Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Memorials, and Winged Hussars by Mark Wandrey

If you just want to read the concise Amazon review, you can click here. 

This morning on my walk, I listened to a podcast discussing memorials, particularly statues. They started out by pondering the significance of statues, and decided that statues of living people were creepy. I'd be inclined to go along with that; I tend to associate statues of living people as being associated with repressive governments.

So, let's consider other forms of monuments. I happen to regard Mother Teresa as one of the greatest humanitarian figures of the 20th century. For years, I carried a medallion with the image of her face on it in my pocket, every day (and I'm not Catholic). She spent her life caring for the poor, and finally, got some recognition internationally. It didn't seem to change her much. I watched William F. Buckley, a devout Roman Catholic & conservative intellectual, interview her. He was hoping, I suppose, to elicit some sort of statement from her to the effect that there were economic solutions to the problems of the grinding poverty in Calcutta.

"No," she said. "It's only love."

He tried again, with a respectful restatement. She waited calmly and patiently for him to finish his question.

"No," she said. "It's only love."

She had no regard for the fact that she was being interviewed by a big shot on big shot TV. She looked as if she were waiting patiently for this to be over, so she could go back to her job of caring for children.

And on February 3, 1994, Mother Teresa was invited to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast. Who issued the invitation? The then President of the United States, Bill Clinton. At his side was his wife, Hillary, who even then was on the record for a national healthcare plan that would include abortion services.

And what did the little nun say?
Mother Teresa had said: “Please don’t kill the child. I want the child. Give me the child. I’m willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child.”
It was shocking. Contemporary reports have the Clintons & others sitting in stony-faced silence while the room applauded the nun who dared.

That is NOT the end of the story.

About a year and a half later, on June 19, 1995, the Mother Teresa Home for Infant Children was opened in Washington DC. Who provided the driving force to make it happen?

Hillary Clinton. Under relentless urging via letters and phone calls from Mother Teresa, she got the appropriate people to put their names on the appropriate papers, and the home became a reality.

But THAT is also not the end of the story.

Mother Teresa died in 1997; and, in 2002, the Home for Infant Children closed. I haven't been able to get a clear picture about the circumstances, or if there was a foundation or legacy that carried on that specific work.

So: does that mean there is no memorial to Mother Teresa, more specifically, to her courageous acts in challenging the mighty at the National Prayer Breakfast?

Well, I carry the memorial around with me. And you are reading this, so maybe you will be part of the memorial. And I think that's as good as it gets. If YOU don't think so, then take your kids to some historical site, whether it has a statue/marker or not, and see if being there is meaningful to them. Where I live, we've got LOTS of Civil War battlegrounds, some marked, others not. They only mean what what each individual wants them to mean, and no amount of concrete is going to change that. 

So: make your memorial: teach a kid to read. Take somebody to a movie. Babysit. Give a neighbor a pie you baked yourself. Let someone get ahead of you in the line in rush hour traffic. 

Figure it out.

And here's the review of "Winged Hussars," by Mark Wandrey:

I usually immediately forget the names of cover artists; however, having read multiple volumes in this series over the past month, I recognize the work of Brenda Mihalko and Ricky Ryan, and say : bravo! Even the choice of the font (looks like war metal) contributes to the picture. Author's name & book title are both easily read, and the mecha and armed furry critter are nicely framed.

When the aliens made contact, the earth was dismayed to discover that they really didn't have anything to trade in exchange for the advanced technology available through the Galactic Union. Fortunately, before we dwindled into insignificance, it was discovered that we could fight. Since this was a rare condition among the vast majority of the alien races, good mercenaries were always in demand. Details are, at this point, somewhat sketchy, but we DO know that there was skullduggery involved; of the 100 mercenary companies to head into space with a contracted mission, only four came back, Coincidentally, all four featured a horse on their unit flag, and thus began the story of the Four Horsemen.

The Winged Hussars had 'lucked' ( luck = preparation+opportunity) into an alien ship, and came home better prepared than they had been when they went out. Their missions were largely space-based, unlike the other three Horsemen, who tended to specialize in ground-based combat.

Alexis Cromwell commands the Winged Hussars, as well as their flagship, the EMS Pegasus, which is the ship recovered by the original contract team. It has unusual characteristics, which she is careful to hide from enemies. And allies. And crew. She's widely regarded as filthy rich, drop-dead gorgeous, and ruthless in business negotiations as well as in combat. Some of that is due to her secret weapon.
Rick Culper is a gentle giant. I KNOW THIS GUY, because I have a son just like him. He rarely has to resort to violence being somewhat physically overpowering. As a young boy, he befriended a pudgy klutz, just out of a desire to see fair treatment and stop a bully form getting his way; when he discovered this was the designated heir of the senior of the Four Horsemen, he figured he had found his place in life. He would become a mercenary, go to work for his buddy, go to exotic places, meet interesting beings, kill them, and get rich. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out that way. The nasty plot running in the background bankrupted the Cavaliers, and Rick had to go elsewhere.

After his training, and before his first combat deployment, a bad thing happened. While hitching a ride on a freighter to a place he can get hired as a mercenary, Rick has to fight pirates, and suffers a pretty serious brain injury. Physically, he comes back, but he's lost a lot of his memory, and doesn't seem to be able to feel emotions, either. After he is patched up, mostly, he signs with the Winged Hussars, who are looking for people with his skill set. Umm..the shipboard marine skillset, not the brain-damaged skill set.

Other items of note:

1. Beside the standard, contract violence, some person or corporate entity has the agenda of destroying the Winged Hussars. This is absolutely forbidden by law and custom.

2. In Interlude sections, we get clues to what drives Captain Alexis.

3. Winged Hussars uses aliens as mercenaries in every position, including having them hold command over humans. Anyone who can't deal with that doesn't get accepted.

4. The aliens are treated as people, with complex motivations. The best example of this is the gigantic spider, Oort. Although her species is known for battle ferocity, including feeding on the bodies of the dead, Oort has had repeated near-death experiences, and it's caused her to attempt to determine The Meaning of Life. When not engaged in a duty assignment, she is reading books by some horrible 19th century German philosophers. Now, I have ATTEMPTED to read some of the works mentioned, and they are so impenetrable as to be frustrating. I think the only way to get through the works would be to have a time machine, go back to a beer hall, and demand that these people explain what they are talking about over beer and sausage. Even Soren Kierkegaard is impenetrable, even if you already know what he's going to say. Frankly, I think that class set back the study of the meaning of life by at least 200 years, by muddying the waters so badly. But, this is the sort of thing the spider reads right before going into combat.

So: great continuation of the storyline, great characters, great exploding spaceships.


Peace be on your household.


  1. "So: make your memorial: teach a kid to read. Take somebody to a movie. Babysit. Give a neighbor a pie you baked yourself. Let someone get ahead of you in the line in rush hour traffic. "