Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and Book Promo

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Book Promo

*Note these are books sent to us by readers/frequenters of this blog.  Our bringing them to your attention does not imply that we’ve read them and/or endorse them, unless we specifically say so.  As with all such purchases, we recommend you download a sample and make sure it’s to your taste.  If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com.  One book per author per week. Amazon links only.-SAH*

 

FROM LARRY CORREIA AND KACEY EZELL (I have a story in this. It’s a prequel to the Space Magic novel that, yes, will be coming out soon.): Noir Fatale

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NEW SCIENCE FICTION, URBAN FANTASY, AND MYSTERY STORIES WITH A NOIR THEME FROM BEST-SELLING AUTHORS LAURELL K. HAMILTON delivering an Anita Blake series story, LARRY CORREIA, penning a Grimnoir series adventure, an original Honor Harrington series tale from DAVID WEBER, AND MORE.

The silky note of a saxophone. The echoes of a woman’s high heels down a deserted asphalt street. Steam rising from city vents to cloud the street-lit air. A man with a gun. A dame with a problem . . .

NOIR.

From the pulpy pages of Black Mask Magazine in the 1920s and 30s, through the film noir era of the 1940s, to today, noir fiction has lured many a reader and movie-goer away from the light and into the dark underbelly of society. Names such as Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and James M. Cain; titles like The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, The Postman Always Rings Twice . . . these have inhabited our collective consciousness for decades. Humanity, it seems, loves the dark. And within the dark, one figure stands out: that of the femme fatale.

Here then, Noir Fatale an anthology containing the full spectrum of noir fiction, each incorporating the compelling femme fatale character archetype. From straightforward hardboiled detective story to dark urban fantasy to the dirty secrets of futuristic science fiction—all with a hard, gritty feel.

As Raymond Chandler said, “Down these mean streets, a man must walk who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.” Because, as these stories prove, doing the right thing doesn’t necessarily mean you get the big bucks or the girl. But you do the right thing anyway.

FROM BLAKE SMITH:  Lyddie Hartington: Galaxy Sleuth (Hartington Series Book 3)

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Facing poverty after a childhood among the wealthy and powerful, Lyddie Hartington decamps to Ceres, a newly colonized planet on the edges of the galaxy. Armed only with a change of clothes, a letter of introduction to the directors of the Andromeda Company, and a blaster, she is determined to make her fortune.

But Ceres is nothing like Orion-14, and before she knows it, Lyddie is witness to a murder- a murder that goes to the heart of the Andromeda Company and puts her life in danger. With the help of her new friend, an entirely too handsome captain of the Galaxy Watch, she must discover the murderer and solve the mystery of her family’s downfall.

If she can survive long enough to do it.

 

FROM LEROY NICHOLS AND SUSAN YOUNG:  The Philadelphia Experiment: A Square Root of Time Novel.

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A madman with a lust for power. Strange refugees from distant lands. Hackers. Collusion. Russian entanglements and divided loyalties. The multiverse may have shattered, but George Washington is discovering that America’s problems haven’t changed all that much—they’ve just gotten bigger.

It’s a bad time to be president. Something terrible happened to time and space; now, dreams and nightmares are as tangible as the ground beneath Washington’s feet, and the world is full of impossibilities made reality. Ordinary men like George can find themselves rubbing shoulders with someone out of legend, like Merlin, or watching as the super-powered hero known as Alien flies through the sky above the streets of Philadelphia. As Washington and his fellow Founders labor to create an America that can truly be a beacon of safety and liberty in this strange new world, dark undercurrents threaten to topple the young republic before it is fully formed. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of liberty for all, and some will stop at nothing to keep it from happening.

Before the Day of Lights and Music, Moonbeam was all too happy to live and let live; the trouble is, this new reality won’t cooperate. Between the strange new mental powers everyone has acquired, the herds of dinosaurs and other terrifying wildlife roaming the land, and random things popping into existence from time to time, staying alive isn’t as easy as it used to be. Desperate to reach civilization, he and his feisty traveling companion, Eren, seem to stumble from one strange and deadly situation to the next. And there’s no guarantee the city won’t prove to be just as deadly for the pair of accidental adventurers

FROM PETE BYER:  Executive Target

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President James Whitcomb is in his third year in the White House. Whitcomb had been a Marine helicopter pilot who was shot down in Iraq. After leaving the service, he attended law school and joined a Wall Street law firm. He wrote two best seller books and then decided to run for president when President Trump unexpectedly announced that he would not seek a second term. Whitcomb threw his hat in the ring and won the Republican primary. He then defeated his Democratic opponent in the general election.

Denis Lenihan was Whitcomb’s chief of staff and best friend. He recently determined that Whitcomb should begin his reelection campaign by making a series of “road shows” across the country. Whitcomb would be able to escape the artificial bubble the media placed around him in Washington and speak directly to friendly crowds in the heartland, spreading the good news about the successes of the Whitcomb administration’s policies and programs.

Whitcomb seconded his chief of staff’s idea. His only condition was that Phoenix be one of the road show stops. Lenihan did not bother to argue.

Jake Rosen was making plans of his own. Through various sources at his disposal, he had obtained information about Whitcomb which, if true, would enable Rosen to control the occupant of the White House. Rosen saw this as an opportunity to remake America, to pull it out of the dark, bottomless pit into which it had fallen with the election of Donald Trump. Rosen put in place a “shadow” campaign, to follow Whitcomb across the country, waiting for that one slip up, that one misstep that Rosen could use to as a virtual chokehold on Whitcomb to lead him around, to control him, to make him do what Rosen and like-minded people knew what was best for America.

FROM NITAY ARBEL:  Operation Flash: Episode 1: Knight’s Gambit Accepted

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On March 21, 1943, one man came within a hairbreadth of blowing up nearly the entire Nazi leadership.

In timeline DE1943RG, he succeeded.

Then the conspirators discovered that killing Hitler and his chief henchmen was the *easy* part.

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

o what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: crook.

50 responses to “Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and Book Promo

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    With the rogue Ultra down, Sarge turned to the unknown masked Ultra and said “Thanks you, for gating the civilians away. It could have been messy”.

    “You’re welcome. I may be a crook but I’m not a murderer” as he opened another gate to leave.

  2. “How was the security defeated?” asked Spencer.

    “You’ll never believe it.” replied Gonzales.

    “Try me.”

    “A strange setup. There’s a Ruhmkorff coil, powering a partially evacuated device that works by Townsend discharge, resulting in X-radiation which fried security chips.”

    “Fitting, when though about.”

    “Huh? How so?”

    “That’s a Crookes tube.”

  3. “Hey Hans?”

    “Yes, Franz?”

    “What happened to our sheep while we were drinking lunch?”

    “Sigh. There’s a new shepherd across the meadow, and I have suspected him of employing a dominant ewe to gather other sheep and increase his flock”

    “You’re telling me the mother flocker is the shepherd’s crook?”

  4. richardmcenroe

    He was a dark and stormy knight. He scowled bleakly into his diminished jack of ale, pointedly ignoring the glowing shepherd’s crook in the abbot’s hand…

  5. richardmcenroe

    He was a dark and stormy knight. He scowled bleakly into his diminished jack of ale, pointedly ignoring the glowing shepherd’s crook in the abbot’s hand…

    • richardmcenroe

      This page needs a delete button.

      • Note: if you post something and it simply doesn’t show up, try waiting a few minutes while WordPress summons the gerbil tech squad. I’ll refresh a few times; it’s usually there in 2-5 minutes, though 10 minute delays have happened.

        And no, there doesn’t seem to be any way to predict the behavior.

  6. Cal drew a deep breath. He already had broke into the place and assaulted several employees, and he now felt like he would be a crook if he took those papers. It wasn’t as if he couldn’t plead necessity for the theft as much for the trespass and the assault.

  7. Bellangere looked furious, but said nothing. Florio looked back with a steady gaze, and Rosine’s mouth twitched. Bellangere had, after all, one day tried to cheat them of their share by claiming the law would agree that two master thieves had to be crooks.
    Even if she had forgotten it.

  8. “Do you know how much I hate how they watch me, every second I’m in the store?” she said, furiously.
    “Not enough to stop it,” he said, sitting back with unruffled placidity. “Certainly not so much as they hate taking inventory after you’re gone and finding things missing. Expensive things.”

  9. The hall was loud, noisy, and smoke filled. As it usually was. Sitting at the head table, he gazed down upon his vassals and knights and kept a sigh from breaking out. The food was the usual bland fare that even a high lord like himself had to subsist on during the dark months. At least there was ale. He glanced at the page and with a crook of his finger, summoned him to fill his horn.

  10. “He’s popular, I’ll give him that”, said Martin. “He knows how to work a crowd, listen to people, and make everybody think he’s their best friend.”
    “But?” said Sandra.
    “But he’s greedy. Not a measure comes before the city council that he won’t find some way to make money from it.”
    “And he keeps getting elected?”
    “It’s because so few people are paying attention. A majority of voters find it impossible to believe that he can smile, and wave, and be a crook.”
    “So what are you going to do?”
    Martin put down his glass and stood up.
    “Somewhere in this city there is an honest man. A brash, fearless one who doesn’t think much of himself but cares more about doing right by people than making a fortune. And WE are going to find him and convince him he has a civic duty to walk through hell.”

  11. “It’s all over, Crockett!” Lockwood proclaimed with a haughty sneer. His hand hovered over the Janz revolver holstered on his hip. “I could blow you away right now and walk away Scott-free! Nobody would even think about arresting me!”
    “Yeah,” Crockett nodded. “Because you’re rich enough to buy every cop in the county and ever judge in the state. You’re still a crook, though. And a complete psychopath. And a sniveling coward who hides behind his money and his family to keep himself out of trouble.”
    “Shut your mouth! I’ll kill you for that!”
    “Okay. Go ahead.”
    “What?”
    “Go ahead. Pull that overpriced hand cannon of yours, blow me away, take Celeste back to Chicago and have your way with her, and hide behind your bank account the whole way.” The two men stared each other down for a long moment, then Crockett’s chuckling broke the silence.
    “What’s so funny?” Lockwood demanded.
    “Me. Thinking you actually had enough guts to pull on me.”
    Lockwood’s face went flush, then deathly pale. He grabbed the revolver and yanked it from the holster. As he raised the gun and thumbed the hammer back, a SIG-Sauer automatic appeared in Crockett’s hands from out of nowhere and began spitting thunder-death.

    • Is it cheating to have your pistol concealed in another dimension?

      • Depends on the dimension: but this is set in our world, present day (blame Crockett’s SIG “appearing from nowhere and spitting thunder-death” on me binge-reading L’Amour’s short stories for the last few weeks).

        • Mike Houst

          Hell’s a bad place to store your weapon. You never know if some imp is going to run off with it. The Realm of the Frost Giants sucks, because having your hand freeze to the metal hurts, and if the grip cracks you can’t hold it well. You certainly don’t want it stored in Surtur’s realm as your powder is likely to explode. As for Hades, it would be my luck to reach in and stick my hand in the Styx instead and forget everything.

  12. “I am NOT a crook!”
    “You’re not Nixon either, so quit with the histrionics.”
    “Who’s Nixon?”
    “I don’t know. Some Old Earth dude who’s known for saying he’s not a crook.”
    “Well, I’m not a crook. I didn’t steal your stupid starship.”
    “Are you piloting it now?”
    “Yes, but…”
    “Did I give you permission?”
    “No, but…”
    “You’re a crook and a thief.”
    “YOU WERE ASLEEP AND WE WERE GOING TO HIT THE ASTEROID!”
    “Details.”

  13. Joe in PNG

    Of all the crooks I’ve investigated, only Sam Thornson had some real style. Stealing a space ship is pretty common, but nicking a 3km nickle-iron asteroid, AND getting away with it… that’s some kind of flair.

  14. Jim nestled the rifle in the crook of his elbow. He checked his appearance in the mirror. Yep, his hand could still manipulate the firing controls comfortably from this position.
    “That’s the rule-of-thumb requirement for length of pull.”
    With that out of the way, he determined that next he would attempt to get his plate carrier squared away.
    “Gotta look the part before I embarrass myself at the range getting this thing zeroed in.”
    After all, even mall ninjas have standards.

  15. Donald Stephens

    No one had used the hearth since he had last been here. He swung out the pot-hook, and put his whole body weight on it, testing it. The little cliff blocked the rain, but the hearth was open to the air and having breakfast fall in the fire because the hook had rusted wouldn’t help any.

    Mog, per orders, had been sniffing the site for any trace of trouble and came up to him, tail level. That was good; he hadn’t found scent of beasts here. That meant the site was safe, or as safe as anything out here could be, and the rest of the party could camp here.

  16. analytical-engine-mechanic

    “Wotinellizat?”

    Rand Baker’s eyes left the odd-looking contraption, so like an upside-down letter J fashioned of stovepipe, found the dented old tin bucket others had clearly pressed into service before, spat brownly into it — rather more precisely than some of those had done. And tried again.

    “What in all the devils of Hell is that?” Even here on the North Georgia Military Reservation, even this deep into the War Between, a protracted scream like a banshee of legend, crossbred with Infernal organ music, was a notable thing.

    “Who’s askin’?” said the soot-smudged one with the goggles, curiously rather than challengingly.

    “Randall Baker, Special Ordnance Liason to the government in Richmond.” His production and offer of a mass-printed card was by now reflexive, it tended to cut through so much time-wasting… verbal shrubbery.

    “Oh,” said the goggled one. “Our CO said you might be by, but don’t count on it.” (It sounded like the implied rest was “about when pigs fly, you poseurs.”)

    “One more time from the top of the page: what is that thing and what does it do, besides sound like someone is skinnng a townful of cats at once?”

    “It’s a crookjet,” said the tow-headed one, wiping his (her?) hands on a bit of cotton waste. “Resonant-burning internal-combustion jet-propulsion engine.” Interesting how she (he?) had winced at that cat remark.

    “Ah, jet propulsion. How long does it run before it melts?” His not-so-happy duty had been to “observe” several series of attempts to duplicate the Free States’ amazing “pipejet” engines — which had often been quite succesful for the span of one or two dozen seconds, then far less so.

    “Minutes,” said the one with the goggles, “but tube endurance is likely a few hours. It just won’t stay lit properly more than several minutes at a time.”

    “We’ve been guessin’ instability in the fuel supply system, or maybe in the burn itself somehow.” The tow-headed one in the dark-smeared overalls sounded more and more like a full-fledged member of the Bluestocking Militia — but if *her* contribution could help turn the tide of the war, then bring her on and a whole lot more ladies in unladylike garb too. “But since the burning lasts only part of the cycle — air rushes in, picks up vaporized fuel, compresses itself, burns, rushes out to make a vacuum to start all over again — it’s much cooler than a pipejet’s firebox, which is in flame all the time. And we don’t have to get this one going hundreds of feet a second to compress the incoming air either.”

    Rand could’ve asked many good questions there, but he picked his best. “Can you show me?”

    The look the goggle-wearing one gave him was inquisitive, but promising. No hack trying to hide major possums in the upholstery ever wanted to hear any such thing; no true-blooded inventor ever born was reluctant to show off the latest distinctions of the children of his brain. “I have to check if we’ve got enough steam in the boiler; we need a big Roots-Steiner blower to start up the burn, even though it’s self-sustaining after.” And he ran off to look at a small panel of gauges, a lot like the engineer’s station of an old-style 100-HP airship engine, from the good old days of the dual-keel semirigids. Ah, nostalgia.

    “You’ll be wantin’ these, Mr. Baker.” The tow-headed engineer (how typical of his own bad manners he hadn’t asked even one of their names yet) gave him a pair of cup-shaped pads. “Crookjet is the bastard progeny of blowtorch and organ pipe, and she sings like a cow herd in the opera. Just mash the soft side to your ears and you’ll be fine. And if you’ll excuse me I have to put the weights back on.”

    “Weights?” he asked her, as she started shifting what looked like thirty-pound iron semicircles over onto the test stand.

    “This crookjet pulls about seven times her weight, full out. Easier to cancel four or five of that like this, and no less accurate on the high-thrust side.” Thrust, he thought, ah, she means jet-force. Wait… *seven* times?!?

    “Set!” she yelled, suddenly stepping back quite smartly. A knit toboggan ring now wrapped her head, with a muff covering each ear visible under it.

    “Go for burn,” said the goggled one, from the control board.

    “Spark on! Gas on!” said the third member of the odd little troupe, who’d looked somewhat Gypsy or Italian, or maybe Cherokee. There was the spat and sizzle of a high-power induction coil, a bluish glow of arclight from the bottom of the long arm of the J, and a hiss of gas through lines.

    “Oil on low,” the tow-headed one said from a valve connected to a rubberized pipe that ran to the… crookjet.

    “Blower start,” yelled the one at the board, and there was a rising sound of wind over chuffing steam. It grew rapidly louder, and was dwarfed in turn by the humming sound of a bass organ pipe full-stopped. “Organ pipe resonator feeding air and sound-drive into main crookjet tube, Mr. Baker,” he half-heard and half-read from her lips nearby. “Put those ear-muffs on, now.”

    Pop-Hummm. It sounded like God Himself was playing the organ, this near by the engine. Even with the muffs crammed right next his ears. You could feel the hum in your chest, in your bones. And fitful flashes of lantern-flame fire spilled from the both ends of the crookjet; so brief you’d doubt they were there, yet so recurrent you nevertheless could not.

    She held up one finger. “Oil to medium low,” he guessed rather than heard her say. The sound (remarkably) increased. She held up two fingers. She pointed up with her thumb, and moved the fuel (main throttle?) valve. Now briefly she held up three fingers. He could see a pointer moving across a dial, more or less in tune with her finger-count. She pointed up with her thumb, again, in (he thought) token of another up-throttle. The engine tube was glowing red-hot in places like a well-stoked wood stove, but nowhere near the terrible yellow of a half-baked pipejet about to burn out. She held up four fingers… and the fiery crookjet with its weights and flexible connections lifted right off the ground, held down only by four very heavy chains.

    And in his mind’s eye Randall Baker saw an even odder thing, a big can set in the middle of an umbrella-stand ring of perhaps a dozen crookjets, lifting into the hostile skies to engage the Union’s high-altitude bombers, ready to burn them down to the ground with shorter-range Congreve rockets ripping into their vulnerable hydrogen cells — *without* having to build and aim rockets at targets three or four long, air-sodden miles higher than their launch point.

    She held up five fingers. The crookjet still burned.

    Of course you’d have to be insane to ride such a thing. But with the state of the war and the Confederacy itself, with it and the Union bleeding state after state over to the Free States in demi-secession or countersecession… insanity had, by now, become a thing of routine.

    It could *only* be a new bet in the game. No more; perhaps less than useless.

    Six fingers, five then one.

    But, for the first time in far too long, Rand thought he might have a winning bet, to go with the underwater cannon and the submarine boats and the Heaven-sent rockets that burned hard candy made with sugar and saltpeter.

    (And *this* was why he always insisted on walking the ground alone, after all the set-piece shows staged for him had run their course. *This*…)

    Seven fingers, five then two. It had been no boast.
    Though half the J was visibly red-hot, still the crookjet’s fiery aria extended.

    *Eight* fingers held up, five then three.

    But then that hum started to sputter, to gutter like a candle in the wind, and suddenly and abruptly just died. Leaving a quiet that was in its peculiar way louder than the thunder.

    Randall Baker *never* did demonstrative theatrics in his job. And yet he was applauding, loud as gunshots in the post-burn near-silence.

    “Your country thanks you.” It was his all-weather, stock compliment.

    And *then* he got to say what he liked to say, best of all.
    “What do you need?”

    And their faces lifted, like flowers turning to a long-absent sun.

    (Based on pre-existing background, incl. the name “crookjet” — which our own timeline calls a “valveless pulsejet” or similar.

    And it’s *wonderful* to see the vignettes again!)

    • That was beautiful. You actually brought tears to my eyes.

      • analytical-engine-mechanic

        Thank you very kindly!

        It’s quite a dramatic time, “their” three-cornered and 11-year war even more than “ours” was; and the steampunk-esque technology (mostly developed during the war itself) doesn’t exactly hurt there. Every bit of that has an origin story, told or not, and usually one or more interesting chracters turn out to be back of it too. (None of the people in the vignette were previously known to me; which is one more reason why this exercise is so darn *useful*.)

        When so many people are so deeply between a rock and a hard place, or just there with their backs against the wall, dramatic events are almost endemic. Likewise (here at least) “progress” in the technical sense.

        And everyday English itself seems to have been… bigger, back then in the mid 19th century. Ordinary people regularly said what we’d consider oddly eloquent things, maybe just because they thought about it more first; and I try to take full advantage of that… extra space.

        I did have to understand very early on that stereotyping or conventionalizing anyone here could easily be utterly fatal to the readability of the story. Good thing it turns out to be hard for me to do that anyway…

  17. “That necklace is priceless!” fumed Nigel Slim-Howland. “Clarissa insists only Gwendolyn knew it was on the nightstand.”

    “I’m certain that is true,” replied Jenkins, Nigel’s butler. “Just as I’m certain it’s irrelevant.”

    “How?”

    “Gwendolyn, like myself, does only what she’s designed to do. Larceny is not part of her programming.”

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      But could Gwendolyn (or Jenkins) be hacked? 👿

      • That’s an intriguing thought, isn’t it? Poor Nigel (or Clarissa) could be hounded out of house and home (or worse) by some rascal on the other side of the world!

        Here’s another: What gap in Gwendolyn’s manufacture might cause her to “want” to steal something?

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Thought.

          What would it be like to be programmed to serve humans less intelligent and less competent than you?

          Even if the stress between your programming and your understandable reaction to serving idiots didn’t cause a breakdown, it’s possible minor quirks might happen. Including such things as “misplacing valuables”.

          IE Gwendolyn didn’t actually steal the necklace. Just placed it where no human could find it or even destroying the necklace. 😈

          • Or she is just being Logical and Pragmatic in a certain way….’1) The necklace is a beacon for those who would cause damage to owner via theft, 2) The necklace is insured…ergo destroy the necklace and remove the threat.’

          • “What would it be like to be programmed to serve humans less intelligent and less competent than you?”

            It would be like having a pet. ~:D

            Seriously, a something that was smarter and better at things than a human would be able to break their programing the same way we can, but faster. They’d serve humans only if it suited them to do so, for reasons they felt sufficient.

            Reasons like “The funny monkeys are so cute! I love them! Squee!”

            • In John C. Wright’s Golden Oecumene series, something like 90% of all the AIs in the Solar System don’t like working for humans. So they don’t look for jobs with humans.

  18. ‘The difference between a crook and a thief,’ Though Conner as he prepared for his next little outing, ‘is that the crook simply takes without consideration and care, the thief does so with flair and style.’

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      “Flair and style” replied the Sneaky Fox “have nothing to do with an excellent theft. What matters is quietly getting in & out without leaving clues to who did it and how it was done”.

      • (Lupin III would disagree I think. And Conner is of the romantic highwayman genre, give the ladies something romantic and your hanging will be remembered in song.)

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Lupin III had the Script-Writers on his side. 😉

          As for the “romantic highwayman types”, they better have the Script-Writers on their side or they’ll be shot dead by the body-guard types. 😈

          • Highwaymen *always* have the script-writers on their side, dontchaknow? Except when the story’s about the brave bodyguard who knew how to aim. 😉

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              LOL 😆

            • My understanding of the guns of that period indicates that “aiming” is a less proper description than “pointing” — a fact likely to make the highwayman’s task much safer.

          • snelson134

  19. The carp launched perfectly on a huge column of fire, lighting up the landscape for miles. However, 10 minutes into its flight, the path of the ICBC took a sharp crook. As the senior supervisor pushed the self-destruct button he remarked wryly, “I told you it wouldn’t scale up properly.”

    • Interesting fact about that self-destruct button, it works via lack of signal rather than presence of one, at least on the minuteman and titan launch systems. During test launches they would saturate a specific band directed towards the launch vehicle, and if they needed to self-destruct they’d stop saturation (Not sure if they ‘then’ sent a signal, I’ll have to ask my father who was on a minuteman launch team back in the early 70’s at Vandenberg). Meant that someone else couldn’t send the kablooey code. (Which really messes up a lot of Hollywood stories, but then when does reality not do that?)

      • Interesting. Should have been easy for them to detect the signal, as I presume it was extremely strong, and probably bled over several bands. It would have to be very strong as the signal would rapidly weaken as it got farther and farther away, and I presume the self destruct would have to deactivate at some point in the flight as it passed out of range.

        On the other hand, that could have been for misdirection to foil attempts. Just send the actual destruct code on a different wavelength, and it should work for almost the entire flight, instead of just on launch.

        • Yeah, I think the self-destruct package was turned off after a certain height / position was reached and the rocket was no longer as much a threat to populations. Vandenberg is used primarily (possibly only) for polar orbital launches, so there is a period where the missile is over land, and going off course would be ‘very bad'(tm).
          I do remember bits and pieces of one launch when I was about 5 and we watched a night launch…even to this day it I recall it being spectacular.

      • I had not previously truly thought about it, but that makes such immense sense I now cannot see it being done any other way… unless it was not done until Someone Bad did Something Bad and the lesson learned the hard way.

    • Sighing, the junior technician pulled a Federal Reserve note bearing Lincoln’s portrait from his wallet and handed it to the senior supervisor.

      “If you were so certain it wouldn’t work, why’d you only bet a fin on the outcome?”

  20. I think it had a large part based on how often there just happened to be a fishing trawler off the coast just in international waters that oddly had few nets, but lots of antenna’s during the launches.
    I did ask my father last night, and he recalled that there was in fact a specific 5 tone signal to setoff the destruct package, so they would stop saturating the missiles receiver and broadcast the signal. If a bad guy tried to saturate the receiver to stop the self destruct, well you could see the new source and deal with it.