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“Short Story” Magazine

“Short Story” ( is a fiction magazine that aims to ‘change the world, one story at a time’.
They publish one short story a month, and pay well. It is available by subscription.

The War in the West

The War in the West, James Holland, Bantam Press, 693pp, £25
Germany Ascendant 1939-1941
An interesting one-volume history of the early part of the Second World War. This book give a readable account of the war, as seen through the eyes of an number of participants on both sides. It also deflates a number of myths about the war, in particular about the strength and invincibility of the German forces. While the Germans had a formidable army and air force, their navy was small and their army was not as mechanised as the popular image of fast-moving Panzers would suggest. Germqn propoganda obscured the fact that they were less motorised than most of their opponents and their field guns were still drawn by horses. Germany also lacked the raw materials and other resources needed to sustain a long war. Bad planning ensured that the Germans lacked some useful aircraft types.
The French were better equipped with tanks and had an army of comparable strenth, a bigger navy and also an air force, but intimidated by German propoganda managed to defeat themselves rather than be defeated by the Germans. The French political establishment was split by internal squabbles and the army was consistently slow to respond and its leaders unwilling to fight.
Reading this book I was struck by several similarities between WWII and the Ukranian crisis. In both, a dictatorial leader acts ignoring the advice of his more cautious military staff, and takes over several countries before mounting an egregious attack on another counrry, forcing allies to respond. In both, the attacked country does not get as much support as it hoped for. The aggressor armed forces turn out to be less powerful than their propoganda persuaded their opponents they were. In both pre-wars, attempts at negotiation or appeasement turned out to be pointless.

A Short History of Asia

A short history of Asia by Colin Mason, Palgrave Macmillan, 350pp. (3rd edition 2014)
The ‘short history’ covers the countries of the Far East, including what are now India, China, Indonesia, etc. Part I covers pre-history up to the pre-colonial era. Part II covers the impact of imperialism on these countries. Part III covers the post-WWII period, the end of imperialism and the resulting political turmoil.
Overall this is a most interesting read. This is not just a history of ‘great leaders’ as Mason points out the dismal conditions endured by the mass of the people – taxed to the max, subject to forced labour, famine and war, at all periods of this history. meanwhile the rulers often lived in great luxury.
In Part III there are reminders of past horrors – the French defeat followed by the Vietnam War, Pol Pot’s murderous regime, and the Vietnamese Boat People. Mason’s accounts of various countries in Part III are unflattering and often very revealing, with a litany of bad and oppressive governments that do little to relieve the miserable lives of the masses. Even Japan, generally regarded as a developed, democratic and progressive country, does not escape unscathed, as Mason points to corruption involving construction companies, officialdom and government.
The book concludes with some brief speculation on the future.

The Plain Girl’s Earrings update

Cover image
Original Cover

I am looking at updating the cover designs for “The Plain Girl’s Earrings” to make it resemble more the branding of the Witch’s Box series. At present there is a Smashwords edition with a different title (Deadly Relics) and a different cover.

Witch’s Box sequel

steampunk girl

Work is in progress for two sequels to “The Witch’s Box”. The first appeared on Jan 15 2021 as an e-book with the title “The Golim War” (available now for sales), and as a paperback. Princess Maihara supports the rebel General Tarchon in his struggle against the Sar Empire. An e-book cover is shown here.

Order: – or search Kindle for Kim J Cowie

Kim J. Cowie is also on Goodreads.

The Witch’s Box

The Witch's Box cover

This is the first volume of a trilogy.

Imperial Princess Maihara does not get on well with her autocratic father and absorbs radical ideas from her tutor. Meanwhile, the Western capital is under assault by rebels, inspiring the strong-willed and curious Maihara to dabble with the magical box gifted to her by an unknown donor.

For more details, see ‘My Books’

Non-writing tech stuff 2

I bought a MSP990 36 volt satellite positioner box to update my satellite setup. It came without a user manual. I assumed I could easily download one, but no, nothing to be found anywhere. I tried purchasing one online, and claimed to have it, but when I paid the fee the manual did not download, the manual was not in their database and all I got when contacting them was a lot of weasly excuses.

Later I managed to figure out the essentials of how to operate the box so I could use it. The standard definition satellite receivers now don’t seem worth a lot of effort to repair them, as more channels switch to HD. Currently I have one HD euro satellite box and one working SD.

A few days ago I received a new router from my internet service provider, as I had had the original one for 8 years. I just had to pay a postage and packing fee, and agree to send the old one back.

Witch’s Box news

The Witch's Box cover

I am working on a sequel, , and have a complete draft which is now under revision. The provisional plan is to e-publish another instalment on the aniversary of publication of the first part (15th January).

Non-writing tech stuff

I am used to electronic kit being mostly reliable but have had an epidemic of failures in the past few months, several discovered yesterday:

Two spare BD players – both no longer play BDs

Satellite receiver/positioner – died.

Spare satellite receiver/positioner – remote control dead, half of positioner not working.

Universal programmable remote control – dead.

I have had the multisatellite system for quite a long time and it has undergone several modifications. The dish is moved by a 36 volt jack actuator, which will mean little to most people, but it is a scheme which has become obsolete for domestic-sized dishes. Similarly the integrated satellite receiver/ positioners have become obsolete. The makers of my two do not seem to be even making any satellite receivers of this type any more.

Which leaves me with a problem, since the whole system is currently unusable with no working positioner. How to repair and future proof the system? I intend to purchase a stand-alone dish positioner box, which will get the system working and allow both receivers to work. All components of the system will then be replaceable with parts that are currently available new or used.

Too bad that the all4one remote died as I was going to program it to replace the dead satellite remote, but a replacement for the Echostar remote is only £10. I could work it from the front panel but it seems worth the investment to avoid crouching over the set-top box.