Explosive Celebration

by wjw on December 10, 2020

Today I celebrated the release of Fleet Elements with a virtual cocktail party attended by several of my favorite writer friends.  I decided to have a champagne cocktail, and to open the champagne bottle by a traditional method employed by the French military— slicing off the top of the bottle with a sword (or in my case, a Nepalese kukri).

I’d never done this before, so the results were a little . . . imperfect.

Watch and learn.

mearsk December 11, 2020 at 10:37 am

I was expecting more glass shards, carbon dioxide explosions and perhaps blood. Congratulations on your book release! I have my copy and will be burning through it soon.

wjw December 11, 2020 at 9:59 pm

I had to be careful not to slice off my fingertips, but then I wrapped my hand in a towel.

Champagne bottles are under about five times the air pressure of an auto tire, so any glass shards get blown away along with the top of the bottle. It’s surprisingly safe, so long as you don’t conk anyone downrange.

John Appel December 12, 2020 at 10:49 am

The French 75 is one of my favorite cocktails. Excellent choice! Don’t think I’ll be able to replicate that with my reproduction Oakeshott type XVa longsword when my book comes out in July, though. 🙂 Hm, might be time to invest in a sharp messer…

Congrats on the book birthday! I’m reading it now and enjoying it greatly.

John Wilson June 13, 2021 at 4:53 am

Spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t read Fleet Elements yet.

I have a question about the story itself. I just finished reading it, and I recalled (and confirmed by rereading the first few chapters of the Praxis) that the whole Praxis story line starts in Year of the Praxis 12,000 and change.

So, when Lady Starkey shows Severin the video from Lorkin, and the plaque says the platform at Lorkin was dedicated in Year of the Praxis 6, it struck me as odd. Severin makes a huge deal out of the year, but to my thinking there should have been a casual reference to the current year maybe 10 or 20 pages earlier, to re-establish the context and make the fact of the . Yet I don’t remember seeing anything such. Is that something you choose to omit on purpose?

I’m asking because, back when my wife and I drove to work together, I would read to her. It started with Lord of the Rings, just before the movies came out – I had said to her, “Of course you’ve read the books,” and she said she had read The Hobbit but not LotR. So I read it to her in the car, and then we kept going with other books – including the original Praxis trilogy. I’m probably going to re-read them to her again soon, then go on to Impersonations and Investments and The Accidental War and Fleet Elements. She loves Lady Sula.

But when I read that part of Fleet Elements, I could imagine her probably not remembering that the current year is YP 12,000 and change, and so she wouldn’t be so impressed by something that was established in YP 6.
I’d have to break the narrative to comment on that, if she asks why YP 6 is such a big deal. So I was kind of wondering why this information was presented without a reminder of the context.

Or did I miss it?

Thanks and may you and yours remain safe and sane.

wjw June 15, 2021 at 4:54 pm

Hi John. Thanks for the kind words!

The point I was trying to make wasn’t how many thousands of year’s it’s been since Praxis Year One, but that the Lorkin business was such a fiasco that the Shaa changed their calendar to cover it up. Once they got to Zanshaa, they proclaimed a whole other Praxis Year One and pretended anything that happened earlier never existed.

John Wilson June 19, 2021 at 7:24 am


Thanks for the reply. I guess it’s my focus on history (I’m reading a lot of popular history books these days). I focused more on the span of time than on the Great Reset (which I did pick up on).

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