Just Something


Eighteen years ago I sold a book that wasn’t written because the house passed on the book that was almost finished.  The reason given for no interest in the book nearer completion was that and I quote “The Red Baron is bad. He fought Snoopy. Also, he was a Nazi.” which explains the arguments on politics I’ve been having with people in my field ever since. It also reminds me I need to dial down my vocabulary. And get a way to look into parallel worlds.

Later, when I understood NY publishing I realized I was trying to sell a mil sf novel to the wrong house. (Yeah, they bought some, but the slant was different. Hence not from me.)

I’ll be danged if I have the SLIGHTEST idea where the rest of this novel is (I had trouble finding this) though my guess is in one of the boxes filled with diskettes.  Don’t know if it would be worth looking for.

To my eyes, though I’d do it differently today, there’s still SOMETHING here.  Is the something worth going into the unpacked boxes and spending a couple of Sundays searching through diskettes? And then spending a couple of weeks fixing the fact I had clue zero how to foreshadow? Or is it just something to nod at and say “it might have been.” Maybe.

The rest of the story, btw, could be encapsulated (though not PRECISELY of course as the personalities are different, and… anyway but it’s the feel of it and there are aliens) Prince Roger against the Good Men. I no longer remember if I sent Richthofen back in the end.  I remember DEBATING it with myself. But not what I actually did.  (Not sending him back meant sequels. Again, think Prince Roger.)

Anyway, I know some of you don’t like snippets.  This isn’t so much a snippet.  I’d like ya’ll’s opinion on the advisability of doing an all out search for the rest of this. And I KNOW ya’ll have opinions (a few.)


The Years Undone

Sarah A. Hoyt


Over The Valley Of The Somme, the 21st of April, 1918.


The wind bit Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen’s exposed face, whipped his white silk scarf into a frenzy.

He didn’t notice.

Hunched forward, Manfred, the Red Baron, held the levers of his airplane in his right hand, his square-tipped fingers simultaneously controlling the flight of his plane and firing both of his front-mounted machine guns in a well-practiced way at the fleeing enemy plane.

Far beneath Manfred’s plane, a persistent fog obscured the trenches and the men in them.

Manfred had done his time in the trenches and he would prefer death in the cold, clean air above the clouds to life in the damp mustiness, the sluggish boredom, of the trench.

Despite the cold and the wind that, intensified by the speed of his flight, made the red-painted plywood frame of his plane crackle and groan, Manfred felt warm.


His heart beat fast and his pumping blood made his pale-skinned face glow.  His right hand managed the levers, his left thumb squeezed the trigger that fired both machine guns at once.

Tracer bullets flew to the right and left of the enemy plane, leaving glimmering white trails behind.

Right where Manfred wanted them.

Suddenly shots from behind Manfred startled him.  He had a tail.

No matter.  He took a deep breath.  He couldn’t turn and run.  Not now.  Not when he was so close to bringing the enemy down.

Manfred concentrated on the plane ahead, not the one behind.  He thought of what he wanted to happen.  What must happen.

The enemy pilot would land.  He would be forced to land.  And Manfred would claim the credit of having made yet another prisoner for the fatherland.

His sweaty fingers played on the controls, taking his airplane lower and lower, in pursuit of the zigzagging airplane ahead of him.

He savored the inevitable joy of his soon-to-come triumph.  It would be his eighty-first.

The fog had cleared.  Yet, if Manfred glimpsed the mud and trees beneath him — if he saw the hulls of bombed out buildings, destroyed in the years of World War I — it was as an animal sees things, without comprehension or understanding.  He certainly didn’t know where over the valley of the Somme he flew, or when he crossed the lines to the enemy side.

The focus of his icy blue eyes had narrowed to the plane he was pursuing.  Only his prey mattered.

He cared for nothing else

He lost altitude without noticing it, sinking in pursuit of the sinking enemy.  The pounding of blood in his veins, his dry mouth, the excitement before the kill, all of it kept him narrowly aware of the chase.  Only the chase.  He noticed a green hedge ahead of him and jumped it with a tug of his lever, gaining altitude for a moment.

Suddenly, bullets came at him from the front, joining the bullets of his pursuer.  Ground battery bullets.  Futilely, he thought he needed to escape.  Turn tail.  Make for home.

Too late.

He had time to think that he was over enemy lines; that he had been an idiot; that he had violated his own rules, pursuing an enemy into the mouth of danger.  He always told new men in his squadron not to fly too low; not to pursue enemy behind their lines; not to–

Bullets tore into his flesh.

Hot pain ripped his skin and muscles and nerves.  Bullets hit his legs; one shattered his knee.  The convulsion of his pain was cut short by a volley of shots drilling into the soft flesh of his stomach.

A fiery hot bullet pierced his chest.  Unbearable pain blurred his vision as his rib broke under the impact.  His heart trembled, fibrillated, as — stricken — it sought to pump blood to veins it could no longer reach.

He was dead.

He knew he was dead, and yet his head remained clear.  His lungs filled with blood and he felt as though he were being pulled under water — drowned.  His fingers, of their own accord, turned off the engine of the plane.

He didn’t want to go down in flames.  A fiery death had filled all his nightmares for months. Death, yes.  But not in flames.

His body shook uncontrollably, and the mouth he desperately opened couldn’t gather breath into his flooded lungs.

The sharp, salty taste of his own blood, mingled with the lingering sweet traces of the biscuits and marmalade he’d eaten for breakfast.

He thought of his mother and his sister Ilse.  When Germany lost the war — and Manfred had known for some time that Germany would lose — his mother and his sister would be defenseless, at the mercy of the enemy.  If only Lothar— But his younger brother could not be counted on to take responsibility for his family.  Or for himself.

Manfred had known that for some time, too.

He felt cold.  Much too cold.  His body twitched and wrenched spasmodically, in a final, senseless dance.

Why did death take so long?  He couldn’t breathe.  Why did he remain alive?

His plane spiraled towards the ground.

He pulled his goggles off, threw them from him, irrationally trying to remove the red haze that obscured his sight.

His heavy leather flight jacket, his leather coveralls, his fur flight boots, all of those were no obstacle to the cold wind that whipped around and around him as he went down, down.  Blood bubbled out of his mouth.

Lights flashed through his blurred vision and he heard odd voices speaking a language he couldn’t understand.  He caught English words amid the gibberish, “transport” and “time” and “now, now, now, now.”

Hands grabbed him and pulled him.  Celestial beings were unduly rough.  Who would have known the angels spoke English? Manfred tried to remember a prayer, but couldn’t.  And he’d never been taught to pray in English.

Light expanded around him, and yet he fell into darkness.

As far as the world of 1918 was concerned, Manfred, Freiherr von Richthofen, the Red Baron, World War One’s most famous aviation ace, was dead.





Manfred woke up feeling drowsy and drunk.

He stared at the ceiling a long while, trying to remember where and with whom he might have gone drinking.

As a rule, he didn’t drink to excess and lately he’d hardly drunk at all.  He’d been too afraid that if he drank too much he might see the ghosts of all the comrades he’d lost in this war; the ghosts of all the enemies he’d killed in combat.

He lay in a bed and he felt— Tired?  No.  Not tired, just oddly confused — detached — as though he watched himself from a long distance off and none of it mattered very much.

The bed, the heavy dresser, the wardrobe, the small round table, all were familiar, all well known from his childhood.

He must be in his room in Schweidnitz, his ancestral home, in Silesia.

The light fixture on the ceiling was made from the rotor of a plane he had downed.  Around the room were his other trophies: pieces of canvas with the numbers of airplanes he had shot down; and there, on the southeastern wall, near the window, was his very first trophy: three duck feathers stuck to a piece of cardboard.

He smiled at it and at the memory.

As a brash young boy of seven, he’d shot three of his grandmother’s pet ducks with his airgun.  And though the adults hadn’t entirely approved of his exploit, he couldn’t help but still feel proud of it.

On another wall was the head of the boar he had killed while still in the cavalry, when he had wiled away long nights of boredom by escaping the trenches for the nearby game preserve of a fellow nobleman.

To the right of that was the little shelf that held the silver cups he’d ordered for himself, to commemorate each of his victories.

He stared at that shelf a long time.

Something was wrong. Something was very wrong with that shelf, though he couldn’t immediately say what.  He stared at it till his mind started counting the trophies.  Sixty-four.  Sixty-five.  Sixty six.  His hair stood on end.

He pulled himself up on his elbows.  He counted with growing terror from sixty six to eighty.  Eighty trophy cups.

Though he had eighty victories to his credit, Manfred had stopped ordering the trophies after the sixty-fourth.  And no one else would continue such a private ritual for him.  Not even his mother.

Cold sweat sprang from his every pore, soaking his short, pale blond hair.

He forced himself to sit up.  The room spun around him.  His chest hurt with a dull ache, like much-bruised flesh, and breath wheezed in and out of him, as if he had a bad cold.

The room smelled funny.  He’d obviously been sick, yet he couldn’t smell the sickroom odors of illness, sweat and disinfectant.  In their place, there was an odd chemical smell, barely masked by floral scent.

His bed felt different.  The mattress moved beneath him, as a living thing, and the sheets and blanket felt lighter and softer than anything he’d ever touched.

Suddenly, with startling clarity, he remembered he had been shot down.  He remembered the bullets entering his body.  His chest.  Memory of the pain made him start and draw breath.

He’d been shot through the heart.

His hands flew to leg, and stomach, and chest, everywhere he’d felt the bullets penetrate.  There were no wounds.  His hands met only his own soft, unbroken skin.

He was sleeping naked.  He never slept naked.  His heart beat fast; his head spun.

He should have been dead, but he was alive.  He should have  pajamas on, but he was naked.  Of the two, the latter puzzled him the most.  He might, by a miracle, have survived those wounds.  But he never slept without at least a shirt on.

Who would put him to bed naked?  Under what circumstances would he, himself, go to bed naked?

His familiar room in the ancestral mansion at Schweidnitz looked different in minute ways.  Who would have altered his room?  Why?  How long had he been unconscious?

Was he truly in Schweidnitz, or in an English prison camp?  And if he was a prisoner, why would they play with him?  Why make this room look just like Schweidnitz?  Why give him this mattress—

It twitched under him, as his weight shifted.

He managed to haul himself out of bed.  Standing on the wooden floor he held holding onto the mattress with his left hand, while he shook with the effort of being upright.  His legs hurt, as if he’d been lying down for so long that his muscles had forgotten their accustomed purpose.

With his right hand, Manfred pulled the sheet off the mattress.  The material beneath was soft and looked like pig’s skin.  It felt warm where his hand touched it, and moved to accommodate his fingers, cuddling against them like a cat.

He pulled his hand away.  Holding onto furniture and walls in the crowded room, he managed to make it to the window.

If only he could look out and see the familiar terraces of his home—  If he could, perhaps, see his sister, Ilse, or his youngest brother, Bolko, out        in the gardens, then he would know he was home.  That, despite all the odd details, he had nothing to worry about.  He would know everything was fine and that all his feeling of danger was a remainder of his illness.

But the curtains — though they looked like his familiar, heavy velvet curtains — didn’t open.  No matter how or where he pulled, the material resisted him.

A mad dream.  This had to be a mad dream.  Curtains didn’t resist being pulled.  But then mattresses did not nuzzle you.

He stumbled to the massive dresser beside the bed.   He would put on some clothes and then he’d go in search of someone who could help him understand this madness.

The drawers of his dresser wouldn’t open.  He tugged and pulled; pulled and tugged until he was panting, breathing hard, his chest aching.  Until the whole dresser should have tipped over on him.  The drawers didn’t budge.

He rushed to the door.  He was going mad.  The bullet he’d received in the head in July 1917, almost a year ago, had finally driven him insane.  The bone splinters, that the doctors had never succeeded in removing fully, must have worked their way into his brain.

If only he could get out of his room, find his mother.  She would know what to do.  She would calm him and comfort him.  She would—

To his surprise, the door knob to the entrance door turned under his shove.

He’d half expected to be a prisoner in his room.

Outside was a corridor that looked like nothing in Schweidnitz, like nothing Manfred had ever seen.

The walls and the floor glistened like glass — deep grey glass.  They met at not-quite-straight angles, as if they’d been poured while liquid and had hardened into shape afterwards.  Soft lights shone from within the ceiling, their glow halfway between the gentle light of candles and the brash intrusion of electrical light.

Manfred took a deep breath, steadying himself with a hand against the slick, cold wall.

Naked, in a strange environment, he felt helpless and lost.  Mad.  He must have gone mad.  He had suffered a head wound.  Since then, he had felt reluctant to go up.  He hadn’t wanted to kill again.  Yes, he must have suffered a breakdown.  But what kind of strange asylum was this?

His bare feet slapped the cold, smooth floor, as he crept down the hallway.

From somewhere, nearby, came the sound of voices.  They didn’t sound German.

As he struggled along the smooth, glassy hallway, closer and closer to the voices, he tried to identify the words he heard.  Most of them were gibberish, but some sounded like ill-pronounced English.  From his meager store of English, he identified, or thought he did, the word “transfer” and the words “back” and “time.”

In the middle of it all, a German word struck his ear: doppleganger.

Manfred frowned as he inched around a corner in the hallway and saw an open door, with bright white light spilling out of it.  The voices came from there.

A doppleganger was a double, someone who looked just like you.  What an odd word to pronounce, amid the gibberish and the English.

Perhaps he had misheard.  Perhaps he’d just misinterpreted a collection of foreign sounds.

Keeping knit to the wall, sliding his back against it, he approached the well-lit room.

His heart beat faster.  What would he find?  What people were these?  Was he in their power?  What did they intend with him?  He mustered all his strength to keep walking, though his legs felt tired and powerless and his whole body ached with the strain of standing up.

He must reach that room.  He must find someone who could tell him where he was.  He must find out whether he was mad.

He edged into the door and stood there, his bare back against the slick, cold door frame.

People clustered around a high, narrow bed.  The people were all young — some male, some female.  Their skin colors ranged from as pale as Manfred’s own to as dark as midnight.  They all wore orange pants and shirts.

As they moved away from the bed, Manfred looked past them.  And froze.  On the bed lay—

Manfred blinked.

Standing there, his feet against the cool floor at the entrance to the room, Manfred saw himself laying on that portable bed.  Himself, Manfred von Richthofen, in the flight suit he’d worn the last time he remembered climbing into his airplane.

He blinked again.

The press of people around the bed, men and women — all dressed in look-alike orange suits — stepped away.  One of them stepped back, almost as far back as Manfred stood.  She held a gun in her hands.

They were so intent on their work, they didn’t see Manfred.

She lowered the gun, aimed it.  A shot rang out; two; three; four; five shots.

The pale-skinned man on the portable bed shook with the impact, arched his back, convulsed.  Blood ran out of his chest and mouth, stained his flight jacket, the top of his pants.

Manfred remembered the taste of blood in his own mouth, the pain of the bullet tearing through his chest, ripping through his heart.

These people had killed him — or were killing him.  The same wounds, the same…  He shook.  Unsteady on his feet, he lurched forward.

The crowd noticed him at last.

A woman shrieked and men and women exclaimed in the language Manfred couldn’t understand.

He forced his way through the disoriented group, up to the bed, his hands in fists, his heart hammering in his chest, his mind clouded by a rage he only half understood.

The body on the table still looked like Manfred.  It glared at him with his own pale-blue eyes.  It wore his flight suit.

It was dead.

And yet Manfred lived.  Or was he a ghost?  But no.  Hands grabbed him.

“Calm, calm, calm,” someone said, in badly pronounced German.

He looked at the group now clustered around him.

Men and women — young, healthy, well fed, their features more exotic than any he’d ever seen — they all stared at him, their eyes wide open; suspicious, shocked.

No words were needed.  They’d captured him.  They were the enemy, and he their prisoner.

Two men grabbed his arms.  Manfred tore away from their hands, but other hands grabbed him, brought his arms behind his back, held his hands together.  Other hands held him in place.

His mind whirled with confusion.  His head pounded.  He struggled to free himself, but he was too weak and there were too many of them holding im too firmly.

They would kill him now.  They would shoot him as they had shot— The man on that table— Who was— Himself?  How could he be Manfred?  Who was Manfred?

His lips formed the words “Wie?” and “Warum?”  How and why.

The only answer he got was that same, oddly-pronounced, “Calm, calm, calm.”

A slim, dark girl held something green and round in front of his face and squeezed it.  A fine, cool mist surrounded him.

He smelled flowers, then lost control of his legs, lost control of his body.

With his eyes still open, his mind still spinning, trying to find an answer, Manfred fell.

The crowd of strangers broke his fall, held him up.  Many hands lifted him, and placed him on a bed like the one where his look-alike had died.

He wanted to fight then, to fight his way free of these people who were going to shoot him, to execute him when he couldn’t even stand up.  They weren’t… honorable.  Who knew what they might do?

He heard himself make a high, keening sound of protest, but couldn’t control his mouth to either speech or silence.

The people around him pushed the bed.  It slid forward smoothly, floating on air.

Near the door, for just a moment, Manfred caught a glimpse of a girl with green hair and the face of an angel.

She had oriental eyes, a broad chin and gently curving lips and the type of body men in the trenches dreamed of but rarely got to see.  Her skin was a deep, shining gold.

Manfred wanted to call for help, and managed to open his lips and shape, “please, please, please.”

But she only smiled at him, as he passed.

Her smile was the benediction of a mad angel.





Magda Pilates, a.k.a. Mag-pi, pulled back a strand of her outrageously colored hair and walked past the open door to the med-room, ostensibly not even glancing inside.

But she saw.

She saw everything well enough, though she didn’t allow even a pause in her rolling walk to betray it.  Her feet, in their accustomed heavy boots, hit the floor rhythmically.

Seemingly, she stared straight ahead, her hands deep in the pockets of her dark-blue suit.

She missed nothing of the room or its occupants.

Though most of the med-techs had left with the blond guy on the carrier, three of them remained behind with the strangely dressed corpse that resembled the blond.

So, another substitution was under way.  And a new flier had joined the ranks.  From the looks of him, and the fact that they’d had to tranq him to get him under control, a psychotic flier.

Mag-pi smiled.  This was going to be fun.

No one had explained the mechanics of time-transfer to Mag-pi.  No one had told her that each of the transferees were fighter pilots brought forward in time; nor that they could only be brought forward after their death had become a certainty in their own time; nor that after bringing them forward they created a double of each of them and killed it in the manner each of them was supposed to have died and then tunneled back through time and put a corpse where a corpse would be expected.

No one had told her, but Mag-pi had an habit of finding out things.  It had kept her alive for her twenty two years of life.

A twenty-third century pilot, who’d helped Earth’s land states win the war against the artificial sea cities, Mag-pi had been amid the first transported to the twenty fifth century.

Confined to this compound for over two months now, she had talked to other transferees.

And she knew about the death thing.  That you had to be as good as dead in your own time to be transported.

Mag-pi remembered her own death all too well.  She remembered the wine her superiors had served to her and her squadron, to celebrate their final victory.

She remembered her throat closing and the spasm that had bent her spine backward.  Even now, at the memory, her mouth filled with the bitter aftertaste of the poison.

Damn.  They’d killed her — they’d killed them.  And now in this future age, having talked to people of all times and places, Mag-pi knew why: because Mag-pi and her boys were bioengineered human artifacts.  Improvements on the human model — their genes tailored for better speed, coordination, reasoning.

Those same improvements that had made them such good pilots and helped the old, land-bound nations of Earth win the war had been their death sentences.  Because the old countries could not afford to have the enemy find out that they owed their victory to bios.  The landstates couldn’t admit they had broken international law against tampering with the human genome.

Exit Mag-pi and her boys: Falcon, Sparrow, Eagle, Phoenix, Owl, Condor and Macaw.

Mag-pi’s fists bunched in her pockets.

Well, now the rulers of Earth needed heros again.  And this time she’d make damn sure their reward wasn’t death.  She’d make damn, damn sure.

Deep in her own thoughts, she jumped, in surprise, when a man stepped out of a side door, in front of her.

He had very short dark hair and wore the orange uniform of a Peace Keeper — some sort of policemen who did the maintenance and crowd control work around the compound.  “What are you doing here?” he asked.  “This area is restricted.”

The non-challance Mag-pi had exuded while walking down the hallway fell from her shoulders like a loose coat.  She ducked her head and managed to push her cleavage just slightly forward, making it even more prominent.  Looking down, she said, “I’m sorry.  I got lost.  The rec hall?”  Peeking upward, just slightly, between the green strands of her hair, she saw the man glower at her, and kept her submissive posture, her bent shoulders.

The man made a derisive sound in the back of his throat.  “The rec hall is on the other side of the compound,” he said.  “As you know.”

He nudged her shoulder to get her walking, and escorted her down the narrow, grey-walled corridor.  The grey corridors were the ones where people were brought in, where interesting things happened.  The ones Mag-pi gravitated to, to figure out what those in power were planning.

It wasn’t the first time that Mag-pi got caught, but somehow these people never checked with each other.  Or didn’t care.  Why wouldn’t they care?  Perhaps because they were planning to kill her.

Frowning towards the ground, she saw her boot clad feet hit the shiny floor in the same rhythm as her guard’s slippered feet.

They reached a door and the guard allowed the eye-level camera to scan his retina.  He pressed a green button.  The door slid open.

Mag-pi walked through it, feeling the weight of the guard’s suspicious glance on her back.  She waited until she heard the door slide shut behind her, before lifting her head and resuming her rolling walk.

It never occurred to these guards to ask how she got into the restricted part of the compound.  She certainly wasn’t about to tell them that she’d got in through a ventilation window set fifteen feet up a smooth wall, where no normal human could climb.

No normal human.  Mag-pi smiled to herself.  She walked down a green-walled corridor, made of the same dimatough as the grey corridors, but open to all.

The rec hall announced itself form a distance by the sound of rapid fire speech in many languages, by occasional laughter and by the smell of food, alcohol and tobacco, the latter a substance Mag had discovered only here – having been so tightly controlled as to be non existent in her time.  Though other, more serious drugs, had been abundant and free-flowing.

Entering the rec hall, Mag-pi instinctively looked around for her boys, glancing over the heads of a hundred or so fliers – mostly men — hunched over tables, talking, eating, drinking.  Most of them spent their whole time talking about their situation, trying to understand it.  And none had even figured that this must be the twenty fifth century because they had people who came from times up to the twenty fourth.  Fools all.  And the half dozen women among them were no better.

Of course only Mag-pi was a bio-improved female.  The only one of her kind.  And only she had figured that someone had been gathering combat fliers from all eras, which meant they were preparing for some big battle.

Mag and her boys would be fighting again.  And this time she would protect herself.  And them.  By all means available.

“Mag.”  A familiar large hand grabbed onto Mag’s arm.  “Where have you been?  We were worried.”

Without looking, she shook away the grasping hand.  Rudolph Sven, aka Raven, was getting above himself.  The tall blond had been sharing Mag’s bed for the last month and clearly he’d forgotten that – as the only woman in the group – she made the decisions as to whom she would favor.  And none of them kept tabs on her.

But she had time for no more than frowning at Raven, because the rest of the boys pressed in.  All in their twenties and all different, from raven’s pale hair and bright green eyes to Falcon’s towering ebony frame.  Race meant nothing when you came out of a test tube.

But they all looked as concerned as Raven.  All except Macaw, who did justice to his nickname by dyeing his hair a deep red, with an abstract overlay in bright colors that made it look like an old tapestry.

He looked amused and gave her a fleeting mad smile.  “What shiny treasure have you gathered, Mag-pi?”

She shrugged.  Maybe she’d give Macaw a turn next.  He was as mad in bed as out of it.  Exhausting, but fun.  “There’s a new flier arrived,” she said.  Exciting news, because it had been over a week.  And that meant that they had researched to bring up someone historically important.  “Pale blond.  Short.  Totally psycho.  They had to tranq him.”

They all surged forward.  All of them could have found things the way Mag-pi did, but they never even tried.  Instead, they relied on her.

“What kind of clothes was he wearing?”  One of them asked.  Mag-pi grinned.  “The flier?  None.”  Mag-pi grinned.  “But his replacement…”  She demurred.

“You saw the–”  “What did the–” “How did they–”

“He,” she said.  “Was wearing a leather flight suit.  Early twentieth century, I think.  Red boots.”  A short silence.

And then Sparrow, short, dark haired, with dark, dark eyes peering attentively from beneath a slick-smooth mass of hair, asked, “Did he speak?  What language?”

“Like English.”  In her months here, she’d got quite good at figuring out the cadences of ancient languages.  “But harsher.”

Sparrow’s face lit up.  “I’ve been wondering when he would arrive.”


“The Red Baron.  German.  They were bound to get him, since they’re getting the best.”

The Red Baron.  Fragments of his legend flitted through Mag-pi’s mind.  His courage, coolness and daring.  His ability to unerringly fly the wooden crates that passed for planes in those days.  His accuracy at shooting and air combat.  All of it had been talked about even in Mag-pi’s training.

She bit her lip.  Whatever battle was ahead, their handlers had clearly picked the best of each time.  Which meant they needed great fliers.  Not just good ones.  So though they were all at the mercy of their strange captors, the best ones were bound to be safe.

And Mag-pi was determined to be the best and keep herself and her boys safe.  She squared her shoulders.

Let Manfred of Richthofen be a legend.  She was sure she could fly better than he.  And kill better.  He was only a natural human.







422 thoughts on “Just Something

  1. I don’t know about anyone else, but I certainly would like to know more.

    (And also, seriously? The Red Baron, a Nazi? I wonder if they think Bismarck was, too.)

    1. I wonder if they think Bismarck was, too.

      Sadly, I suspect that they did.

          1. Bismarck pioneered much of the crap that the Nazis did. An awful lot of our ancestors ended up here because of his kulturkampf and his other unattractive supervillain junk.

            But he was obviously not a Nazi.

            1. I thought Ox was serious and just said “add-an-hour” because spelling is hard. :/

              I do get jokes…. eventually.

                  1. It has been a while since I have had the opportunity to employ my garum gun … and my trigger finger is getting itchy.

                  2. “Ox NOT slow. Bulls fast, Ox weight reduced Bull, should be faster…”

                    But doesn’t steer as well.

        1. “Your dog is a Nazi!”

          No, wait that actually happened a few months back. Its owner got convicted of a “hate crime” too.

          1. yes, but that’s in old blighty, where everything is ‘subject to the power of parliament’ including all of your rights…

    2. When meeting with the editor, I had serious trouble not banging my head on the coffee table at that one. But she wanted to buy Shakespeare, and I was young and stupid.

      1. While the publisher may have have been so dense as to think the Red Baron was somehow a Nazi, the frozen food folks never seem to have had that problem, as there is a Red Baron brand of frozen pizza that has been around for decades.

    3. That’s what happens when the Left get to destroy or rewrite history.

      It’s exactly what’s been happening with the crusade against Southern Civil War hero statutes, and the erasure of statutes and names of anyone who owned slaves prior to the Civil War. Those people doing so are destroying our inheritance. I’m starting to think that any sympathy for their feelings is really misplaced compassion for monsters hell-bent on domination and destruction or those too stupid to learn or know better being led by them.

      1. They also think things like Slavery were always-known-to-be-wrong and more important were always avoidable (It was a widespread evil till the industrial revolution. You plot it out.) They’re that purblind idiotic.

        1. All too true. They also forget that slavery had been a very common feature of human societies — throughout the globe.

          1. Still is. Sometimes happens in the U.S. (usually with immigrant families who remove the passports of their “help,” but can and has happened with locals, too.) And I’m not talking about “debt slavery” or any of the kinda-sorta versions; I’m talking about the full-on “people are owned and told what to do” version. Historical blindness isn’t just in the past.

            1. The USSR kept slaves for the entire duration of its existence. But for some reason that was okay, just like slavery in the Third Reich. (if you call them “guest workers” they’re totally not slaves, you see…) Or the minor flap of the Nizam of Hyderabad, who wound up having to manumit some of the slaves in his entourage when he visited the USA in the 1960s…

              But wait! Slavery was a uniquely Southern American evil, for which we should wear hair shirts forever. But fortunately slavery in the US has been stamped out by the Thirteenth Amendment, which… explicitly acknowledges slavery as lawful in the United States, as long as people are only enslaved by the government.

              1. *wags paw* Eh, slavery and Russian serfdom had some legal and fiscal differences. No, not to someone from outside Russia looking at the system, but Peter the Great ended slavery in Russia – because slaves could not be taxed. Serfs ended up being forced into villages even in places where that made no sense, because they could be taxed more easily.

                what can I say? Russia’s just gotta do it differently from everyone else.

                1. Russian peasants were also known to voluntarily become slaves to avoid taxes. There’s a very fine line between someone owning you, and that someone owning your stuff by extension. But that line was honored by a great many societies. (That I, as I, modern, can’t quite wrap my head around it, matters not a whit.)

                2. I was referring to the gulag system, which provided somewhere between 30 and 35% of the USSR’s GNP, depending on whose figures you choose.

              2. When the government owns the slaves there is not the same corrupting influence, doncha know?

                Thus the Chinese government imprisoning, typing and harvesting organs for sale from the Falun Gong is nothing like slavery, nothing at all!

        2. Hell, there are plenty who think whites in the South invented slavery and it was a uniquely American institution:


          For 11 years, Professor Duke Pesta gave quizzes to his students at the beginning of the school year to test their knowledge on basic facts about American history and Western culture.

          The most surprising result from his 11-year experiment? Students’ overwhelming belief that slavery began in the United States and was almost exclusively an American phenomenon, he said.

          “Most of my students could not tell me anything meaningful about slavery outside of America,” Pesta told The College Fix. “They are convinced that slavery was an American problem that more or less ended with the Civil War, and they are very fuzzy about the history of slavery prior to the Colonial era. Their entire education about slavery was confined to America.”

            1. No, and certainly not in schools, plus it would just be twisted as Christians justifying the racism inherent in Christianity by advocating for slavery.

          1. And that it was racist. I think I told you that a priest once gave an entire sermon on the idea that of the two saints, Perpetua and Felicity, the owner was white and the slave black. He went on and on about ignoring skin color.
            This is unique American crazy. Over the world the two are often depicted as black, which is curious, and sometimes as both blond or mediterranean.
            BUT for him it was so obvious he never even looked up images.

            1. If they’ve gone through a public school in the last three decades, they probably can’t read anything older than, say, 1940. The rhythms shift,mand make it hard to understand if you aren’t comfortable reading in the first place. I know I have that problem with anything much older than Kipling. Even Twain is a bit of a slog, and Dickens is like shoveling snow with a dicy back.

              1. Well, finally something to be thankful for my bizarre background and dyslexia. Admittedly, some of the older stuff requires a bit of reading out loud to get the cadence.

              2. How about Chaucer in the original English?
                Though arguable that modern average students may spell that way (half joking)

                1. I once read a goodly portion of Toxophilus written in 1545 or so. That was enough of a bit of a sorting out.
                  I had something else to add and ADD took over so . . .

              3. It can take time to get used to alien rhythms but I promise you that if you dive in and stick to it, you can get used to it. Possibly even enjoy it, if the craftsmanship of the book is any good. Vanity Fair is a good example.

                And I did my undergrad work in the sciences!

            2. “Greeks? That was the guy wearing a bed sheet in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure?”
              a paraphrase from a few years after. Same person thought Genghis was “That Japanese Samurai guy”
              Person was a student at Tulane University

              1. There was an excellent movie based on the early life of Genghis, in which he was played by a Japanese actor … Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan? In 2007. I do not know if a sequel ever was made/made it to our shores. The actor, Asano Tadanobu, has several credits at IMDb which might be samurai roles. I note he played Hogun the Grim in the Thor franchise.

                Okay, this most assuredly a samurai role:
                Taboo (1999)
                Gohatto (original title)

                The new member of a samurai militia unit causes disruption as several of his colleagues fall in love with him, threatening to disturb the rigid code of their squad.
                [Third billed]
                Tadanobu Asano: Samurai Hyozo Tashiro

                  1. “Pilgrim, you shouldn’t have oughtta killed my diplomats. Somebody oughtta make you pay for that, but I won’t. I won’t. The HELL I won’t!”

                  2. Yes, Lordy The Conqueror is an awful movie. Some have attributed Wayne’s death (as well as several other members of cast and crew) by cancer to one of the shoots in Utah having been dusted with fallout from a test in Nevada. I suspect his self described 6 pack a day habit (120 cigarettes a day….) was more of an issue.

                1. well, this person had no clue where Indonesia might be and told a Melanesian girl she couldn’t be from southeast Asia (cue Joe Pesci imitating a South African “But, you’re black!”) . . . but they weren’t the one who asked a girl with a Kingston Jamaica accent if she was Irish (mulatto with blondish orange afro hair . . . think Stewardesses in Fifth Element)
                  My wince made her laugh so hard she couldn’t answer.

                    1. rich parents. Funny thing is, I never recall just what the dumb ones’ majors were. the less stupid ones I recall (we had an Anthropology guy, and a Business/History/Engineering girl, that weren’t totally dumb bunnies) I worked in a bicycle shop several blocks down from Tulane and Loyola colleges in New Orleans (and really you also had Xavier and UNO not far off so we got a lot of them too). some of the stupidest people I have come across in my life were either Students or Faculty at Tulane and/or Loyola. Some were customers, some were coworkers.
                      I used to explain the reasons for poor traffic in Baton Rouge as being “The stupidest people in the world: College Students, and Government Workers” Gets worse when you combine the two (see Occluded-Cortex goes to Washington)

            3. The Greeks, the Romans, the Bible, the various Moslem conquests…as Dr. Pournelle pointed out in one of his novels (King David’s Spaceship, IIRC), until the development of the horse collar, half of humanity held the other half in bondage.

                1. Depends on precise definition of “bondage.”

                  Is serfdom bondage? No fun at all in many respects, but a serf could, sometimes, take his master to court and win.

        3. The depth of historical ignorance never ceases to amaze me. Most of my adult life I have listened to people I thought were moderately intelligent make remarks like;

          “All Buddhists are pacifists”

          Look up the Japanese word “Yamabushi” and get back to me

          “9/11 was the first terrorist attack on US soil”

          Never mind the Weather Underground, can you say “Molly Maguires”?

          I mean, for the Gods’ sakes, I’m a college dropout with only a casual interest in most history, and I know better.

          Ok, my parents were both history teachers. Still….

          For cryin out loud, these idiots bought the ARMING AMERICA fraud hook, line, sinker, rod, reel, and waders. And never mind passing the smell test, it stank to high heaven from across the room!

            1. I suspect, given the Burmese government’s track record with its non-Muslim minorities, that the Rohingya were more sinned against than sinning.

            1. I believe not all sects in Japan supported the war effort. The leader of the lay organization of Nichiren Shoshu was ultimately picked up and placed in jail without trail for the duration on the charges of thinking thoughts against the government.

          1. “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”
            ― Mark Twain

            Of course, Twain not only frequently used the N-word he was probably a slave-owner, or would have been had he been able to afford the purchase.

      2. I have long thought that the legacy of slavery, and statues erected to its defenders, were an albatross for their necks, to remind them to be more thoughtful in future.

        I should hae realized that “thoughtful” was not in their operating systems.

    4. Of course Bismark was a Nazi, that’s what that other Nazi Churchill had him killed during WW2.

      The scary thing is, I suspect they’d believe it (then again, they probably think the background for Diana: Warrior Princess is real history).

    5. No, the chain of their logic goes something like this:
      Hermann Goering was an important Nazi.
      Hermann Goering was Richthofen’s second-in-command of the Flying Circus, and assumed command of it when Richthofen was killed (both true).
      Hermann Goering would not have been in that position if Richthofen and he didn’t have compatible views (including the Nazi which hadn’t been invented yet.).
      Therefore, Richthofen was a Nazi.

      Since they understand nothing about military chain of command, causality, or the process which led the German military from WWI to prefer Hitler and the Nazis to the Communists from Russia, it makes sense to them.

      Bismark was not a Nazi; he also wasn’t a Communist. What he (and Kaiser Wilhelm I and II) was, was a socialist. Not because he supported the proleteriat, but because he recognized that he could make a feudal government work within it.

      1. I rather suspect you are giving too much credit to someone whose thought process may have been more like “German+war=Nazi.”

  2. I thought it was a good beginning. It needs mild editing for typos, and perhaps it can be reworked mildly to make it part of the Earth’s Revolution world (I thought I caught some characteristics that you later fleshed out and used in that series). All in all, worth digging out the rest when you have the time (I wouldn’t make it a priority unless that appeals to you personally).

  3. I get the odd feeling I’ve read something like this before. Not exactly, perhaps no Red Baron… but something very similar with time-shifted pilots and a space-war of sorts.

      1. Not here. It was in an anthology I bought in the last few years. I forget if Kindle or tree. I do not recall the Red Baron in it (it’s NOT him as dragon, nor is it the much older story with a ‘modern’ supersonic fighter transported back in time).

        1. Maybe somebody playing with DC comics ‘Enemy Ace’? I believe that character’s name was Hans von Hammer. Not brilliantly clever, but what so you want from comic books?

        2. Sounds like Hawk Among the Sparrows by Dean McLaughlin. I think it was first published in Analog in 1968. Nominated for both Hugo and Nebula awards.

          1. Aye, that sounds like the supersonic fighter back-transported to WWI story that I read – a long time ago, but well after initial publication. I think I read that in the collection of Hugo / Nebula series I plowed through one year.

            1. ‘A Hawk among the Sparrows’?
              VTOL SR-71 observing a French nuke test gets thrown back to WW1. Modern weaponry won’t lock on wood and fabric biplanes. Pilot comes up with novel way to battle the down-time planes until his jet suffers a mischief.
              Pretty sure I encountered it in a old (early 70s) Analog magazine.

          2. I loved that story. And for some reason the squishyware refuses to remember either the name or author when I reach for it…

            [clickety] First published in Analog in 1968, and then anthologized a *bunch* of times… and quite a few threads mentioning it returned by Google.

    1. Fred Saberhagen did something in the Berzerker series where some genius historian was making sort-of fractal reconstructions of historical personalities. The berzerkers captured his ship and forced him to “crew” its escort fighters with weaklings they could intimidate into playing along with their infiltration of a base.

      But Goodlife didn’t know his history–or his historian. He didn’t even blink when one of his “draftees'” last words before deployment were “Paint my ship red.”

      I’m sure it’s been done elsewhere, too. Still want to see her take on it, though.

      1. Yup. That was a good one. One guy with one eye, another who was a violinist, the man dying of TB, and the cavalryman who fell off his horse.

        Of course, they had around 250 victories between them… 🙂

    2. Sarah’s talked about this story before.

      On the other hand, Saberhagen had a Berserker story where “computer programs” based on the Red Baron (and others) fought the Berserkers.

      One interesting thing was that the human in the story tricked the Berserker into using those personas by describing as “poor soldiers” which they were outside of their careers as fighter pilots. (IIRC the human described the Baron as “always falling off his horse”.) 😈

      1. It was not this story. This is original. The one I recall had a couple similarities, but cross WWI (or WWII, or…) with time travel and you can get a lot of variations on a theme.

        I’d like to read more of this variation, for what it’s worth.

        Much I loathed school book reports, I keep thinking I should at least take some minor notes on the stuff I read and have it electronically searchable so I can more easily look things up. Memory isn’t up to recalling everything – which is both good and bad.

        1. That was one of the first things I did when I got my first real computer in 1986. I created a file called “notes” and put stuff in it, using the editor’s search function to find it later.

          32 years later I still do that, having noted and rejected the coming and going of “outline managers”, “folding notes”, “knowledge managers,” Microsoft Cardfile, and Apple’s Hypercard. And most lately, Scrivener.

          Don’t underestimate the usefulness of a plain flat ASCII file, or a directory full of them, for that matter.

        2. What little I recall was the pilot got his craft topped off with kerosene, and took off. Went supersonic, and when he returned, all were talking about the huge artillery barrage along the line. That they heard.

      2. I seem to remember a story in one of the Bolo anthologies where Bolo RML had made an intense study of Erwin Rommel’s tactics and used them to command a planetary militia against pirates.

        1. Yep. His human partner was also a history freak. They made a great team.

          And then RML overloaded his systems doing something impossible and shut down. His partner managed to restart his personality matrix with hand tools and tech manuals, which should have been equally impossible. RML woke up and said how’d you do that? And partner (of course) said,

          “Rommel, you magnificent bastard, I READ YOUR BOOK!”

          The “fan stories” did tend to be more cheerful…

    3. I’ve seen many stories that reminded me of one or another bit of this one. Doesn’t bother me none. Ideas are common. It’s what you do with them that’s rare.

    4. Perhaps “Two Hawks from Earth” by Phillip Jose Farmer? Not so much time shifting, but accidental interdimensional transport.

        1. I was born and raised in central PA. Friends and I had some fun times in high school trying to figure out exactly where the battles in Lord Kalvan took place, then driving there and trying to do a rough equivalent to an Army War College staff ride. (For those unfamiliar, the War College takes officer students to various Civil War battlefields to help them understand the geographical and tactical reasons for the battles going the way they did, and for the decisions the commanders made during those battles. These excursions are called staff rides.)

          1. I didn’t understand why so many Civil War battles took place at the same places until I visited the East Coast. Then I understood. That whole part of the country is covered by trees, with a ground-level visibility of a dozen feet or so. They let the forest grow right up to the edge of the freeway in Virginia; it was like driving my car down that slot in the Death Star.

            The only places armies could actually do maneuvering were the occasional natural bare spots or some poor bastards’ cleared farmland.

            1. One of the interesting things about the Battle of Gettysburg is the terrain of the battle field resulted in very interesting acoustics, where rifle and even cannon fire from over the next ridge couldn’t be heard, but the artillery was heard as far away as places like Harrisburg and out towards Pittsburgh. I used to be do a lot of battlefield tours when I was active in Civil War site preservation (before my health really stomped on my ability to do both) and there is a perspective that one gets from walking the battlefields that is unparalleled. If you ever get the chance, walk up Culp’s Hill or Little Round Top, or walk from the Confederate line to the Union line on Cemetery Hill.

            2. The brief and glorious history of the United States Balloon Corps.

              Its job was to ride barges up and down the Potamac, and send up balloons with an observer. The net effect of this was NOT to discover what the Confederates were up to, but to force them to take cover.

            1. Well, it was 40-50 years ago, and I don’t remember all the details of what we did. As I recall, one battle took place just south of South Williamsport, off of PA 54, and most of the rest were somewhere in the Bellfonte area.

    5. That waking up bit is straight out of Have Spacesuit Will Travel, and I recall a short story, Air Raid I believe, that was based on harvesting people from planes that were about to crash and replacing the bodies with fakes. I think that was actually made into an episode of either Twilight Zone or Outer Limits.

      1. And the movie _Millennium_, taken from a short story (1977) by John Varley called “Air Raid,” and then expanded into a novel.

      2. Torchwood had an episode similar to that, but more “Bermuda Trianglish”. Jack ended up sitting with some one who felt so “out of time” that he wanted to go back to being dead, while he took the carbon monoxide cure.

      1. Let me see:

        1. Iconic sci-fi ideas, check.
        2. Interesting characters, check.
        3. Draws me in, check.
        4. Uses some basic knowledge of history, check.

        Yeah, there is nothing in there a modern house thinks sci-fi fans will want.

        Then they bemoan books not selling because Amazon or something.

        1. Drew me in. Most definitely interested in reading the full story and finding out where it goes.

  4. Seems like a (potentially) good story.

    I’ve read a great deal of mil-sf over the years, though less in the later decades, yet I’d likely choose to read this one.

    For my own taste, I’d suggest making the sentences less — staccato: tighten it up?

    I was ready to bail after the first few paragraphs but skimmed then my eye was caught by, “He was dead.” Then I read until the end of the post and went back to see what I had missed by skimming.

    The Mag-pi character seems interesting. You’ve managed, in these first few pages, to foreshadow both military conflict and interpersonal conflict and to suggest a mystery or three which need to be resolved.

    Looks like it could be a very good read!


    1. Philip E. High wrote a decent novel about a 20th century submarine crew reconstructed from a museum exhibit to run a war against alien invaders. By then the human race had eradicated “violence” by both genetic and social engineering, and were unable to defend themselves directly… “The Time Mercenaries” from 1968.

        1. Ah, but nothing is really “that easy.” The most feared words I’ve heard have been, “All you’ve gotta do is…” as it is, of course, never “that easy.”

          On the other hoof, the “Is this even possible?” was often a two minute code edit and it was done. So the simple was insanely difficult if not impossible and the impossible was trivial.

          1. Yeah, but after you pull a two-minute rabbit out of your hat once, they expect you do to it every time thereafter.

            Man, if I’d been able to clue my earlier self in to “how things actually work at the office” I might have been more successful as a programmer…

            Then again, I was stubborn and thought that merely showing up on time, not causing trouble, and doing the job correctly and on time counted for something. When in reality, employers didn’t want competent employees, they wanted employees who’s dance to the prevailing tune.

            1. Oh, if only we could get more that get as far as “merely showing up on time, not causing trouble, and doing the job correctly and on time counted for something.” (Current job is not in programming, and, well, I miss the sheer honesty of “mere machines.”)

            2. Hence Scotty’s advice to all engineers.

              It is not simply to make them think of you as a worker of miracles, it is so that they don’t start taking miracles for granted.

              1. My answer was “if it was easy, anyone could do this, & we wouldn’t have a job.”

                I agree. Every single time someone said “All you have to do …” equaled hours, weeks, to months, of work to accomplish whatever it was.

                The impossible. Think about it, then accomplish it, no problem. However, learned really, really, quickly to pretend it took f o r e v e r …

              2. For a while, I worked in a hospital lab where part of my job was to take blood from the Blood Bank up to the nurses. Except for Surgery and E.R., I would always pad my estimated time for delivery. That way, even if something came up to delay me, I was still usually “on time” or just a few minutes late, and otherwise got a reputation for fast delivery for patient care.

  5. If you’d like, I can come for a short visit and go thru all those files for you. I would read more of this, just based on a short skim (I’m supposed to be working…)

    I like cats, don’t eat much nor need entertaining, and as a Secretary Bird Who May Be A Dragon (or vice versa), I am ideally suited for the task.

    1. Floppy disks have a useful lifespan of ~10 years before they start losing data. If you start getting bad sector errors you can put them in the freezer for a while and try reading them again. Some kind of magnetic domain juju will make them easier to read. Doesn’t always work, but it’s free.

      For serious recovery attempts you’ll need a DOS machine and one of the low-level disk recovery programs that will grind on each sector as many times as you want. The trick with those programs is that if they see an unrecoverable error, they simply move on to the next sector and try again, putting an empty block in the copied file where the bad sector was.

      The squishyware isn’t returning any program names at the moment, but one of the DOS software archives should be able to fix you up.

      I don’t know of any equivalents that run under Windows or Linux.

      Maybe ten years ago I recovered most of the boxes of floppies, I had been accomulating for decades, which all fit on one DVD…

      1. Heck, some stories I burned to CDs are gone. I need to remember to buy a honking big thumb drive, transfer everything to it, and also back it up zipped onto computer.

        1. Even that’s not enough. You should back it all up to cloud storage of some sort. Google Drive, DropBox, etc. I set up a Nextcloud instance for TVIW as a private cloud storage system (since we’re a non-profit, we managed to get a free account from Dreamhost, which is where I set this up).

          1. If someone doesn’t trust the cloud for whatever reason there’s always old fashioned off-site storage. Put it all on a second thumb drive and have someone else keep it for you (carefully and thoroughly labeled). Considering the recent fires in California, choose someone in a different geographical region.

            There’s still the issue of remembering to copy it all to new formats way down the road.

          2. I kind of second, but rent some server space and get your own NextCloud install up or hire someone you trust to make one just for you.

            MS is already deleting OneDrive files whose content violate their terms of service even if the file is not being shared: ie, they reserve the right to edit your data.

            I suspect Google already is on GoogleDrive and just not telling anyone, but then again Google has reached the point where when this phone dies if I stay smart phone it will be an iPhone to get off Android (and the tablet is going iPad soon as I can afford it).

            But NextCloud is pretty easy to set up and admin. I use mine extensively.

            1. I use SpiderOak, who have built a system where they can’t access your data even if they wanted to: the only thing they know about your data is its total size on their servers. They also had their system audited by a third party to verify that their “no knowledge of any details of your data” claims are true. $129 per year (comes out to about $11 per month) buys you two terabytes of backup storage. I’ve been quite happy with them, and would strongly recommend them over ANY of the other companies in the same market space (all the other companies would be able to read your data if they chose to).

            2. wrt phones, there’s LineageOS and F-Droid, and you can scan and compile the source yourself.

              F-Droid is severely limited by comparison to the Google Store. For reasons I don’t fully understand, a number of FOSS projects that have full source posted for various platforms only make their Android versions available as binaries via Google.

              I’ve made a hobby of minimizing spyware on my new phone…

              1. That may be a requirement for Droid phones that aren’t jail broke.

                I should get with you to pick your brain for resources. I’d happily jail break my current stuff now. My one must have after really is a good browser, Google Hangouts (I’d love to be off, but certain key peeps are there), and at least one has to function as a hotspot.

        2. I think this story is too new, but we have a functioning Apple IIe clone and have done data retrieval with it before.

          Consider the offer open.

          Yes, we’ve gottten good data off of 30+ year old 5″ floppies. It’s luck based, apparently.

          1. You are not the only one with a functioning //e. The one here was even “recently” (with the last decade..) upgraded to the new ROMs and used as a terminal to a Hercules IBM mainframe emulation.. if only to show it was possible and to have mainframer’s “heads explode” at seeing IBM mainframe console on a //e.

            And yeah, while magnetic media ages, it’s variable. $HOUSEMATE has even done a few things where “We’ve had no luck reading these old 9-tracks.. do you think you can try it?” And somehow the machinery here managed it. What was jarring was some years ago something came up that demanded an OS/2 system talk to things. By chance, I just happened to have an OS/2 Warp machine that (barely) ran. It was slow, but sufficient.

            The more unlikely thing around is… a box of 8 inch floppies, in the original wrap. Upon $HOUSEMATE’s/my/our ultimate demise, someone will go through things and either be astonished at some odd antiquities or such.. or more likely, not recognize things.

            1. There used to be retrieval services who specialized in 9-track tape. Apparently the Fed used a lot of it, then trashed all the hardware that could read the tapes before copying the data to the new systems. The Social Security Administration spent a sizeable chunk of money even by Federal standards to recover (most of) that data.

              Later, NASA did the same thing. There was an article in (Wired?) where some hobbyists finally got the tapes from some of the old space probes, then had to piece together machines that could read it by buying and repairing dead tape readers from eBay.

              Some of the missions, including one of the Venus probes, there aren’t any tapes. NASA threw them away. And since they’d squatted on them like a dragon and refused to share the data, which they were supposed to do by policy, there were no copies outside NASA. “All these things, lost. Like tears in rain.”

        3. I recommend getting an external hard drive. You can get ones that hold anywhere from 3 to 8 or more terabytes. Keep 2, one as a regular backup and keep the second in a fireproof box or safe.

        4. Something I remember Jerry Pournelle pointing out in Byte (and I’ve seen it myself) is that the read write heads on removable disk type drives (floppy / CD / DVD) can get misaligned over time, so that even if you have the original drive it may lose the original alignment. Back in the day, there were utilities that would “re-align” the heads to try and re-capture the original positioning.

          Ironically, one of the best ways for this to happen was by doing the periodic cleanings required to remove build ups of dust, dirt, and flaked off magnetic media.

  6. Add me to the group of people who would like to read more! I agree that it will definitely need editing and polishing, but I think there is something worth pursuing here when you get the chance.

  7. Not picking perhaps, but did they use plywood as a structural material in WWI aircraft? Do want to see more.

    1. I noticed that too. The Fokker DR.1 had some plywood components, but the fuselage was largely doped fabric as was common at the time. From plane-encyclopedia . com:

      The ribs were of plywood, as well as the leading-edges covers at the spar, with the leading-edges made of wire. The middle wings had some cut-outs to improve downward visibility of the pilot. The fuselage was constructed using welded steel-tubing bracing with diagonal wires to create the rigid box-shaped structure, being a fabric-covered with triangular plywood fillets, except the undercarriage and center-section, which were made of steel streamlined tubing.

      The tail-plane had a triangular shape, being framed in steel tubing the same way as the balanced rudder and elevators. The wheels featured an elastic shock cord, while a steel-tipped tailskid was installed at the rear.

      1. I was following — I remember — a book on how these were built. Honestly, I meant ribs when I wrote frame. Anyway, the book might have been wrong. You have NO idea how hard it was to research WWI. Probably easier now, the internet is bigger.

        1. Manfred von Richthofen was flying Albatross D.II and D.III biplane fighters just before he swapped over to the Fokker Dr.I triplane in July of 1917, and the Albatross famously featured a semi-monocoque fuselage (aircraft body) made of formed plywood, so the Kaiser’s fighters did include plywood in WWI.

          As soon as it became available in 1917 he changed to exclusively fly a Fokker Dr.I triplane, which has a steel-tube fuselage covered with doped fabric, though there was a decking made of plywood behind the cockpit and a couple more plywood skins to either side just behind the engine, so that’s likely what he heard splintering as he got shot up.

          The wings on all of these planes were constructed with wood spars and ribs, covered by doped fabric.

          I found a photo of the what was left of von Richthofen’s triplane after he was shot down:

          And yes, there’s lots and lots of WWI aviation stuff on teh intertubes these days.

          1. And if it’s not clear, add me to the list of readers wanting to read this.

            Though the one question that occurred to me, especially given how Mag-Pi got there (death not flying), is why they cannot harvest all the successful fighter jocks, the ones who won all their combat and survived their wars, when they die in bed of old age.

            Instead, at first glance it looks like they’re stuck grabbing the losers.

            Given the apparent rules they can grab Dick Bong because he died test flying one of the new jets, but not Erich Hartmann, or Günther Rall, or Ilmari Juutilainen, or Satoru Anabuki, or Tetsuzō Iwamoto, or Gabby Gabreski , or Pappy Boyington, or Robin Olds (who scored kills ins WWII, Korea, and Vietnam) or any of the other survivors of their respective wars.

            An open question is whether the rules would allow them to grab that famous WWI German ace, Hermann Göring.

              1. Sure, but Fat Hermann lies dead in his cell at Nuremberg after taking poison. The body could be a doppel, no?

                Now how valuable Fat Hermann would be in a fighter cockpit after the post-WWI phase of his life is another question.

                1. FlyingMike I was thinking the same thing. Although many great fighter pilots die in combat (or Flight test C.F. Dick Bong). Alot of them don’t, and many of the modern era ones (Olds and later) especially folks from Desert Storm and Israel’s wars live to ripe old ages. And yes a tubby old Goering rescued before poisoning himself is effectively useless, it’s not clear to me if he would have been useful even had he died in WWI. One additional useful pilot might be Oswald Boelcke. His Dicta Boelke (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dicta_Boelcke#The_Dicta_Boelcke) are still the basis that fighter tactics start with .

                  As for writing it, dear hostess write or do not write as your muse directs/drives. I can only promise if you do write it you’ll have at least one sale :-).

                2. Which story was it about the war where different sides were digging up scientists’ graves and harvesting their DNA, trying to breed up scientists for their war efforts?

                  I remember the Al the narrator describing the problems herding the resulting clones, who weren’t particularly amenable to taking orders. Steinmetz, Edison, etc.

                  At the end we found that “Al” was a clone himself, chosen for his pattern’s management abilities, not for scientific ability… Al Capone.

            1. The other problem would be finding the aces after the wars were over. They would disperse all over their countries and find other jobs. wars are noisy, messy and attract a lot of attention, so they’re easy to find.

              1. When a hero dies, there’s also the fact that people write down the when, where, and how, so he’s much easier to find in space and time.

                I will also ask you to finish this one. 🙂

            2. “Instead, at first glance it looks like they’re stuck grabbing the losers.”

              Not necessarily. The greatest pilot in the world was still no match for Murphy. Or Newton either. Tommy McGuire (second-ranked US ace of WW2), for example, died in the cockpit when he attempted a maneuver that was aerodynamically impossible, while trying to save another pilot. Butch O’Hare, greatest US Navy ace of the war, is thought to have been killed by friendly fire on an experimental night-fighter sortie. Several Japanese fighter aces are thought to have been shot down due to malnutrition — they were so malnourished because of food shortages that it affected their flying. Many British and German aces certainly died because of combat fatigue — flying combat missions, day after day, for years, simply wore them down. And the list goes on.

              1. Yeah, how many first-rate experienced RAF Spitfire or Hurricane pilots in the Battle of Britain, after weeks of scrambles three times a day and eventually bombing all night to disrupt their sleep, just zoned out at the wrong time and got jumped. Or got stupid at mask o2 levels that worked fine when un-fatigued. Or lost consciousness at G-loads at which they were previously good.

                Look at Gabby Gabreski’s last flight – super experienced and very, very skilled fighter pilot, but he basically dragged his P-47 propellor into the ground on an airfield strafing run, and he was down there that low because the Luftwaffe was not coming up to fight anymore – he made it down safe and spent the last months of the war as a POW.

                Frankly, the issues with technology mean their best bet would have been someone like Robin Olds or Erich Hartmann or Chuck Yeager, all of whom started in propeller-driven fighters and ended up their fighter pilot careers flying jets with radar-guided missiles. Someone like that, already experienced in transitioning to new tech, might be a better bet to adapt to future high tech air combat than even the best single-era pilot.

          2. Interesting movie footage of fighter and scout aircraft construction in Germany during WWI, much of it in the Albatross factory, and so relevant to Richtofen’s previous Albatross D.III ride, at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZquMUQktXJI

            I note with interest the images of ladies working on the construction of these aircraft – and not just sewing the fabric stuff, but other jobs as well. This must be why the British were really fighting the Kaiser: To maintain Teh Patriarchy. I should write a doctoral thesis.

        1. Yep, not the first case of one side or the other of the land/sea city conflict creating augmented bio humans then trying to cover their tails by murdering their own creations. Or did that short story ever reach print?

          1. I might have removed it, because I knew winged humans were impossible. I mean, outright impossible, and I don’t like doing that. Yes, burners brooms could be one of those “We just found a new principle” BUT bio is bio.
            OTOH yeah, Neptune’s Orphans is out.

              1. There can be other limitations. As part of a story idea, i recently tried to figure out how useful a porpoise-like tail would be on a space station, in free-fall. The answer: basically useless. Air is much less dense than water (780:1) and the flukes need something to push against.

            1. And physics is physics. You could, say, get away with unicorns (the form, if not all the Grand Features – virgin sensing, poison eliminating, linguistic talent* is a maybe), centaurs, minotaurs… but a pegasus is right out.

              * There is the tale of the Emperor of China getting a map from a unicorn (or close enough) with marks for names and that being the origin of written Chinese language. Which, to me, suggests that unicorns (or close enough) have a perhaps warped sense of humor.

        2. I figured as much as soon as we got Mag-pi’s history.

          I was figuring the baddies are a version of the gene engineered who left the solar system coming back.

        3. see, i assumed that the Good Men stories were at least the 24th cent, maybe even further (yes, i really think that Good Men rules would stagnate things that badly…)

      2. Sounds like it would be a blast to build a reproduction/replica plane using the same sort of tech. And today’s plywoods are far superior to the crapboard they had back in the nineteen-teens. Hard to find a good German rotary engine for it though.

        1. A museum I do some stuff for (http://pioneerflightmuseum.org) has a Fokker Dr.I replica powered by an 80-hp rotary engine. That engine is a US license-built copy of a French engine, not one of the 110-hp German ones, but the US engines are more common that you might think. And since it is a rotary engine, it’s closer to the German original than most modern engines.

          1. Rotary engine? How much power does one of the rotary engines from a Mazda RX7 put out and would it be adaptable to and enough to power the plane?

            1. Very different kind of rotary. The Mazda 13b has powered (and is powering) a number of planes, but, again, very different kind.
              The Mazda uses 2 rotors. The early aviation ones had pistons (and usually an odd number of them) arranged in a circle.

              1. To elaborate, a WWI rotary was a radial engine without a crankshaft. The pistons were attached to a fixed axle, off-center from the axis of the engine. The rest of the engine rotated around it. The propeller was attached to the engine block.

                The cylinders and the pistons rotated together, on different axes. Inside a cylinder, it seemed that the piston moved up and down, but nothing was actually reciprocating. Made for very smooth running–at least for the time.

                They were popular at the time because they allowed a light air-cooled engine with the slow flight speeds. The cylinders themselves were moving at many mph, after all. Best power-to-weight ratio to be had. Lots of downsides, though. For instance, they couldn’t be throttled, due to limits in the fuel feed systems, so they were always running flat out. The only way to control power was to cut the ignition on and off.

                And the *entire engine* was a flywheel. With the propeller attached. The torque was horrendous. Takeoff was an adventure, left turns an ordeal. A common combat maneuver was a “rotary right” turn, using the gyroscopic effect to *snap* you around–if it didn’t snap you into a stall or dive.

                Needless to say they stopped using them as soon as they had viable alternatives.

                1. That wasn’t the end of the rotary, though. Megola used them in motorcycles. *Front Wheel Drive* motorcycles. The carburetor fed through a rotary union at the crank snout.

                  For further bizzarity, the Megolas had neither a transmission nor clutch, which must have made things interesting in traffic…

          2. While I *KNOW* what rotary aircraft engines are, I had a momentary vision of an RX-7 engine powering a biplane. People looked at me funny when I giggled.

    2. In addition to its use in heavier-than-air craft, ISTR that most of the Schütte-Lanz airships used by the German military used plywood truss framing instead of the duralumin girders used by Zeppelin. It generally worked well enough for overland use, but the constant moisture airships in coastal use were exposed to led to gradual plywood delamination and eventual structural compromise.

      1. After the War, Fokker got into big trouble that way. They built some trimotor airliners that were highly thought of–until several of them went down with delamination in their wings.

  8. [The Red Baron was a Nazi]

    (Blinks) How can you adhere to an ideology that didn’t even exist until years after you died?
    Sure, he might have joined most of the rest of Germany’s aristocracy in backing the NSDAP, but I could see him joining Klaus von Stauffenberg and crew in the July plot, or pulling a Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck and telling Hitler to go soak his head.

    Now there’s a fun alternate history for you. The Red Baron and the Lion of Africa vs. The Bavarian Corporal.

    1. In a world where many college students cannot place the big basic facts and players of our own history in their proper century why should we be that surprised when someone knows little about the history of other nations?

      1. Across several different school systems for 11-3/4 years, I had almost no history classes – just in the 8th and 11th grades, as far as I can remember – and almost everything I was taught was either slanted or an outright lie.

        I’ve seen people talk of “Geography” and “Civics” classes; they were electives in high school, but conflicted with other classes I was more interested in. I did have a couple of “Social Studies” classes, but they made so little impression I’m not even sure what grades they were in.

        Note this was five different schools, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, one of them rated as “best in the state” (though I think that might have been primarily something to do with its feetball team).

        Someone *might* have been to one or more schools with actual, useful history classes, but I never saw any.

        1. We had at least three years (in elementary, junior high, and high school) when we had to take American history, as a state requirement. Also mandatory Ohio history in 7th grade, which was half the year; the other half was Latin-American history (not mandatory, not that great).

          I don’t know if a year of 5th grade world history was a state requirement; that was in my parochial school. Much better than the world history course in high school, and somewhat Catholic-oriented. (Although we did a good Holocaust unit in high school.)

          I think American government in high school was an AP elective, and I know that the law and civics one in junior high was an elective. (Another half year class.)

          Anyway, my dad was a history teacher, and we always went to historical or educational free things in trips. So I would have known this stuff whether I wanted to or not.

          1. Oh, and that is not counting social studies. We had that in a couple of grades in elementary, at my parochial school. It was geography and world religions, really.

          1. Moving from school to school and then to another state is how I got to study Julius Caesar three times and Merchant of Venice twice, but never was required to read Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth for school.

        2. Probably because I am one of the older persons here I actually had history every year throughout school, even with switching schools.  I also got healthy doses of geography from middle school on.  Still, Daddy would often complain about the lack of substance being covered in my course work.  None of my courses were ever labeled ‘social studies’, but The Daughter was confronted by that in early elementary school.  I was not impressed and like Daddy before me expressed my dismay.

    2. The last Baron von Richtofen and his family committed suicide as the Soviets advanced through Pommerania and East Prussia. I have a book written by the Red Baron’s uncle, who immigrated to the US and had a dairy farm in Colorado (Sarah’s probably familiar with his house). The title passed sideways, then down.

  9. Oh, yeah. I’d read it. You hooked me with the flying intro, which sounded as if it could have come from one of the pilot memoirs and interviews I read earlier this year (different war/hardware, but same feelings).

  10. I really liked this, I recognized the scenario pretty quickly, I like how you keep the Brown or Ground question ambiguous. This is sort of related conceptually to the movie Millennium, but hey concepts are recycled all the time.

    BTW, the Fokker Triplane was primarily linen covered steel and spruce. There might have been some plywood for shape but that was not the basic structure. He had flown some Albatross molded plywood planes during his flight career but his fame peaked and his end came in his red Fokker Triplane

    1. as I said, remember I wrote this in 98. I was on the net, but the net was much smaller and not as searchable. I found a library book on how these were built (literally) but I’ve found these were less than reliable.

      1. I’ve found these were less than reliable.

        That’s unpossible! Back in the good old days publishers had layers and layers of fact checkers and libraries were carefully curated archives of facts verified and validated. Unreliable? No way!

    2. Wiki says the plywood was primarily used for the wing ribs; and the poor quality of the plywood caused them to rot when exposed to moisture, resulting in numerous wing failures.

      1. The aeronautical engineering achievements of Howard Hughes and his Spruce Goose flying boat were primarily focused on improvements to plywood as structural members and resistance to moisture. Mostly it’s about the types of glues used and the method of orienting the grain structure and assembling the wooden layers.

  11. Reminds me of Varley’s Milennium.

    That’s already written at a level I’d like to reach. I’m selling a few stories to the penny-a-word places, but I’m awfully weak on description and concisely setting the scene.

  12. I think it would be worth pursuing, too. Though I have to admit that I do cringe at the notion so many sci-fi writers seem to have, that sex will be even more ‘free’ in the future than it is now. I would hope that our descendants will get their heads screwed back on straight by then….

      1. You know, if I were some unscrupulous future kidnapper, I’d probably want to suppress sexuality in all my bioweapons. After all, I wouldn’t want them to start thinking about what they could offer future generations of their descendants.

        1. Might be easier to just make the bio-weapons sterile (as was done with the Mules).

            1. I know this will come as a shock to some, but reproduction and sex are not necessarily synonymous. One might speculate as to what the boys were up to while waiting their turn with the one female, but that quickly leads down the path to homoerotica. Not that it’s necessarily wrong, just a very different fan base and market.

                    1. You probably already know the joke, so I’ll just go with the punchline:

                      “No, these fuckers were Messerschmitts.”

              1. Well, if you’re able to create super-soldiers, you’d likely be able to create sex-toys (male, female, both).

                So the boys likely had other choices than Magpie or themselves.

                Then of course, the “masters” might have allowed the boys to take “lower-class standard human females”.

                1. If you’re going to have super soldiers, then you need super sex toys!

                  “They were the sex toys of a military machine that had been rampaging through the galaxy for thousands of years. And not even the military could break them!”

                  1. Yeah, no. Also no “peasant women” since they were super secret. I presume they just er… got really in touch with their own selves. Or soemthing. I’m not asking.

      2. “kids raised in a creche with no morals or guidance at all. They’re basically bio-weapons.”. Sounds like our current school system.

      3. Think kids raised in a creche with no morals or guidance at all. They’re basically bio-weapons. Her growth arc is something else.

        Yes. Though what disgusted me about her was a senior officer / mama-bear character using her team as f—toys. One of her fellow time-slaves and it’s just, “Oh honey, you idiot.” Your junior officers / pseudo-kids and… “Treacherous slattern.”

        But the story set up is intriguing enough that I would absolutely stick with it to see if you could make the set up work. I mean, after it imploded, of course. Interesting times and all that.

        Count me in as one who’d pay cashy-money to read this. If you get the sorting bug, I hope you’ll exorcise it looking for the story file.

  13. Doing an all out search for the rest? What else you going to do with your time? We-uns ‘ld likely read whatever you crank out, so …

    Would digging the rest of this out:

    a) produce other useful benefits?

    b) be less work that simply completing from what you have?

    c) deprive your heirs of the opportunity to find this, rework it and sell it after you’ve gone? (Don’t laugh – Beau L’Amour has just done that with Louis’ first novel — which ain’t even a Western! — and Christopher Tolkein’s made a career out of it.)

      1. (John Barnes?) kept all of his notes, query letters, correspondence with editors, etc. in file folders. Once he figured he had no further use for all the paper, he auctioned it off to his fans.

        Hey, it got rid of “stuff” and turned a few bucks…

        Roger Zelazny used to write little snippets never intended to be part of a story. Usually they were to let him get the “feel” of a new character. He gave some of them to fanzines, who published them. Free advertising out of something never intended to turn a profit anyway. Nowadays people put stuff like that on their web page.

        Rick Cook decided he wasn’t ever going to write any more fiction, and after a few years dumped the unfinished manuscript for the last Wiz book onto his web page as an example of what an unfinished book looked like.

  14. I think that since you mentioned it before, it’s got hooks in you and there might be a reason for that.

    I thought that the sequence of the air battle where the Red Barron dies was compelling and interesting but I’m *really* interested in Mag-Pi. I’ll admit to skimming a bit from between when he dies and she shows up but that’s mostly because I’m at work and realized it was longer than I expected and I shouldn’t be sitting back to read anything long at work.

    1. Unfortunately, whenever I see “Mag-Pi” I think of the official magazine for the Raspberry Pi computer…

        1. That was the best show! (It didn’t necessarily age well but have you ever tried to re-watch A-team?)

          1. It didn’t necessarily age well but have you ever tried to re-watch A-team?

            I pity the fool.

            The Daughter likes it, she finds it has a certain hokey charm.

        2. After a couple of episodes The Spouse and I stopped watching the reboot of Magnum in mid-episode. We really wanted to like it, but couldn’t. It hasn’t bother us in the least not to know how the episode worked out, which supports the decision.

          I was a fan of the original, and own it on disc. While some stories are a bit dated the ensemble is still worth the watching for that.

            1. Dropped it like a rock, which has helped create time for watching Babylon 5 in reruns (seven days a week!) on Comet TV. We’ve just finished through Season Two’s opener, with thirty-six episodes to go on the DVR and however many they’ve left to run (I think they’ve reached the mid-point of Season Three.)

              Gawd alone knows how much they cut for commercials, and there are (I believe) three episodes lost due to power outage when Hurricane Whassname blew through … but it enables us to catch enough to decide if we would want to give room to the complete series box.

              1. B5 declined sharply with Season 4, and honestly, the only reason to watch Season 5 is completeness.

                1, 2, and 3, though, still rock.

                “Now, landing thrusters.. landing thrusters, hmm. Now if I were a landing thruster, which one of these would I be?”

  15. I’ll add my vote to those who want to see more. Whether you go back and dig out the previous version or rewrite from what you have there, I’d probably buy a copy.

  16. Portagee, you know I love you, but I do not trust you. It would be far too easy to turn a search into weeks of rummaging around in the boxes instead of putting out product for sale whether new indie or articles for PJ. Procrastination is your worst enemy.
    I’m not against digging in your free time (should you ever have any) but especially right now cash flow is your be all end all.

    1. This — but yeah, having someone else do the rummage is a great idea.

      Whoever does it should write up a brief inventory of what is in each box, and keep a copy both on each box and as a separate file printed out (phone photos at least). That way, future rummaging will be quicker.

      1. Oh, and create a unique identifier for each box, written on them and in the inventory list, and then list the boxes and their current locations. So you don’t lose one.

        Basically, archives. You do not have to re-organize if you have a good list.

          1. “If you are looking for a needle in a haystack, you need to be systematic about it or it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.” (Rough memory from of the Mad Scientist’s Club stories.)

      1. I really do need to find me a bullwhip emojie icon to apply liberally and frequently on you and your sister, thing 1.
        Such wonderful potential, so much procrastination.
        Excuses, excuses, excuses.
        What’s a bit of life threatening illness when there are books to be written?

    2. That’s why she needs to recruit some “worker bees”.

      Unfortunately, I live too far from Denver to help out. 😦

      1. Yeah. And she’d wind up with a group of “helpers” rummaging through boxes and sitting on the floor, reading passages to each other, and discussing what might be done with them. Meanwhile, no sorting or itemizing would be done…

        1. Start by copying all the discs onto other media without even looking at it. Then use updatedb or something similar to product an index of filenames. Then run a search of all the file content against a list of keywords to tag the files with keywords. Only then do you actually start to read the files yourself.

    3. I’m not against digging in your free time (should you ever have any)…

      I must catch my breath and wipe my tears from my eyes … cake may be a lie, but free time is a myth.

      1. In _Song of the Lioness_ one of Tamora Pierce’s characters is told that “Free time is what the gods give you after you die.” I fear there’s some truth to that, provided you add the phrase, ‘if you’ve been good.”

  17. This is good stuff. Find it, pub it! Get a cool cover!

    What baffles me is that back then, we had a huge alt-history boom, not to mention Scalzi’s OMW and Doctor Who. This also is mil sf with crossover appeal to pretty much anybody.

    Tradpub would not know money if you slapped a thousand dollar bill in their face.

    1. Given how many are socialists they probably think they are being virtuous by caring more about “quality” than profits.

  18. Sarah,

    If you don’t finish that!

    If you won’t then hand that off to someone like Shami Stovall.

    Fritz Bahten aka leaperman

      1. Hello Sarah! Fritz and I chatted in Baen’s Bar. He pointed me over to your blog after discovering my World War I novel, and suggested I reach out to do a collaboration in order to help finish what you had. I don’t think he meant taking anything of yours! (And I certainly didn’t think that when he told me about the snippets you posted!) But I would be honored, and humbled, if you ever wanted to collaborate on a WWI project (I do love the time period, and it makes me angry to know someone thought the Red Baron was a Nazi… jeez.). And thanks for the snippets!

  19. Well, it is so unHugo quality as to be worthy of an anti-Hugo which means if you are looking for sci-fi that people want to read and will make money I think it is well worth the effort.

    1. Hey, you may be on to something! The Anti-Hugo Awards, given to the material most loathed and excoriated by the Hugo-anointed. I’d read that in a heartbeat!

  20. What everyone else has already said.

    I’d offer to help, but right now, I can feel each heartbeat in my temples because of sinus congestion. I’d curl up and die except that means lying down, and the headache would kill me. 😛

      1. I can tell you that a Neti rinse might be helpful but not anywhere near sufficient. I have some rather extensive issues. I’m also disorganized enough that a) I have some really strong evidence that I really do need at least most of what I am doing and b) I know what the results of dropping this or that are.

      2. Leaperman, not working around 150+ vectors would also help. At least it is upper respiratory and not the tummy crud this time. *taps wood* I’ve been inhaling steam until I get to the point I can use the Neti pot. Assuming I can find where I stashed it.

    1. *Checks pressure history in what is probably TXRed’s neck of the woods*

      That looks horrible. My condolences. And I need to go do some stuff, cause the rest of that might hit here fairly soon.

          1. You have lots of sun, in high mountains, with low humidity. So I gather that you don’t want to visit Lima or Cuzco or Macchu Picchu if you are prone to sinus, because they have some of the highest natural air pressures on earth.

            The jungle is okay, or the lower seaports. And you might be okay in the desert, but it varies.

            Yeah, me never going to see any Inca stuff that isn’t in a jungle. I should have gone when I still had holes in my head from tmj surgery and was therefore not getting sinus.

      1. When you have to put a drip catcher under your Ship’s Weather Glass, it’s not a great day. Interesting, but not great.

  21. My experience has been that a lot of young people are curious about history – because they know they are utterly ignorant of it.

    One book I’ve considered writing after I retire is “American History After World War II.” Partly because I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the era, looking for trends. One of which is that there are very distinct political eras, each about 10 years. Likewise, the whole notion of a 20-year political generation is absolute nonsense – which is why people born around 1960 will vehemently deny any association with the Baby Boomers. Because they AREN’T part of that group.

      1. Different subject. The First World War is an oddity. All the major powers had a reason to fight, but they were NOT the same reason. Historically, this is a recipe for alliances that shatter (see the First, Second, and Third Coalitions against Napoleon for examples).

        The problem was that the major Allied powers were politically unstable. Russia was on the verge of revolution, the British had just had a soft revolution that gutted the power of the House of Lords to check the House of Commons, and the Third Republic endured only because the French weren’t sure what to replace it with. And the Communists were circling like sharks with their Red Revolution. With the Central Powers ahead on points through 1917, there was no way the Allied governments could make peace without a political catastrophe.

        Although in retrospect, suing for peace in 1915 would have been cheaper. Especially if the Kaiser had used a deft touch (unlikely, but possible)…offer generous terms, and with the beneficiaries being the smaller victims. France pays reparations, but to Belgium, not Germany. The British cede South Africa, but to the Boers, not the Germans. Russia coughs up land, but it’s the rest of Poland, not Russian-speaking lands.

        NOBODY won that war.

      1. Nor really were those born in the last years of the 1950s. True, they were arrived during the the high birth rate period post WWII, but they did not come of age during the economic boom of the 1960s, they came of age in the 1070s, just in time for OPEC created oil shortages and the collapse of the economy.

        Pop-culture is far too fixated on group labels for people — but we know that here, don’t we?

        1. A little too young for Kennedy nostalgia and to fight in Vietnam, but old enough to catch Watergate and the Iranian revolution.

            1. My first political memory was the Cuban missal crisis. I grew up in a political family and the Kennedy speech interrupted the broadcast of King Kong just as Kong was reaching down for the damsel in distress, which made an impression on me. 😉

              By Carter’s election I was married and a home owner.

            2. Don’t remember the Cuban crisis, unless duck & cover drills emphasis at school was a “fall out”. Do remember JFK’s funeral & news coverage; cemented by replays. First presidential election remembered is Johnson’s. First one getting to vote: Carter’s (did NOT vote for him), missed the prior one by a year. We were married in the middle of Carter’s term.

          1. Yup, although older siblings might have faced the draft — or the short lived lottery. We got Watergate, stagflation, wage and price controls, the Carter malaise and 14% or better on house loans.

            Of course, if you were lucky enough to have a copy you could sell a copy of Howard the Duck #1 for $20.00 — for a very short time.

    1. Well, I’m solidly in the Boomer cohort, but I’ve never felt any cultural consanguinity with the Boomer stereotype. Honestly, what the culture considers Boomer behavior and attitudes are actually those of upper-class left-wing idiots from the Boomer generation. Those of us born and raised middle- and lower-class, in the country, are probably closer to the previous cohort, the WWII and Korean War generation than to our age-equal uber-entitled bunch commonly called Boomers.

          1. It’s like how for such a long time people kept telling me I wasn’t one of their kind. This didn’t bother me except when very young. But now that I agree with them, some seem to have trouble with the idea. Silly humans.

            1. Recently ran across someone declaring, in response to being told that Twitter could be a common carrier OR a publisher, but could not claim the rights of both and the responsibility of neither, that we should stay off social media, they aren’t for you people. . . .

              1. “you people”? That would be learned, rational, well-informed, intelligent people?

                Not “educated” people, not given what constitutes contemporary education.

                One does not have to “be on” Twitter to understand it cannot claim the privileges of a private citizen and a public corporation as suits its convenience. It must decide whether it is white with black stripes or white with black stripes and not waffle between the two.

                1. A fair number of unlearned, irrational, ill-informed, stupid people would fall under her prohibition, too. The poster was the sort of person who explicitly said another commenter belonged in jail for disagreeing with her.

                  Showed up, spewed a bunch of comments ranging from ill-thought-out through insulting to stalkerish, and vanished, with all the comments deleted. One suspects an evasion of a ban.

          2. Just like various ethnic groups were not white when it meant discrimination against them, and are now white when it means discrimination against them.

  22. Looks interesting. Some nits are, there is more information about the Fokker Dr1 on the internet including details of the controls. You have the Baron attempting to force his prey down in German territory but ends up being shot in allied territory. I guess the timing could have allowed passing from one to the other but if that was the objective, wouldn’t he notice? Finally, the largest nit I could pick is having the young Baron hit by so many bullets when he was famously hit by a single round. Still, looks like the beginning of a good story. I am all out of nits to pick. Cheers –

    1. No. I described his final flight exactly as per “The Day The Red Baron Died.” As far as they can tell he DIDN’T notice.
      The construction and controls details I accept because there’s more info now. But the flight is described exactly as it’s been reconstructed. Obviously, they can’t know his thoughts, but everything else.

      1. This happened a lot in WWI. Target fixation is a thing, even for the experienced.

        Read the Biggles books, even, which have a lot of real life basis in “No shit, there I was” stories. People did all kinds of stupid crap when multitasking failed, or when they got disoriented. Pilots were tired and stressed.

            1. Particularly for flyers who recently were shot with a machine gun bullet in the head (the official diagnosis was “machinegun (projectile) ricocheting from head”). Von Richthofen was badly enough wounded to cause instant paralysis and blindness though not loss of consciousness, recovering use of his limbs and start to see again after falling uncontrolled from 10,000 ft down to just over 2,500 ft, managed to land but had no memory of where he landed. At eth time he checked himself out of the field hospital against medical advice, “The skull wound was not closed, and the bare bone was probably visible until his death. He was advised not to fly until the wound in his head had healed completely. There is a special mention of the fact that even the surgeon in charge held this opinion in the medical file. It was also recorded that “without a doubt there had been a severe concussion of the brain and even more probable a cerebral haemorrhage. For this reason sudden changes in air pressure during flight might lead to disturbances of his consciousness”.”

              Manfred should have been grounded.

              Fascinating article (requiring free registration for access) from The Lancet titled “Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen’s medical record—was the “Red Baron” fit to fly?” at:

                1. Yes. And then falling from the sky. He used to talk of his “hard Richthofen head”
                  I think the wound closed after a fashion, because it “spit out” fragments of bone every so often, to the end of his life.

                2. That’s the thing with German – we learn early on with what the bullet interacted but by the time we reach the verb at sentence end most of the force has been dissipated.

                  1. I used to translate chemical research form German. Sometimes I went half a page before I found out what we did with all the chemicals: stir them, heat them, cool them, or throw them away.

      2. Yup. To be quite honest, he was still suffering the aftereffects of wounds. And really should not have been flying combat missions. I could make a strong case that he should have been permanently off combat operations and put to work either as an instructor, or doing flight test. (go look at the career of General Marion Carl, USMC, for an example)

          1. It would not surprise me. Between sustained combat operations and command of a unit, he was pretty fried mentally.

    2. > wouldn’t he notice?

      Not necessarily. The lines shifted all the time, there were vehicles and equipment scattered on both sides of the line, and one ant-sized figure (probably covered in mud anyway) would look much like another viewed from the air. Plus, in combat, he would have more important things to devote his attention to.

  23. Would love to see more of this, Sarah.

    On Fri, Nov 30, 2018 at 5:45 AM According To Hoyt wrote:

    > accordingtohoyt posted: ” Eighteen years ago I sold a book that wasn’t > written because the house passed on the book that was almost finished. The > reason given for no interest in the book nearer completion was that and I > quote “The Red Baron is bad. He fought Snoopy. Also, he wa” >

  24. It is well known women never lie! Not about how fast they were driving, not about their weight, not about their age, not about how bright & well-behaved their kids are, not whether a guy’s jokes are funny, not whether a guy is “the biggest I’ve ever seen” and certainly not about whether she’d have slept with that jerk if she’d known he wouldn’t call her the next morning!

    Don’t Believe All Women
    By Sarah Hoyt
    Please, for the love of everything you hold dear, I must ask you not to believe all women. In the age of #metoo, it is important to remember that human memory is fallible.

    Your memory, in fact, lies to you.

    I don’t remember if I wrote about memory during the Kavanaugh flap. Yes, you do see what I did there. But it is important because some of my female acquaintances are still going around screaming, “Believe all women” and citing the emotion or affect of someone telling a story as proof it happened, when it is at best proof the person believes it happened.

    I’m not old enough to have real memory problems, at least not permanent ones, though, yes, when I write a daily blog and posts for here, sometimes what I covered – particularly what I covered at each place – gets confused.

    I was, however, very ill from about five years ago to (with some improvement) early this year. The conditions are being treated and recovery proceeds apace. However, one of the side effects of two of the conditions is a memory issue. As in, when looking back at that time, there are things that get confused, conflated, and I suspect at least one vivid dream that became a memory.

    Now, most of the things I remember are still absolutely true, but if, on top of the illnesses, you added stress and a time of different illness, things get fuzzy.

    Most of the errors are my not remembering things that have happened. And it’s truly disturbing. You find evidence that you did something, like wrote a novel (no, you can’t see it. As though to clinch it, it’s something I’d never write while myself), or met someone, but you not only have no memory of having done so, but even being confronted with evidence doesn’t change that. You have to accept it happened and you did this thing, but you really have no memory. In your personal movie, those frames have been cut.

    Worse, of course, is to vividly remember something that you know didn’t happen. …

  25. Yes, please. I’m eager to get to the part where our Heroes discover they’re not on Earth at all, but instead meet up with Tangor on the planet Poloda. We’ve been waiting decades for the follow-up to that Burroughs potboiler, Beyond the Farthest Star.

  26. “The Red Baron is bad. He fought Snoopy. ”

    Yeah, well, Snoopy was quite literally a son of a bitch.

    When/ if you finish this book, it might be amusing to have the Red Baron fight a (veiled) Snoopy analogue as a “thank you” (or other verb of your choice) to the publisher who turned it down.

  27. More, please. Would buy.

    Also… I know it might not be politic, but would love to read more hijinks with publishers. Maybe you could, erm, dress it up as something else. I’m imagining ‘Retief’, except with publishing instead of diplomacy. Eh, that’s asking too much, given how much you already have incomplete/demanding to be written.

    1. At some point there might be a roman a clef. For the love of heaven, it’s crying out for satirizing.
      OTOH Dave Freer and I are going to write about uplifted sharks, so maybe we’ll put it there.

      1. Uplifted… sharks.

        Because Mad Science means never having to ask “What’s The Worst Thing That Could Happen?” ;-D

        1. From our talk last week, we think they become a mob who controls the illicit trades in ten planets. And wear really loud plaid suits.
          Oh, did I mention these are land sharks?
          …. we might not be the sanest people around, you know?

  28. “Also, [the Red Baron] was a Nazi.”

    I regret that I have but one face to shove into my palm.

    How can these people even dress themselves, let alone run a business operation?

    1. Europe was bubbling, but Wilhelm was *going* to have his war, for his personal glory, and for the tribute. French tribute provided a nice pad to the Imperial budget after the War of 1871, and Wilhelm could use the cash.

      1. After reading “Dreadnought,” I came up with theory that Kaiser W. was trying to compensate for his damaged at birth left arm.

        or over-compensating; plus trying to out-do family too, maybe.

        (‘70 or ‘71?)

        1. That is what a lot of people thought.

          He also had a mad crush on Geraldine Farrar. Lots of people did, of course, but yeah, not super well balanced. She seems to have felt sorry for him.

  29. After reading that article before work, yesterday, I had “Snoopy vs. The Red Barron”, by the Royal Guardsmen, in my head for hours. Would that I could reach through time and space to dopeslap the editor in question for that. 😛

  30. I’m not so well-off as to send you a down payment so as to encourage you to crack you archives, but the did cross my mind.

    Mas? Encore? Please.

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