Weapons That Changed the Course of History (And My Fiction), Part 2

February 28, 2013 in General Topics

We’ve come to the second and final part of this miniseries on weapons that changed the course of history. In my first post, I covered two real-world weapons, and then one near-world weapon that appeared in The Tyrant Strategy: Revenant Man (and will, of course, show up in the later books in the series).

Today we’ll tackle three more, including the deadliest, most human event-affecting weapon of all time.

Historical Weapon: The Horse

Horses. Courtesy Wikipedia.

These guys. Courtesy: Wikipedia.

Am I going too primitive? I think not. When thinking of mobile warfare, it was the horse that kicked everything off.

Four hooves, plus some training, plus some gear, plus about twenty five-thousand calories a day, got a warrior an animal capable of making them taller, faster, stronger, and more mobile. Environments like the Mongolian Steppe–these “oceans without water” gave us the greatest cavalry forces of all time. And without the horse, they would have been a pale shadow of what they actually achieved. Read the rest of this entry →

Weapons That Changed the Course of History (And My Fiction), Part 1

December 21, 2012 in General Topics

Many of my books feature transformative technology–items whose creation and use reshaped the worlds they populate. This synchronizes nicely with my study of history.

I think understanding history really helps me write effective genre fiction. I have to keep an eye ever-focused on “what-if”? You could say that history is, in large part, a study of powers wielding–or reacting to–unexpected technological advances, and you’d be very accurate. In the same way, my fiction often takes place after those technological leaps, and almost always imagines nations unprepared for those changes. The human element is more important than the actual tech.

Today, I’m going to explain how certain weapons in human history impacted civilization, and we’ll have a little fun applying the same lens to items that appear in some of my own books. I’m not going for the obvious choices, either (did you really want to read another article on nuclear weapons? I think not). Let’s have more fun than that.

So, here we go! Read the rest of this entry →

The Future of Weaponry is Our Past

November 1, 2012 in General Topics

A lively discussion broke out on the Kindleboards recently about weaponry in various authors’ science fiction world-building. The topic produced great food for thought, and also gave me a chance to reiterate my belief that simple, reliable weapons aren’t going anywhere.

Yes, The Tyrant Strategy: Revenant Man spends some time on the great threat still menacing Zone 6 (roughly compromising the Rockies), left behind by the Akita Wars, in the form of that tyrant’s autonomous hunter-killer drones. Drones will, sadly, become more prevalent domestically and internationally in the coming years. This is despite the well-founded civil rights concerns.

Viet Cong forcesBut for the average belligerent on the ground, simple firearms will more often than not remain the order of the day, just as they do in my novel. Read the rest of this entry →

Battleship Shootout: KM Bismarck vs. USS Iowa vs. IJN Yamato vs. HMS King George V

September 28, 2012 in General Topics

The battleship, moreso than any kind of warship–excepting perhaps the man O’ war–was often the visual representation of a country’s military might. Vast in expense, and finally rendered (mostly) irrelevant by air power, the last battleships in service were decommissioned in the early 90’s. Today, our own Marine Corps has lamented the loss of the battleship, which always made a terrific fire-support platform for assisting amphibious landings — you know, that function Marines make a fine art.

So having such admiration for these steel dragons, I’m going to give you four of the very best battleships of WWII, each of which embodied their country’s design strategy, and we’re going to unleash them against each other. And before anyone complains, I excluded ships that were commissioned after the war. So, no HMS Vanguard. Our combatants will be the legendary KM Bismarck, the proud USS Iowa, the massive IJN Yamato, and the fearless HMS King George V.

Load main batteries. Read the rest of this entry →

Review: Samurai! by Saburo Sakai, with Martin Caidin and Fred Saito

August 20, 2012 in General Topics

Samurai! by Sabur? SakaiPiloting a Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” was hair-raising enough, with its notorious lack of armor and self-sealing fuel tanks, but flying one while bleeding to death, down one eye, and fading in and out of consciousness is the kind of experience Saburo Sakai, legendary Japanese fighter ace, places the reader in through his autobiography and memoir, Samurai! (with additional credit to Martin Caidin and Fred Saito), first published way back in 1957.
Read the rest of this entry →