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Monthly Archives: December 2010

Arcadia Publishing

One of the most useful series of books to see publication in recent years is “Images of America” from Arcadia Publishing. This is a huge series of book and quality cannot be guaranteed across all volumes but I have been generally well pleased with all the books I’ve purchased. Currently running to several hundred titles the volumes in this series are generally written by local authors with a serious interest in the area they are discussing. With such a level of passion about the subject the writer collects period photographs and connects these well captioned pictures with useful text. These books give a great introductory view on the subject matter. With a series as wide ranging as this there is something for everyone with an interest in American history. There are titles on US army posts and forts, naval bases and ship yards, cities, towns, amusement parks and fire departments. The photos are generally well selected and often have artistic merit on their own.

As a concrete example of the usefulness of these books to a writer of historical fiction or gaming material I’ll just mention three volumes I’ve used to help flesh out St Louis and the activities of James Eads’ aerolyth flyer construction company there. Eads historically was linked to Carondelet Missouri, which was a town just south of St Louis City proper. His Union Iron Works built ironclad river gunboats for the United States Navy during the Civil War. The Carondelet book by John and Silvia Wright had numerous pictures and maps from this period well into the 1950s. I selected Carondelet as the seat of Eads growing airship yards and this volume provided all the information I needed for that aspect of my research.

The United States Army is one of Eads’ customers and there was an arsenal in St Louis at that time, St. Louis Arsenal: Armory of the West by Randy McGuire supplied all the information I needed to integrate the operations at that facility with those of Eads to detail the shops and operations the Army would provide to complete their military fliers. On a personal note my father was an employee at the Arsenal site during its period as the U. S. Air Force’s cartographic center and was dean of the cartography school there. He often spoke of the sites history and I believe he would have been well pleased with this book. The author of the volume is the site historian at the Arsenal

Just to add a bit of whimsy to the setting I included a flying fire boat, built by Eads and given to the City of St Louis Fire Department in the 1870s (just in time for the Great Chicago Fire). Frank C. Schaper, Betty Burnett book The St Louis Fire Department gave me a quick but effective look into the service at that time period and supplied a historical figure for which the boat would be named. On an additional personal note it was my pleasure to work with Chief Schaper after he retired from the St Louis Fire Department.

These three books give a good idea of the level of passion the writers exhibit. In at least two of the three books I used the authors had direct experience with the areas they were describing. They were able to bring that passion to the pages effectively. If you using a historical locale in the US for your setting I recommend finding titles from this series written about that area. They are inexpensive, offer good graphic content in the form of maps and pictures and are generally written by people with a deep interest in the subject. For the money these volumes are hard to beat.

Mega Minis Review

This review is a bit late. I got these figures several months ago and just haven’t taken the time to write the review.

First service was excellent. I even had to make a special order to get the number of figures I wanted and the folks at Mega Miniatures were most accommodating! Their pricing is very good and their shipping times short.

I initially ordered an assortment of figures from a couple of their lines. I Picked up some ground sloths and Chalicotherium from the animals line and a Bloodsucking Demon and a Night Creature from the Monsters line. All the figs were well cast. I liked the Chalicotherium so much I ordered another 50, so i could mount a regiment upon them for use with The Hive and the Flame, since some Venusian heavy cavalry is mounted on giant ground sloths. The 25mm Chalicotherium make really nice 15mm Megatherium or ground sloths. the Bloodsucking Demon is fairly large in 15mm but might suffice as a Supra Major bug of some sort. The Night Creature is extremely creepy and would be a great addition to any world that needs scary fauna. They also have a number of giant insects that could do service during The Hive War as various workers or warriors. These include scorpions, ladybugs and ants. The flies probably won’t be of much use but the other three can either stand in for any number of castes or can be modified into specific types of Hive members.

I really recommend that folks look into Mega Minis if they need affordable figs that will look good on the tabletop.

Terry Sofian

Weekly Summary December 17th

Another active week
I finally floated a short description of The First and there was a bit of discussion about them. Comments were mixed about the need for them.
The FAQ got a few questions answered and a couple more asked. This still needs a lot of work.
I asked if a ship size comparison illustration, showing some historical vessels and aerolyth ships might be worth having and folks said yes to that.
The topic of a peerage for Brunel resurfaced and Torquay was suggested. I like this and we’ll go with that. Baron Brunel of Torquay
One of the FAQs was about gravity on spacecraft. In HQC there is no artificial gravity, except that provided by acceleration, such as in a spinning habitat ring aboard a station or ship
The concept of a flying pickup truck using aerolyth was mentioned and Arun did a quick sketch design, it would be expensive but not out of reach for a really prosperous farmer
A thread about parachutes somehow evolved into one about period songs and has been very active with a number of lyrics being written specific to HQC, so now we have HQC filk!
The effects of weapons being fired from and at aerolyth vessels was discussed with issues of recoil and the ability of fragments to penetrate armor being at issue
From discussion it appears that lizardmen are extremely popular and I should make every effort to find places for them on Earth or Venus
Finally social unrest has raised its ugly head and the poor conditions of the working class may lead to upheaval and revolution!

Yahoo Group Weekly Summary

Again another very active week
One of the most important topics was the development of an FAQ for the setting and everything within it. A good list of questions was started, if anyone wishes to take a stab at answering some of them that would be great!
The size of a rifle round needed to hunt various animals was discussed.
The populations of humans and Oonaliss in various locations, including the Europan Oonaliss colony were debated. Venus has about a quarter of the human population of Earth during this period. The Oonaliss colony on Europa may have grown to several billion before they attack in 1920.

The Europans themselves have come under discussion, with our first attempts to determine their social structure and technological levels

The Europans have been linked to widespread use of robotics as understood in OTL. It appears they have been sending robotic probes into the inner solar system for some time, this may mean they have combat robots as well.

Small arms were discussed and the use of Venusian springs became an important sub topic

The development of an RPG campaign became fodder in the club as well with folks throwing ideas for getting the Player characters together for their first adventure

The nuts and bolts of aerolyth aircraft have are getting more detailed. The structure of the panel arrays and even some ideas on how they would be maintained have been proposed. The idea of standardized craft, perhaps pre-built and then shipped to Venus or Mars by mail order has been broached and Arun has drawn up a sketch design.

Arts, both martial and creative in the various human cultures of Venus and Mars have been discussed.

This week has also seen a large number of links presented

Teslacon Review by Shannon Sofian

Sorry it’s late.

Having just returned from Teslacon in Madison, WI, I can say it was an
amazing ride!

There were SO many fantastic things about this con, from all the
little details that make up a good immersion experience (passports
instead of badges, being announced at the ball, the service in the tea
room), to the grand events that entirely blew me away.

Some of my favorite memories:

– The Elegant Wonderland Rococo Salon on Friday Night – what can I say
about this? Elegant petit fours, champagne, excellent beer from local
brewery Ale Asylum, hilarity with multiple new friends, etc. etc. We
shut the room down at 130am and would have stayed longer!

Eli August Performance on Friday Night – I’ve been following Eli
August since the Fermata days and looked forward to seeing a live
performance. They didn’t disappoint. Wonderful, wonderful and FUN set.
Serious THRASHING on the upright bass by Mike Darnell. Also, the
nicest people ever. Glad they were selling CDs there and they appeared
to sell quite a few.

Entering the con for registration – we didn’t just walk up to a table.
Oh no, we arrived in grand fashion to the sounds of an airship depot
with voice overs making announcements and such.

The Opening Ceremonies – there was an interactive mystery that carried
through the entire weekend. It began at the Opening ceremony and was
quite interesting to follow. Again, AMAZING job on the sound
engineering for the whole immersion experience! First con I’ve ever
attended that had its own opening credits.

The Grand Ball on Saturday – Oh my. SO many spectacular gowns! Check
out my pics for just some of the highlights. Also, a pivotal scene in
the mystery.

Scarring Party performance on Saturday – Scarring Party are another
band I’ve loved and they were awesome live! Alot of people got out
there dancing to them.

The DJ – Don’t know his name, but he’s one of Eric Larson (the founder
and director of Teslacon) students. He took steamy music and mixed it
for amazing steampunk techno. I told Eric I’d buy the CD if he made

LOTs of fun conversations, meeting new and old friends, great and
interesting panels, etc.

All in all, a wonderful time and the best dressed con I’ve ever
attended. Because it was an immersion con, EVERYONE was wearing some
sort of garb, which led to mucho photo ops.

So without further ado, my photos from Teslacon 2010


Weekly Yahoo Group Summary

The list continues to be extremely active and posts have covered a number of topics.

The discussion of the front cover has begun to center on what sort of beastie is menacing the humans and has spawned several topics concerning scary animals on Venus. Anything that looks like a T-Rex is right out, which is sad since the apex predator on Equatoria is a bipedal crocodilian.

The ships and navigational systems of the Sea Kings have been discussed. The navigational system allows the Sea Kings to travel at night and to cross the deep oceans. Aerolyth may interact with this and cause issues but the devices may also be able to detect aerolyth vessels.

Several threads about small arms have developed including one about grenade launchers for the Sea Kings and another about weapons for the Oonaliss

The populations of the regional human groups in Western Equatoria was discussed, which brought up comments about the low population density on Venus compared to Earth (there are less than 1/4 the number of Venusian Humans compared to Earth Humans in 1890)