The Vixen War Bride

When you say screw it and decide to buy the remaining books in a series as you near the end of middle novel, I think this could be defined as a successful novel on the author’s part, or at least evidence of being well entertained by it.

A while back, one of my Kindle’s suggestions for what to read next was book one of The Vixen War Bride by Thomas Doscher. Having a bit of rewards piled up and it sounding like it could be worth a read, I decided to check it out. There went a night’s sleep, lol. The Vixen War Bride is full of amusing cross cultural misunderstandings and people who are trying to do the right thing even if it’s hard to communicate that to the other.

Ben’s forces come from a period where armed security drones making like flying monkeys and optics that can turn night into day, are simply old hat and have been for centuries. Then they get shipped off to an occupied alien planet where the background level of electromagnetic interference is so strong that they may as well be dressed in uniforms from 1942 😅. Life is surely sad when someone has to switch from computer all the things to a Mark I Pencil, but that pales in comparison to the problem of understanding the locals and vice versa. The exchange of weapons of mass destruction between the aliens destroying the American’s colony with an asteroid and several nuclear strikes on the alien home world, surely did not endear either side to the other before the war’s end. Ben and most of his troops come from our destroyed colony, and given the enemies skill for slitting throats in the night and the Va’Shen’s horrific sci-fi weapons, it’s little surprise that most sectors have at best an uneasy relationship with the local population.

Alacea’s village is deserted and the chieftain is giving the Ben’s folk the run around. Fearing that the vicious, cruel, baby eating monsters from outer space will destroy the village in punishment for the war, the community has fled into the hills leaving only a few behind that are too old to make the long journey to shelter. When the Alacea barrels into town to face the dark ones according to their custom, she literally sets off a storm. In their culture, the head priestess is responsible to the community and arguing their position before their gods. If your Na’Sha guides her community and argues well when entering the afterlife, she may make it to the glade and her people be blessed with good fortune, or if her community is not righteous, sacrifice themself to an eternity in the frosts beyond and pray the gods be merciful in the hardships set upon their community to set them back on the right path. It’s into such a culture that paths cross.

It doesn’t take very long before cross cultural communication to rear its head and begin the snowball effect. Alacea’s confession to war crimes against humanity is quickly understood to be full of shit, but she’s the only one who will both talk to the Dark Ones and knows where the villagers are hiding. Deciding maybe-pissed-off villagers down the road are better than angry ambushes out of know where, Ben wants them to come home and live normally. Sadly, the Va’Shen language is virtually unknown and they are just lucky to have an interpreter along that can “Kind of” speak the language. Convincing Alacea that Ben’s people won’t destroy the village or kill them all in a rage is virtually impossible, and convincing her to help them is hard to do when your terp can barely speak the same language herself.

Thanks to a mix up in translation and very different social histories this results in Ben and Alacea’s sudden marriage! Not quite the help the terp was trying to ask for, lol.

For one whose culture sees marriage and divorce as but a post card in the mailbox, and one whose culture sees marriage integral to every part of their society, it’s quite the mix up. But it’s one full of story potential.

For Alacea, it’s a chance to secure her community’s safety from the dark ones and direct the dark one’s anger away from her people. For Ben, it’s a chance to avoid hundreds of angry villagers wiping his company off the map before the army knows they’ve even been hit. Somewhere in the middle, the truth is it’s a great opportunity for peace and understanding, if they don’t kill each other first.

By the Va’Shen customs, marriage is forever and taking the head priestess as a bride is an old way for a conquering overlord to dominate a village, but by extension her community becomes his and due some measure of protection. But how can some alien from Earth know their ways? Everyone in Pelle expects such cruelty and horror from the humans that few Va’Shen believe their Na’Sha’s sacrifice will protect them. By human customs a few hundred years into the future, divorce rates are over 80% and far less eternal than anything known on the alien world. A world so foreign yet familiar, that flashlights are a water jar full of rocks that grow when wet and sound-reactive crops can rot if you fly loud helicopters overhead.

The journey to where the villagers of Pelle are hiding and their return home sets the tone well. I especially loved how the discussion of how Alacea can be sure Ben won’t harm her village and that she will kill him if he does betray her plays out. Seeing that she’s unlikely to succeed in it but will make it her dedicated mission in life if that comes to pass, Ben hands her his Ka-Bar and tells her if he breaks his promise not to harm her people, she can use that knife to kill him for it. Likewise, the brawl between Ramirez and an angry young farm hand that turns into a friendly exhibition while folks were discussing peaceful terms, that then snowballs into Alacea and Yasuno yelling at tod for his stupidity until the Ranger feels bad for the guy, was just freaking hilarious and well executed.

By the second book, Holdouts, the antics of SSgt Ramirez and huntress Alzoria seriously had me laughing my ass off and made it quite the binge read. Both Ben and Alacea’s own antics end up intersecting and making it quite a story. It was great, best book in the series so far. By the end of the third book, Uncivil Affairs, both main characters now know the embarrassing truth of how their marriage occurred and have stirred up a storm. I’ve been entertained well enough that towards the end, I had to exercise Amazon’s button for buying the remaining books in the series thus far.

I love stories that turn the expected on its head and that build upon the characters and situations. Good science fiction rarely has anything to do with science directly, so much as the technology is a backdrop that enables the story.

Been hearing bits and pieces for a while now, and anxiously wondering when we’d see a release. Sounds like the new Dune fil is due in October, and one can hope ^_^.

My introduction to Dune was the 1984 film. One late night, my mother invited me to watch it with her, but warned that you’ll probably have to watch it twice to understand it. And of course, I did, lol. Some years later, she would also lend me her copy of the book, and House Atreides. I think Dune still holds my personal record for most pages read in a sitting, since I basically sat on my ass and inhaled about the first 100 pages–after reading the four appendices! I remember seeing the novel had appendices with information about its world, and just knowing that it would be my kind of book.

Oddly, ironically, or fated, the other night I started reading Dune again. It’s been maybe eight or ten years since I last read it.

Since reading the novel as a kid, I’ve come to have a cautious view of anyone attempting to make a movie out of the story. It’s just to big and multifaceted. The cluster-hells aside, the ’84 film basically cut out 30 – 60 % of the novel, literally an entire cast of characters worth. But it still managed to tell the important pieces of the story, and is far from a short film. Much like the Lord of the Rings, I try to respect the fact that no one can watch a 12-hour long movie without taking multiple bathroom breaks unless you’re wearing a still suit or diapers.

IHMO, unless you’re prepared to make a film trilogy out of it I think Dune lends itself more to a miniseries than a theatrical film. So at best, I can hope to enjoy Villeneuve and cie’s efforts. Sounds like he has the good sense to make it more than one movie, hopefully that pans out. The novel itself, as I recall: was not only followed by four appendices, but also divided the story into three “Books”. Which is well reflective of how long a story Dune is, regardless of the publishing history that lead to it being so.

Settling in and watching Enterprise, S1E3 kind of tickles my nature.

Getting ready to board an obviously damaged, unresponsive vessel: Lt. Reed is inclined to break out the heavy rifles, and Capt. Archer surmises that the phrase pistols are sufficient. Considering the unknown situation aboard the other ship: it would make more sense to have Reed with a rifle, and keep the pistols for the rest: light enough to be non threatening if they encounter survivors, and more punch in case things go sour.

Issuing hand phasers and tricoders to away teams as a precaution is probably one of Star Fleet’s saner SOPs, given the wide range of situations Star Fleet personnel are exposed to. But heavy weapons are actually a pretty rare sight in Star Trek despite the amount of shooting that goes on. I don’t really think there were enough times rifles appeared in TOS to remember the 23rd century phaser rifle more than superficially. In the 24th century, it was largely due to the Borg threat and Dominion war that we really see the Type-IIIs. Actually, it’s kind of comforting that the next iteration made it into Voyager’s armories, lol. Not sure if any real figures were ever given for easier weapons, but the Federation Type-IIs popular in the 24th century probably had more destructive potential than anyone could hope to leverage at the longer distances found planet side.

By contrast the MACO unit attached to Enterprise after the Xindi incident is very abnormal by Star Trek norms. But I suppose even the precursors of the Federation eventually had to go down that route.

Watching the end of Lost in Space season 2, I can’t help but think it’s been a great second season. Given much less subterfuge and mystery than the first season, it has a lot more focus than the first thanks to the characters having been developed, and the family solidified over the first season.

As someone who would like to believe there’s some bit of good in everyone, I rather liked Dr. Smith’s development over the season—and the robot’s choice of word. But perhaps the best, is John’s last words to his daughter Judy, as the season marches to its conclusion: “You’ll figure it out.” Because honestly, that’s how life works.

And bless the engineer who designed the corridors aboard the Resolute big enough for a Charriot to speed through, lol.

One of the zillion ideas, or perhaps several of, that have been bouncing around my head of late is: “What if you designed a super carrier, that’s meant to carry its own battle group?”

This kind of got me to thinking. If you designed a super carrier around the idea of several hanger compartments, big enough to pack in 8 ~ 10 capital ships in destroyer or frigate tier sizes, that’s pretty useful. At which point, you may as well design the entire ship around its hangers, engines, and main guns.

We’d be talking about a very large ship. Something in the scale of a Covenant super carrier or an Executor class super stardestroyer–several kilometres of starship. All the more reason to basically build the ship around the guns, the hangers, and the engines, wrap the sucker in all the armour you can muster, and build vital crew services into the ship’s spine.

A follow on idea to this is the notion of a modular destroyer to accompany the super carrier. I mean, literally modular. Swapping out modules could adapt the destroyer from being focused on a point defense screen, or fit smaller Gauss cannons, etc. Swap hanger bays for mine dispensing packages. Need anti-ship torpedoes or the mother of all antimissile batteries? Swap a module. All the better if the aforementioned really big freaking super carrier was equipped to deal with that while underway, but outside of combat; because if you’re going big, bring some spare parts along.

Such a destroyer would go well with a carrier that is so freaking big that you can land the groups destroyers in the carrier, before making with the super duper space travel hijinks. Not to mention, good excuses to have a whole lotta starfighters, support craft, and probably the deck space to supply a planetary assault force or evacuate a small moon worth of people in a pinch.

Thus arriving at another idea that I’ve been putting around with for some years: that Gauss rifles and the like would be far more effective than some kind of damned phaser bank. You wanna knock the shit out of an enemy ship? Blast the fricken’ thing with a solvo of Gauss rifles. Run out of shit to fire out the Gauss rifle? Go mine an asteroid for something ferromagnetic worth processing into a coilgun slug. I imagine that much as cruise missiles took over the world of terrestrial navel combat, starships will rely principally on comparable missiles, and some really big coilguns for piercing uber thick armour is a requirement. Plus who doesn’t like to unleash some kinetic whoop ass?

I kind of picture a long rail of a ship. A quartet of forward firing large calibre Gauss cannons built into the four outer corners of the frame, and a long shaft running several kilometres. The sides of which amount to hanger bay after hanger bay after hanger bay; kind of like the hanger bay death crawls of Covenant ships in the original Halo, where you start wondering whether or not a ship can ever have enough hanger bays or if the engineers ran out of ideas.

While my back isn’t overly happy with a day spent camped in front of Deathstar One, I at least enjoyed binge playing Halo: Reach.

For the most part, the story is a sad one given the fate of Noble Team but the result makes a rather great Halo game. Spartans might not be killed in action, officially, but there are no survivors of Noble team by the end.

Noble Six is a rather interesting one. He exhibits many of the same qualities as the Master Chief, but perhaps lacks his luck. His fate isn’t the saddest though, that probably goes to Daisy-023. Aside from that, Noble team is full of far more developed characters than other fireteams in Halo games. Kat, may very well be the most intriguing Spartan I’ve seen.

The Spartan II on the team reminded me of Dr. Halsey’s rather unique relationship to the older Spartans. I’ve always found it curious that Halsey is portrayed as a more motherly figure, despite being far from compassionate. Cold and pragmatic might be a better description of the doctor. Actually, I’d like to think that she has a special place in hell, for what she did to them—what was done to those children was pretty damned wrong, and definitely overkill from the pre-Covenant war problems.

On the flip side: her children did go on to significant success during the Human-Covenant war. Jorge-052 being far from the least of them. As far as I know, only a dozen or two of that generation survived the Human-Covenant war, in contrast to ONI’s later efforts to mass produce Spartan III and IV warriors, which are pretty plentiful by Halo’s second trilogy.

Noble team’s effort certainly makes for a surprising amount of success, compared to the S.O.L. it leads into with The Pillar of Autumn’s flight from Covenant forces. I suppose when you have a fire team full of Spartans instead of a bunch of hopelessly screwed, you’re likely to see thousands of Covenant go down long before the Spartans breath their last breath.

Watching The Outer Limits – s02e9 – Trial by Fire, I find myself wondering somewhat just what kinds of civilizations we could find out there amongst the stars.

Based on our own civilizations throughout history, I rather think there’s three ways that works out.

In a perfect world, we would probably have a first contact out of Star Trek. But I don’t really have that high a hope for humanity, so I expect our early associations to look more like Avatar or Enemy Mine.

In a way though, I worry that a more likely scenario given how difficult truly foreign beings are, and how fucked up we are, things would turn out more like the Earth-Minbari war in B5. Which could be summarized as a hot head meets cultural differences kicks off the near extimerination of the human race. Except I don’t think the Battle of the Line would turn out so fortuitous, so much as like an ID4 assault ship firing its primary weapon.