With my bagel overlords here at SF Signal doing a some Military SF podcasts over the past few weeks, as well  an interview with Joe Haldeman, I figured now would be a great time to highlight a very recent example of the sub-genre, and a superb example at that. T.C. McCarthy’s SUBTERRENE WAR trilogy is a fascinating trilogy for many reasons.  For starters, T.C. takes a smart step back. That is, much of Military SF is set in space in the far and distant future (Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet, David Weber’s Honor Harrington, even Heinlein’s Starship Troopers for that matter).  While McCarthy’s series is indeed set in the future, the future might be best described as Twenty Minutes into the Future, and is firmly entrenched here on Earth.

While I haven’t read every Military SF novel out on the shelves, I’ve read my fair share and nothing I’ve read in the subgenre feels so filthy, dirty and uncomfortable as do these books by McCarthy.  McCarthy is, after all, telling a story of war and nothing is spared – the death, the blood, the sickness, even the pure discomfort of having what is essentially power armor which includes a system to get rid of personal waste – there’s the rawness, and that is merely one fraction of it.  Some people may consider disjointed a negative comment, but here, the disjointed feeling of the narrative is, I gather, completely intentional on McCarthy’s part.

On to the three books which comprise this brilliant, intense and grimy trilogy…
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Announcement: “War Stories” Anthology Coming Soon to Kickstarter

Fellow SF Signal irregular Jaym Gates and I have a project that we’ve collaborated on that we’d like to share with everyone: War Stories, an anthology of military speculative fiction.

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Jack Campbell (the pen name of John G. Hemry) writes the New York Times bestselling SF series The Lost Fleet (Dauntless, Fearless,  Courageous, Valiant, Relentless, and Victorious) which has been published in the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, China, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Israel.  He also writes the follow-on series The Lost Fleet – Beyond the Frontier (Dreadnaught, Invincible, and Guardian) and the spin-off series The Lost Stars (Tarnished Knight and the upcoming Perilous Shield).  John is also the author of the Sinclair (JAG in Space) series and the Stark’s War series.  His short fiction has appeared in places as varied as the last Chicks in Chainmail anthology (Turn the Other Chick), and Analog magazine (which published his award winning stories).  His non-fiction on topics ranging from Interstellar Navigation to the Legion of Superheroes has been in (among other places) the Sequart anthology Teenagers From the Future, and anthologies on Charmed, Star Wars, and Superman.  John had the opportunity to live on Midway Island for a while during the 1960s, then later attended the US Naval Academy.  He served in a variety of jobs including gunnery officer and navigator on a destroyer, with an amphibious squadron, and at the Navy’s anti-terrorism center.  He speaks the remnants of Russian pounded into him by the perseverance of Professor Vladimir Tolstoy.  After retiring from the US Navy and settling in Maryland, John began writing.  He lives with his amazing wife (the indomitable S) and three great kids.  His daughter and two sons are diagnosed on the autistic spectrum. He can be found on Facebook and via his website at jack-campbell.com/.

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REVIEW SUMMARY: It’s easy to understand how this novel won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards when it came out and remains such a highly regarded classic today.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: What begins as a 2 year tour in the military for William Mandella, extends for millennia due to the effects of special relativity associated with fighting in space.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Clear, concise writing; hard SF; relatable protagonists; interesting worldbuilding; exposition was limited and was worked into the story.
CONS: We’ve already passed the book’s future.
BOTTOM LINE: If you haven’t read this yet, you should. And if you’re hesitant to read hard SF, this is a good introduction to the subgenre.
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New Author Spotlight: Gord Zajac

New Author Spotlight is a series designed to introduce authors with 3 books or less in the different SF/F subgenres.

Today’s spotlight shines on Gord Zajac!

His debut novel is Major Karnage published by Chizine Publications.

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In episode 123 of the Hugo Nominated SF Signal Podcast, Andrew Liptak takes the helm to chat with Myke Cole, Joe Haldeman and David J. Williams about military science fiction.
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Mike Resnick is, according to Locus, the all-time leading award winner, living or dead, for short science fiction. He is the winner of five Hugos, a Nebula, and other major awards in the United States, France, Spain, Japan, Croatia and Poland. and has been short-listed for major awards in England, Italy and Australia. He is the author of 68 novels, over 250 stories, and 2 screenplays, and is the editor of 41 anthologies. His work has been translated into 25 languages. He is the Guest of Honor at the 2012 Worldcon and can be found online as @ResnickMike on Twitter or at www.mikeresnick.com.

Brad Torgersen is a full-time healthcare tech geek by day, and United States Army Reserve Warrant Officer on weekends. He is a Writers of the Future winner, as well as a contributing author for Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, and Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine—the latter awarding him the “AnLab” readers’ choice prize for best novelette, 2010. Presently, Torgersen is a Campbell nominee for Best New Science Fiction writer, Hugo nominee, for his novelette, “Ray of Light,” and also a Nebula nominee, for the same novelette. “Guard Dog” is the first of several collaborations with Mike Resnick. Brad can be found online at bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com.

Their collaboration in the anthology Space Battles, “Guard Dog”, is the moving tale of a Watchfleet sentinel named Chang, who leads a lonely life of extended, dream-filled sleeps in between frenetic, life-or-death battles. The Sortu had almost defeated humanity and the lives of everyone, including his wife and son, depend on men like him. Then, called to battle again, he finds himself up against the last opponent he’d ever expected…


BTS: Where’d your interest in SFF come from?

Mike Resnick: Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars books and Groff Conklin’s anthologies, both around 1950.

Brad Torgersen: My earliest memories of science fiction and fantasy – though I did not recognize what science fiction or fantasy were at the time – were of television programs from the late 70s and the very early 1980s.  The original Battlestar Galactica, the original Star Trek, as well as Japanese animation imports like Battle of the Planets, otherwise known in Japan as Gatchaman.  I was an eager viewer, and when I ultimately went off to see Star Wars on the big screen, I fell in love with the larger-than-life characters, other-worldly settings, and the spectacle of special effects combined with the tantalizing promise of what technology could offer.
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Recent Philip K. Dick Award nominee Jean Johnson co-headlined a new anthology edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt called Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, writing in her Theirs Not To Reason Why military science fiction universe from which a series of novels are being released by Ace. A Soldier’s Duty came out last year and An Officer’s Duty will be out in July. “It’s Not A Game” from the Space Grunts: Full-Throttle Space Tales #3 anthology was also set in this universe. She’s also the author of The Sword, The Wolf, The Cat and The Mage, amongst other bestselling fantasy romances. To check out more of her works, visit her at www.jeanjohnson.net.

Jean wishes to acknowledge everyone who has given support to their loved ones in the military, as well as to the soldiers themselves for serving.


BTS: How did you find out about the Space Battles anthology and what made you decide to submit?

Jean Johnson: I was invited back to submit again, which was an honor. I’d originally been published before by Flying Pen Press in #3, Space Grunts, with a story set in the same universe as this one. As for how I got into Space Grunts… You know, I can’t remember? I think it was through a friend of a friend.
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New Author Spotlight: Brett Patton

New Author Spotlight is a series designed to introduce authors with 3 books or less in the different SF/F subgenres.

Today’s spotlight shines on Brett Patton!

Brett’s debut novel is Mecha Corps published by Roc.

Here’s the cover copy…

Matt Lowell is in hell-and there’s no place he’d rather be. At a training camp on the backwater planet of Earth, he and his fellow cadets are learning to ride Mechas: biomechanicals sporting both incredible grace and devastating firepower. Their ultimate aim is to combat the pirates of the Corsair Confederacy, but before they survive a battle, they have to survive their training.

Because every time Lowell and his comrades “plug in” to their Mechas, their minds are slowly being twisted and broken by an unseen power that is neither man…nor machine.

If you like military SF that uses mechanized armor, check out these other books:
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In episode 113 of the SF Signal Podcast, Andrew Liptak takes the helm to chat with Myke Cole, Jean Johnson and T.C. McCarthy about military science fiction.
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Once again, Editor John Joseph Adams has created a great companion website for one of his anthologies. Check out the new site for Armored, his new military science fiction anthology featuring 23 stories.

Among the treasures you’ll find:

In episode 113 of the SF Signal Podcast, Andrew Liptak takes the helm to chat with authors about military science fiction.

This week’s panel:

© 2011 SFSignal.com
Featuring original music by John Anealio
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INTERVIEW: Myke Cole on ‘Military Fantasy’

Myke Cole is a military reservist and writer. Control Point, just out from Ace (Penguin-Putnam), is the first novel in his military fantasy Shadow Ops series.


SF SIGNAL: Hi Myke, thanks for taking a couple of moments to speak with us! The first question that I’ve got is: why military fantasy, over something like Military Science Fiction or superpowers?

Myke Cole: Two reasons, really. The first is that my experience is in the military and that I have been a die-hard traditional fantasy fan (though I also love SF) since my earliest days. It’s a neat combination of the two old axioms “write what you know” and “write what you’d want to read.”

The second reason is that military SF has been, frankly, done to death, as have traditional superhero stories (though more in comics than novels). To the best of my knowledge (and I certainly could be wrong), a modern (and truly modern, by which I mean counterinsurgent focused) military tale blended with high fantasy monsters and magic hasn’t been done as a mass-market novel. I wanted to see if I could push the envelope a little bit.
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