Sunday, November 26, 2017

EXCERPT: Young Man's War

This is an excerpt from Young Man's War by Rod Walker

The man in charge of my first combat patrol was named Captain Jonas Howard.

Captain Howard had been in Afghanistan and Iraq, which he was willing to talk about, and some other places that he was not. He spoke in a slow Alabama drawl, rarely raising his voice, and constantly chewed sunflower seeds as a means of keeping nicotine addiction at bay. He had learned the truth about the Dark the same way that so many others in Black Division had—on patrol outside Kandahar, a hole ripping itself in the air, and then a horde of giant stinking alien bug-things swarming out to kill everything in sight.

Or so Captain Howard put it. He had bit of a flair for the dramatic.

Bull and I reported to Captain Howard’s HQ as ordered at 0500 one dark, dry morning. Howard’s HQ was a large tent with a space heater, since Castle Base had gotten a bit crowded since Invasion Day. I had heard rumors that Black Division had facilities elsewhere, and that General Culver was taking in more regular Army bases under his command, but I hadn’t visited any of them yet.

Howard stood outside his tent, watching as his men loaded up their armored troop carriers. There were already a dozen sunflower seed shells around his boots. If he wasn’t careful he was going to need dentures by the time he turned fifty, assuming any of us lived that long.

“Sir!” I said. “Corporal Roland Kane and Corporal Rufus Bullock reporting for duty, sir!”

We saluted. Howard sized us up, then saluted back after a moment.

I should have mentioned that. Listeners started at corporal rank, since in the heat of combat we sometimes had to tell privates to move quickly to avoid a Darkside attack.

“You two look too young to be corporals,” grunted Howard. He pointed at me. “You don’t look old enough to drive.”

“I am seventeen years old, sir!” I announced. My birthday had passed while in basic training. Maggie had scraped together enough flour to make me a cupcake, which had been nice.

“Don’t shout unless I tell you,” said Howard. “Some of those drones have ears like bats. Let me guess. You got bit by a zombie, the Division found you in time, and now you’re a Listener?”

“Yes, sir,” I said.

Howard’s gaze shifted to Bull. “And you. You’re a big fellow, aren’t you?”

“Yes, sir!” said Bull with enthusiasm. “I am excited for the opportunity to bring destruction upon the Dark, sir!”

“You’re not bringing destruction to anyone,” said Howard. “You’re staying in the vehicles. The General himself will rip me a new one if I get one of his Listeners killed.”

“Yes, sir!” said Bull. “Then I am excited for the opportunity to bring destruction to the Dark vicariously, sir!”

Howard blinked and his lips twitched. I suspect he almost laughed. “Let’s hope you can retain that enthusiasm, Corporal. Both of you, report to Sergeant Mendez and do whatever he tells you.”

“Yes, sir,” Bull and I chorused in unison.

Sergeant Mendez turned out to be a Hispanic man in his middle thirties with a scarred face and tattoos that were occasionally visible when he took off his jacket. He looked like an enforcer for a drug gang, but he ran a tight ship. I suspect the fact that he looked like he could murder you with his bare hands without blinking helped him keep order.

“All right, you two,” said Mendez. “You’ll be with me in the second carrier.” He pointed at the second of the six M200 armored personnel carriers that would make up our patrol. “You’re new, so shut up, keep your ears peeled, and do your thing. You detect even a hint of Darksiders, you speak up right away, got it?”

“Yes, sir,” Bull and I said in unison.

“There’s going to be trouble on this patrol, so stay sharp,” said Mendez.

“How do you know there will be trouble, Sergeant?” I said.

“General said so,” said Mendez.

By now I had realized that most of the men of Black Division regarded General Culver as something like a prophet. It was well-known within the Division that Culver had been trying to warn Washington and the Pentagon about the Dark for years, and that he had been warning them something like Invasion Day was going to happen sooner or later. The Pentagon had ignored his warning, save for occasional demands to increase the number of female combat troops in the Division.

Well, General Culver had been proven right. It also helped that he seemed to be one of the few powerful people left with an actual plan other than hiding in a bunker someplace and hoping that his canned soup didn’t run out.

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Blogger Aeoli Pera November 26, 2017 8:16 PM  

Reads like Monster Hunter. I like Monster Hunter.

Blogger weka November 26, 2017 8:24 PM  

Good book. Read it when it came out. Cross between monster hunter and starship troopers.

Blogger Aeoli Pera November 26, 2017 8:25 PM  

I like Starship Troopers :-).

Anonymous CoolHand November 26, 2017 8:30 PM  

Read it when it was first released, and I thought it was a very good book. Definitely enjoyed reading it.

Like most books I enjoy, read it in one go on a weeknight when I should have been working on CAD drawings. lol

On the one hand, I very much like that Vox brings me excellent things to read, but on the other hand, when he does this it totally knocks the ass out of my productivity.

It's diabolical.

He truly lives up to the title of Supreme Dark Lord. ;-)

Anonymous Aphelion November 26, 2017 9:07 PM  

Fun read. Must check to see if I reviewed on Amazon. Read it a few months ago.

Blogger David The Good November 26, 2017 9:12 PM  

Rod Walker's books are awesome. Thanks to him, my daughter now says she enjoys reading science fiction. And my sons totally dug them, as did I. Cannot get enough.

Anonymous Brick Hardslab November 26, 2017 10:10 PM  

This was a nice easy read and fun as heck. Good for a kid but fun for an adult too.

Blogger Matthew November 26, 2017 11:13 PM  


Anonymous Bellator Mortalis November 27, 2017 2:05 AM  

Unfortunately it is not available yet in dead wood edition.

Anonymous Unamused Flyover Resident November 27, 2017 3:10 AM  

Love the title. Very meta.

I'm sure Mr. Scalzi will ... notice.

Blogger Koanic November 27, 2017 3:27 AM  

I endorse this fine screed of anti-Hexopodal hate speech!

Blogger Dexter November 27, 2017 8:09 AM  

All his books are in the same series?

Anonymous Aeoli Pera November 27, 2017 8:22 AM  

I'm sure Mr. Scalzi will ... notice.


Blogger Ken Prescott November 27, 2017 8:23 AM  

(Makes note to go down into the bunker and inventory the canned soup.)

Blogger Mr.MantraMan November 27, 2017 8:24 AM  

Enjoyed it a lot.

Blogger wreckage November 27, 2017 9:15 AM  

Really good stuff. Crisp, clean, focused.

Anonymous BBGKB November 27, 2017 11:18 AM  

I'm sure Mr. Scalzi will ... notice.

You didn't steal Scalzi's BJ arbitrage system did you?

Blogger tuberman November 27, 2017 11:37 AM  

Picked this book up, and I'm reading it already, about 1/5 though it. Yep, this is my type of fiction.

Blogger daddynichol November 27, 2017 4:30 PM  

Just read the Amazon sample along with Vox's sample and it's going into my Kindle.

Anonymous Haxo Angmaerk November 27, 2017 6:28 PM  

"Captain Howard had been in Afghanistan and Iraq, which he was willing to talk about, and in some other places that he was not"

what a nightmare of a sentence.

Castalia House needs a proofreader;

someone immune to suicidal impulses.

Blogger licky November 29, 2017 3:45 AM  

well done

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