May 30, 2008

Cack-handed photo interp

So I'm noodling around with Google Earth again, just for fun. I'm trying to see if I can find (with any confidence) the building that the Indian SS(B?G?)N, known apparently only as 'ATV', is being built in. I end up at Visakhapatnam naval base, and am trying to see how well I do ID-ing ship types.

I know, I'm a geek.

Anyway, I did find the following. India, according to and my copy of the Naval Institute's Combat Fleets of the World, has five D 51 Rajput class destroyers in service - these are modified Kashin class ships built by the Soviets in the early 1980s. According to GlobalSecurity, two are homeported at Visak., and the other three at Mumbai. However, I find four of the five at Visakhapatnam - one steaming out of the channel, and three at quayside, with two looking like they're being worked on to some light degree. I'm wondering if these ships are prepping for decommissioning? Or just refitting? Or just a port visit? Dunno.

This is the kind of stuff I spend braincycles worrying about. I know, I know.

(Here's a Google Earth .kmz of the site, with my IDs so far listed, if you care.)

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May 28, 2008

Fiction, friction and place

I recently started participating in the online Critters Workshop. I submitted the story that just went by here on the blog for its turn in the upcoming queue, and began buckling down to write at least one crit a week while aiming for two. I won't bother to explain Critters - check out the website, it's fairly simple.

This week, I read the book Mirrored Heaven by David J. Williams. It's a cyberpunk first novel, with lots of combat and highly stylized prose.

Then, today, I checked Daniel Keys Moran's website and noted that he had posted a new chunk of the as-yet-unpublished 'Trent the Uncatchable' novel The A.I. War. I read it, devoured it really, and re-read it several times.

These three different events resonated. While reading Mirrored Heaven, I felt myself falling into critique mode rather than reader mode. I suspect that it's to some degree because I wasn't all that enamored of the writing, but mostly because I'd been reading SF to crit it for a couple of weeks straight (I read most of the stories available on Critters even if I didn't crit them). In my head, I was fairly harsh; I fired off imaginary salvos regarding language, technobabble, and plotting.

After that, I ended up reading The A.I. War, which naturally led to rereading chunks of The Long Run which is one of my favorite SF novels.

Then I reread chunks of the novel I keep claiming I'm working on, and cringed.

I know that it's impossible for me to actually evaluate my own work, and that that is why critique-circles are so effective. I just know that I waver between enthusiasm for my stuff as I'm writing it and sheer cringing embarrassment when I later re-read it in an attempt to get working on it again. This is why so many of my stories tend to stop and not start up once more; because that 'refamiliarization' process usually goes so very badly wrong.

I don't know. Part of me wants to think that what I've written is no worse that (and in some few ways, better than) Mirrored Heaven, and that got published. On the other hand, that book has, despite its technofragmentation, more of a structure than I have; its characters, despite being somewhat interchangeable, are nevertheless more readily identified as to motive and makeup than mine. There's part of me that says "this book was once just like yours, but the difference is it absorbed more work and then got finished." Part of me retorts "but if you can't learn to plot past basic structure and Everything2-sized chunks, it won't matter how much work you put in."

How much of this is actual self-evaluation, and how much of it is trying to hold up my favorite SF prose as a 'pass bar'?

I'm not sure where I stand at the moment. I'm also on antidepressants again, which has had its customary effect on my writing - the tap has run solidly dry, SLAM, no exceptions. Still, I'll keep trying. I'm arguing with myself whether I should first replot, then rewrite; or whether the hundred-eighty pages I have so far are enough of an investment that I should try to simply mold them further towards what I think the book should be.

What should it be, though? That's the question I have little trouble answering when writing small bits, and ever so much trouble answering when looking at the whole.


Posted by jbz at 6:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News that every computer geek loves to hear.

"Well, yes, there appears to be some eye damage."


On the plus side, I have something which apparently is a not-uncommon result of viral conjunctivitis known as sub-epithelial infiltrates. According to my eye doc, dead virii underneath the corneal skin cause localized immune reactions, which produce small opaque white spots in the cornea. My eye is having trouble focusing due to the interference.

Also on the plus side, this is 'nearly always' amenable to steroid treatment.

On the minus side, it can take 'months.'


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May 2, 2008

More Photo Interp errors

Doh. I was self-checking, and it looks like I totally missed the actual named V2 test stand - Test Stand 7. I found it on Google Earth after reading a reference that told me what quadrant of the island it was in. Took me 25 minutes, and I was only sure after designating it as 'my guess' and then checking with WWII aerial recon photos.

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May 1, 2008

How to waste a couple hours of a military geek's time

An open-source photo interpretation challenge!

Peter Zimmerman and Jeffrey Lewis offer up a photointerpretation exercise for those of us who consider ourselves wonks. I took 2:45 to do the exercise (45 mins too long, unfortunately) but I didn't do badly. I found and ID-ed all the aircraft; correctly analyzed the airfield, found both power plants (but flunked on identifying one of them). I found both naval vessels and ID-ed them (one on the second go, after I realized that Google Earth has a 'measurement' tool) and found the railroad, the Fi-103 launch area (but not the ramps) and was mostly correct identifying WW2-era ruins. I mistakenly pointed out some more modern buildings, but gave myself a quarter-point because I'd hedged on those, saying the roofs looked too new. :-) I found two V-2 test stand areas. I almost drove myself nuts trying to find the V-1, but Peter withdrew that as a target; he says it's impossible to see the way it's mounted.

So, all in all, not too shabby.

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