In episode 236 of the SF Signal Podcast Patrick Hester, Karin Lowachee, Richard Dansky, Jaym Gates, and Myke Cole discuss Military Science Fiction.

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BOOK REVIEW: Shadow Ops: Breach Zone by Myke Cole

REVIEW SUMMARY: The third book in the Shadow Ops trilogy is the strongest yet by Military Fantasy author Myke Cole.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS:: Looking backward and forward, Cole gives an antagonist of the series, Harlequin, screen time as we learn his story and his place in the Shadow Ops history and universe.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Excellent delving into the character and motivations of a previous antagonist of the series; solid world building; action sequences alone are worth the price of admission.
CONS: A couple of beats could have been more clearly hit; a couple of intimations, if they are, are too softly invoked.
BOTTOM LINE: The final book of the Shadow Ops trilogy is the strongest.

[WARNING: Plot spoilers and general trilogy discussion ahead...]

Black Hawk Down meets the X-men. That’s the one-line high-concept that introduced me to Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops series.
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MIND MELD: How Science Fiction Changed Our Lives

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

This week, we asked our panelists the following:

Q: How has reading science fiction and fantasy changed you as a person or changed your life?

Here’s what they said…

Linda Nagata
Linda Nagata is the author of multiple novels and short stories including The Bohr Maker, winner of the Locus Award for best first novel, and the novella “Goddesses,” the first online publication to receive a Nebula award. Her story “Nahiku West” was a finalist for the 2013 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. Her newest science fiction novel is the near-future military thriller The Red: First Light. Linda has spent most of her life in Hawaii, where she’s been a writer, a mom, a programmer of database-driven websites, and lately an independent publisher. She lives with her husband in their long-time home on the island of Maui. Find her online at: MythicIsland.com

I’ve been reading science fiction and to a lesser extent fantasy for so long that it’s hard to say how it’s changed my life. I don’t recall a moment of waking up to a sense of wonder or to radical possibilities, because I’ve been reading this stuff since I was a kid. I think it’s more that SFF has shaped my life and my outlook.

Good science fiction tells a gripping story but it’s also a thought experiment that lets us imagine other worlds, or this world, changed. So it offers answers to the question of “How would things be if…?” Ideally, that’s an exercise that should lead to a more flexible, less dogmatic outlook. I don’t know who I would have been otherwise, but I do think I’ve benefitted from being immersed in fictional worlds that are so very different from the real world. I think it’s made me more open minded, more adaptable, and less averse to change—and that’s what I’ve come to think of as the science fictional mindset.

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In this series, I ask various publishing professionals (including authors, bloggers, editors, agents, etc.) to recommend 2-3 authors or books they feel haven’t received the recognition they deserve.
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Gandalf Get Your Gun – Targeting Military Fantasy

What defines military fantasy as a subgenre? Is it, as the post title suggests, a wizard wielding a fireball in one hand and a shotgun in the other, drawling “Do you feel lucky, punk?” Well…maybe in some versions of the world. In others, it may be more an army marching in rank, overseen by magician-generals, with dragons as air corps and elves in the cavalry (and most likely archery ranks).

Many fantasies–especially epic fantasies–have enormous battles as part of the over-arching story, often as a backdrop to the hero or band of heroes and the main quest. However, for some, the battle takes center stage and the military tactics are just as important, if not more so, than the clever ways in which the plucky band will outwit the Dark Lord. Let’s form ranks, then, and march through several novels where the military maneuvers are on the front lines of the plot and your ability to lead a trained squad may be just as crucial as your ability to understand esoteric prophecies and wield magical talismans.
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REVIEW SUMMARY: Strong premise, weak execution.

MY RATING:

SYNOPSIS: Magic has come to the world, upsetting the established order. Lieutenant Oscar Britton is a regular soldier, attached to a military group that specializes in hunting and detaining dangerous radicals. Then, inexplicably, Oscar manifests a magical power of his own and soon he is on the run, wanted by the authorities.

MY REVIEW
PROS: Interesting concept/setting; frenzied action.
CONS: Unlikable protagonist; unlikable secondary characters; repetitive internal/external dialogue; lots of petty complaints that add up.
BOTTOM LINE: A debut novel that does not live up to its potential or the hype surrounding it, yet I still have hopes for the sequel.

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BOOK REVIEW: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole

REVIEW SUMMARY: A great follow up to Control Point.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Following the events of Control Point, Col. Alan Bookbinder finds himself reassigned to FOB Frontier after finding that he’s a Latent. Once there, the base comes under attack, and he must lead the entire base to safety, aided by the man who put the base in danger in the first place.

PROS: A solid improvement from Control Point, with a fantastic set of new characters.
CONS: Pacing.

Myke Cole’s debut novel was a fun story, a blend of magic in the real world, and the military’s response to a justifiably complicated problem. Where Control Point took on the coming of age / learning to control one’s powers style of story (See Harry Potter, The Magicians, Name of the Wind, Circle of Magic, etc), the second novel in the Shadow Ops series takes on the Quest story that’s so popular in fantasy, and completely succeeds. Fortress Frontier is a second novel, and shows that Cole hasn’t experienced a sophomore slump.

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Book trailers are a tough sell on readers, usually because most of them aren’t terribly inventive. This one, however, works. It’s for the latest book in Myke Cole’s supernatural/military Shadow Ops series, Fortress Frontier, described thusly:

The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began to develop terrifying powers–summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Overnight the rules changed…but not for everyone.

Colonel Alan Bookbinder is an army bureaucrat whose worst war wound is a paper-cut. But after he develops magical powers, he is torn from everything he knows and thrown onto the front-lines.

Drafted into the Supernatural Operations Corps in a new and dangerous world, Bookbinder finds himself in command of Forward Operating Base Frontier–cut off, surrounded by monsters, and on the brink of being overrun.

Now, he must find the will to lead the people of FOB Frontier out of hell, even if the one hope of salvation lies in teaming up with the man whose own magical powers put the base in such grave danger in the first place–Oscar Britton, public enemy number one…

ANd here’s the tariler…

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[GUEST POST] Myke Cole On: Writing the Battle

As a security contractor, government civilian and military officer, Myke Cole`s career has run the gamut from Counterterrorism to Cyber Warfare to Federal Law Enforcement. He`s done three tours in Iraq and was recalled to serve during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. All that conflict can wear a guy out. Thank goodness for fantasy novels, comic books, late night games of Dungeons and Dragons and lots of angst fueled writing. Find Myke on Twitter: @MykeCole

Writing the Battle

Warfare in fantasy is an intimate thing. This is driven partially by the need for drama in a story, and partially by the overwhelming prevalence of the medieval/ancient setting. When the best you can do is a sword, every fight is hand-to-hand, close enough to smell your enemy’s breath, to see the look on his face when the blade goes in, to see, smell and feel his insides coming out. It takes a while to kill a man with a sword. It leaves plenty of time for snatches of snappy dialogue, catchy one-liners just before the coup de grace is delivered, “I want my father back, you sonofabitch!” Warfighters are valorous, heroic individuals who win battles, and eventually wars, by dint of personal strength, ingenuity and resourcefulness.

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MIND MELD: Storytelling in Video Games

Video games are an evolution of the human tradition of storytelling. It began as tales told around a fire, progressed into images painted on walls, developed into text printed on paper, and advanced to moving pictures accompanied by sound. Video games take story telling a step farther. The audience is no longer a passive spectator, but is instead an active participant in the story being told. Often authors are tapped to write tie-in fiction for popular video game franchises, and sometimes they are even hired on to help craft compelling stories for the games themselves.

We asked this week’s panelists…

Q: How do you feel about the state of storytelling in video games? What do developers do right? What could they be doing better? What games do you think tell excellent stories?

Here’s what they said…

William C. Dietz
New York Times bestselling author William C. Dietz has published more than forty novels some of which have been translated into German, French, Russian, Korean and Japanese.

If it was easy to write good games everyone would do it.

There was a time when killing aliens, monsters, and bad guys was enough. But not anymore. Now gamers want good writing too!

Yeah, yeah, I know. There are lots of games that don’t involve shooting things. And that’s good. But since I don’t play those games my expertise (such as it is) relates to shooting aliens, monsters and bad guys. And I believe good writing and good game play can coexist.

But before I get into that I should divulge that my perspective has been shaped by writing tie-in novels for franchises like Star Wars, Halo, Starcraft, Hitman, Resistance, and Mass Effect.

I’ve written games too, including Sony’s RESISTANCE: Burning Skies with Mike Bates, and the LEGION OF THE DAMNED® ios game with Conlan Rios. But I have never been a full-time employee of a gaming studio–so my knowledge is limited to what I have seen from the outside looking in.
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In episode 136 of the Hugo Nominated SF Signal Podcast, Myke Cole, author of the military fantasy Shadow Ops: Control Point, sits down to chat about anthologies with best-selling editor and four-time Hugo Award finalist, and three-time World Fantasy Award finalist, John Joseph Adams, and best selling editor and author, finalist for the International Horror Guild Award and the Stoker Award, and five-time winner of the Origins Awards and a silver Ennie Award, James Lowder.

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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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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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[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

Every reader holds out for a hero, but be it movies or novels, its the antagonists, the villains, that often bring the heat, spice and power to a piece of work and make it sing.

So we asked this week’s panelists…

Q:Who are the most memorable villains and antagonists you’ve encountered in fantasy and science fiction? What make them stand out?

Here’s what they said…

Scott Lynch
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1978, Scott Lynch is the author of the Gentleman Bastard sequence of fantasy crime novels, which began with The Lies of Locke Lamora and continues with Red Seas Under Red Skies and the forthcoming The Republic of Thieves. His work has been published in more than fifteen languages and twenty countries, and he was a World Fantasy Award finalist in the Best Novel category in 2007. Scott currently lives in Wisconsin and has been a volunteer firefighter since 2005.

.I’ve always had a great admiration for the Lady, from Glen Cook’s Black Company series, with an honorable mention for all of the Ten Who Were Taken that serve her. She’s ruthless but multifaceted, a romantic and tragic figure as well as a provisioner of all the dark arts and fell deeds a reader could desire. As for the Ten, they’re just so fun and iconic, sort of more extroverted Nazgul.

If you’ll allow historical fiction as a cousin to fantasy, I’d also vote for Livia, from Robert Graves’ I, Claudius. Subtle, pitiless, and patient, the deadliest woman (hell, the deadliest person) in a deadly milieu.

Last but not least I’d bring up O’Brien, from George Orwell’s 1984, the chillingly contented ordinary man who patiently explains to Winston what it’s all about… that all the chanting and ideology is a fog, that the politics of Oceania are meaningless, the nature of its wars completely unimportant. The whole point of the crushing pyramid of human misery is to keep a tiny elite with their boots on the throats of the rest of humanity, forever and ever, amen. To conceive that sort of thing, to accept it, to rise and sleep as a happy part of such a brutal mechanism… now that’s villainy.

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New Author Spotlight: Myke Cole

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 Myke Cole!

Myke’s debut novel is Shadow Ops: Control Point published by Ace.

Here’s the cover copy…

Lieutenant Oscar Britton of the Supernatural Operations Corps has been trained to hunt down and take out people possessing magical powers. But when he starts manifesting powers of his own, the SOC revokes Oscar’s government agent status to declare him public enemy number one.

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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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REVIEW: Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole

REVIEW SUMMARY: A promising start with a new take on fantasy and military fiction.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Around the world, people begin to develop magical powers. Oscar Britton is an army officer in Vermont, and following a mission, finds that he’s developed a forbidden talent for opening portals. Immediately, he’s turned from a member of the military to fugitive.

PROS: A fun, fast-paced military novel that draws upon Cole’s experience as a military contractor.
CONS: Slow, hard start makes this one a difficult one to initially get into.
BOTTOM LINE: An entertaining debut novel from a promising author.

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