Sunday, July 5, 2020


A Declaration in the Shadow of Defeat


“The cause of America is in great measure the cause of all mankind,” wrote Thomas Paine. “The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth.” In the last days of 1775, the jubilation stirred by American heroics at Lexington and Concord, and Bunker Hill faded into harsh winter. The American invasion against the British in Canada met with failure beneath the walls of Quebec City when General Richard Montgomery, who had successfully taken Fort St. Johns and Montreal, was killed; Benedict Arnold wounded; and Daniel Morgan taken prisoner by the redcoats. British armies stood poised to invade New York through the Champlain valley, and from the sea. The president of the Continental Congress reported, “Our Affairs are hastening to a Crisis and the approaching campaign will in all probability determine forever the fate of America.” Such was the impending crisis which led to the Declaration of Independence.

In the wake of the disaster at Quebec, Thomas Paine published Common Sense. Paine renounced reconciliation with Great Britain and its tyrant king. He expounded upon the case for independence, the “bounteous change that would be to the benefit of generations yet unborn.” Paine’s pamphlet became the talk of the colonies, and the Continental Congress heard that talk. Word that King George sought German mercenaries with which to impose his will on America, and the terms of the American Prohibitory Act—another retaliatory measure designed to cutoff trade, shut down business, and endanger American shipping—augmented the voices for independence. Congress quickly came to an agreement with a French firm to provide oil, tobacco, and other provisions in exchange for arms and ammunition. The loss of significant portions of two armies enlarged the need for French supplies, French shipping, and French aid—none of which could be expected if a reconciliation with Britain remained a possibility. Congress had to declare independence in order to remain in the war.

In June Richard Henry Lee introduced in Congress a resolution declaring in favor of independence. While many of the colonies clamored for independence, others had not yet embraced that extremity. Congress recessed, appointing a committee to draft a declaration of independence. Jefferson completed the primary draft of the document—the statement of the American Cause. Although many expressions within the declaration can be traced to James Harrington’s Oceana, and John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government, the sentiment sprang from the recognition that government exists to serve the needs of the people, rather than that the people exists to serve the whims of the government.

When Congress reconvened to discuss the declaration, John Dickinson rose and spoke for two hours in favor of reconciliation. He warned against bringing France into the war, and favored the protection of Great Britain for prosperity and security. John Adams began a lengthy response, during which a storm of thunder and lightning rolled through Philadelphia. Accompanied by crashes of thunder, Adams declared for independence. He emphasized the necessity of foreign assistance for victory—and which would not be forthcoming without a separation from England. Nearly every member of Congress spoke upon the subject. While the delegates spoke, Howe’s ships approached the coast of New York. The New York legislature packed up at Howe’s approach, leaving its congressional delegates without direction on how to vote on the matter of independence. The remaining twelve colonies voted unanimously for independence. Nevertheless, a number of the individual delegates voted against independence. Dickinson resigned after the vote.
Congress soon approved the Declaration of Independence after making numerous changes to Jefferson’s draft. John Adams wrote to his wife that the acceptance of the Declaration of Independence “will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great Anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp, shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time forward forever.” Of course Adams knew that the nation would pay a steep cost in blood and toil to maintain the Declaration; he saw beyond the immediate difficulties. “[T]hrough all the gloom, I can see the rays of light and glory; I can see that the end is more than worth all the means, and that posterity will triumph…” Perhaps once source of Adams’ optimism springs from the inspiring words of the document itself and the aspirations of the American Cause they proclaim:
 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…
Abraham Lincoln referred to the Declaration of Independence as words “fitly spoken,” an “apple of gold” which the Constitution was designed to protect. The ideals of the Declaration--the American Cause--were truly revolutionary in an age of kings and princes. Those principles remain the foundation of our liberty, the principles for which our forefathers pledged their blood, treasure and sacred honor.


Sunday, June 28, 2020


After finishing the paperback formatting, I needed a treat. I invited myself to watch a Combat! episode during the week. Here's the recap.


Combat!

Season 1 Episode 14:”The Medal”
Written by Richard Maibaum. Directed by Paul Stanley.
The episode opens with a view through binoculars (see picture above). Cut to the squad and Hanley behind a stone wall. They’re cutting through to reach the highway near Corbeil (or somewhere that sounds like it). The Germans are at some town, Malon, three miles further east. Cut to the episode’s NPCs  guest players, not mere NPCs—they joined for an evening of gaming after having heard about all the fun Saunders and the gang have been having. It looks like Frank Gorshin--.


(with much less makeup that he had in that Star Trek episode which ranks among the least rewatchable on my list)—and Joseph Campanella.

Freddy (Gorshin) has a blister. Vince (Campanella) is a married man with a child. Saunders interrupts the chatting men to tell them to get up and move out. The squad goes over the broken wall, moving forward to ominous music. There’s a tank under camouflage! And German soldiers! It looks like an ambush!

Roll the opening credits. Cue the bayonets and helmets. (I must admit that Combat! has one of the best and most memorable opening credits ever – I’ve probably mentioned it before, but it’s been a while since I treated myself to one of these episodes).



The tank opens fire, but the soldiers remain hidden. The squad makes a saving throw against shrapnel damage – getting double nines (I use 2d10s in this game) for the successful save as they all scramble for cover. When the tank cruelly murders a tree without any provocation, Hanley orders the squad back to the wall. The MG atop the tank delivers a series of dots and gashes to a fleeing American. The rest make it back to the wall (which now looks like a prop covered with a painted cloth where Saunders rolls over it). Except Vince and Freddy are in a shell hole—they didn’t get back to the wall. Saunders is asking Hanley what they’re going to do now. (The DM tells them to go into the kitchen and find some snacks while he plays out the next bit with Vince and Freddy).


Vince tells Freddy they can take out the tank. Freddy rolls successfully to disbelieve—and tries to get Vince to shrug-off the crazy—but Vince is new to the game and wants to get into the action—as in action hero time. He crawls along a ditch with a small stream of water in it. Freddy discards his initial good sense to instead embrace a fear of missing out on the massive XPs offered by the prospect of taking out an enemy tank.

Vince crawls from beneath a bridge and gets the exposed gunner on the tank in his sights. Bang! Vince expedites a missive of HP depletion—taking out the gunner. He follows by running to the tank and dropping a little pineapple of destruction inside—a tasty treat that fills the vehicle with fun-sized shrapnel, and fills the occupants with perforations as they fail their saving throws. Now the German soldiers rush from cover, just in time for Vince to test his captured MG skill rating.


Vince discovers a secret talent for mowing down Germans who rush toward him in the open. (It’s at this point I’m thinking that Vince isn’t going to make it to the closing credits, and Freddy is going to get the accolades for Vince’s foolish bravery).


Yep. I was right. A German with a Luger flanks Vince and drops him with a single shot. The Germans gather round as Luger-man is about to give Vince the coup de lead poisoning. The Americans attack before Luger-man delivers the second shot. The Germans abandon the tank and rush to who-knows-where. (So maybe Vince didn’t lose all his hit points). Cut to Freddy crawling from beneath the little bridge across the ditch. Vince moves! Freddy runs to him. Freddy mounts the tank in a rage, and opens up with the machine gun, spraying an apparently empty battlefield until he’s out of bullets or the gun jambs, and he collapses over the piece. (The rest of the gang has brought the snacks from the kitchen and they rejoin the game). The the squad runs up. There aren’t any live Germans in the field, only the many corpses created by Vince’s turn at the MG.


Cage pulls Freddy off the gun and down from the tank. Everyone believes Freddy killed all those Germans. They move to a farmhouse. Vince remains unconscious.

Hanley tells Saunders the unit needs a moral boost. He reads a notice he has been given about awards and decorations being awarded promptly and on an equitable basis. Saunders responds, “So?”
Hanley is putting Freddy in for a silver star. Saunders doesn’t believe it’s fair to pick one man out above the rest. Hanley thinks the tank and 17 dead Germans warrant recognition for Freddy—and has Freddy join him and Saunders. When Freddy gets the drift, he protests that he didn’t do anything to deserve a silver star, but is interrupted by news that Vince is conscious. Vince calls for Freddy, and the DM has Vince roll for recovery or death: a 3 and a 4. It’s not looking good for Vince. The DM allows him to roll for a last chance at survival using the heroic point he acquired in his earlier action: a 2 and a 3. Perhaps he can deliver some important last words: a 1 and a 2. No survival. No final words.

Vince, now dead and out of the game, complains that this game stinks. How can he just die like that? This game isn’t fun! He’s never going to play again. He storms out. He’s also the ride home for Freddy and one of the other guys. The DM calls it a night. They’ll pick up next week from that point.

When the game restarts, its chow time the next day. Freddy and the rest of the squad are there. The DM gives Saunders some letters. There’s one for Vince, which Saunder’s pockets, and another he gives to Freddy. Freddy goes off alone to read the letter. He wads it up, and takes a photo out of his pocket. Freddy tears the picture in half and throws it to the ground. Cage, on picket duty, observes Freddy. Cage picks up the two halves of the photo. He figures it was a Dear John letter and attempts to ease Freddy’s feelings—Freddy rolls a 7, and remains uncomforted.

Freddy goes to see Hanley and Saunders. He’s ready to tell them about what happened. He tells the story, taking credit for Vince’s heroics—no point in letting all those XPs go to waste. While Hanley’s out on a radio call, Saunders and Freddy have a brief discussion. When Hanley returns, they have to move out.

Cut to the squad moving through a shelled town, and blasting open a hole in a barbed wire obstacle in the street. A German in the wine shop begins firing as Hanley goes forward. Freddy goes to Hanley’s side—he can’t have his ticket writer to a silver star getting his ticket punched.


The German gets away. Hanley reminds Freddy not to be foolish, “What good is a medal if a guy’s not around to collect it?”—which might have been what Freddy had already considered with regard to Vince.

Cut to night in another destroyed French town--Malon. Hanley’s on the radio saying that the Germans have pulled out. When Freddy comes in, it is apparent that he has missed the fighting. He claims he came up the wrong trench and by the time he got to the right place, everyone had gone, so he went with some guys from another platoon. Caje, whose main task this session seems to be to intrude with news, says that a prisoner who speaks English has been taken. I’m thinking, odds are good that the prisoner is going to be Luger-man who shot Vince. It is.


The prisoner says, “It’s no disgrace to be taken by men of the 361st,” because just two days earlier, he lost a tank and half his platoon (Here it comes. I knew it.) But it doesn’t. The Nazi doesn’t rat out Freddy. He says Freddy would receive the Iron Cross in the German army. Hanley says he’ll only get a little silver star in this army. Nevertheless, we know that both the German and Freddy know that the other knows the truth—if you know what I mean.

So Hanley has Saunders take the prisoner back to headquarters—with Freddy to help in case they run into trouble. (My money says they’ll run into trouble with Freddy either killing the German to keep his falsehood safe, or failing a morale check in a way that puts Saunders wise to the lie, or the third option being that Freddy will have to act in a way that would actually earn him the star).

While Saunders is scouting out a path through the town, Freddy and the prisoner are alone in an abandoned building. The German slyly notes that Freddy was taller 2 days ago. The German is pressing Freddy to let him escape to protect his heroic story. Meanwhile, Saunders rolls on the wandering monsters table and turns up 3 German soldiers approaching. The soldiers turn away before seeing him, and Saunders goes back to Freddy and the prisoner—in time to overhear (thanks to his high sneak rating) the plotting through the closed door. Saunders enters. Now he knows about Freddy, but there’s a German patrol out there to worry about. After he tells Freddy, “You turn my stomach,” the prisoner makes a break and gets out of the building. Freddy, even with the negative modifiers for a moving target in the dark, puts a couple slugs through the rear of the fugitive’s hit point basket, dropping him in the street. Saunders says, “That takes care of him. What about me?”

The shots have attracted the German patrol like looters to an electronics store. Combat ensues. Freddy finally gets a chance to fire a weapon at targets that shoot back. The Germans make little to no use of the available cover. Saunders jots down that fact of it with burst from his Thompson upon the uniform of one of the Germans—one down. One of the other wandering Nazis fires and brings down a boutique sign above Saunders. The sign knocks the Sgt. to the ground and into the barbed wire. (Here it comes. Freddy is going to have to get his hero on, or Saunders is going to get permanently demoted to corpse).

Freddy’s natural instincts click in as he fails the morale check. Fortunately, the DM reminds him that it takes three consecutive failures to flee the field in this game. While his first throw was a failure, causing him to retreat a short distance, his second roll found the mark. While Saunders screams like a cat in a blender, Freddy races back toward the action—and he’s all out of bubble gum (see They Live, 1988, if you don’t get that one). He rushes to Saunders and takes up the Thompson. He sprays just enough from the Thompson to give the nearest German that freshly dead scent. He begins cutting Saunders from the wire, but there’s another German out there.

The German has revenge best served with a potato masher grenade on his menu, and tosses the dish to the two Americans. Freddy rejects the offering and tries to send it back.


The grenade blows as he throws it. Freddy goes down with one arm injured. He seizes the Thompson while the German rolls an activation failure and fumbles with his Mauser. Freddy gets a reaction roll and beats him to the draw, sending a tip to the waiter in hot lead. The German falls. Freddy cuts the Sgt. loose and they run. Another German appears and conveys his feeling with a rifle shot. It misses.

Saunders and Freddy make it back to Hanley and the squad. Freddy must’ve been more seriously wounded than he appeared. He faints as Saunders thanks him for pulling him out of the wire. Doc says Freddy will be all right, but that arm won’t be much use. Before the medics carry him out, Freddy comes clean about Vince’s heroics at the tank, and wants the medal to go to Vince’s family. As the jeep with Freddy drives away, Saunders asks, “What makes heroes, Lieutenant?” Hanley replies, “You tell me, Sergeant. You tell me.”

Conclusion:
Once more I didn’t get to hear any French. We saw little of the squad other than Hanley and Saunders. Campanella didn’t last long. We did get some combat and plenty of machinegun fire. The Germans made poor use of their tactical advantages, letting the players off easy for the most part. It wasn't a great episode, but wasn’t a bad episode. I give it three-to three-and-a-half out of five bayonets. The stolen valor was returned and Freddy got to redeem himself and save Saunders—that's probably why I rated it as highly as I did, even though there was no French (except on the signs) and the combat wasn't great, and the interaction among the regulars was practically nonexistent. Saunders screaming in a barbed wire sari has to be worth a star all by itself.

***

https://www.amazon.com/Tomahawks-Dragon-Fire-3-Book/dp/B08BLQDYJB/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=stanley+wheeler&qid=1593394246&sr=8-3

Sunday, June 21, 2020


All three books in the first trilogy are available for only $0.99 cents each for a limited time.


Here are links to each:

Threading the Rude Eye -- Available as an ebook and in paperback.

Power to Hurt -- Available as an ebook and in paperback.

Clamorous Harbingers--Available as an ebook - and coming soon in paperback.

Each title comes from something Shakespeare wrote:

Fly, noble English; you are bought and sold.
Unthread the rude eye of rebellion
And welcome home again discarded faith.
(King John, Act 5, Scene 4)
They that have power to hurt and will do none,
That do not do the thing they most do show,
Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,
Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow:
(Shakespeare – Sonnet 94)

Make all our trumpets speak; give them all breath,
Those clamorous harbingers of blood and death.

(Macbeth Act V Scene 6)


My efforts now are directed to getting Clamorous Harbingers ready in paperback.

Sunday, June 14, 2020



For Flag Day, allow me to quote myself from Dec. 28, 2017:

"For a few minutes, the audience and players, home and away, are united in reverence and respect for the sacrifices of those who brought forth a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, for the brave whose sacrifices have hallowed the cause; we add our devotion to the proposition, with knowledge of past imperfections, but with a desire to preserve this more perfect union." 

When we honor the flag, we honor the nation, its founders, and those who have sacrificed their blood and treasure to protect it. While some prefer to focus upon shortcomings and injustice, both real and imagined, I suggest a recollection and return to the principles of the protection of life, liberty, and property upon which this republic was founded. Theodore Roosevelt said that a successful republic must combine intensity of conviction with broad tolerance for a difference of conviction. He argued, "Bitter internecine hatreds, based on such differences, are signs, not of earnestness of belief, but of that fanaticism which, whether religious or anti-religious, democratic or anti-democratic, is itself a manifestation of the gloomy bigotry which has been the chief factor in the downfall of so many, many nations."

Roosevelt went on to explain that protesters who cannot show love for their own nation because they claim to be citizens of the world, are usually undesirable citizens where ever they may be found. He submitted that anyone who can view his own nation with the same tepid indifference with which he views all other nations is not worthy of trust. That was 110 years go, and it still holds true today. 

***
Fun Facts:
When General Gage sent his combination of light infantry and grenadiers (the elite of his army) after Hancock and Adams in Lexington, and the store of arms and powder at Concord, Dr. Joseph Warren (a fictionalized version of whom appears in Threading the Rude Eye) sent off Paul Revere and William Dawes to alert the countryside. Revere crossed the river to Charleston. Dawes traveled up the Boston Neck peninsula and the two met in Lexington. They persuaded Hancock and Adams to leave, before heading for Concord with a third rider, Samuel Prescott who was returning to his home. A British patrol captured Revere, seizing his horse's bridle, and putting they guns to his chest, but Prescott broke free and rode on. Dawes was thrown from his horse; he returned to Lexington on foot. Prescott alone reached Concord to alert the town. Local riders from Lexington and Concord roused the nearby areas.

Gage's troops were delayed by hours because the navy had not provided enough boats to transport them across the Charles River. An advance guard of 238 British soldiers  arrived at dawn in Lexington. Captain John Parker, a 46 year-old farmer and about 60 militiamen--dairy farmers and craftsmen--met them in the village green. 53 year old Major John Pitcairn (a fictionalized version of whom also appears in Threading the Rude Eye) saw the militia as a ragged collection of troublemakers. Pitcairn ordered the militia to lay down their arms. Parker commanded his men to step aside. 

Someone fired. At this time, no one knows who fired the "shot that was heard around the world." Immediately, anxious men on both sides fired. Most of the militiamen broke and ran. Several were shot down. Some of those were bayoneted where they lay. Eight were killed and nine wounded within one minute. One British soldier was wounded. The British searched the town for Hancock and Adams. Not finding either man, the soldiers started for Concord at about 9:oo o'clock. 

***

Clamorous Harbingers is on the final proof with ten chapters left. It is possible that it will go live by the end of the week -- but no promises. In the meantime, get started on Threading the Rude Eye, and Power to Hurt. Look into the column at the left for the links to the books. My feedback this week from a reader of Threading the Rude Eye: "This book is great!...Riveting!"

Sunday, June 7, 2020




I had some pithy thoughts that produced a witty phrase. I didn't write it down. I can't remember what it was. I know it wasn't, "Nobody is interested in your politics when you're coming through the broken window with your arms wrapped around a flat screen TV." I read that--or something like it--somewhere else. If I remember correctly, my thoughts had to do with the irony that protests against the lock down were discouraged and law enforcement was to enforce lock down and social distancing restrictions, and curfews were strictly enforced for reasons of public health, but mass protests and gatherings nominally against police brutality are encouraged and should not be obstructed in any way. While people trying to run business and support themselves and their employees were arrested and jailed, rioters and looters run amok with impunity. Funeral gatherings are restricted, and church services are prohibited for reasons of public health--except for a service for a victim of police brutality.



The mask has come off. The public safety wizards have been revealed as horses of a different color. The flying monkeys of social justice have irreparably damaged property, businesses and human life in their frenzy of destruction. We've seen the man behind the curtain and his name is The Great and Powerful Political Agenda. He's a humbug and a very bad man. Let's use our brains as well as our hearts, find our courage, click our heels together, and get back to Kansas. End the farce and march America toward the principles of freedom and liberty upon which it was founded. Back to work. Back to the protection of property, and economic and social freedom.

I've also been intrigued by the idea that some cities plan to disband their police forces. That's a proposal to throw the baby out with the bathwater--along with the tub, and burn the whole house down. There are endless terrible potential outcomes from that course. The very best that could come of such action would be:


Here endeth the rant.

***

Enough belaboring the obvious. I've got other dead horses to beat.

Clamorous Harbingers is finished at 124,000 words and change. I've proofed it once. I will proof it again before I make it available on Amazon. I still have to come up with the book description.

***

Fun Fact: 
By early 1775, militiamen were training in many of the colonies. Charles Lee, in a rebuttal to many who warned against war with Britain, called the redcoats "the refuse of an exhausted nation." He insisted that Americans "are accustomed from their infancy to fire arms," as well as being skilled with spades, pickaxes, hatchets, etc. Thomas Jefferson wrote at the time, "[F]ear ... is not an American art." The British leadership decided upon war. Nevertheless, the ministry did adopt the North Peace Plan, which would have abandoned parliamentary taxation of America in return for a pledge that the colonies would raise the revenue to meet their own defense and other governmental responsibilities. However, London would decide the amount of revenue with quotas assigned for each colony. The colonies would only get to decide the kind of taxes to impose upon themselves. The plan's purpose was to divide the Americans. While preparing the plan for the public, Lord North sent 3,500 more troops to the colonies, and directed General Gage to use vigorous force to seize the leaders behind the Massachusetts protest. Many dissenters in Britain argued against hostilities. General Gage warned that armed rebellion could only be suppressed by a very respectable force of regulars, and he requested significant reinforcements.

On April 19, 1775, Gage began a plan with two objectives. He sent troops to capture John Hancock and Samuel Adams who were thought to be in Lexington, and which would then continue to Concord to destroy stocks of rebel weapons and powder. He expected to have his troops back in Boston by noon.

Sunday, May 31, 2020



Fun Facts: Pressed by the Coercive Acts (see last week's post), the colonies took action. One of the actions was the gathering of delegates for the First Continental Congress which met September 5, 1774, in Philadelphia. Each colony, except Georgia, sent delegates. George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, and Patrick Henry were among the delegates in attendance from Virginia. One of the proposals discussed was A Plan of Union of Great Britain and the Colonies, which provided for a popularly elected Grand Council which would've been the equivalent to the English Parliament, and a President General appointed by the crown. Even at that time, some of the delegates favored independence rather than simple legislative equality with England.

The congress organized a boycott against British goods, and petitioned King George III for redress. The congress resolved to reconvene in May 1775 if the response from England was not favorable.

England responded to the boycott with the New England Restraining Act which forbade the colonies from trading with anyone other than Britain and the West Indies, and prohibited colonial ships from the North Atlantic fisheries. The petition to the king was as equally well received.

When the congress reconvened in May 1775, the Revolutionary War had already begun.


Cover Reveal:



Having finished the writing and having very nearly completed the proofing, it's quite possible that this e-book will be available next week. The hard copy will take a little more time to format. The third book in the trilogy will end the first part of the saga which is set during the Revolutionary War. Most of the action in the second and third books takes place in the wilderness away from the major military battles. Small skirmishes, battling dragons, magic, gryphons, and more bad guys like that one on the cover carry this part of the story on the way to the surprising conclusion.

You should pick up the first two books, Threading the Rude Eye, and Power to Hurt--get them now. If you would like a free review copy, let me know in the comments.

***

I finished reading Andre Norton's Star Born this week. I know that I had read something by her when I was a kid and I didn't like it--and hadn't read anything by her since. I shouldn't have judged all her work by that one book--whatever it was. I enjoyed Star Born. I'm not going to rehash the story for you. You can read it yourself. It's free on Amazon.

While you're at Amazon, pick up Manly Wade Wellman's The Golgotha Dancers. It's a short, quick read that seems like it should be a Night Gallery episode. It's a quick read--and it's also free.

I'm interested in reading Wellman's "A Star for a Warrior," for which he won the Ellery Queen Award, and which caused Faulkner get bent out of shape that his entry did not win because he was a true literary author while Wellman was not. I haven't found the story anywhere yet.




Sunday, May 24, 2020

"Witch hunts are really only obnoxious for the witches."

"Canada is America's hat."

These were two of the comments I overheard yesterday during a game of Apples to Apples. I take no responsibility for, nor do I endorse the comments, but I did find them entertaining.

Fun Fact: The British, having utterly failed to understand the position of the American colonists, decided that the best answer to the Boston Tea Party was the adoption of the Coercive Acts aimed at punishing Boston and Massachusetts. The Coercive Acts closed Boston Harbor until the damages for the loss of the tea were repaid, restricted Massachusetts' town meetings and made the governor's council an appointed body, made British officials immune from prosecution in Massachusetts, required colonists to house and quarter British troops on demand, and also extended freedom of worship to Catholics in Canada and allowed the continuation of their judicial system.

If the British thought the Coercive Acts would isolate Boston and Massachusetts from the rest of the colonies and prevent the fomenting of unified resistance to British rule, they should have thought again. The colonies sent supplies to Boston, formed committees of correspondence, sent delegates to the First Continental Congress, and mobilized resistance to the crown. Parliament's actions succeeded in pushing the colonists toward rebellion rather than reconciliation.

The drawing above, illustrates the perception of the Coercive Acts -- forcing the colonies, represented by the native woman, to drink the tea.

***

I endeavored to finish writing Clamorous Harbingers, book three of the Tomahawks and Dragon Fire trilogy. I completed the draft on Friday night -- except for the paragraph or two I remembered that I needed to add after I went to bed, which I did add on Saturday. I could go on about how fabulous the trilogy is, and how fabulous is the book which ends this first part of the saga, but modesty restrains me. Now it's time for the editing. It shouldn't take long.

Oh--I just saw an actor in a role who reminded me of the commander in Tomahawks and Dragon Fire.


It's Brian Thompson in Dragonheart (1996). That is how I pictured the commander's face, complete with the moustache and beard. The only thing missing is the silver, rune-marked cylinder at the end of his beard.

***
I finished this book last week, or maybe it was the week before. It was on sale for cheap, maybe even free--I don't remember which. It's currently priced at $4.99, and the rest of the books in the series are $8.99 each.


I can see why Harlan Ellison once called Dan Simmons the best writer in the room. Hyperion, the first book in the 4 book Hyperion Cantos, could be described as--or rather, this is my shorthand description for it--The Canterbury Tales meets Keats and The Wizard of Oz in space. Dan Simmons has won several awards for his work, and this book was a Hugo Award winner. As you might expect, Simmons' writing is very nearly flawless. He shows a lot without revealing too much. Canterbury Tales' style, the characters in this epic take turns telling their own stories as they journey on a pilgrimage to The Shrine or Temple of the Shrike, near the Time Tombs on the planet Hyperion--which is named after Keats' unfinished poem. Time is a critical element in the story. One character's child is involved in a strange occurrence at the Time Tombs, and begins to age backwards. Another character has strange encounters with a warrior woman traveling through time. Travel by spaceship creates unusual time hitches in the aging process, such that some characters can be hundreds of years old in actual time, whereas their real age is much less. It's all very complicated. Religion is another significant theme. There's a priest, and a Jew who has lost his faith, and the whole religion of the Shrike complication. In addition to all of this, formidable enemies from outside threaten to attack, and one of the pilgrims is also a spy.

The book is long. long. long. I actually stopped about 60% through and read a couple different books to cleanse my palette, having grown fatigued with the story. One of the characters, a poet, is so obnoxious and foul-mouthed, that I could not stand to read his story. I may have skimmed part of that particular recitation. That may have been the primary reason that I needed a break from it before I could tackle it once more. Finally, the book ends without the completion of the journey. I shouldn't really complain about that, as I've done similar endings in my series. However, with a book of this length, I expected an ending more satisfying than what I got.

I have to conclude that Dan Simmons is a superlative writer -- and there are not many to whom I give that sort of praise. However, Hyperion wasn't a dish to my taste. I can't see myself resuming the tale. While I am curious about the further development of the story, the characters, and what may happen at the Temple of the Shrike, I didn't enjoy the experience sufficiently to want to invest in the remaining books.