.

Actuarial work in the 21st century was little different than the 19th century; just the tools were different. The math was still much the same.

Working late always appealed to him. The darkness outside and the quiet solitude were old friends. Without the distraction of everyone else around he could finally concentrate and get the last of this block of calculations complete. The project manager would be relieved.

With the last keystroke, Max sighed contently. The work was complete. He tilted his head back and forth to release the tension in his neck. The hours spent hunched over a computer were taking a toll at his age.

Max pushed the expensive oak office chair back from the large, mahogany desk and glanced once around the room. His compatriots often teased him about how spartan he kept the high prestige corner office.

Other executives in the company kept their offices much more luxurious. Max was content with the antique desk and chair. The older designs were more sturdy. Modern office furniture tended to break under his heavy frame.

A glance at the clock showed that it was well past the witching hour. Max stepped out from behind his desk and walked to his office door.

Sticking his head around the door he said, “Christopher, can you come here?”

Sure, Mr. Paeter,” said Max’s young intern. Max stepped aside to allow his young intern to enter the office first.

What did you need, sir?”

A look of contrition crossed the swarthy complexion of Max’s face. “My apologies for keeping you here so late. I’ll make sure to put you in for overtime with Accounting. They dislike paying interns more than the company has too, but you have earned it with all these late hours this week.”

Wow, thank you, Mr. Paeter. I am just doing my job,” said Christopher. He stood awkwardly for a moment before asking, “Is that all for tonight, Mr. Paeter?”

Max frowned, “Not quite yet. I need you to send a copy of the file results to the back up servers while I get something to drink.” Knowing the helpful intern would handle the task without any further instruction, Max walked out of his office.

A quick glance around the outer office showed Christopher had been organizing the files, not just using the under supervised time to loaf and be indolent.

The break room was just down the hall from his office. Fatigue leadened Max’s steps. These long nights and weeks had worn him down. Yet, he had completed the new actuary tables the corporation needed for the new Asian markets.

Max entered the break room. It was obvious that the cleaning crew had already been through. There was usually some food left over on the table. It was a poor reflection on the executives that worked in the offices along these hallways left a mess for the cleaning crews to pick up. To Max, such little gestures of rank and privilege were annoying but all too human.

The coffee was, of course, old and cold. Max’s leather shoes squealed on the tile break room floor as he turned about, seeking all the necessary items in the cabinets to make coffee.

Cabinet doors banged with being opened and shut impatiently. Max was annoyed but unable to find the coffee filters.

Standing up, Max leaned against the counter and surveyed the break room. “Now where would Susan or Chang have put the filters?”

Max was still looking when he heard the door at the far end of the hall was shut quietly. There should be no one else hear at this time of night. He paused and listened. The office building was full of small noises, but all the things Max expected to hear from years of working in the building.

Cautiously he moved out of the break room, listening for anything out of the ordinary. Max glanced left down the hall, but saw nothing but the darkened hall and closed office doors. Back to the right was his own office. Down that way Max could hear Christopher typing away on the computer keyboard.

The cleaning crews had gone home hours ago, and security would not make a sweep for another hour. Max knew there was someone else here on the floor besides just his intern and him.

Almost ten minutes passed as Max stood in stillness, awaiting to see what would give away their late night visitor.

The whole early morning hour seemed to stretch the moments…

No sign gave away the stranger but Max’s apprehension grew. There was little he truly feared, but he hated uncertainties. It went against everything he preferred in his world.

After waiting for what seemed an inordinate amount of time, Max gave up on his wait and made his way back down the hall to his office. It was time to beat a cautious retreat, but Max did not want to give a sense of haste. His stalker would be watching. Now just when and where would this stalker strike? Once Max was back at his office, he made sure to close the outer door and lock it.

Christopher, are you about done with exporting those results?” rumbled out of Max’s large chest.

Yes, sir, Mr. Paeter. The export and backup are still running on the main servers,” responded Christopher.

So we are done for the night,” stated Max. “Grab your things, and let us depart this place. We have been here for too many hours this week. You did a good job.”

Thanks, Mr. Paeter.”

Why don’t you take tomorrow off,” replied Max as he shrugged on his suit coat over the black silk dress shirt he was wearing.

Christopher was shutting down Max’s computer when max heard the door lock to the outer office break.

The young intern looked up with a puzzled expression. “What was that? It sounded like breaking metal.”

Max gestured for Christopher’s silence s he stepped in front of his desk. That put him between Christopher and whatever came through that outer office door.

Max watched the outer door of the office suite through the open inner office door.

That outer door was partly open. The handle was obviously broken by someone in the hall, but the outer door was still mostly closed, only slightly ajar.

Max watched patiently for whomever to reveal himself. Christopher was showing admirable restraint and remaining silent.

The damaged outer door swung slowly open. Filling the door was a huge, grotesque man in a trench coat that just hung off the huge shoulders of the man.

Dark lord, my master wants something you have,” said the huge man in a voice that rumbled like sliding granite mountains grinding past each other.

Max remained nonchalant, even in the face of the potential menace of the hulking form. Max’s six foot five inch frame marked him as a big man, but this invader of his office was eight foot tall. The huge shoulders on the strange man marked him as very abnormal or not human. This fact was even more displayed when the intruder had to turn sideways to enter the inner office. He was not just too tall for the door, he was also too wide for the doorway.

The intruder wedged and worked his way into the inner office. Max stepped back to keep the range just a little open as he dropped into a self defense stance. Glancing back, Max saw that Christopher was still sitting in his office chair but had pushed it all the way back into the corner of the office, right up against the outer wall, not in front of the offices big picture window.

Max’s left foot slid back, giving him another half foot body width of space, while the large invader shambled forward. The form’s trench coat fell open showing an inhuman body beneath. The figure only wore the large trench coat and large hat. The invader wore no clothes, but the body underneath the coat was covered in a brown, pebbly skin and was only vaguely human.

Despite max’s preparation for self defense, he was not prepared for the speed of the invader. The invader’s left oversized hand reached out in a lunge to grab Max.

Max attempted to leap back as the invader’s left hand closed on the fabric of the front of his shirt. The silk shirt tore down the front, with buttons flying.

The tearing of his shirt kept Max out of the invader’s grasp momentarily, but it threw him off balance and he stumbled back into the front of his large, wooden desk.

Many years of wrestling and hand to hand fighting guided him to roll immediately over his desk in reflexive response to the threat.

Standing behind his desk, Max weighed his options. Christopher was over in the corner off to his left in Max’s high backed, old style wooden office chair.

In front of the desk, the invader had paused after his initial lunge had failed to bring Max into his grasp. He grunted and grumbled out, “You come with me Now!”

Max studied his assailant somberly. “I do not think so.”

The office invader roared in rage and surged forward. The attacker had descended into mindless rage. Max braced himself and shoved the eight hundred pound, antique desk forward. The desk slid forward with sudden force, driven by Max’s strength and body weight.

The forward sliding desk met the short charge of the behemouth and checked its forward momentum. The edge of the desk slammed into the invader’s thighs and slammed him off balance.

As the attacker tipped over the desk off balance, Max reached out with both hands and gripped the invader’s head.

Max slammed the head down as hard as he could into the desk top. The move stunned his foe. Then he shoved the creature’s head away. This motion plus the attacker off balance sent the foe crashing backward.

Vaulting over the desk, Max crashed down on his prostrated foe with both feet. He quickly slipped off the body of his attacker, but his landing had knocked the wind out of his opponent.

Max planted two quick kicks into this foe’s left side. The blows landed with power, but it felt to Max that he was kicking a solid block of concrete.

Christopher, get out of here.” The boy did not hesitate. He launched to his feet and sprinted past Max and the thrashing creature. Within a moment, he was in the outer office.

Max turned to follow Christopher. He had taken three steps and had just reached the doorway between the offices when the creature surged to its feet.

The invader’s huge hand grabbed Max by the shoulder and pulled him back with an immensely strong pull. “You no go!” roared the beastly foe.

Max was thrown back and slammed into his own desk. The last remnant of his torn shirt was ripped off his shoulder with this latest attack.

The creature’s follow up lunch forced Max to repeat his earlier escape, and he rolled back over the desk. There were few options left to him. The six meters between the displaced desk and the picture window the picture window left little room to evade.

Yet the creature showed it did learn, if slowly. With one quick motion of its right hand, it gripped the side of the desk and threw it off to the side. The desk crashed into the corner where Christopher had been sitting.

Realizing there was no longer any chance of escape, Max surged into the creature, his closed fist slamming repeatedly into the creature’s midriff with precise boxing punches.

His foe grunted with the blows but seemed mostly unphased by Max’s hard strikes. With a wide swung back hand, the foe slapped Max onto his upheaved desek. He slammed into a tumble in the corner atop the upturned desk and the office chair. Max took a few deep breaths as he thought rapidly. The creature stood there with the oversize trench coat just hanging from its shoulders.

The trench coat had come open and any observer could easily tell the thing was not human. It had never been human. Its whole body was like a large shaped lump of hardened clay.

No human being would ever defeat this thing without heavy weapons of military grade. Max was going to have to go above and beyond to defeat this creature.

He took a deep breath and centered himself internally. Max staggered to his feet slowly, watching the creature guardedly. The creature seemed content to stand there for the moment, knowing it had him trapped in the corner.

Max thought for a moment, then with his left hand gripped one of the thick legs of the solid oak desk.

I will not be going anywhere with you to visit your misbegotten master,” Max said.

The creature growled and took a step toward where Max was standing.

It is time you left. I would suggest the door,” Max said, while reaching deep inside for a reserve of energy he had not touched in decades.

The creature took another step forward, raising a hand out to grab Max.

On the creature’s third step forward toward him, max acted. Pulling that deep, hidden energy up into his muscles, Max swung the eight hundred pound desk as hard as he could. The improvised weapon smashed into the creature’s side with overwhelming force.

Max carried through the swing. The blow lifted the creature off its feet and slammed it against, then through the picture window. The impact was sufficient to send broken structural safety glass fragments and the creature hurling out into empty space, then falling the thirty stories downward.

Max fell to his knees in exhaustion. He was barely able to keep from blacking out due to fatigue.

A sudden potion at the inner office door caught Max’s attention. Standing there was Christopher. He was unsure how much the intern had seen. “Christopher, I did tell you to run. I meant further than the hall,” stated a weary Max.

You are not human are you?” asked a hesitant Christopher as he stood with one hand on the door sill of the office door.

Max chuckled as he sat back. “No, child. I am not.”


Hades was happy to retire into obscurity when the Greek gods stepped down from worshipped figure heads. He now lives his life as an actuary, but he has held onto some elements of his old regalia, including one of the 5 keys to the Pit of Tartarus. Now someone wants that key to unleash all the monstrosities and banished entities dwelling in the pit.

The Periphery War

The Periphery War was Humanity’s first interstellar war. It started because of a political movement on Earth and then spread out to many other star system. The idea was a desire for a greater political and economic unity between all the human settlements and nations among the stars.

This was not acceptable to five frontier star systems who prized their political and cultural independence. This lead to an expedition being dispatched from Sol to the largest of the resistant colony systems, with the intent of subduing the colony as an example.

The expedition was opposed and not allowed to land. The Commonwealth next decided to blockade the world and interdict all space travel within the star system. This sparked an emergency conference between the other four independent minded worlds.

These worlds put together a hastily gathered expedition of ad hoc armed ships and set out to contest the Commonwealth’s blockade of the main world. The first engagement was indecisive, but the first ships of the Peripheral Worlds engaged the Commonwealth, but would pull off to the second gas giant in the system and await the arrival of further forces.

Within a month the second wave of Periphery starships arrived in the star system, and set course to rendezvous with their compatriots. During that month the Commonwealth task force made a sortie with a secondary force to the inner gas giant to keep a checking force eon the 1st Periphery force orbiting the outer gas giant.

This holding force was to just stay out and keep the Periphery rebel starships from attack the transports and other naval ships in the orbit of the main inhabited planets in the system.

In time the Periphery starships gathered and launched a coordinated attack targeted at the Commonwealth forces. The holding force fought the Periphery starships on a running battle as the battle moved inward. Once the full battles entered closer to the main inhabited world, the planetary forces launched aerospace forces from the planets surface.

The Commonwealth commander became shaken by the slashing attacks from the aerospace forces, and the determined hit and run tactics of the Periphery starships. In a period of bad maneuvering by the Commonwealth forces, their flagship was destroyed, which demoralized the Commonwealth task forces. A negotiated settlement soon followed which saw the Commonwealth forces begrudgingly departing the star system under truce conditions.

By the standards of later battles it would be a minor one, but it would be the start of the Periphery War, humans’ first interstellar war.


Tales of the Elder Things, a summary

The first book planned for the Stars Arising setting is an anthology of novellas and novelettes centered around the Elder Things of H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness. i have taken the liberty of reinterpreting some aspects of the Elder Things culture, civilization, history, and biology just a little.

The anthology will contain the following stories

  1. Elder Things in Bermuda. The HMS Naiad was scouting out the edges of the Antarctic ice shelf in the 1844 when they behold an alien sight. Fleeing across the ice was a multitentacled thing slightly taller than a man, behind it came an oncoming protoplasmic mass half the size of the old frigate, undulating like an amoeba on a biologist microscope slide. The strange fleeing being leapt upon the ship deck, waving its tentacles and making strange fluting noises. The captain ordered a change of course away from the ice shelf before the giant amoeba could get to the edge and potentially threaten the ship. So would start a strange first encounter for the Royal Navy.
  2. Under the Mountains of Madness: In Lovecraft’s story 9 Elder Things awoke after being frozen for millions of years in Antarctic glaciers. This is an attempt to telling that story or a variation of it from the alien point of view of the Elder Things survivors.
  3. The Shoggoth War: The nations of the world were on the brink of making World War 3 a nuclear exchange, when some signal, originating in Antarctica, interfered with many of their launch systems. Cautiously the great powers of the world set aside their differences and sent expeditions to the Southern Continent to investigate. They would find the remnants of a primordial civilization, who had their own opinions of the humans war.
  4. The Archivist Tale: After humans came to realize that they shared the Earth with older sapient civilizations, they began to attempt to build a common global society with their old, but formally unknown neighbors. This is one story of a young man who would witness much of those new beginnings.


Once completed the anthology will be independently electronically published. For now, much of the final draft remains unedited and still in need of rewrites.


Hunnish archery’s impact upon the Eastern Roman Empire

You would not hesitate to call them the most terrible of all warriors,

because they fight from a distance with missiles [arrows] having sharp

bone, instead of their usual [metal] points, joined to the shafts with wonderful

skill; then they gallop over the intervening spaces and fight hand

to hand with swords, regardless of their own lives; and while the enemy

are guarding against wounds from the sharp [sword] points, they throw

strips of cloth plaited into nooses over their opponents and so entangle

them that they fetter their limbs and take from them the power of riding or

walking.”–Ammianus Marcellinus on the Huns

The Huns were first mentioned by Tacticus in 91 C.E (A.D.) as a steppe tribe living around the Caspian Sea. To the Romans of that period, the Huns were just one more horse barbarian tribe, and not of much concern. This would change in 376 C.E., when the Visigoths were drive into Roman territory by the migration westward of the Huns.

The Huns were one of the many steppe nomadic tribes who used the paradigm of the horse archer to define their warriors. This type of warrior was not new to the Romans of Late Antiquity. The horse archers of the ancient Scythian had been known since the early Classic time to Hellenistic writers. But the Huns were more dangerous than any of the past tribes.

The Huns trained their youth to ride horses from the age of 4 or 5, just as all the steppe nomads for millennia had done. So the horsemanship of the Huns was no surprised to the Romans, but the composite reflex bow of the Huns was a vast improvement over past composite bows the Romans knew. This bow combined with all the archery and horsemanship skills of the Huns created a warrior combination that the Romans and all the Germanic tribes had great difficulty facing.

The Hun could use the standard horse archer tactics of firing and retreating against less mobile forces at even greater ranges than the Romans had experienced in the past. There were few missilery troops the Romans had access to in this period that could match the range of the Hunnish bow. The classic counter tactic to the horse archer of using ground archers was not an option.

Other tactical attempts by the Romans to counter the Huns meet with only mixed results. In the end the Romans found it necessary to develop horse archers of their own, which also combined the capacities of heavy cavalry, to create mounted troops of a formidable nature. But these Roman cataphracts would prove expensive to train and maintain. Such troops had to be trained in effective horsemanship and archery, two skills the Huns had developed since childhood.

The self destruction of the Hun Empire in 469 C.E would spare the Eastern Roman Empire, but the Eastern Roman found their new elite troops highly effective against the Germanic tribes of Western Europe, and the Parthian eastern neighbors.

The cataphract had started become the main Roman unit in the 4th century, but the addition of the composite reflex bow was an Eastern Roman innovation to counter the Huns. These heavy cavalry, mixed with the comitatense heavy infantry would be main stands of the imperial armies as the Eastern Roman Empire became over time the Byzantine Empire.

This would be the standard till the Seljuk Turks defeated the Eastern Romans at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, where much of the Byzantine army was destroyed. The Eastern Empire found it a costly defeat, and never fully rebuilt their army to such professional elitism again. Yet the root of these 600 years of effective cavalry combination of horse archer and heavy knight lie in the Roman answer to the legality of the Hunnish warriors.

A Review of King Arthur: a military history by Michael Holmes

In the book King Arthur:a military history by Michael Holmes (1996), the author attempts to lay out the potential role a hypothetical Arthur could have played in military events around the Romanized Britons attempted defense of Britain against the Anglo-Saxon invaders.

The book is divided into chapters focusing upon a number of topics. The author touches upon the question of the historical authenticity of King Arthur in the first chapter, then moves on to discuss what is known of the Roman and Celtic influences and writings about Arthur’s alleged existence.

The next chapters are an attempt to define the state of the 5th century military situation in Britain, as the Anglo, Saxons, and Jutes pushed further into the island from the east. Holmes reviews the various primary sources of writing we have of this time, and tries to construct a logical, and likely pattern of events from the initial invasion from a potential Saxon mercenary army invited into the island by the the shadowy historical figure Vortimer, as part of an internal despite among the Roman Britons. Then he discusses the likely betrayal by the Saxons of their Celtic employers. This is followed by a speculative campaign by Ambrosius Aurelianus, the likely British High King, against the invaders.

Holmes then speculates that the niche where a historical Arthur would fill would be in conducting the field campaigns of unified Britons against the invaders after or during the late years of Ambrosius’ reign. All of this is put together with deductive logic, scant primary sources, and a bit of speculation.

The author compares the Germanic conquest of Britain with the Germanic conquest of Gaul by the Franks. After the death of Flavius Aetius, the General of the West, Roman Gaul would stay an uneasy balance between Roman and early migrating Germanic tribes. In two generations the Frankish king Clovis would take power and quickly conquer most of what was left of the Roman province against the Goths and what was left of the Roman forces, within 30 years establishing a kingdom that spanned much of modern day France.

In Britain the Anglo-Saxon invasion would experience many more setbacks. By 500 A.C.E., the invaders controlled Kent, Lincoln shire, Norfolk, Suffolk, the Isle of Wight, and coastal areas in Northumberland and Yorkshire. The back and forth fighting between the Britons and invaders would depopulate cities and lay waste most of the farm steads between the conflicted territory.

Holmes is proposing that Arthur lead a serious of campaigns against the Saxons, climaxing in the Battle of Baden, and it was these hypothetical campaigns which checked the invaders for a several decades. Such battles are known to have existed, but the primary sources are very sparse on the details of when and where these clashes were conducted.

As a work of historical speculation it is a good read. Holmes has keep the work to about 180 pages, with proper notations of his sources. Then book is worth a read for anyone interested in the historical authenticity of Arthur, or even the Anglo-Saxon invasions of Britain.

Strategy in the 21st century, a project summary


Strategy is a timeless discipline. Tactical doctrines change as do technological capacity, but the elements of good strategy reoccur time and again through out the centuries.

This project is an essay collection written by an amateur historian, with a veteran’s perspective. The conclusions are my own. Much of the topics and material will come from my own informal studies.

America faces a number of strategic challenges unlike any she has faced in the past. The early 19th century saw the American Republic mostly dealing with European imperial powers, defending American maritime commerce, and fighting indigenous native tribes for possession of the land. This would remain the strategic challenges and situation for the rest of the 19th century, only broken by the brutality of the American Civil War.

Through 20th century brought an isolationist United States, which was economically strong but militarily weak, into the international competitions between great powers. Two World Wars and the Cold War pushed the United States to the forefront of nations in power.

Now the 21st century has dawned and new challenges are before America. The United States has become the guarantor of the independence of the global commons. Whether international sea & air, or orbital space; the United States has pushed each nation to have equal access to all. Part of the military capacity of the United States, with global reaching power projection, was to fulfill these missions. The other major challenge to the United States is a series of interlocking defense alliances that place the United States in the task of defending 25% of the human population potentially from any aggression from the other 75% of Humanity.

In an era of nuclear weapons, and expanding robotic warfare; the challenges facing the United States military are unlike anything most major powers have faced in the past, yet this still does not mean that there has never been any comparable strategic analogy before.