Tag: Writing

No Silver, No Swiss

“No silver, no Swiss,” commented Gian Trivulzio, a Milanese Condottiero during the Italian Wars. He was talking about the Swiss Mercenaries that served in the armies of the Italian City States. They were expensive and often sieges and sacks depended on the city’s ability to pay foreign soldiers.

A more recent quote “Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics,” quoted to Gen. Robert H. Barrow, Commandant of the USMC.

The bravest warriors and the stoutest horses can’t fight without food and water. The most advanced military weapons can’t be operated without fuel and spare parts. Men can’t march without boots. Supplies can’t be used unless they arrive at the right place at the right time. Military supply and logistics is often if not the most important aspect of battle behind fate itself.

Yet so many fantasy and science fiction novels completely hand wave this critical aspect of military operations. Fantasy fiction is often the most grievous violator of basic common sense. Massive armies march across barren lands. Foot soldiers willing to leave their homes to die for whatever cause, yet pay is never mentioned, supplies never shown, equipment that in reality would cost a lifetime to acquire is just magically handed out.

The Cost of Infantry

During the Renaissance

Sergeants -5 Ducats per month

Corporals -3 Ducats per month

Pikemen -3 Ducats per month

Musketeers -3 Ducats per month

The Renaissance at War by Thomas F. Arnold

The above is in Venetian Ducats, one of Europe’s most popular and traded form of currency. While exact value and buying power is hard to pin down. You can approximate based on known sources. For example, Leonardo DaVinci and Michelangelo earned about 100-300 Ducats a year. Michelangelo earned up to 450 per statue, and he was a superstar.

The Ducal Palace in Urbino built by Federico da Montefeltro was estimated at 100,000 Ducats when it was first built. The richest Medici had savings of 200,000 and up.

Ducal Palace Urbino

Your average army had about 20,000 infantry, so you are looking at 60,000 Ducats per month in wages alone, ignoring food, water, clothing, and you know.. the really expensive aspects of an army, cavalry and artillery.

Emperor Charles V during the Schmalkaldic War took 54 artillery pieces, 10 of them were full cannon. A full cannon weighed 10,000 lbs, required 21 horses to move, and cost about 1,310 ducats. The price does not factor in the horses, carriage, spare parts, iron balls, and the wages of the 20 or so artillery men assigned to each gun.

Warfare was, and still is, monumentally expensive.

Backstory is for Busters

But what makes you sit down and absorb lifeforms into yourself? Did it start with your father? Tell me about your mother, did she absorb lifeforms?

The thing I love about classic Sword and Sorcery like Conan is that Howard had no need for useless backstory. You find Conan chilling in some tavern, he hears about a wizards tower filled with loot, he decides to rob it freeing ancient gods and fighting monstrosities along the way. Simple, done, no bullshit.

Modern fantasy writers instead of focusing on the action would spend paragraphs boring me with the socio-economic role of said wizards tower in the city economy and how the looting economy would be disrupted by Conan’s actions. All of this following an in-depth two book background story on Conan’s intra-personal family relationships and his estrangement from his mother causing him to be a wandering barbarian thief.

The nerdy obsession with over explaining everything is really a symptom of our current generations inability to deal with the unexpected and unexplained. Bret Easton Ellis in his book White talks about 70s and 80s horror movies and how they lacked explanation.


… movies made in the ’70s didn’t have rules and often lacked the reassuring backstory that explained the evil away or turned it into a postmodern meta-joke. Why did the killer stalk the sorority girls in Black Christmas? Why was Regan possessed in The Exorcist? Why was the shark cruising around Amity? Where did Carrie White’s powers come from? There were no answers, just as there were no concrete connect-the-dot justifications of daily life’s randomness: shit happens, deal with it, stop whining, take your medicine, grow the fuck up.

Bret Easton Ellis in White

Excessive backstory and explanation demystify, destroying fantasy and imagination.

Rethinking the Blog

I’m sitting here at my favorite bar in Yokosuka Japan enjoying a cigar and dark beer reflecting on the past five years of blogging. I begun blogging early on when I first decided to take writing seriously.

When I started Barbarian Book Club my goal was to use this space to document my writing process and to make it a hub for promoting my writing. In the past few years due to this place and social media I’ve grown as a writer and also developed numerous professional connections in the independent world of writing.

But, honestly I’ve used this place as an extension of my social media, almost as a long-form version of Twitter.

Yet the biggest undercurrent of development in my growth as a writer has been in the scope of the politic. The more I’ve delved into the culture of the creative the more I’ve realized that all art is strictly in the philosophical and the political. Every act of art is political and cultural because culture is anchored in the political. Culture does not exist independent of politics, because culture is intertwined and reflects the philosophy of the creator.

Accepting the above fact means that I’m no longer going to shy away from using this medium to discuss my philosophical and political observations. Views that have matured and changed drastically in the past five years.

Practically what this means is that I will be using this place as a home not just for my writing but for my observations on culture, life, politics, and religion.

I plan on restructuring this space away from a focus on everyday blogging and towards a more essay focused medium discussing subjects such as masculinity, fatherhood, personal growth, and how these subjects pertain to a fledgling career in the independent publishing subculture.

I have a lot of material planned and outlined and I hope I can grow this page as a discussion hub or at least a place worth visiting for like minded readers and writers.

Red Sun Magazine #4

My short story The Death of Giraurd de Vallays just got published in Red Sun Magazine Issue #4. Red Sun is one of the newer action oriented independent Fantasy and Science Fiction magazines that make up the exciting indy market. While I haven’t managed to read through back issues I like the blind reader philosophy and the fact that the editors are all military veterans.

The Death of Giraurd de Vallays is a story I care about because it’s actually the first short story I wrote when I decided I wanted to take up fiction. The only other place I submitted it to was the Writers of the Future contest where it got an Honorable Mention. I’m glad that if found a final home after sitting on my drive forgotten.

When I wrote it I was in a Red Sonja mood and also reading a book on the Cathar’s and the Albigensian Crusade.

Support indy magazines and my writing by buying the digital version, reading it, and leaving a review.

Get it Here.

Networks of Power


biggest changes in history are the achievements of thinly documented, informally organized groups


 Niall Ferguson, The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook

Around the same time I deleted Twitter I started reading Niall Ferguson’s latest book, The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook. Not as good or concise as his The Ascent of Money which I read earlier this year, nonetheless it had a few interesting parts that made me think about historical causes from a different perspective. 


From Boston to Bordeaux, revolution was in large measure the achievement of networks of wordsmiths, the best of whom were also orators whose shouted words could rally the crowd in the square and incite them to storm the towers of the old regime.

Niall Ferguson

The personal application of understanding and observing networks in everyday life is fascinating and exceptionally interesting. For example, myself, and most of the readers of this blog are part of a lateral network of right-leaning conservative readers and writers of Science Fiction and Fantasy. A lot of us are also networked through different social media and share memberships in some of the same groups. A few of us have published work in the same magazines.

I would love to see a network analysis that plotted all of the connections and correspondence. It would be fascinating to see where the main nodes of communication and transmission lie. Looking at myself and how I fit into the network my guess would be that one of the biggest common nodes a lot of us share is Jeffro Johnson, closely followed by Cirsova. 

Understanding networks and subsequently focusing and harnessing their power is critical to success in a hostile environment like SFF writing. The traditional publishing world is made up of a series of interconnected networks and the last few eventful Hugo awards illustrate that fact. It’s no secret that a lot of the traditional publishers are very homogeneous in thought and style. You can map a lot of the publishers and writers through different nodes based on writing programs and writing workshops.

Networks are powerful. Building and cultivating a network of like minded readers and writers is critical. Supporting and being active members is critical. Comment on blog posts, share blog posts, encourage others to read works by independent writers you respect. 


Actions that help build trusted networks serve your cause

It’s the way to power.