Quotes from the 2016 BAM!

The Bu-Nine Annual Meeting took place in Greenville, SC during July. BuNine members from the United States gathered to discuss ongoing BuNine projects, share their personal projects, and debate the virtues and pitfalls of South Carolina during the middle of summer.

So…have you ever wondered what it would sound like if you released a large group of incredibly intelligent people into a small room for a long weekend of even longer conversations? Luckily, I was taking notes!

First…there was work…

“It doesn’t bother me that I don’t care.” (TM)

“If you have a radar array where you have multiple transmitters and receivers, can one receiver receive information back from multiple transmitters?” (TP)

“That chart can’t be correct. The Andermani are Germanic, based on Frederick the Great, right? So each line has to have the same number of boxes.” (CW)

“Mark told me that a government was just a complex machine with squishy bits that think for themselves and governments finally started making sense.” (TP)

“By God! It’s full of things!” (DC)

“The carrier isn’t trying to make our lives difficult. They just have so many other things to worry about!” (CW)

“I have to be so creative at this point for my day job that it’s a bit like juicing a rock. That’s a thing isn’t it?” (TM)

“We can retcon that.” (TM)

Then…there was Star Trek…

“It makes sense because they were under pressure. And as we know Star Trek engineers can do incredible things when they are under pressure. They can figure out problems in under an hour that entire teams of research scientists haven’t been able to crack in fifty years.” (SR)

“Cleaning is easy in Star Trek.” (TP)

“The transporter, from a fictional standpoint, is the most dangerous piece of technology in any universe.” (CW)

‘The very Best Star Trek movie ever? Galaxy Quest!” (BH, TP, CW, and JO)

“If a science fiction fan joins the Navy, it may be because the Star Fleet wasn’t hiring.” (CW)

Then…while play testing Bridge Simulator, a space simulator…

“Shields at 50%” (DC)

“Taunt at 100%” (TP)

“Hold down the Boost button.” (BH)

“There is no Boost button!” (SR)

“Oh, damn. We must have lost that in the upgrade…” (BH)

Then, a “How did we get here?” conversation broke out…

“At first it was getting a peek at the things you don’t see in the books. Tom bribed me very well.” (JO)

“One of the best things about being in BuNine is REDACTED FOR SECURITY REASONS” (JO)

“With moderate power comes moderate responsibility.” (TP)

“Are you getting what you need?” (CW)


“You guys showed up in the shop one day in Norfolk, geeked out about a bunch of cool stuff, and left. I had to wait two more years to get to join BuNine.” (BH)

“The reason I wanted to become part of BuNine is because these are people I don’t get to see on a daily basis. (SR)

“So what you’re saying is you like us because you don’t see us that often?” (BH)

And some things were just random and silly…

The two ex-Air Force guys were overheard singing a chorus of…
“In the Navy –
You can sail the seven seas –
In the Navy –
You can put your mind at ease-”
(JO and MG)

“Bookstore? Oh, you mean the place where they store the scrolls?” (CW)

“Bob Ross Cosplay is actually a thing.” (CW)

“Wow. Just wow. I found Bob Ross and Groot cross universe Cosplay.” (GS)

“Can you put an umlat in there? I’d like to see some random dots, please.” (TP)

And on Sunday…”Do you want me to call the restaurant and see if I can order a margarita to go? I can put them on the speakerphone so you can listen to them laugh at me…” (SR)

And by the end…the answer became clear…

“Because Gustav.” (Everyone)

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Stranger in a Strange Land

For obvious reasons, BuNine tends to be a rather naval-centric organization. There are members who are active duty naval personnel, naval retirees, naval veterans, and naval analysts. My military background is the Air Force. I attended navigator training, navigator-bombardier training, and was operational as a B-52G navigator. My acquaintance with naval issues is from reading history, watching war movies, and wargaming. Subsequently, I was an attorney with a state agency in Connecticut. With that background, and despite having read history since I was a child (I’m 64 now), the culture of the navy is foreign to me.

Obviously, the vast majority of the military forces in the Honorverse (and Star Trek, and Babylon 5 and the Royal Cinnabar Navy series and… well, you get the idea) are based on naval ranks and organizations. Looking at it from viewpoint of a fan, it’s perfectly understandable. Whether it’s Captain Kirk, Captain Harrington, or Captain Sheridan, it’s a naval captain. Even bomber pukes like me know that’s equivalent to a USAF bird colonel. And if the tactics of the Honorverse and the geometry of space combat (“It’ll be a little tighter than optimum, Sir,” Honor’s astrogator said, “but we can make it. If we get underway within ten minutes, we can match courses at one-four-one-zero-eight KPS in three hours and five-two minutes. They’ll be approximately three-five minutes past turnover at a velocity of three-four-two-seven-eight KPS,” from The Short Victorious War) were a bit too abstract for me, I could still understand that space ships were maneuvering and shooting was about to begin.

I came to the Honorverse, as so many others have, by innocently picking up a copy of On Basilisk Station. On page 5, when I read about a treecat named Nimitz, I was hooked. The rest, as they say, was history. For my own amusement, I created an alphabetical index of the Honorverse books and I shared it with the head of The Royal Manticoran Navy: The Official Honor Harrington Fan Association. He in turn shared it with the powers that be in BuNine and I was invited to meet BuNine at their annual meeting. Apparently they liked what I had done, because a year later I was extended an invitation to join BuNine, which I rapidly and gladly accepted.

So there I was (which for those of you who may not know is an old flyer’s phrase for something is about to happen), thrown in with all these navy guys and listening to navy talk. I have had many instances of thinking and saying, “What am I doing here?” This was induced by the fact that my skill-set is entirely non-technical. (I was an aerospace engineering major until Thanksgiving of my freshman year. That’s when I sussed out what college math was all about. My BA is in International Relations and Soviet Studies. Yeah, I know. Real useful, these days.) I’m listening to guys talking about the design of space ships and the science behind how grav waves work and…yeah. Right?

But more than that, I recognized that the orientation of BuNine was very naval. And I felt like a fish out of water. (Okay. Pun intended.) Aside from having absolutely no talent, training, education, or abilities in scientific, technical, or mathematical areas, here I was in the same room with these guys who did have all those attributes.

Some of the discussions that have gone on around me have been: the function of the combat information center on naval ships and starships and why it mattered; the technical aspects of opening a hole in the sidewall of a starship in order to fire a graser through it; the problem of guiding missiles after they have reached several light seconds from the launching starship with and without FTL communications capabilities; and how many admirals can dance on the head of a pin. (Okay. Just checking to make sure you were paying attention.)

Although I was a navigator, I have a fairly extensive knowledge of flight operations, partly from my own experience and partly from many, many hours of Microsoft Flight Simulator and at least a dozen different combat flight sim games. I understand atmospheric flight and getting an aircraft from place to place to accomplish a variety of assignments. Where I was almost totally deficient was how to internalize operations in space. Admittedly, it’s a three-dimensional environment but, Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars notwithstanding, ships in space don’t maneuver in the same way that aircraft do in atmospheric flight. And trying to wrap my head around hyperphysics, wormholes, and translations to and from n-space is literally beyond my ability to understand on any but the most superficial level.

It’s difficult to feel like you can speak intelligently about things that (a) are the next thing to magic, (b) exist only in a theoretical sense, and (c) are based on a military culture that is different from the one with which you’re familiar. Determined not to be completely at sea (yes, pun intended), I started acquiring and reading books on how navies functioned past and present. One of my favorite finds, at a library book sale, was a textbook for plebe midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy on learning to be a sea officer. I haven’t read it all but I have paged through it to become at least passingly familiar with what it takes to be a sea officer.

Just this morning, we were talking about the different orientations and approaches of the USAF and the USN. I expressed the opinion that in terms of flight ops, the USAF base commander is subordinate to the wing commander but in the Navy it was the opposite with the commander of the air group being subordinate to the aircraft carrier (the base) captain. That resulted in a twenty minute explanation for my edification as to why that was not a correct statement and how the chain of command at sea works.

Make no mistake. There are actually things that I understand, such as the government and judicial systems that go into populating the Honorverse. But let’s be honest. It just ain’t as cool as starships, missiles, and space combat. I often feel like the nerd who gets to hang out with the cool kids, but those moments have become rarer and less often. And if I’m completely honest, I have to admit I’m learning more about the navy than I ever thought I would or would have reason to learn. But the bottom line is that you can lead a USAF guy to water…but you can’t drown him without dire consequences.

(Mark Gutis)

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A Call for Vengeance


You can now pre-order the next installment in the Travis sequence (by Pope–Zahn–Weber)! I can’t wait!

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In Our Odd Hours

Ever wonder what BuNine talks about when we are not talking specifically about the Honorverse? Here’s an example from last year:

MARK GUTIS: “As a USAF veteran I understand the difference between tactical and strategic air operations. In reading about WWII, I have encountered a term I don’t understand. What is the meaning of operational and how does it differ from tactical and strategic operations?”

CHRIS WEUVE: “As it happens, the US government spent a small fortune giving me a masters degree on exactly this subject.

“The operational level of war is the level of war between the strategic (which is focused on the use of national resources to gain a national level result), and the tactical (which is about the winning of battles). The operational level of war is thus about the process of translating strategic objectives into tactical actions, i.e., linking battles together in such a way as to produce a strategically meaningful result. Historically speaking, it’s pretty much the same as the term campaign (e.g., “Wellington’s peninsular campaign”), although modern operational art (the theory that goes with it), IIRC, thinks of campaigns as a set of linked operations.

“Before and during World War 2, this level of war was mainly viewed as being almost exclusively about logistics. Modern op art also talks about things like “operational fires,” which are uses of combat force in places other than the main area of operations for operational effect. The operational fires example often cited in class were Halsey’s raids on Formosa before Leyte Gulf, which served to distract the Japanese and attrit combat power before it could be moved as reinforcements. In a lot of ways modern operational thinking hasn’t changed the details so much as the vocabulary behind them.”

Before the war between Manticore and Haven, the operational level of war was treated as if it was just a logistical exercise in support of tactical expeditions. The Solarian League didn’t fight wars, it mounted punitive expeditions against targets that fight back. Even the People’s Republic of Haven had never had to think in operational terms before, as its conquests were essentially tactical problems, not operational. Manticore was too big to treat as a tactical problem, though, and Pat Doyle and Chris Weuve (both Naval War College grads) have argued that it was Manticore’s — specifically, King Roger’s — understanding that this war would be different that fundamentally set the stage for Manticore’s victory.

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How-to…Boolean and Blender?

Blender is one of those programs that can take years to master. John O’Donnell, an artist and jeweler in real life, uses Blender to render 3-D models of the Honorverse ships as imagined by BuNine and David Weber.

John created this tutorial for a fellow BuNine member who had questions about using Blender to create weapons hatches in a ship. In 3-D modeling, Booleans are generally reserved for complex shapes where a hole needs to be put into a solid shape. This technique has advantages, like allowing you to create several openings at once. The drawback is that it ends up creating many more polygons than are absolutely necessary, and requires time-consuming cleanup after the operation has been completed.

This tutorial uses a different method that can be a slightly time-consuming, but is much neater when the opening is cut into the mesh, requiring very little cleanup.  It also has the advantage of being easy to use for simple shapes, such as the cylindrical shape of the Honorverse ships.  The drawback is that it can’t be used on more complex shapes without a lot of tweaking.

Although not a complete tutorial for creating whole Honorverse ships, this illustration of John’s work process gives you a small glimpse into this incredible art form.

The software used is Blender 2.69b, an open-source, free, and powerful 3-D modeling program.

Step #1 - Create a 48-sided cylinder.

Step #1 – Create a 48-sided cylinder.

#2. And Subdivide...

#2. And Subdivide…


#3. Mark the positions you need…


#4. Select edges.


#5. Cut edge loops.


#6. Place object being deleted.


#7. Join separate objects


#8. Select, move, and place object


#9. Object Placed


#10. Remove unnecessary edge lines


#11. Align object (with hull)


#12. Center


#13. Adjust vertices to follow (hull) curvature


#14. Vertices adjusted.


#15. Extrude outline


#16. Make outline consistent


#17. Repeat outline extrusion and cleanup


#18. Drag highlighted outline inwards


#19. Extrude and repeat.


#20. Extrude and scale, inwards.


#21. Deselect top and bottom edges


#22. Create faces


#23. Fill in the gaps…


#24. More gaps..


#25. Almost done…


#26. Check normal direction.


#27. Check your shading


#28. Select edges


#29. Bevel edges


#30. Edges beveled


#31. Final check on shading and smoothness


#32. Copy completed area


#33. Paste to next location


#34. Repeat for multiples.

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BuNine at RavenCon!

BuNine activities at RavenCon, in Richmond VA (25-27 April)

FRIDAY (25 April)
* 4pm: Boardgame Renaissance (Chris Weuve)
* 5pm: Star Maps and Alternate Earths: An overview of inexpensive tools for detailed SF/F world building for fans and writers: Celestia, Google Earth, AstroSynthesis, Fractal Mapper, and Blender. (Joelle Presby, Andy Presby)
* 9pm: Humor in Gaming (Chris Weuve)

SATURDAY (26 April)
* 9am: Real-life Star Trek Inventions (Chris Weuve)
* 10am: So You Want to Quit Your Day Job: Things to consider when shifting careers from corporate employee to something else (Joelle Presby)
* 11am: What the US Navy Taught Me About Starfleet.” (Chris Weuve; 2 hrs)
* 4-6pm: Annual Baen Books Traveling Road Show (Joelle Presby, Chris Weuve, and every Baen author in attendance)
* 10pm: Space Westerns: The Final Frontier (Chris Weuve)

SUNDAY (27 April)
* 11am: Powered Armor (Chris Weuve)
* 1pm: Working with David Weber on the Honorverse. (Andy Presby, Joelle Presby, Kay Shelton, Chris Weuve, and any other BuNine people who are there)

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A quick announcement about where we are going to be…

We know that BuNine is going to be present at the following cons:
RavenCon: Richmond VA, 25-27 April 2014
HonorCon: Raleigh NC, 31 Oct-2 Nov 2014
MantiCon: Bloomington MN, 22-24 May 2015 (note the year!)

We’re also planning on being at:
MarsCon: Williamsburg VA, 16-18 Jan 2015

We don’t know exactly we will be up to for most of those cons, but we do have the schedule for the BuNine people attending RavenCon:

FRIDAY (25 April)
* 4pm: Boardgame Renaissance (Chris Weuve)
* 5pm: Star Maps and Alternate Earths: An overview of inexpensive tools for detailed SF/F world building for fans and writers: Celestia, Google Earth, AstroSynthesis, Fractal Mapper, and Blender. (Joelle Presby, Andy Presby)
* 8pm: So You Want to Quit Your Day Job: Things to consider when shifting careers from corporate employee to something else (Joelle Presby)

SATURDAY (26 April)
* 9am: Real-life Star Trek inventions (Chris Weuve)
* 11am: What the US Navy taught me about Starfleet.” (Chris Weuve; 2 hrs)
* 4-6pm: Annual Baen Books Traveling Road Show (Joelle Presby, Chris Weuve, and every Baen author in attendance)
* 10pm: Space Westerns: The Final Frontier (Chris Weuve)

SUNDAY (27 April)
* 11am: Powered Armor
* 1pm: Working with David Weber on the Honorverse. (Andy Presby, Joelle Presby, Kay Shelton, Chris Weuve, and any other BuNine people who are there)

Hope to see you around!

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Supplemental color plates for House of Steel

Both due to time and space considerations, we had cut the ground forces from House of Steel a few months before final assembly, but at David’s insistence (it didn’t take much) we dusted off the files, hashed out the remaining details and included those sections in the final version.

That process, in turn, reignited an old thread started by Robb Jackson, our resident Royal Manticoran Army guy.  Robb had been asking for uniforms for the RMA for quite some time, and we got as far as discussing the general arrangement at the last Honorcon.  (For those wondering about why they haven’t heard of previous Honorcons, “Honorcon” is what we used to call the BuNine annual meeting.  We stole the name from ourselves to use for the public convention this November, which you should all go to, as it will be a tremendous amount of fun.  But I digress.)

The RMA uniforms would not, of course, be able to be included in the book itself, for the same reasons (time and space) we almost didn’t include the ground forces at all.  However, with discussion in high gear and interest from a number of BuNine members, we decided to at least hash out and finalize the Army and Marine uniforms so that we had an official internal reference (and something for the TRMN as well).  It was a short step from there to realizing that we could clean these up and release them as supplemental online material to House of Steel, hopefully to be the first of many.

And so, we present to you the House of Steel Supplemental Color Plates (Ground Forces), by Scott Bell, Rob Graham, Robb Jackson, Thomas Marrone and Thomas Pope.

Use them for Good, not Evil.


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Podcast Interview

There is an interview with some of the BuNine contributors to House of Steel up at the Baen website:

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Thanks to everyone at DemiCon who made it a great experience for the two BuNine members (Tom Pope and Chris Weuve) who attended. (I’m sure David and Sharon are thankful as well!)

And special thanks to The Royal Manticoran Navy who showed up in force.

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