Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Finished Manuscript – Alpha Shift

I have finished my science fiction manuscript Alpha Shift. It is 87,623 words long.

The Panama is a massive spaceship whose Fleet has never gone to war for all these years. So the bridge has been repurposed to do news broadcasts with the captain as the lead anchor. Practical crew remain, like the Marines and the engineering crew, but Captain Chechi thinks of the ship in terms of her show.

Then a hostile force infiltrates the Panama.

Pearson’s hand gripped her shoulder. She raised her left hand to calm him, but felt something hard press against her side. Then all her bright illusions about how difficult her bridge duty was and how significant these celebrity interviews were collapsed into dust.
That was the muzzle of a gun pressed against her.
Pearson’s face had gone from chummy to a mask of determination.
The sound of a gunshot made her flinch.
Everything happened at once: She looked past Pearson’s head and saw the guard in the hallway go down, evidently the one who was shot. 
Terrence, to her right, whom she had thought was finding an excuse to press against her to counter her attention to Pearson, grabbed her arm.
Pearson forced her to stand. He shouted over her head. “I have the captain. BACK OFF.”

Will Captain Chechi become a harder, more capable person?

Other excerpts are posted here, here, and here

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Book Review: Virtues of War

Suppose your troops have managed to retreat to a tree line in the dark of night. The automated troops who chased you have found the range of the tree line with their rockets. But they stay outside the range of your grenade launchers, and your troops’ bullets do not harm them.

What do you do?

If you’re Lieutenant Katja Emmes, you charge forward out of the tree line, ordering your troops to do the same.

When she gets twenty meters forward, she targets one of the automated soldiers, and her troops destroy it with grenades. Ditto for the next and the next, while the enemy rockets harmlessly hit the tree line behind them. They send the enemy reeling back, but have to retreat themselves when artillery fire comes down around them.
Virtues of War is one of the best military science fiction novels I’ve read in a long time. Set far enough in the future for there to be major colonized worlds that can challenge Earth, yet close enough to our time that all the human interactions are familiar, Bennett R. Coles was written what may be an instant classic.

Assigned to the fast attack craft Rapier, Lieutenant Emmes punches her way through brutal fighting, whether on a planet or on board an enemy ship. Although brave to the point of taking on suicidal risks, she is not immune to the emotional baggage of war and the internecine backstabbing that comes with it.

Coles describes with gritty detail the physical shocks that Emmes and a few other main characters endure when going to and from combat, much less from the battles themselves. This is no rah-rah book; he throws in our faces some of the morally ambiguous acts performed during war. And the machinations of an intelligence officer puke can really mess things up.

Overall, Virtues of War features fully-realized characters hurtling into one gritty situation after another. Bennett R. Coles was an officer for fourteen years in the Canadian Navy, and it shows. 


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