Tag Archives: mil

Review: Desert Strike by Leo Champion

Leo Champion's Desert Strike
Leo Champion’s Desert Strike

Leo Champion’s Desert Strike is a book.  Okay, review done.  No, seriously, it’s a book.  And it’s got things in it.  Go read it.

In all seriousness, there’s a lot going on in Desert Strike.  We see war on a global scale, with a Chamberlain-esque government determined to avoid it, a hyper-violent enemy determined to murder and/or enslave the good guys, and a strange semi-benevolent star-spanning nation which supports both sides in return for the resources they’re fighting over.

Mix into this massive landships up-to and including aircraft carriers, a mix of tech that feels gritty and at the same time cutting edge, and incompetent leaders within the good guy’s chain of command, and you have a very interesting setting for the story that unfolds.

The book has several characters, and what Leo Champion does best is making those central characters seem real with believable goals and ambitions.  You have a bad-ass, general, Jaeger, driven by anger and revenge.  You’ve got a young, rookie pilot, O’Conner, who wants to leave his mark.  These are the “Tropes” the “of course he has this person” but Leo goes further than that, he makes them real.  The side characters abound, with momentary glimpses at a bigger universe, then whipping back to the central plot.

And what a plot.  The enemy has been given free rein, and they use it.  This isn’t a book where the good guys have it easy, where victory is well within grasp if they only work hard for it.  If anything, I’d say the odds are too heavily stacked against them.   At times, you feel that the only victory left is a pyrric, one, where the planet is left a radioactive wasteland… yet somehow you still cling to hope that the good guys will turn the tide.

Desert Strike is a book which surprised me in a lot of ways.  I’ve enjoyed reading several of Leo’s books, but he writes in a certain tone, one which is instantly recognizable.  Desert Strike takes his normal tone and softens it a bit, ironic in a book about combat and war.  It has a fun edge to it, one which isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself, a bit of tongue in cheek even as a character’s life is in the balance.

The aerial combat feels like Vietnam Era, the ground war feels like something from the far future, and everything fits in a way that is hard to describe.  If you’re a fan of military science fiction, I think you’ll enjoy the solid characters and gripping combat.  If you just like exploding stuff, well, there’s plenty of that here for you too.

It’s about to go hot. 

On the dry world of Arkin, the Zinj are taking over. A technologically-competent strain of Islam that make ISIS look like the Amish, they’re challenged only by the nations of the West – and a divided West without much will to fight.

Among those who do have the will are fighter pilot Egan O’Connor, a working-class kid from a tough neighborhood, ready to test himself and serve his country. He’s a chivalrous rookie ready for an honorable battle.

Jimmy Newland’s a cavalry NCO who’s earned his spurs. He’s ready to fight but he doesn’t want to; he’s seen enough skirmishes to know how bad it can be. But he’ll do his job if the cold war gets nastier – as it’s about to.

And there’s nothing chivalrous at all about Air Marshal Elisabeth Jaeger, a career intelligence officer promoted to field command. Twenty-five years ago she saw her husband murdered by the Zinj; she’s spent the time since avenging him. As she’s about do on a scale just a little bit broader than spywork…

You can find it: here.

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Wait, It’s Already Over? Liberty Con 28 in Review

20150627_171831Liberty Con has come and gone. It was my first Liberty Con and I had the unique experience of being both a panelist/author, a “First Timer”, and also shepherding around my one year old son. I don’t think I saw nearly as much of the event as I would have liked, but I managed to make it everywhere I was supposed to, more or less awake (the latter part being particularly difficult with a teething one year old).

For those who are fans of Baen authors, this is an amazing convention to attend. For those who just like military SF and Space Opera… well, this is still a great convention to attend. You pretty much can’t throw a rock there without hitting a Mil SF author in the side of the head. It is also a very social convention. Every area seemed to have old friends and new acquaintances chatting each other up. It’s a great place to meet new people, network (for authors, artists, and publishers), and generally have a fun time.

I met a few new and interesting people there and I think I learned a good deal too. I had the pleasure of meeting fellow Henchman Press author, Mark Wandrey. I had a great chat with Chris Kennedy about some of his techniques to stay in contact with readers and build a good network. Lastly, I think I made a great friend with Terry Maggert, who also looks to be a fantastic author and is a charming individual.  Links below for their works and websites.  Trust me, you should check them out.

Mark Wandrey just released the newest book in his ongoing Mil SF series: Etude to War.  Mark is an awesome guy and if you’re a fan of military SF, he’s writing a truly epic series.

Chris Kennedy writes a variety of books and his current best-seller, Janissaries, looks to be amazing.

Terry Maggert not only has amazing cover art but he has an awesome take on contemporary/post apocalyptic fantasy as well as epic fantasy.  I’m excited to have a copy of his book, Banshee, to read.

I met a lot of other great people at Liberty Con, though I’m afraid that child-imposed sleep deprivation has robbed me of many of their names.  It was a great time and I’m already planning on returning next year.  From what I understand, they’ve capped membership again and they’ve already sold over three hundred of their seven hundred and fifty total memberships, so if you want to be there next year, you should hurry up and get yours soon.

Fenris Unchained

Fenris Unchained

 

The Wolf is Loose.

Ten years ago, after her parents’ deaths in a terrorist attack, Melanie Armstrong walked away from a military officer’s career to raise her orphaned brother.

Since then she’s been captain of a tramp freighter – shuffling from world to world, scraping to barely get by, but content that she’s made the right decision.

But when her ship crashes, authorities make her an offer: take a fifteen-year sentence on a prison world where the average lifespan is a third of that… or stop an ancient and until-now forgotten robotic warship, the Fenris, from completing its hundred-year-old mission to kill millions of people and destroy a planet.

 

My latest novel, Fenris Unchained, is now available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Fenris Unchained First Snippet!

FU Trial Cover

Here’s the first sample section from Fenris Unchained.

CHAPTER I

Time: 0815 Local, 01 June 291 G.D.

Location: Dakota, Dakota System

A yellow light began to flash on the control board.

That was nothing new, not aboard the Kip Thorne. Warning lights lit up half the panel. It was a Christmas display of yellow caution lights, flashing priority lights, and red danger lights that gave the board an aspect of impending doom.

The pilot didn’t look over to the panel to see what was wrong. One of the red lights indicated a malfunction in the auto-pilot system. That meant that the tall, blond woman had to bring the Kip Thorne down by hand.

Not a difficult a task for an experienced pilot. She enjoyed flying, enjoyed it more than anything else, really. She didn’t enjoy thirty six hours of flight time spent awake on stimulants while flying a ship that needed far too many repairs.

She shot a glance at the panel, and then flipped on the intercom. “Rawn, take a look at the starboard thruster.” She shook her head. Tried to push thoughts through a mind that seemed turned to mud.

The intercom crackled and hissed, his voice difficult to make out. “Uh, Mel, we might have a problem.”

The light ceased flashing. She sighed in relief, “No, it cleared up here, good job whatever you did.”

The ship bucked. The alarm light flashed red. A moment later, so did six or seven other warning lights. “What the hell did you just do, Rawn?!”

Mel fought the control yoke, eyes wide, as she swore to herself:

Rawn, was that the starboard pod going out?”

The ship yawed over as she overcompensated and she fought it back under control.

Rawn, you’d better get that thruster back online.”

She heard a squeal from the hatch as it opened. It had always reminded her of a ground vehicle’s brakes screeching just before an accident.

She tried not to apply that metaphor as some sort of warning to her current flight. Her brother spoke from behind her: “I’m going to pack the escape pod. Anything you want me to throw in?” he asked.

What?” Mel craned her neck to look at him.

The ship spun sharply and threw her against her straps and tossed her brother into the wall hard. She bit off a curse and struggled with the controls for a moment. It seemed to take an eternity to fight the ship back under control.

The radio crackled, “Freighter Kip Thorne, this is Dakota Landing Control, you broke out of your landing queue, return immediately, over.”

We’re going to lose the other thruster. The port thruster is in worse shape. What do you want me to put in the pod?” her brother asked.

His calm voice made her clench her teeth.

We’re not abandoning ship,” she told him sharply. “I can land this thing.” It would be hard, though, with just one thruster. They couldn’t engage their warp drive in atmosphere, not without disengaging safeties that were there to prevent that. Even if we had time, she thought, it would be a stupid thing to do. The warp drive field would tear the atmosphere around them and if they hit anything in warp, the difference in relative velocity would not only kill them but quite possibly wipe out Dakota’s biosphere.

She forced her mind to focus. When she spoke, her voice had the calm tone that she emulated from her father: “Dakota Landing Control this is Freighter Kip Thorne, we just lost our starboard thruster and are requesting immediate assistance, over.”

Freighter Kip Thorne, is this some kind of joke?” The speaker’s nasal, officious tone suggested she wasn’t amused.

Rawn snorted. “I know the safe combo, I’ll grab our cash and some keepsakes. I’ll clear out your desk too.” He pushed his way back off the bridge.

Get back here—” Mel clamped her jaws shut. One thing at a time. “Negative Dakota Landing, this is no joke, our starboard thruster— ”

Her voice broke off as another yellow light began to flash, the warning light for load limit on the other thruster. “Our starboard thruster is out and we’re about to lose our port thruster, requesting assistance, over.”

Negative, Kip Thorne, you’ll have to break off your descent and return to orbit,” the nasal voice answered. “A repair craft can be sent to you there.”

Dakota Landing, this is an emergency. We lose our port thruster, there won’t be anything keeping us up here.” Mel snapped. “We don’t have enough thrust to get back into orbit, and you don’t have time to—”

Kip Thorne, break off your descent or you will be intercepted by our customs cutter. Over.”

Dakota, I hope they got a tractor,” answered. “Because—” The ship shuddered and the other thruster went dead. “We just lost our other thruster. Kip Thorne, out.”

She turned off the radio and sat in the chair for a long moment as the small freighter bounced. Soon it would begin to tumble, she knew, without the guidance from the thrusters.

Six years, six years I kept her goin’. Dad, I did my best.”

She wiped her eyes; now was not the time to cry.

The ship fell now, without anything to slow its descent besides atmospheric friction. Superheated air flashed across the hull and cast glowing flames across the cockpit glass.

Mel sighed. She kissed her finger tips and touched the control yoke one last time, then unbuckled and left the bridge. She didn’t look back.

***

 

Fenris Unchained will be available tomorrow at noon (CST) from Amazon and Smashwords.

The Wolf is Loose.

Ten years ago, after her parents’ deaths in a terrorist attack, Melanie Armstrong walked away from a military officer’s career to raise her orphaned brother.

Since then she’s been captain of a tramp freighter – shuffling from world to world, scraping to barely get by, but content that she’s made the right decision.

But when her ship crashes, authorities make her an offer: take a fifteen-year sentence on a prison world where the average lifespan is a third of that… or stop an ancient and until-now forgotten robotic warship, the Fenris, from completing its hundred-year-old mission to kill millions of people and destroy a planet.