12/17/18 – Notice




When I first created the Apex Speaker’s office about 8 years ago…. if I had ANY idea how often I would have to draw it, I may have made the walls a bit simpler.

On the other hand, I’m glad I didn’t know, because the office always looks good.


  1. Kaidah

    It makes sense to me. That “it” is referring to the boredom from the previous sentence is pretty clear. I suppose that from a strictly grammatical standpoint you may be correct, but the way it’s written flows better and sounds more like how someone would actually say it.

    Besides, this is Emily we’re talking about. Strict rules of grammar probably aren’t high on her list of concerns. I’ll wager she doesn’t even use Oxford commas in her reports. πŸ˜›

  2. andreas

    Fun fact: if the two objects on the shelf are tapped together a circuit is closed which triggers a hidden trapdoor in the floor which in turn makes the unsuspecting visitor fall into a tank filled with grumpy Thelbuins.

    That is another reason King is calling it quits, he was going to limit himself to using this prank two times a day… But with the neverending supply of tedious supplicants… One thing leads to another and now the tank needs to be emptied out again…

  3. tim

    Re: The Apex Room

    Just take a page from Jack Kirby’s book (not literally – that’s plagiarism): One big splash panel with ALL the details, then the next five panels have flat color for the background.

    1. @Tim, good idea, and I’ve done that for other projects, but with Spacetrawler I like that the background isn’t abstracted, so that the reader feels more immersed in the world rather than at their desk simply reading about the world. And so it’s a route I chose (long ago) not to take with this project — despite my own sanity. πŸ™‚

  4. Peter Rogan

    Offhand, I can’t think of a greater threat to life, liberty and property than rulers and administrators who are bored. It wasn’t the anarchist student Gavrilo Princip assassinating Archduke Franz Ferdinand who started the first World War; it was Austrian Foreign Minister Leopold Berchtold who devised an ultimatum to Serbia certain to be rejected, demanding that Serbia essentially punish itself for harboring terrorists. The Serbian Cabinet made a careful reply, which Berchtold used to inflame the Austro-Hungarian government into war, despite being warned that Russia would ally with Serbia and France would mobilize because their ally Russia had, and the war would become European in scale. It was Berchtold, hungry for war, who convinced the Germans to back Austria-Hungary, however lukewarm, and bang! You get the Guns of August and fifteen to nineteen million dead, another 23 million wounded.

    You should fear leaders and administrators as bored as these. Nothing good ever comes from them.

  5. Night-Gaunt49

    That single assassination should not have lead to a continent side war unless a group of xenophobic autonomous countries with narrow interests were set up waiting for the match to set them off like a nuclear explosion. Unlike today we have kept the peace for 70 years because of the multilateralism. Now some want to return to bilateral trade and xenophobic nation-states again. Won’t that work out well again? Best we don’t go that way. Its bad enough the 1930’s vibe of fascist leaders taking over countries as in being actually elected. Only Mexico hasn’t followed it so far.

    And this just as we are heading to the worsening effects of AGW will splinter larger countries eventually. A bad time to pick a loser strategy that leads to fragmentation.

    Just glad these guys are missing all that out in space. They may not want to return.

    1. Peter Rogan

      European politics have been dominated by conflict since before there was even an idea of Europe. Two things, really, made the dominoes fall in 1914. One, the item people keep bringing up, is that war had been prevented (largely) since Napoleon with interlocking defense treaties such as that between France and Russia. Deterrence 19th-century style.

      But the Big Deal in 1914 was that there was no longer a Queen Victoria on the British Imperial Throne. Her mastery of imperial diplomacy, carried out through the queens, princesses and duchesses who were her descendants, kept the peace when by all signs general war should have followed the Prussian victory over France in 1870. She helped shape the diplomatic solution of the Berlin Conference of 1885 whereby the nations of Europe would conquer the rest of the globe in the Era of High Colonialism rather than tear each other asunder at home.

      I’d like to think that had Victoria lived — and she would have been 94 that summer of ’14 — she would have quietly suggested to Emperor Franz Josef that Berchtold seemed a little fretful, and perhaps needed a vacation until cooler heads settled the awkwardness that was the assassination. For, to tell the truth, the Archduke, though in line for the Austro-Hungarian Imperial Throne, had defied his family and most of the nobility of Central Europe in marrying Countess Sophie Chotek, who though of noble birth, was not a scion of a dynastic family — and so was despised by the female nobility of higher rank. Her removal, with the Archduke in train, could have provided a more modern ruler to take the throne. One not so fraught.

      Interesting to picture a world where no Great War took place, where reforms reshaped Russia and Austria-Hungary into less-oppressive empires, where a corporal named Hitler was not gassed — in fact, he’d still have been struggling as a painter in Vienna. No Soviet Union. No punitive Armistice. Germany would be unified and not divided again. Poland might have been coughed up by the three great powers that dismembered it. But it’s all speculation. A very different world, in many ways less painful than our own, but with a different set of problems and priorities. And yet more irredentism, then as now, in the Balkans, whose internecine hostilities go back to the Sixth Century.

      But we might have avoided the trap of fascism entirely, if only because European monarchies survived into the 20th century. I don’t think it would be a golden age, though, given all that’s happening with industrialization and the problems of colonialism and ending it. It would have been different, but not less fretful. Let’s leave it at that.

      1. Gregg Eshelman

        Would it have prevented Mao tse Tung and his Long March in China? A world without communism would be nicer.

        Another thing we’d be without, Nazism and how it infected Islam via the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini.

        1. Peter Rogan

          Probably not. The ‘success’ of Communism, after all, was due to the collapse of the Romanov dynasty in the Kerensky Revolution, which was then itself overthrown by the Bolsheviks. The war is only the proximate cause for the collapse of Imperial Russia; by all measures the Romanovs were living on borrowed time since the 1907 revolt that forced changes to Parliament and foretold more changes to come, with or without Imperial approval. A Kaiser Wilhelm II, weak of mind but strong of impertinence, might well have found another excuse to send the crumbling Russians Vladimir Lenin in a sealed train, especially if it looked like republican government would replace his fellow autocrat Nicholas II in the East. Once he had teamed up with archthug Stalin, the brutalitarian rule of the ‘Soviets’ would occur, however tardy, and likely without opposition from the West, who would not have large standing armies handy to send East.

          There’s something else to consider: The Russian military had already been exposed as weak and ineffectual at the one-sided Battle of Tsushima in 1905 against the rising power of Imperial Japan. China’s imperial days were over in 1911, with the fall of the Qing (Manchu) dynasty and the election, however shaky, of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, but they too faced the Empire of Japan as a weak, unconsolidated government. Most of Asia would likely have been in foment, and Mao Tse-Tung and Chiang Kai-shek alike would be operating as revolutionaries in the hinterlands, with no clear allies of any standing.

          Japan had little difficulty ‘protecting’ their industrial plants on the Shantung Peninsula and nothing more than diplomatic noise for their seizure of Manchuria, retitled Manchukuo. They likely would have expanded their hold on the rest of China’s productive lands, forcing warlords, revolutionaries and other criminals farther into the mountains and deserts. What might have interrupted this conquest, and it is by no means certain, would have been the intervention of the United States and Britain, whose interests were directly threatened by Imperial Japan’s expansion. (Yes, the Dutch had sizable interests but few forces with which to defend them)

          We would have less to fear from a Russia struggling to become Communist and more to fear from a pugnacious Japan that was bent on seizing Western colonial lands like Indochina and the Philippines. The acts that brought the Pacific war were entirely local, and mostly the restriction of access to scrap metal, rubber, and, finally, oil, which pushed the Japanese to plan and execute their war to preclude any response from America or Britain. In the absence of the Great War we might see the real problem of the early-to-mid 20th Century to be Japanese imperialism and a looming racist war.

          I suspect Communism would have had difficulty getting a foothold in a disintegrating Russian Empire without access to disaffected troops. And they would be distracted, too, by Japanese imperialism in the far east for Siberian resources. Khalgin-Gol might be a more prominent battle today, if it was the opening salvo of the world conflict centering on Japan, and Mao tse-Tung just another voice in the wilderness of a disintergrated China, but how that might have developed has more to do with how the United States reacted to Japanese aggression and prepared for it — which might not have been very much different from what happened, without the distraction of another general European war to distract us.

          Whether Russia, or China, fell under Communism isn’t inevitable, but becomes less likely without the Great War to spur the Bolsheviks onto the world stage, and without a United States accepting a larger role in world events, as it reluctantly did after April 1917. I personally feel that without a general conflict, the world would stumble from one minor war to another until another Napoleon, another Hitler, another Mao presented a threat that the entire globe could unite against to defeat, and then resume their careless warlike ways. But who would seize the banner of revolution and galvanize a people to stand against the world is impossible to say. These opportunities arrive, like the men and women who seize them, from very local effects of minor events in their region, city, province, or island. Causes can be defined, but only by whoever has the ability to enforce their vision on people. And we can’t be sure they will arrive, or what they will look like, or even their grievances.

          Which is why future history must remain speculation. It doesn’t take much for a projection to be horribly, grotesquely inadequate to describe what happened. But who in their right mind would call forth a Hitler to be necessary to history?

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