Virtual Fantasy Con 2017: Realism in Fantasy Warfare Panel

Diane Morrison

This is the second of three panels I had the privilege of hosting for the Virtual Fantasy Con 2017, and this one just might be my favourite. I was honoured to have a truly expert panel at my disposal, whose background and expertise included both studied and practical, hands-on experience. From logistics experts to medieval recreationists to real-life military personnel, all of whom are also fantasy authors, I think we’ve provided an excellent starting resource for fantasy writers who want to write about war.

You can watch a full playlist of all the VFC2017 panels HERE.

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Professional Disobedience: Loyalty and the Military

“The King gave you a commission because he thought you knew when to disobey an order.”[1]

“On rare occasions in our history, the leader on the ground, at the crux of a fleeting moment on the battlefield, has decided to disobey his instructions for what he judges as the greater good of the unit and the larger task at hand.”[2]

THE VIRTUE OF OBEDIENCE
Read the full article at Real Clear Defense.

Alternative Physics for the Toy Soldier Saga

Adapting the alternative physics of Spelljammer to something new was the sticking point for me in turning the Toy Soldier Saga into something publishable.  I have worked on this concept for a long time, and I think I’ve finally come up with something that works but is its own thing.  Right now it’s a very loose idea and I will be working out the bugs as I write, but here it is, in a nutshell.

Crystal Spheres

Spelljammer’s “bubbles in space with crystal shells” idea is unique.  However, it’s based in Ptolemic physics.  How that worked was that the Earth was the center of the universe (and then the sun later on,) and everything we see in the sky is on the inside of a “crystal sphere,” interlocking within one another like Russian dolls.  Later theories of universe construction discussed the idea of the “crystal” actually being something a bit more ephemeral, something that holds the stars and planets in place but can be passed through like a veil.

That’s sort of the idea I’m running with.  Each system exists within its own interlocking series of crystal spheres.  The beauty of this is that one could still see the stars of other systems through these permeable membranes, so it’s a bit more like the universe we know, and less lame excuses have to be created to explain why we can see stars.

Gravity Wells

Gravitational forces move in currents.  Now that in real-world physics we have confirmed the existence of gravitons, I’m sure that’s not as difficult to imagine as it might have been.  Instead of odd, semi-two-dimensional “gravity planes,” each body, when sufficiently separated from other bodies, has its own whirlpool of gravity that surrounds it.  Lining up these competing maelstrom currents so that they interact instead of compete dangerously with one another would require the same sideways approach as gravity planes would and would have very similar consequences of failure.  These currents draw smaller, less dense bodies in, but also might swing them right around in a circle and out again.  A ship might seem too small a body to create a gravity well of its own — but wait, I have an explanation, and I’ll get there.

Airts

Because gravity moves in currents between bodies, it creates slipstreams that travelers refer to as “Airts.”  Their existence would a) explain why ships can move at light speed or faster, and b) what sails on a ship are for!  The crew is needed to navigate the Airts.  In which case, the function of the Pilot (Spelljammer) becomes twofold.  The first is that a Pilot can actually sense the Airts, which most people cannot.  The second . . .

Starfaring Ships

Starfaring ships are constructed around special materials.  Those materials are the seed-pods of giant cosmic trees, something like a cross between the starfly plants you remember from Spelljammer, and Trees of Life out of myth.  These Trees of Life use Airts as a natural part of their life-cycle; their seeds are evolved to be carried along the Airts to find new systems to settle in.  They can influence and create their own Airts to a limited extent as well.  They bond in a symbiotic semi-telepathic link with Pilots because Pilots can help them to consciously navigate the Airts, and thus, they can travel through a much broader and larger area of the Universe than they would otherwise be able to, eventually picking a spot to plant and grow in.  Elves know the secret of this and have been using the Trees of Life for millennia, but the other races don’t, and so they have been building devices around seed-pods or their fragments, unwittingly creating plant cyborgs.  Also, it’s important to note that the elves have forgotten many of the things they used to know.

Trees of Life

Trees of Life have a special significance in my universe aside from this, but I’m not going to explain that, because that would be a major spoiler, as this is one of the mysteries that my characters must discover!

Phlogiston

Phlogiston doesn’t exist, per se, in my universe.  The areas between systems in my universe will be taken up with competing Airts, and will look no different from how things actually look in space in our world.  How do you know you’re entering a system?  The Oort Cloud will give you a clue, being the outer edges of a system’s gravity well.  Some theorize that Airts might be powered by Quintessence, which can be explained either as the fifth element Aether, or a kind of dark energy in modern cosmological physics.  I will still have it be a dangerous process to enter and leave a system, but that’s because of the Oort Cloud and the currents of Airts surrounding the outer edges of a system’s gravity well.

So, loosely, this is a rough look at my adapted physics.  I welcome your thoughts!

Thornworld!

A view from the roots of Garden, with the moon of Thorn in the background; by classic Spelljammer artist Jennell Jacquays.

Wildspace: The Spelljammer Fanzine

Thornworld Thornworld by Jennell Jacquays. Copyright (c) 1994. Used by permission.

From Jennell Jacquays:

So here it is, the painting that a number of my fans have been asking for … Thornworld, a Spelljammer themed scene for the cover of a Dragon magazine back in the 90s. My original intent for the painting was more complex, but deadlines pushed me toward a simpler rendering. If I can find the original sketch, I’ll attach it in the comments.

The painting is rendered in acrylics.

Thornworld Sketch

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The Unhuman Wars as Allegories of History, Part 2

Wildspace: The Spelljammer Fanzine

Elven Navy Officers.  Image from the Spelljammer comic. Elven Navy Officers. Image from the Spelljammer comic.

Since I have already likened the elves to the British in my first article in this series, which focused on the similarities between the Unhuman Wars and the World Wars, it would be consistent if I could say that the Elven Imperial Navy was an allegory for the British Royal Navy; and I believe I can.  The Unhuman Wars represent the major historical conflicts of the British Royal Navy; namely, the Anglo-Spanish War and the Napoleonic Wars.

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Complex life in the universe may be much rarer than previously thought

SelfAwarePatterns

At least, according to a couple of astrophysicists: Complex life may be possible in only 10% of all galaxies | Science/AAAS | News.

The universe may be a lonelier place than previously thought. Of the estimated 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe, only one in 10 can support complex life like that on Earth, a pair of astrophysicists argues. Everywhere else, stellar explosions known as gamma ray bursts would regularly wipe out any life forms more elaborate than microbes. The detonations also kept the universe lifeless for billions of years after the big bang, the researchers say.

…The sheer density of stars in the middle of the galaxy ensures that planets within about 6500 light-years of the galactic center have a greater than 95% chance of having suffered a lethal gamma ray blast in the last billion years, they find. Generally, they conclude, life is possible only in…

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Toy Soldier Saga Update

I think it’s clear through recent posts that I am home again now and back to thinking about my novels.  I took the opportunity to catch up on cross-posting the relevant stuff from the Wildspace blog.  I am still involved in National Novel Writing Month and I am NOT writing Toy Soldier for that, but I will be back to work on the books again in a few days.  I’m not going to post any more chapters for Brothers in Arms until I am finished, however, since I have done several rewrites.  This will give me an opportunity to write the book in a different order and perhaps solve some of the difficulties I am having in bringing my disparate plot aspects together.

In other news, Spreecast is now charging per view to see old Spreecasts, so while it’s too much of a pain to take them all down, I think you should be aware of that.

I will be editing the books more thoroughly this winter and hope to progress to the audiobooks in the spring.  They are quite the undertaking and expect that it will be some time before you see them.

If you have any questions let me know!  I’ll keep plugging away at it . . . 🙂

Dragonspace

Wildspace: The Spelljammer Fanzine

The following article is a brief description of Dragonspace from my Toy Soldier Saga website.

Dragonspace is the sphere in which my homebrewed campaign setting, Draconia, is located, which I use as a setting in my Toy Soldier novels.  It becomes much more significant in “Sable’s Privateers”.  For now, its primary significance is that the secret N’Velahrn base discussed at the beginning of “Brothers in Arms,” where Shaundar and Yathar receive their training is located on Permafrost, a frozen water flatworld on the edge of the crystal sphere.

Dragonspace is also significant because by prevailing phlogiston currents, the scro must pass through it or Spiralspace to get to the Radiant Triangle through Realmspace. It also provides passage to Greatspace, Krynnspace, and a few other significant spheres to the elves.

It is important to note that dragons and dragonkin of all kinds are abundant here, and generally, dragons of suitable…

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The Multiverse is Made of Bubbles; No, Really!

Wildspace: The Spelljammer Fanzine

The theory of eternal inflation casts our universe as one of countless bubbles in an eternally frothing sea. Olena Shmahalo / Quanta Magazine

Click on the link for an informative article on how the multiverse may look a lot more like the Ptolemaic model than originally thought.

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