26 August 2008

An Interesting Article for your Perusal

A Brief Discussion of the Possibility and Difficulties of Æther Travel
A Paper by F. Robert Goslingen, FRS
Published in the Royal Society Annotations
May, 1859



Briefly defined, the luminiferous æther is a special medium for the transference and propagation of electromagnetic light waves. It exists beyond the shell of our planetary atmosphere; indeed, it fills the gaps between all planetary atmospheric shells. Through it, the light waves produced by our sun – and, indeed, all other light-giving celestial objects – travels as sound waves through our own air.

The æther, to use the more common term today, was first proposed by Thomas Young in 1803. His book, Experiments and Calculations Relative to Physical Optics, contended that light was a wave, and not a particle as proposed by Sir Isaac Newton. A Frenchman named Augustin-Jean Fresnel carried on Young’s work in the 1820s. Physical scientists at that time were aware that all waveforms required a medium through which to travel, and so the idea of the æther was born. This idea was further strengthened by Maxwell’s work which indicated in 1834 that light was an electromagnetic wave rather than a mechanical wave. As electric charges can not exist in vacuum, there must be some medium through which the light travels.

This new medium, æther, is unlike any other known to Man. It acts as a liquid for planets and other celestial bodies moving in their stately courses, and as a solid for the fast-moving light waves. George Gabriel Stokes, FRS, and Lucasian chair in Physics at Cambridge since 1849, describes it as “a substance similar to pine tar, in that it resists fast moving bodies more urgently than a slowly moving object.”

Thus, it seems that the æther can only be passed through by solid objects, like a ship, when traveling at velocities less than that of light. And yet, to influence the æther as a medium for the purpose of generating thrust, some form of electromagnetic force seems necessary. With such a form of thrust, a vessel would move at a useful speed by pushing against the suddenly solidifying æther to the rear of the vessel while keeping the æther ahead of the vehicle liquid. I believe that I have discovered a means by which to generate exactly that sort of thrust…

24 August 2008

Parrotfolk Article Added to Archive

I have added the original Parrotfolk article to the archive list of publications on the left hand menu of the journal. This should help you reach it once the articles have cycled off from the main page of the journal.

Please feel free to print, read and enjoy, but remember that I retain the copyright on all of the material I publish via the Internet. If you wish to make changes, include it in your own works, etc., please do the right thing and ask permission first.

I have another short story written that I may publish here as well, but that one I actually have a hope of selling in the future, along with a series of other short tales in a similar vein.

A Minor Gex-based quandry

To this point, I had thought that the gex would be in homogenously hued tribal groups, each warband consisting of ten warriors to fall in line with the rules set that we most commonly use.

So, one group would be ten red and orange warriors, one ten dark and light green, ten dark and light blue, and so on.

But now I am reconsidering, especially for the bow-armed gex. It might look better to mix them up.

A quandry, a puzzle, a confused muddle of possibilities now exists where once all was clear. Blast it all!

In regards to progress, a bit has been made today. The first Sentinel (I may re-name them, though it is a very British sounding name, is it not?) has been 'dipped' and now awaits its highlighting, basework and matt finish. A bit more work on the Pappegaivolk has been done, though nothing exciting. I have begun work on the 'ghost gex', those made from modified skink totem bearers into giant club wielders. They will be gray and white, hence the 'ghost' appellation. The sergeant for the Research Platoon is almost finished. And a swarm of snakes just waits for basing and matt finish. Finally, the red and orange "Flammekröte" warband of gex is nearly finished, including their fearsome warchief, Firebelly.

22 August 2008

Egads! What's that pink fluff?

My darling wife has begun to notice the large quantity of rigid pink insulation in the garage and gameroom of our humble abode. Well, actually, its not such a great amount, only one large sheet of the stuff, you know. Seems a good deal more to her, I tell you! Its in use for the modelling of hills, cliffs and such for photostatic reasons and advanced military simulation. I hope to have the early results ready for your perusal in the near future, perhaps by the end of the upcoming Holiday weekend.

In addition, I would like to announce a successful trading venture in lead from the United States to Great Britain (Essex, if you must know). A good man from a favorite telephonic differencing site (www.theminiaturespage.com) got in touch with me in regards a request for models of Venusian gex, and provided them in exchange for models of native Martian troops [Black Hat Imperial Martians]. I feel I must djust the Pledge totals, although no purchase was made.

A slight amount of progress has been made on the British steam strider. I should really like to finish that by the end of the Labour Day weekend as well.

I hope everyone enjoyed reading the articles previously published in this journal about the Parrotfolk of Venus. I certainly enjoyed writing about them. Naturally, I wish to retain my copyrights for all the material I created and posted, but feel free to use it in your games if you wish. Just please don't try to sell the idea, or use it in something you would like to sell without asking first.

I have so many things to do and seem to have even less time that ever to do them. The summer was particularly disappointing, as the many illnesses and other inconveniences combined to severely limit my time working on the models and stories I so enjoy. I originally had high hopes for the hot summer months, but with the school year beginning anew on Monday, I fear that the time has gone on and left me wondering to where it has all melted away.

Well, here's to a good finish to this month and a strong start to next month, then! I just need to get something finished, to regain my sense of accomplishment which does so help in driving me along.

Until next time, my friends: Stay Thirsty.

10 August 2008

Venusian Parrotfolk, Pt. 2

Der Pappegaivolk von Venus
[The Parrotmen of Venus]
By Doctor Fritz Hammacher and Professor Heinrich Schlemmer
das Deutsche Kaiserliche Institut fur AuBerirdische Gelehrten
[Imperial German Institute for Extra-Terrestrial Study]

Society

Parrotman society is divided into castes. Each of these castes defines the Parrotman’s role in society. Castes do not interbreed, but a juvenile’s caste is not decided at hatching, and their parents have little direct say in the caste selection for the offspring. In fact, the shamans of the tribe assign caste to the juveniles in a ritual held at the beginning of the adolescent period. While a child is usually assigned the same caste as its parents, this is more due to an inherited suitability (by way of selective breeding) for that caste rather than as a result of a political or dynastic inheritance.

The highest (and smallest) caste is der Magier [shaman] caste. The shamans supervise all the rituals of Parrotman society. One of their most important duties is to pronounce caste for each of the tribe’s young. Shamans are very rarely seen by those not a part of a particular tribe. They are the most protected of all the tribe, as if all a tribe’s shamans are lost through war, famine, or disease, the tribe falls apart.

The next most prominent caste is der Blutbefleckt [bloodstained] caste, the warriors and hunters of the tribe, those who spill blood. Much more numerous than the shamans, the warrior caste includes both males and females – as, indeed, all the castes do. The members of this caste are trained in the use of weapons, including the unique firearm of the Pappegaivolk, the Venus Rifle. Warriors and hunters are the most commonly encountered caste of Parrotmen, as they are the most likely to travel any distance from the arboreal villages. Males dominate the warrior aspect of the caste, females tend toward the hunter or butcher roles, although there are apparently unprejudiced exceptions to this general guideline.

Der Herstelleren [maker] caste comprises the craftsmen and artisans of the tribe. It is the second-smallest of all the castes. All of the metalworkers, potters, tanners, weavers, and builders of the tribe are members of this caste. These craftsmen make the tools and equipment for all the other castes, and have the secret of the Venus Rifle’s manufacture.

The lowest caste is die Hausmeisterin [caretakers]. It is the largest caste, and is roughly analogous to European peasantry. These Parrotmen raise the crops, prepare the meals, care for the young, ad clean the nests for all the castes. While they rank low in their society, that society would cease to function without their presence.

Culture

Parrotmen enjoy a variety of cultural pursuits. Functionality dominates the design of their tools and weapons, yet these same objects often have decorative engraving or are adorned with feathers and ribbons of bright colors. Tattooing is considered a high art form. Pottery is often brightly colored, as are woven fabrics and tanned leathers.

The mimicry of Parrotmen lends itself strongly to a musical tradition. One of the reasons Pappegaivolk get along well with the Venusstadt colonial government involves the gift of a phonograph player and selection of phonographs of classical music to the first tribal elders met by the original German expedition’s leader. The complexity of the melodies appealed to the Parrotmen, and at times you can hear a rendition of Mozart’s Ein Kleine Nachtmusik filter through the trees of the great forests. Efforts to record the native music of the Parrotmen has been hampered by the destructive nature of the extreme heat and humidity of the Venusstadt colony. What few recordings have been made command excellent prices in Berlin, creating a potential secondary source of much-needed export income for the colony.

Unlike the lizardmen, Pappegaivolk do not build rude huts upon the surface of the planet unless there is a specific reason for the placement at ground level. Parrotmen build their homes in the trees, connected by rope bridges suspended dozens of feet above the jungle floor to create their villages. Some buildings, such as the tanneries, animal pens, and tool sheds are located at the base of the trees. The tree houses of Venus swing gently in the boughs of the massive gulunga trees. At the center of each village lies a gunga galunga tree. The shamans of the tribe maintain and protect the tribal shrine in this tree. Were it to be destroyed, the village would be abandoned, and the tribe disintegrated. Naturally, a strong taboo prevents anyone but the shaman caste and certain invited others from approaching the gunga galunga. To do so without permission would be cause for immediate execution.

Politics

The political situation of the Parrotmen is quite simple, really. They hate the lizardmen, the lizardmen hate them, and they will do their best to exterminate one another at any opportunity. The preferred fletching for a lizardman’s arrows is the feathers of a young Pappegaivolk. In return, Parrotmen enjoy eating the tadpole-like young found in the spawning temples of the lizardfolk. This enmity predates the evolution of writing on Earth, and is unlikely to be changed with the coming of a new dominant sentient species to the planet.

Several tribes of Parrotmen have taken advantage of the nearby highland location of Venusstadt and their ability to speak a human tongue to ally themselves with the Fatherland. This has aided our Kolonie by increasing the foodstuffs available for our stalwart colonists and the fine German soldiers that protect them from the dinosaurs and lizardmen. The Parrotmen also occasionally will agree to send Blutbefleckt as guides and warriors for our forces on Venus. The governor has provided several gifts to the nearby tribal elders, including the immense Venus Rifle[1], designed specifically for the use of the Pappegaivolk by Herr Doktor Gunther Krupp.

To this date, it is suspected that the British imperialist enclave operating without the sanction of His Imperial Majesty in the Kaiser Wilhelm mountain range are attempting to negotiate with at least one tribe of Pappegaivolk. No evidence of a successful alliance exists at this time, but we must caution the Kaiser’s governor to watch the situation closely. The British have always claimed territorial rights on Venus that include Venusstadt itself. With a large alliance of Pappegaivolk, they could press that claim successfully. It is the considered opinion of the authors of this paper that failure to maintain the friendship of the Parrotmen would be very costly to the Empire.

[1] The Venus Rifle is a large weapon that is designed for the hands of the Parrotmen. It fires a heavy 18mm bullet and uses an unusual propellant that is resistant to the humidity of Venus. The weapon itself is very robust and is often fitted with blades for close combat.

08 August 2008

The Parrotmen of Venus, Pt. 1

Der Pappegaivolk von Venus
[The Parrotmen of Venus]
By Doctor Fritz Hammacher and Professor Heinrich Schlemmer

das Deutsche Kaiserliche Institut fur AuBerirdische Gelehrten
[Imperial German Institute for Extra-Terrestrial Study]
Introduction

The Parrotmen of Venus are a strange folk. Infinitely more civilized than their far more numerous ancient enemies, the various tribes of lizardmen, they are still quite savage by Earth standards. Consider them, perhaps, as you would the more savage tribes of natives in Equatorial Africa or the Amazonian Jungle, or indeed, the American West.

Parrotman Anatomy and Biology

Physically, the Parrotmen are much taller than humans, but quite thin for their size, weighing much less than a human of comparable height would. Their skins are brightly colored, as are the feathers that they have in place of mammalian hair. These feathers appear on the limbs and both genders display a crest upon the back of the head. The body is bilaterally symmetrical, with two arms, two legs, et cetera. On the hands they have two fingers and two opposable thumbs to either side of the palm. The feet display four toes as well, but similarly to humans, without an opposing digit. All fingers and toes are taloned. A hump high on the back of the Parrotmen is thought to have once been an attachment point for wings, but today not even a vestigial wing (similar to the African ostrich) remains.

Facially, the Parrotmen have no mouth proper, but rather a large, very hard beak designed for tearing and crushing. Two eyes are set in the front of the head, indicating their role as omnivorous predators. Their diet consists primarily of meat and carrion, with both wild and cultivated plant matter added to provide nutrients and filler. No external ears exist, but two small holes, one to either side of the head, allow the Parrotmen to have what seems to be an extremely acute sense of hearing. An interesting discovery in relation to the physiognomy of the head is that Parrotmen are capable of reproducing most sounds they hear, and are in fact excellent mimics. Unlike the lizardmen, Parrotmen are capable of human speech.

Internally, Parrotmen are quite distinct from humans. Their bones are not hollow, as a Terrestrial bird’s are, but they are porous, with millions of tiny bubbles in the structure of the bone. It is quite similar to a honeycomb, though obviously made from a hard, calcinated material rather than soft wax. The cardiovascular system differs in that Parrotmen have two three-chambered hearts, either one capable of sustaining life. The species also has two stomachs, although the first is more similar to a terrestrial bird’s gizzard. Finally, the kidneys are quite large, and are incredibly efficient at neutralizing toxins which would be nearly instantly fatal to humans.

Reproduction and Maturation

Reproductively speaking, the species has two genders, male and female. Parrotmen are oviparous. The fertility period for females begins on the first day of the Venusian spring, and lasts for only five days. The female will lay one egg each day. Fertilized eggs have a golden sheen to their thick shells; unfertilized eggs are a dull white. In olden days, the female would then care for the egg directly, ensuring its warmth and proper rotation within the nest. The Parrotmen have developed an artificial incubator, in which an entire tribe’s eggs can be placed. Gestation takes 126 days, at which point the infant will crack the shell using its beak. Infants are essentially helpless for the remainder of their first (Venusian) year[1], and are restricted to the tribe’s communal nesting area during that time. They are fed a paste containing both animal and vegetable products during this time, gradually working towards solid food.

By one year of age, the young Parrotman is able to walk and feed itself. It begins to learn the speech of its tribe at about the same time and will quickly gain fluency as a result of their incredible mimicking ability. As a juvenile, Parrotmen are allowed to exit the communal nursery but are kept within the arboreal tribal village area. They are expected to assist in chores around the village, including food preparation, assisting in the cultivation of various plants, and other tasks. This juvenile period lasts for three years.

Following the juvenile period, the young Parrotman develops into an adolescent. It is during this time period that the Parrotman matures sexually. In addition, it will grow rapidly, approaching its full adult height by the end of this two year period. During the adolescent phase, elders begin the instruction of the Parrotman’s particular caste (more on caste later). By the end of this phase, the Parrotman is ready to take its place as an adult in the tribe, following the caste-appropriate maturity rituals.

[1] For ease of reference, all times should be considered Venusian, rather than terrestrial. The Venusian year lasts for 224 Earth days, or approximately 6/10 of an Earth year.

Photostats from Venus!


















The first plate here shows a small tribe of hunting gex as they move effortlessly through the underbrush. While much smaller than their gater cousins, gex are just as vicious. Their envenomed bite merely adds to the danger of encountering these primitive brutes.



















On this plate, some of Her Majesty's soldiers, in the Research Platoon, ride upon the back of a large saurian transport. From this secure vantage point, they can avoid smaller carnivorous dinosaurs, the more dangerous flora of the Jungle Planet, and find their main foes, the savage lizardmen of Venus.


















A small herd of Triceratops feeding on the jungle growth. These large creatures are herbivores, but like the Earthly hippopotamus, are large, powerful and very territorial. Extreme caution is advised should a traveler on the surface of Venus find himself confronted by even one of these beasts. If there are young about, I would recommend that you flee the area as quickly as you can without drawing attention from the herd.


















This last photostat shows a gater, mounted on a carnivorous lizard, possibly Deinonychus, as he exits the brush line. These gaters are extremely dangerous, remorselessly bloodthirsty savages. When encountered, I recommend they be treated to volley fire by platoon. Thankfully, most of the gaters encountered thus far on the Planet of Mist are not powerful enough to dominate a mount such as this one. The few that are, however, are even more dangerous than their bretheren.

We are expecting our first photographs of the giant Parrotmen of Venus in the near future, good readers, but were unable to obtain any prior to publishing today. I shall, however, publish portions of a short paper by Doctor Fritz Hammacher and Professor Heinrich Schlemmer, both of the Imperial German Institute for Extra-Terrestrial Study (das Deutsche Kaiserliche Institut fur AuBerirdische Gelehrten), in the very near future, perhaps even this afternoon.

07 August 2008

More Venusian sightings!

These Venusians are starting to pop up their ugly scaled heads all around!
The smaller type - though still quite large - have been popularly named 'gex' [GW's old skinks] in the London Press. They seem to be swarming everywhere. They come in a range of coloration, from green, to red, to blue, and every imaginable shade between. Some even have patterned skins.
The larger type of Venusian, called "Gaters" [GW's old saurus] by my journalistic bretheren from the Republic of Texas are not so numerous, thankfully. They are terrifyingly large and equally fierce. Some have even been seen mounted on a type of carnivorous dinosaur! Truly, not something you would want to meet unprepared in the steaming forests of the Jungle Planet, my friends.









I have recently obtained specimens of the gex. I modified one of them, shown above, by cutting the pole he carries down from the original primitive totem to create a large, menacing club. I am pleased with the result, and plan to continue with this modification in the future.

In other news, work has begun on a new river steamer for the Crown Colony of Mars. It will soon be ready to cruise up and down the canals of the Dying Planet, providing support for Her Brittanic Majesty's troops. As the work progresses, I shall post updates, but for now just one photostat, to whet my readers' appetites.




More soon, I hope.

06 August 2008

Quick Pledge Update

Just a quick Pledge '08 Update. I have recently acquired many items which need no work, and so they don't fall under the Pledge rules (some dinosaurs and a lot of terrain). But, I have alos purchased a swarm of snakes and some additional lizardmen which have arrived and so are added to the Pledge. Technically, they are 25/28mm, so that is where I placed them.

However, I am almost ready to post a step by step on how I painted my Space: 1889 Martian Native Troops (RAFM). I hope to be ready to post the workshop, complete with photos, by tomorrow evening.

Have a good night!

05 August 2008

Dinosaurs sighted!

Even more dinosaurs have been seen on Venus! A trio of triceratops has been acquired for Her Majesty's Zoological Gardens at Regent's Park. The Minister has decided not to transport any of the large carnivores to Earth, fearing what might happen if a T. Rex were to escape his enclosure!

Negotiations are taking place to locate a tribe of spear-armed lizardmen, of the smaller variety which many journalists have begun to label "Geckos" or just "Gex." (Old Skinks, actually) These fellows are deep in the bush, and have proven difficult to locate, but a new explorer has offered to lead me to some in exchange for various lead-based considerations. Wish me luck in this exchange!

In additional Venusian news, we have received additional samples of flora from the Jungle Planet. It seems adventure upon the Veiled Planet is just around the corner.

The painting table has been sitting without an occupant for many, many days. Almost no progress has been made since the last posting in this journal. Seems that every time I sit to paint (or compose an entry for the journal) I am immediately interrupted. Bother!

Finally tonight, the editor is in search of a single steam-powered spider manufactured by the Wyrd company. If any of our readers know where a single spider may be located, I would be most appreciative.

Until next time friends, remember to keep your cartridges in the rubberised canvas boxes while on Venus!