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helmsman-1-99centsThe Helmsman: 99 cents for the Kindle: Amazon

The Helmsman is the first novel in Bill Baldwin’s Helmsman Saga. It’s is a futuristic, Military-Science-Fiction novel about intra-galactic competition and conflict. First published in 1983, it chronicles the adventures of StarSailor and extraordinary Helmsman Wilf Brim during an epoch of discord and outright war among various star-nations—within a galaxy that could be a far-future version of the one in which we live.

This special, “Director’s Cut” Edition is heavily re-written, a la George Lucas’ rewrite of the Star Wars Trilogy, to bring it more in line with later novels in the series, as well as existing “Director’s Cut” Editions of Galactic Convoy, The Trophy; the five other “Director’s Cut” editions to come; and the continuation novel now in the works: The Turning Tide.

The novel begins as Brim—a 21-year-old SubLieutenant in the Imperial Fleet—arrives at the Eorean Starwharves, a maintenance complex within the planet-spanning Fleet base on watery Gimmas-Haefdon. On first assignment since receiving his commission, Brim is fresh from The Helmsman’s Academy, where he weathered years of torment from wealthy classmates because of his impoverished background. Heretofore, the Academy had been a “private club” for the scions of Imperial wealth; however, enormous numbers of casualties during the present war with the League of Dark Stars has called for desperate measures to expedite replacement of these losses.

Brim’s first ship is I.F.S. Truculent, a “T”-class destroyer, just the right kind of starship for the young Brim to cut his teeth on—with challenges galore to rapidly make a veteran of the young Helmsman. And even though his torments continue, in part because of long-held prejudices among the wealthy, the starship is populated with a crew largely made up from races and economic classes glad to help the young man with his career in any way they can.

As one might expect, the love interest for this poor-as-a-church mouse hero is none other than one of the Empire’s most beautiful, most desirable royalty: Princess Margot of the Effer’wyck star kingdom. And though nothing goes easily for Brim—including Princess Margot herself—he acquits himself with bravery, aplomb, and daring as he begins carving a future for himself in the midst of a long, complex Galactic struggle.

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Galactic Convoy is the second novel in Bill Baldwin’s Helmsman Saga. It is a Military-Science-Fiction novel about intra-galactic competition and conflict. First published in 1987, it chronicles the adventures of StarSailor and extraordinary Helmsman Wilf Brim during an epoch of discord and outright war among various star-nations—within a galaxy that could be a far-future version of the one in which we live.

This special, “Director’s Cut” Edition is heavily re-written, a la George Lucas’ rewrite of the Star Wars Trilogy, to bring it more in line with later novels in the series, as well as existing “Director’s Cut” Editions of The Helmsman, The Trophy; the five other “Director’s Cut” editions to come—as well as the continuation novel now in the works: The Turning Tide.

Galactic Convoy opens as Brim—now a Lieutenant in the Imperial Fleet—is assigned to the military team monitoring the construction and outfitting of I.F.S. Defiant, first starship in a whole new class of light cruisers. Many of the characters from Brim’s first ship, I.F.S. Truculent, carry over into the new adventure.

Defiant experiences serious growing pains before her commissioning, but eventually sets off for duty at the sprawling Fleet base in the exotic city of Atalanta on the watery planet Haelic, orbiting the great star Hador (Hador-Haelic). Here, as his relationship with Princess Margot Effer’wyck runs into problems, he meets Claudia Valemont and begins a new romance—as well as survives a number of dangerous missions.

The novel ends with Brim and I.F.S. Defiant engaged in an interstellar battle between the Imperial forces and the League of Dark Stars that is so all-encompassing, it changes the whole course of history—and turns on a single element of technology so ancient that no one can recall its exact origins.

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The Trophy was, is, and always has been, a futuristic, Military-Science-Fiction novel about intra-galactic competition and conflict. Originally published in 1990, it is third in a series of seven novels about the adventures of StarSailor and expert Helmsman Wilf Brim during an epoch of discord and outright war among various star-nations—within a galaxy that could be a far-future version of the one in which we live.

This special, “Director’s Cut” Edition is heavily re-written, a la George Lucas’ rewrite of the Star Wars Trilogy, to bring it more in line with later novels in the series, as well as the first two “Director’s Cut” Editions of The Helmsman and Galactic Convoy. This edition also answers a question from thousands of readers: “What happened to Anna Romanoff,” a love-interest character in the novel who, previously, never quite made it to the next in the series

The novel begins just as Brim—once a fast-rising First Lieutenant in the Imperial Fleet—has been thrown out the service during a post-war reduction in force (RIF), along with thousands of other warriors by a Imperial Government that all-too-easily forgets how much it relied on them only a short time previously.

The change devastates Brim; like so many other young men, from humble beginnings, he bases much of his self-worth on his success in his occupation. For a short while, he hangs on piloting worn-out third-rate spaceliners, but when that operation fails, Brim has nowhere to turn. As a last resort, he works passage to on one of the grand liners as a baggage-handler to the City of Atalanta on the planet Hador-Haelic where, eventually, old friends involve him in the great Mitchell Trophy astroplane races, and he ends up piloting for the Imperial Starflight Society.

Anyone familiar with the history of air racing will instantly recognize The Trophy as my personal tribute to one of the grand fascinations of my life: the Schneider Trophy Races that began in 1913 with fragile Bleriot biplane racers on floats and ended in 1931 with Reginald Mitchell’s early masterpiece, the Supermarine S.6B, that retired the trophy for all time. In addition, its twelve-cylinder engine was the prototype for the Rolls-Royce Merlin and Griffin engines that years later powered Mitchell’s superb Spitfire, the U.S. Mustang, the British Lancaster bomber, and most of the unlimited Gold Cup hydroplane racers of the late 1940s, the 1950s, the 1960s, and the early 1970s.

ON THE “DIRECTOR’S CUT” VERSION: Turned out that Trophy was a pivotal book in the Helmsman Saga, because in the original version, the prototype Starfury was a destroyer-sized starship, but by the time The Defenders came along, it had shrunk to something a fraction of its original size–and made the intervening Mercenaries extra difficult to bring into line with the later books.. It took a lot of rewriting.

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The Mercenaries is the fourth novel in Bill Baldwin’s Helmsman Saga. It is a Military-Science-Fiction novel about intra-galactic competition and conflict. First published in 1991, it chronicles the adventures of StarSailor and extraordinary Helmsman Wilf Brim during an epoch of discord and outright war among various star-nations–within a galaxy that could be a far-future version of the one in which we live.

This special, “Director’s Cut” Edition is heavily re-written, a la George Lucas’ rewrite of the Star Wars Trilogy, to bring it more in line with later novels in the series, as well as existing “Director’s Cut” Editions of The Helmsman, Galactic Convoy, The Trophy; the four other “Director’s Cut” editions to come–as well as the continuation novel now in the works: The Turning Tide.

Helmsman Wilf Brim faces his gravest challenge. As the ravaged postwar Imperial Fleet stands helpless, nearby worlds fall to Emperor Triannic and his evil League of Dark Stars. To defend freedom, Imperial patriots have assembled the first squadron of Starfuries: amazing new astroplanes from Sherrington Hyperspace Works–and Wilf Brim finds himself in command. But before more Starfuries can be completed, Imperial intelligence sources reveal a plot by Triannic to seize the dominion of Fluvanna. This means war–for the Empire is sworn by treaty to defend Fluvanna. And without Fluvannian raw materials, there will be no new fleet.

Now the Helmsman sets course for Fluvanna. Fully armed and manned, the astroplanes should be invincible. But Triannic will stop at nothing to cripple them. And if he succeeds, the Empire is doomed.

For The Mercenaries, Baldwin borrowed the persona of American hero General Claire Chennault–architect and creator of World War IIs “Flying Tigers”–and gave it to one of his favorite, all-purpose Helmsman characters, Baxter Calhoun. Then he took Brim and his friends–made up pretty much to look like the guys of the AVG (American Volunteer Group)–on a swift trip to the backward (as in 1930s-1940s China) star nation of Fluvanna. Like all the Helmsman novels, the plot went pretty much wherever the characters wanted to go; Baldwin simply followed, banging on the keys as fast as he could, considering the fact that he types with only two fingers.

Instead of flying Curtiss P-40’s, Brim’s guys fly Starfuries, which for this novel take on some of the P-40’s less-attractive characteristics, such as being heavy and less maneuverable than their adversaries. Like their outnumbered American counterparts, they learn not to try and maneuver with opponents, but to spread them out, drawing them away from one another, then cutting them down one by one with greater firepower. It worked for the Americans; it works for Brim and Calhoun, too.

Like many real war adventures, nothing much new results from action in The Mercenaries — so far as the overall war is concerned. But the whole idea of the AVG was to make certain that the Japanese didn’t get any further with their conquests than absolutely necessary. They did — in spades. So does Brim.

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The Defenders: On 213/52011—little more than three Standard Months following Brim’s arrival on Haefdon—the League began its long-impending attack on the Empire, ending the period of “Sham War” that had extended since their defeat the previous year at Zonga’ar.

In a stunning onslaught across nearly 500 light-years of arc, armadas numbering more than 1,880 starships of all types, 570,000 jackbooted Controllers, and 2000 giant battle crawlers mounted a colossal offensive. The Imperial dominions of Lamintir, Korbu, and Gannet fell within two Standard Days, their planetary legislatures so weakened from within by CIGAs that their armed forces could offer token resistance at best. The flighted people of courageous little A’zurn capitulated only after a bloody struggle—and a wild naval melee during which three gallant A’zurnian astroplanes nearly demolished a Leaguer battleship before they, themselves, were wiped out by the big ship’s surviving disruptors.

With astonishing speed, Triannic’s seemingly invincible fleets and land armies conquered all before them until before long they were poised before the affluent collection of stars and habitable planets called Effer’wyck, a proud and powerful star dominion with more than ten thousand Standard Years of history. Once this was subjugated, only the ‘Wyckean Void, a narrow emptiness at the origin of a galactic arm, would separate the Leaguers from the great triple star called the Triad of Asturius.

Collectively known throughout the galaxy as “Greater Avalon,” this triple star and its five planets—jointly capital of Onrad V’s Grand Galactic Empire—were preeminent among the League’s targets of conquest.

However, with its defenses gutted by craven appeasers, the Empire was hardly prepared when the treacherous League of Dark Stars launched its interstellar blitz. Whole systems and sectors were engulfed as tyrant Tyrannic’s hyperspace invaders massed against Avalon, the star cluster, and the Imperial capital near the galactic core.

Now, Wilf Brim, the Helmsman, dauntlessly waits at ground zero. He and Young Emperor Onrad must rally the surviving Imperial Starfury astroplane squadrons for a desperate counterattack in a Hellfire suicidal space battle—if he is to save Avalon and the Empire from total annihilation….

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The Siege: Outfitted in snug, Bearish finery, complete with requisite egg-shaped hat to cover his ears and add at least an iral to his normal, six-iral height, Captain Wilf Brim, Imperial Fleet, grinned with pure pleasure as the elegant Sodeskayan troika sped him through a dazzling blizzard.

The rare antique was drawn by three shaggy-black, droshkat thoroughbreds loping effortlessly over the powdery snow—the center ‘kat trotting in shafts while the other two, loose save for long traces, padded along like ebony ghosts. The three great animals set hundreds of tiny bells to rhythmic jingling from their burnished harnesses producing melodies from a thousand years in the Sodeskayan past. Only cloud-muted thunder from a lifting starship momentarily spoiled the illusion that the sleigh was racing through the planet’s rural countryside. Timoshenko Memorial Starport on artificially heated Lake Demyansk lay a mere thirty c’lenyts to Spinward from the sprawling Borodov estate. And the capital of all Sodeskaya, “Holy” Gromcow, unfolded along a riverbank only twenty c’lenyts further on.

To Brim’s left, Grand Duke Anastas Alexi Borodov snapped his whip and joggled the reins with the exuberance of someone half his age. Driving a Sodeskayan troika was a special art, for the driver was required to stand—no mean feat for a Bear of Borodov’s years. As a true Yamshchik, he was privileged to wear a special badge: two bright-orange zavencock feathers protruding from the right side of his hat.
On Brim’s right, massive General Nikolai Yanuarievich Ursis, galactic-class Drive engineer and (in rare years of peace) Dean of the renowned Dytasburg Academy, puffed contentedly on an intricately carved Zempa pipe as chalky trunks of ancient, somnolent birches whizzed by on either side of the narrow rustic lane. Stumps of frost-burned azalea and skeletal dogwood protruded from the snow, half screening bare stands of oak and poplar behind them.

This was Sodeskayan winter at its old-fashioned best—if not its most genuine….

At the same time, Tyrant Nergol Triannic’s League of Dark Stars has invaded the Sodeskayan Worlds, where Rear Admiral Wilf Brim’s Bear Allies, armed for ground combat, are not prepared to repel the League’s vast star fleet. To make matters worse, Brim’s Imperial superiors in Avalon refuse to commit their scarce forces unless the Bears prove they can resist the League. Desperately, Ursis risks his Domain’s future on a single battle, and along with it, the future of Wilf Brim.

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The Defiance: In these perilous days, all of Emperor Onrad V’s subjects needed to be clever—because cleverness was nearly all they had to fight with. Their ancient Empire stood defiant, but nearly alone and friendless in the Home Galaxy, with only the Great Federation of Sodeskayan States—herself under attack—to help counter the onslaught of Nergol Triannic’s League of Dark Stars. One by one, the great allied star domains had capitulated before these lightning attacks. Now, fully half the galaxy lay prostrate beneath Triannic’s jack-booted feet.

Only a few months after completing the most highly classified assignment of his life—and a surprise promotion to Rear Admiral (lower half)—Wilf Brim’s new assignment: Commander of the Imperial Fleet Base on Atalanta’s Grand Harbor, primary Sector Space Defense for the planet Haelic. His first task: restore the base to a wartime state of affairs in the shortest possible time. The sprawling base—despite its tremendous size and strategic location—had been allowed to become little more than a backwater in the fast-expanding Second Great War. It wasn’t as if the War Cabinet in Avalon City had considered Atalanta unimportant; but Imperial resources were low after years of opposition to defense spending by powerful anti-war groups. Until home production caught up with demand, the Empire’s limited forces would necessarily be concentrated in locations that were under active attack. And Atalanta met that requirement all too well.

If Wilf Brim failed, the Empire itself might be doomed, but if he succeeded, the political situation might end his career.

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The Turning Tide: The best-selling Helmsman Saga continues in this all-new novel as Wilf Brim begins to pick up the pieces of his life after a trumped-up court martial deprived him of his beloved commission in the Imperial Fleet. Around him, the Second Great war continues apace, even as his beleaguered old Empire begins to turn the tide of conflict toward ultimate victory over The League of Dark Stars.

But no matter how powerful his enemies, Brim’s friends well know his value to the war effort. Though Galactic Emperor Onrad temporarily lacks the power to restore Brim’s commission in the Imperial Fleet, he recognizes there are missions unique to Brim’s abilities that can as well be done by a civilian as by a uniformed service man—and soon Brim is in the thick of it, albeit somewhat illegally.

However, his same powerful enemies quickly realize that even without a uniform, Brim is still every bit a threat to them— perhaps even more so—than he was previously. In a clever turn-about, they mount their most deadly attack ever on his life, placing him unarmed in a situation so outlandish and dangerous that he may rely only on his most basic instincts to merely survive.

Will this at last be the end of Wilf Brim and the Helmsman Saga?

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