“Riding the Red Horse” is out

Step right up for my first SF sale, the lead story in Riding The Red Horse. That’s the Amazon link; it’s also available as DRM-free epub direct from Castalia.

Also included, my nonfiction analysis of the effect of battlefield lasers on military airpower, a development likely to transform warfare in the coming century as radically as the deployment of automatic weapons did around the beginning of the last one.

73 thoughts on ““Riding the Red Horse” is out

  1. Congratulations on getting to be the opener! ñ_ñ

    I’ve never bought an ebook, so let me get this straight: if I purchase the epub version, I don’t need an expensive Kindle, but can read it with a simple document viewer such as Evince… right?

  2. I use the free Barned & Noble Nook app to read epubs with, but then I’ve bought a fair number of Nook books, too. There are other epub readers around. Basically, unless you’re reading on a Kindle, you want the epub.

  3. EPUB isn’t listed as a supported document format for evince, unfortunately.

    For Kindle, there are free (beer) apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, and also the web-based Kindle cloud reader.

    My current favorite EPUB reader is Readium, http://readium.org/

    It’s FOSS and there’s a browser extension version for Chrome (which is what I typically use).

    If there’s no DRM involved (which there isn’t in this case, not even on the Kindle book), it’s trivial to use something like Calibre to convert formats back and forth. http://calibre-ebook.com/

    If worst comes to worst, an EPUB file is really just a ZIP that contains all of the text in ordinary HTML files, along with some XML data files that specify the book’s organization and any necessary CSS, fonts, etc. It’s usually quite feasible to just unzip the thing and read it with a regular web browser.

  4. @ Jay Maynard and @ SBP

    Thank you both for your advice. Looks like Calibre can even be used as an ePub viewer. :-)

  5. >If I purchase the epub version, I don’t need an expensive Kindle, but can read it with a simple document viewer such as Evince

    Yes, except you actually want Calibre.

  6. I don’t enjoy using Calibre as a reader, personally. It’s way too sluggish and clunky on my system, and the UI is a dog’s breakfast.

    It’s good for doing conversions, though.

  7. ESR: Yes, except you actually want Calibre.
    SBP: I don’t enjoy using Calibre as a reader, personally.

    Given these conflicting accounts, I’ll have to try it and decide for myself.

    One last question: will there be a paper version?

  8. >One last question: will there be a paper version?

    Possibly, but only if e-book sales signal high demand.

  9. I quite like fbreader for epub/mobi files, and yes, the non-Amazon version will be readable on almost anything. If evince is non-negotiable, you can easily convert it to pdf with Calibre (either from the GUI or by using Calibre’s command-line converter) and read that on evince.

  10. I have to admit that I don’t read much modern SF and have only heard of two of the authors (apart from yourself), but that’s only a result of my not reading so much SF as I used to rather than not liking the genre. But the Amazon review compares some of the stories to (the sadly missed) Tom Clancy, so I’m going to buy the ebook just on the strength of that connection. Hoping that that it referring to the technical detail and plausibility of early Clancy rather than the seriously content-lacking (and rumoured to be ghostwritten) later works with his name on…

  11. >But the Amazon review compares some of the stories to (the sadly missed) Tom Clancy, so I’m going to buy the ebook just on the strength of that connection.

    Funnily enough, I think I wrote the most Tom-Clancyesque story in the anthology. I wasn’t aiming at that effect, it’s just how the result came out.

  12. I bought it direct from Castalia House, and I am 40% into it now. ESR’s story and non-fiction piece are both outstanding, and I urge Eric to write much more fiction. the other articles and stories are so far outstanding. I consider it well worth the $4.99 cost. William S Lind’s collection of columns on 4th Generation War, also available from Castalia and Amazon, are also highly worth reading. Vox Day’s novels in the Quantum Mortis series are great mysteries and great SF

  13. Heh I was just saying got myself, “Self, I wonder if ESR has a review of anything that sounds interesting.” And what do you know here is something interesting.

  14. I won’t comment on whether Eric’s story is the most Clancy-esque story, but it does read like something Clancy could have written.

    I’m going through it now; I want to read Eric’s nonfiction piece before asking him questions…

  15. > >One last question: will there be a paper version?

    > Possibly, but only if e-book sales signal high demand.

    I guess I’m a troglodyte; I wanted a ink-on-slices-of-dead-trees edition.

    Ordered from Amazon; I’ll read it on my “Kindle for Android” app on my phone.

  16. > I guess I’m a troglodyte; I wanted a ink-on-slices-of-dead-trees edition.

    Of course you do, but those cost more to make. Dead tree editions are great for the mass market, but e-publishing of niche works is just sensible.

  17. Very interesting. I’ve purchased the Kindle version.

    If you have a smartphone, you can probably download the cheap-or-free (I’ve forgotten) Kindle app and enjoy Kindle ebooks without having to buy an actual, fairly expensive, Kindle.

    My experience with the iOS Kindle app has been good.

  18. On smartphones I have come to prefer Aldiko (which needs epub) over the Kindle app, because the Kindle app has grown into a monumental resource hog.

  19. ESR, congrats on both your pieces and you definitely deserve the primary slot. I really enjoyed your sea story and it’s hard for me to believe it’s your first fiction. Outstanding job! As for your piece on Battlefield Lasers, that sounds just like conversations and discussions me and fellow officers were having at the Naval Postgraduate School a few years ago when we were dabbling with the early progenitors of this tech. You got it spot on. Kudos!

  20. I use fbreader on both Windows and Android, presumably I would use it on Linux too if I had a non-Android one at hand at the moment. @Jorge I understand never having bought ebooks, but I don’t understand never having pir… acquired one by other means :) For those of us who have a pro-IP view: at the very least free epubs are a good and legal way to load up on classics that went out of copyright long ago. Fbreader comes with some free classics libraries preconfigured, so I used to pass the time on the train by reading old Tarzan novels on the tablet. I wonder if there are libraries for SF classics that went out of copyright in e.g. OPDS catalog format?

  21. >ESR, congrats on both your pieces and you definitely deserve the primary slot. I really enjoyed your sea story and it’s hard for me to believe it’s your first fiction.

    Strictly speaking, first sale rather than first fiction. I’ve written and tried to sell a couple of other short stories before. And I have an unfinished novel in the trunk.

    But I understand when you say it doesn’t read like a first effort. I even think I know why. I’ve been marinating in SF for 40 years; you can’t do that with learning a lot about the idiom. The story construction reflects lessons I long ago internalized from the likes of Robert Heinlein without quite being able to apply at that time. In some important sense Sucker Punch is the voice of that whole tradition finally joining with my individual experience and capabilities. I know to whom my debts are owed.

    Your praise means much to me, as when I am wearing my critic hat I consider you one of the best of the emerging new writers carrying forward the Campbellian tradition we share. But after the explanation I just wrote, perhaps you will see why I don’t find it entirely surprising. I know to whom your debts are owed, too, and it’s pretty much the same writers.

  22. I highly recommend Aldiko for reading EPUB on Android format devices. It’s the first thing I install on a new phone or tablet. Calibre is a very useful program no writer or reader should be without; we use it to produce the DRM-free Kindle-compatible MOBI files we sell on the Castalia store.

    ESR’s “Sucker Punch” was a real surprise. Tom and I didn’t even spend thirty seconds debating which story should take the lead as it was the obvious choice. A very good debut, and as some have noted, very Clancy-esque in the positive sense of Red Storm Rising rather than the later, lesser stuff. And as one reviewer has already noted, “Battlefield Lasers” is literally as current as it is possible for a published piece to be.

    One of my goals from the start was to find contributors who actually know what they’re talking about, whether that is through experience or serious study. We had no interest in people whose knowledge of their topics was second- or third-hand. An true expert, even in a limited field, simply isn’t going to commit the howlers that someone whose entire knowledge of military history comes from reading Starship Troopers will. That’s why you’ll see that the other new writers, like Ben and Tedd, both wrote war stories set in their areas of expertise, journalism and medical science.

    And ESR is absolutely right to observe that the tradition we all share is the Campbellian one. That is the grand SF legacy that the Pink SF/Fers have rejected, and it is the one that Castalia will continue to represent.

    Mr. Bell, there is a very good chance that we will be publishing Riding the Red Horse in casebound hardcover, but that will probably be in 4-6 months as we have a number of other commitments to address first. Our business is built around ebooks, and so digital formats are our priority. But we very much like print editions, we have already released one hardcover, and the initial response to the anthology has been sufficiently positive that I am confident it will be justified.

  23. >Our business is built around ebooks, and so digital formats are our priority. But we very much like print editions, we have already released one hardcover, and the initial response to the anthology has been sufficiently positive that I am confident it will be justified.

    What do the first-day sales look like?

  24. Sales are more good than great so far. But they are good and it’s still quite early; there are only four reviews up and some people planning to post about it have not yet done so. Right now it’s in the top 4k on Amazon, it should get into the top 1k later today.

    More importantly, the reviews have been stellar.

  25. Good news of readers outside the USA and/or not using credit cards nor PayPal: I could simply search for it on amazon.de and could buy it no problems, without a credit card, by using other payment methods more common in Central Europe. This is good.

  26. @ESR I see an interesting connection between your idea that rationality is primarily a survival skill, and your novel. I thought you mean survival against the forces of nature, apparently you had more along the lines of survival against the forces used by other humans, or other sophonts, in mind… personally I am optimistic in this regard. When weapons get dangerous enough, we either adapt to pacifism or perish. At some point when toys get dangerous enough, we stop playing or stop living. There isn’t really a third option, I am not trusting that defense will keep pace with offense. They got dangerous enough all right, by 1945, since that no nuclear powers had open wars against each other. And if nuclear proliferation would not have been invented, there would be probably already world peace – admittedly, at the high price of a few third world nations glassing each other before everybody learns the new ways of peaceful embargoes and trade wars. Same for your second idea from the novel, a trick like could have been pulled with 1950’s technology, except for the fear of full-scale retaliation. Actually I am missing that part from the novel – in reality that would almost certainly happen… For the longer run, the conclusion of your novel can be read precisely as a prediction that too dangerous weaponry can bring world peace, at the end, closer.

  27. >I thought you mean survival against the forces of nature, apparently you had more along the lines of survival against the forces used by other humans, or other sophonts, in mind

    I mean to include both kinds of challenges. Both are part of the environment into which we are, in a Heideggerian sense, thrown.

    >For the longer run, the conclusion of your novel can be read precisely as a prediction that too dangerous weaponry can bring world peace, at the end, closer.

    That’s not how I intended it. The viewpoint characters believe (as do I) that without airpower and standoff weapons war will change, but not vanish.

  28. @Shenpen –

    > When weapons get dangerous enough, we either adapt to pacifism or perish.

    The problem with pacifism from a game-theoretic viewpoint is that it’s unstable. That is, every possible party to a conflict has to agree to not fight, but only a single party has to be bellicose to start the war.

    > And if nuclear proliferation would not have been invented, there would be probably
    > already world peace – admittedly, at the high price of a few third world nations
    > glassing each other before everybody learns the new ways of peaceful embargoes
    > and trade wars.

    I think you meant non-proliferation. And I’m not sure that has been a total success. It doesn’t take very sophisticated engineering to build a nuclear bomb. (Surprise! The US did it without computers, without CNC machine tools, without transistorized electronics, and with no working examples 70 years ago. Essentially all the significant engineering knowledge required to build something at the level of the Hiroshima bomb is in the public domain, on the web!) What’s hard to get is the highly enriched fissile material. So far, we haven’t stopped Iran. (Slowed them down, perhaps.) We couldn’t / didn’t stop Pakistan, India, nor North Korea.

    And I’ve read some analyses that suggest that one of the reasons that the Japanese launched their attack against the United States in WW2 was because we had embargoed oil to them. So “peaceful embargos” can lead to shooting wars, if one party thinks the stakes are high enough.

  29. Posted at 12:09 pm by Glenn Reynolds
    IN THE MAIL: Edited by Tom Kratman and Vox Day, Riding the Red Horse.

    Instalanche! You’ve made the BIG Time!

    But why is the Blogmeister hiding the Author’s Name? Yeah, yeah…non-hackers know who Tom Kratman is,,,,

  30. “The problem with pacifism from a game-theoretic viewpoint is that it’s unstable. That is, every possible party to a conflict has to agree to not fight, but only a single party has to be bellicose to start the war.”

    I’ve long believed that world peace is fundamentally impossible for this very reason: it requires global unanimous consent.

  31. “I’ve long believed that world peace is fundamentally impossible for this very reason: it requires global unanimous consent.”

    It’s not just world peace. All those perfect-world high-concept isms (I’m looking at YOU, socialism/communism!) founder on the rock of human nature.

  32. People swear by Calibre but it’s not very good.

    Of course, these same people like Vox Day, so I guess they lack taste in everything.

  33. Oooooh, burn! You’re getting around all over the place today, Luscinia. Very nice! Good internetting. BTW, how did you like the book?

  34. It’s hard to read it over the sound of Michael Moorcock’s deafening awesomeness.

  35. > “I’ve long believed that world peace is fundamentally impossible for this very reason: it requires
    > global unanimous consent.”
    >
    > It’s not just world peace. All those perfect-world high-concept isms (I’m looking at YOU,
    > socialism/communism!) founder on the rock of human nature.

    LS, communism would never work _regardless_ of human nature. Ludwig von Mises explained this pretty clearly in the early 1920s; essentially the problem is that allocation of resources on the scale necessary for an industrial economy is impossible without a free market. This is known as the ‘economic calculation problem’ and means that communism is guaranteed to collapse for economic reasons.

    http://mises.org/library/socialism-economic-and-sociological-analysis

    In addition, socialism and communism both founder for moral reasons. Rand explains this (mutual enslavement) here:

  36. All right, Eric, it’s now officially a “very good” launch. It would probably be in the top 500 already if the sales from the Castalia store were included.

    #703 Paid in Kindle Store
    #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > History > Military > Strategy
    #14 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Military

  37. I just emailed her, Andrew, so we shall find out whether she gives a fuck or not. The next time you show your face under any of your many aliases on the blog of anyone associated with Castalia, we’ll discover if other people in your offline life give a fuck about things like your public admission that you posted gay porn and child porn on the site of two underage girls because you didn’t approve of their politics.

  38. Great! I have finally read my first John Ringo (The Last Centurion, Earth’s First Improve Chimp Gets A Job As A Janitor), and downloaded my first two (free) Tom Kratman books from Baen. Now I have Riding The Horse ready to be next in line, and I will be very surprised if I don’t wind up buying more Kratman books.

    I was a fan of Clancy back in Red Storm Rising days (though the movies were disappointing), and I have a couple of There Will Be War volumes. Good stuff.

  39. The only way world peace is possible permanently is under a powerful authoritarian state like Niven’s “The State”. Personally, I think occasional conflicts are a small price to pay for avoiding that fate, but perhaps that’s easy for me to say since I am so far removed from most conflicts.

  40. >You know, Vox, you’re as dumb as you are stupid.

    You were warned about content-free insults before. Now you’re banned.

  41. As I was loading this page, I was wondering how much more of Vox Day’s personal stalker we’d have to put up with….

  42. @Cathy
    “The only way world peace is possible permanently is under a powerful authoritarian state like Niven’s “The State”.”

    There are more possibilities. A lot has been written about this, not least by Kant in “Perpetual peace”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetual_peace

    Full (English) text:
    http://www.archive.org/stream/perpetualpeaceph00kantuoft/perpetualpeaceph00kantuoft_djvu.txt

    Note that the title (“Zum ewigen Frieden” in German) is ironic, as Kant took it from the name of a pub next to a cemetery. It is not unusual to call cemeteries like that.

    Personally, I do not think perpetual peace is possible for human societies. Conflict cannot be avoided, only contained.

  43. @John D. Bell, Jay Maynard, LS

    Peace based on weapons becoming really too dangerous is a fundamentally different concept that utopias based on changing human nature like communism. It is really based on normal human nature as we know it: avoiding situations where risks are higher than the payoff.

    Actually Heinlein in TMIAHM proposed that an armed society is a polite society – this is precisely the same logic, when the risk of an insult is too high, it jus doesn’t happen. Same way, make war risky enough and it doesn’t happen anymore. It is technology and risk/reward calculations, not a hippie pipe dream.

    To put it more formally, it happens when offensive capability vastly outsteps defensive capability. The same logic: people carrying handguns are polite precisely because it is a whole lot easier to pack heat than to cover yourself from head to toes in Kevlar. Offense > defense hence high risk hence risk-avoiding behavior.

    This would be the game-theory of it.

    Besides, game-theory is for rational actors. However here the irrationality of human psychology is actually helpful. Imagine you are selling two kinds of lottery tickets for $1: one offers a one in 10K chance to win 10K and the other a one in 10M chance to win 10M. Which one sells better? The later. Psychologically, both are unlikely but the second is so much nicer! I cannot source it know but evo-psy kind of demonstrated how terrible human instincts are at evaluating risk – hence most of our evaluations are based on the payoffs and risk is just put into categories like “likely” “very unlikely”. Both of the above are “very unlikely” and our instincts cannot really differentiate that.

    And the same thing for negative payoffs. Scary and very unlikely things scare us more than less scary and less unlikely things.

    And that is why nations armed with nukes are polite nations.

  44. @Shenpen
    “Besides, game-theory is for rational actors. ”

    But rational actors can be gamed.

    Even if there was not other reason, people should be irrational to prevent from being gamed. And they are irrational, see for example, the ultimatum game:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimatum_game

    In general, an “attacker” can encroach on the territory of a “defender” in such small steps, that defense would be more costly than retreat at each step. The attacker then gets the whole territory without fight. Here the territory can be any resource and the time horizon as long as is needed.

    The solution is (irrational) anger, which is a motivation in itself for fighting any transgression only considering the costs, and much less the gains.

    Another example is revenge. Revenge always is a losing bet for the avenger, with high costs and low payout (if any).

    This is another reason I do not believe for a moment that mutually assured destruction in itself is enough of a deterrent. Several dictators wanted to take their country with them in their death. To give you a less well known case, it seems Solano López the dictator of Paraguay almost succeeded
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraguayan_War

  45. > Here the territory can be any resource and the time horizon as long as is needed.

    Sounds exactly like the gun control method, and “reasonable” restrictions…

  46. @Joral
    “Sounds exactly like the gun control method, and “reasonable” restrictions…”

    And torture and child abuse and corporal punishment and equal rights for homosexuals and cruelty to animals ….

  47. ESR,

    Got my copy.

    All I can say is, “stick to your day job”

    (You know, writing. Writing code, blog posts and more stories please)

  48. @Winter

    I agree that boiling-the-frog unfortunately works, and probably the only thing to do is to define an (entirely arbitrary) sacred pomerium and erupt in irrational rage once it is transgressed.

    I disagree with revenge being irrational. Promising revenge is very rational, even in modern society, we just outsource it to professionals, judges and prisons. But without a promise of punishment / revenge things would go south fast. Now actually _delivering_ on the promise of revenge is, obviously, locally not optimal. However this makes the promise believable.

    In other words, it is not as much irrationality as simply risk. Can be considered rational risk taking.

    Imagine a lawless society. Everybody promises everybody that if they kill a family member of theirs, they will kill them. This deterrence keeps a semblance of order. Once a murder still happens, the promise needs to be delivered on, and thus the person must risk he too will probably perish in the escalating feud. Yet, delivering on these promises is necessary for this lawless society to function, otherwise the promises would not be believable and there would no deterrence at all. Therefore, the society shames and dishonors those who don’t deliver on the promise and don’t take revenge, this way keeping everybody’s promise of revenge believable.

    This is a smart and functional equilibrium for a lawless society, the only issue is that everybody has to take the risk that if their relative gets killed, they will be shamed into delivering on it, and it is dangerous for them. But this risk is rational – far better than to live in a society without any deterrence at all.

    This is actually an amazing example of spontaneous order IMHO.

  49. @Shenpen
    “This is a smart and functional equilibrium for a lawless society, the only issue is that everybody has to take the risk that if their relative gets killed, they will be shamed into delivering on it, and it is dangerous for them.”

    That is a suicide button. It does not work for a lone single actor in game theory. You need several actors and these must have “things” they value more than life itself. It is difficult to build a game theory model of such actors when they are assumed to be perfectly rational.

    The fact is not in dispute that blood feuds do work in certain lawless societies, but they should not be modelled like a single shot prisoners dillema game.

  50. I am thoroughly enjoying this book. Both of your entries are entertaining and well written. I think the non-fiction entries are my favorites so far, but I like them all. Thank you.

    I have read a lot of ebooks that are not nearly as nicely formatted as this one. But I have spotted two errors. I list them here since I don’t see any contact info otherwise.

    1. The Limits of Intelligence, search for ‘of coruse’, should be ‘of course’
    2. Red Space, double word, search for ‘It it’ very near the beginning.

    More please!

  51. > Imagine you are selling two kinds of lottery tickets for $1: one offers a one in 10K chance to win 10K and the other a one in 10M chance to win 10M. Which one sells better? The later

    This is entirely rational. Winning $10K (less taxes) might make the down payment on a new car, but I’d be parking it at the same house and driving it to the same job. It would not make a meaningful change in my life in the way that $10M would. That’s enough money, even after taxes (and with that much I can afford to hire the best tax lawyers to make sure the bite isn’t so bad) that not only would my wife and I never need to work another day, we’d be able to do lots of things like “buy ESR a new computer and pay him a monthly stipend to make sure he has plenty of time to use it, to help stamp out sucky version control in our lifetime” with the charitable foundations that we’d create (if for no other reason than to give money to that instead of the govt.).

  52. @The Monster,

    Well, it is not rational in that strict mathemathical/economical sense that two options with the same expected value should have the same appeal.

    It is rationaly in a psychological sense, which you explained correctly. But my point was precisely that human psychology is helpful in it. You, me, and everybody, would just neatly ignore that the second ticket has so much lower chance.

    My real point is, that it also works the same way for negative payoffs. Like, getting blown to kingdom come. Sure, the risk may be very small, but who likes to risk it?

    This gives us the following neat scenario. Let’s suppose offensive weapons get ever more destructive (although something more destructive than a H-bomb is not really needed, but whatever) However defensible capability also increases. Let’s also assume for now that defensive capability is not “armor” but “shield” i.e. does not reduce damage by 100% probability but simply offers a certain % for deflecting all the damage. (“Armor” type stuff is usually prohibitively expensive.)

    So, we are in the future with mega-super offensive weapons that could, I don’t know, evaporate a continent, but with also with mega-super defensive shields that deflect them with 99.999% chance.

    The point is, we still hate risking that. The small risk does not reassure us if the negative payoff is so much high.This is human nature actually. The Big Scary Thing is always a scary even if the chance of it actually hitting us is really low.

    And thats how world peace is possible without changing human nature. All it takes is scary enough weapons – for all.

  53. “And thats how world peace is possible without changing human nature. All it takes is scary enough weapons – for all.”

    The problem with this is that if someone isn’t scared of being wiped from the face of the planet as retribution, there’s no reason for them not to use the weapon. If striking one’s enemies with Allah’s fire means that they get to meet Allah, that’s not a conclusion to be dreaded.

    And yet everyone sits by, waiting for Iran to get the bomb…

  54. Well, it is not rational in that strict mathemathical/economical sense that two options with the same expected value should have the same appeal.

    But that’s smuggling in a palpably unsupported assumption: that immediate expectation value is (and should be) the metric. On the contrary, in real life the outliers often dominate the issue. A clear example is the strong usual bias for risk avoidance; you almost certainly aren’t going to be eaten by that nonexistent tiger, but the cost for a false negative is so high that an overcautious strategy is likely to be rational in the broad sense.

    There are, of course, plenty of scenarios where this heuristic does blow up–particularly in comparisons of different presentations of mathematically identical propositions–but this is an example where expectation value simply isn’t the appropriate or actual metric.

  55. @Jay – good point. I should have limited my model to nations that are rational actors (in this case, the usual, not mathemathical sense). This actually generates another prediction: with sufficiently advanced weaponry, war is only possible if at least one party is crazy.

    This matters. Diplomacy – as a tool for preventing war – currently, and historically, tends to work within a framework of rationally selfish nations – i.e. I need to play my cards so that it is nobody’s best interest to attack me. Diplomacy, as we know it, may as well disappear and get replaced by some kind of way to handle crazies. How to put it? This kind of current diplomacy is more or less a practical application of game theory, while that kind will be a practical application of psychology, perhaps akin to hostage-negotiation.

  56. >>“And thats how world peace is possible without changing human nature. All it takes is scary enough weapons – for all.”

    >The problem with this is that if someone isn’t scared of being wiped from the face of the planet as retribution, there’s no reason for them not to use the weapon. If striking one’s enemies with Allah’s fire means that they get to meet Allah, that’s not a conclusion to be dreaded.

    >And yet everyone sits by, waiting for Iran to get the bomb…

    The problem gets worse as technology continues to advance such that the capability to build (to borrow a phrase) ‘major weapons’ no longer requires a state, or even a particularly large group. Just wait till our personal electronics are fusion powered.

  57. Yes, except you actually want Calibre.

    I’m surprised to see such an unequivocal recommendation from the author of TAOUP. Of course, it’s more or less necessary to recommend it for lack of viable competitors, but I, for one, balk at starting an ebook library organizer, content server, reader and something called “metadata plugboards” just to convert one file from one format to another. Particularly while I’m waiting for the splash screen to go away. Isn’t this exactly the sort of ovecomplicated monolith that you tried to warn us about by writing the Rules of Composition, Separation and Simplicity?

    Perhaps I’m soured by the experience I had when I first encountered Calibre, building it for my LFS system. Fortunately, there is a nice little blurb on the download page that foreshadows the, um, fun I had in that endeavour quite neatly:

    WARNING: calibre is a highly complex piece of software with lots of very finicky dependencies. If you install from source, you are on your own. Please do not open bug reports or expect any form of support. You have been warned.

    The curious may wish to look at the list of dependencies introduced by that promising lead-in. Code re-use is great, yes, and no doubt Calibre needs every last one of those dependencies to do all of the things that it does, but to my mind that only goes to show that it is one program that ought to be several.

  58. >Of course, it’s more or less necessary to recommend it for lack of viable competitors

    You put your finger on it. I would be happier with a cleaner alternative.

  59. > Well, it is not rational in that strict mathemathical/economical sense that two options with the same expected value should have the same appeal.

    That ASS|U|MEs that they indeed have the same expected value. I believe I clearly demonstrated that the $10M winning ticket is in fact worth more than 1000x the $10K ticket. Any “economic” analysis that fails to recognize that different people will place different values on the same thing (or on two things that can be obtained for the same price) is flawed.

  60. Fine story – 2 nits that might have been discussed with a beta reader or with one of the book’s editors?

    First nit is that something beyond a bright flash would have warned the pilots (if too late but maybe more ejections?) frex this from 1996, I emphasize 1996 on laser detectors though there are any number of later examples

    The electronic warfare system is called SPECTRA (Systeme Pour la protection Electronique Contre Tous les Rayonnements Adverses). It incorporates solid-state transmitter technology, radar and laser warning, missile warning, detection systems and jammers. Developed jointly by Thomson-CSF and Matra Defense, SPECTRA covers the RF, infrared and laser bands. . ……SPECTRA’s integration to the Rafale was completed in July 1996. – See more at: http://www.aviationtoday.com/av/issue/feature/Resourceful-Rafale_12815.html#.VJy69VBtQ

    There are public suggestions for how detectors are currently arranged on US airplanes for full coverage.

    And I wouldn’t have thought a single Ford class carried that many airplanes? “Another wing had been scrambled to Combat Air Patrol and was orbiting the strike group’s perimeter.”

  61. >There are public suggestions for how detectors are currently arranged on US airplanes for full coverage.

    I suspect those are built to alert pilots to being pinged by low-power lidar. If you hit ’em with a megawatt laser they’re simply going to vaporize seconds before the plane breaks up.

    >And I wouldn’t have thought a single Ford class carried that many airplanes?

    Maybe not, but a serving Navy officer with carrier experience didn’t call me on it.

  62. Didn’t say they are anything but nits. I don’t expect a check for finding a flaw but I do think it’s a bug not a feature. “Maybe not, but….” I guess I shouldn’t have used a light touch.

    Notice the F35 acquisition in the story is by “wide-field optical sensors on the escorts, then ranged and tracked by lidar from stealth drones orbiting above the Chinese fleet.” That does imply tracking by lidar at least while the shipboard laser(s) slew(s) and acquires and a second or 3 more. As you say the airplanes have multiple sensors (all around redundant coverage) to alert the pilot (and others) in that circumstance and have had for a long time.

    Might look at the experience with the YAL-1 for some real world experience. ” a megawatt-class chemical oxygen iodine laser (COIL) mounted inside a modified Boeing 747-400F.”

    FREX “The ABL does not burn through or disintegrate its target. It heats the missile skin, weakening it, causing failure from high speed flight stress.” I’d have trouble believing the megawatt class lasers in your story would paint the whole airframe with anything like enough energy to vaporize all the sensors. If enough focus and energy to vaporize one sensor then enough side scatter to trigger others. I watched the SIL for the YAL-1 cut bulldozer blades as test instruments which it did just fine but not vaporizing more than the equivalent of a wide saw kerf.

    Maybe a serving Navy officer with carrier experience should have been replaced by a reference checker with line editing experience when the job is line editing? Lest anybody be in any doubt it is one carrier one carrier air wing ( officer heavy with lots of full birds, none of whom appear in this story. Mr. Kratman may have thoughts about three birds doing what a Commander did in our last declared war)

    1 Current law provides for 10 CVWs; of the nominally eleven active carriers (ten active carriers following decommissioning of USS Enterprise in December 2012 and until USS Gerald R. Ford is completed and commissioned), one is nearly always undergoing Refueling and Complex Overhaul and has no air wing assigned.

    Notice also that to say ” the first bird of the ravaged wing caught its arrestor wire. Another wing had been scrambled .” doesn’t really make any sense compared to say “elements of the wing” given that a carrier wing includes (today) Growlers, Hawkeyes, Seahawks and Greyhounds all unlikely to be scrambled for combat air patrol as opposed to say plane guard, ASW and all the other potential needs. You might ask your serving Naval officer about the wisdom of even needing to scramble a combat air patrol when that implies the strike group set off on its own ill fated mission leaving the csg without air coverage. Under the circumstances maybe have a CAP in the air already, send the strike force off and land the previous CAP in detail for refuel and arm for a second strike or return to CAP while the deck is clear.

  63. My apologies for coming back stronger than I should have.

    I took the mention of a serving Navy officer with carrier experience as an effort to suggest I was wrong rather than a statement of a good faith effort to get things right.

    Folks have enjoyed great success despite the occasional small error. Frex John Ringo in the front matter to Under a Graveyard Sky writes of a nit “which I knew but I also once had a manual safety on a Glock. Sue me.” then goes on in the same book to write “felt the hammer give” on another Glock. Later in the Black Tide Rising Series IMHO Mr. Ringo minimizes the consequences of assembling an AR pattern rifle M4 type leaving the firing pin out

    The firing pin is all that keeps the bolt cam pin from rotating in the bolt and keeping the square head from getting turned out of alignment with the clearance cut in the left sidewall of the upper receiver.

    At that point, it will be difficult if not nearly impossible to get the bolt carrier out of the upper receiver to correct it.

    No problem if the firearm is undisturbed and things still line up but more of a problem than in the book (where fatigue had led to the original error once and repeated as a test of pre use inspection) if the action is worked and things are in fact misaligned. Still Mr. Ringo is a very successful and well regarded writer. I enjoyed the movie The Sting which includes an early scene in a slot machine parlor before I knew the slot machines as set decoration were all much later period than the movie setting just as I didn’t know the early shaving scene in High Plains Drifter would have left blood on Mr. Eastwood’s face if performed with a real razor instead of a popsicle stick equivalent. All different areas of knowledge. Nobody gets everything right and getting much or most of it right can take a lot of help.

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