Archive for November 15th, 2009

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Computer ups and downs

November 15, 2009

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My main home computer is a 20 inch iMac, from just before the switch from G5 to Intel. It’s about four and a half years old. I’m running it with a second monitor and after the Apple folks replaced the first faulty power supply it’s been a good machine. Last weekend I tried to burn a DVD of some grandkid movie files and got errors in the burn, so I ran Disk Utility to check it out. The left-side list showed the internal boot disk in red, and said it was beginning to fail. Oh noes!

I went to Micro Center (a half-mile down the street) and got a Seagate 1TB internal drive for 85 bucks, on sale. Popped it in – it took about 15 minutes. Then it took FOUR DAYS to get the OS, apps and data ported over. Twice I tried to use Time Machine to do it, and twice the Restore app hung halfway through. Two days killed. Then I installed the OS from the original DVD, and then restored the apps using Migration Assistant. That only took two days – one for most of the stuff, and another for the stuff it missed, somehow, the first time around. By Saturday it was back to normal, and I have two 500GB partitions where I used to have one 250 GB drive.

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TRS update

November 15, 2009

I’m still cleaning up the novel, checking name spellings, watching for consistency of military ranks, and so forth. I’m not quite half-way through. As I go I’m finding little things like extra spaces that I need to correct.

I’ve been mulling two things over the last couple of days. While Stirling established that women were to be found in combat positions by WWII (the Eurasian War in the Drakaverse), he only describes them in the Domination’s military. He doesn’t talk much about the US military at all, and I would have to go back to Marching Through Georgia to see if he mentions any German or Russian female military.

The question is, should I have female test pilots in the post-War Drakaverse US? At what point did they become a significant segment of the test pilot population?

There’s another issue: minority representation. The Drakaverse is about as non-PC as an alternate history can be, but once the more militant Southern slaveholders left the US for the Domination after the Civil War, it’s possible that  the discrimination that followed slavery for another hundred years could have died out faster in the Drakaverse – if for no reason but to not be like the Draka. I have one black pilot, and I mention several who are from other parts of the wider US – the former Canadian provinces, Central America, the Philippines, the Caribbean. In The Stone Dogs Cindy Guzman LeFarge is the daughter of a Mexican-American submariner. I would expect more Spanish surnames, the mixture of names you find in the Philippines, and some very British-sounding names from Canada and the Caribbean. What you might find less of is German surnames, actually. Since a number of Hessian mercenaries settled in South Africa after the American Revolution, some of their relatives may have moved there later to join them, instead of, say Pennsylvania or Nebraska.

By the second book I expect a fully-integrated pilot corps. In fact, I expect most of the orbital pilots by 1970 to be commercial pilots, not military. The military will be stretched as it is, and commercial pilots could be called on to bring space station supplies and materiel to orbit. Where do military bases get their bread? From local suppliers, handled by commercial, non-military transportation.

I’m not sure whether I should jump to the second book next or not. If this one turns out to be unpublishable, I would have spent valuable writing time on something that probably couldn’t be rewritten. The Draka influence everything – they aren’t a stock villain. It would be very hard to rewrite TRS into a book with a different competing world power.

If I don’t go that way, I would probably go to the Michigan Enclave book next. I’m trying to figure out how I could get the state of Michigan to secede from the US successfully. I can make the state a success as an independent, mainly libertarian nation; I just need a good way to touch off the succession in such a way that it doesn’t seem contrived, or that the US would most likely send in troops to stop it.

Although if things go the way they are in the US today much longer, maybe the US government wouldn’t care if a state or two left, especially if they were a drag on the national economy. I fear I will have to create a US that is really on its knees – an even worse extrapolation of current economic policy that I would like to consider. I want the book to be an encouragement – “see, if we move in this direction, things will be better!” If the US is really on the skids that would be hard to do. If it’s not bad enough, succession would seem to be an unreasonable thing to do.