Thursday, 25 January 2018

The Safehold Series

As I previously mentioned in my Armageddon Reef review, David Weber, in the early 2000s, began work on his latest science fiction series, the Safehold series back in 2007. He followed up very quickly with the sequel By Schism Rent Asunder in 2008. New installments were prompt and yearly, all the way up to the most recent book, At the Sign of Triumph where presently a break is had in the series.

The series began with the tagline "The science fiction decade of the decade begins here." A lofty goal for any author, but if there was someone who could pull off such a lofty goal it would be David Weber. Does he deliver though?

As a small introduction to the series, we go some 300 years into the future where humanity has spread to the stars, only to suddenly and horrifically discover that we are not alone. The genocidal alien race the Gbaba slams into humanity with all the force of an interstellar avalanche and one by one wipes out mankind's colonies until only Earth is left facing the invaders. Soon, Earth too dies.

But that is not the end, as a last desperate attempt to save the human race, Operation Ark, is launched to find humanity a new home where they can hide in safety and one day rebuild, and take the fight to the Gbaba. However, the leaders of Operation Ark have slightly different plans and essentially brainwash the colonists into believing they are now, and always have been, denizens of the planet Safehold and were put there by God, and the leaders of Operation Ark are the archangels who watch over them by entrapping them in the Middle Ages. Suffice to say some members of the operation disagreed with this, and in doing so they get wiped out by an orbital bombardment, becoming demons in the worlds mythology. However, they have an ace in the hole, a cybernetic avatar of a dead naval officer named Nimue Alban who adopts the persona Merlin to break the grip of the ruling theocratic body of the planet, the Church of God Awaiting.

Merlin chooses the mercantile nation of Charis and makes their enemies his enemies, and in doing so plunges the world into a holy war in a struggle for its very soul.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Off Armageddon Reef

David Weber, as many may know, is well known in military science fiction circles as perhaps the preeminent science fiction writer of the 1990s and early 2000s. His works include the standard setting Honor Harrington series, and numerous stand alones such as Out of the Dark and The Apocalypse Troll while also writing numerous series of his own.

In the early 2000s he began work on his Safehold series, which promised to move away from Weber's usual fare of starships and space opera to the more nautical and landlubber area of wooden ships and iron men. Here he began what promised to be an exciting foray into a new world of cannon, swords and muskets. I, having only just finished book 10 of the Honor Harrington series at that point, eagerly dove in to see what he might have to offer in a field I was sure he would know much about.

The question is then, do we find boundless adventure and excitement Off Armageddon Reef?

Monday, 15 January 2018

Minimum Wage Ontario

One of the big topics of the New Year in Canada, or at least Ontario, is the rising minimum wage. Now as of last year the average minimum wage around the country was roughly 11.00$ on the whole, with only the province of Alberta and the territory of Nunavut having wages above 11$ at 13.60$ and 13.00$ respectively.

Ontario's minimum wage hike will be bringing minimum wage from 11.60 to an even 14.00 which means minimum wage workers will be earning about 1.90$ (rounding to 2$) extra in their paycheck. Then the next year it will rise to 15$ on the nose. This will make Ontario the highest paying province when it comes to minimum wage.

The question of course, is that a good thing?

You will find varying answers to this.

On one hand many people act as though this will destroy small businesses and send prices sky high in ways that are unimaginable. Some say that this will probably only inconvenience businesses slightly and make the workers richer. Personally, I think the truth is somewhere in the latter end of the conversation.

One of the most immediate effects it seems has been to bring Tim Hortons into conflict with the Labor Ministry in Ontario as they attempt to cut worker benefits to "compensate" for a pay raise. I have heard that rather than being the actions of a few "rogue managers" as Tim Horton's parent company Restaurant Brands International, claims, this is the norm across the board. It seems that this is taking place across Ontario as the company (or at the very least managers) gets greedy. Or perhaps, they're merely not as efficient at running their stores as they might otherwise have people believe.

This has been the biggest piece of news (especially with how quick the company is to do it) but with this pay hike being new, it might have made more sense for franchises to wait before pulling benefits. With other businesses though, the news seems to be taking longer to filter in as some companies seem to be hedging their bets. Undoubtedly this will raise labor costs (especially for small businesses) across the province. Indeed it seems that some have already complained that it will. Though it also comes with a litany of other advantages for employees across the board.

What we should really ask, is will this be good for the economy? Recent studies, done in 2015 and in 2016 have shown that, in all likelihood, yes it will. Job rates are probably not going to go down, and minimum wage workers will most likely be able to afford to do more with their purchasing power. Over the course of the wage raises this will mean that the average worker will be able to invest more in the economy, and productivity could even go up as workers are simply able to afford more. Which we should see as an overall boon.

Forecasting economic productivity though, is like reading so many tea leaves, and it is impossible to say for sure. Though I'm sure the average worker will be asking themselves, what could I do with even a few extra dollars from my wallet? Hopefully, that will be the question businesses ask as well.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

A New Year

This is a follow up to my own short post welcoming the New Year back in 2017. Now I have flown some 16,000km to return home, readjust to how cold a Canadian winter after experiencing some Australian heat (during a cold snap no less) and have to adjust to my writing once again.

2017 was, thankfully, not like the Year of the Reaper that was 2016. It contained many highs, and many lows. On a personal level I know I can say that easily, and for a certainty many others can as well. No doubt many of us are glad 2017 is over, and are hoping 2018 can bring bigger and better things.

Like my new Hunter S. Thompson look.
Now what can I say about 2017 personally?

Well I have published, for free, my own short story here, and will hopefully be able to publish more in 2018. That was a big step for me as now hundreds have read my little story and I hope more will (if I can advertise it enough) as time goes on. I aim to publish another short story for 2018, or maybe two, and hopefully get a little short story collection put together for self-publishing, either this year or in 2019.

In blogging I've gotten back on the horse (so to speak) and have been able to keep the views coming and manage this blog with some interesting comments and reviews, and I hope I can do more of that. Thankfully I've been able to do reviews for people I know, and some new and old authors that I love. It is nice to see the indie authors I know publishing and being published, and it is also nice to see this blog grow as I go.

My Facebook page has actually grown too, which is wonderful. I've learned that thanks to some less than savory practices, it is less useful for garnering attention, but what can one do? I intend to keep it around so people who do find it can like it and see what I post and share when I choose to.

I also joined Twitter this year.

It was more in response to recent events, but I've found its a useful platform to follow fellow bloggers and authors I like, while keeping myself mildly up to date on what goes on in the world. My mornings now usually consist of trawling Twitter to see the news while also examining the BBC over a nice cup of tea. Helps me keep informed in the world and start my mornings right.

The plan for 2018 is to keep this blog alive, write, and hopefully make headway in my personal and professional life. How successful that will be, well who knows? Hopefully you will join me in this endeavor and read the insightful insipid nonsense I enjoy posting on here and maybe you'll enjoy it too!