Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 30

Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 30

“How’s the development coming on that ‘hydro-pneumatic recoil system’ you’ve been working on with Captain Rahzwail and Commander Malkaihy?” he asked.

“Pretty well,” Houseman replied. “We had a little trouble with the gaskets and seals initially, and the machining tolerances are awfully tight. We have to do more of it with hand tools, hand-held gauges, and individually fitted pieces than I’d really like — the templates in the different manufactories aren’t as consistent as I could wish, even now — but I suppose that’s inevitable, given how recently we got around to truly standardizing measurements. Amazing how much difference there was between my ‘inch’ and, say, Rhaiyan’s! That didn’t matter as long as we were only worried about what we were making, and not about how well parts from our shops would fit anyone else’s needs. And those machine tools people like Zosh and Nahrmahn have been putting together still aren’t quite up to the tolerances I’d prefer. They’re getting there, and quickly, but we’ve still got a ways to go. Why?”

“But your fittings and steam lines and air lines are holding up? Meeting the pressure levels you were describing to me last month?”

“Yes.” Howsmyn eyed the cleric narrowly. “It’s still more of a brute force approach than I’d really like in some cases, but they’re working just fine. Again, why? You’re headed somewhere with this, Paityr.”

“Well, I know you and Merlin deliberately steered Master Huntyr and Master Tidewater towards reciprocating engines because you want them for ships, and I don’t really disagree with your logic — or with what I understand of it, any way. But I’ve been thinking about how they’d actually work. The turbines, I mean. About the way steam pressure would drive the vanes to provide power.”

“And?” Howsmyn prompted when Wylsynn paused.

“Well, what if instead of steam, you used air? And what if instead of turning the turbine to produce power, you used air power to turn something like a turbine to do work?” Wylsynn grimaced, clearly trying to wrap the words around a thought still in the process of forming. “What I mean is that the machines you’d run with electric motors if you could . . . Couldn’t you power them with compressed air, instead? If you built air lines to the workstations you’re talking about, couldn’t you use air compressed by steam engines — like the way you’re powering the forced draft on your blast furnaces — to drive the ‘machine tools’ your ‘assembly-line’ would require?”

Howsmyn stared at him, his expression completely blank. He stayed that way for several seconds, then shook himself and sucked in a huge breath of air.

“Yes,” he said, almost prayerfully. “Yes, I could. And without all that damned shafting and all those damned drive belts that keep crushing hands and arms no matter how careful we are! My God, Paityr.” He shook his head. “I’ve been so focused on other aspects that this never even occurred to me! And it would be a perfect place to develop turbines after all, too. Running compressors, high RPMs would actually be good!

His dazed expression was fading rapidly into a huge grin, and he punched Wylsynn on the shoulder, hard enough to stagger the priest.

“You can’t run a turbine efficiently at low RPMs, and you can’t run a propeller efficiently at high RPMs. That’s why Domynyk and I went for reciprocating engines. They run a lot more efficiently at those lower RPMs, and trying to cut the reduction gears we’d need to make turbines work for the Navy would’ve put an impossible bottleneck into the process. Either that or we’d have to run them at such poor levels of efficiency fuel consumption would skyrocket. We’d be lucky to get half as many miles out of a ton of coal. But for a central compressor to power a manufactory full of air-powered machine tools, the higher the RPMs the better! I wasn’t worried about that when we were talking about powering the blast furnaces or pumping water out of the mines. I was too busy thinking about the need to get the Navy’s engines up and running, so of course we concentrated on reciprocating machinery first! After all, turbines were mostly the way to power those electrical generating stations we can’t build anyway — it never occurred to me to use them to power compressors! That’s brilliant!”

“I’m glad you approve,” Wylsynn said, rotating his punched shoulder with a cautious air.

“Damned right I do!” Howsmyn shook his head, eyes filled with a distant fire as he considered opportunities, priorities, and difficulties. “It’ll take — what? another five or six months? — to get Zosh and Nahrmahn headed in the right direction to put it all together, but by this time next year — maybe sooner than that — I’m going to have a genuine assembly-line running out there, and I’ll be able to put it in from the very beginning at Maikelberg and Lake Lymahn!” His eyes refocused on the priest. “Our efficiency will go up enormously, Paityr, and it’ll be thanks to you.”

“No, it’ll be thanks to you and Master Huntyr and Master Tidewater,” Wylsynn disagreed. “Oh, I’ll gracefully accept credit for pointing you in the right direction, but what Merlin calls the nuts and bolts of it, those are going to have to come from you and your greasy, oily, wonderfully creative henchmen.”

“I don’t think they’ll disappoint you,” Howsmyn told him with another grin. “Did I tell you what Brahd suggested to me last Tuesday?”

“No, I don’t believe you did,” Wylsynn said a bit cautiously, wondering what he was going to have to bend the Proscriptions out of shape to permit this time.

Brahd Stylmyn was Howsmyn’s senior engineering expert, the man who’d designed and overseen the construction of the canals for the barges freighting the thousands upon thousands of tons of coal and iron ore Howsmyn’s foundries required down the Delthak River. His brain was just as sharp as Zosh Huntyr’s, but it was also possessed of a bulldog tenacity that had a tendency to batter its way straight through obstacles instead of finding ways around them. The term “brute force approach” fitted Stylmyn altogether too well, sometimes, although there were also times, to be fair, when he was capable of subtlety. It just didn’t come naturally to him.

“Well, you know he was the one who laid out the railways here in the works,” Howsmyn said, and Wylsynn nodded. Like many of Howsmyn’s innovations, the dragon-drawn railcars he used to transport coal, coke, iron ore, and half a hundred other heavy loads were more of a vast refinement of something which had been around for centuries but never used on the sort of scale he’d envisioned.

“He did a good job,” Howsmyn continued now, “and last five-day he asked me what I thought about laying a railway all the way from here up to the mines. I told him I thought it was an interesting idea, but to be honest — given how much we were already moving with the canals open, especially now that we’re able to get steam into the barges, we were unlikely to be able to move enough additional tonnage, even with dragon traction, to justify the diversion of that much iron and steel from our other projects. That was when he asked me why it wouldn’t be possible to take one of our new steam engines, squeeze it down, and use it to pull an entire caravan of railcars.”

“He came up with that all on his own?”

“You just called my henchmen ‘wonderfully creative,’ Paityr,” Howsmyn replied with a broad, proud smile. “And you were right. I thought I might have to prod one of them with the suggestion, but Brahd beat me to it. In fact, he was practically dancing from foot to foot like a little boy who needed to go when he asked me if we couldn’t please divert some of our priorities to let him build his steam-powered railway.”

“Oh, my.” Wylsynn shook his head. Then he took another long sip of whiskey, lowered the glass, and his gray eyes gleamed at the industrialist. “Clyntahn’s going to burst a blood vessel when he hears about this one, you know. I guarantee it, this time, and I really wish we could have the opportunity to watch him froth when he does.”

“We won’t be able to watch,” Howsmyn agreed, “but I’m willing to bet we’ll be able to hear him when he finds out.” The ironmaster raised his glass in salute to the intendant. “Maybe not directly, but I can already hear the anathematization crackling down the line towards us. Makes a nice sizzling sound, doesn’t it?”


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67 Responses to Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 30

  1. dave o says:

    The problems with the recoil system sound a lot like what the the French did with their WWI 75mm. Lots of picky fitting.

  2. Peter S says:

    They are making big strides with improving industrial production and readying their Navy for the next big leap forward, but I am thinking of the thousand little things they need to do and wondering how they get them all done in time. Siddarmark can’t wait a year or two for advanced weapons and ships.

    • jmbm says:

      Precisely. That’s what will keep narrative tension high in this upcoming book. Exactly like what happened with the explosive shells in “A Mighty Fortress”, will they arrive on time to stop the Church’s fleet ?.

      I feel curious about the COGA’s reaction. Mr. Weber has to give them some of the new stuff to keep the arms race going but not so much that they are able to overun Charis. I bet by next book everyone will have breech loading rifles and the difference will be new artillery pieces similar to the Frech 75mm firing HE shells.

  3. Elim Garak says:

    Nice – they are most of the way to ironclads and steam warships. Once they have those set up and put into production I don’t see how the church can keep up. They will lose yet another crop of battleships, and they won’t be able to keep up. Howsmyn just explained why a distributed production system won’t work for advanced technology – everybody would have their own measurements, the parts won’t be created properly, won’t work together, etc. The church may be able to create a handful of crappy ironclads while Charis will have dozens much more powerful ships and more in the pipeline ready to roll.

    • Allan G says:

      Distributed manufacturing does work, but this does detail why engineering measurements get defined to 6 significant figures, hand fitting is sometimes required (and why global standards are important, as Safehold is dicovering). I wonder who will do a Whitworth and generate the first standardised threads.

      • JimHacker says:

        And the autocratic theocracy that is the CoGA is probably in a better position to mandate uniform defined measurements than the EoC is if it actually occurs to them. The EoC is inroducing it through economic imperative – anyone who doesn’t use it doesn’t get navy contracts – the the Go4 just has to order it.

        • Zak says:

          Yup just like their closing ports to EoC worked great for them (grin)

          • Richard H says:

            I expect standardized measurements would go down better than a blockade, especially if you get the Inquisition in on it. Tolerances might be entertaining for awhile, though. :p

            In fact, I wondered for a moment why Langhorme himself didn’t set down standardized measurements for a moment… until I remembered that he did everything in his power to sabotage the industrial revolution. (Weber’s grousing about the Imperial System aside, I think the most annoying part about it is when you have to do conversions.)

            • JimHacker says:

              The most annoying part about Imperial System measures is what happens when you try to actually do something with it – in chemistry or engineering even basic claculations (for things like forces, density, displacemnts, vectors, moles) become insane.

          • JimHacker says:

            Closing ports looses people money. Uniform measurements doesn’t. There may be a few traditionalists who would resist, but it should be pretty easy for the church to encourage and enforce it over say 90% of industry within a year.

  4. cutter says:

    With the addition of steam I see the reduction in crew per ship. More ships more solderiers. I see huge force multipliers going on everywhere.

    • Doug Lampert says:

      IIRC on a per ton basis steam ships tended to have larger crews than wooden sailing vessels, but they were also much faster and more reliable, so the given crew could move more cargo.

      Warships, you’re trading topmen and other members of the sailing crew for engineers and stoker, and it takes fewer engineers so the crew can go down some.

      But in practice, eliminating sails isn’t a matter of inventing steam power, its a matter of inventing steam power AND having coaling stations in easy reach of everywhere your ship might want to go. Early ocean going steam ships, both comercial and military, had sail AND steam with crew for each because the sail was more efficient when the wind was right, and steam alone just didn’t give the required opperational ranges. It took 50 or so years for the major maritime powers to set up adequate coaling stations to do without auxiliary sails.

      • Allan G says:

        The bigger reason was that the early steam engines were inefficient since they were single stage and low pressure. The triple expansion engine changed that. (The quadruple even more so but by then everyone was moving on to turbines).
        Size has an impact too, bigger ships can carry more coal and since drag goes up in proportion to wetted surface (for a given hull form) doubling the displacement of a ship increases the drag by 1.41. Drag also decreases the longer you make a ship, hence container ships can easily manage 21 knots but smaller craft have trouble.
        This was the reasoning behind the Great Eastern and Great Britain. It is therefore more efficient to build one ship with twice the volume than two ships (unless someone is sinking them).

  5. Nimitz13 says:

    Whew! Paityr wasn’t thinking about spoofing the Rakurai, so we can all relax. To those clever enough to deduce he was about to propose using compressed air to drive the assembly line and its tools, kudos! So will Paityr get a patent on this? Can an intendant rule on his own technology? Bleek!

    A year from now EoC production will explode. Think in terms of 100,000 breech loading rifles per month, etc. Plus the steam-powered railroad just got invented. Within a few years Tellesberg can be connected by railroad to a yet-to-be-constructed port on the west coast.

    We have official textev now that Howsmyn is building steam-powered canal boats for the navy. That will be interesting, and it looks like it will happen in MTaT, not the next book! How many, how soon, and what type will they be? Steamboats with cannon, or full ironclads – and will we find out during the snippets? How quickly can they get to the canals of Siddarmark?

    They’d be mostly useful in the south, where they can’t be frozen in ice and overrun by enemy troops. They can be used in the north as long as they retreat to the southern theater before the ice locks them in, and they aren’t needed wherever the canals have frozen since shipping comes to an end when that happens anyway.

    It’s already Spring, and even if they exist NOW they couldn’t get to Siddarmark and reach the northern canals much more than a couple of months before winter drove them south. They could destroy and interdict all AoG shipping during that time though, and leave the AoG critically short of supplies come winter when the canals are unusable.

    POSSIBLE SPOILER!!!! (If you don’t want to read my projections of how long it may take to get steam-powered canal boats to the front, read no further!)

    Some quick math, Tellesberg to Siddar City – 8000+ miles, and guessing a steam powered riverboat can survive the seas and travel at 10 mph (MUCH higher than sailing ships) gives us a trip of 31 days, give or take a day or two. From there to where they would be useful: 1) the Sylmahn gap, ~600 miles, 3 days depending on how many locks need to be negotiated, may take longer if there’s much current flowing against them. 2) Tairys in Glacierheart, 2200 miles, the current IS against them on the river, 9 days without a current, figure at least 15 fighting it. The boats may be sent there after clearing the Sylmahn Gap, or those boats may be used in clearing out Mountaincross and Hildermoss provinces. They’d need to retreat south – probably to South March for the winter.

    Other options: 1) Thesmar in the South March Lands, ~10,000 miles from Tellesberg, 38 days but then they’re AT the front! 2) Traymos in Talikah by way of Icewind province, ~10,400 miles, 40 days to the front. With steam powered ships, moving 200 miles west and taking Lake City will prevent the AoG from off-loading barges to the road system. Retreat from there to the lakes of South March via Westmarch and Cliff Peak for the winter ~ 2500 miles, 10 days with no current or locks to traverse, probably at least 15 days – and the rivers near the mountains along that route may freeze BEFORE those in the north. They probably need to head south sometime in September.

    Total travel days to reach the northern front AND retreat southward for the winter – 55.

    When could we expect these boats to see combat? If they sailed May 1, they’d all be at the respective fronts by mid-June, which was about the time I calculated the first wave of the ICA could arrive at Icewind or Siddar City, so that would work out well. Clearly they can arrive at South March well before the troops can, since I expect the troops to stop in Siddar City, swap their rifles for breech loaders, and take on Cayleb as commander-in-chief since someone from the inner-circle who outranks Eastshare needs to be in command and he’s the only person on Safehold who matches that description.

    These boats can also PULL barges of supplies behind them, including coal, marines, food, ammo, you name it! So they’re basically a moving army with massive artillery available at all times. Just hope they don’t run out of coal…

    This is gonna be FUN! Bleek!

    • Robert H. Woodman says:

      How survivable will a steam-powere CANAL boat be on the open sea?

      • EM says:

        A barge tug or canal boat won’t survive a sea crossing on its own but knocked down and stored in a galleon it should do fine. Maybe the builders could even resort to shipping sets of iron parts out along with blueprints and an assembly team and using locally sourced wood or wood shipped in from Tarot or Hammer island.

        Would the republic’s rivers and canals be up to handling tugs pulling (or pushing) barge strings? Would Charis be up to building iron-hulled river (and canal) icebreakers?

        Personally however I still see problems with having steamships or steam tugs outside Charis until any coal supply problems are ironed out. We know Glacierheart Province has coal but it’s apparently also a war zone.

        • Sq_rigger says:

          Steam power is not dependent on coal–in fact, wood was the preferred fuel for both steam-powered riverboats and steam locomotives in the US up to the mid-1880s. Europe went to coal-fired steam engines early on, due to a general shortage of wood.

          • Drak Bibliophile says:

            While steam power *can* use wood, coal is a better fuel because you can use less coal than wood for the same results.

            Admittedly, wood in the US was more abundent than coal at first.

            In anycase, for ocean travel, wood has the same problem as coal.

            IE you’ll still need places world wide where you can easily get more fuel.

            Of course, you’d need more wood
            fueling stations than you’d need coal fueling stations.

            Finally, David Weber has a degree in Naval history.

            He knows about the need for fueling stations.

        • JeffM says:

          It won’t be a war zone long enough to matter.

      • Sq_rigger says:

        The ACW Union Navy’s Milwaukee-class monitors were designed and built to operate on the Mississippi and its tributaries, but were sufficiently seaworthy that they were able to transit the Gulf of Mexico and participate in the 1864 attack on Mobile Bay. Several of the single-turretted monitors crossed the North Atlantic to Europe, and they had only 18-inch freeboard.

    • Robert H. Woodman says:

      I still think that having Cayleb on the ground in Safehold as CnC of the EoC troops is a BAD idea. Yes, Cayleb has Merlin to protect him, but it just isn’t a good idea for Cayleb to be anywhere near the battle lines against the AoG, not to mention within reach of all of the TL fanatics in hiding in Siddar City and throughout Siddarmark.

      • JeffM says:

        That’s why he won’t be there. Drak has said as much in oprevious snippets.

        • Robert H. Woodman says:

          Oh, I agree with you JeffM, but I was responding to Nimitz13’s post where he continues to flagellate that deceased equine quadruped of an idea that Cayleb will command the EoC armies in the field in Siddarmark against the AoG. NOT a good idea.

        • Nimitz13 says:

          Dang! I missed Drak’s refutation of that particular theory, which made a degree of sense and would have given Cayleb something to do all summer besides babysit – er, I mean “teach Daivyn the proper attitudes and duties of a ruler in the EoC!” Bleek!

          • Drak Bibliophile says:

            What I said what that Cayleb won’t be “leading armies” but working with the Lord Protector in the political arena.

            Remember, we have two very different nations with a common foe.

            Cayleb will be busy forming an alliance not “babysitting” Daivyn. [Wink]

            • JeffM says:

              Oh, *I* got that much… [G]

              And who knows–maybe he’ll even bump into the Siddar version of “St. Jhernau’s”.

    • d says:

      Have a read about the SS Great Western http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Great_Western

      in particular look at the race with the SS Sirius http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Sirius_%281837%29

      • jmbm says:

        Hi D

        Thanks for the links.

        The tech level they seem to have achieved, triple expansion engines, high pressure boilers and screw propellers is far ahead of that. It is a huge leap ahead, moving from the ships of the batle of Navarino (How Firm a Foundation) to those of the battle of Tsuhima (by next book) in 2-3 years !.

        A better example of what is possible now, substituting steel for iron would be

        • d says:

          That is true, but it’s more related to the relative sizes of the two ships and the amount of fuel they can carry. The Sirius in making the voyage across the Atlantic burned cabin furniture, spare yards and one mast when coal ran low and that was after initially ripping out passenger cabins to store extra coal for the journey, the Great Western on the other hand had 200 tons of coal left when it arrived.

          A riverboat would have even less fuel storage than the Sirius would have.

    • Doubting Thomas says:

      The big problem with your back of the napkin calculations is that you have not allowed for onloading fuel (coal), which you will have to do at regular intervals, say every third day of heavy steaming. Onloading coal is not a trivial task. You will need to add about 1 day to load coal for every 3 days of steaming. Think of the reasons that the British owned the Faulklands and Hong Kong (coaling stations).

      • Nimitz13 says:

        I’ll admit to a bit of… cheating in my calculations, although I figured the engines running at only a bit higher than half their max available speed to conserve coal. Even by my estimates these boats would need to refill their coal supplies every seven days, and off the top of my head, lacking an accompanying steamship coalier (which nobody has said is being developed,) I don’t know how they’ll do it. The MWW obviously does or we wouldn’t see the idea being presented. Perhaps some temporary coaling stations will be set up along the route.

        Setting up coaling stations throughout the empire, on scattered islands across the planet, and on the coast of Siddarmark will need to be done in the next year or two as steam-powered ships are built, although I’d bet they stick with the sails & steam model until a world-wide coaling network is in place. Ending the war so they could buy coal from other nations would be a big help as well, but not much fun to read about.

        I can’t wait to see the Inquisition’s reaction the first time they encounter one of these canal boats – moving against the current without sails while belching smoke that reeks of brimstone. They’ll think the things were invented by Shan-Wei herself. (Well, in a way they WERE!) Bleek!

  6. Allan G says:

    I’d be intersted to see how they build a turbine driven air compressor without significant gearing. The steam turbine Centac’s are very twitchy about oil quality and machining tolerances and have a 13 to 1 step up between the steam turbine drive and the centrifugal air compressor stages. Recip compressors are much more technically forgiving unless you need seriously dry air for your process or you are running a compander (compressor expander combo, used for energy recovery in high pressure plants like ammonia production and gas liquifaction).
    If you can build a reliable functioning centrifugal compressor you can build a gas turbine (and a gas turbine is sometimes easier).

    • Doubting Thomas says:

      The way I undersood the snippet, the turbines were going to be air driven and providing the motive force for tools.

  7. TimC says:

    Air powered tools. I remember when my father, a dentist, got his first ‘Air rotor’ drill. It must have been in the 1960’s. Until then dental drills were driven by string and pulleys at slow speed. Anyone remember the difference between high speed and the painful drilling?
    As I recall the rotor was lubricated by olive oil blown down to the head and those first ones did not have a great longevity, he certainly brought a dud one home for us kids to look at. The turbine fitted in the shaft of the hand drill and was presumably a forerunner of whatever they use now.

    • WP says:

      I remember how much better the high speed dental drills were when they were introduced. That and novocaine were HUGE strides.

    • EM says:

      I think we’re not talking about handheld power tools just yet but more like an pneumatic lathe, column drill or weaving loom. Would having bigger and more rugged gearing improve reliability?

      I presume that for handheld power tools you would need steel. Has Howsmyn or anyone else introduced something like a Bessemer converter yet?

  8. Ed T. says:

    A small diversion. I see SHADOW OF FREEDOM is due out in early March. DRAK, from whose hands the bounty of snippets doth run, when dost thou think you wilt be able to impart the new wisdom?

  9. WP says:

    Now that steam boast are “in the pipeline” how about steam tractors?

  10. BobG says:

    If they are working on hydro-pneumatic recoil systems for artillery, then they also have to be dealing with breech-loaders. Otherwise, there isn’t much point. The French 75mm gun that first used this system typically fired 15 rounds/minute. Imagine Thirsk having to deal with ironclads armed with that.

    • Sq_rigger says:

      There’s a significant advantage to recoil mechanisms even with muzzle-loading artillery, in that the gun doesn’t have to be re-laid manually after every shot. This permits meaningful fire correction and eventually indirect fire with observers correcting the fall of shot. Imagine the dismay of COGA pike squares or musket companies getting hit by howitzer fire from guns they can’t even SEE, firing from beyond the ridge on which the Charisian Marines’ front line is located–and the shell fire follows them no matter how they maneuver.

  11. dave o says:

    Elim Garak: For a distributed production system, think Starrett or Brown and Sharpe. Houseman is a master of heavy industry. Making precision measuring instruments is a different business.

    Bob G: Even with a muzzle loader, not having to shove a cannon back to firing position is a worthwhile advantage. But breech loaders seem to be coming

  12. Robert H. Woodman says:

    You know, perhaps the CoGA could get their own steam power up and running and then Merlin could give the plans (surreptitiously, of course) on how to build an electric generator to the Go4. They would see an immediate advantage over their enemies, order it built, and trigger the Rakurai upon themselves. The EoC could then point out that this PROVES that God favors the EoC and not the CoGA.

    Just a thought. :-)

  13. George Phillies says:

    Steamboats: A three thousand mile steaming range without reloading is actually impressive. For a substantial ship. Re-coaling by hand is 10-30 tons a day, perhaps? There is recoaling machinery. Ten thousand miles will absent cleverness take months to steam. Look at the movement of the Russian Baltic fleet to Tsushima in 1905.

  14. JeffM says:

    I’m missing something here.

    “…given how much we were already moving with the canals open, especially now that we’re able to get steam into the barges, we were unlikely to be able to move enough additional tonnage…”

    You don’t put “steam into barges”. That’s a waste of carrying space, and hugely inefficient. You either push a whole raft of barges with a tug, or pull them with donkey engines on a rail line. Maybe I should post this on Weber’s site…

    • Adam says:

      In the previous snipet, it is described as a canal boat. That would tow the barges. The steam engine is not in the barge.

  15. DKCWong says:

    From this snippet it feels like Charis is reaching a ‘tipping-point’ where innovations for both commercial and military applications will just swamp the CoGA’s ability to replicate.

    While the CoGA can reverse engineer Charis’ technological innovations or maybe even work off copies of the original patents, they don’t have the equivalent of Dr. Mahklyn and the Royal College. From the first snippet of this chapter, Father Paityr Wylsynn referred to equations and formulas that were used to prove on paper that the triple-expansion steam engine would work. This means that Charis’ technological advances are based upon science and sound engineering. The CoGA has nothing equivalent to this (for now) so everything they do is by trial and error. While they have the advantage of knowing an idea will work, their ‘engineers’ won’t understand many of the concepts and principles so they will be making lots of stupid mistakes and build equipment that isn’t as reliable or durable. Worst for them, because they have no appreciation for the science behind many of the innovations they are copying, they can’t as readily extrapolate and innovate. I don’t know if anyone in the Go4 will realize this and authorize the formation of their own R&D infrastructure. Otherwise they are doomed to lose the war. Only the CoGAs massive advantage in population and land mass (now less Siddamark) will allow them to postpone that end. But, if the CoGA can last long enough to begin to match Charisian inventiveness this war can last long enough for those sleeping archangels to wake up and intervene to save the CoGA (also can’t image how much carnage and destruction there will be globally before then). I wonder if that’s when those assault shuttles and other military hardware mentioned in OAR are used. Then again I’d hate to have to read/wait for as many books as it takes to get to that time.

    • Robert H. Woodman says:

      The problem for the CoGA is that if they DO develop their own R&D infrastructure, they will lose the people, because they will lose control of the people. The CoGA depends on total control. The R&D infrastructure they must necessarily develop to defeat the EoC will bring about both new ways of thinking and new inventions. As these new thoughts and inventions permeate society, the CoGA will lose its totalitarian hold over the people. When it tries seriously to clamp down on them, the civil war that will result will rip the Church apart.

      Either the CoGA loses because it cannot innovate fast enough or it loses because it does innovate, resulting in loss of control over the people.

    • Allan G says:

      The other issue is technical competence. If Charis really wanted to mess with their minds then they should use high strength steel alloys – if the CoGA tries to exactly replicate the equipment it will catastrophically fail – and they won’t know why….

  16. JN says:

    They are right. Just about any hand tool can run as effectively and as powerfully of compressed air as on electricity, and often more reliably and lighter weight. It is one of the oversights of the 1632 universe.


  17. AW says:

    Allan G: They’re planning on building a turbocharger. Steam turbine on one end, air turbine on the other. No gears in the middle.

    Although yes, personally I’d use a piston compressor and save the turbines for the hand tools.

    • Allan G says:

      Pressure gain on a simple centrifugal turbocharger is about 4 to 1 maximum, to run air tools you generally need three stages with interstage cooling (gas turbines are much easier…).

  18. Kari says:

    One thing – since Clyntahn has declared Merlin part demon (or something like that from a previous snippet), it would be logical for someone to try to assassinate him. I’m surprised that a fanatic like Clyntahn (or that assistant of his who does his dirty work) haven’t tried to assassinate him rather than some of the others that they’ve tried with and failed (although once they did succeed). Think of those who are loyalists still and how they must feel. Even some who were borderline might start to wonder about Caleb & Sharelyan and demand that they get rid of the ‘demon’s support.

    • JimHacker says:

      While attempting to assassinate Merlin makes some sense from a TL point of view, the Go4 doesn’t actually believe it so they go after more ‘high-value’ targets. Also, Merlin doesn’t have a schedule like ministers/emperors do so any attempt would probably have to be improvised. The only time his movements are predictable are when he’s bodyguarding. In which case, he has lots of well armed company and if you can get through it his bodyguard-ee is probably a more valuable target.

    • Frank says:

      If there was a temple loyalist stupid enough to actually try and kill Merlin we have yet to meet him/her. Personally I would love to see the look on the would-be assassins face when their attempt failed and Merlin turned their way and educated them on their mistake. Fun fun fun.

      • Adam says:

        Don’t Forget there are rifles good to around one thousand yards now. There might be someone that thinks that is enough space to hide in.

  19. Anonymouse says:

    The action scenes do not get the most feedback.

    The political maneuvering scenes do not get the most feedback.

    The engineering scenes do.

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