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Tinker's Plague
A post-apocalyptic, science fiction, medical and political thriller - NC17, ISBN 978-1-933157-30-6 Available in trade paperback and e-book formats. 98,000 words.
Draumr Publishing: http://www.draumrpublishing.com/store/cart.php?target=main
Stephen's Place

My Books

Draumr Publishing
978-1-933157-30-6
$17.95 USA / 18.95 Canadian
Betrayed by petty minded superiors in Novo Gaia, Brad and Carla race to save innocents from the blind hatred of long-dead killers.

The Earth is struggling to rebuild itself from the excesses of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Brad, a Doctor of General Applied Technologies colloquially known as a Tinker, travels the Dark Lands- areas without electricity- helping the people bootstrap themselves back from the edge of civilization.

All until he finds the plague in the town of Guelph.

Now Brad and his assistant Carla struggle to save the lives of the rapidly succumbing townspeople, while a cold war battle between Novo Gaia and the United Grid regions plays out over the quarantine and the lives of the people in the Dark Lands. The political theater is leaving Brad with a mounting toll of dead victims.

Will Brad and Carla be able to stop the plague, or will the contagion escape, infecting a world that is in no condition to survive another catastrophe?

CHAPTER 1               KNIFE HEALING

     The boy sprinted along the crumbling, asphalt road his twisted, left arm flailing in his haste. He scrambled over a wooden gate and ran to an ancient van sitting in a field. A tower of interlocking pipes topped with a windmill rose from the van's back corner. Thin-film solar panels covered its roof and sides. Gasping, the boy wailed, "TINKER!"

     The van's backdoor opened to reveal a man dressed in light, hemp clothing. His blond hair peeked out from under a wide-brimmed hat.                                  

     "What is it?" he asked, donning a pair of mirrored sunglasses.

     The boy tried to explain, but all that came past his cleft palate was a babble.

     "Slow down. I can't understand you," said the tinker. Stepping from the van, he touched the boy's shoulder. "Take some deep breaths and try again."

     Trembling, the boy obeyed.

     "It's me maw, she's a dyin'. Meb says she needs a doctor, like in Gridtown, but we ain't got none. Youse a tinker, Meb says maybe youse can 'elp. Da says 'e'll pay. Please, tinker, save me maw."

     "Meb, the midwife from the village sent you?"

     "Yeah."

     "You're Greg Thomson's boy. I remember you from last year."

     "Yeah. Please, tinker, youse gotta 'elps me maw."

     "Is your mother having a baby?"

     "Yeah. Meb ses it's what's killin' 'er."

     "Damn it, I told Thomson to stop having kids. All right, run to the James' place. Have one of them hitch my team and bring my wagon to your house. I'll grab my med kit and go straight there."

     "Thank youse, tinker, thank youse." The child sprinted toward the main road.

     "Damn Thomson! How many monsters will it take for him to accept the obvious?" The tinker entered the van emerging seconds later with a pack on his back and a laptop computer in his hand.

     Could be a malpresentation, or an umbilical tangle. Probably a foetal malformation knowing Thomson's seed, he thought as he started down the road.

     Five minutes later he approached the farmhouse of the Thomson clan. Its worn, vinyl siding had torn from the walls in many places, exposing the styrofoam beneath. Boarded-over windows made its two stories seem taller. The outbuildings looked ready to collapse. Despite the warm, spring day, smoke flowed from the chimney.

     "Tinker," called a well-shaped girl with delicate features standing on the porch. She wore a homespun shirt, leggings and leather sandals.

     "Where's Mrs. Thomson?" asked the tinker.

     "I'll take you." The girl led the way into the house. Dim light entered around the boards covering the smashed windows, highlighting years of filth and neglect. Deformed children stared at the tinker as he passed them.

     "I'm Meb’s granddaughter, Carla. Thanks for coming. Grandma said Mrs. Thomson's in a bad way. She said it's a malpresentation, but she can't find an arm or leg to turn the baby." The girl pulled a strand of her long, ebony hair away from her dark-blue eyes.

science fiction
science fiction fantasy

About Me

Author Portrait
Gandalf taught me how to be a spirit wrapped in flesh. Aragorn taught me how to be a man. Frodo taught me of perseverance and Samwise of loyalty. I owe much to J.R. Tolkin and others like Homer, innumerable books on mythology, Frank Herbert, H.G. Wells and the list goes on. They, through their works, taught me how to live. Along the way I learned of the power of the written word, the gift it could give by slipping past our defenses to show us the best and the worst in ourselves. These revaluations have lead me to become a writer.


So who am I. I am a lifeguard, husband, mystic, science enthusiast, home handyman, backyard mechanic, and writer. Like most of us, the face I wear changes with the company and the season. My three cats know me as pride alpha, I like to think so, though servant is probably more accurate. Who am I kidding, my wife runs the pride, I just try and stay out of her way.


At any rate, I am a man of middle years who lives in a house in Ontario, Canada with three cats, a wife and a sincere hope that you will buy and enjoy my books.

Testimonials

You say you want an interesting post-apocalyptic novel, but The Road is too...Cormac McCarthyesque for you? Why don't you check out Stephen B. Pearl's Tinker's Plague? I read with Stephen at the Ad Astra science fiction convention, and when I was listening to him? Goosebumps. Ira Nayman - Proprietor of The Alternate Reality News Service.
Tinker's Plague Review by Nicole Chardenet Author of Young Republican Yuppy Princess.

The plot is well-done and the author clearly pays attention to modern-day politics and environmental issues. The bleak future painted therein is based on a world (ours, obviously) that didn't heed warnings about pollution and sustainability - what was once Toronto, for example, is now the "C-zone", so badly contaminated that nothing can live there, so of course that's where they keep the criminals.

I think sci-fi readers will like especially if they like a medical slant.

My Links

Stephen's Place
www.draumrpublishing.com/index.php
Authors Promoting Authors
You Tube
www.ad-astra.org
www.tcon.ca/polaris/modules/tconguests
www.sfcontario.ca

Buy Now

Amizon.ca
Barnes & Noble
Draumr Publishing
Club Lighthouse Publishing
Chapters.indigo

Contact Me

...
Area Signings, Non-local Signings, Workshops/Lectures, Conferences, Personal Coaching, Online Chats
www.stephenpearl.com/index.html

Events

I will be signing copies of Tinker's Plague at Commerce Court Coles on wednesrday June 29, 2011 from 12:00 to 2:00 pm. Address: 199 Bay Street Toronto Ontario Phone: 416-868-1782 

 

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Eerie con 13

Created On: 05/03/2011 05:43:03
With all due apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien

In Southern Ontario there lived a writer who went to cons. Not nasty dirty cons filled with the ends of badly-made, storm-trooper costumes and an oozy smell (All right they can have a smell, but I’m taking dramatic license here) nor yet a dry, bare, boring, poorly attended cons with nowhere to sit and noting to eat: they were Science fiction cons and that means geekdom.

The quest began with a call from the third of our party Ira Nayman Proprietor of the Alternative reality news service,

Website: http://www.lespagesauxfolles.ca/?pg34

who interestingly enough does look a little like a tall version of Thorin. I lean towards a Bilbo without the fashion sense. I leapt upon my trusty chariot, which is due for a break job, and sped, at legally acceptable speeds, of course, down the sheer face of mount escarpment to the station where the huge carrier dragons discouraged their passengers. Well, most of their passengers, one wonders about the Go Busses sometimes.
Returning to Keep Needs Some Work we collected she who must be obeyed, the glorious one, the love of my life, the tolerant source of all things good, she who is likely to pelt me with wet noodles if she reads this, my wife Joy. No you may not have a visual she’s mine keep your dirty mind to yourself. Ha, some people. ;-)
Biding the watch tigers farewell we sped, at legally acceptable speeds, of course, to the Days Inn at the Falls, where Eerie con 13

Web site: http://www.eeriecon.org

was held. Arriving we raced, At legally acceptable speeds, of course, into the lobby and checked in. The hotel was close enough to the Brandy wine um errr Niagara River that if one jumped off its roof and had a tail wind one could possibly land in Canada. Where one, if a citizen, would be treated for their injuries promptly without having to sell ones house to pay for it. Hands off my health care Tory scum. The small c capitalist, small s socialist brandished his Elvin blade at the spiders Harper and Harass as they bind up the heroic adventurers and hang them from the corporate money tree by threads of lies. Sorry, I’m writing this on Election Day, I may be a little feverish.
Checking in went smoothly and I obtained permission to put up posters. Getting to the room meant riding the dreaded elevators of delay which seek to slowly digest their occupants after aging them into feebleness while they waited on the elevators’ arrival. These twin beasts were a bane to all made worst by the fact that half the con was on the top, eighth, floor while the other half was in the basement.
Transporting needful items to the room of bad air, yes I had trouble with tobacco again. I think it was on the sheets. It’s useless to have a no smoking room if the sheets all go in a common laundry. The stench transfers. It’s also useless if smoking is permitted in the hall or any of the adjoining rooms or floors. I cracked the window registered for the con and started putting up posters. Little did I know that forces far beyond the ken of man had decided to strike. They filled my bag with the dreaded tape of un-sticking. The blooming posters kept falling down all weekend. It became a running joke. Finally the magnets of holding manage to secure a poster to a metal door and extreme amounts of tape kept the other posters in place.

Then came the dealer’s room.

Nicely, the con let Ira and I have two tables for the price of one so we had room to spread out. The hours from 4 to 8 pm were spent in variations of my spiel and doing some pre-promotion for Nukekubi, a modern fantasy novel, I just sold to Dark Dragon Publishing.

Website: http://www.darkdragonpublishing.com

There were several other dealers’ including Golden Days of Radio

Website: www.GDORADIO.com

who sell radio plays set on dvds He also sells erotica, something we have in common see Slaves of Love and The Hollow Curse. I swapped a copy of Tinker’s Plague for several disks. The most notable for me was the Orson Wells Broadcast of War of the Worlds.
Finally, the dealer’s room closed and Joy and I went off to party. The Buffalo Time Counsel threw a shindig.

Website: http://www.buffalotimecouncil.org

Talk about food. Cold cuts bread buns salad veggies and chocolate cake. Joy had the cake I grazed the responsible table. Yes saintly responsible me who dined on roast beef, roast turkey, roast chicken, bred buns and salad. Of course we’ll leave off the bit that I’m allergic to milk products and couldn’t eat the cake anyway. ;-)
I got to meet Larry Niven at this party but the background noise made it difficult for me to understand what he was saying. He is an astonishingly nice down to earth chap. I liked him.

Then to the pool to float down stream in barrels to lake, sorry then to the pool for a dip. Nice pool, too small for me to get a workout in but a nice pool. Note: when your time for a mile in the water is just under a half hour short pools don’t cut it for a work out.

Next to bed when the stench of tobacco kept me awake despite antihistamines.

The Saturday saw me in the dealer’s room from 10:00 to 5:00 except for .

10a THIS IS HUGE!!!! Not many authors had works as big in print and on screen as the Rings and Harry Potter. Why did it happen? Can it happen again? Name some likely candidates and your reasons. Niven, Pantaleev, Pearl, Mod: Kaye.

Larry Niven: http://www.larryniven.net

Stephen B. Pearl: http://www.stephenpearl.com

Marvin Kaye: http://www.marvinkaye.com

This was fairly well attended Larry Niven was to my left at the Panel table. In short the message can be summed up, if anybody knew what the next huge this was going to be they’d write that and make a mint so why the heck are you asking us. ? One of the audience later told me that he was quite take my view that the lust for the ring in Lord of the Rings was an allegory for addiction with golem as the burnt out junky and Frodo as the still functioning addict. It’s always a big smile for me when something like that happens.

1p READING Stephen Pearl Salon

Three people attended which was three more than my last reading. I read the first chapter from my upcoming book Nukekubi and the first chapter of Tinker’s Plague. I will mention that an associate who critiqued a book for me in the Critters Writers group was at the con and attended the reading. It was really great to meet a person I worked so closely with in the flesh. Now if I’d only had the presence of mind to write down his contact information. Sorry.

3p DIVERSITY IN S-F AND COMICS Despite claims to be liberal and color-blind, the S-F business has few writers from minority groups and the comics Industry is killing off characters from human minority groups. Why are white male Liberals declaring war on minorities? Rainbow B Niven, Price, Pearl, Mod: Mak.

Derwin Mak: http://www.derwinmaksf.com

This was well attended by a somewhat racial mixed group. It started out as a typical oh why do they do they not include racially diverse characters bitch and wine until I had a go at giving some possible answers for why people might be a little gun shy about using ethnic characters. Things such as the changing nature of PC speak. Let me say this again.

Proper English must be the safe fall back from PC.

I also said that whenever anybody wrights a character of a different ethnicity than themselves they have to fake it. Now to me faking it means you research something find allegories in your own life then bring them to the page. Some of the Panel placed a different semantic interpretation on the phrase. This kind of points out another aspect and that is you can’t win. Include ethnically diverse characters and you get lam basted for not doing them right. Frankly I think the difference between growing up on a farm or growing up in the city will have more impact on how a character behaves than where their great grandfather came from. The topic got a little heated but in the end no harm was done. I think in the end the adage folk are folk and just try to ignore inconsequentialities while showing a degree of respect to all is a message audience and panelists alike could agree on.


4p PREDICTIONS What will the world look like in 2100? What will be different? What will be the same and why? Rainbow A Stephenson, Pantaleev, Martineck,Clink, Mod, Pearl

This was scary. I got in a touch late and was at one end of the table. The interesting dynamic was that the people who were optimistic about the future were on the far side of the table. We realists… umm pessimists I both think that human stupidity has made a mess and will make a bigger mess. The major issue is the fact that we are running out of energy and doing very little to shift our society over to sustainable energy generation. That and the fact that human population is still escalating. If you read Tinker’s Plague you’ll get a view of what I consider one potential future. Interestingly enough no one tried to challenge my assertion that unbridled capitalism will invariably become feudalism.

This brought us to the evening and the Masquerade. I once more did A Public Service Announcement. This time I won a prize. Wow! I won’t say much but if you follow this link

http://www.youtube.com/user/StephenBPearl?feature=mhum

You should be able to watch a video of the masquerade.

After the mask Ira, Joy and I hung out around the con suit ate chicken wings and Joy had pizza as well. By my third bear I didn’t feel deprived at all. By my forth I couldn’t feel my knees, a rare and wonderful thing I might add.

Bed and more time in a smelly room followed.

****Sunday Program****

10:00 to 1:00 in the dealers room with the following exceptions.

10a I CAN’T BE LIEVE YOU SAID THAT! - How do you handle all the social networking; Facebook, Twitter, Blogs? What if someone gives you a bad review? Rainbow A Gresh, Pearl, Harlacher, Mod: Leslie

Lois H. Gresh: http://www.loisgresh.com

Mark Leslie: http://www.markleslie.ca


This went off topic and no one minded. We really just talked about using the internet to promote yourself. My list of sites.

Personal site: www.stephenpearl.com

Red Room: http://www.redroom.com/member/stephenb

Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com

Polka Dot Banner: http://www.polkadotbanner.com

Draumr Blog: http://www.draumrpublishing.com/index.php

You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/user/StephenBPearl?feature=mhum


12n VAMPIRES They are hot now; panel discusses what the next hot theme might be, and past ones. Rainbow B Crow, Pearl, Schweitzer, Mod: Kaye.

This kept steering off topic and being dragged back on. Two of us agreed that wizards would be a good one for the next hot topic. Another possibility are the Fay.

Vampires in modern fiction are an amalgamation of mythical vampires and the incubus / succubus. Mythical Vampires are nasty walking corpses.

The modern vampire represents teenage sexual repression and are attractive because it’s the sexy older powerful being that makes no demands on the mortal in the relationship. Thus they form a transition between father and lover.

This pretty much marked the end of the con so we sped home, at legally acceptable speeds, of course. Yes, it was there and back again a con goer’s tail. Now where did I put that damn ring I found? I’ll need it for Polaris 25.

One Story of Yule

Created On: 12/20/2010 11:49:17
Ra who rules for millions of millions of years rides the barge of day beginning as Khepri young, vital, reborn into strength, as time passes he matures into Ra, fully in his power a driving force that none may gainsay, time roles on and he becomes Atum, wise and aged, weary of body. As the sun sets he boards the barge of night becoming Auf.

On the barge of night Ra travels the twelve provinces of the spirit world bringing an hour of light to each. Each province contains a vicious serpent that seeks to destroy the lord of light and each of these he defeats forcing them to draw his barge to the next province. Thus the cycle continues. Except for the night of trial and triumph.

As the year ages so does Ra and on the solstice he is enfeebled as if by many years. The lesser serpents he forces to heal but before the gates of day awaits the worst, most vile and powerful of all the serpents. Apophis, a force of pure chaos that seeks to destroy all and devour the sun ending the march of time itself. Through the year Ra has wrestled Apophis casting the serpent into the void with each new day, but on the solstice the opposing powers balance on a knife’s edge.

On solstice night Bastet, goddess of cat kind and Ra’s daughter through many mothers, journeys with Ra casting down the serpents until they stand at the very gates of day. Apophis rears out of the void taking the form of a cobra as long as the Nile itself. Towering above the barge of day, poison dripping from his fangs the beast seeks to devour the sun and bring darkness to all the lands.

Ra takes on the form of a great jungle cat and Bastet stands with him. The serpent lunges and Ra leaps aside decoying his foe. Bastet lunges slashing sharp claws against the serpent’s scaly back. The serpent turns and Ra leaps closing iron jaws on the snake’s neck. Rearing up he shakes the snake while Bastet slashes at it with her claws. Apophis struggles free and spits venom at Bastet. Ra slams his mass into the beast knocking its head at the last second and the venom misses its mark.

Bastet lunges, her claws leaving deep gouges in her foe. Ra leaps again, for even an aged cat has great strength. His claws grip the serpent’s body and his jaws close on its throat. With a mighty push he drives his claws down the length of the snake spilling the guts that would devour the world.

Bastet joins in the kill and together they cut Apophis into peaces throwing them into the primal void, for chaos can not die but only be challenged and delayed.

The battle done Harakhte throws open the gates of day. Ra-Auf strides through becoming Khepri, youthful and strong with Bastet at his side. Khepri ascends the daytime barge to continue the voyage eternal.

Ankh Em Ma’at everyone have a happy Yule or what ever you celibrate.

SFContario

Created On: 11/23/2010 04:17:15
SFContario has been and gone so here’s the wrap up.

The glorious queen of all, she who is my sun and moon, the beloved monarch of my heart, she who must be obeyed, ;-) my wife Joy, and I managed to get to the Ramada Plaza Hotel for about 1:30 pm. The Hotel staff were uniformly polite and professional. The hotel itself was showing its age in places. This was in both good and bad ways. Some of the decor in the common areas was incredible.

The room was pleasant enough with a separate sitting and bed.

I unpacked then went for a swim, as much as the paddling pool permitted, it’s an OK pool for socializing then BOOK MAN registered for the con set up The Book Table in the dealer’s room.

The con organisers had grouped the authors together creating a little authors row. From left to right this consisted of Erik Buchanan, author of Small Magics and Cold Magics. Karen Dales Author of The Chosen Chronicles Stephen B. Pearl author of Tinker’s Plague, Slaves of Love and The Hollow Curse, who is this guy anyway anybody know? And Ira Nayman proprietor of the Alternative Reality News Service.
And so Book Man and Book Girl, Joy if you haven’t clued in, began the long hours of giving minor variations on my spiel and of course sharing Halloween candy with anyone who would eat it, so Joy and I wouldn’t have to.

This lead to my first panel

Friday November 19, 2010 7:00pm Gardenview room

How to write a synopsis. A synopsis is an important part of the submission package you will use to sell your novel. But what is a synopsis and how is it developed and polished? Is there an ideal length? How much detail should it include? Panellists discuss common problems and errors. (Erik Buchanan, Michael Martineck(M), Stephen B Pearl, Karl Schroeder)
This went very well with the general consensus being the synopses are hard but necessary. A few suggestions were.

1Take a sentence from each chapter as a key and use these to build the flow.

2 There is a big difference between a synopses to sell a finished book and a synopses to sell a book on speck.

3 If you have trouble, work out the key link words you’d use for the book on Amazon and the like as your stat point.

4 Avoid “Ly” words. (Adjectives and adverbs) especially suddenly, very and finally.

5 In writing, in general, look for and avoid superfluous characters. If you can combine two or more minor characters in to one do it.

6 If you are selling on speck don’t feel overly bound by the synopsis.

7 For blurbs look to the film industry for good examples.

8 As always, write to the publishers stated preferences.

9 Don’t get cute. This is a professional document so be professional.

10 Synopses don’t have to be boring.

11 If you are stuck just write the thing then edit. Write a synopses and don’t worry about the length then write a synopses of your synopsis then repeat until you have the length and quality you need.

12 Find your main theme and stick with that.

13 Don’t go into why your characters do things, it is enough to say they do them.

Does anybody want to question why I think aspiring writers should go to cons? It was a really good panel.

Friday November 19, 2010 9:30PM Stephen B. Pearl Reading

I was sharing space and time with Karen. Sadly we were opposite an awards ceremony and a publisher’s party. I had one person stay for my reading. He’d already read Tinker’s Plague, he apparently loved the book but forgot the first chapter made him squirm.

Then to the con suite where Book Man and Book Girl scarfed some Swedish meat balls and veggies. A general note regarding the Con suite. “Holly good chow, Book Man!”

Then to Saturday and as Book Girl managed the Book Table.

Saturday November 20, 2010 10:00 AM Courtyard room

Is Extinction Really Forever? Given that an extinct form of mouse has been cloned back into existence and dinosaur bone cells have been found in fossils, what are the ethical applications and limits of cloning technology? (Mark Offer, Stephen B. Pearl, Jane Carol Petrovich, Amanda Stock(M), Peter Watts)

This was a excellent discussion. At times a little over the head of this popular science fan and self avowed generalist, but really good. I’ve actually moderated my opinion somewhat in light of the information shared. Of course my co-panellists could have staffed a small university’s biology department. There was some debate about the viability of bringing extinct species back even if we (humanity) caused the extinction because of the lack of companion organisms such as the normal flora in the digestive tract. I still think that we need to grow up as a species and start taking responsibility for the damage we cause. I did get to quote Stan Lea in a science panel which was really cool. “With great power comes great responsibility”.

Then back to the Book Table, Book Man. Hung with the other authors talked to some nice folk. Joy checked out the art room. Then came.

Saturday November 20, 2010 3:00 PM Ballroom A

Biotech: Friend or Foe? This science holds out the possibility of supplying fuel while removing carbon from industrial emissions, regenerating cartilage restoring mobility to millions, curing human illness, generating plagues that are racially specific, destroying our food supply by killing off bees, converting farm land to deserts. A look at this double-edged sword and where it might take us, good and bad. (Eric Choi(M), Mark Offer, Stephen B Pearl, Alison Sinclair, Peter Watts)

Starters the consensus of us all was that you might as well say lug wrench, friend or foe, but in thinking of a title for the panel I took some artistic licence. For both the science panels I was really impressed by the turn out. Biotech seems to be on peoples minds. We reviewed and discussed many techs. I don’t think we came to any real conclusions beyond that we generally agreed that, thus far, we’ve treated the agricultural Biotech like a child who found his father’s gun. It did get people talking and a lot of folk in the audience were shocked by what’s being worked on. There was a consensus that Biotech is nothing new. From the first time somebody bred a domesticated animal we’ve practiced Biotech, it’s just the capacities of the tech have exploded in recent years. Rejection free, plentiful, transplant organs are on the horizon as well as modified crops that could destroy entire echo systems. Apparently orbital satellites can spot crops with a particular gene encoded into them. This whole field is wild.

Saturday November 20, 2010 4:00 PM Essex Hallway Autographs signed by Stephen B. Pearl, also signing at the table were Violette Malan and Douglas Smith.

This was a little slow but I did sign one autograph. Very nice guy who’s in the Canadian armed forces. Violette had the middle seat and we had a good chat. She is a very charming, well spoken woman. I will describe her as regal and mean it in only the best of ways. Unfortunately the table layout made it difficult for me to speak with Douglas, who in all our somewhat limited exchanges has seemed a great gentleman. Thus far I haven’t met an author I didn’t like. Now watch me find an arch nemeses at the next con I go to and we spend the next twenty years hating each other.

To the Book Table Book Man until the exhibitor’s room closed at 6:00 oh no 7:00, no it was 6:00 after all. As a whole the con was run really well, but there were some scheduling glitches like different times being listed for things in different locations. These things happen. If a minor hiccup like this is all I can find to complain about then you know they did a good job.
To the Book Cave um… Room to scarf down some food then the Masquerade where I once more performed, A Public Service Announcement, soon to be on a U tube screen near you.

Joy and I then hit the con suite, chatting fun and then on to the numerology panel. Unfortunately the person running this panel, famed numerologist Debra Yeung, was also running the charity auction, in which a copy of the great literary masterpiece Tinker’s Plague was sold. The auction was in support of the Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre and CUFF. The auction ran late and Debra was basically a no show for the panel. Fortunately, yours truly happens to have dabbled in Numerology, though I much prefer the Tarot or Norse Runes. It’s a matter of personal taste and inclination no reflection on the systems.
Thus the extremely near sighted led the blind and I did a short presentation encompassing pretty much everything I know of the art. Then I filled the time playing with Norse Runes. The audience seemed to have fun and Debra was pleased that someone was able to pinch hit. It’s something I learned a long time ago. If you are going to teach someone to count to ten, you only need to be able to count to twelve.

A quick stop by the Filking room and a drop in on a room party followed by a sleepless night. A bug grabbed me that weekend, but hay, why dwell?

Sunday November 21, 2010 10:00 AM Courtyard room

Why in the name of the Gods do they have panels at 10:00 am on a con Sunday? This sentiment was voiced by the entire panel who looked a little like an add for death, and not the good walking kind, when we arrived to discuss.

What do you mean my stake won’t work? Drive a stake into the vampire's heart and it is dead right? In traditional vampire lore that stake better be made of Oak, Ash of Thorn wood or you just made the vampire mad! How incorporating facts from actual mythology can add conflict and challenge to paranormal fiction. (Stephanie Bedwell-Grime, Karen Dales(M), Douglas Smith, Stephen B Pearl)

This went well though I found an interesting dichotomy. The others seemed to think that since Vampires and the like are legendary they were completely open to redefining. I feel that the language becomes meaningless if words don’t retain meaning. Thus Vampires are destroyed by the sun and drink blood to survive ect. If a thing doesn’t adhere to these standards then it is not a vampire and should be thrown out of the country club. Also, as a student of the paranormal who has studied it since I was fifteen I find the loose reinterpretation of the terms a little untoward. It’s not anything to induce hostility over, it’s just different opinions about the usage. That said, we all agreed that the original myths could be a rich source of inspiration and give valuable insights into the characters.
Oh yes, another thing we all agree on is that like them or hate them there has been enough bashing of the Twilight books and movies.

After this it was back to the Book Table where Book Man slipped into an exhausted funk between pitches.

Over all, I must sing the praises of everyone involved in this con. It was great, enjoyable and despite my iffy health, I had a good time. I look forward to attending SFContario again next year.

My Trip to England

Created On: 10/28/2010 08:58:58
Well, I’m back from England. What can be said of Joy’s and my arrival in the land of Author and his Knights? It poured. Rain came down in sheets and the wind whipped around the buss we took from the airport like a howling beast on the hunt. For most of the storm we were on busses going from the Airport in Manchester to Bakewell in Derbyshire, where Joy’s mom lives. We finally arrived exhausted from scant sleep for several nights and no sleep on the flight. Why do airlines delight in putting people with shoulders in the same row of seats?

The following day had lovely weather so I went to work organizing the geraush. What a job. This occupied me for the next two and a half days. Then I moved on into the attic. By the by, if anyone in the Derbyshire area is interested in old car magazines please contact me. It’s a free or cheep to good home with all proceeds going to the Weston Park Cancer Charity. I did make time to nip into town and donate a copy of Tinker’s Plague to the Bakewell Library.

We also spent some time visiting with some of Joy’s late brother’s friends. Nice folk.

On the Monday I went into town to look over the market. The fish and chip shop just up from the co-op gets my vote. Really very good. I also video taped a lot of the village. I have a book I am currently trying to market ‘Worlds Apart’ that is set in Bakewell and I wanted to video record some of the settings I use.

There is a very unique shop, Bakewell Auto Parts and Pet Food, (8 Water St, Bakewell, DERBYSHIRE, DE45 1EW 01629 814264) that anyone visiting should drop in on. It’s this little hole in the wall with all the pet food and toys you’d ever want to see. It also happens to be across the street from a courtyard that I use as a setting in Worlds Apart. My female lead and her best friend eat lunch there.

Of course no trip to Bakewell can be complete without sampling the town’s signature dish, the Bakewell Tart. No I am not talking about a woman wearing too much makeup a short skirt and a blouse with a plunging neckline. You have a dirty mind. ;-)

The Bakewell Tart is a pastry and the Bakewell Tart Shop brackets the a fore mentioned courtyard.

While I was in town I stopped by the Discount Book Store, located by the library entrance just down from the swimming pool. The place has incredible deals. I also dropped in on the used book store located by the river adjacent to the main bridge.
While walking along the river, which is lovely, I came across an organization displaying various birds of prey. They were lovely. This group tries to preserve these magnificent creatures.

Then came the day to leave. The skies opened up and rain poured down. Our flight left on time and we got back to Pearson international in time for the skies to open up and pour down. At least for the flight back Joy and I got to sit together and the movies were OK and good in that order. The latest Shrek and Iron Man 2. Iron Man 2 still impresses me. I also got through a complete popular science magazine, meaning I’m almost caught up on my periodicals.

So there you have it. It beats being tied up having red hot pokers applied to one’s skin after which the burnt flesh is cut away and the process is repeated. One of the lovely things done to suspected witches during the burning times. Nothing is ever forgotten! Talking about World’s Apart brought it to mind.

Keep smiling and have a good one.
Cheers

Armour Facts for Fiction

Created On: 10/07/2010 00:01:48
Warriors wear plate armour, thieves wear leather and wizards wear robes everybody who plays D and D knows that. Simple right, now let’s write a story set in England six hundred AD and have Uther come to Egrain in full plate, right? Wrong! In reality armour though the ages is a complex technology that evolved over thousands of years. It’s not static through time, nor is most of it restricted by profession though at times, in some cultures, some types were restricted to certain social classes.

Many examples of common misconceptions can be found with plate armour that in gaming is generally considered the best for medieval tech. In reality late period plate armour was amazingly flexible and mobile it was also heavy as heck and would bake in the sun. It was expensive and designed primarily for use by horsemen. In modern terms the mounted knight could be likened to a tank. While on foot a man in plate could move and could mount a horse without assistance, despite this the weight, seventy-five pounds, meant that he would tire quickly. One must also remember that under the iron shell the man would be wearing a padded gambeson. Picture wrapping yourself in a wool blanket covered by sixteen-gauge iron plate in the sun. Heat exhaustion was a common problem for the fighting men of the past.

Another problem with many forms of armour is the helmet. Most closed faced helms limit the fighter’s vision. Again they were designed with the joust in mind where you wanted the smallest eye slit possible to protect the eyes from flying splinters when a lance shattered. This problem extends back to some early period helmets. So if one is writing about a warrior in a helmet one should know which type of helmet and hopefully look at a picture of it and an example if possible to determine its strengths and drawbacks.

One should also remember that plate armour only existed for a short span of centuries reaching its zenith in the early sixteen hundreds. After this time improvements in firearms made plate armour obsolete.

The main defensive strength in plate armour didn’t come from stopping a blade but instead by deflecting the force of the blow. Thus it is common to see curved and or angled surfaces in solid armour. This also resulted in the popularity of several types of maces in the late middle ages, as they were more effective at battering through the armour.

The final drawbacks I will mention are that plate is hard to put on. It can take twenty minuets or more to put on a suit and without someone to assist with doing up the buckles ect it can’t be done at all. It was also expensive, taking months sometimes years of work to make a single suit. Each suit had to be custom made to fit, off the rack was not possible and making alterations took a lot of time and effort. Thus it was armour for the wealthy few.

Moving back in time a bit, though variations on chain-mail are still used today, we come to chain-mail.

This was heavy with most of the weight resting on the shoulders. It came in for categories. The best, each link was riveted then soldered. There is a marvelous example of this in the Middle Eastern exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum. The next level down was riveted links followed by soldered links ending with loose links that were just pushed together. This again was worn over a padded gambeson.

Chain was very effective at stopping a cutting edge but allowed the full kinetic force of the blow through to the person wearing it. Thus it stopped cuts but broken bones were still common. Given a middle-ages technology this probably saved a lot of lives by preventing infection, but in the heat of battle would have been of limited benefit.

Chain also allowed a high degree of mobility and some air circulation.

At this point I should mention the transition of chain to plate was not sudden and many highbred suits did exist.

Another bit of trivia is the origin of the term knitting where the ladies of the castle would sit with pliers and wirers making sheets of the lowest grade chain-mail. When the armour smith came round he would take these and cut them like fabric to form the main part of a suit then reinforce the most vulnerable areas with higher quality links to make a whole suit.

It adds a bit of a new spin on the phrase “Mind your knitting,” because your man’s life might depend on it.

For the purposes of brevity I’ll skip several generations of armour development like scale mail and chain linked plates. A trip to a museum or a tour of the library will tell you all you need to know about these. I’ll now focus of leather armour. This is not James Dean’s jacket. Generally, for leather armour you’d be looking at boiled ox hide shaped to fit its wearer. This stuff can be close to a centimeter thick and is about as flexible as a pine plank. Again it would be worn with an under-pad to lessen the force of blows.

In all these instances armour would be passed down from father to son. It was not uncommon for the less well off members of a campaign to be wearing armour that was a hundred years out of date. To be frank, it was not uncommon for the conscripted peasants to be wearing a quilted jacket their wives sowed for them or no armour at all. Caring for the common solders well-being has increased over the centuries. With their frequent use as human Ginny pigs in recent history that really says something about human decency over the ages.

Another thing to remember is that with each advance in armour there was a corresponding advance in weapons to counteract it.

In the present day we are dressing, at lest some of, our warriors in kevlar vests. So what happens? They come up with teflon bullets that penetrate the weave of the vest effectively poisoning the man they hit. This same process went on throughout human history.

The first armour was undoubtedly some guy wearing skins or maybe braches strung together with hide. Now they are experimenting towards suits that mimic Iron Man from the comic books. In all the principle remains the same to defeat the weapons tech of the day.

So when you’re writing a noble knight there are some questions to ask yourself.

When is your story? If he is a Celt from 150 BCE, he will probably fight in nothing but woad, blue paint that depending on how it’s made can have hallucinogenic properties. He might also wear leather armour, or if he is very important and rich they have found examples of chain-mail in Celtic burials. He will not have plate armour no matter how romantic you think it looks.

How much money does he have? If he is wealthy in the year 1600 he will probably have plate armour, but he may well choose to train in leather or chain to preserve the quality of his fighting suit. This could lead to some very cute meet scenes since many less well to do members of society would wear out of date armour as a matter of course.

What type of fighting is he engaging in? Armour that is well suited to horse can be completely inappropriate for foot combat. Sometimes a suite of armour that works well in a campaign setting with others to cover your flanks is worse than useless for individual conflict. Remember, the heavier the armour the harder to move and the slower to respond to threats.

Where is he? In this article I’ve focused on European armour. Other areas have had other armoring traditions. Know where your warrior is. This even applies to fantasy. I’ll address this in a moment.

Why is he dressing in tin? Armour is a response to weapon’s technology. Have some idea of what the armour is trying to defend against. If your knight is facing a repeating rifle an iron suit is worse than useless.

In a fantasy setting you have a lot more leeway than in a historical one where much is defined for you. Still, you must have an eye to consistency. Iron chain-mail in a Bronze Age society raises a lot of questions, though these can be dealt with. Such a suit would be viewed as magical. In short remember your technology level should be consistent. Your armour should reflect your society. Horseman’s plate is unlikely to be developed by people who live in a swamp. Advanced armour and weapons coming into an area from outside will likely be viewed as magical but may not be suited to the environment. A man fighting in mud is better off not sinking into it and getting stuck, thus heavy armour may be counter productive.

A final observation, no one but a masochist is going to where armour when they don’t have to because it is hot and uncomfortable.

Stephen B. Pearl AKA Lord Stephen Bruce of the principality of Ealdormere in the Society for Creative Anachronism is a Museum Junkie and writer.

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