My first novel is now live!

My friend, compatriot, gentleman, and a bestseller, Larry Correia was gracious in picking up the ball and running with it today. Thus far, Correia’s patented “book bomb” has boosted The Chaplain’s War into several top tiers among Amazon’s genre categories. I know a lot of people pre-ordered, and many others got the eARC in advance. Still others have been dialing in via Baen. It’s all good! I am thankful, and grateful, for the overwhelming and wonderful audience response.

A fella only ever gets to have one first novel. And I am proud of The Chaplain’s War. It’s not your usual flavor of Military Science Fiction, but I think this has helped the book with readers. Most early reviews are using adjectives such as “fresh” and “thought-provoking,” as well as praise for both the book’s general readability, and reader satisfaction. I’ve said it before: I want to give my audience a good time! Hopefully those who’ve seen parts of this book in the pages of Analog magazine will find that there is a lot more “there” there, in the book. For those who’ve not read the stories previously, or who are new to me as an author, I can tell you that The Chaplain’s War is built on a core that was Hugo-nominated and won the Analog magazine readers’ choice award. So I think you’ll find that this book will deliver!

Please take a look. Links below the snippet . . .

Guns blazed. Human guns. Mantis guns.

The room rocked again from the concussion of enemy fire outside the frigate.

My ears were ringing when the captain and I both looked up to see the general and all of his people sprawled bloodily across their side of the room. The Queen Mother had peppered them with projectiles, their bodies pulped and grotesque. Though it seemed the Queen Mother had fared little better. She was down. Or, rather, her disc was down. Sparks spat from numerous holes in the disc’s armored surface. Sabot rounds, I thought. The Queen Mother’s forelimbs scraped and scratched futilely at the deck, her triangular head cocked in my direction and her mouth half open, the teeth looking wicked and deadly.

Her mandibles chattered ferociously, but the disc made no sound. Its translator was rendered useless, along with its weapons.

The Professor—unharmed—floated forward from his previous spot near the far wall, then stopped as the doors were cast open and armed marines flooded in. The instant they saw the general lying dead, they raised their rifles to fire—having previously dispatched the Queen’s guards, per Sakumora’s plan.

Seeing this, Captain Adanaho shrugged me off of her and stood up, shouting, “Stop!”

The marines hesitated.

“That’s a direct order,” she said for emphasis.

The room rolled with concussive grumbling.

Lights flickered.

“General Sakumora, sir,” said an alarmed voice through the speaker on the general’s table, “there’s a feedback loop in the deflection matrix. We’re absorbing hits, but we can’t say for how much longer.”

The Captain stared at me for an instant, then she looked to the Professor, whose forelimbs dangled dejectedly in front of him.

“I’m assuming you didn’t know the Queen Mother’s plan either,” she said.

“That is correct,” said the Professor. “Though I knew as well as you that the situation was unstable. Had I known the Queen Mother intended to incite conflict, to force us to war, I’d never have come.”

More thunder, more flickering lights.

“Then it seems you’re destined to die with the rest of us,” I said, feeling the cold, dull ache of certain doom closing around my throat. I instantly rued the day Adanaho had entered my chapel.

But then again, was it better to die on Purgatory, alone, or on a Fleet warship among my own kind? Was either of these options preferable to the other? I tried to remember what Chaplain Thomas had once told me, about keeping a stiff upper lip in the face of death, and discovered I couldn’t quite remember his exact words.

The Queen Mother continued to scrape and scratch frantically at the deck, her disc become worthless. It seemed suddenly that the mantes—even this, the greatest of her kind—weren’t all that terrible once you took away their technological advantage. Without the disc, she was as mortal as any man. With the frigate bucking beneath us and the captain and I struggling to keep our feet, I almost laughed as I watched the supreme leader of the enemy struggle helplessly.

Now you know how we felt!

I wasn’t sure if I’d merely thought it, or shouted it.

The captain and every other human were looking at me.

That’s when true disaster struck.

Kakraooooummmmmmm!

The lights vanished entirely as the room tilted ninety degrees and hurled us to the port bulkhead, then back across the space to the starboard bulkhead, before leaving us floating free. Orange emergency lamps snapped on and I fought a savagely instinctual desire to vomit—zero gee proving to be every bit as terrible in the bowels of the Calysta as it had been onboard the shuttle.

Marines flailed and then lapsed into their microgravity training. It had been too long for me, so I kept flailing, eventually feeling Adanaho’s grip on my left ankle. She levered herself up into my face and shouted, “The deflection matrix is falling apart! We’ve got to get to a lifeboat!”

“How?” I said, almost spewing my last meal into her face.

She turned her head, seeing that the marines were way ahead of her. They’d instinctually latched onto and levered each other like extension ladders, until one of them could get a grip on something solid, thus bringing them all into contact with the walls or floor or ceiling.

“We just need to get outside!” she said loudly.

Almost at once, the Professor was there.

His disc moved effortlessly, seemingly unaffected by microgravity.

“Grab on,” he said, a forelimb stretched in our direction. I reached for it and took it, while Adanaho stayed attached to me, and the Queen Mother stayed attached to the Professor’s other forelimb. Her disc trailed drops of mechanical fluid as the Professor began to tow all of us for the nearest open exit. If the marines desired to fire, nobody pulled a trigger. Perhaps because there was no way to shoot without killing both the captain and myself? Fratricide being frowned upon, especially when superior officers are involved.

We emerged into the corridor beyond. The gore of dead mantes was everywhere. The marines had done their work well. I suddenly felt embarrassed and mournful. The Queen’s guards had saluted me as I entered, then paid with their lives for that trust. I gaped at the nearest of them, his young face split in two and his insect’s brain oozing out.

That did it.

I turned from Adanaho and emptied the contents of my stomach, which spluttered away from us in a thick, chunky stream.

“Where?” the Professor said sharply to the captain.

Emergency bells were chiming, and an automated vocal warning was issuing from every speaker.

HULL BREACH. VACUUM CONDITIONS ON MULTIPLE DECKS. PROCEED TO YOUR NEAREST SAFE DUTY STATION. REPEAT, HULL BREACH . . .

“There!” Adanaho said, almost climbing up my back so that she could point over the Professor’s shoulder.

A row of hexagonal hatches had opened along the walls, much further down the corridor. Personnel were piling into them. Each hatch was ringed with yellow and black caution striping, with tiny beacon lights spinning rapidly at the corners.

“Find one of those,” Adanaho said.
Though the ones closest to us appeared positively choked with people, all clamoring for escape.

Grrrrakkkkaaaaanngggggkt!

The guttural grinding sound of metal announced to even my inexperienced naval ears that the Calysta’s remaining moments were few. A wind had picked up in the corridor—air bleeding out into space. Men and women screamed, redoubling their efforts to seek escape.

For a brief instant, the Queen Mother and I locked eyes—hers as alien as the Professor’s had ever been—while we clung to the Professor’s separated forelimbs. I could not detect emotion behind her alien, multi-faceted gaze, but her contorted body posture spoke of both fear and pain, while her mouth gaped in a show of murderous rage. I’d have let go of the Professor in terror at the sight of those tractoring incisors if I didn’t feel sure that the Professor, and the mobility of his functional disc, weren’t the only hope I had.

And besides, there was the captain to think of. She clung to my back like a bear cub.

Suddenly the Professor moved in a new direction. Opposite the way we’d all been looking. We shot down the corridor, headed aft, bumping aside crew and marines alike. A few gunshots rang after us, but in the panic of the moment they went wide, embedding themselves into the bulkheads.

The wind spiraled up to become a gale-force howl.

Now, humans no longer floated or pulled themselves along the corridor. They were vacuumed away, shrieking.

My ears suddenly began to hurt.

I wanted to yell at the Professor—to ask where he thought he was going—but then I saw it: an open emergency hatch, unblocked.

The Professor’s disc moved toward it at best possible speed.

We passed through the doorway and the captain had the good sense to reach out and slap the panel just inside the threshold. The doors to the emergency exit snapped shut with a loud clang. Suddenly we were all flattened against the hatch as the lifeboat spat through the disintegrating interior of the Calysta, following a predesignated route. Rapid egress shafts honeycombed the ship—as with all Earth war vessels—such that it took only moments for the lifeboat to be disgorged into the emptiness of space.

We floated free as the force of our acceleration ebbed. I found myself at a small porthole, catching a glimpse of the Calysta as she spun away—in my eye view—from us. There were huge wounds in her belly, punctuated by the gradual fragmenting of her exposed bones as new missiles from the mantis armada continued to home in on and decimate the frigate.

Then the Calysta flashed. Her reactors going up.

I jerked away from the porthole, having been strobed almost to blindness. There was a human coughing sound behind me, and the additional noise of mandibles skittering and scratching out the mantis native language.

I rubbed my lidded eyes and then opened them, seeing through purple spots that it was only the captain, myself, the Professor, and the Queen Mother aboard.

We were alone.

Audible.com audio book.

Amazon.com: trade paperback, or electronic.

Barnes & Noble: trade paperback, or electronic.

Baen library: click here.

Of course, if you really are new to me, or haven’t picked up one of my works in awhile, I should also mention that Racers of the Night, by second short fiction collection, has been on sale since September. 12 pieces of my best science fiction, never before collected into one volume. Sexy cyberpunk androids in Seattle? Check. Hard-charging rocket bike racers on the moon? Check. A military policewoman pursuing stolen weaponry across hostile, occupied territory? Check. Humanity’s first mission to settle another world, except for one passenger who fears he can’t survive the voyage? Check! And so much more. All having previously appeared in the pages of Analog magazine, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, Mike Resnick’s Galaxy’s Edge magazine, and elsewhere. Reviews so far hold up to those of my first collection, Lights in the Deep. And Lights in the Deep contains three Hugo award nominees, two Analog readers’ choice winners, and a Writers of the Future award winner. Get your copy today!

Amazon.com: trade paperback, or electronic.

Barnes & Noble: trade paperback, or electronic.

Kobo: e-book

Smashwords: multiple formats

Personalized and signed trade paperback: PayPal me $20.00 US.

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9 thoughts on “My first novel is now live!

  1. Pingback: Brad Torgersen has his first novel out

  2. Hi, Brad.

    I heard about The Chaplain’s War through the book bombing organized by Larry Correia by way of John Wright’s blog. I got it and read it over last weekend.

    I think the novel’s ideas have a lot of potential, but the execution doesn’t live up to it in a number of areas. The writing style was very good and kept me turning pages and focused on the story until the end, but reflecting on the story, I was disappointed by the way the mantes’ quest for faith was resolved. I posted a very brief review in a comment on John Wright’s blog post linked above, to which John replied with a longer review that reflects my own opinion of the novel in more detail than my comment.

    I’m not belittling any of your life experiences that may have been the basis of the story, or your effort as a first-time novelist (far be it for one who has never so much as published a short story). Portions of the novel are very good, and you deal with some important subject that few other writers are interested in writing about. I’m offering these comments in the spirit of constructive criticism in the hope that your next novel will be spectacular!

  3. Me again.

    I see on your “Who Is Brad?” page that you’re a Mormon. I suspected that might be the case from a couple of hints you dropped in The Chaplain’s War. Honestly, as likeable a character as Barlow is, I think the novel would have been more interesting if the Professor had taken up with the Mormon couple that makes a brief appearance on Purgatory.

  4. Thanks for plunking some change down on my book, David. I am sorry it fell flat for you.

    I had several choices when I approached the stories (and the book) and I knew whichever choice I ultimately made, it would leave some portion of the audience dissatisfied. If I make Barlow explicitly into a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, his viewpoint will be accused of being “Gary Stu” and the novel will be written off as a proselytizing tool for my personal faith. If I make Barlow into an explicit adherent of some other religious group, or make him less of a milquetoast about his convictions (which seems to be Wright’s chief complaint) then the book might potentially come off as a pulpit-pounder.

    I didn’t want to tell a Mormon Story (though I am a Mormon) and I didn’t want to be aggressive with religious assertions (though Barlow does reach a certain inevitable conclusion by book’s end.) I did want to differentiate atheism and Anti-Theism, while also admitting that religion (viewed from afar from atheist eyes) can seem wholly inconsistent, shoddy, and irrelevant. Without making it a pulpit-pounder in the other direction: church-bashing.

    Many readers have thanked me for my approach. Some have found it not to their liking. Again, I appreciate that you bought the book and read it, and I do hope you’ll try me again some time. There are many stories to tell, and many ways to tell them. The Chaplain’s War was one story, told one way. I will be doing others.

    My best to you, sir. =^)

  5. Thanks for sharing your thinking behind the novel. “Explain faith to a person who has never known faith” is a very, very high goal to set for yourself, a goal all of history’s theologians haven’t been able to achieve.

    Best wishes.

  6. Congratulations for scoring a Dave Seeley cover. That guy is awesome and the way he makes his art is incredibly weird and cool. There’s been an upsurge in great artists in SFF, unfortunately mostly on the video-gaming side. I don’t know if publishers don’t like the action or the “rendered” look or if publishers are priced out of using them.

    Art has always had a family relationship in SFF and it would be nice to see it come back and have some names as watchwords like in the days of Freas, Frazetta, Tim Kirk, the Hildebrandt Bros., Krenkel and Emsh. Those guys literally sold SFF stories.

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