Thursday, 31 July 2014

New World War One Speculative Fiction (not mine!)


Fellow Madrid writer Andrew Leon Hudson has a short story in a new anthology about World War One.

Wars to End All Wars – Alternate Tales from the Trenches is a collection of seven short stories inspired by the “Great” War, though not necessarily following exactly where it led. In addition to a piece from the award-winning Elizabeth Moon, it contains original stories by Dan Bieger, Wilson Geiger, G. L. Lathian, Igor Ljubuncic, Lee Swift, and Andrew Leon Hudson.

As with the previous two anthologies put together by SFFWorld.com’s N. E. White, the first year’s proceeds from Wars to End All Wars will be donated to charity: this time to Doctors Without Borders, so every copy represents not just some interesting fiction but a little bit of valuable aid to a worthy cause. Plus, it’s only 99 cents!

It's available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Trench Raiders blurb (please help!)

I'm in the final stages of editing Trench Raiders, the first of my World War one action novels, and I've come up with a blurb. this is very much a version 1.0 so I could use your help!

September 1914: The British Expeditionary Force has the Germans on the run, or so they think.

After a month of bitter fighting, the British are battered, exhausted, and down to half their strength, yet they’ve saved Paris and are pushing towards Berlin. Then the retreating Germans decide to make a stand. Holding a steep slope beside the River Aisne, the entrenched Germans mow down the advancing British with machine gun fire. Soon the British dig in too, and it looks like the war might grind down into deadly stalemate.

Searching through No-Man’s Land in the darkness, Private Timothy Crawford of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry finds a chink in the German armor. But can this lowly private, who spends as much time in the regimental jailhouse as he does on the parade ground, convince his commanding officer to risk everything for a chance to break through?

Trench Raiders is the first in a new series of World War One action novels that will follow the brave men of the British Expeditionary Force through the major battles a hundred years after they happened. The Battle of the Aisne was the start of trench warfare on the Western Front, and it was there that the British and Germans first honed their skills at a new, vicious brand of fighting.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Why I'm not concerned about my ebooks getting pirated

A few days ago a fellow indie publisherwas fuming on Facebook that a Russian ebook pirate site that had put up all her books without her permission. I checked it and found all of my books up there too, both my indie published fiction and the electronic editions of my military history books written for Osprey Publishing.

This isn't the first time. Radio Hope is on at least two other pirate sites, and Osprey titles get pirated all the time. I used to get mad, but I don't anymore. First off, there's no way to stop it. DRM is easily removed and only acts as an inconvenience for honest readers. I don't bother putting DRM on my books. I'm not going to waste my time chasing down pirate sites and threatening them with legal action either. Yeah, like I'm going to win a lawsuit against some dodgy company in Russia!

Some writers, such as Neil Gaiman, have made the point that piracy is actually a form of free advertising. I'm not sure I'm convinced, but really, if someone goes to a pirate site for his reading material, he's probably not going to cough up money for my books anyway, so in effect I haven't lost a customer. So I'm left in the situation of shrugging my shoulders and not worrying about it. I have more important things to do with my time. Writing, for example.

A lot of indie writers don't share my view. My Facebook friend was irate, as were many of the people on her feed. Several said they contacted the site and were either ignored or (gasp!) were treated rudely. Hello, these people just stole your intellectual property, did you think they'd be apologetic? Now several of them are talking about how to take down the site.

I can't be bothered. There will always be pirates, and it isn't clear how much or even if they reduce sales. I'm going to focus on the one thing about my career I can control--the quantity and quality of my writing.

What do you think about piracy? Drop me a line in the comments section!

Image of the flag of pirate Chrisopher Moody courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Military History Photo Friday: Swiss WWI Postcard


Back in high school, one of my friends had a father from Switzerland. He told me a story about how during World War Two, Hitler was speaking to the Swiss ambassador. The Nazi leader arrogantly pointed out, "The Swiss army only has 100,000 men. What if I sent a million men against you?"

To which the Swiss ambassador dryly replied, "Then my men would each have to fire ten times."

A wonderful bit of propaganda that has stayed in my memory for 25 years! 

Right now I'm up in Oxford for my usual summer of research and travel. I'm busy researching and writing Digging In, book two of my Trench Raiders series of World War One action novels. While rummaging through various books I came across a collection of Swiss postcards from WWI. Switzerland never fought in the war but they were concerned with German expansionism. It turns out the anecdote about Hitler had been recycled from an earlier conflict. This card show a conversation between a Swiss soldier and the German Kaiser. A rough translation reads:

"In the land of the great marksmen.

Good job, son! You have 100,000 marksmen in Switzerland. What will you do when 200,000 Prussians come?

Ah, we'll shoot two bullets, Majesty!"

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Ten reasons the Moon landing conspiracy theory is stupid


This month marks the 45th anniversary of the Moon landings. Sadly, there are some people who think we never went to the Moon. While I have a healthy mistrust of government, I find this conspiracy theory silly to say the least. Governments lie on a regular basis, especially the U.S. government, but that doesn't mean they lie all the time. Here are ten reasons that this conspiracy theory, peddled by people who want to make a quick buck off of public credulity, is total bullshit.

1. The testimony of thousands of people involved in the project.

2. The fact that none of them in the past 45 years have blown the lid on the "conspiracy", despite the potential to get millions for their story.

3. The hundreds of professional and amateur astronomers worldwide who saw the reflected light of the Apollo spacecraft through their telescopes, and the countless people they showed this wonder to.

4. The fact that the Soviet Union, despite its extensive spy network and a very big motive, never called the U.S. on the "lie."

5. The fact that no other nation hostile to the U.S. has done this in 45 years.

6. The hundreds of pounds of Moon rocks divided up and sent to researchers in dozens of countries, including Russia. Moon rocks are unlike any rocks found here on Earth. Where did the conspirators get them?

7. The fact that actually going to the Moon is not a great technological feat for an already space-faring nation, merely an economic challenge, and we're talking about the richest country in the world here.


8. A NASA satellite has photographed the Moon landing site from space. Of course they're part of the conspiracy, but are Japan and India?
http://www.squidoo.com/apollo-moon-landing-photos-from-space

9. The weak arguments in support of the "hoax" has been debunked in several venues. Here's one of the best.
http://www.xmission.com/~jwindley/

10. Given all the above reasons, it would be easier just to go to the Moon!


Photo of Charles Conrad Jr., Apollo 12 Commander, courtesy of NASA. This photo is not faked. People really can achieve amazing things when they try hard enough.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

My Worldcon Schedule

I've received my final schedule for Worldcon, the 72nd Annual World Science Fiction Convention, which is being hosted by Loncon in London this August. One nice surprise is that I have a book signing on my birthday!

Here's my lineup:

Refugees Have More to Worry About Than Revenge
Thursday, August 14, 16:30 - 18:00, London Suite 2 (ExCeL)
War stories in genre fiction tend to focus on the soldiers, but what about the effects of conflict on people living in war zones, or coping with the fallout once the battle is done? What roles are available for individual refugees in genre fiction, beyond victim or avenger? How are societies shown to respond to displacement, or the arrival of the displaced?

Autographing 7 - Sean McLachlan
Saturday, August 16, 15:00 - 16:30, Autographing Space (ExCeL)

Asymmetric Warfare
Sunday, August 17, 19:00 - 20:00, Capital Suite 15 (ExCeL)
Despite massive military superiority, armies still lose out to insurgent forces who use asymmetric warfare techniques - some of which might be called terrorism - to pursue their goals away from conventional battlefields. How does this work, how does it win, and is there any way to fight against it?

Friday, 18 July 2014

Military History Photo Friday: U.S. Cavalry on the Trail

OK, this is a painting and not a photo, but it's from the great Frederic Remington so I think you'll forgive me. It's titled In the Desert and was painted around 1888, in the final stages of the U.S. Cavalry's struggle with the Apache.

I'm getting into the Old West mindset again. I just signed a contract with Osprey Publishing to write a new title for their Combat series on a soldier's-eye view of the fighting between Apache warriors and U.S. Cavalrymen. Luckily I'm in Oxford right now and the famous Bodleian Library has a huge American collection. I'm burying myself in Old West history all summer, except for the week I'm going to be attending Worldcon.

Having ridden through the desert on a hot Arizona day, I can tell you that Remington captured the feeling perfectly!

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.