A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Counterattack! Redux!

Nearly a year ago, TOF mentioned a high school project; viz., a 16mm B&W movie set in WWII entitled Counterattack! We made uniforms, borrowed souvenirs from our parents, obtained M1's and ammunition from a nearby gun shop -- it's amazing what kids could buy in them thar days -- as well as dynamite and C4 for special effects. No students were harmed in the making of this film. We wrote a script -- more or less -- in German as well as English and did all the directing and cinematography ourselves. Gary Armitage deserves much of the blame credit for the film, he being the producer and kept the whole enterprise on an even keel. We sold stock in "Keystone Films" to the students at Notre Dame, as well as to parents, for a dollar apiece. Jim Reilly, our director, also deserves great credit for the fact that the final product is actually coherent. It was filmed on his family's Christmas Tree farm, and he knew how to handle the dynamite. Gary was Range Safety Officer.

You can read more about it at the link above, should you wish.

In any event, our 50th class reunion was a couple weeks ago, not too far from the fields where the filming took place. Gary was there along with several of the stars -- Red Scannell, Tony Ingraffea, and TOF himself -- and TOF was inspired to upload the file onto YouTube for the delight and edification of the TOFheads out there.

Be aware that this is a DVD file made from a VHS tape shot off a screen showing of the 16mm B&W original. Consequently, there is at the beginning some out-of-focus, sprocket jumping, and other difficulties that we must all endure unless and until the original film is rediscovered and a better version is made directly therefrom. 

And now, without further ado:

Friday, July 3, 2015

Outward Bound


From Low Earth Orbit

From Geosynchronous Orbit

On the way to Mercury:

From the Moon

From a Fly-By

From the other side of the Moon

From Martian Orbit

From Mars

From Saturn

From the Edge of Interstellar Space

colored bands are artifacts of the image

Images from ExtremeTech
and Scientific American

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


An excerpt from a rough draft of "Nexus," currently under construction, has been put on the PREVIEW PAGE.

IV. Jim-7
Alien life, we are told, would be unlike human life, and that may be true enough as regards such trivia as species and body form. Indeed, an alien may possess senses, organs, and appetites unknown to us. What lusts do bats endure that compel their squeaks? Does it pleasure them to receive the echo? How can human minds encompass the hankerings of bats – let alone those of a headwalker?
(This particular species of headwalker, for example, does not feel pleasure in the reproductive act. Rather, it feels a growing pain the longer it abstains, so the pleasure is more like the pleasure of ceasing to hit yourself on the head with a hammer. Mother Nature has more than one way of butt-kicking her children into reproduction.)
And yet, all things pursue the good insofar as they know the good, and the good is whatever preserves and completes its nature. In inanimate bodies, this preservation is called “inertia.” For animate bodies, it is called “life.” The struggle to maintain existence that Darwin saw in living kinds is only a higher form of the struggle of a boulder to remain stubbornly in place.

(cont. at the Preview)

They don't really wait very long these days, do they?

The celebrations are over! Let the carping begin! Because, you know, it's all about collecting bennies and obtaining a government-certified celebration of Me!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A lizard riding a horse

Faithful Reader may recollect from an Earlier Post how TOF mused upon the collective result of a cycle riding on the back of a trend.

Consistency is a Jewel

Why?  Because it is rare.

SCOTUS recently ruled that a person possessing a right in one state has that right in all states. Yay.

In Arizona citizens can carry guns without permission from the bureaucracy. Yo, New York, California, you got that?

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Journeyman

"In the Great North Woods," having been trimmed from 42,000 words to a mean and paltry 24,300th, has been resubmitted to Analog. It's fate lies in the balance.

Meanwhile, the Dialogue on the Inner World System, a spare 2900 word fact article has been reviewed and is nearly ready to be sent off to do or die.

And TOF in an uncontrollably whimsical moment, has converted some opening paragraphs in "Nexux" into a sestina. Or part of a sestina. These might not be quite the right six words on which to build. The first sestet, so far runs thusly:
Alien life, we are told, would be unlike our own;
True enough for trivia: for species, body, form,
Or appetites and senses nameless to ourselves.
(What lusts do bats endure when squeaks they place,
What pleasures from the echoes they receive?)
Our human mind can't see what bats survey.
But TOF has not reviewed syllable counts and such fine tweakings; nor is he happy with "ourselves," which is a difficult word to place in the following sestets. He has not thought to replace it with "...nameless to our soul." because he thinks he can work soul into the others sestets more easily. "Survey" may also prove a problem.