Mars: Past, Present, and Near Future

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Space 1889: Fighting Leopold’s Tyranny

Our group has been playing one continuous Space 1889 campaign on and off since 1990. Now we have reached 1898, though only two PCs have been along for the whole ride. We have played a group of Swedish and Russian aristocrats with retinues, serving Monarch and Motherland in distant dangerous places.

Leopold II, probably the most evil man in the Victorian world.


However, I have recently decided to make a mood reboot. In 2019, I will start a new story arch that focuses on fighting the rapacious regime of Leopold II, king of the Belgians and of the Congo Free State in the Coprates. His activities have so far not figured in our campaign, because its adventures have mainly been located in the Parhoon/Syrtis/Gorklimsk region.

The players will create new characters that come from the middle and lower classes, and who are working for a Martian equivalent of the Congo Reform Association, though with more guts and glory. I have decided that in our timeline, the Coprates Colony is owned by the Congo Free State government in order to make it a more fearsome and despicable antagonist. The PCs are financed by American philanthropists who wish to see an end to Leopold’s abominable exploitation of the natives. The PCs have a fairly free hand to achieve this, since their faraway benefactors are shielded by a plausible deniability setup. More old-school Mission Impossible and Indiana Jones than Edmund Dene Morel punching Congostaters is a good and righteous deed.

Space 1889: Martian Gun Towers

These drawings by Jeffrey Chew of 19th-century colonial fortifications, so called Martellos, are easily adapted to the peculiarities of Martian warfare, primarily by the addition of machine guns or pompoms that are supposed to engage airborne foes. After all, raids by High Martians are uncomfortably common at outlying garrisons that guard mountain passes or caravan routes.

On Venus, one would find these towers next to trading posts and ports.

The Return of Johnny Bornewald

After a long hiatus, I’m finally back to normal fiction writing. A few weeks ago, I began looking closely at the planned stand-alone sequel to the dieselpunk spy adventure The Ice War. After deciding that it would deal with protagonist Johnny Bornewald’s experiences after the end of the Republican Rebellion (after all, every war must end one day), when he is a decorated badly injured veteran living modestly at the German North Sea coast. I soon rediscovered Johnny’s “voice” and the story began telling itself in my mind.

Today I finished chapter 1 with a quote from the Book of Job: “[The warhorse] paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength. He gallops into the clash of arms. He mocks at fear, and is not frightened.”

XKCD: Rocky Bodies in 2 Dimensions

The eminent site XKCD has published this picture that compares the surface areas of notable rocky celestial bodies in our solar system. The four giant planets are excluded because they lack mappable surfaces. The arrangement would be laid out nicely on the type of Ringworld that Larry Niven proposed in some of his stories — link >>>