UnWelcome Neighbors: the Baiselu

The Baiselu are old friends with the Aracana from their earliest starship days. The Baiselu ships are large clusters of spheres approximately 1 kilometer in diameter.

The settlement pattern of the Baiselu has cast them all across the galaxy. They are colonist who seek out oceanic worlds. Since such worlds are scattered among the stars, the Baiselu settle only a few stars out of 10,000s.

They are a long lived and patient species. War is not an institution of their civilization. From their long history, they have only face combat when defending their worlds or lives. The Aracana have agreed to a mutual support treaty under which they have defended and aid the Baiselu several times through various local emergencies on numerous worlds across the galaxy.

Review of Bova’s Dueling Machine

The Dueling Machine is a novel by Ben Bova from 1969. It is part of his loose Watchman quartet about a space opera future where Terra dominates the galaxy. This story is set around the use of a psychotronic device capable of two participants entering a virtual reality with almost universal sensory immersion.

The two participants will most often use the device to conduct a duel to settle arguments. The rules of the duel is that each combatant takes turn picking the scenario, weapon, and environment for the duel. Some of the dueling scenes in the novel are quite creative. In the end no one is hurt, until one day several people start dying in the use of the machine. The Terran Commonwealth is fearful and calls in the inventor of the Dueling Machine to figure out how a small third party nation is using the device to assassinate rival nation leaders in duels.

The social set up is obviously from the 50s and 60s with women’s hearts to be won, and public courage is considered a vital part of social acceptance of a man’s masculinity. These are only secondary factors, and quite common in science fiction of the time. No reader should let that distract them from an otherwise interesting story.

In many ways this was one of the early novels to deal with the idea of virtual reality and what it could do for humans. It is comparable to Roger Zelazny’s Dreamshaper in how it tries to show how virtual reality has many potential usages for entertainment and other social functions.

The style of the novel is not the best Bova wrote, but it is a good straightforward way of telling the story. The story is interesting and lively.

Lord of Light, short review

In 1967 Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light was published. The book would go on to win the Hugo award for best novel in 1968, and be nominated for the Nebula award in the same category. And both are well deserved.
Zelazny wrote a novel that is a wonderful blend of science fiction and fantasy. In a distant future, humanity has founded a colony world. For generations the original starship crew has guided younger generations with a social structure of portraying themselves as the Hindu gods. Now one of their numbers moves to challenge the stranglehold they have placed upon the humans of the world.

Through the use reintroducing Buddhism to the world, and gathering allies for open war, Sam sets himself the goal of liberating the world. The story draws inspiration from the Hindu faith and myths for super science technology and paranormal psychic abilities.

Surface commerce raiding.

Surface commerce raiding. Several German surface raiders, both cruisers and auxiliary ships had spectacular success during the Great War. But these were raiding the shipping of the greatest naval power, who had the units to run the German raiders down. In the end each of the raiders would be cornered and destroyed by British naval units.

Another hindrance to German commercial raiding was that the bulk of the nations of the world declared war against Germany. This allowed nations like Japan to seize the German Pacific colonies. German’s African possessions would follow soon afterward.

And the greatest obstacle to any German raiding strategy was in  the realm of logistics. Unlike the age of sail or the nuclear submarines of the cold war, commerce raiding of the Great War era was very logistics heavy, with coal being a major shackle on the potentials for operations. To get around this the Germans would need a more successful logistics base for whips to resupply and repair battle damage. That would have taken a non European ally or a sympathetic neutral. Those were in short supply

Bow hunting: Tree stand versus Still hunting

Let me start by saying that these are merely my opinions and observations on the differences between these two styles of bow hunting. Over the years I have meet many people that prefer one over the other, and some hunters who find them both merely two useful aspects to their hunting style. Also each style has many variations; this is merely my examination and comparison of the two in summary.

Tree stand hunting is the use of an in place constructed or portably deployed structure designed to allow a hunter to sit up in a tree to elevate their observation and firing point. As a style of hunting it is straight forward, and can be used with both firearms and bow hunting for a wide range of game, including swine, deer, and elk. The key to good tree stand hunting is preparation and location. By scouting out the location and the use of trail cameras a hunter can build up a good picture of the local game trails and game activity about the planned location.

Once a promising location is decided upon a hunter can place a tree stand by either construction of a portable structure or a more permanent wood structure. Some hunters use mobile deer stands that can be carried in and used. Bow hunters do have a few additional considerations when tree stand hunting. Even with modern bows and the accuracy enhancing attachments, effective practical range for archery in hunting is approximately 30 yards. A hunter will scope out firing clearance when picking a stand location, but the tighter constraints of archery will require the hunter to watch for intruding branches, or undergrowth that might interfere with a clear shot.

Hunting afoot has the goal of putting the hunter into a position for an ideal shot of a game animal through the movement of the hunter, instead of setting up an ideal ambush position such as used for stand hunting. Hunting afoot uses two methods which are dependent upon the terrain. Still hunting has the archer moving slowly through a game area. Still hunting is best used for an area of with concentrations of animals inhabiting heavy cover. The practice is to move a step or two, observe by sight and sound, and then move again. Camouflage and scent masking are critical practices to keep from spooking game animals. The hunter should avoid noisy brush and trees, while attempting to keep aware of the direction of the prevailing breeze. By being aware of the breeze and wearing scent masking clothing, the hunter can attempt to avoid situations where his scent drifts into the cover and startles a potential target animal. This type of hunting produces point blank firing opportunities. A bow hunter must be especially aware of his shot opportunities, because he is likely only going to get one arrow off.

The second method of hunting afoot is stalking and glassing.  The goal in this style of hunting is to place the hunter in a position that he can spot and eventually stalk wild game. The whole process is a number of steps. Often a hunter will spot game from a vantage point, this is often called glassing, and then the hunter will begin to stalk their targeted animal by attempting to get into position to get an ideal shot. Stalking is best used in semi open terrain where there is sufficient cover to stalk a game animal, but still enough visibility to observe at a distance. Using this method it is critical that the hunter has an excellent pair of binoculars, which are comfortable to use and have sufficient magnification.  The hunter will likely be sitting in observation for hours attempting to pick out the ideal animal and opportunity before beginning their stalk.

When deciding to use either method of hunting a bow hunter should pay careful attention to their choice of quiver. For bow hunters quivers usually come in three options: back, waist, or bow mounted. A back mounted quiver can be part of a backpack or a stand alone accessory. Such quivers make long walks easier, but can make reaching a spare arrow awkward in various positions and situations. Side or waist quivers hang from the belt. These quivers allow ready access in most situations but can become bothersome over longer walks in the woods. Modern bows often allow a bow quiver attachment. These present spare arrows readily at hand, but are more limited. They often only carry 3 to 4 arrows. Also a bow quiver can change the weight of the bow. So it is advised that a shooter practice with a bow quiver in place.

When hunting afoot is almost impossible to perform quietly, such as autumn woods full of dry leaves, or when the terrain offers no cover, than a hunter is should default back to stand hunting. By developing both styles, a hunter increases both their chance of a successful hunt and of getting the most out of their outing. The limits of range, and less effectiveness of a bow compared to a firearm means that even more skill is needed to pull either style off successfully.  With time and patience a bow hunter can greatly expand is repertoire of hunting style and methods for a successful season.

China’s challenge to the United States, part 1

The strategic challenge presented by China to the United States is something the United States has not faced the 1890’s. During those years the United States became the industrial powerhouse in the world, exceeding the British Empire and the German Empire The United States would use that economic strength and industrial might to begin building a powerful navy and continued its infrastructure expansion

By the mid 2020’s, the Chinese economy will equal or surpass the United States. The industrial indicators are a bit more murky, but China is easily in the same league as the USA for industrial might.

The need for a new grand strategy is needed. Many people would prefer a diplomatic solution to any disagreements with China, but the United States National Command Authority needs to have an effective plan and strategy if those diplomatic efforts ever fail.

In the realm of grand strategy the United States is starting with greater tech knowledge and forces, but each year the Chinese military catches up just a bit more.

History of the Aracana, part 1

In the Dissolution Wars universe for Unwelcome Neighbors, the primitive Aracana were heavily influenced by seeing a major battle between a Homeworld Malanthekar stellar fortress and an Imperial Malanthekar battleship in the skies above the Aracana’s home world.

The event was so large that all of the Aracana across the planet witnessed the most deadly parts. The battle raged for almost a week, but the last 3 planetary days of the battle occurred in orbit around the Aracana’s planet of origin. The energies being exchanged in the battle were so vast it could be seen even during the height of the daylight hours.

Events seen by the observing Aracana would influence them extensively. The most important outcome was an awakened belief in the Aracana that the heavens were a place they could go if they found the right methods. The next 1000 years for the Aracana were filled with hundreds of experiments in mystical and scientific approaches, all seeking to find some method to ascend into the heavens. Most of these experiments were dead ends, but there were enough successes to galvanize the Aracana and set the stage for a global common culture and interconnected societies across the planet.