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  • Sample Chapter

    Okay so thus far chapter 3 is one of my strongest, though it is an action chapter, and I am trying to avoid too many of those because I don't want to portray the Anowarkowans as violent people, but more, it is hard to say, they are enlightenment era almost technologically, but different then Europeans, but also I have to consider whether or not there is convergent evolution and to what degree.

    Anyways, one of my goals is to make it not sound like it is a Native American speaking, since these are a very different people. They have never met the Europeans as invaders, so their mindset will be very different. Anyways, read it, and see if you agree on whether or not I managed to present the Tenochcans (Mexicans) as a "mainstream" type viewpoint i.e. something mainstream readers could relate to.

    Alacan knew he should have kept his mouth shut. He just knew it. Seeing the endless wall of horsemen in front of him just rubbed that in. They looked scary as heckness. He imagined this is how a an Deekatoo*16 must feel. Though he didn't expect them to give him any kind words or treats. They looked even more mean than scary. They ran in a dizzying series of circles, moving left and right, their formation expanding and contracting, retreating and then rushing forward as if to lunge. It was like seeing fluid. A river of camels and horses. He also knew, seeing how they worked before, that they fired in a salvo. All at once, so as to create swarms of falling arrows.. Suddenly his stomach felt like it was sinking, and the armor plating felt like it was going to knock him off his mount and sink him into the sand.

    * 16 - A series of popular stories spread by the Kanonsionni Universal Learning Publishing Association. A public/private charity group, dedicating to making fun learning books for children of all Federations, Confederacies or Independent Nations. (Link Reference to Book)

    He reached down, to pat his War-Claw "It's okay Flashfoot." The sloth looked up at him with large brown eyes, and almost seemed to question him. One of the massive legs, twice the size of a flat-faced bear's landed on some stone from the damaged wall and crushed it. The animal bayed, and looked up at Alacan again, with bare skin around its mouth and eyes, wrinkled and grey. It's eyes had horizontal slits, allowing it to see a wide angle. The mouth of the animal always seemed tinted in some sort of frown. Flashfoot was partly saying he was hungry and partly saying he did not want to be here. But what he was mostly saying that he wanted a tomato. Alacan was trying to cut him down on those. "How 'bout this, we get through this, whole bag pal?" He pat the giant ground sloth on the side of his shoulder. Flashfoot bayed again.

    It went without saying that Flashfoot, like all his kind, were usually very slow animals. What made Flashfoot special, was he was the least slow. Now this might not make sense in a hit and run operation, but that was only if one didn't consider the fact that this animal could carry a Gear-Lifted Swivel-Turreted Repeat-Fire Gear-Mechanical Field Barrager. This weapon could fire up to five times before needing to be reloaded, with enough force to cut through a column of men. For close range encounters. ringing the animal, based on an old trick the Tenochcans learned from the Dawnlanders, were multiple handheld volleyshots/firestrikes, each pre-loaded, so that the skirmisher could fire one after another, quickly and with minimal pause. Personally Alacan liked to keep two for each range,spreader-shots in the back for when the enemy was point blank, with the sleeker, longbore-firestrikes in front for sniping. In between, were regular skirmish models.. On his back was his Black-Diamond/Obsidian Lance-Blade aka a "Blinder." It was meant to have the obsidian coating break at various points, spraying the area with blinding and slicing shards on violent impact. This is where the froghat truly shined, when fully closed, vision was heavily restricted, but the folds over the eyes blocked the shards. This could give a well trained skirmisher a significant advantage over opponents in melee fighting. It also meant anyone using this particular weapon had to learn to fight half blind.

    Flashfoot had armor too, even guards over his eyes to protect them from shrapnel or other gravel that could fly up from the earth or fall from above. It was not like his vision was much anyways. He was more sound and feeling directed by Alacan. Alacan looked back up at the enemy. They shined like a black and silver curtain. An endless curtain stretching forever like the coast. Their mounts were also much faster then his. They rode out and fell back into a running formation with the same ease and elegance that a fish might exhibit rejoining a school.

    Behind him, three-layers of skirmisher forces stood outside the wall. Inside the city and the wall, were Eagle-Fire sharpshooters, and the Common Army's best shots. Outside the wall, were War-Claws with Mounted Barragers, next to what few horses they had brought from Anowarkowa positioned in the center. To the sides of the War-Claws, were three rows of linewalkers armed with Obsidian Lance-Blades and skirmish class, handheld, firestrikes.

    Alacan had raised Flashfoot from a pup. Back when he chose him to be the War-Claw assigned to his company. Even after the Military Reforms, where the idea of the warrior, was displaced, by the idea of a skirmisher, the fact was training a War-Claw chosen as a pup had a huge advantage over randomly assigning them to a skirmisher team. Statistics proved, they tended to live about as long as their primary rider too. Furthermore, even if one got killed, the other was far more valuable for the experience and had a much easier time readjusting to a member of the same squad, as opposed to being assigned to a different squad. In any case, evidence proved military benefit and the modern "skirmisher" military was all about order, regularity, and cost- effectiveness. All about objectivity. For this reason alone, they maintained the bond between a skirmisher team, a rider and his War-Claw. They both tended to be ready for war at about the same rate as well. While the warrior customs had died down, the need for training effective military fighters had not

    His mount, like him, had a helmet that very much obstructed his vision. But Flashfoot did not need to see Alacan to understand what he was saying. He would always march ahead obediently, in hope of some tomatoes and maybe even some mashed potatoes. Alacan recalled the "Night Blade Litany", about blinding the enemy. He hoped this would work now. His froghat was running with sweat, which turned his face into a swamp. 'A desert oasis', he laughed to himself. The Op. had demanded he wear heavy plates for this charge. Which was great, seeing as it felt hot enough to give him a blister. He almost got ready to ask for a wool coat, but thought better of it. Given what had happened, he wouldn't put it past Tototl. He looked up, trying to squint the sweat away from his eyes and raising his hands to give him some relief from the blinding sun.

    On all sides, on all dunes, on all flats , as wide as the horizon, was the enemy. At least twenty thousand mounted archers, five thousand heavily armored melee horse-riders, forty thousand foot-soldiers with polearms, bows and swords. Their own forces, currently, numbered only one thousand. Two thousand more were inbound in two days. The light force was considered sufficient given what they knew of the pale skins. Unfortunately, only now, did they realize that these were not the pale skins.

    Sticking out, like this, at the front of his own army, seeing the literal wall of foot-soldiers, horse-men as well as flocks of rocks fly above from the siege engines, he realized just how bad a screw up in intelligence messed up everything in war. He knew they were starring at him, the enemies' eyes probing for any weakness. As soon as Alacan started to run for those strange rock throwing machines, those archers and foot-soldiers were going to be right on him. He knew they were calculating various ways to kill him right now. 'Which is great.' Alacan thought. They'd probably already killed him, him specifically, over a thousand times in their minds. It was with this last thought, that the signal for the assault began.

    Then the Polyrhyths began to play a slow, churning beat, followed by a whistling sound of epic pasts. It meant they were to march.

    Flashfoot surged forward, and while he was slow compared to a camel or horse, he could go much faster then a man. Alacan indicated with a few whistles and nudges of his heel that he wanted him to keep pace with the linewalkers. Then he pressed the button, closing Flashfoot's eye slits completely, practically blinding him for the rest of the battle. He got his Repeater Barrager ready, swiveling it in the direction of the archers. The enemy, seeing them move forward, towards the rock throwers, started making as if to move the siege engines away, while the horsemen and foot-men surged forward.

    Doggedly the Tenochcan sloths moved forwards, crushing rock, twig, and granite into dust. These were preceded by their own firewalkers (Aztec infantry), readying firestrikes (guns) to spray volleys in a coordinated manner, one rank behind reloading while a forward rank shot.

    Huge gusts of dust blew up, like a sand storm, hiding the enemy's siege weapons. Alacan hoped this would not ruin the plan.

    Seeing that many people surge towards him, Alacan felt, for certain, in his bones, that he was going to die.

    In response, he pressed another button, telling Flashfoot to dash forward with a series of strange clicks in the gear-plates. He looked right at the enemy while doing so, as if to challenge them. They responded - gathering together, rushing towards Alacan, bows raised and pointed specifically at him. Mentally they were a few more steps away before he was in range of their arrows. He only hoped his armor held.

    Flashfoot bayed, already uncomfortable in the heat, and now having to run. Alacan was just glad he and the leaders had watered down their sloths before. The animals soaked their fur to keep cool in the Aztlan Valley during particularly hot and dry summers. The military used this to adapt the animals to extra hot and dry climates, whether it be the desert valleys south of the Aztlan, or the humid jungles of the Far South. Flashfoot and the other War Claws were completely drenched for this mission, but the water on the thick fur was drying up fast.

    Alacan gripped the handles of his Repeater extra tight as they had moved well past their firewalkers (Aztec Infantry/musketeers) and into the enemy's range. Alacan wasted no time taking aim. He pointed directly at the lead riders. The horse archers responded by pulling on the cords of their bows, raising their shots into the air, so that they would rain on Alacan. More mounted archers likewise readied themselves on the flanks of the lead elements. They gave a series of shrill cries, and galloped full speed towards Alacan and Flashfoot. Then they released their bow strings and unleashed their arrows.

    At the same time Alacan fired the first shot of his Repeater. The shot landed before he even heard it, creating a cloud of sand and smoke rising from a shallow crater where the an enemy rider was, and sending almost six men to the left and the right flying from the shot's center, with some of the horses lifted almost two steps* off the ground. Alacan wanted to shout in triumph, but there were plenty more riders where those came from and they started, leaping through the smoke, loosing the arrows just as they passed the thick wall of dust and ash.

    * - One step is about a foot and a half. Twenty steps among Anowarkowans makes a Length.

    Then the first dozen arrows landed, Alacan felt a tremendous blow against his skull, part of his helmet caved in and his vision went black.
    So context - the Tenochcans are encountering the Caliphate during the Golden Age of Islam. They are expecting primitive Medieval Europeans based on initial scouting reports, so have sent a light force deep as it can go in the newly found lands. They realize however, that they may have miscalculated and are now attempting to use more offense oriented tactics to counter enemy siege weapons.

    Alacan is a Tenochcan. The people he is shooting at are Muslim horse archers.

    Next scene is from the commander's perspective:

    The enemy was flattened. As they loosed their second volleys, the Mounted Barrages from the roofs and walls of the city unleashed their arsenal, the enemy not realizing they had walked well within the range of the larger volleyshots. Since so many had grouped up tightly to attack Alacan, the results of the concentrated fire were extra devastating on the enemy ranks. Tototl could see that their entire center column was destroyed almost twenty ranks deep, thrown up dirt and debris completely engulfing everything for almost half a mile in every direction, and all war riders, mounts and footmen for eight ranks at the sides were either knocked over, wounded or stunned.

    Tototl then gave the signal. Under cover of the sand and smoke thrown up by the barragers, his own horse riders surged forwards. The enemy was too disorganized and out of position to respond and would be for a few critical moments.. The Baneriders'17* began going right through the center opened up by the explosive firepower, right in between thousands of enemies on either side. The enemy realizing this, began to reorganize quickly, and some even began charging to head off the Baneriders. It was not like it mattered though because Tototl was not giving them the chance to finish. He gave another signal to his Placeholder, and the Polyrhyths played for the second volley to erupt, in an ear-piercing roar of fire and dark silver.

    * 17 - Nickname for the light mounts of the Dawn's Bane Common Military Operational Formation.

    The earth itself seemed to vaporize and lift into a second cloud layer. The archers themselves were not the targets, the target was the ground between them and the Baneriders. Here the Repeaters were essential, firing second and third volleys while rest of the barragers were reloading. The mounted-barragers on the War-Claws added their fire power to the carnage, and together they created a corridor of blinding sand and smoke along with kinetic energy chains ringing a pathway of explosive force and hot lead, for the Tenochcan Cahuayoh to ride through, as they sped within an army now split down the middle.

    Already during these brief moments that the enemy sped towards them, their tactics seemed to change. Tototl, observing from the tower, was impressed. They knew their vision was blind, so now they fired in the area of their siege-works, instead of targeting individual Baneriders. They knew their own catapults would not be hurt by the arrows, but the their enemies' riders might.

    Tototl was not going to let that happen, and he gave the third fire-signal. Before they had finished releasing their bows, Tototl's own linewalkers had entered range, and started firing their weapons into the enemy ranks. Many of the arid people's horses panicked as men and mule seemed to magically fall dead from their point of view. It gave the Baneriders those precious few seconds to dash in among the enemies 'lobbers.*18 Tototl himself barely saw them rush in and spread out before another wave of the man-made dust storm engulfed all below, obscuring his, and the enemies' vision completely.

    * 18 - Nickname for Catapult.
    I am not sure if I am ready to share 100 percent of my story yet, but does anyone have suggestions on writing style, etc?

  • #2
    Do you really want an honest critique from the former prof and published writer, or do you just want a pat on the back?

    I would be willing to make suggestions, but they're not going to all sweetness and light. So, unless you're willing to take the bad with the good, in a public forum to boot, I'm not going to engage. I've been handed my head way too many times to bother otherwise.
    Last edited by OLChemist; 04-12-2016, 04:23 PM.


    • #3
      Originally posted by OLChemist View Post
      Do you really want an honest critique from the former prof and published writer, or do you just want a pat on the back?

      I would be willing to make suggestions, but they're not going to all sweetness and light. So, unless you're willing to take the bad with the good, in a public forum to boot, I'm not going to engage. I've been handed my head way too many times to bother otherwise.
      I am sorry if it has taken me a while to get back to you. My last debate on this was with a person very hyperbolic in criticism, that clearly organized a quasi-political campaign to say there was no way they could see at all for peoples in what we call "the Americas" to get more advanced technologically ahead of Europeans.

      Questions were asked such as:

      - How did they get gunpowder from China?

      - Why would nomadic people produce better technology?

      This got a lot more aggressive then I expected and I just walked out eventually, more out of fear then anything because it was clear people were swarming. In any case, you cannot believe the sheer volume of excuses I heard, as to why it would be impossible under virtually any circumstances for peoples in the Western Hemispheres to develop better technology sooner. I was a little shocked to not only see it, but see it popular and made certain so fast.

      BTW this happened on the largest message board on the entire net, and was initiated by the most active poster on that sub-forum, so that is about as mainstream as that denialism can get.

      I'm also gonna say a little bit more about how some of this went. After I explained, that I altered the very Geography of the Earth to make the new outcome possible - there was STILL skepticism. I then mentioned, that the "Americans" had more domesticated crops and animals, and STILL skepticism, even the notion that crops and animals could be domesticated by "nomadic peoples" was met with skepticism. BTW they still kept saying all Native Americans/Indians/"Slaveys" were nomadic, or at least some zombie followers/deniers did, well after I noted this was false.

      So anyways, I broke down and started suggesting the person was racist after the fourth level of objections i.e. x condition presented, x condition met, y additional position presented, such met, and now z and then z +. So yeah I basically called them racist and it created a huge issue and I had to leave the forum. So as long as it does not go there I am okay.

      To be honest, I don't know if it was really pure racism or ignorance (btw ignorance is not just not knowing, ignorance means you ignore things you should know) , but I got no literary criticism at all from the largest forum on the entire net.

      BTW open book, I found "The Largest Forum On the Entire Net" by literally googling "Largest Message Board on Internet", I did it in an attempt to get Anti-Bush 2 messages out. Literally took it over for a while.
      Last edited by CaudwellianDialect; 04-13-2016, 03:01 AM.


      • #4
        Originally posted by CaudwellianDialect View Post
        So as long as it does not go there I am okay.
        I believe, I detected a yes in there. So, here it goes.

        Grammar and mechanics:

        By far, not the worst I've ever encountered. However, there are some significant issues. Go buy a Hodges Harbrace Handbook and a good thesaurus. If you're going to write, you need to master the tools.

        Especially pay attention to comma usage. You've got some issues. Mostly they're minor, omitted or misplaced commas. But, based on the examples of your other writing, you need to review the section about comma splices.

        Originally posted by CaudwellianDialect View Post
        The enemy was too disorganized and out of position to respond, and would be for a few critical moments..
        Also, one period is customary at the end of a sentence.

        Originally posted by CaudwellianDialect View Post
        Many of the arid people's horses panicked as men and mule seemed to magically fall dead from their point of view. (unnecessary, of course it's their point of view)
        Watch your plurals! Your reader will start to giggle imaging all those men riding the one mule. The use of mule as a plural is a regionalism. If you grew up in one of those areas, it may sound correct, but it is bad grammar.

        Your vocabulary was more limited in your story than in your posts. When you branch out, you have some issues with declension -- "heckness" and "denialism," for example. When using an unfamiliar word, look up the proper declension.

        Exactness, Conciseness, and Clarity

        Originally posted by CaudwellianDialect View Post
        Since so many had grouped up tightly to attack Alacan, the results of the concentrated fire were extra (omit) devastating on the enemy ranks (unnecessary, we already know it was the enemy) .
        Here's where synonyms are your friend. You've used a limited range of words to describe the damage inflicted on the enemy, and you started with fairly powerful adjectives and adverbs. So, by the time you get into real carnage, you've shot your wad and are forced to abuse intensifiers.

        In my last sentence, I illustrated another problem. You use cliches, idioms and euphemisms, like "shot your wad." I think, I see what you're trying to do. You're attempting to project a character's point of view. But, especially for scifi, this ties your character to a particular time, place, and educational level. It can be jarring for a reader. You swing back and forth between the metaphors and jargon you've created for your "universe" and contemporary, informal American English. It is one thing for Harry Potter to use snogging or boggies; it is quite another for Andrew Wiggin.

        In addition, the idioms are creeping out into your narrative prose. It is quite distracting.

        Showing vs telling:

        Here is where you really frustrated me as reader. You had flashes in your narrative where you showed me what was happening, like the sections where Alacan is interacting with his stead. Then you tossed me right back out in the cold, and I had to rely on the character to tell me about events.

        As a human being, you know that the experience of drinking a cup of coffee or having a near miss in rush hour traffic, is very different from hearing your colleague tell you about his close call on the way to Starbucks. As a writer, your job is to recreate the immediacy of the events you describing. Whether it's a battle or the internal dialogue of a man watching a woman he desires walk across a city street, you must show it to your reader, not tell him/her about it.

        Your characters may not be gifted story tellers. So, don't leave the task of relating events solely in their hands. This is where you, with your God-like powers of creation, must build the layers of narrative prose that allow your reader to experience the smell of blood in battle or the exhilaration and trepidation of stepping across the threshold of a time portal.

        The only way I know of to learn to do do this is to read. You must see how others create images with words. Then you must practice.
        Last edited by OLChemist; 04-13-2016, 09:47 PM.


        • #5
          By the way, the above may seem harsh. But, if I thought you couldn't improve, I wouldn't have spent an hour composing that post.

          Now you did ask we not discuss plausibility, however there are components of your premise I find intriguing. I would suggest you read Dr Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel. The book is controversial among some Native scholars because they think it implies the inevitability of European conquest of the Americas. However, it does lay out some of the consequences of geography. You will need to address these in a reasonable manner.

          Also, please think about the kinds of animals that have been amenable domestication. They have been largely herd animals and a few highly social predators.

          Perhaps your tipping point could have been the survival of the horse in the Americas. Native peoples were/are excellent farmers. We developed many high calorie/acre food crops. But a limiting factor in the growth of our cities was the capacity of human labor to expand the effective carrying capacity of a section of land. (Do remember, at the time of contact, Tenōchtitlan and Paris were among the ten largest cities on earth.) A horse to pull a plow, carry a burden, take an army further would have changed the complexion of the Americas.
          Last edited by OLChemist; 04-13-2016, 09:50 PM.


          • #6
            if they are pre-columbian where did they get the mounts?
            "I on the trail of a possible good Indian lady and she is reported to like the old way's and she to believes in big family and being at home with kids all the time"... - MOTOOPI aka WOUNDED BEAR


            • #7
              Originally posted by milehighsalute View Post
              if they are pre-columbian where did they get the mounts?
              He's doing a J.J. Abrams. It's an alternate history/evolution of the Americas. Like the premise undergirding Steven Barnes' Lion's Blood and Zulu Heart.


              • #8
                Well, OLChemist drives another one off, LOL.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by milehighsalute View Post
                  if they are pre-columbian where did they get the mounts?
                  I'm altering the geography. If geography was responsible for things turning out a certain way, it stands to reason geography can be used to alter them in another direction. This includes the variety of animals open to domestication.


                  • #10
                    I feel the need to speak up & say something here:

                    Hey CaudwellianDialect,
                    It is polite and proper to say "Thank you.", especially after you asked others for help & for suggestions and then received it.

                    That's the NDN way & how I was taught.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by eagleclanriverband View Post
                      I feel the need to speak up & say something here:

                      Hey CaudwellianDialect,
                      It is polite and proper to say "Thank you.", especially after you asked others for help & for suggestions and then received it.

                      That's the NDN way & how I was taught.
                      Yes you are right. Thank you for reminding me and thank you all for your help.

                      Thank you especially OLChemist. You spent a lot of time on your posts and put in a lot of thought. The Showing vs Telling advice is essential. And you brought up Guns, Germs and Steel and other perspectives on that I have not heard.

                      Thank you also milehighsalute, your question was thought provoking and pertinent.


                      • #12
                        How's the story going, Caudwellian? I enjoyed reading it and OL chemist's response because I want to write as well and I try to absorb writing tips like a sponge wherever I find them. So I'm glad you posted it!

                        I like the alternative history aspect of stories and people are so used to thinking of "superior" technology pushing Indians aside that it's neat to turn that on its head. I love the suggestion about horses still being in the Americas. It's amazing how quickly the tribes took to horses and what formidable foes they were to the US military. Or if the Americas had their own versions of contagious diseases that struck the settlers...a whole continent full of Indians on horseback who weren't being depopulated by disease. Would America as we know it exist today?


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