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Soldier of the Crown was my second foray into the world of colonial Africa aboard the airship Kestrel. I put great effort into continuing the format of the original adventures, and flatter myself that I succeeded nicely; my reviewers have indulged in the same sort of flattery, so there must be something to it!
Kenya plays host to a monsoonal flow known locally as “The Long Rain,” in which 7 – 9 inches fall each month during April and May. While there actually were no airships plying their trade in colonial Kenya, I arbitrarily decided that this would be a non-flying season when the aeronauts took their vacations, saw to needed repairs, and just whatever needed down-time to accomplish. In Soldier of the Crown, the Long Rain is ending, and Kestrel and the other airships servicing the trade, about a half-dozen in all, are wrapping up their time on the ground and preparing to resume their day-to-day activities. I picked up some of the loose ends from Beyond the Rails, left others for future exploration, and even created one or two new ones. Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:
British East Africa in the 1880s. A place of mystery, intrigue, and danger. Powerful tribes, many hostile, the descendants of once-great empires, rule the plains and forests. European colonial powers jostle for advantage as they struggle to push inland from their coastal enclaves. A rail line is being driven from Mombasa toward Lake Victoria, drawing laborers and speculators from every civilized continent. The rails have reached Nairobi, a still-tiny boom town where wealthy entrepreneurs rub shoulders with cutthroats and railroad workers, but to reach out further, one must travel by foot or wagon, or by one of the ramshackle airships that connect the scattered settlements.
One such ship is Kestrel, once a steam powered river lighter designed to haul cargoes up the shallow streams that reach inland from the coast. Rescued from the scrapyard and slung beneath a balloon, she has been given a second chance at life as a carrier in the aerial cargo trade.
Business is good in the booming colony, but in every pub and hostel, at the end of every pier, in the alley behind each tavern lurk dangerous men (and women!) of questionable motives, each with his own scheme to claim his share of the colony’s wealth, by whatever means come readily to hand. No one completely escapes brushes with these charlatans, and Captain Clinton Monroe’s crew is no exception. Join them aboard the Kestrel as they sail the skies to high adventure.”
I don’t honestly know how I can make a description any more exciting than that, and judging by the reviews (5 stars on Amazon, 4.83 on Goodreads), what’s inside lives up to what’s on the cover. Tickets are only $2.99; climb aboard for a ride to high adventure!
View from the Blimp
Just one bit of news today, and it has more to do with the way I view the world than any sort of writing activity. My whole life, I’ve had to have watches that show the time in a half-dozen time zones, the moon phase, the tide status, I have a beautiful analog that incorporates a stopwatch and a circular slide rule around the bezel. But I’m retired now, and the way I structure my day is changing… And I have found the watch to measure my retirement! Behold the Collared Carpetshark. Black rubber shock resistant, waterproof housing, brushed leather band, and the most important feature, only one hand! The yellow hour hand makes one sweep every 12 hours. This is rapidly changing the way I view time. Nothing is in a rush anymore. Nothing has to be done in the next five minutes. Do I know what time it is? Yeah, sort of. Tough on folks who ask me for the time, and I say, “around five-ish.” Sure is easy on my stress absorber, though.
I am reliably informed that the earliest clocks only had an hour hand, giving the farmer or the artisan a general idea of where in the cycle of the day things stood, when to eat lunch, that sort of thing. It wasn’t until the fifteenth century that minute hands made an appearance, ushering in the era of the psychotically draconian mid-level manager standing at the door tapping his watch, and bellowing, “You’re two minutes late, Johnson! I’m going to dock you an hour’s pay!” We’re still “enjoying” that era, and what I’ve observed so far leads me to believe that those were much happier times despite the lack of indoor plumbing…
Other Interesting Reads
Meta Worlds: A Police Officer on a trail of a Serial Killer, whose investigations leads to the mysterious Saul Priest and astonishing revelations of a secret war being fought across Time and Dimensions, and Meta-Mercs Investigations (MMi), the crime-fighting team with extra-ordinary abilities that society discover that they desperately need… These are the stories and more that is Meta Worlds.
With a stunning and original painted cover art by the renowned, Award Winning Artist, Ciara McAvoy, who has won numerous awards for her work in the film industry, including five total Communicator Awards in 2015 for Filth, X-Men and Star Wars Revenge of the Sith, and interior illustrations by talented Comic-Book Artist, Creator and Writer of the British based Superhero Comic, Vanguard, Meta Worlds introduces a new type of storytelling for the Twenty-First Century. Available on Amazon in hard cover only. £12.00.
Book of Schemes I: Simply defined, a “scheme” is nothing more than a systematic plan of action. Like snowflakes, no two of them are exactly alike. For example: What if the 7 Deadly Sins operated out of a beauty salon? What if a blind rock musician got framed for war crimes in another galaxy? What if you could buy a Murderer’s License from the DMV? Within this 2nd Edition collection is a bizarre grouping of 25 short stories. Each of them revolves around a scheme. Some are brilliant. Others are stupid. A special few of them are utterly warped. So kick back, leave your conscience outside of these pages, and step into the world of the schemers. $3.00 on Kindle.
There is Wisdom in Black Seas and Eternal Lands beyond the visions of the mundane world, where all dreams and nightmares intersect to become one. There is blood, and spirit, which fuel the hearts and minds of expert magicians, allowing them to break through the fabric of illusions and penetrate the core of existence. In this occult, dark fantasy of pirates, witches, and mages, we see reality in its uncompromising, unmistakable form. Short story, 99c on Kindle.
Finally, let us mark the return of the Atoms & Shadows feature of The Rail Baron’s blog. This is a weekly look at two old movies, one Sci-Fi and one Noir, with a commentary by William J. Jackson, a true lover of the genres. I enjoyed this a great deal when it was a weekly feature, and hopefully it is back for a good long run. William explains all the background in his post, so go have a read, and enjoy a double feature. It’s on me.
And that’s 30 for this issue. Join me Sunday, Father’s Day, for a new issue of Blimprider Times. See you then!