Thursday, January 18, 2007

Kudos from the Smithsonian

I got a nice review of my documentary "Nagasaki: The Commander's Voice" from Charles Aston, a docent at the The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, which is an annex of the National Air & Space Museum that's near Dulles:

Hi Michael,

Jane sent the DVD, which arrived yesterday. I watched it yesterday evening. I'd have written sooner but this is the first I've been on line today.

It was excellent! Paul Tibbetts and Enola Gay have pretty well overshadowed Sweeney and Bockscar, which is a pity. Everything went right on Tibbett's mission. Nearly everything that could go wrong on Sweeney's did. Not to denigrate Tibbets, but the Nagasaki mission demanded much more talent to pull off.

Your choice of background music is wonderful.

We are all fortunate that you conducted the interview when you did. It's said that when an old person dies, it's like a library burning down. I believe that. Once a voice has been stilled, we can never know what amazing things it might have told us had we only asked while there was time.

I will show Nagasaki to my CAP squadron and my fellow docents. I'm sure they will find it as entertaining, educational and thought provoking, as I did.

Thanks again for your thoughtfulness in making the DVD for me.

Don't forget your standing invitation for a private tour of UHC.



A co-worker at my present job noticed me walking around with a Finnish Air Force coffee mug and asked me about it. I told her it was a relic from my previous career as editor of a defense magazine. She told me about a friend of hers who worked as a volunteer guide at the Udvar-Hazy Center. Well, I had shot some footage of the B-29 "Enola Gay" there for my Nagasaki documentary, so I wondered if she would send him a DVD copy.

And there you go.

What's interesting about Chuck's take on the Nagasaki mission is that he gives credit to Sweeney for his performance under difficult circumstances. Others are less complimentary.

By the way, CAP stands for Civil Air Patrol, a volunteer civilian auxilliary arm of the US Air Force. Hessian Bob was a CAP pilot when he was in high school.

I had to look up 'docent.'

Thursday, December 07, 2006

It's Easy to Forget

Click here for a short retrospective of the Pacific War. The music is Samuel Barber's "Agnus Dei" performed by the Santa Barbara Quire of Voyces. The clip is the coda of my documentary, "Nagasaki: The Commander's Voice." You can see the whole thing here.

Here's an aspect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor you may not have heard about: the importance of electronic intelligence and radio silence to the success of the operation.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A great "Outre Mer" review

My novel "Outre Mer" just received a terrific review from reader and avid science-fiction aficionado David Masci, who gives it five stars out of five.

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A Wonderful First Novel

Outre Mer is that rare science fiction novel that is able to speak to today's anxieties while painting a compelling and utterly believable picture of tomorrow. It's also a ripping good yarn, that moves quickly and builds in intensity without sacrificing nuance or detail. In short, Michael Puttre's first book is a stunning debut and a novel that deserves a wide and grateful audience.

The future Puttre presents in the book is completely grounded in reality. He avoids the pitfalls of so many science fiction novels, which have a tendency to ignore human nature as readily as they change the laws of physics. The characters that populate Outre Mer are real people: at times petty, at times noble, never one dimensional. Puttre imbues even secondary characters with a flesh and blood reality that makes them both interesting and worth caring about.

The story is complex, involving political intrigue and war, and is told largely through the eyes of a half dozen characters. But Puttre uses the events and people depicted in the novel to dig deeper, exploring issues such as the nature of faith and duty, the need to belong to something greater than oneself, and the extent of our responsibility to those we have dominion over. Thankfully, the author does not provide easy answers. Instead, we see characters grappling with tough decisions that involve compromising one set of principles to serve another. This tension makes the novel tremendously rewarding.

Finally, and amazingly for a first time author, Puttre has managed to get right the mechanics of fiction writing. His prose is clear and tight, avoiding overly colorful language while still giving us a steady stream of dazzling description and dialogue. His pacing is also exceptionally good. The story never lags or wanders off in unproductive directions. Overall, this is a wonderful book, one that I enjoyed tremendously and look forward to reading again.

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The reviewer is a a senior research fellow at a Washington, DC, think-tank (I don't want to name it here because David isn't representing it in writing the review). His specialty is religion and public life. David has also read more science fiction novels than anyone else I am aware of, so I am truly grateful for his kind review.

Please have a look at "Outre Mer." You can preview and purchase it at It is also available at and Barnes and

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Long-Suffering Fan

I found this in my inbox this morning from a reader in Australia:

Hey Michael,

Well let's detail my life over the last few weeks
shall we?

1. Moved house.

2. House moved into burned down.

3. Moved house.

4. Lessor decided to sell house.

5. Moved house.

6. Shitty house - guess what?

7. Moved house.

8. Got Internet.

9. Read Outre Mer.

10. Want sequel. NOW!

Seriously Michael, I have no idea why you haven't been published. Your work is top notch. Have you tried submitting it at Baen? Anyways, just wanted you to know that I loved your book and would look forward to anything else in the series and would love to read it as a beta-reader if you will.

Now as to the part I didn't like. In the very beginning, the description of your "hyperspace" is a little forced. A smoother description here will help the flow of the


  • Great characters; believable, deep, flawed but not stupidly so (ala Robert Jordan).
  • Coolest Alien race ever...well next to Star Trek's Jem Hadar, anyways.
  • Awesome plot twist [spoiler deleted].
  • Dialog is great.

In short: Really dude, get yourself an agent. You are as good a wordsmith as many people that are published and better than many others.


So, if this gentleman can enjoy "Outre Mer" after the year he's had, imagine how much you might enjoy it in the comfort of a home that isn't on fire or being overrun with zombies, or whatever?

Go here to preview "Outre Mer" on

Go here to find "Outre Mer" on

Friday, December 01, 2006

"Outre Mer" reviewed at Reader Views

I'd like to kick of the month and the weekend with a nice review of my science-fiction novel, "Outre Mer." And so I will: I have excerpted a review by Debra Gaynor of Reader Views, cutting out one or two spoilers and fixing the spelling of my name. If you want to read the full review, go here:

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Outre Mer
Michael Puttré
Lulu (2006)
ISBN 9781430300960

Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for Reader Views (11/06)

Earth has reached the stars and began colonization and also destruction. A war was fought against the “Grey’s,” an evil alien race that has been capturing humans since the 1940’s. The war was won but the humans don’t quite trust the “Taken,” those that were abducted and returned.

The “Taken” have been quarantined on Outre Mer where the Duran live. Eventually some politicians decide that it was a bad idea and they plot to remove the “Taken” to another planet. But the “Taken” have no desire to leave. Humans attempt to isolate the “Taken” form the Durrani. They do not want the two races mixing. It is decided that all the “enlightened” Durrani must be exterminate but the Durrani that have not been exposed to the “Taken” may be allowed to live as long as they remain unenlightened. The main plot is the struggle for the “Taken” and the Durrani to remain free, but the plot has many twists and angles, there are many other paths for the reader to explore.

Janni, a Durrani, has been assimilated into modern society. He has a long furry tail, saucer eyes; he seemed to be all snout and teeth, he has been given a set of mechanical hands to wear on his paws. He thought the human face expressive. “There had been a time, early in his training, when Janni’s mannish colleagues invited him to play poker. He lost money for a while as he picked up the game. Then he learned how to read faces, and the invitations to live games stopped coming...”

The Durrani people are marked for destruction by a small group of politicians and operatives, each with their own agenda.

The characters are amazing. They have depth and are multifaceted; they are very real in that they are not totally good or totally bad. The author has made use of his background and offers his readers, technology and scientific descriptions.

Whether by coincidence or on purpose, Mr. Puttré; forces his readers to look deep in their soul for the prejudice hidden there. Perhaps once they come to light we will overcome them and learn to truly love our fellow man.

Mr. Puttré offers his readers a unique blend of sci-fi, romance, fantasy, political intrigue, and historical context. He leaves us with much to ponder. The cover entices the reader to enter in with a promise of adventure waiting. I recommend “Outre Mer” for those that enjoy science fiction, political intrigue, romance, space opera, fantasy and a really good book to curl up with.

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You can preview and purchase "Outre Mer" at here.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Veterans Day / Bloody Tarawa

I'm going to be traveling this weekend, so I thought I'd offer my Veterans Day post a little early.

Last year, I collected 11 stories of veterans of many countries in their own words.

In April and June 2006, I interviewed Leon Cooper, who was an ensign aboard the assault transport USS Harry Lee (a converted liner) and served as a boat officer on a Higgins boat during the Tarawa invasion. He told me his story, and I offer a recording of it here, in two parts (2 MP3 files).

This month is the 63rd anniversary of the Battle of Tarawa. The lack of a round number on the date doesn't mean the event isn't worth reflecting on. In November 20-23, 1943, US Marines, Sailors, and Airmen engaged in a fight that would provide the home front with its first bloody shock of WW II. More Americans were killed at Pearl Harbor, true, but that was due to enemy action and sparked outrage at the new enemy. At Tarawa, with the US on the attack against 4,000 entrenched Japanese defenders, more than 1,000 US servicemen were killed in less than three days. More than 2,000 more were wounded. Grieving American mothers were calling publically for Admiral Nimitz to be fired. History does not record what the Japanese mothers thought of their war leaders. The Japanese defenders died almost to a man. History has even less to say about the 1,000-plus Korean laborers killed on the island.

You'll want this map.

And here are some useful photos of the battlefield.

Leon Cooper is the author of "90 Day Wonder: A Darkness Remembered," a semi-autobiographical account of his experiences in the Pacific War. Here is a post about some of my impressions of his thoughts about Tarawa and the island-hopping campaign. I don't necessarily agree with all of his conclusions, but hey, he was there. I wasn't.

Over the course of the next few days I will add additional supporting links, so please check back.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"Outre Mer" reviewed at Bards And Sages

My science-fiction novel "Outre Mer" received its first review at a third-party website. Julie Ann Dawson, editor of Bards and Sages, a site dedicated to speculative fiction (SF, horror, and fantasy) and role-playing games, gave it a thumbs up. Julie concludes:

Puttre’s characters are engaging and well developed. While technically this is a science fiction novel, the character-driven plot and personal interaction take center stage. Starships, intergalactic (sic) travel, high-tech sci-fi weaponry and gadgets…these things are all secondary to the characters that populate the story. Janni is simultaneously a hardened hero and an innocent bystander struggling with situations beyond his control.

Outre Mer is a polished, character-driven space opera with a serious message about the nature of humanity. A highly recommended read for fans of quality science fiction.

What's interesting is that Julie detected themes relating to the Crusader States of the Middle Ages, particularly with regard to the title. Outremer was a general name given to the Crusader States after the First Crusade. In using the term Outre Mer, I had in mind the notion of "overseas," as the French term their far-flung colonies and possessions. However, when I wrote the book, I tried very hard not to lecture the reader or even to tell him or her who to root for and identify with. I am very happy to see different readers coming away with different thoughts and views about the various characters and the actions they take.

You can read Julie's full review here.

You can preview and purchase "Outre Mer" here: