Monthly Archives: December 2016

Christmas book deals

Merry Christmas! And Happy Hanukkah!

It’s Christmas time and author Christopher Nuttall is giving away the first book from two of his mil-SF series: The Empire’s Corps and Ark Royal.

They are free from December 24th through 26th. Details at his blog here.

And if you haven’t gotten my book yet: the Kindle edition of One Thousand Years (the first of my series) will be discounted to 99 cents through January 1st.

The Battle of the Bulge

It’s been 72 years since Operation Watch on the Rhine began, the surprise attack through the forests of the Ardennes, starting what we know as the Battle of the Bulge. Hitler had hoped that a victory here could force the Allies (minus Stalin) to the peace table. The Allies were caught completely by surprise.

Rand Simberg reposts an excerpt of his alternative newspaper story “on how today’s media would have reported it.” The full piece at his link is worth a read.

I can’t say that my own work (and one character in particular) wasn’t inspired by his stories.

Air-launched spacecraft

Pegasus XL under L-1011 "Stargazer"

Pegasus XL under L-1011 “Stargazer”

I’ve been looking at the launch schedule, which covers public and international spacecraft launches, and noticed the December 12 launch of a Pegasus XL.

Pegasus XL is a rocket, of course, and it’s taking off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, but it is doing so from the underside of a Lockheed L-1011 airplane named Stargazer. They’ve been doing this particular spacecraft model since 1990, first with other aircraft, and then with the L-1011 a few years later.

It says something about all the work going on in space that we don’t notice, partly because it was just unmanned satellites, but also because it had become more-or-less routine.

The Stargazer boost aircraft is named after the USS Stargazer, which was Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s previous ship in the Star Trek universe. No kidding. It got the name informally at first, and then it stuck. Another interesting thing about Stargazer is that the company flying it bought it used.

Update: December 15, 2016

After the initial December 12 launch attempt was scrubbed, they had a successful launch today, December 15th:

“We Pledge Allegiance”

I’ve been watching the various preview videos for season two of The Man in the High Castle. There are a number of them.

If you’ve been on safari for the last few years, this is based on the book of the same name by Philip K. Dick. Both the book and the TV series take place in an alternative 1960s America where the Allies lost WWII. And lost it badly. The U.S. was partitioned between Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

Here’s one of the videos via YouTube, which I believe is the opening scene of this second season:

The show is produced by Amazon and available online. The first episode of season 1 is available free. The trailer to this second season is here. From there you should see links to other clips.

In any event, this scene is interesting in another way: It shows the students of this school reciting a Nazified version of the Pledge of Allegiance. One might think they would be using a Hitler salute rather than the conventional hand over the heart. They don’t until the very end. In reality, what we think of nowadays as a Hitler salute was also called the “Bellamy salute,” after Francis Bellamy. That’s the guy who wrote the Pledge of Allegiance.*

Bellamy salute, 1941

Bellamy salute, 1941

This was, in fact, how most people used to do the pledge. It only changed in 1942, for obvious reasons. Now, people find it funny that Nazis did it without realizing how common this salute had been for decades.

My guess is that the show’s producers either didn’t know this history, or decided it would be better to use the form that most people know about. There are reasons to give the audience what’s more familiar. That would make it feel more real even if it’s less.

* Francis Bellamy was the cousin of Edward Bellamy, the writer of 1888’s Looking Backward: 2000–1887.