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GrogHeads Reviews
The Cinder Spires: the Aeronaut’s Windlass

Airboy reviews Jim Butcher’s Steampunk series opener ~

Avery Abernethy, 22 February 2016

The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher is an action packed, steampunk influenced start to a new series. The population inhabits “spires” which are huge cities on large towers above the surface of the planet. The surface world is too dangerous for ordinary people but contains valuable resources and vicious animal life.

AeroThe major power technology are crystals. Tiny crystals provide light and minor power. Major crystals which are almost impossible to create can power large airships. Envision wooden Man-O-War flying through the air with cannons and inefficient power lasers. Hand weapons are hand sized power crystals and sabers. There are strange creatures, rare and unbalanced magic users who understand how crystals work, and daring traders, naval fleets and privateers flying the skies.

The Zombie Apocalypse, Part 9: Back to the ’40s!

Zombie-Grog-Box

the 1840s! ~

Jonathan Glazer, 18 February 2016

One of my favorite slogans found on an internet meme states “The hardest part about a Zombie Apocalypse is pretending not to be excited”.   I know several people who are stockpiling weapons and ammo because they truly believe it will happen and they need to be ready.

The problem is that the ZA is not just a shooting party where you get to continue your everyday life, but shoot zombies instead of going to work. This is the proverbial crap on the fan situation. In the original move Dawn of The Dead, there was a scene where the local rednecks were described as having a good time while they were shown having cookouts and stopping to snipe at ghouls unlucky to approach across an open field. It won’t really be like that. Life will change for everyone (if it even continues) forever. TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World as We Know It) will become a reality.

There will be exceptions. People who truly live off the grid in remote areas and provide for all of their own food probably will not see a huge change, other than having to take more head shots than in the past. But for the rest of us, life will not be so rosy. Eventually, the power grid will fail. That is because the power plants and transmission facilities required to distribute the electricity around the continent need to be maintained. And the people responsible for said maintenance will be eaten. The power shuts down which means no refrigeration, air conditioning, internet, cell phones, land lines, lights, microwaves or iPads.

The Zombie Apocalypse, Part 8: Keeping Your Sierra Together

Zombie-Grog-Box

Will you know it when you see it? ~

Jonathan Glazer, 22 January 2016

We envision ourselves in crisis acting in certain ways. Some of us emblazon ourselves with logos on our chests and capes, despite the impracticality of capes being settled by The Incredibles. Others have a more realistic understanding of how we act under fire and identify which rock we will use for shelter when the poop hits the radial cooling device. In reality, the intellectual part of our brains cannot comprehend how our emotional side will react once the hounds of hell are unleashed.

When we perceive a fight or flight situation to be upon us, our adrenal glands situated on top of our kidneys squirt adrenaline into the blood stream. This causes a cascade of hormonal and other physical changes designed to enhance our ability to either beat the living feces out of someone or grow wings and fly away from them.   Our heart rate, respiration, circulation patterns, muscle response and thought patterns all work in harmony to bring out the inner caveman (or woman) in all of us.

z-apoc-1Unless you are actually in the moment, you will have no way of knowing what our Incredible Hulk looks, sounds or smells like. Once you have been in a number of those situations, you begin to recognize the consistent patterns that are a part of this process. Seasoned combat veterans know what happens when the lead flies. Over time, they gain control over the chaos. Guys who have been in the field too long have been known to fall asleep during firefights. This is because adrenaline is like heroin in that we build up a tolerance to it. When you spend a lot of time in crisis mode drinking the hormone like Gatorade, it eventually has less of an impact. The result is Robert Duvall as Colonel Kilgore in Apocalypse Now not even noticing mortar shells exploding nearby and ordering his men to surf amidst a hot combat operation.

The Zombie Apocalypse, Part 7: When is it time?

Zombie-Grog-Box

Will you know it when you see it? ~

Jonathan Glazer, 22 January 2015

 

Most discussion of preparations for the Zombie Apocalypse and activities undertaken during it ignore an important element: The start. At what point do you go from your comfortable position in society as a part of an economy and a civilization to a defensive operator acting in ways to secure your and your family’s safety? It is easy enough to answer that question with “when I perceive a threat”. But what is the trigger that makes you openly carry a firearm, create a defensive perimeter (or perhaps move to a better position) and ready yourself to take a life (or stop the advance of the undead)? There won’t be a message from the emergency broadcasting system alerting you to the need to act like you are Mad Max. The news may initially report craziness afoot, but at a certain point, the authorities will put the lid on really bad news and even the media will not be reporting what is truly happening. If you ever have the chance to talk to Gulf Coast residents about what happened immediately following hurricane Katrina, they will tell you that they were in the dark, figuratively and literally for a long time.

Book Review: Crosswind

An adventure yarn of another time and place, but grounded in familiar themes that take the reader on an an enjoyable ride through intrigue and aerial derring-do.

Brant Guillory, 18 December 2015

Crosswind is Steve Rzasa’s first book about the Sark brothers, Winchell and Copernicus.  Winchell is a journalist at a small newspaper, and his brother is a pilot, in the frontier town of Perch.

crosswindThe brothers stumble into an intrigue filled plot involving a larger town to their South known as Trestleway.
While Cope is the adventurous brother, alternating between stunt pilot antics in the air and ladies man smoothness on the ground, Winch is the conservative family man with a wife and children.  The brothers stumble upon the mystery when Cope flies his brother out to the wreck of another aircraft to take pictures and write a story for the newspaper. I rather unfriendly gentleman masquerading as a local rancher tries to steal a coded message that the brothers discover in the aircraft wreckage. It turns out this man is from Trestleway, and the coded message is a warning of an impending “invasion” that was being flown in by the nephew of Perch’s mayor-general.

The brothers are sent to investigate, and report back to home. Along the way, they discover a variety of intrigue, and a few interesting technical – and mystical – tricks up Trestleway’s sleeves.

The Zombie Apocalypse, Part 6: Get The Point

Zombie-Grog-Box

||: Hack, slash, poke, repeat :||  ~

Jonathan Glazer, 20 November 2015

 

Swoosh! And the Katana liberates the Zombie’s heads, in quick succession from the tyranny of being attached to their rotting bodies. Andrea was saved from the horror of being eaten alive after losing her balance and falling to the forest ground. This was how the character of Michonne was introduced to the story of The Walking Dead. The Samurai sword carries high regard as a Zombie killing melee weapon. Is this adulation warranted? Arguments can be made for both sides of that controversy. As an active practitioner of the Japanese Sword Arts (JSA), I have my own opinions that I feel are rooted in reality. Most will agree that edged weapons are an essential tool for every toolbox following the ZA. They are silent, do not need reloading and are relatively free from excessive regulation. That last point is quite subjective as many bladed weapons are restricted in some areas. The UK has severely curtailed possession of what they deem to be “offensive” blades, which include swords and the US has a federal ban on switchblades, although automatic knives are in common use despite this ban. We will touch on these points momentarily.

swords

Gaming Nostalgia – Arco Illustrated Military Guides

Folks dug the Nostalgia ads so much that we’re keeping them around, and just changing the day. Look for our blasts-from-gaming’s-past to show up on #tbt from now on, and occasionally some other day, just to keep you on your toes.

Nostalgia--7

We all love out mothers, but some days it’s hard, like the day you recall your mother taking two dozen of your military reference books to the library donation sale. Mom! What were you thinking?!


click images to enlarge

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GrogHeads Reviews Marco Kloos’s “Frontlines” Series

We take a look at Terms of Enlistment and Lines of Departure, by Marco Kloos

Avery Abernethy, 28 October 2015

 

Terms of Enlistment and Lines of Departure are military science fiction leaning towards hard science.  Mr. Kloos has served in the military and it shows in his writing.  Both books are in the Frontlines series with the 3rd book Angles of Attack released in April, 2015.

In the Frontlines books Earth has fractured into two factions: the North American Union (dominated by the former USA) and a Russian/Chinese block.  Independent countries either no longer exist or are never mentioned.  The conflict between the two power blocks has an uneasy truce on Earth itself, but all-out war rages for the 100 or so colony worlds accessible through jump gates.

Kloos-Covers

The Earth’s resources are being depleted, the majority of humanity lives in high rise slums with a minimal ration of food, and the proles are restless and becoming lawless.  Part of the military is deployed to maintain minimal order in the high-rise clustered slums while the rest focuses on space colonization and interplanetary war for colonies.  Slum dwellers have a tiny chance of winning a lottery to become colonists on worlds which can minimally support human life through terra-forming.

Andrew Grayson a young, high-rise slum dweller, wins a 100-1 shot to join the military.  Terms of Enlistment focuses on setting up the dystopian world and the harsh basic training that washes out 80% of the inductees.  Andrew’s first posting is in the military division tasked with keeping order in the slum cities.  After a few initial conflicts, Andrew’s unit is thrust into a disastrous mission which decimates his unit and generates bad publicity through use of heavy weapons in an urban environment.