Trigger Warning: Military Sci-Fi Ahead

If having your assumptions challenged and your mind blown could upset your delicate little psyche, you’re gonna want to click away right now.

If harrowing scenes of speculative, futuristic combat or stories about the men and women who fight for something greater than themselves fill you with dread, flee from here.

If center-right positions, hard science, or frank discussions of our past mistakes and future concerns make you want to hide behind your momma’s petticoats, you’d best stick to your internet safe-zone with all countervailing opinions neatly blocked away.

If the phrase “Trigger Warning” is something you watch out for and is itself a potential trigger for bad-thought . . . yeah, I got a book you’re gonna want to avoid.

However, if you can handle it and are a fan of kick-ass science fiction, of near-prescient analysis on what our future holds, or of some of the best writing you’ll see all year by great authors both new and old, well, for you I have your new favorite book.

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Riding the Red Horse is a new anthology of military science fiction and analysis edited by Tom Kratman and Vox Day, from the fine Finnish folk at Castalia House.  The title refers to one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, in this case the Second Horseman of War.*  The anthology, which contains 24 short stories, essays, and commentaries, is in the vein of—and an homage to—the There Will Be War anthology series by Dr. Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr, which started in 1983 and ran for 9 volumes.  This series is also intended to be an annual endeavor and it very well could prove to be a highlight of your year.

So, what’s in Volume I of Riding the Red Horse that’s worth your time?  This one has it all, from stories set on Earth’s land, oceans, and orbits, to stories set in the far future, in outer space far, far away from home.  In some tales you may have to consider AI starships, or drone warfare and our vulnerabilities at home, and in others how we should respond to future kidnappings and terrorism by non-state actors.  For those that like a little post-apocalyptic swords and horses in their military sci-fi, we have a tale from Hugo and Campbell nominated author Brad Torgerson with a pair of the best female characters you’re likely to come across.  And if you prefer pure physics and high tech, we have a guide to the constraints of real space warfare with game designer Ken Burnside, as well as a treatise on how battlefield lasers will change warfare forever from Eric S. Raymond.  Super-prolific author Christopher Nuttall gives us a glimpse of his ARK ROYAL’s past while Steve Rzasa shares a fantastic tale about artificial intelligence and loyalty to principles (and this one should be a potential Hugo nominee in a just world).  Early reviews seem to agree that this is $4.99 VERY well spent.

Full disclosure, I also have a tale in the anthology, an honest-to-goodness sea story from the future.  “Within This Horizon” deals with what happens when your dream job in space is denied to you, when your chance at redemption is snatched away after a loss, and how different people deal with assumptions and expectations.  It’s also about kick-ass naval warfare between men and drones, with hypervelocity missiles, lasers, railguns, and rocket torpedoes all in the mix.  After you read the anthology, I’d love you to come back and tell me what you thought of “Within This Horizon”!

Oh!  I didn’t tell you!  Riding the Red Horse also has classic contributions by those aforementioned worthies, Jerry Pournelle and John Carr themselves, which I think is very cool, as well as being great reading.

And last but not least, top-selling Baen Books author and editor Tom Kratman pulls no punches and spares no tender sensibilities as he introduces each piece and provides some commentary on the principles of war.  Vox Day, the proudly infamous blogger, editor, and writer provides the preface and a great couple of tales (one of which vies for the top spot).  These guys embrace the controversy and aren’t shy about their perspectives, nor should they be.  As I joked above, some folks can’t handle differing opinions, or can’t separate the art from the source.  Well, if you are that sort, you should nip that inclination in the bud and give this work a chance.  You might be surprised to find how much you enjoy the ride, and how much it makes you think.

So, rush out now to either Castalia House or Amazon and pick up your copy!  And after you’ve recovered from all the awesomeness, leave a review, recommend it to your friends, and then swing by here to tell me what you thought of “Within This Horizon.”

Thank you and Happy Reading!

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* (No, Riding the Red Horse is NOT a euphemism for either Bolshevik heroin or a rude act.  What, are you in 3rd grade?)

RIDING THE RED HORSE is now available!

Tom Mays:

Look! A fellow contributor!

Originally posted on Benjamin Cheah:

Another came forth, a red horse. To him who sat on it was given power to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another. There was given to him a great sword.

-Revelation 6:4, World English Bible

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Riding the Red Horse is online! This ebook, written in the tradition of Jerry Pournelle’s There Will Be War, is a collection of stories and essays concerning the evolution of war. Drawing lessons from history while looking into the future, Riding the Red Horse contains contributions from famous writers like Vox Day, Tom Kratman and Jerry Pournelle, and a smattering of lesser-known ones like Chris Kennedy, Thomas A. May and yours truly.

My contribution to the anthology is a fiction story titled War Crimes. On the joint colony world of Confluence, Lieutenant Desh Horvan stands accused of war crimes in the court of public opinion. Intrepid journalist Josephine Anders interviews him to…

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Riding The Red Horse

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When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” Then another horse went out, a fiery red one, and its horseman was empowered to take peace from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another. And a large sword was given to him.

Revelation 6:3-4 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Oooooh, golly.  That’s a creepy way to begin a post.  Here, how about something a leetle bit mo’ fun and funky:

Oh, war, huh, good god, y’all
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, say it again!

“War”, 1970, by Edwin Starr

Okay, that’s a bit better, but I still think ol’ Edwin is missing out on the . . . ummm . . . positive aspects of war? Not that war is a really positive enterprise!  No, real war sucks big time.  Death of the innocents, crimes against humanity, the achievement of political goals through maximum destruction and the scarring of a nation’s collective psyche.  Yep, all bad things.

But, war stories?  Those can be one hell of a lotta fun!

War fiction, military fiction, and my favorite:  military science fiction scratches the itch with a lot of readers in a way nothing else can quite match.  We LOVE US some combat sci-fi, whether it be on the screen with Star Wars, Star Trek, Aliens, Edge of Tomorrow, Starship Troopers, Battlestar Galactica, or Space: Above and Beyond; or if it’s on the printed page with many of the franchises above as well as Battletech/Mechwarrior, Legacy of the Aldenata, the Lensman series, Honor Harrington, pretty much anything by David Drake, or my own A Sword Into Darkness and REMO.  We thrill to tales of soldiers, starship officers, and space marines battling the bad guys, whether they be bug-eyed monsters, the implacable other, or just the poor schmuck on the opposing front.  Give our boys (and ladies, ladies) some powered armor, a gravitic railgun, and their trusty laser pistol, slap ‘em in an orbital drop-ship, and point ‘em at the ravening hordes of robo-zombies and you’ve got yourself a story!

Yeah, yeah, you can indulge in a little philosophy, and I GUESS you can devote a line or two to show your characters are deep, tortured souls, but by-gum something better blow the fuck up in a satisfying manner or you might as well keep walkin’, mister.

Does that sound like your cup-o-tea?  Well, if so, hot DAMN do I have something for you.  Finnish sci-fi publisher Castalia House is dropping the Mother of All Bombs of military sci-fi on you this month.  And I’ve been invited to the party, so I’m inviting you along as well!  Riding the Red Horse, the new annual anthology of military science fiction and fact will be coming out with its inaugural volume on December 15th.  This kick-ass collection features my story “Within This Horizon” (which is worth the price of admission alone), but the rest?  WOW!

I’m just honored to be even considered on the same list as these authors, not that my stories are a patch on theirs.  You’ve got Tom Kratman and Brad Torgerson, Christopher Nuttall and Chris Kennedy, Ken Burnside and Eric S. Raymond, William S. Lind and Vox Day, James Dunnigan and Rolf Nelson, Steve Rzasa and Henry Kitchener, Giuseppe Filotto and Benjamin Cheah, and James Perry, John Carr, and Ted Roberts.  You’re going to find essays and fiction on the future of combat, on the land, at sea, and in space.  You’re going to be amazed, but BONUS, you’re also going to find a story/essay by one of the grand masters himself:  Dr. Jerry Pournelle.

Yep.  Jerry freakin’ Pournelle.

If you aren’t headed to Castalia House or over to Amazon (beginning December 15th) to pre-order or buy it direct, then I have no idea how your head works.  Go!  Go, buy, read, review, then drop me a line here to tell me what you thought of “Within This Horizon.”

Sooooooooo cool!

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Author-itative

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Oh, you poor, poor fools that have the misfortune of living outside driving range of the Hampton Roads area of Virginia and North Carolina. Why do I pity you? Well, for so many reasons, honestly, but mostly because you will be missing out on a GREAT event this Saturday.

Pshaw, you say! I have a lot of things going for me outside the Norfolk / Chesapeake / Virginia Beach area. Why, I have the life of the European bon vivant, you say. I’ve got the excitement of the Big Apple — I’ve got the coolness of the West Coast — I’ve got the great vistas of the Rocky Mountains!

Pitiful, pitiful, pitiful, pitiful. Your protestations are but the last desperate gasp of the uninformed. You cry foul, but I know better, because I know about Authorfest.

Hampton Roads Authorfest, a kick-ass collection of 25 local-area authors with well over 100 books between them, books that excite, books that inform, books that stir the soul and the imagination. Books by authors who have both succeeded in the traditional publishing industry, and books by those who have struck out on their own and gone indie. Books of every genre from my own favorite (SCIENCE FICTION and all its varied sub-genres), to horror, thrillers, romance, mysteries, fantasy, young adult, crime, true crime, memoirs, humor, children’s books, travel books, and philosophy, etc. Books by such local luminaries as Chris Kennedy, Vanessa Barger, Lara Nance, Nancy Naigle, Tracy March, Malcom Massey, Dave Poyer, and Lynn Yvonne Moon. Books by authors you’ve loved for years, and books by authors you have yet to discover.

And what an event it’ll be! There’s the authors, of course, whom you’ll be able to stroll around, talk to, and connect with from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM. And there will be books to browse, books to buy (for yourself or as a gift for the holidays), and prizes to win. And there will be seminars throughout the day, full of priceless guidance if you’d like to one day be a selling author yourself. They’ll cover the Children’s Book biz, Small Press Publishing, Indie Publishing, Book Trailers and Advertising, Writing for Young Adults, Steampunk Basics, and The Game of Love in Romance Writing. I myself don’t know if I’ll be able to resist the seminars, even though I’ll be sitting a table and trying to sell my own humble pair of books.

Should you happen to have the fortune of residing within the greater Hampton Roads area (and by this I mean if you left RIGHT NOW, you could legally and safely hit the Authorfest from a range of 4000 miles), you can totally attend the event — AND YOU ABSOLUTELY SHOULD. We’ll be kicking things off at the Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library in Virginia Beach, at the 4100 block of Virginia Beach Boulevard, from 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. It’ll be a blast and you owe yourself the opportunity to meet these authors and try out their wares.

Plus, BONUS!!!, I will be there in all my humble glory.

Honestly, how could you NOT show up now?

Another Writer’s Thoughts on Interstellar

Tom Mays:

A good write-up to which I almost completely agree.

Originally posted on Brandon Crilly - Writer, Teacher, Human:

I love how the Internet comes alive when a new blockbuster comes out. We live in a society where everyone is a critic and has a voice to express their opinion of a new movie, novel, TV show, etc. Instead of deterring me from throwing in my two cents, I’ll just keep my commentary brief :)

To summarize, Interstellar blew me away. Seriously. It has been a very long time since a movie had me sitting on the edge of my seat pretty much from start to finish. I can’t entirely explain how Christopher Nolan did it, but I spent the entire movie thinking to myself “Shit, they’re gonna die” or “Oh, God, they’re screwed” and feeling my heart leap into my throat. The characters are part of how this is accomplished. Matthew McConaughey is phenomenal at making us care about pilot-turned-farmer Cooper, who dreams of something greater for his children…

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Ten Minutes of Truly Terrific Tangents

Or an hour and a half (provided you have sufficient stamina, time, and joy in your heart).

As last post indicated, I got to participate in The Writer’s Arena a few weeks ago, dropping the ghostly insanity of “The Gaslight Consultant” on them against the Arena’s own Albert Berg.  Al delivered a terrific epistolary/excerpt-style tale in “Excerpt of Classified Data Recovered in the Aftermath of Project Lethe” and I really recommend you give both tales a read, a little mid-work-week present to yourself.  In the end, the judges gave us a split decision, but the readers awarded me the win.  Yeah, ME! 

But it was an absolute pleasure to compete, I can’t wait to do it again, and had I lost to Al, it would have been a well-deserved loss, as the Project Lethe team is second to no one (with the possible exception of Smythe and Shade).  And, that — I thought — is that.  Done deal.  I won’t be hearing from those guys ever again.  Eh, not so hasty there, Tom.

First, there was Doc Occupant, a devoté of the Arena and an all-around fine fellow who decided to give A Sword Into Darkness a try since he enjoyed my short story.  And, it turns out, he enjoyed ASID enough to give me a very good write-up on his blog.  Which then earned a hearty thank you from me on Twitter.  Which then alerted Tony Southcotte of Writer’s Arena to check it out and quip a bit on the blog comments, which had me quipping as well.

Thus, my work was on Tony’s mind when he produced last week’s outstanding episode of The Human Echoes podcast, where he riffs on pop culture with my former nemesis, Albert Berg.  Was I a planned topic of their podcast?  Nope, but you never know where the rabbit hole will lead once you start meandering down that path.  As such, last week’s edition:  Candy Corn and Railguns (awesome title by the way) contains a very interesting section of tangents which somehow tie Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece INTERSTELLAR with Billy Bob Thornton’s The Astronaut Farmer, and Tony Todd from Candyman with my own research into railguns at the Naval Postgraduate School.  It’s like that old show “Connections” on PBS.  It’s odd and wonderful and zany, and I can’t wait to do an interview or just to chat with them.

The “me” part of the show is from about 28:30 to 39:00, but you really should check out the whole podcast.  I know I’m hooked and have been binge-listening to their archives.  Thank you Tony and Al!

Now, back to my dismal participation in NANOWRIMO.

 

Bows Grow Taut, Battle Approaches . . . .

(Read in the voice of a stereotypical New York Jewish grandmother) “Oi, Morty!  Whateva happened to that nice Tommy Mays boy?  Ya know, the writer fella, with all o’ dem science fictional stories and books and what not?  Ya neva heah from him no more.”

“Who?” (Hard of hearing stereotypical New York Jewish granddad)

“Tommy Mays, autha of A Sword Inta Dahkness, RAYMO, Da Rememberists, Strategic Deploymen, Dreams f’Sale (Oh my, a sale!), an’ otha fine works of science fiction and wonda!”

“Who?!”

“He was woikin’ on a sequel, and a new book o’ Christian science fiction (oh, dem gentiles, gettin’ to their shenanigans), and a couple o’ short stories?  Tommy Mays!?”

“Who!?  Where’s my sandwich?”

Aaaaaaand, SCENE!  Hi, y’all.  Just wanted to drop a line before making a pre-emptive donation to the Anti-Defamation League.  I’ve been off the blog for a while, but wanted to let you know of some things going on.

First, I AM WRITING, but I’m probably not writing on the things you want me to write on.  No progress on the sequel to ASID and only marginal growth on either Echomancer, or Demigod, my two young-adult urban fantasy projects.  I’ve had a lot of short story stuff (as well as a lot of life) interfere.

First, of course, I didn’t make it with the Baen Fantasy Award and my story “The Commuter”, but it is working its way through the magazine rejection files now, as is “Bumped”.  Should they not make it, I might do a final polish and offer them through Amazon Singles (which is not a dating site.  I stand corrected).

My first new short story product is a definite WIN and I’m VERY excited about it.  This is a quasi-sequel to an anthology of science fact and fiction regarding future warfare produced back in the 70’s and 80’s.  I forget the title of that one, but Castalia House is publishing an unofficial follow-up called Riding the Red Horse, an obvious allusion to the Red Horse of War.  Headed by Tom Kratman and edited by Vox Day, the new anthology will include essays on the future of warfare, science articles, and a BUNCH of great new short stories by some of my favorite authors, including Tom Kratman and Vox Day, Chris Kennedy, Christopher Nuttall, and little old me.  My story, “Within This Horizon” is under editing now, but I can’t wait for the book to launch and for you all to see it.

The second bit of news requires YOUR PARTICIPATION!  I have just submitted a story for The Writer’s Arena, sort of a short story Thunderdome (Two Stories Enter!  Only ONE STORY LEAVES!!).  They hold weekly fiction contests where each writer has a week to submit a story about the same particular topic.  That topic may be AI gone awry, a carnival from Hell, or ghosts – madness or reality?  Once both writers have submitted their tales, both stories get posted on the website and readers vote on the winner.  These are short tales, usually under 4000 words each, and they are a lot of fun.  This week the topic is AI gone awry, so do please go check it out and vote.  Next week is my week, which deals with “fake” hauntings:  either you have to describe someone who is a victim of a made-up haunting, or you have to describe a real haunting that won’t allow itself to be disproved.  My story, “The Gaslight Consultant” will be appearing there in mid-October.  I absolutely need your help and your judgment, with your vote going to the best of the two stories.  And if you like it, consider supporting the site with a small donation, like what you would pay for a show or an issue of a magazine.

So, that’s where I’ve been, Jewish Grandma.  Now excuse me while I go prepare for next week’s battle!