Monday, February 25, 2008

"The stench of cordite assailed his nostrils..."

Biggles Pioneer Air Fighter by Captain W.E. Johns

I don't actually remember W.E. Johns ever writing those words, but they're certainly representative of his prose. Biggles Pioneer Air Fighter is a better book than those than those that came after, lacking the casual racism of Biggles and the Black Pearl or the hackneyed plots of the Air Detective stories. The book itself is a collection of short stories, by turns grim, adventurous, funny and touching, they form the best part of W.E. Johns work. I suppose this could be because they are the stories most closely based on his own wartime experiences. But my critical faculties are not be trusted here, Pioneer Air Fighter was the first book I ever read for pleasure and therefore has a special place in my heart.

D (my usual wargame buddy) and myself are running a game of "Jump or Burn" at Leprecon next weekend. I'm busily assembling and painting 1/300 biplanes. I should have pictures of completed aircraft in a couple of days and hopefully some pictures of the games in progress. D has splashed out on some rather natty flying stands, so it should look rather good.

I've been giving some thought recently to why Ruritania is sticking with me. Normally I lose interest in projects after a couple of months and move on to the next fad, but this is one that keeps me coming back. The idea of the "Imagi-nation" is not a new one, but I find it interesting what people get from them. Stokes obviously enjoys the story telling aspect of the whole enterprise as well as the idea of putting together a genuinely "old school" wargame like those pictured in "The Wargame". Jean Louis is interested in more extravagant flights of fancy, specifically those that allow him to indulge his penchant for fantastical military costume.

Myself, I'm not so sure why I enjoy Ruritania so much. I suppose I enjoy the challenge of putting together a society that convinces me, building one that has things that I like or find interesting, while still remaining plausible.

I suppose that's why I steal so much material from real life, it has the benefit of not having to be believable.


  1. Ah, Biggles,instantly transported back 50 years to when I first read the WWI stories and how good they were.

    What a civilised city Dublin is part London part Bath but much nicer than either. Where else could you take your board game to a bar for a mealand a drink, and be completely welcome?

    I spent a pleasant half hour enjoying your blog, I hope ther will be much more to come.

    many thanks.

  2. ..I agree with John - the two books set in WWI were always my favourite - Camel Squadron and 262 Squadron???? Couldn't get on with the others.....