Tuesday, October 9, 2012

And Life Resumes as Normal

Octopodicon was a rousing success and definitely a great first-time con organized by the good folks of OKC. I met a slew of interesting people, sat through some informative panels, and discovered the particular bodily discomforts wearing a corset for 12 hours can bring. I've got pictures up on my facebook page, including one where I am riding a steampunk Segway that looks uncannily like a Dalek.

Speaking of Dalek, on Day Two, I had 15+ people tell me, "Oh my gosh, you look just like River Song!" There was a little boy running around in a red fez and somewhere a con-goer has a video of me shooting the boy's fez off. Since I have not seen that episode yet, I had little clue what I was actually doing. I simply asked the parents, "Do you mind if I torment your son?" and, being co-goers, they happily agreed. The poor kid had absolutely no idea what was going on and was probably thinking, "Who is this crazy lady?" I ended up going as a steampunk cowgirl-style River Song for the costume contest and though I didn't win, I knew the audience liked my costume. Now I am working on a kickbutt steampunk River Song costume for Emerald City in November! Any ideas or suggestions?

There were an abundance of published writers, soon-to-be published writers, and aspiring writers at the con, and it seems as if every other person I talked to was a writer to some degree. This was a tad humbling to realize that many people are in the same boat that I am. But then again, I imagine few of them were crazy enough to quit their jobs on the gamble that they could make it as a full-time writer!

A few things of particular note I picked up at the con: I sat through the panel on Airship Piracy, and one thing that was discussed in detail was air battles. The presenters pointed out that a marine ship could shoot upwards at an airship - however, gravity drag would do quite a number on the cannonball's range and impact. I read a few days ago that a cannonball could shoot a mile or more, but that is along a horizontal plane. Shooting upwards would be much different. The presenters also pointed out that an airship could simply drop a cannonball overboard and count on gravity to do the work on any attacking vessel below. I was thinking about this as I was writing Chapter 16 - the Horizon was sailing 1,000 feet above the water: she would likely still be in range for cannonfire, so I wonder how far up she would need to be to be out of the way of cannons. I may have to put her up higher to keep her safer.

I also attended a delightful panel about aerospace dynamics by a wonderful lady who has a long history of a glider pilot. She talked at length about thermals, lifts, drops, and retold amusing stories about problems gliders can get into, such as dropping down into some farmer's soybean field and having to pay for the damages the glider created. One thing she hammered on was the fact that for every lift there is a drop, so keep that in mind when sailing. Also, she said that clouds offer lifts, so apparently glider pilots go from cloud to cloud to gain extra lift.

Now that I am back home, it is time to pick up where I left off with drafting. I just finished Chapter 16 - the Horizon narrowly escaped a terrific storm over the Black Sea and made it through with just minor damages. Chapter 17 starts today! As I am working through the draft, I am realizing more and more that I am going to have to put in some major skips: the entirety of Book One takes place over roughly a year, and so far I am on page 238 but have only covered about three months of action. In the interest of this not being an 800 page book, there will need to be periods of routine activity that I choose not to inscribe so that I can get this darned thing done! I am aiming at having Draft 1 finished by the end of October, but we shall see what happens. Writing five pages a day gives me about 100 more pages by the end of October, so we shall see.

I picked up a few more donors for my Kickstarter project which is wonderful! I'm standing at 6% pledged, so please donate if you feel lead!



  1. Sounds like a fun & interesting time!

  2. Not to try to gainsay the presenters, but I'm a bit dubious of a naval cannon hitting an airship. Particularly if it was a smoothbore rolling-carriage-type cannon as was common on the ships of the day. There's more to it than range. Historically those cannons were not designed to elevate much more than 15 degrees. Not surprising, since on the sea your target is always the same level as you. That's not to say this steampunk world wouldn't have adapted, but even if it could be pointed upward, at some point the recoil of the cannon is going to destroy the gun carriage: firing horizontally the cannon rolled backward to dissipate recoil, but firing upward, most of that recoil would go into the carriage and/or deck. They did have mortars, but I'm not sure those had the range and they almost certainly did not have the accuracy to be a serious airship deterrent.

    Then there's swivel guns, which could point up, but they were short range and probably ineffective against the ship itself, even a more lightly built airship.

    Not to say your world can't have more advanced designs of course. If you're world is into rifled cannon with flak shells, then that's a different story. Especially if they've developed the elevation and traverse systems necessarily to track a moving air target. Historically I don't think they got this stuff till the 1900s, when the airplane showed up. But since airships are a staple of your world it's probably not unreasonable to think cannon technology would follow to some degree.

    Another tactic for ship-to-air defense would be rockets. Looks into William Congreve. They (European) were actually using them militarily at the beginning of the 1800s, and in 1844 William Hale developed vectored thrust to improve accuracy.

    1. Great information, Matt! Thanks for all of these insightful comments! It reminds me of someone I know who does professional fireworks. A friend of his talked him into giving him a firework and the guy simply put it on the end of a boat dock and lit it - the recoil sank the boat dock a good foot or two lower!