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Author Topic: "Steam Attacker" - a novel  (Read 816 times)
Deck Hand
United States United States

A whole new science! Unimaginable art!

« on: July 07, 2013, 09:38:06 pm »

Please take a look at the enclosed first chapter.  Feel free to provide me with feedback and suggestions.  Especially if this doesn't sound at all like anything interesting.  Thank you.

Steam Attacker
“Memories of the War of 1895”
By Hagen Luke
As told to Stephen Sanders
Chapter I
            This is my one and only attempt to write a book, memoir, or anything much more than a letter to a family member or friend.  I did try to write a love poem once to a girl but I was ten at the time and the resulting piece, which to my eyes was a work of great art, caused little more than a giggle.  I’m not trying to write great literature here; I’m just trying to record the events of my time.  This is a journal, not a novel.
Plato was the first to say that “necessity was the mother of invention.”  If that be the case, then survival is most definitely invention’s sire.  Perhaps this is why so many of Man’s greatest advances have occurred during wartime.  I read somewhere that the first kite was flown by a Chinese general to find out how far his army would have to tunnel in order to enter a walled city undetected.  Someday, someone will write about flying machines in this same way – they were born of war.
            To paraphrase the historian, Herbert Wells, no one would have believed that in the later part of the nineteenth century that the Earth was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man.  Likewise, no one could have ever foreseen the changes in humanity’s technology caused by humankind’s response to the most destructive war we have ever faced.  I am talking, of course, about the Martian invasion beginning in 1895.  Millions have died and the very existence of the civilizations dotted about our planet was put in jeopardy.  We fought back but we fought on the same terms as the savage who faces modern man – we threw our stones and swung our sticks but the enemy smashed us with weapons we could not even understand.
            Heat rays that disintegrated our people and our weapons of war.  “Black smoke” delivered by rockets that killed, almost instantly, anything that breathed.  Armored war machines that moved under their own power and which defied destruction by our artillery and small arms.  Scarlet vegetation that took root amongst our own natural world and choked out Earth’s trees and other green, living things.  These and other hideous technologies dwarfed the powers of our world and came within a gnat’s wing of conquering us all.
            But they didn’t.  They began dying at a pace that far surpassed our ability to destroy them and, to date, we don’t know why.  Wells has suggested to me that they died from a plague caused by the bacterium discussed by Ehrenberg.  Wells’ theory seems as plausible to me as any other especially since, like with our own experience with plagues, a great many of the invaders perished but some have survived.  Greatly reduced in number, the Martians no longer completely dominate our world.  Furthermore, with our survival-propelled advances in technology, we actually stand a fighting chance against them.
            The War has been going on now for almost four years.  The majority of the surviving Martians have congregated in four zones – the darkest regions of equatorial Africa; the broad expanse of the steppes of Siberia, the wildernesses of central Canada, and the large island north of the Australian continent, called Papua or New Guinea.  So far, we’ve been able to keep them penned up in these last remaining strongholds.  I pray that I live long enough to see them completely destroyed.
            My name is Hagen Luke and I’m an attacker pilot from Phoenix, Arizona.  My people are originally from Germany, I was born there, but we came over to America when I was a baby.  My brother, Frank, and I grew up in America and I guess we are as American now as anybody I know, except maybe for the Apache kids I used to play football against when I was in grade school.  It’s been a long time since Frank and I tackled, kicked, and ran our way down a football field.  Now, I’m afraid that Frank is dead, killed by the Martians, and I play a completely different kind of game.   
            I pilot a Besler Arabian, the finest steam-powered, propeller-driven attacker in the world.  It was designed by Hans Besler and Nathan Price and is powered by a two-cylinder, 190 horsepower, reciprocating steam engine.  She’s a double-winged design with an Improved Maxim gun slung under each upper wing and a brand-new Bolden 20mm rapid-fire cannon shooting through the engine drive shaft.  She can also carry three 50 pound bombs under each lower wing and she’s covered with the new “reflective armor” that helps to blunt the effect of the Martians’ heat ray.
            At the end of the first phase of the War, we discovered that the Martians were working on flying machines.  We also discovered that the metal bars that they were somehow refining were not intended as building materials but were a slow-burning fuel that produced incredible power.  Using the information gathered from the Martian’s progress toward flyers and the power of this new fuel, Besler and Price were able to fulfill one of man’s greatest dreams – powered flight of a heavier than air craft.  No more would we be constrained by reliance on hot air filled balloons driven by the wind.  For the first time, man could direct his flights wherever he wished and carry heavy loads without much effort.
            There is a great deal of science which is required to design and build one of these flying machines.  In essence, it is the shape of the wings, combined with the rapid flow of air across those wings that result in the lift that is needed to make the thing rise.  This is a concept that has seen application as far back as Sir George Cayley’s glider.  Most people don’t know this but a man flew almost fifty years ago without any hot air at all.  But he was still a prisoner of the wind.
            The steam engine that is the power plant of the Arabian is a product of modern science with a little help from the Martians.  Nathan Price was already known for his work on compact steam engines for use in the rail transport business but, using the incredible power of the new fuel provided by the invaders, Price was able to swiftly convert some of his earlier work into an engine that produces enough steam power to provide the horsepower-to-weight ratio necessary to make these ships feasible.  The engine that resulted operates without the destructive vibration of internal combustion engines, reduces fire hazards, operates at a greater efficiency than any internal combustion engine, and, very valuable tactically, operates in relative silence.  In the first flying tests of these machines, pilots were able to call down from the air and could be heard by spectators on the ground.
            On more than one occasion, I have snuck up on our enemy and the first indication they had of my presence were when my bombs began raining down, bringing death and destruction to these merciless invaders.  Of course, that was before they knew we had taken to the air in our War against them.  These days, not only are they more vigilant but they have, with their own limited resources, begun to attempt to build flying machines of their own.
            I have come to hate the invaders from the Red Planet.  They’ve destroyed my family, turned my world into a burning battlefield, and taken away the life I once knew.  My delight these days is seeing their bulbous, octopus-like bodies torn to pieces by my weapons and their machines burning from the effects of my bombs.  If I die fighting them, so be it.  But I will send as many of them to Hell as I can before I go.

Stephen Sanders
Copyright 2013, All Rights Reserved

Poet, Steam Attacker Mechanic, Chemist
United World Flying Corps
United States United States

« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2013, 05:16:46 am »

Good, solid work. I Like the Steam part, but something about 'attacker' doesn't parse well with me (but then I've reached the advanced age that marketers consult with me in order to find out what products to pull off the market...Wink

But this is Chapter 1. By the end of the book, another title may find it's way to you. Keep it going.
Zeppelin Captain

« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2013, 06:25:07 am »

Have you seen "Things to Come"? This was a film that H.G. Wells made, which featured a prolonged global war, resulting in a global wastland. The war is ended, and the world united, by an organization of pilots and scientists called "Wings of the World".
United States United States

« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2013, 10:28:30 am »

What is this? Like War of the Worlds?


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