Star Performance: I wrote this as my entry in the NaNoWriMo November 2010. Six Parts.
Had an unexpected question about poppers of fruit juice see:
Always a Marine and the Three Cartridges: It's short and the title says it all. Please read the third paragraph of the funeral carefully, the only uniform I mention the colour of is that of the Marine Corps League, which is a red coat, and they provide the Honour Guard, not the serving Marines. Thank you to those who found someone to ask about the three cartridges, and for passing the information on to me. Three sources checked with senior NCOs in their local military and they signify - Honour, Country, and Duty.
Rough Diamond: The bulk of the story is a diary style account in the first person. Like most first person accounts, the main character starts out by making a statement today, and then giving a bit of background on the situation. In doing this, once having moved you back to the start of where the background starts, it's told in the present first person. I'm sorry if you don't like the style or have problems with it, but this is how most people actually tell events in real life; and it's how I write.
I've had a some people question the Casinos and the IRS. Here's my explanation:
The IRS: is concerned about the taxes being paid. Once they find the money is going to the company, they concentrate efforts on the company, to ensure they're paying the right taxes. Once that's resolved, they walk away - their only concern is tax revenue. They're unlikely to be investigating Anian himself, or look at his actual age as he won't have a Social Security Number as he's a legal foreigner and it's not his taxes they're looking at until the end of the tax year and he lodges a return.
The Casinos: my research shows the Indian Casinos, which are what Anian deals with in New Mexico, do NOT operate the same way as the big commercial ones in Las Vegas etc., they're less likely to be quick in banning people and the like behaviour. I make a point of his mentioning being connected with The Spirits and how some of the Indian staff connect with this too. This is another reason why they won't be so quick to kick him out and be prepared to put up with him once he places limits on his activities, that and his big tips. OK, I may be a bit out in the reality of the situation as I didn't have an opportunity to talk to the actual casino staff about this, but it's a very reasonable premises to go with.
I hope you pay close attention to the very last sentence of the story as it applies to all politicians and government employees, domestic and otherwise.
Chaos Calls: Learning Visit - The opening does give away a bit of what's to happen in Finding Home as it's the end of Finding Home. That's there to set Al's character up in Chaos without having to make a new one.
Release of Prisoners: In the section where the main camp is attacked, after the attack Al and Joe are speaking to Colonel Bond, the next paragraph mentions the teens get down from their positions and release the prisoners. They help clean up the site.
Return Home: I mention the travel home is faster than the travel through the forest. I say that as when they bypassed Bridgetown and worked their slow way to the enemy camp they travelled in the forest amongst the scrub and trees, making their way with great care and working hard not to leave a trail while scouting ahead before moving. On the return trip they travel on the road that goes through the forest, that's open and no scrub in the way, making for a faster trip. The return trip has a lot less in the way of natural obstructions and makes for easier movement.
Chaos Calls: First Rescue - Up North, I've had a few people say that US citizens would use the term Back East when talking about going from New Mexico to Frederick. One editor raised this, so I do have the US CITIZENS use that term; but Al is an Aussie and would never say it that way, to him it would be 'up north' as a purely descriptive term, and the same for Eduardo as he's a Mexican. So, please, no more emails about Al saying up north.
Chaos Calls: Dragon Dilemma - Bearings, the bearings I use are steel roller or needle bearings in a steel race - not ball bearings. These can be cast metal. Bearings will never be common on Chaos, it's metal poor, as the metal bearings of the wagons are worth a lot. A rich person like Al can afford them for a special project.
A troop is a basic military unit and has varied a lot between countries, forces, and time periods. The earliest use of the term was for an organised group of warriors on foot. Today, more people are used to a cavalry troop. In more modern usage it varies between being the equivalent of a platoon or a company and has varied in size from around 30 to 70 members. On Chaos Al is setting up a troop to be the equal of a platoon, but with 65 members as that's what he sees as a reasonable sized force to safely act on its own. In older times military units had larger numbers than they do today - think pre gunpowder period, please.
The carts I mention are something like a dog cart modified for use by a horse, they are only as wide as an average horse. Here's an image of roughly what they look like in real life:
Times of Old
I've had emails about a cultural thing to do with carpentry. Here in Australia I was taught by a carpenter to call the cut a rebate. In the US most seem to call the same thing a rabbet - the wiki article on a Dado joints calls it both, amongst other things.
I've had a few emails where people say I should credit cmsix.
First, yes, I'm aware of his writing and make an oblique reference to one of his works early on in Times of Old.
Second, cmsix did NOT create this genre and he was far from my first introduction to aliens and time travel. The first story I read along these lines was back in the 1970s and was in an old pulp fiction paperback. At SOL I first read time travel stories by authors like aubie 56, The Scot, Jim War, and Old Guy before I found cmsix's works. Some of those pre-date the stories cmsix has on SOL. His big one, John and Argent seems to have been written in 2005 or 2006, from what I can find on the Internet, well after I had read stories by others. So please stop saying I should credit him for the idea, as it was around before him.
I received an anonymous email about how the story varies from the reader's ideas. I will address a few points they raised so others won't feel the need to comment on them.
Early dialogues with the aliens - Ed thought he was going to die and is surprised not to be dead. Then he's hit with the idea about being the main star in a survival show. He realises they can just eliminate him if he disagrees, so he takes the job on. No need for a serious discussion at all and he's also still a bit shocked by the situation. I defy anyone to be anything but a little flippant in that situation.
Weapons and the Wagons About them being useless after a few decades and Ed should take books, information, paper and printing presses. I need only say: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - which I've applied to the story. Ed is a guy wanting to stay alive, not an evangelistic scientist on a quest to change the world by taking a hundred tons of gear with him.
He first ensures his survival; designer cave to live in, armoured clothing, guns to survive a major attack, a show and tell manual on medicine and the local herbs, (think of these as insurance) then standard weapons of the era to hunt and survive normal attacks, basic tools and seed to convert from a hunter gatherer lifestyle to an agricultural one, salt and cooking gear to get an in with the locals, finally a wagon and horsepower to move it all to his living area. He also gets the knowledge to talk to the locals.
For those who've not studied it, no culture can develop and sustain metalworking and metal based tools or implements until AFTER they've developed a decent agricultural lifestyle that enables them enough people to be free to concentrate on such activities as mining, smelting, and blacksmithing. No one person can do all that themselves, and it takes one hell of an infrastructure behind the society to do it - an infrastructure that would take decades or lifetimes to develop from a hunter gather society, no matter how smart and knowledgeable the leaders are.
Ed has to move the society along at a sane pace they can absorb and change to, one step at a time. Which is why the book on tools he asked for and why the focus on woodworking tools. Yes he cheats and gets long lasting high quality metal ones to start with, but all are tools that can be duplicated from within the available materials and technology of the era. The only thing he has that can't are the guns, and he doesn't want them to be available to anyone else, anyway.
In short, Ed's approach is to improve the life of the people and advance towards civilisation, but at a rate they can handle and sustain, not huge unsupported leaps of tech that can't be sustained.