The Dead Zones of France

French real-world scenery straight out of post-apocalyptic science fiction. Photo by Olivier Saint Hilaire.

These years we commemorate that a century has passed since World War One. The industrialized carnage of the Western Front has become a fixture in the European midset. However, in France the fall-out of the war still lingers in a very material sense: between Paris and the border to Belgium, large tracts of land are littered with undetonated munitions and poisoned by residues from chemical warfare. Some places are still off limits for civilians and it is estimated that Europe will be in the 23rd century before they have been completely cleared, for instance near Verdun, Arras, Cambrai — places where millions of young men perished 100 years ago.

Read more about France’s Zones Interdites here — link >>>

Review of “The Ice War”

Larry Amyett reviews my novel The Ice War at the Dieselpunk44 blog. A quote:

The Ice War is a fun adventure story set in a well thought out and realistic alternative dieselpunk universe. It’s full of international intrigue and action. Written by one of the men who coined the term dieselpunk, Ice War is a fun read that you really should buy.

You can read the complete review here — link >>>

Larry’s positive review spurs me to write more stories from the same alternate timeline. I have begun outlining new novella, a stand-alone sequel that tentatively is called The Red Land and that has Linda Connor (one of the two protagonists in The Ice War) as the viewpoint character. The story takes place far from Alba about four years later and deals with some of the consequences of Russia’s actions in The Ice War. For instance, how come that country has secretly developed powerful new technologies? I have once more been inspired by my experiences from the Swedish military and from Afghanistan and India.

Also, I make a promise: I will go on writing tight and focused novellas, because I like the philosophy of the Way of the Cheetah: lean, swift, and mean. No brick-shaped books, that’s for sure.

Going to Mars the old-style way

In 1954, Collier’s magazine published a set of articles (illustrated by the eminent artist Chesley Bonestell) in which Frank Whipple explains what possibilities there is for life on Mars, i.e., not much (the infamous “canals” get a short dimissive mention), and Wernher von Braun outlines the execution of a manned mission to the Red Planet (i.e. 70 men in ten ships that will be away for 2½ years) — link to a pdf >>>

Today, sixty years later, it is interesting to read about an almost alien vision of how the solar system is to be explored, a future that never materialized. I wonder what people in 2075 will say about NASAs current plans.

“The Ice War” novella is published

The paper version of The Ice War is now available here — link >>>

Here is a summary of what story is about:

The year is an alternate 1940. In Europe breakaway Czech and German republics have taken up arms against the oppressive Habsburg Empire. Rebel spy Johnny Bornewald is dispatched to the southern-most continent of Alba on a routine mission. War unexpectedly erupts there, too, and Johnny and his native guide Linda Connor must flee across Alba’s icy wastelands. More than arctic cold and gunfire imperil their lives when they get entangled in a conspiracy that may change the course of the war. Are Linda and Johnny wily enough to outfox their enemies?

The Ice War is a dieselpunk thriller inspired by the technology and aesthetics of the interwar era. The protagonists face serious moral issues during their flight. There is no easy way out and no one escapes a war zone unhurt.

Swedish science fiction author Patrik Centerwall’s assessment of the story: “The Ice War is a well-written, swift-moving and exciting adventure that touches several interesting issues of morals and philosophy. Anders Blixt does not make matters easy, neither for the novel’s characters nor for the readers.”

The Ice War is partially based on the author’s experience as in multinational peace-making operations in the Balkans in the 1990s and Afghanistan after 9/11.

The Soviet exploration of Venus

The Venera 13 lander was a piece of sturdy Soviet engineering.

For almost 25 years until 1985, the Soviet Union carried out an ambitious program, called Venera, to explore Venus. It included, among other things, orbiting radar mapping, landers to investigate the ground and hovering balloons that checked the characteristics of the atmosphere.

The Venusian environment is infernal, so all human-made devices that descended into the clouds perished within hours or days. Still, the Venera probes provided us much with of what we know today of our nearest planetary neighbor. Even though the program ended thirty years ago, it is still worth to take a look at.

Read more here — link >>>