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 Fiction: Where did we all start? 
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Post Fiction: Where did we all start?
For me, as previously mentioned in the Non-fiction section, AoS fiction for me came by way of find Kent's Stand into Danger, in the Bolitho series, for 10p in a library sale. From there it became an frantic search to find the books in the order of the series so I could read Bolitho's life chronologically.

From there it went to Forester, and then onto snippets of Pope, Woodman, Hardy, Lambdin, Donachie etc, until I set about reading the one author I had been warned off..... he's long winded, boring, etc. ...... O'Brian!!

Needless to say, I became totally hooked, and very much enjoy devouring his novels.

Where did it all begin for you? Who's your favourite character, your favourite writer in fiction?

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Mon Sep 06, 2004 9:05 am
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As I mentioned in the thread in the Non-Fiction section, my first AoS novel was Pope's Ramage. I bought it while I was in London and I remember that I stayed up most of the night to read it. Although I think the quality of the last few Ramage books dropped off, probably due to Pope's problems with his health, the series is my sentimental favorite.

Since then, I've tried to read as many different authors/books as I can get my hands on.

I like Woodman's Drinkwater. I think he's the most human/believable of all of the main characters. (I still shudder when I think of what happened to poor Tregembo and what Drinkwater had to do in A Private Revenge :cry: ).

I'm not hooked on one particular author. They all have their good and bad points. I suppose it depends on what mood I'm in.

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Mon Sep 06, 2004 8:21 pm
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It started for me with Midshipman Hornblower when I was 10 or 11. By the time I was 12 I'd devoured the series and discovered Bolitho and shortly thereafter, Ramage. I've been reading AoS ever since, going on three decades now, with a brief hiatus when I became disillusioned with Kent's on-going reflection of Nelson's career in Bolitho's. The A&E HH films in 99 drew me back in.
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Tue Sep 07, 2004 4:52 am
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Bumping this topic up for any newer members who want to chime in.

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susan


Thu Jul 21, 2005 6:19 pm
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Post Getting Started
As a stress reliever from the pressures at work, I would sometimes grab a plastic sailing ship kit on the way home and put it together. I don’t know why I gravitated to sailing ships, as my brother and I regularly put car and plane kits together as kids. Not many people knew I did this, as putting such kits together as an adult was not usual for someone my age.

One day in a small local bookstore I mentioned that I might like to read a book or two set in that age. The owner suggested "Master and Commander" by POB. It took me three months or so to get through the first half of that book. I would read a chapter, set it aside, read a couple of other books, read another chapter of M&C, then repeat. However, the second half of that book was terrific. Once I finished it, I read all of that series (16 at the time).

I was telling an acquaintance about POB and he mentioned someone he had read as young adult -- some guy named Alexander Kent. Wow. Then Woodman’s Drinkwater followed.

Then I tried Forrester, Lambdin, Pope, Marryat, Parkinson, Russell, and then later Stockwin and the rest.

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Fri Jul 22, 2005 1:26 am
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Post Getting Started
I started with C.S. Forester when I was a teenager. I don't think the last volume or two of the series was completed at the time. I also read Kenneth Roberts. He's better known for his books on the American Revolution though he did write a few sea tales. His book, I Wanted to Write, brought me into the inner world of historical fiction and research. I also read a few of the shorter works of Joseph Conrad.
I didn't return to the genre until after I had gone on a sea voyage myself. Soon after I returned I devoured R. H. Dana, Melville's Typee and the Bounty Trilogy in short order. A few years later visiting friends in the Grenadines, I picked up a couple of POB titles that I hadn't seen in local libraries. I read more Conrad and Melville and, then, about five years ago determined to read the entire POB in order.
I remember trying Kent and Pope but found them much less interesting than Forester. However, I enjoy Pope's histories a great deal. Alas, Parkinson has shared the same fate as Kent and Pope.
I read Woodman and Stockwin now but, in truth, I have so much non-fiction reading about the era, it takes up most of my time.

PT


Fri Jul 22, 2005 3:46 pm
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Post Re: Getting Started
Years ago, a small Hornblower fanzine asked for articles on how people got involved with Forester's works. This is what I wrote:

Hornblower in Orbit
A Tribute to C. S. Forester

By Ron Wanttaja


One of the attractions of Forester's Hornblower books is the step back in time; the chance to escape the 20th century for the sails and iron guns of the 19th.

My own introduction to Forester's nautical hero highlighted this contrast in the extreme. I became a Hornblower addict while operating Air Force Early-Warning satellites.

As newly-commissioned Second Lieutenant, I was delighted with my first assignment. I was trained as a sensor specialist; assessing the satellite's mission data and evaluating the health telemetry to ensure nominal operation. We were the front line of defense against World War III.

However, as students of history may recall, World War III never happened. We watched the scopes. We ran the training tapes. We stood our watches in the operation center, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Nothing ever happened. Remember, we weren't operating "Spy satellites". A secret deterrent isn't a deterrent, and the Soviets were well-aware of our presence. Spy satellites were Hornblower's Hotspur, sniffing at the approaches of Brest. We were the equivalent of the Channel Fleet blockading from far out at sea, sailing back and forth, waiting for the French to come out. Which they never did.

So, what did we do through our eight or twelve-hour shifts? Well, we did have spacecraft systems to monitor. We did have simulations to run. And there were occasional minor events that would provide some distraction. But the site computers did most of our jobs for us. Most shifts were just hours of boredom.

Not so much for me, as I could lose myself in books. I read all the Science Fiction I could find. But SF finally paled. I borrowed books from other folks on my shift, getting exposed to everything from murder mysteries to "men's adventure" series. Looking through the bookstore one day, I found the entire Hornblower series. What the heck, I thought, and bought _Mr. Midshipman Hornblower_.

It wasn't really a spur-of-the moment decision. I'd had some small attraction to the days of sail, and had been tempted to try reading some Forester. Now, I finally got the chance.

It wasn't at all what I expected. I had anticipated, well, a "Captain Blood"-type swashbuckler. Instead, I found a main character as clumsy as I was. As possessed by self-doubt. And a setting as deeply technological...for its time...as the state-of-the-art satellite ground station where I read the books.

In short, I was hooked. I read that book quickly, then picked up the next. I was reading that one, one midnight shift, when a fellow bored Lieutenant stuck his head over the partition, looking for some reading material.

I lent him the first book...and the virus began to spread.

Pretty soon, the on-shift conversation took a decidedly nautical bent. We would no longer "perform a state-of-health on Sat Seven," we'd "check that running rigging, arrr...." One lieutenant even closed an informal memo with "Your obedient, etc. etc."

One way to stay awake during the night shifts was to play board games; _Wooden Ships and Iron Men_ became all the rage. Talk swung from profiles and infrared signatures to grappling, stern rakes, and boarding parties. The gameboard would be set up in front of one of the monitors, to be shoved aside if the all-powerful Computer detected the first stirrings of World War III.

It was one heck of a contrast. A hex board, with counters representing 74s and frigates, set up in front of a computer display showing data points flickering on a world map. Two or three junior officers or NCOs, concerned with the terrestrial wind of the 19th century as well as the solar wind of the 20th.

Like all fads, it gradually mutated and faded. Not for me, though. Forester was but the first stage of my square-rigged escape. Staging occurred when I discovered Alexander Kent's Bolitho. Today, Patrick O'Brian provides the sustainer engine for my flights of fancy.

For it's still going on. I'm out of the Air Force now...but working in spacecraft development for a major Aerospace contractor. Lately, I've been studying propulsion trades for an interplanetary probe. My computer might output words like Specific Impulse and Hydrazine, but the mind is still chewing on t'gallants and cro'jacks.

The Ops plan might say "Enable ordnance circuits J20 through J25," but what the author REALLY means is: "Clear for action, Mr. Bush."

Two hundred years from now, there might be a 22nd-Century Forester who writes about a gallant lieutenant running 20th-century spacecraft. Can't really see it catching on, though. But there might be a spacecraft on its way to distant suns, with a bored young lieutenant standing the midwatch in a darkened operations center. And there, in the dark reaches of space, C.S. Forester will win another convert.

Ron Wanttaja


Sat Jul 23, 2005 7:12 am
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