Monthly Archives: February 2016

Going on the Account:Looking Ahead While Falling Behind

It’s been how long now since I’ve been here…?

Dang, that’s a while.

I suppose I could state that I’m living by the old statement, “If you don’t have anything nice to say…”

Because these days, it seems like no one has anything nice to say about anyone.  Which is normal for an election year, though this year’s especially nasty the way it’s falling out.

 

It could also be because there’s not been a general conversation that feels like I have anything to add to it.  Some times something comes up, there’s an impulse to spout, but then I take a second and ask, “Is what I’m going to say actually of interest or add anything to this?”  And if the answer after a few minutes is at best, “Eh,” then I move on.

Which is a sad tact to take if you write, because it means walking away from the craft.  It’s like a ball player who doesn’t take the field, or an actor who doesn’t take a role.  But there really wasn’t anything that felt worth discussing through “Going on the Account” during that period; I got some points out through my Facebook page which is to expressing yourself via a blog what dining on fast food and vending machine fare is to eating, but there wasn’t that much to say.

Until today.

There was an article at Motherboard that referred to a report posted at the Journal of Military and Strategic Studies that examines piracy in the modern age.  And a lot has changed even since I started posting Raging Gail here, or for that matter Red Jenny…

For one, the terminology has changed; the preferred term in the paper for the rovers is “Maritime Non-state Actors” or MNSAs.  Which is a little clinical, very exacting and probably a lot more accurate in terms of describing people on the water.

It’s also an effort at re-branding that allows people who think of tri-corner hats and parrots when you hear “pirate” to not associate them with modern sea dogs.  And with such a term, not having to put a face to them makes them easier to think of in more clinical terms, which allows you to consider options that would be more difficult if they were, oh, people…

The big surprise from the piece, however, is bringing up the emerging trend of drones being brought to bear by MNSAs.  (Sorry, pirates…)  It’s not out of character after years of tradition, having pirates get their hands on the latest arms to become a presence out at sea, so the idea that pirates in the future would command a drone or two, or even an entire swarm as they go after a prize, is not out of the realm of the possible.

It is, however, something that suddenly makes Red Jenny seem quaint.  I admit, when I wrote the novel, the idea of militarized drones being in the hands of armed civilians (or, if you insist, MNSAs) was not part of the consideration.  As the world building that went into the work postulated a general economic contraction as climate change whacked the planet, the idea of “exotic” weapons in the hands of pirates who would otherwise have more pressing needs getting their tools together was not a consideration.  The fact that drones could be weaponized so easily and cheaply since the last chapter was posted just makes this omission even more glaring.

In other words:  Dang, whoops.

(And to add to the embarrassment:  The author of the piece, David Rudd, wrote this from the perspective of how the Royal Canadian Navy could best deal with this situation.  Yes, the RCN, the same folks who had they been written into the book would have ended the West Seneca Crew’s adventures within three pages of first sighting.  Damn, talk about irony…)

But that happens.  I remember reading The Third World War: August 1985 when it came out in paperback, being impressed by the author’s projection of then current trends out into a believable scenario.  And I was willing to cut him some slack, as much of what made up his scenario when the book was published in 1978 quickly slipped away thanks to Ayatollah Khomeini, Ronald Reagan, and a number of other events that decided to follow their own course.

So when 1982 rolls around, we get The Third World War: The Untold Story, where Sir John Hackett… whacks the world against the reset button.  Instead of recognizing realty on the ground, he forces the ground to conform to his own will, making the world take a few radical steps to the side so that he didn’t have to rewrite the first book.  Maybe it was Sir John‘s being captured during Operation Market Garden or having to oversee the withdrawal from Palestine which resulted in years of pain left behind that did something to him to make him pull a stunt like that; who knows?  All I can do is shake my head at doing some serious defense of my work in the face of reality like that.

So no, if there’s a follow-up to Red Jenny, there will not be such shenanigans done to that level.  Tempting as it might be to engage in some wishful proclaiming, I would not do that, and just acknowledge that I got something wrong.

Mind you, I do have a few bottom-of-the-drawer projects that involve drones and pirates, stuff that takes place nowhere near Buffalo in the near future; if I get some time, I might do something with that…

In the meantime, I am going to try and come back here more often.  It’s too long since I’ve done some real, home-cooked, get-your-hands-messy-in-the-kitchen-honest blogging, and as much as the quick FB post at the House of Zuck can cover you, no, it’s just not the same.  I need to keep writing.

It’s not like I’m not writing at all; my output at REBEAT magazine has been pretty substantial, including a regular column called “Fantasia Obscura” that looks at older genre films (SF/horror/fantasy) that are in danger of being forgotten, so there’s that at least.

Hopefully this won’t be as easily forgotten as those are, least of all by me…

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