Necessary Things

Photo by: Roger Bultot

Randy sat beside a blanket with assorted objects he hoped to sell. The small business supported him pretty well through his homelessness. He’d been drug-free for five years, but now he wondered if those years eating magic mushrooms was coming back to haunt him.

“It’s simple,” said the child’s high-chair. “We’re aliens. Shape-shifters. Whenever a human touches us, we become whatever thing the person needs most.”

“So what happened?”

“A poor child’s parents couldn’t afford me.”

Randy turned to another alien. “And you?”

“My person had diabetes. Needed regular testing.”

“And what’s your story?” said Randy, turning to the penis pump.
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Written for the Friday Fictioneers: https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/09/16/autumn-house-cleaning/

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The Obvious Faux-pas

Photo by: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Elaine loved shopping at Down Island Traders. Despite the rustic exterior, everyone in the “in-crowd” shopped there. As she entered, she stopped, shocked by what she saw. The woman sitting at a table with a latte obviously had antennae, and gills on her neck. Elaine just stared.

A salesgirl said, “Problem, miss?”

Elaine angrily gestured at the alien. “Isn’t it obvious?”

“I realize she’s an alien, miss, but we’re open-minded here. Aliens are welcome.”

“Oh, I don’t care about that.” Elaine waved dismissively. “I’m VERY open-minded.”

“So, what’s the problem?”

“Socks with sandals? Faux-pas! That has GOT to go.”
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Written for the Friday Fictioneers: https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/09/09/11-september-2020/

Author’s Notes:

Knowing nothing about fashion, I had to look this stuff up:
https://www.marieclaire.com.au/fashion-faux-pas

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The Measure of an Alien

Photo by: Ted Strutz

The first known human-alien amalgamation occurred in Roanoke, VA in 1879.

The wealthy widow, Imelda Pitts, had been wooed by bachelors from across the county, desiring her mostly for her money. The men organized demonstrations of physical strength before her house. Others strutted about in their fine clothing. All failed.

A “curious stranger” arrived. A fellow of strange pallor and an unseemly count of limbs. He clearly exceeded all others in her gaining her favor.

When asked if she shunned her own kind because he possessed an “attribute of extraordinary measure,” she replied, “No, but the omelette he serves me in my boudoir is unsurpassed.”
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Written for the Friday Fictioneeers: https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/08/19/21-august-2020/

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Do Walking Tanks Make Sense?

Courtesy of digg.com

I can recall back in the day when I watched “The Empire Strikes Back” in the theater. To this day, my favorite scene in the movie was the AT-ATs. I’d never before imagined a giant walking tank. My mouth fell open, my jaw held together by my delighted, smile muscles. I loved it. Still in my late teens at this point, I had already been studying military weaponry for many years. Somewhere between the appearance of that thrilling scene and the time I made it home, I began to ask questions. One in particular stuck there. “Would a walking tank that big really work?”


Hollywood, and many other media sources, apparently never asked such questions. Next thing you know, giant walking tanks appear in other movies, in books, and manga. Other folks seemed to think they were cool too. And why not? Visually, I still think they are impressive. Show me a trailer for a movie with giant anthropomorphic tanks, or just giant walking tanks and you can be certain I will watch it. I mean if you haven’t seen the Transformers movies while stuffing popcorn in your face, then you’ve seriously missed out.

Modern Tank Design


So, will we see such giant walking tanks in the future. Most emphatically, no. Cinematically, they’re great, but from a military standpoint, they’re a terrible idea. Look at tanks from WW2 until now. They gotten heavier, faster, better armored, more destructive, and more survivable, but they’ve scarcely increased in height. Why? Because one of the best ways to survive a tank battle, is to not be seen, or at least present a small target. As the allies of WW2 battled their way through France and later Germany, they fought one of the greatest tank designs of the war, the Tiger tank. Did this armored behemoth charge out into the open, expecting to win the day through sheer intimidation? Sometimes, but not usually. Tiger crews found a nice little spot with lots of cover, trying very hard to not be seen. No tank yet has been impregnable, so crews knew they would most likely survive if they weren’t discovered until too late, and this worked very well for Tiger crews.


Another way to not be seen is by using revetments. These are trenches that a tank can drive into and back out of easily. It allows the tank to present its turret and main gun, but not the rest of the hull. This places the tank in an effective “hull down” position. It becomes a very difficult target to hit, if you even see it. So, as you can see it doesn’t matter at all if a tank carries huge swaths of armor. No matter how much you have, if can be seen, you can be killed. A huge walking tank stepping out into the open is an  invitation to get it explosively dismantled by scores of tank-killing missiles.

No Walking Tanks?

Big Dog: Boston Robotics

Not so fast. If you think your sixty-foot tall main battle tank will survive the even faster, even deadlier environments we can expect in the future, you’re kidding yourself. A low profile is the smartest move for tank design. Another problem is even the Star Wars AT-ATs kept getting tripped up. Try doing that with an M1A2 Abrams or a T-90. Not. But, if you built roughly man-sized walking tanks whose purpose was to be like a pack mule, now you have something interesting. Boston Robotics’s Big Dog is such an idea and I do believe that could work some day. Future designs intended for combat are also viable, so long as they are small, fast, and able to crouch and hide. Note, we come back to that ability to hide thing. It’s very important. A tank that isn’t seen is a tank that won’t get hit.

This is my take on walking tanks. What’s yours? Let me know in the comments.

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Tourists

Photo by: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Tourists

“I think his communication skills were poor,” said Pol’Hy’Stin. His antennae flit back and forth, tasting the air.

“It must be,” agreed Gol’Na’Shul. “We’ve had no trouble at all.”

Pol’Hy’Stin returned from taking yet another picture with fellow tourists. His long ears flicked often. “Humans are so friendly.”

“Where did Pis’D’Oph land again?”

“I think it was Trenton, New Jersey.”

Gol’Na’Shul stopped to chat with a movie producer. Shortly, he returned and said, “Humans are so funny.”

“Agreed, but why?”

“That guy asked who made my costume.”

“What costume?” snorted Pol’Hy’Stin. “It’s so strange here; you just gotta love Hollywood.”
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Written for the Friday Fictioneers: https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/08/12/14-august-2020/

Author’s Notes:
Since this week’s photo is a retread, so is the story.

Trenton, New Jersey is the legendary location of a fictional alien landing, “War of the Worlds” as broadcast by Orson Welles. It caused panic in the area: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_of_the_Worlds_%28radio_drama%29

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Tank Design

Photo by: Jennifer Pendergast

Combat reporter Bryce Monoghan peered between the train cars. At five-kilometers he could easily see the thirty-meter tall, alien walking war machine. “Aren’t you terrified?” he said.

Lieutenant Cohen said, “No. Why?”

“Well, it’s huge, imposing, threatening.”

“Yep. It’s very easy to see.”

“And our Army? Our tanks are nowhere to be found.”

“That’s the whole idea.” said Cohen.

“Whole idea of what?”

“Maybe the alien can’t see them either.”

At that moment, over three-hundred armor-piercing tank rounds struck the alien. It promptly blew up.

Cohen calmly lit a cigarette. “And now you see the value of not being seen.”
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Written for the Friday Fictioneers: https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/08/05/gere-historical-fiction/

Author’s Notes:

As much as I love movies with giant walking tanks, I think they’re wholly impractical. Take a look at any modern tank design and you can see designers put the most armor and weapon power in the lowest profile they could possibly manage. Tanks have gotten heavier, faster, and deadlier, but they aren’t much taller. There’s a reason for that.

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The True Muse

Photo by: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Brenna found the strange paints in a curio store. She thought it her muse encouraging her to paint a horrific demon.

Then the creature stepped out of the canvas.

Weeks later, Ankhpethylax demanded she create another minion for it.

Exhausted, Brenna said, “No more.”

“Do you refuse, again?” scowled the demon. “The agony will be ten times worse!”

Brenna shuddered. The last psychic lashing was excruciating. She began to work, but so did her true muse.

Days later, she unveiled the canvas.

“Excellent!” said Ankhpethylax. “My most terrifying servant, yet.”

“It’s not your servant,” smiled Brenna. “Say hello to, Demon Eater.”
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Written for the Friday Fictioneers: https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/07/22/24-july-2020/

Author’s Notes:

I was in the mood for a horror story. Don’t be frightened. Your regularly scheduled goofy humor will return soon. 😉

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Critical Equipment

Jean L. Hays

Jennylyn found the package outside the lab. She brought it in, wondering what it was. Professor Blumquist was elated.

“At last! The very thing I need to combat this pandemic,” said Blumquist.

As the new lab assistant, Jennylyn still wasn’t sure what to expect from the mad genius. “An automatic face-mask maker?”

“Invented that weeks ago. Waiting for the patent.”

“A galvanating pholomatraic cilpitomitor for the warp drive?”

“That’s SO last week.”

Jennylyn was at a loss. “What is it?”

Blumquist cheered gleefully. “A mocha machine! Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had a fresh mocha frap?”
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Written for the Friday Fictioneers: https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/07/15/17-july-2020/

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Seize The High Ground

Hey everyone. My new short story, Seize The High Ground, is now available for less than a cup of coffee! A mere 99 cents. Here’s a brief description.

Commander Uriel Boyd has a problem. He needs to rescue the ship’s captain who’s huddling in a lifeboat with air running out. Boyd’s trio of lightly armed auxiliaries must find a way past an enemy battleship and heavy cruisers to save him.

Boyd is armed only with an idea, and he’s been looking for a chance to try it out.

If you saw my post about the future of carriers, this story is very closely related. I imagine a future where carriers are no longer the capital ships we know today. But, in this very special circumstance, the protagonist sees a way to cobble together an ersatz carrier strike for an anti-ship mission.

Seize The High Ground

From the story:

“We got one destroyer, one assault shuttle tender, and my armaments collier. Only your ship is armed for combat, Galang, and against that force…” He pointed into the tank again. “Anything you can do is just pissin’ in the wind.”

Did I mention it’s only 99 cents? You can’t get a decent cup of coffee for that.
Get it right here:

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The Future of Carriers

I’ve been thinking a lot about aircraft carriers, and their future. With nations developing HGVes (Hypersonic Glide Vehicles), capable of striking anywhere in the world, I wonder how long the reign of supercarriers like Ford-class will continue. Several decades more, I expect, until HGVes mature as a technology.

Carriers have dominated the military/political scene for many reasons, but one in particular catches my attention: they can strike at a distance from their home nation. As military and political hot spots arise in the world, carriers are able to arrive within days to make their nation’s will felt. Often, a carrier’s aircraft need do nothing. Just the presence of the capital ship does the job, and for good reason.

USS Enterprise

Force Projection at a Distance

It’s their ability to project force at a distance that makes carriers so powerful. What happens when another weapon system can do the same job? When HGVes become a matured, proven technology, they will also project force at a distance. Even better, they can do it much faster and at less cost than a supercarrier. Allow me to remind people, carriers never operate alone. Their battle groups include cruisers, destroyers, frigates, and submarines. Building a carrier isn’t the total cost. You must build a group of other ship types to sail along with it. A 13-billion dollar carrier requires yet billions of more dollars in support ships for just one battlegroup.

As wise heads have pointed out to me, carriers fulfill many roles. Humanitarian aid comes to mind immediately. No missile can do that. I expect the smaller LHAs like the America-class carriers will never quite disappear. They’re simply too useful in too many ways. When it comes to super-expensive supercarriers, and tight military budgets, I believe their time is fading.

Carriers in the Near Future

During World War Two, aircraft carriers dominated the Pacific seas. For a ship to bring down an attacking airplane, it took a lot of anti-aircraft rounds. According to http://www.history.navy.mil, it took 11,143 rounds to bring down a single airplane with .50cal guns. 1,713 Bofors 40mm rounds raced up to bring a bird down*. The bigger the gun, the fewer rounds it took, but that just proves how much faster smaller guns could throw lead up. In general, a LOT of guns had to fire a LOT of rounds to shoot down an aircraft, leaving ample time for an attacker to strike. This made a well-piloted aircraft deadly to a ship, and thereby, made carriers useful.

Arrive at the present day, and the huge swaths of gun batteries have disappeared from ship decks. Anti-aircraft missiles can engage strike aircraft well outside the range where unguided bombs can be dropped. Attackers must deliver standoff missiles or be destroyed well short of the target ship.

BrahMos II Hypersonic missile

Move ahead several decades from now, and maybe ships are threatening your assets on the other side of the planet. You needn’t move expensive combatant ships into the area, you needn’t risk a highly-trained pilot on a near-suicidal attack. You simply launch an HGV from a satellite, or safely launch into low orbit from within the borders of friendly airspace, and the target is eliminated within minutes. With the primary threat neutralized, you can move to reclaim territory in relative safety. Who needs aircraft? Who needs aircraft carriers?

Carriers in Science Fiction

When I began writing the Springbok Chronicles and authored, The Huralon incident , I had decided there would be no carriers. By this time, hundreds of years in the future, missiles are the primary death-dealers in a ship’s arsenal. For this reason, every ship is also armed to destroy inbound missiles. Ship-killer missiles would be small, fast, and maneuverable. They would have to be to survive long enough to attack. Small fighters attacking ships wouldn’t exist because, inevitably they’d be bigger than ship-to-ship missiles. Because of their greater mass, they wouldn’t be as maneuverable nor as fast. And if these ships were manned, every attribute would be even worse because of all the weight gained by loading the equipment needed to keep a human pilot alive.

Background by spieriz at pixabay.

While watching science fiction movies, I was as entertained as anyone else to see small manned ships. As they raced a hundred meters over the hull of a huge ship, I devoured handfuls of popcorn and watched the shuttles blasting away at targets. Even then, I wondered how did they get so close? If now, aircraft can scarcely get close to a big ship, how did these futuristic ships manage it? My answer: they didn’t. It simply wouldn’t happen. In the future, automatic weapons, like the existing Phanlanx CIWS (Sea-Wiz), would be far better at destroying small targets. Without slow human response-times interfering, such weapons would be absolutely deadly. As visually exciting as attacking manned ships would be, it simply would not happen. So, no carriers in my universe.

Now that the second book in the Springbok Chronicles, “The Madrid Solution,” is written and going through edits/beta-reviews, there are still no carriers. Still, as I said earlier, I’ve thought a lot about how it could work. After much thought, I think it can. Yep, I’m changing my mind. Sue me. The solution is maintaining a range from enemies. When aircraft carriers first began, attacking at a distance was their first line of defense. So it would be in the future. I still would not have small shuttles moving in close. That’s just not believable. No, they would have to attack in a certain way, with many technical considerations, and I have outlined it in an upcoming short story, “Seize The High Ground.” Look for it in about a month (July 2020) on Amazon.

Background by pexels at pixabay

What about you? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the future of carriers. Have I got it right, or did I miss something? Let me know.

If you haven’t already read my book, The Huralon Incident, give it a look today. You can get it right here:

The author’s shameless self-promotion

*Performance of anti-aircraft guns during World War Two: https://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/a/antiaircraft-action-summary.html#II

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