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Science Fiction & Fantasy

Frightening Science Fiction­ – Or a Cautionary Tale?

51LZd6PoQcLThomas Waite, author of the newly released Lethal Code, shares with us that while his novel about a massive cyber war against the United States is fiction, the scariest part is that it could actually happen.

Unknown terrorists launch a cyber attack of unimaginable proportions on the United States. They take over the nation’s most vital computer systems, shutting down the country’s power grid, but not before the cyber terrorists infiltrate top-secret networks at the Pentagon and White House, along with scores of others. Unprecedented death and destruction follow. These cowards with codes produce a horrifying death toll, take control of the nation’s nuclear arsenal, and place another nuclear bomb in a backpack on a bus full of children headed to New York City. The race is on, with both professionals and everyday citizens risking everything they hold dear to defend themselves and fight this invisible invasion.

Sounds like dystopian science fiction, right? Don’t be so sure.

I’ve spent most of my life in the technology field. My first novel, Terminal Value, was a cyber sleuthing, murder mystery about a start-up mobile computing company and a large information technology services firm about to go public. In recent years, I’ve been involved with cyber security companies, which naturally had me researching and reading a lot about cyber attacks and cyber warfare. What I found was frightening.

The truth is that most of the technologies, cyber attack vulnerabilities, and cyber war scenarios in Lethal Code are based on facts. There are well-documented examples of cyber attacks by China, Russia, North Korea, Israel, the U.S., and other countries. Power, water, fuel, communications, and transportation infrastructure are all vulnerable to disruption. Not only has our federal government admitted that the electric power grid is susceptible to cyber warfare, but even the non-profit North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), which oversees all of the interconnected power systems of the contiguous United States, Canada and a portion of Mexico, has issued a public notice that the grid is not adequately protected.

One of the most seminal books I read was Richard Clarke’s non-fiction book, Cyber War (written with Robert Knake). Clarke has served in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, who appointed him as National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counterterrorism. Citing numerous examples, the book makes a very convincing case that although the U.S. pioneered the technology behind cyber warfare, our outdated thinking, policies, and strategies make us vulnerable to losing any cyber contest with a hostile nation.

Similarly, Leon Panetta, the former Secretary of Defense and Director of the CIA who oversaw the U.S. military operation that led to Osama bin Laden’s death, said in a speech in 2012 that our current situation has left us open to “an attack that would paralyze and shock the nation…” He then added his most chilling note of all: “Before September 11, 2001, the warning signs were there. We weren’t organized. We weren’t ready and we suffered terribly for that lack of attention. We cannot let that happen again. This is a pre-9/11 moment.”

As much as I want to entertain my readers, it’s important to note that Lethal Code is not just a fast-paced cyber thriller; it is a cautionary tale for a public largely unaware of a potential cyber war of cataclysmic proportions from an unseen enemy.



Meet George R.R. Martin at Comic-Con International: San Diego

51t3ZoRpTBLOn Sunday, July 27, 12:30pm – 1:30pm, author George R.R. Martin will be at the ComiXology booth #2547 to promote and sign copies of The Hedge Knight: The Graphic Novel (A Game of Thrones), published by Jet City Comics. Signing is limited to 200 copies, given away free, first-come, first-serve. Guests may bring up to one additional copy of The Hedge Knight or its sequel, The Sworn Sword (please note that Mr. Martin will not be signing any other books). The Hedge Knight and The Sworn Sword will also be available for purchase in limited supply at Forbidden Planet’s Titan Booth #5537.

The Man In Two Worlds

91-fHqP6OEL._SL1500_Ben H Winters, author of World of Trouble, shares with us how he went from writing mystery novels to being a sci-fi author.

A confession, science-fiction fans: I entered your world unintentionally. 

Like an astronaut crashing on an unknown planet, I was an accidental science-fiction author—although in truth I was an accidental mystery author first.

A bunch of years ago I wrote a novel for kids called The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman. I thought it was just a funny book about a teacher with a secret. 

But then folks said: “Hey! Great mystery novel!” 

I liked that. I liked being a mystery writer. I like mysteries. And so I wrote a novel for adults about a detective solving crimes that no one else cares about. To make it interesting, I came up with a very good reason  to why no one else cares: because Earth is on a collision course with a massive asteroid and civilization is about to end.

And then folks said: “Hey! Great science-fiction novel!” 

And so here I am, the “Man in Two Worlds”. The Last Policeman won the Edgar Award, for mystery writing, and then its sequel Countdown Citywon the Philip K. Dick Award, for science-fiction writing. 

Theoretically one could quibble with both designations and insist that the novels (including the third volume, World of Trouble, which comes out today) are more properly categorized as speculative fiction, the sci-fi subgenre that imagines and examines a hypothetical alteration in human history. Some of my favorite novels inhabit this category, especially Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union and some of the best works by the aforementioned Philip K. Dick—I am particularly smitten with The Man in the High Castle

But, listen, I refuse to decide one way or another. I’d be a fool! First of all, like all writers, I want as many readers as possible: I want science-fiction readers, I want mystery readers, I want your Great-Aunt Judy who usually prefers romances but will go ahead and give this one a try because she likes the look of the cover. 

The other reason I refuse to decide is because one of the exhilarating things about this job is that you never really know what’s going to happen next, including what you yourself will come up with tomorrow. (Did I say exhilarating? I meant terrifying.) I could declare myself an Official Science-Fiction Writer, or an Official Mystery Writer, and then have a whiz-bang idea for a story about pirates, or one about a love affair, or one about this renegade zoo keeper who kidnaps these orangutans and—hey! Don’t steal my zookeeper idea, dude. 

Ira Levin is one of my all-time favorites, because he wrote Broadway thrillers and he wrote creepy horror and he wrote speculative fiction and he wrote about robots. He had good ideas and he went where they went. That’s my mission statement: to come up with good ideas and follow them, to whatever distant star I crash-land on next. 

Alien Invasions

OutoftheblackEvan Curry, author of the upcoming book, Out of the Black, from his popular Odyssey One series, discusses the idea of an Alien invasion on earth.

The words invoke imagery from a hundred movies and books, from War of the Worlds to Independence Day and beyond. In the Odyssey series I play with the common tropes of the genre, twisting some and just enjoying others, but the common question has a tendency to remain… Even if we accept the central premise, is any of it really possible? Why would aliens bother with us anyway? More importantly, for a military science fiction writer like myself at least, could we beat them back? Could we win?

Better minds than mine have given it a lot of through, including the US Military if rumors hold some truth to them, but it always seems to boil down to us poor humans having something the big scary aliens want. Alright, that makes sense on the surface, so what could we have? Air? Water? Gold or other precious metals?

No, none of those make sense. Any space faring culture would more easily acquire those in space at any asteroid belt, out in the Oort Cloud, or any of a thousand other possibilities. So why invade? Two possibilities make sense, a lot of sense.

First, Aliens may want or need our Biosphere. Air, Water, even food can easily be manufactured or sourced from accessible resources in space but the complicated linking of everything that makes up the world we live on may be the rarest of the rare. It may also be essential to life, not just as we know it, but as the universe understands it.

We like to say that we humans are star stuff, and that’s very true.  The seeds of life, whether you believe abiogenesis or creationism, came from the heavens above. The process through which we evolved here on Earth may end in wildly different places on another world, but that starting point may well remain a constant. DNA, the habitable zone, and the basic rules for all life as we know it could be universal.

So for those invaders, Earth would be a jewel floating in an eternal desert. Priceless, and worth having at any cost.

No matter how advanced these aliens are, however, they would be fighting at a sore disadvantage. Earth is our home, we evolved here, and we know all its secrets. Alright, we know some of its secrets.  Our supply lines would be short, we could easily hide and strike from the shadows, and generally make it very expensive to try to hold the planet. They could easily take it, any species capable of getting here is going to walk right over us in the initial invasion, but we could make it unbelievably expensive to hold.

They couldn’t just wipe us out, that would almost certainly destroy the biosphere that attracted them. Hell, we’re doing a great job of that just by accident, so believe it or not the Earth’s biosphere is incredibly fragile in the short term. Certainly, it would recover, but that could take decades or centuries and presumably our uninvited guests want to move in now. Against such a foe, our best defense might be putting a nuclear gun to our own heads and trying to out crazy them. We’re pretty good at that, just check the history of the cold war.

So, yes, we could probably beat back such an invasion by hook or by crook.

The second possibility? Oh yes, them. Well, if the Earth is ever invaded by a species that doesn’t need our biosphere… we lose. We will never see such an enemy coming, they would hold all the cards, and wiping us out would simply be good security. 

Faster Than Light Space Invasions and The Age of Sail

51PJs02-byLVaughn Heppner, author of Alien Shores, discusses the correlation between intergalactic invasions and the Age of Sail.

I think the best model to understanding future faster-than-light space invasions is the Age of Sail.

In those days, the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French and English built worldwide empires. The heart to each of their territories was the cannon-armed sailing ship, the caravel, carrack and galleon. In relation to the time and space of their milieu, my argument is that sailing ships are remarkably similar to what most novelists imagine future starships would be like.

Voyages took weeks, sometimes months. In an intergalactic empire, trips from one star system to another would likely take just as  long. Even with a warp drive, crossing a vast expanse like the Orion Arm would be a daunting adventure.

In the age of sail, a message traveled as fast as a ship or as fast as a horseman could carry a letter. Unless some magical system is employed, the same would be true in an interstellar empire. As an aside, I wrote about one such magical system in Strotium-90. Telepathic twins on two different worlds became the only instantaneous communication line society possessed between star systems. How fast would thought travel? Faster than anything else was my answer.

In any case, the speed of communication given the long travel times becomes critical. The age of sail provides us with a clue as to how events would unfold in a galactic empire under attack.

In all likelihood, an invading fleet would not have quick communication with its homeworld. Just as an English naval commander off India became a law unto himself, so would a space admiral be. He would have to make drastic, interstellar-shattering decisions without being able to phone home for advice or new instructions. He also wouldn’t have access to quick reinforcements. To win, he has to use what he’s hauled with him these many weeks.

In the same way, the defending viceroy of an intergalactic empire would have tremendous power and authority. It could take weeks, maybe months to send a report to the emperor and receive a reply. Decisions would need to be made immediately.

These days, the idea of being cut off is difficult for us to comprehend in our guts. We’re used to cellphones and instant TV coverage or internet footage. The loneliness of leaving everything behind and entering a star system with who knows what kind of surprises in store could make for a terrifying journey. It might also make invaders cautious until they’ve sent in scouts. Once a catastrophe strikes a starship or a fleet far from home, the situation could become dire indeed.

In my latest novel, Alien Shores, the hero struggles to know what to do once disaster has struck. The aliens in the Fenris System—230 light years from Earth—pose a terrible threat to humanity. If the hero fails to commandeer a Teleship to reach home, there’s no way to warn mankind of the approaching danger. An alien fleet might gather and attack the solar system with as much surprise as Native Americans felt upon seeing Christopher Columbus’ sailing ships off their shores.

On Earth in our day, we’ve radically shrunk travel time and communication lag. Intergalactic empires and their invasion would dramatically expand both, perhaps to an even greater extent than humanity experienced in the age of sail. To understand what the future has in store, a close study of those days might reveal what it would be like with an empire among the stars.

Exclusive Excerpt: "Unexpected Stories" by Octavia E. Butler

Unexpected storiesOctavia E. Butler, who died in 2006 at the height of her career, left an award-winning legacy of novels, short stories, and nonfiction that spoke boldly about the possibilities of the future. Butler's will left her papers to the Huntington Library. Among them, archivists recently uncovered two previously unpublished stories. Butler’s lifelong concerns with power, race, and gender are in full flower, even in these early works. We hope you enjoy this excerpt from the story titled "A Necessary Being," featured in Unexpected Stories, out on June 24. --Betsy Mitchell, former editor of Octavia E. Butler

The Rohkohn Hao, Tahneh, was sharing her evening meal with her chief judge and discussing the current drought when she first learned of the foreigners who had entered her territory. There were three of them, not traveling north or south over the long strip of coastal desert as she would have expected, but coming from the east through the foothills. Apparently, they were following the narrow dwindling river that had in better times kept Tahneh’s people well supplied with water. The hunter who brought the message described the foreigners as a huntress, a judge, and, startlingly, a young Hao. Tahneh looked sharply at the hunter when he said it. 

“You’re certain that it was a Hao and not just a high judge?” 

“So the message said, Rohkohn Hao.” And the man quoted. “‘The foreign Hao is male and very young. Perhaps even too young to have been acknowledged by his people. His coloring is unmistakably pure blue and he is much taller and larger than the judge who is with him.’” 

Tahneh heard this silently, her face turned away from the hunter. She felt just the beginnings of dread as she began to believe the report. A stupid child-Hao out almost alone on land that belonged to her people! What could his own people have been thinking of to let him wander around so unguarded? 

“How far is he from here?” she asked the hunter. 

“Two days, perhaps two and a half, Rohkohn Hao. He’s traveling slowly. He had just emerged from the mountains when a group of our hunters saw him and sent word back to us. Since he is coming toward us, our fighters could reach him from here in only a day.” 

“Is there any possibility that he saw our hunters—saw them signaling us perhaps?” Tahneh had trouble keeping the hope out of her voice. Even a young Hao would have the sense to take his friends and run if he realized that there were other Kohn in the area. He would not know whether Tahneh’s Rohkohn were hostile or friendly and he would not be foolish enough to wait and find out. If only he had seen her hunters’ light signals. 

“He could not have seen them, Rohkohn Hao,” the hunter assured her. “Our hunters made certain that both he and his friends were asleep when they sent their message.” The hunter seemed proud that members of his caste had acted so carefully, so correctly. He added, “Our hunters also ask that we hold our answer until we receive another signal from them—so that we don’t accidently alert the Hao and his party.” 

Thorough hunters, Tahneh thought bitterly. A tribute to her insistence on training and discipline. Her body whitened and became slightly luminescent. This was a sign of the approval that she should have felt, but did not feel, a sign to the hunter that he and his fellow hunters had done well. 

“Is there anything more?” she asked. 

“No, Rohkohn Hao.” 

Tahneh let the light go out of her coloring, let her normal blue return and the hunter, understanding that he had been dismissed, turned and left her apartment.

She sat still, ignoring the silent chief judge who sat beside her and staring into the fire of her large fireplace. This particular judge was a friend as well as the top official of her government. She had had liaisons with him before his marriage and after the death of his wife; he was a good companion. But she wished beyond expressing that she had not invited him to eat with her this particular night. In another moment he would speak and say the things she did not want to hear. 

After a moment the chief judge’s normal blue-green coloring soared to brilliant white luminescence with his joy. “At last, Tahneh, at last!” The words came out in a harsh whisper. “We must send more fighters—judges—to capture him before those hunters frighten him away!” 

Tahneh watched him silently, knowing that his elation would soon be shared by the rest of her people. Another Hao at last. A young one to be the successor that her body had been unable to produce, a child who could probably be captured without the danger and loss of life that would be involved in capturing an experienced adult.

A Certain Point of View

51WOK+tYhSLMark T. Barnes, author of "The Pillars of Sand" discusses how he uses different perspectives to tell the whole story.

A group of people in the dark touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a single part, either the side, the tail, or the trunk. The people compare observations and learn that they are in complete disagreement as to what the elephant is, showing us that while one's subjective experience is true, it may not be the complete truth.

So how to use subjectivity in telling a story, and to leverage from the conflict it can create? Shakespeare has been one of my literary influences and one of the things he did so well was to engineer tragedy based on misconception. As the audience we are aware of the truth, but the characters themselves are not. I wanted to emulate this dynamic in The Echoes of Empire series, told in the novels The Garden of Stones, The Obsidian Heart, and The Pillars of Sand. My goal was to have three point of view characters tell the story, where only the reader had the 360 degree view of what was happening. In this way the reader could see and understand the nature of each character by the way they acted, and reacted, to the story as it unfolded while still having a comprehensive view of the story as a whole. They could also learn more about the characters and the world from the perspective of the point of view they were reading.

In many stories we only ever see what happens from the perspective of the hero, or a selection of heroes who are aligned by commonalities in cause and a shared purposes. Heroes would be nowhere without a villain to inspire them: generally speaking it is often the villain who initiates a course of action that the hero needs to bring to a resolution, yet we don’t get to walk around in the villain’s shoes to understand how the sequence of events came to be. The villain’s perspective can lend a stark and brutal honesty to the story: where the hero generally works for the greater good, the villain can have a rather different agenda that is not represented in such a high tone. There’s also the benefits of seeing the story from the middle-ground, where a character may have commenced down one path, but transforms from a source of temptation and change for both hero and villain, to a powerful force of change in and of themselves.

When I planned The Echoes of Empire story I wanted something different from a lot of what had come before in the fantasy field. Echoes is a character and story driven trilogy of political machination, vengeance, action, love, and adventure. The characters are older, a little broken (maybe a lot broken), and have suffered personal loss to be who and where they are in life. Similarly I moved the story out of what is a fairly consistent Dark Ages Europe to a more exotic Orientalist / Mediterranean setting where arcane science allows for all manner of wonders to exist. To take advantage of this new world I wanted to reveal a large and complex story and history via the points of view of three people, with different perceptions and experiences of the world in which they lived.

The Echoes of Empire novels are told from the perspectives of Indris (the protagonist), Corajidin (the antagonist), and Mari (the contagonist). The traditions of the Great Houses inform where allegiances lie: Indris and Corajidin come from rival houses, and Mari as Corajidin’s daughter should be directed by historical prejudices. But a chance and anonymous meeting between Indris and Mari allows them to develop the basis of a relationship without the weight of history colouring their perception. Similarly the independent personalities of both Indris and Mari allowed for them to step outside what was expected of them. This leads to a character dynamic that allowed me to tell The Echoes of Empire from three different, intersecting perspectives of a world that was changing around them. Starting with Indris who is trying to do the best thing he can in the circumstance he is in, to Mari who sees a break in the clouds that may lead to greater freedoms for herself, to Corajidin who set a lot of suffering in motion, the reader gets to witness the decision making process that drives the story forward.

Readers may not agree with all the decisions the characters make, and why should they? Disagreement can be healthy. It certainly elicits a reaction. But the important thing is that the reader is there to understand the decision, and to accept both causes and effects as the story progresses.

Swashbuckling Fantasy Manga

MangaAlexis Kirsch, editor, takes us on a deeper dive of the title One Piece, Vol. 71: Coliseum of Scoundrels

Who doesn't dream of the freedom of a pirate? Traveling the globe on a cool ship doing whatever the heck you want! Eichiiro Oda created his dream voyage in the early 90s, after being inspired by tales of Vikings and then saw it come to life in1997 as the serialized series One Piece in Issue 34 of Shonen Jump. What was originally supposed to be a short running series has now lasted over 17 years and 71 volumes. Oda’s dream is alive and well sailing the seven seas with a huge fan following.

One of the things fans love most about Eichiiro Oda’s One Piece is watching our hero assemble his unique pirate crew. Luffy needs some muscle, so he adds a guy who can use three swords at once! Then he gets a navigator, sniper, cook, and...a doctor who’s a reindeer! Each character added to the group brings more hilarity and complexity to the story line that continues to venture through the dangerous seas and capture fans with amazing art and a complex storyline interweaved with pop culture, social commentary and mythology. The fun never stops for Luffy and his crazy crew of powerful individuals who take on all challenges that come their way.

In Japan, One Piece is the most successful selling manga and it continues to venture into new territories with Oda working steadily to bring fans closer and closer to learning the hidden origins of the title. The One Piece series recently eclipsed an amazing milestone of 345,000,000 copies sold worldwide and the main character Monkey D. Luffy even appeared in the New York Times challenging American readers to follow his crew across the seas.

Oh, one more thing, our would be Pirate King, Luffy, can't swim!

Join Luffy and the rest of the crew in One Piece on their next adventure.

Bringing Ancient Tales Into A Modern World

513zR8gWd1LJodi McIsaac, author of the Thin Veil series discusses blending Celtic myths with the modern world.

    There’s something magical about discovering an ancient belief system for the first time. When I set out to write the Thin Veil series, which is contemporary fantasy based on Celtic mythology, I had no idea what a treasure trove of stories I would uncover. I became lost in the world of great heroes, tragic love stories, mischievous spirits, and a very tenuous division between our world and the world of the fae.

    In the Thin Veil series, we follow the story of Cedar, a modern-day single mother who discovers that her six-year-old daughter can create portals between places simply by opening a door. Shortly after making this discovery, the daughter disappears. This leads Cedar on a desperate search for answers—and for the child’s father, who turns out to be one of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the Irish gods. He and a small group of rebels had fled to our world from a civil war in the Irish otherworld of Tír na nÓg. It’s heady stuff for Cedar who, like most of us, had never considered the possibility that these ancient myths were actually rooted in truth.

    That, dear readers, is what I love so much about Celtic mythology and folklore—there are so many grey areas between myth and history that one can’t help but wonder if maybe there isn’t a grain of truth in the old tales. Take Brighid, for example—she’s the Irish goddess of fire, but also the name of one of Ireland’s most popular saints, “St. Brighid of the Ever-Living Fire. ” The saint, who lived in the fifth century, was known to keep watch over a perpetual fire at her abbey in Kildare. To this day, historians are not sure which legend came first, the goddess or the saint—or if the two aren’t perhaps the same person. Cedar first meets Brighid in Through the Door, the first Thin Veil book, and finds her own answers to this question.

     My favorite example of the blurring between fact and folklore is the Stone of Destiny, which Cedar must search for in the second Thin Veil book, Into the Fire. The Stone of Destiny is a mythical treasure brought to Ireland by the Tuatha Dé Danann—but it’s left a very historical trail in its wake. It’s been known as the Lia Fáil, the Stone of Scone, and the coronation stone at Westminster Abbey. Today, you can go see it for yourself in the Crown Room at Edinburgh Castle. When Prince Charles becomes King, he will be crowned while seated on the Stone of Destiny, the treasure of the Irish gods.

    In Among the Unseen, the final installment in the series, Cedar has many more mythical encounters—an ancient order of druids working at Trinity College in Dublin, the mysterious missing cover of the Book of Kells, and the seal-people of Inis Mór, to name but a few. All of these have one foot squarely in our world, and the other in the world of magic. And this is what makes writing—and reading—these Celtic-inspired books such an enchanting, captivating experience.


Military Science Fiction Series For The Summer

   H. Paul Honsinger, the author of the Man of War series51hVT1kC9iL talks about some of his favorite military sci-fi novels.

    Blending the best of war stories, science fiction, and space opera, itMilary Science Fiction lets readers explore human conflict set against the kind of fantastic backgrounds open only to science fiction writers. 

    If you’re looking for tasty dishes to feed your Kindle, Military Science Fiction Series are serving up a buffet of galactic action deliciousness.  Jack Campbell’s “Lost Fleet” Series (beginning with The Lost Fleet:  Dauntless), B. V. Larson’s “Undying Mercenaries” Series (beginning with Steel World), and—especially—David Weber’s “Honor Harrington” Series (beginning with On Basilisk Station), blend the excitement of the war story (and, particularly, the naval action story) with space opera/science fiction so compellingly that people keep coming back for multiple installments that get more savory with each helping.  This exciting literary cuisine is also attracting previously unknown authors and, particularly, independently-published writers, dishing out multi-book offerings in this subgenre, such as Jay Allen and his “Crimson Worlds” Series (beginning with Marines).

    And why not?  War stories in which humans come to grips with non-human beings and engage in combat using weapons that can’t be found on this world are as old as literature itself.  Can you say The Iliad?Sure.  I knew you could!  And who remembers that story about the wizard, the young king, and the magic sword?  Now, class, let’s not always see the same hands.  

    As a writer in this subgenre, I love nothing better because, when I’m slaving over a hot keyboard, I have implicit permission to toss all sorts of stuff into the Cajun cast-iron pot.  I’m the author of the “Man of War” series:  two novels, To Honor You Call Usand For Honor We Stand, with a third, Brothers in Valor, due out later this year—an eclectic and—I hope—wolf-downable gumbo combining many different flavors.  My roux (or “base”) comes from the “ships of wood and men of iron” novels of Patrick O’Brian, C.S. Forester, and Alexander Kent:  tales of adventure, honor, courage, patriotism, sacrifice, and loyalty told without bitter food additives like cynicism, nihilism, and pessimism.  The shrimp and crab are good old-fashioned Science Fiction and Space Opera from the writers who loomed as giants in the genre when I was a young man and who still cast giant shadows:  Heinlein, Clarke, “Doc” Smith, Asimov, and Niven.  The onions and cayenne pepper come from those taut World War II submarine movies like Operation Pacific, The Enemy Below, and Run Silent, Run Deep—the ones where you can smell the men’s sweat.

    What came out of the pot was a set of stories, set in a long and brutal war against an alien race bent on the destruction of humanity, about a 28 year old Cajun given command of the troubled Star Destroyer U.S.S. Cumberland.  Her last skipper made Philip Francis Queeg look like Jean-Luc Picard, and the ship has a reputation so bad she is known throughout the fleet as “The Cumberland Gap.”  Our hero, Captain Max Robichaux, and his friend and medical officer, the brilliant Dr. Ibrahim Sahin, have to pull this flying “Charlie Foxtrot” of a warship together for a series of exciting and realistic space battles, dangerous encounters with enigmatic and powerful aliens, diplomatic intrigue, and other adventures found only in the kind of universe an author can create when writing Military Science Fiction.  Oh, did I say “space battles?”  Yep.  Sure did.

    So, as summer bears down on you, try some Mil Sci Fi.  Or, better yet, try some of MY Mil Sci Fi.  You’ll say, “Ça c’est bon” (Cajun for “that’s good”).  Now, where’s that Tabasco Sauce?