My story’s in 2113

It’s not very often that an author gets invited to contribute to a once-in-a-lifetime project. When Kevin asked me to put a story in for 2113, I instantly knew the direction I wanted to go. I’ve been a RUSH listener since my older cousin (Mark Harman) introduced me to them in 1987. At that point, the band had been active for two decades, and I was coming to them “in the middle” with albums like Hold Your Fire and Power Windows. Not only was I attracted to the music, the lyrics especially spoke to me. I went on to listen to them (backward, to past albums; and forward, to future albums) for many years — enjoying the thoughtfulness and thought-provoking content of any number of songs. With RUSH, there is almost always a lot more “there” there. And while not every RUSH track hit it out of the park for me, there were some tracks that became personal anthems. I wrote my contribution to 2113 accordingly. Think of it like a tribute album. I am quite sure I’ll never get to participate in anything like it ever again. I hope people enjoy the story!! Indeed, I hope people enjoy all of the stories.

Of course, don’t just take my word for it. 🙂

Here’s a snippet from within:

——————————————————————–

. . . so that the clickity-clackity noise filled Shar’s small NASA office.

The framed photo Shar used to keep—of her wedding day, with Jason—was now absent from the desk’s corner.

She’d let him off easy. It hadn’t been an acrimonious separation. One day he’d come home to discover that Shar was moving closer to work. A tiny studio apartment, with easy public transit options, for getting to and from the NASA office.

“We can figure this out,” Jason had said, his face flushed.

“It’s not about figuring it out,” Shar had told him gently. “It’s about us going in different directions. We’ve been going in different directions for a long time. We can’t keep beating around the bush, or pretend that everything is just going to be alright. It’s not that I don’t love you, Jason. It’s that I don’t think loving you is enough anymore.”

He hadn’t argued with her much. Which essentially cemented her hunch that she’d been right about how tenuous their affection had become. He’d increasingly had his world—focused on his dream of the country house, far from the NASA office. And Shar had had her world—pushing forward on the building of new machines, new ships, and new technology; all designed to grow and foster the tiny, fledgling colony that was budding on the surface of Mars.

Shar’s little office was covered in high-resolution color printouts of digital photos from the colony. Unless Shar had known better, she might have suspected that they came from Utah or New Mexico. The rocks and soil stretched dryly in every direction, with an orange sky that faded to red and purple when the sun went down. Shar watched every digital movie that the colonists could send back. She spent hours talking to the people from crews which had returned. Some of them were friends from the original Wanderer mission. Others were just getting back from their first assignment. The colony wasn’t ready yet for year-round habitation. But with Shar’s help, it would be soon.

Shar leaned back in her thin-profile wheelchair, and watched the three-dimensional machining animation on her screen. In the span of thirty seconds, a five-hour printing and milling process played out, quick-time. She examined the finished product, swiveling it around on the screen, using her fingertips.

If ever the colony was going to survive unaided—in case something interrupted the supply line from Earth—they were going to need to be able to build replacement parts by themselves. The automated manufacturing units being planned for the newer missions were supposed to be able to fashion almost any part of any shape, from any refined material. Even solid steel. Every colony component that could break or wear out, was going to have to be programmed into the databases on those units. Then the units were going to have to be tested relentlessly, to be sure they worked as they were meant to.

To include being able to manufacture the parts to replace the units themselves if it came down to it.

Satisfied with her work, Shar closed the animation and put her computer on standby. It was only a little bit after ten at night. The cafeteria was closed, but she could go get some sandwiches from the twenty-four-hour desk, which had a refrigerator constantly stocked with cold foods—for the staff who often needed to eat at odd times.

She brought her hands down onto the familiar hoop grips on the sides of her chair’s two wheels . . .

. . . and the chair rolled into the office.

Alberto stood silently, his pastel-blue hospital scrubs fresh and clean. Life as a young resident was proving to be even more challenging than school itself. This wasn’t just book learning and cadavers anymore. These were real people. With real problems. The paralysis specialty therapy program at Collingsworth General was among the most advanced research programs in the country. Alberto had slaved for years to qualify for this job, and now that he was here, he could see why they weren’t just taking anybody.

“Good morning Mister Gerald,” Alberto said with a smile.

The man in the wheelchair—Philip Gerald, forty seven, wounded in combat, VA disability case, elective referral for experimental therapy—grunted.

“Doc,” Philip said, stopping his chair at the foot of the exam table. The man’s head was shaved bald, and a walrus-like mustache sprouted from his upper lip. His sea-blue eyes were sharp, but held no humor. As always, his manner was direct. No nonsense. A relic from his years in the Army, or so some of the nurses had said when he’d initially been referred. Alberto liked working with Philip, because Philip would often tell stories from his time spent overseas. And he wasn’t afraid of trying anything new.

“If it’ll get me my legs back,” Philip once drawled, “hell, I’ll kiss a rattlesnake on the lips and call her my girlfriend!”

Without needing to be told, Philip allowed myself to be maneuvered up and out of his chair—by Alberto, and one of the medical assistants. They had Philip lying on his stomach on the exam table, and Alberto peeled up the man’s t-shirt to reveal the plastic-covered network of wires that ran up and down Philip’s spine. The wires branched off and penetrated the skin at different points—though there was no blood, nor any scabbing.

“Any changes since last week?” Alberto asked.

“Naw,” Philip said, his voice slightly muffled. “Just dull little prickly sensations where I remember my legs used to be. It’s been like that since the third day after the implant.”

Alberto allowed himself a frown. The direct nerve induction system wasn’t working nearly as well as everyone had hoped.

Alberto wasn’t experienced enough yet to perform any of the surgeries himself, but one day soon he would be. Though, he couldn’t help feeling like the entire induction technology initiative was a dead end—an attempt to solve the problem without considering more elegant solutions.

“Okay,” Alberto said. “I’m going to change the battery, and we’ll take the signal up just a tick.”

“Dial to eleven if you want,” Philip said, chortling. “There aint nothin’ you can break that hasn’t already been broke by a bullet.”

“Right,” Alberto said. “I just want to be careful.”

“Roger that,” Philip grunted.

Alberto snapped the cover off of a small, slim-line plastic box, then he took out the rechargeable battery inside, and placed a fresh one in. When the battery quietly snapped into place, Philip’s legs jerked.

“Did you feel that?” Alberto said, hopefully.

“Feel what?” Philip replied.

Alberto suppressed a sigh. Yes, he was definitely going to have to find a way to get his alternative theory into the lab. This hardware-based implant program wasn’t going to do the job—not the way Alberto envisioned it should. Too clumsy. Prone to breakage and the problem of the batteries always running low. If it was going to work, it needed to be able to last a lifetime.
Alberto pulled his patient’s shirt back down, and together with the medical assistant, began to lever Philip back into the chair . . .

“Life Flight” wins AnLab readers’ choice award

With the results of the latest Analog magazine Analytical Laboratory (AnLab) readers’ choice award now public, I can happily make it official: I’ve picked up my third AnLab! For my novelette, “Life Flight,” which first appeared in the March 2014 issue of the magazine, and which is now in print in my short fiction collection Racers of the Night from WordFire Press.

I won my first AnLab for my novelette “Outbound,” for the publishing year 2010. That was my first-ever story in the pages of Analog and I went on to win a second AnLab for my novella “The Chaplain’s Legacy,” which became the foundation for my Baen novel, The Chaplain’s War.

The AnLab has a special place in my heart, because it represents the aggregate approval of the readers of Analog — who are an astute bunch! — and because Analog is such a venerable publication. Most of the greats of Science Fiction have published in Analog’s pages at one time or another. To include Robert A. Heinlein, Larry Niven, George R. R. Martin, Lois Bujold, and Orson Scott Card.

Being able to collect a third AnLab tells me that I am continuing to give Analog’s readers the kinds of stories that they enjoy. Indeed, I think I got more enthusiastic (and in many instances, heartfelt) reader mail, for “Life Flight,” than all the mail I’ve gotten for all my previous Analog stories combined.

Here’s a story sample:

Audio Journal Transcript: Day 17,500

I’ve been accused of playing favorites.

I can live with that accusation.

So what if I rigged the wake-up schedule to my liking?

There are some people who were never going to spend any significant time awake anyway.

To prove my point I showed the plaintiff a roster of all names currently in stasis: 48 men, 49 women, 112 girls, and 83 boys. All of the adults drew lots when they volunteered to come on the trip, and all of them swore to uphold their part of the bargain, if they happened to be one of the ones assigned to an “awake” shift in support of the Osprey. Did it really matter if I scrubbed my parents from the next stint? Or Li, who was actually supposed to be awake now—for the first time, not the second.

I once read that a military general on Earth said: no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. The trip to Delta Pavonis is a war of attrition. Fuel dwindles, supplies get used up, reserves are recycled, re-used, recycled, and re-re-used, to the point that waste must inevitably be jettisoned. Frankly I am amazed we haven’t had worse problems than we’ve already experienced.

And if a couple of untimely deaths gave me an excuse to swap a few names around on the list, who are the newbies to argue with me about it?

I’m old enough to be their father for Christ’s sake.

Of course, my list of names did not include the 10,000 embryos also being carried in stasis: an entire, healthy human gene pool, with plenty of room to spare.

Not that all 10,000 are expected to be implanted in wombs the instant we arrive. If the medical science is right, those embryos will be good for at least a hundred years or more, on top of the total trip time. So that as new generations of Delta Pavonians—my Lord, that is clumsy, we simply must come up with a better word for ourselves—come of age, the women can have some original offspring, and at least one or two “stasis babies” originally carried from Earth.

Inside of two centuries, if everything progresses according to the plan, there’ll be no fear of inbreeding. For anyone. And there will be so many people living on the new world that even a significantly major disaster won’t be able to wipe us all out.

Much depends on those first 25 years. When we’ll be digging in. Putting down roots. Staking our claim.

To that end I’ve been slowly and methodically constructing my arsenal of weaponry. Using the rifle designs Ben and I first finalized way back when I was in my 20s. I’ve taken them outside and test-fired the lot of them, and am satisfied that they will suffice. Unless the new planet is literally infested with bloodthirsty monsters bigger than the biggest elephant, we ought to be able to fend off whatever nasties may be lurking in those jungles and forests.

Which we still can’t see—as anything more than a green blur.

It takes hours for the telescopes to find the planet circling Delta Pavonis, and then it’s impossible to get a clear shot because of relative drift. Even when we’re getting closer and closer all the time.

I want to say a hearty THANK YOU to everyone who gave “Life Flight” their vote, during the AnLab selection process. Again, this is the readers’ choice award, so not only does it come with a nice check from Penny Publications & Dell Magazines, it represents the overall satisfaction of Analog’s subscribers and readers as a whole. Given the magazine’s lengthy history in the field — and all the many amazing authors who’ve gotten their start in Analog’s hallowed pages — I am enormously pleased to have (again) delivered the kind of story that Analog’s readers find satisfying and enjoyable.

Have not read it yet? You can get the story *NOW* in my collection below.

Amazon.com: trade paperback, or electronic.

Barnes & Noble: trade paperback, or electronic.

Kobo: e-book

Smashwords: multiple formats

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.

Launch week for Racers of the Night

Okay folks, the week has officially arrived! It’s launch week for my second short fiction collection, Racers of the Night. The book contains 12 pieces of short science fiction, the majority of which have appeared in the pages of Analog magazine, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, Mike Resnick’s Galaxy’s Edge, and elsewhere. To include collaborations with Mike Resnick, and two pieces which have never before seen print.

If you will be attending Salt Lake City Comic Con on September 4, 5, and 6, there will be a stack of Racers of the Night available at the WordFire Press super-table, where Kevin J. Anderson, David Farland, Larry Correia, and several other authors will be signing. I personally will be on-hand at the table for the majority of Thursday evening (September 4) so if you want to snag me, chat, have me sign and personalize your book, etc., come on by! I will also have copies of Lights in the Deep available for purchase, and will probably give away a few promo copies of my forthcoming Baen novel The Chaplain’s War.

For those who can’t make it to Salt Lake City Comic Con, there are (of course) direct-order options through major on-line retailers.

Amazon.com: trade paperback, or electronic.

Barnes & Noble: trade paperback, or electronic.

Kobo: e-book

Smashwords: multiple formats

And if you still want a personalized and signed trade paperback delivered to your mail box, you can PayPal me $20.00 and I will ensure that you get your copy!

Need something more to wet your speculative literary whistle? Here are a few snippets from some of the stories contained in the book.

From, “The Curse of Sally Tincakes” . . .

Second to last lap, and Jane was in a familiar spot with the leaders at the front of the pack. Having gamed her way into the elite group—same strategies and tactics as always—she’d almost considered her advancement to the final heat to be a foregone conclusion, when one of the other drivers from the middle of the pack made a particularly dangerous—and gutsy—move. Trying to copy Jane’s technique as they entered a turn, the man began spinning out of control, first pinballing off one bike, then another, then a third, until suddenly the track was alive with wildly spinning bikes, their riders trying desperately to regain control—overcorrecting—and then either smashing down into the safety barriers nearest the domed-over crowds, or pinwheeling up and off the track altogether, arcing out across the sun-blasted regolith, legs and feet come loose, flailing.

From, “Blood and Mirrors” . . .

Suddenly the door to the ICU suite popped open, flooding light into the room. Camarro got a glimpse of a standard blue police uniform, and that was it for her. She’d been prepared since the moment she’d enter the suite. There were no exits anywhere, besides the windows. She hit the largest one going full speed, smashing through the double panes and falling two stories to the roof, where she landed, rolled, then got to her feet and sprinted across the roof, bits of glass flying off her back. She got to the roof’s edge and dropped another story onto the skybridge that connected the hospital’s south wing with the parking garage. She ran the length of the skybridge and jumped down onto the concrete of the garage’s top level, which was open to the sky. She arrived at her bike just as the elevator doors on the other side of the top level opened, spilling uniforms.

From, “Life Flight” . . .

We debated who should cast Janicka into the void. As the only person aboard who’d been intimate with her, I mumbled a few words on her behalf. Then cursed myself for not having anything more eloquent to say. Just as nobody in the planning stages had thought to consider what might happen if the people went haywire, there was nothing in the training nor the library for dealing with death. Janicka was too stark a reminder to me that it would probably be me in that sack some day: a relic of the trip, soon to be disposed of. Which made up my mind for me. I told Chris we aren’t doing any space burials. Janicka is going to stay in cold storage on the outside of the ship until we reach our new home, and then she’s going to be goddamned buried in the goddamned soil like the pioneer woman that she is.

From, “The Nechronomator” . . .

The Nechronomator was hideous. His flesh hung limply on his tallish skeleton, sagging and gray. He sat cross-legged on a marble bench that sat at the top of the cross-shaped mausoleum. Liver spots had darkened to black and his mouth looked dry as he moved it. The woman stood before him, motionless in her Sunday finest. The only breaths either of them took were the ones they used to move air across stale vocal chords. I still couldn’t make out what they were saying. Suddenly the Nechronomator stood—a surprisingly swift movement for someone who’d been dead for three years—and slapped the base of his palm on the woman’s forehead. She spasmed and gave a quick, hoarse cry, then flashed into nothingness—like the bulb of a camera had gone off, erasing her from existence.

From, “Reardon’s Law” . . .

Dead leaves clung to Kal’s skin like wet paper. She peered intently over the lip of the ledge. Half a kilometer distant, the mighty trees had been flattened in a rough halo under the belly of the enemy craft. Which was mammoth. A metal whale on stilts. The heat tiles of the ship were grossly discolored from its many, many in-atmosphere trips. Underneath the vessel—between its massive landing pylons—four personnel hatches lay open with four ramps extending down to the ground, like rusty tongues. There was also a fifth, much larger cargo hatch. Its wide ramp was populated with people moving crates up into the ship. They appeared to be bringing the crates from somewhere deep in the tree line. Where Kal couldn’t see. They must have located the remnants of the Broadbill? Or at least the Broadbill’s cargo?

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.

New releases for 2014

I’m excited to announce (for the first time in the same space) my 2014 list of new releases: one new short fiction collection, my first novel, and my collaboration with none other than Larry Niven!

Racers of the Night will be my second short fiction collection from WordFire Press. As with my first WFP release, Lights in the Deep, the new collection will showcase some of my best and most recent short science fiction pieces. Including stories which have appeared previously in the pages of Analog magazine, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, and Galaxy’s Edge magazine. Also included — by popular demand — will be two connected original novelettes in my Emancipated Worlds universe. You may remember that project from 2010? I’m getting it back on the road with these two stories: “The Ash Diggers” and “Seed of Liberty.” Both of which will be seeing print for the very first time in Racers of the Night. UPDATE: Unfortunately the EW stories weren’t quite where I wanted them to be by the time August 1 rolled around, so I’ve had to push those out again, and I am sorry to anyone who was looking forward to seeing them in the new collection.

The Chaplain’s War is my novel I built from the bones of two short stories which previously appeared in Analog magazine: “The Chaplain’s Assistant” and “The Chaplain’s Legacy.” Both stories also saw print in my first collection, Lights in the Deep, and “The Chaplain’s Legacy” not only won the Analog AnLab readers’ choice award, it was a 2014 Hugo award nominee for Best Novella. The Chaplain’s War is scheduled for an October 2014 release from Baen books, and is the story of a lonely prisoner of war (POW) marooned far behind enemy lines. A mere chaplain’s assistant, he despairs of ever seeing home again — and stumbles across something that may be the key to not only stopping the war, but stopping the wholesale extermination of mankind. Ostensibly military in flavor, The Chaplain’s War also dwells on the purpose and value of religion in a post-religious high-tech society. It’s also a tale of human/alien contact, wherein opposed minds come together to discover that both humanoid and insectoid have far more in common with each other than anyone ever suspected possible. Including the desire for redemption.

Red Tide is a three-way effort spearheaded by bestseller and Hugo award winner Larry Niven, with help from myself, and also Matthew Joseph Harrington. For those not familiar with Phoenix Pick, this imprint is an outgrowth of Arc Manor, and pairs up-and-coming science fiction and fantasy writers with established professionals. Larry is a personal hero of mine, and it was both an honor and a delight to work with him on this project, which revives one of his older universes focusing on a potentially revolutionary technology that might plausibly be just over the horizon. How this innovation changes society — the advantages, and especially the drawbacks — gets examined through the eyes of a newstaper: a man whose livelyhood depends on him being an eye witness to all the news that’s fit to record. Only, when events get bigger and meaner than our protagonist could ever imagine possible, he’s suddenly racing the clock to not only clear his name, but change the way America uses this new tool; lest future disasters strike.

Now for sale: LIGHTS IN THE DEEP

I am very proud to announce the official public release of my short story compilation, Lights in the Deep. Containing ten of my award-nominated, award-winning short science fiction pieces which have appeared in the pages of Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine, as well as Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show. Also included are introductions by Stanley Schmidt, Mike Resnick, and Allan Cole. With my additional commentary on the genesis of each story, plus non-fictional interludes devoted to friends, mentors, and the state of the genre.

This compilation is being released through WordFire Press, courtesy of Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. WordFire did a brilliant job producing the book—both hardcopy, and print versions. I’m grateful to all the hard work that WordFire et al put into this book, and I am especially pleased to have secured award-winning science fiction and fantasy artist Bob Eggleton’s permission to use his artwork for the cover. It’s the same painting Bob did for one of the book’s keystone stories, “Ray of Light”, when that story first appeared as the cover story for the December 2011 issue of Analog magazine.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction 1 by Stanley Schmidt
Introduction 2 by Mike Resnick
Introduction 3 by Allan Cole
Outbound
Gemini 17
Influences: Allan Cole & Chris Bunch
The Bullfrog Radio Astronomy Project
Exiles of Eden
Writer Dad: Mike Resnick
Footprints
The Exchange Officers
Essay: On the Rise of Fantasy and the Waning of Science Fiction
The Chaplain’s Assistant
The Chaplain’s Legacy
The Hero’s Tongue: Larry Niven
Exanastasis
Ray of Light
Denouement

WordFire’s put a plethora of buying options at your fingertips. But first I want to make this special offer—to everyone who has requested it: you can get a personalized, signed print edition of Lights in the Deep for just $20.00 US. That covers the book, as well as shipping and handling. $20.00 US through PayPal. Just click, and your personalized, signed copy of Lights in the Deep will be in the mail to you.

Otherwise, please take a look at the following links and prices:

► AMAZON: $4.99 US – Lights in the Deep ebook.
► AMAZON: $15.99 US – Lights in the Deep trade paperback.
► B&N $4.99 US – Lights in the Deep ebook.
► KOBO: $4.99 – Lights in the Deep ebook.
► SMASHWORDS: $4.99 – Lights in the Deep ebook.

Of course, like the man says, that’s not all! I am also proud to announce that my novella “Reardon’s Law” is officially released in the military science fiction anthology Five by Five #2: No Surrender, from WordFire Press. “Reardon’s Law” joins four other military SF tales from established veterans of the form: Kevin J. Anderson, William C. Dietz, Aaron Allston, and R.M. Meluch. Reardon’s Law takes you on an adventure beyond the boundaries of the civilized galaxy, to a place where one military cop—Kal Reardon—is all that stands between the forces of the anarchic Ambit League, and the bleeding-edge military hardware the Ambit League desperately needs to re-start a war that everyone else in the Conflux of worlds believes is permanently finished.

As an incentive to buy, I am making an offer similar to the one I made above. If you’d like a personalized, signed copy of Five by Five #2: No Surrender and a personalized, signed copy of Lights in the Deep, the total price for both books is $35.00 US. Click here and you can get both books personalized and signed by me, dropped into the mail.

Otherwise, please take a look at the following links and prices:

► AMAZON: $4.99 – Five by Five #2: No Surrender ebook.
► AMAZON: $14.99 – Five by Five #2: No Surrender trade paperback.
► B&N: $4.99 – Five by Five #2: No Surrender ebook.
► B&N: $14.99 – Five by Five #2: No Surrender trade paperback.
► KOBO: $4.99 – Five by Five #2: No Surrender ebook.
► SMASHWORDS: $4.99 – Five by Five #2: No Surrender ebook.

Finally, I want to give a friendly shout out to fellow WordFire author John D. Payne, whose novel The Crown and the Dragon is also being released through WordFire Press and is being produced as a major motion picture! Like Lights in the Deep and Five by Five #2, John’s book is available in a range of options. Please do click through and take a look.

► AMAZON: $4.99 – The Crown and The Dragon ebook.
► AMAZON: $14.99 – The Crown and The Dragon trade paperback.
► B&N: $4.99 The Crown and The Dragon ebook.
► B&N: $14.99 The Crown and The Dragon trade paperback.
► KOBO: $4.99 The Crown and The Dragon ebook.
► SMASHWORDS: $4.99 The Crown and The Dragon ebook.

February Update: LTUE 2013

Life just keeps getting busier. January was a bang-up month for me, with two short fiction sales and several writing checks coming over the transom. As always — when the money spigot turns itself on — I am reminded of the fact that a good many academic creative writers insist (sometimes hotly) that there is no money to be made in fiction. You’re lucky if you get a spot in a journal or chapbook that pays contributors copies. Boy, am I glad I listened to my mentors, all full-time professionals! They insisted that if I worked hard and could learn as I went, some day I’d be making cash. Good cash. I am pleased to report that my mentors have been right. Never let anyone tell you there is no money in this biz.

So, in addition to my novella “The Chaplain’s Assistant” appearing in a future issue of Analog magazine, I can now report that my story “The Bricks of Eta Cassiopeiea” is going to be appearing in an anthology titled BEYOND THE SUN, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. My novelette “The Flamingo Girl” will also be published in the forthcoming electronic magazine GALAXY’S EDGE, from Arc Manor; edited by my friend and mentor Mike Resnick.

And if you’re local to the Mountain West you seriously need to consider coming out for Life, The Universe, and Everything, the premiere annual symposium dedicated to artists and writers working professionally (or seeking to work professionally) in the speculative and fantastic arts. I’m a Special Guest this year, along with friends Eric James Stone, James A. Owen, David Farland (Wolverton), L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Tracy Hickman, and Larry Correia.

The LTUE web site can be found at www.ltue.net.

My schedule is below (subject to change, which I will reflect here.)

Thursday, February 14
What Do You Write? @ 12:00 PM
How to Research Genre; and Sub-Genre.
Panelists: Dan Willis, Brad R. Torgersen, Eric Swedin, Scott R. Parkin (M), Dave Wolverton, Megan Whalen Turner.
Adapting Classic Stories to Modern Settings @ 2:00 PM
Panelists: Andrea Pearson, Brad R. Torgersen, Michelle Witte, Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury, Mette Ivie Harrison.
Space Eldritch @ 6:00 PM
Contributing artists and writers discuss the anthology.
Panelists: David West, Michael R. Collings, Carter Reid, Howard Tayler (M), Brad R. Torgersen, David Butler, Robert J Defendi, Jr., Nathan Shumate.

Friday, February 15
Writers of the Future @ 3:00 PM
Contest Coordinating Judge David Farland (Wolverton) discusses this premier entry point into the world of science fiction and fantasy publication. Panel also includes notable recent winners.
Panelists: David Farland (Wolverton) (M), Eric James Stone, Robert J. Defendi, Brad R. Torgersen, Kathleen Dalton Woodbury.

Saturday, February 16
What You Need to Know to Write Science Fiction or Fantasy @ 10:00 AM
Panelists: Scott R. Parkin, Brad R. Torgersen, Eric James Stone, Deren Hansen, Jaleta Clegg (M), Dave Wolverton.

So if you’re going to be at LTUE and you know me from the intarwebz, don’t be shy about coming up and introducing yourself. I am always grateful to meet people face-to-face whom I have only known previously via social media.

The Utah professional writer/artist community is arguably one of the most robust in the country. You owe it to yourself to come to LTUE and rub elbows with bestsellers and up-and-comers alike. It’s just $25 for three days of jam-packed panels where you can get invaluable insight, ideas, information, and (perhaps most importantly) inspiration.

I went to my first LTUE in February of 2009, after many years of futility and no professional fiction sales. I won Writers of the Future in November 2009, and have been cranking along nicely ever since.

Coincidence?

Double release! “The Exchange Officers” and “The Shadows of Titan” now out!

It’s a double release for me this week. Not only is my novelette “The Exchange Officers” appearing in the January-February issue of Analog Science Fiction & Fact magazine (with a lovely illustration by Vincent Di Fate!) but I also have a collaborative novelette called “The Shadows of Titan” now out in the anthology Space Eldritch, edited by Nathan Shumate with an amazing cover by Carter Reid:

The Shadows of Titan” is a distinct departure for me, mainly because I almost never touch horror. I am not a horror reader and I am very seldom writing anything that is horrorish in content or flavor.

But Carter knows horror. He got the front page of my local paper this past weekend for his work on his humorous-horror comic The Zombie Nation which I’ve mentioned here before. So when I was told that Space Eldritch would be both space opera and horror blended together . . . well, let’s just say Carter provided the peanut butter, I provided the chocolate, and together I think we came up with a heck of a story for a heck of an anthology.

We join some top men you will probably know — story titles link to excerpts:

Foreword by Larry Correia.
Arise Thou Niarlat From Thy Rest” by D.J. Butler.
Space Opera” by Michael R. Collings.
The Menace Under Mars” by Nathan Shumate.
Gods in Darkness” by David J. West.
The Fury in the Void” by Robert J. Defendi.
Flight of the Runewright” by Howard Tayler.

Currently Space Eldritch is available from Amazon.com, as well as Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

It’s a heck of a thrill to be sharing a table-of-contents with all of these writers, some of whom I have been friends with going back three years — to when I first broke into the biz with Writers of the Future. All of them did terrific work on their stories, so it’s an honor to share page space with them. It was also a unique experience working with Carter, who provided both the cover and the core of our joint story — a tale of interplanetary exploration gone oh-so-horrifically-wrong. Do you like hard science fiction? Do you like alien demonic possession? Would you like to see what happens when Carter The Zombie Guy combines forces with Brad The Analog Guy?

Then buy the book! Dammit.

Meanwhile, “The Exchange Officers” marks my sixth appearance in the pages of Analog magazine. It’s a story set just a little bit into our possible future, when the nature of warfighting — and the places where war might take place — are remarkably different from Patton’s time. Drone strikes? Virtual reality? How will our military handle an environment completely given over to technology? What kinds of soldiers will we need to operate in that scenario?

I relied heavily on my military experience for "The Exchange Officers" and am pleased to see it between the pages of Analog's first double-issue in 2013. Subscription copies are already arriving in mailboxes, while store copies should be hitting the stands very soon.

Thank you Chicon 7 voters!

I want to send a tremendous and very excited THANK YOU to everyone at Worldcon (Chicon 7) who believed in me — and my novelette, “Ray of Light,” — enough to give me your stamp of approval. Now that the official Campbell and Hugo numbers are known, I am PROUD to report that 340 voters picked “Ray of Light” as their #1 choice in its category, and a whopping 293 people picked me as their #1 choice for best new professional writer! That is… astounding! Incredible! It was barely two years ago that I walked up onto a stage in Hollywood, California, as a 3rd-place finisher in the Writers of the Future Contest; just two professional credits under my belt. 24 months later I am able to hold my head high as a contender in this biz. And I want to thank everyone who supported me: friends, colleagues, mentors, and especially readers who didn’t know me from Adam but liked my work enough to say, “This Brad guy, I like what he does, I think he deserves some recognition for it.” That’s hugely gratifying for me. I spent so many years unpublished and wondering if I would ever have a moment in the sun, that to be able to represent on the Nebula, Hugo, and Campbell ballots in 2012 was far, far more than I ever let myself hope for; even as recently as 2009 when I made my first sale. All Worldcon weekend I’ve been having little elevator moments where people — upon reading my name tag in the elevator — have confessed that they liked my story and voted for it. That’s gold in my opinion. Pure, 100% gold. And I am humbled and grateful for the support and the *enthusiasm* that so many people have shown for me and my work this year. Most excellent, and thank you so much everybody!

I also had a remarkable number of friends and friendly associates on the ballot: Stanley Schmidt (who is retiring!) as well as Ken Liu, Howard Tayler, Nancy Fulda, Bob Eggleton, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Mike Resnick, and someone whom I’ve admired from afar and whose acquaintance I finally made this year: Carolyn Ives Gilman. Like me, most of them didn’t bring home a rocketship. And for them I feel a moment of hurt only because I know how much it would mean to some of them. And in most instances they have labored far longer than I have with more nominations and more disappointments. It’s unfortunate that the Worldcon process forces us all to eliminate down to just one selection per category. Because really, there are so many good writers and worthy artists and so many stories and books that really deserve the acclaim and recognition that a Hugo represents.

Which takes me right back to being thankful for all the people who supported me this year. Especially my editor (the previously mentioned and soon to be retired) Stanley Schmidt, without whom I’d still be languishing in obscurity. And also my mentors: Allan Cole, Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dave Wolverton, Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Eric Flint, and this guy who happened to be the Guest of Honor at Chicon 7, Mike Resnick. Mike especially has taken me under his wing as a “Writing Son” and it’s been a thrill to share not only the ballot with him this year, but to walk the halls of the convention and be able to hold my chin up as a Mike’s Kid. Thank you, Mike!

And finally my family: my father Russell, my mother Mona, my little adorable daughter Olivia, and my exquisite and tremendously wonderful wife Annie.

Each of these people have worked without expectation of recompense on my behalf, in ways both large and small. They are my inspiration, my motivation, and they drive me to reach for more.

And I of course also want to thank my many, many, many comrades and buddies from the writing workshops and conventions and seminars I’ve attended these past two years — Writers of the Future Class 26, Life, The Universe & Everything, Superstars Writing Seminar, Kris Rusch & Dean Smith workshops, and my forum mates from the cyberverse: Codex, and Silent Forge.

I also want to thank my Legend of the Five Rings campaign cohort which currently meets more-or-less monthly at bestseller Larry Correia’s house. My nominations have been a topic of playful conversation all summer long, and it’s been tremendous fun sharing a campaign with these guys.

You all have made it a delightful 2012 and I shall return to the real world invigorated and ready to tackle new projects, send fresh work to market, and redouble my efforts for 2013 and beyond.

“The Curse of Sally Tincakes” gets lead spot in IGMS issue 28

About 10 days ago I had a rather significant nerdgasm when editor Edmund Schubert let me know I was going to get the cover of Issue 28, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. Having the lead spot in the issue is honor enough, but when I saw Nick Greenwood‘s astounding piece of artwork, I knew this wasn’t just an honor. It was an experience I could treasure for the rest of my writerly life.

Why? Because I spent most of my childhood working in visual arts mediums, even more than the written arts. I was pretty good with pencils, and I knew my way around charcoals, and even tried my hand at oil paints. I know how tough it is to do good work — especially in vivid color — so when I see my story translated into something like what Nick’s created above… the level of gratification is astounding. I literally don’t have sufficient words to describe how wonderful it is seeing my story rendered in this fashion. Especially since Nick appears to have been channeling me so completely! Wow. That image is my story. In every detail. As if Nick had a window into my soul at the time I wrote the piece, and parsed out the most vivid images and layered them into his own work.

Terrific. Exceptional. Oustanding.

So big, big, big thanks to Nick, and to Scott Roberts and the rest of the assistant editor team at IGMS who agreed to pass my story up to chief editor Edmund Schubert, and to Edmund for being patient with me during re-writes.

I hope the readers of IGMS like the story. It’s the fraternal twin of my Hugo and Nebula nominated story, “Ray of Light.” I wrote both stories for the February 2011 workshop that Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch hosted, with editors Denise Little and John Helfers. It’s a gas seeing both of those stories on the covers of two of English science fiction’s most prominent publications.