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Friday, February 03, 2017

Top 100 SF

Dear hater,

Thank you so much for the motivation. Every time I found my energy flagging, every time I was tempted to stop pushing on and turn in for the night, I found it incredibly useful to be able to think of you. This isn't my accomplishment. It's ours.

Love,

A formerly failed science fiction writer


And just to stoke a little more interest in the very successful Forbidden Thoughts anthology, perhaps you will enjoy this excerpt from my contribution to it, which is set in the Quantum Mortis universe.


AMAZON GAMBIT

Lieutenant Colonel Max Kruger stood at attention and saluted as General Markham, SUBCONCOM, debarked from the flyer with the ease of a man four decades younger and strode across the landing pad towards him.

“At ease, Colonel,” the general ordered. “Good to see you. Now, come with me, we’ve got a lot to discuss before the press conference.”

The general had four centims on him and was walking quickly, so Kruger had to lengthen his stride in order to keep up with the taller man.

“The Grkese signed the contract?”

“They did indeed,” the general confirmed. “And the Duke himself selected you as the contract CO, Max.”

“Honored,” Kruger murmured, as expected. And it was true, he did feel honored, although he wasn’t exactly surprised. Of the various officers in the Rhysalani Armed Forces qualified to command low-tech forces, he not only possessed the best record with regards to successfully completed contracts, but he had beaten Col. Thompson, his closest rival, rather soundly at the Duke’s Command Challenge last year. “I presume it will be 3rd Battalion?”

The 3rd Battalion of the Ducal Marines specialized in low-tech combat, particularly combat below TL10. Kruger had served with them on two previous deployments, both of which had taken place on Dom Sevru. The men of 3rd Battalion were trained to be able to fight with everything from swords and shields to plasma cannon and sub-atomic armor.

“No,” the general replied, to his surprise, as they entered the elevator that would bring them down to the heart of the airbase command center. “The Lord General suggested that this would be the ideal opportunity to show the subsector what the 11th Special Battalion can do. And the Duke concurred.”

Kruger couldn’t hide his astonishment. Or his dismay. He looked at his superior in disbelief, and while he saw everything from amusement to sympathy in the older man’s eyes, he detected no sign at all that his leg was being pulled.

“Dear God, you’re not joking!”

“Afraid not, Max. The Duke has spent a fortune training and equipping those women for the last five years, and he’s decided that it’s about time to see a return on that investment.”

Kruger didn’t trust himself to speak. The first five or six responses that sprang to mind would have earned him at least a reprimand, if not a court-martial. The next three, if uttered openly by an officer of the Armed Forces, technically amounted to lèse-nobilité and would theoretically merit a firing squad. So he said nothing.

The general grinned nonchalantly and raised an eyebrow. He knew damn well what Kruger was thinking. “He’s not wrong, Max. Their negotiators were so impressed that they paid triple our usual rate. Half up front.”

“They did? Why the hell would they do that?”

“Well, as I understand the sales pitch, our highly trained female soldiers have proven to be much better communicators than their male counterparts, and as a result they are considerably less inclined to needlessly break things and kill people. In this particular case, the estimated savings in infrastructure damage when taking and occupying the primary objective alone is expected to more than make up for the increased cost of the contract.”

“Assuming we can complete it. What’s the tech level again?”

“Seven.”

This time, Kruger couldn’t restrain an oath. The general raised an eyebrow, then slapped Kruger on his oak-leafed shoulders as they approached a door with a pair of Ducal Marines on either side.

“Try to keep it clean for the cameras, Max. If you don’t know what to say, just smile and declare that you’ve got every confidence in the troops. Do your best to sell it. God knows we’ve all had to tell a few humdingers in our day. Your record speaks for itself, so let it do the talking. Now, you’ve got an hour to review the contract and meet with the battalion’s officers before the press conference, so I suggest you hop to it.”

“Yessir,” Kruger said morosely. “Any chance I can get out of this, General?”

“None at all, Max. None at all.”

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50 Comments:

Blogger Nate February 03, 2017 8:21 AM  

Dammit... I've always thought The Duke to be significantly more sensible that this.

Blogger Durandel Almiras February 03, 2017 8:37 AM  

Max Kruger...Maximum...Kruger.

Please tell me one of the battalion officers is named Dunning.

Ordered.

Blogger VD February 03, 2017 8:40 AM  

Dammit... I've always thought The Duke to be significantly more sensible that this.

Read the story....

Blogger Brian Niemeier February 03, 2017 8:46 AM  

Congratulations, Vox!

Do read "Amazon Gambit", folks. It's consistently singled out as the anthology's best.

Blogger James Dixon February 03, 2017 8:47 AM  

Let me guess, tech level 7 is hand to hand weaponry.

Anonymous Lami February 03, 2017 8:48 AM  

I really enjoyed that story, although, having read here for years now, the ending wasn't terribly surprising. It was great to get back into the Quantum Mortis universe though. I really wish you had time to do more writing there.

Blogger Alexander February 03, 2017 8:52 AM  

This shiv of artistic cruelty is long, but it bends towards #winning.

Blogger Durandel Almiras February 03, 2017 8:53 AM  

^I second what Lami said. I too enjoy the Quantum Mortis universe and look forward to reading more should it happen.

Blogger Bard February 03, 2017 8:56 AM  

Special battalion..ha. Is their patch a pair of scissors?

Anonymous Holmwood February 03, 2017 8:57 AM  

It's a good story. One of my favorites of the anthology. I loved the Dorsai feel of it.

Now to channel an SJW:

Ah but of course your rank is meaningless; only the top 70 matter. The Great John Scalzi is, of course, 66, so for him the rank has meaning. Not you.

Meh, don't think I can really channel an SJW that well, but at least I got the outgrouping and irrationality right.

I admit I thought it was purely a rhetorical device when you said CH was going to overtake Tor. Given that Larry Correia is ~99 in Fantasy, and he's published by Baen and you have none of the advantages of S&S/Baen or Macmillan/Tor in distribution... that SF author positioning suggests it's not rhetoric.

Blogger VD February 03, 2017 9:00 AM  

I admit I thought it was purely a rhetorical device when you said CH was going to overtake Tor.

No. It will take time. It won't be this year. But it will be sooner than anyone reasonably believes possible.

We have more tricks up our sleeves.

Blogger Salt February 03, 2017 9:17 AM  

That's a fun story, Vox. I howled at the end.

Blogger James Dixon February 03, 2017 9:18 AM  

> No. It will take time. It won't be this year.

I guess well less then 10 years, possibly within five.

Blogger dc.sunsets February 03, 2017 9:22 AM  

spent a fortune training and equipping those women at which point I did literally laugh out loud for a solid seven seconds, chuckling for an additional three.

Having just finished "The Missionaries," this was familiar territory.

Blogger 4499 February 03, 2017 9:25 AM  

@9 Snub-nose scissors. And they wear bike helmets all the time, even when they sleep.

Anonymous Athor Pel February 03, 2017 9:27 AM  

"5. Blogger James Dixon February 03, 2017 8:47 AM
Let me guess, tech level 7 is hand to hand weaponry.
"


If it's based on the Traveller universe then tech level 7 is what you and I have right now.

Which is enough energy density in the larger weapons to do serious damage to civil infrastructure and low enough that personal physical enhancement is not possible for the average soldier.

To point out the consequences of this, female police have a higher chance to kill someone resisting arrest because they're weaker than most suspects and unable to control them by brute strength in the same way a male policeman would be able to.

Secondly, modern western style warfare does most of it's killing with artillery and bombs dropped from planes.

Thirdly, women are much easier to antagonize into irrational overreaction.

I feel very very sorry for Kruger.

Blogger Stilicho February 03, 2017 9:30 AM  

Btw, any timeline for next Graven Tower book?

Anonymous Napoleon 12pdr February 03, 2017 9:33 AM  

It's a good story. Funny. The Quantum Mortis universe has a whiff of James H. Schmitz about it - which is a good thing, he was a vastly underrated author.

But it's not the best. "Edge of Detachment" ought to be up for a Hugo, if the world were sane. Read that one, and you won't sleep well unless you're a sociopath.

Blogger Stilicho February 03, 2017 9:40 AM  

@nate just wait until Sgt Maj. Hultgreen and Lt. Curie appear...

Blogger Dexter February 03, 2017 9:44 AM  

I dunno, there wasn't any talk of blowjobs between the space soldier guys, so it's already striking me as not very realistic.

Anonymous VFM #6306 February 03, 2017 10:12 AM  

Congrats on the rank. Only 20 of the other 94 should serve as formidable competition going forward, and you were already 86th when I checked. Part of the problem with rank right now is that the giant Dark Humanity series is bumping otherwise unknown (or even otherwise unpublished) SF authors.

You and at least 3 other CH writers would reasonably be in the top 50 no problem if Dark Humanity didn't have its thumb on the scale for individual authors.

Blogger maniacprovost February 03, 2017 10:18 AM  

I've read half the book. So far they were all good. The first story is weak, but it's more of a white glove slap in the face of CHORFs than a story.

Blogger Luis Matos II February 03, 2017 10:30 AM  

It's certainly one of my favorites of the anthology, this distinction is well deserved. I'm looking forward to more great sci-fi in the future, a sequel is hopefully in the works

Anonymous Longtime Lurker February 03, 2017 10:31 AM  

Congratulations!

Anonymous BBGKB February 03, 2017 10:40 AM  

Special battalion..ha. Is their patch a pair of scissors? Actually, but not what you think

"Well, as I understand the sales pitch, our highly trained female soldiers have proven to be much better"

Let me guess, tech level 7 is hand to hand weaponry. As above instead of light sabers, they use light scissors

Blogger wired216 February 03, 2017 10:41 AM  

Link to "Edge of Detachment" please?

Blogger Cynic In Chief February 03, 2017 10:57 AM  

Any chance at publishing your books as audiobooks? I'm always very busy, but have the ability to listen to audiobooks (i.e. on the road, programming, setting up infrastructure, etc.)

I'm still getting through ATOB, but the vast amount of SF/Fantasy content that you have produced, much less other Castalia writers that I want to read such as John C Wright, make it nearly impossible to consume unless it's in audio form.

I know it's a lot harder to produce than text books, but I for one would prefer it in that form and as other authors have figured out it can even eclipse the sales of textual books.

Blogger Dave February 03, 2017 11:00 AM  

The first story is weak

It is what it is. I enjoyed it for all the shots Cole got in at the expense of the SJW and PC types. I mean c'mon "Climate Terror"?


11th Special Battalion

Say what you will, but Easy Company got the job done

Blogger Dave February 03, 2017 11:02 AM  

Link to "Edge of Detachment" please?

http://amzn.to/2kA297l

Blogger Feather Blade February 03, 2017 11:27 AM  

Dave wrote:Say what you will, but Easy Company got the job done

I see what you did there

Blogger VD February 03, 2017 12:04 PM  

Any chance at publishing your books as audiobooks?

Castalia already has published 14 of them, several of them mine. One is even a bestseller. Click on AUDIOBOOKS on the left sidebar.

Anonymous VFM9914 February 03, 2017 12:28 PM  

I haven't had the pleasure of reading Forbidden Thoughts yet, so I was wondering why I recognized this story.

Then I realized I read it when I was working as a slush reader on There Will Be War Volume X...and I rejected it because the end of a sentence was missing.

Well, I'm an idiot.

Blogger Cynic In Chief February 03, 2017 12:30 PM  

Ok, I've found them (the sidebar doesn't show on mobile). I'm getting Nick Cole's books on audio right now.

Any plans on getting the Selenoth books, Quantum Mortis books, Somewhither, Iron Chamber of Memory, and Moth & Cobweb books on audio?

Blogger VD February 03, 2017 12:36 PM  

Summa Elvetica is being recorded now. Somewhither has been recorded and is now being produced.

Blogger pdwalker February 03, 2017 12:45 PM  

I bought the book on the strength of Milo's intro alone.

Blogger Cynic In Chief February 03, 2017 12:50 PM  

Excellent! I look forward to listening to them.

Blogger Dave February 03, 2017 1:15 PM  

VFM9914 wrote:I haven't had the pleasure of reading Forbidden Thoughts yet, so I was wondering why I recognized this story.

Then I realized I read it when I was working as a slush reader on There Will Be War Volume X...and I rejected it because the end of a sentence was missing.

Well, I'm an idiot.


It's a fine anecdote but is it prudent for a vile faceless minion to admit they rejected a submission from the Supreme Dark Lord of the ELOE?

Blogger VD February 03, 2017 1:35 PM  

It's a fine anecdote but is it prudent for a vile faceless minion to admit they rejected a submission from the Supreme Dark Lord of the ELOE?

It's fine. The submissions were anonymous.

Anonymous 5343 Kinds of Deplorable February 03, 2017 1:51 PM  

It's a fun anthology. John Wright's contribution is a major kick to the cranium. I'm still trying to work it out. Too many great ideas moving too fast ...

Blogger Zach February 03, 2017 2:57 PM  

more of a white glove slap in the face of CHORFs than a story

Which makes it fun in it's own way, but it wasn't a promising intro to an anthology. Glad I looked at the next story.

Blogger TJR February 03, 2017 3:04 PM  

As a rule, I don't buy anthologies, but after reading that, I am going to give this one another look.

Blogger The Kurgan February 03, 2017 3:55 PM  

CH will overtake Tor in 3 years or less. I'd be surprised if it hits 3.

Blogger mushroom February 03, 2017 5:00 PM  

So far, so good. These are fun.

Anonymous Study Book February 03, 2017 5:17 PM  

Failure can provide the impetuous for success. Doing some studying of Scalzi and Tor might reveal what made them so successful. Then try doing some of the things the successful people have done and see if it will be of benefit to you.

Anonymous Lawyer Guy February 03, 2017 5:20 PM  

James Dixon wrote:Let me guess, tech level 7 is hand to hand weaponry.

Hoping it is http://wiki.travellerrpg.com/Tech_Level_Comparison_Chart

Blogger pdwalker February 03, 2017 5:59 PM  

Just finished it. It's very, very good. Some new and interesting concepts, and yes, enjoyable.

Blogger L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright February 03, 2017 9:08 PM  

Edge of Detachment is a story from Forbidden Thoughts. It was written an 18-year-old. Thanks to Milo, she's at #90 of all SF writers on Amazon today.

Vox's story in the anthology is quite enjoyable.

John has been talking about maybe recording some of his novels. He has an excellent reading voice and can do wonderful things with characters.

Blogger GK Chesterton February 03, 2017 9:32 PM  

Yes. "Edge of Detachment" is like a story I wrote but much, much, much better. It should win an award.

Hoyt's was my least favorite. It seemed...petty. And the least likely.

Blogger A. M. Freeman February 03, 2017 10:00 PM  

Technically... the full title is "At The Edge of Detachment"

But the kind comments have made my night. Thanks y'all :)

Blogger losemoneyfast February 03, 2017 10:12 PM  

"This isn't my accomplishment. It's ours." - it is superlatively gratifying when you twist the firmly planted dagger like this.

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