Monthly Archives: July 2009

Going on the Account: Bretheren of the Vacuum

Got word tonight about an article in VARIETY regarding a new version of the Sabatini classic CAPTAIN BLOOD, a classic pirate story.

But this time, set in space.

I’m actually pretty good with this.  Pirates in space have been a staple in our culture since at least Captain Harlock (and probably a lot earlier than this), so hearing that they want to redo a swashbuckler in space makes a lot of sense.  You could probably make an argument that STAR WARS was a swashbuckler property, though I’d advise not doing that among the crowd that remember that the first movie (or fourth, if you’re under 25) was based on Kurosawa’s THE HIDDEN FORTRESS…

My main issue about this (which is spoken well before the first frame is shot by WB, so take it for what it’s worth) is the idea that combat in space would be anything akin to what one saw in the Golden Age of Piracy.  While I can understand the desire to recreate the excitement of being on the quarterdeck as the broadside goes off in an alternative environment (which we can thank Gene Roddenberry for, having stated plainly that the Horatio Hornblower books were a major influence on STAR TREK), I have to imagine that combat in space may not end up being the equivalent of what was seen on the Carib in the 1600s.

I rather imagine that when we do start fighting wars in space, it would look a lot less like PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and more like RUN  SILENT, RUN DEEP.  Ships meant for combat for such theater would most likely have to be re-enforced, maximizing space like a submarine to allow them to take any serious damage while putting their weapons platforms forward to engage.

Mind you, if you haven’t seen RUN SILENT, RUN DEEP, which may be one of the best submarines at war movies ever made, you may want to do yourself a favor.  And frankly, the main meat of piracy, whether you use 12-pounders with black powder, RPG-7s discarded in your country after the Sovitet Union fell apart, or 12.7gW Zenon lasers to disable your prey, is still the same:  disable the enemy, snatch-and-grab the cargo, and haul butt!

All in all, this may be worth our time.  As the folks at io9 pointed out, this is all good in the aggregate.  And anything that draws people to even a reflection of Sabatini’s work can’t be dissed that badly…

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Going on the Account: How We Play the Game Today

Just got a reference to an article in WIRED’s online edition that looks at the Somali pirates from a strictly economic viewpoint.


What’s interesting in reading the article is how much of what was done by crews in the Carib during the Golden Age of Piracy from an organizational standpoint has been adopted by the Somalis.  In particular, the division of shares is in accordance with buccaneer practices, especially if one considers the village elders sanctioning the raids serving the same function as a colonial governor issuing letters of marque.


There’s a game attached to the article as well to play, to give the reader some hands-on experience with the concepts discussed in the piece.  It’s interesting in its basic simplicity and simple commande; it’s not going to displace anyone’s affections for Sid Meier’s Pirates! by any stretch of the imagination, but still…  If you try it, you can let me and others know what you thought of the game here.

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Going on the Account: Part the One Hundred Sixty Second – and an Announcement

Part the One Hundred Sixty Second is now up, and may be read here.


And to give fair warning:  Due to some exhaustion and in conjunction with a family vacation, the novel will be in the doldrums for two weeks, from August 8th through the 23rd.  During that time there will not be any new postings, and I’ll have very limited contact with the site.  Essentially I’m going mostly offline, which these days can be a necessity from time to time; if there’s good reason and the ability to do so, though, I’ll pop on back over here.


We’ll pick up again on the 24th, with new postings ready to go and all the other stuff that gives this place signs of life.

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Going on the Account: Part the One Hundred Sixty First

Part the One Hundred Sixty First is now up, and may be read here.

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Going on the Account: Eyes to the West

Now this, I could see going to SDCC for…


All kidding aside, this year I wasn’t be able to do San Diego Comic Con.  And sadly, that’s about the status quo here…


Still, no need to moan like Cinderella about not making the ball.  I am trying to get out on the road and meet more folks that way, and hoping to hit more places in the future.  I’ve got an event I’m doing in Chicago shortly (though not the one you’d expect…) and am always on the lookout for places to raid and pillage show up and talk about pirates, writing and whatever else I can get out before they ask me to leave.


So I am hoping to get some dates down to take the act on the road.  And when I have a big meal this weekend, I’m likely to say as I do every year over the blessing of the wine, “Next year in Jerusalem San Diego…”

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Going on the Account: Part the One Hundred Sixtieth

Part the One Hundred Sixtieth is now up, and may be read here.

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Going on the Account: Now THAT Be How to Trim Her Rigging!

I had a recommendation for a novel handed me today, a book about home made viruses bringing about the end of the world.


And it’s being serialized on the Web.  For free.  Along with a few other works by the author.


So of course I had to check this out, partly to lament that my own germs-ending-the-world-book may have to be re-thought with another product already on the market, but mainly to see how he handles the technical aspects of the work.  More specifically, I needed to see how he lays out his work at his site, how the interface and navigation tools feel as a user, what he’s got that may be worth looking at.


And I feel like the British Admiralty at Spithead in 1897.  They had thought they knew what they were doing as far as building up the Royal Navy, until Sir Charles Parsons’ Turbinia crashed the procession of ships assembled for review that day, going an unheard of 34 knots while cutting between the vessels and making the world’s most powerful navy appear as formidable as the Spanish Armada after she was chased from the Channel.  To their credit, after being shown up in front of Prince Edward and the dignitaries assembled, the Admiralty took to heart lessons learned and modernized the fleet soon after.  Had it not been for Parsons and his demo, the HMS Dreadnought would probably never have come about the way she had.


And like them, I look at MCM’s page at and feel there’s something to be learned from this.  I admit, when it comes to doing coding and layouts, I write a decent pirate battle if I say so myself. 


Which is why I’m opening the floor to suggestions on how to provide the same service to the readers that MCM does.  I’m looking for suggestions, recommendations, points in the direction of tools and apps to make my work easier to share with everyone out there.  I’m looking forward to hearing from you how to get this ship up to speed…

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Going on the Account: Part the One Hundred Fifty Ninth

Part the One Hundred Fifty Ninth is now up, and may be read here.

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Going on the Account: Part the One Hundred Fifty Eighth

Part the One Hundred Fifty Eighth is now up, and may be read here.

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Going on the Account: Part the One Hundred Fifty Seventh

Part the One Hundred Fifty Seventh is now up, and may be read here.


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Going on the Account: Arrrrrr-gh!

Forgive the reflexive jolt to come…


As I pulled myself through my morning routine, I came across an ad for a book entitled OBAMA AND THE PIRATES.  I’m always interested in fiction about pirates that pops up out there (of course), so I went to take a look.


Probably should have waited until the first cup of coffee…


Now, I can accept wanting to cash in quickly on the story of the MV Maersk Alabama.  And there’s a good deal of fascination with President Obama, reminiscent of what Kennedy was greeted with early in his term.  So doing something like this is natural, and I can’t fault that.


But why oh why… 

* Did we have to have President Obama as an action figure yet again?  After seeing him in comics the last few months and going up against aliens and zombies, did we need him going presidente a mano with pirates?

* How come when someone discusses pirates, they have to represent them as they were 300 years ago, with cutlasses and muskets aboard sailing ships?  With all the grief caused pirate re-enactors by the Somalis (yes I keep referring back to this piece; it’s hard not to appreciate this account of romance-versus-reality), having this pop up in a book for the whole family (their words, not mine) can’t make any of them feel good about this.  And in addition to the historic jumble, the fact that most of the pirates in this tale don’t look like they were from Somalia or anywhere else in Africa, to put it delicately, isn’t doing anyone any favors…

* And did we need an art style that makes it so “for the kiddies-esque”?  (No it’s not a real phrase; too damn early for me to hunt for a thesaurus…)  Did we really need stylings that were too reminiscent of Hasbro’s Marvel Super Hero Squad, where features of adults get extended to make them look like a cartoon show character? 


I’m sorry, but really.  There’s only so much one can look at without the annoyance of it hitting you like hives crawling under the skin, so itchy that your first reaction is to claw the flesh away with your nails until the bloodied bones hang by tendons off your stumps…


Yes, I wrote a lot of horror earlier in my career.  I’m thinking of going back to it soon…


What’s needed is a dose of reality; at least I need it.  There’s a discussion of THE INVISIBLE HOOK (which I still need to get my hands on) that mentions attacks in the Horn of Africa this year have already surpassed 2008’s numbers.  And there’s a good recounting of currently (as of July 8th) held ships in the region with their status; 214 hostages that don’t need to be made to look like cartoon figures, thank you…


That’s it; tomorrow I sleep in…

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Going on the Account: Part the One Hundred Fifty Sixth

Part the One Hundred Fifty Sixth is now up, and may be read here.

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