Author's note: I wrote this piece in 2016 for Tor.com, and revisited it this morning. Loss, death, and tragedy have been on my mind. Considering the news from Florida, how could it be otherwise? So, I decided it was time to pull this over to my blog, and share with you today.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? At best that was a hollowed-out truth. What failed to kill you still exacted its own pound of flesh, and not even sleep offered an escape. The nightmares were definitely getting worse.
Surely there was a gaping hole in her heart that must have turned black by now. Perhaps all that remained of it was a deathly hollow, carved out by the worst kind of flesh eater. Survivor’s guilt."
Death and Mechsuited Marines. Nothing wreaks havoc like them. Indomitable is as much about the one as it is the other. My protagonist, a young Marine named Promise, has a habit of storming into trouble. With the help of a plucky AI assist, she cuts a wide swath. Death’s her second shadow. But the fallout haunts her. And the pain slowly fades.
Charles Dickens christened death “Our Mutual Friend.” It has certainly been for me. I’ve buried a sister and a daughter, all the grands, and a cousin of mine named Jack. Death reaped each of them at inconvenient times. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. Absence has made a poor bedfellow.
Promise is no stranger to loss either. Her full name suggests as much and, for good or bad, it’s a bit on-the-nose. Promise. Paen. I’ve caught flak for her name. Flak flak (like the shells thrown by the German Flugabwehrkanone, or anti-aircraft cannon). When I named her I was playing with words, sure. But I also meant to convey something deeper…that life is dualistic…both tragic and hope-filled, like yin and yang. We will all be wounded by something and probably by many somethings in this life. Many someones too. Loss is unavoidable. Death has a habit of being on the nose. But life is always ahead. Hope is out front, out there. It has to be.
Promise first came to me at age seventeen. Orphaned. Jaded. Congenial like a rusty bayonet. She was mad at the universe. She enlisted to start over, to slake the pain, and to maybe dish out some cold-served retribution as a mechsuited Marine. But war had other plans. It kept taking the people she loved from her. The pain only grew worse and to continue she had to turn and face it. What Promise didn’t anticipate was that she’d learn, while pivoting toward mortality, to care again and to let the women and men she served with scale her walls. Turns out death’s sting is not something to be shouldered like a rucksack, on a solitary march through life’s tempest. Death is our mutual friend. We’re meant to greet the reaper together.
Sometimes we write for our lives. For me that’s involved marring my love (truth be told my guilty pleasure) for military fiction and mil-speced battle scenes with a need to draw out the deep waters of my soul. I had to crank the well-wheel to find out what was down there. Up came a traumatized character who talked with her deceased mother on a regular basis, a centuries-old, semi-automatic GLOCK named Janie, a suit of interlocking armor that begs for a 3D printed cosplay, and a veritable band of sisters and brothers as real as any family.
Up came the reaper too. He likes to howl and gnash his teeth. But I’ve seen the fear in his hollow point eyes. He has a spot at the table, over there, where he sulks while I share a meal with friends. The food is good. The company, better. Reap sulks because death doesn’t frighten me so much anymore.
(article originally posted at Tor.com, July 25th 2016)
Sprechen sie Deutsch?
Thankfully, the good people at Cross Cult do. UNBREAKABLE, the German-language edition, releases in just over a week!
Now, for some unexplained reason, I'm craving schnitzel.
Die Kolonisten des Planeten Montana sind es gewöhnt, ignoriert zu werden. In der Pufferzone zwischen zwei rivalisierenden menschlichen Imperien gelegen, ist ihre Welt provinziell und unabhängig. Selbst als vorläufiges Mitglied der Republik verbündeter Welten wird Montana kaum beachtet – bis es zum Krisenherd eines drohenden interstellaren Kriegs wird.
Als Piratenüberfälle die Region zu destabilisieren drohen, beauftragt die RVW ihre Panzergrenadiere damit, der Situation Herr zu werden. Der Angriff wird von Marine-Corps-Lieutenant Promise Paen, ehemaliger Bewohnerin von Montana, geleitet. Vor Jahren schloss sich Promise den Marines an, nachdem ihr Vater bei einem solchen Überfall getötet wurde. Rache ist süß, aber sie hat einen enormen und verheerenden Preis. Und Promise ist keineswegs glücklich, wieder auf ihrer Heimatwelt zu sein, nicht mal, als die Bevölkerung des Planeten, einschließlich seines schillernden Präsidenten, sie als Heldin begrüßt. Was die Sache noch schlimmer macht: Promise wird immer wieder von der Stimme ihrer toten Mutter heimgesucht.
Währenddessen hat der erbittertste Rivale der RVW, das Lusitanische Imperium, die Ereignisse im Montana-System mit Interesse verfolgt. Die Truppen haben nur auf den richtigen Moment gewartet, einen Brückenkopf im Territorium der Republik an sich zu reißen, und nachdem Promises Marines drastisch dezimiert wurden, halten sie den Moment geeignet, um zuzuschlagen.
#iAmIndomitable Book Campaign and #Giveaway: Swag, Prizes, a NES Classic Edition, and more. Interested?
INDOMITABLE is out!. To mark the occasion, I'm launching the
I'm so excited to have the first book in the Chronicles of Promise Paen in a paperback format, and at a lower price point.
Now there's no excuse not to get your copy and dig in. Do me a favor and let me know how it goes. If you'd like a signed bookplate email me at write(dot)wcbauers@gmail(dot)com. I'll send you one on my dime.
Don't forgot the audio edition, here.
I've become a big fan of the audio book format in recent years and for obvious reasons. There is no such thing as "finding time." We allocate time for what is important. I can read and drive, read and eat, read and close my eyes (presumably while not sleeping)...while listening to audio.
How much time to you spend behind the windshield? Carpool? Kid's sporting events? Waiting in line at Starbucks? Plenty and you know it.
Why not leverage that time and shrink your reading stack?
Don't know what to buy mom or dad. Hel-lo? Audio. Summer car trip? Audio. Commute to work? A. U. D. I. O.
To help you out, check out Soundcloud. It's a great site with audio book links from all of the major publishers. Sign in, check it out, share links from your favorite books, and find new books to read...er...listen to.
Here's a link from my first book. The reader, Andi Arndt, did a smashing job.
The guys from "Geekside New" were great hosts. We talked about our favorite TV shows (I'm currently enjoying the Shannara Chronicles), the rise of Streaming services and Netflix/Hulu/Amazon "originals" and the death of the networks, and of course my books, UNBREAKABLE and INDOMITABLE (out July 2016).
Zoe is a HUGE fan. I need 5000 rabid fans just like him. Someone, please help Zoe clone himself.
I hope you get a chance to check it out.
Each December, I take time to reflect upon the past year, celebrate key milestones, identify those yearly favorites, and set goals for the year to come.
As I sat in my living room reminiscence, a cup of hot caf in hand and Christmas music echoing through the halls, inspiration struck. It was the lyrics to a song. But not just any song. It was White Christmas...A Sci-Fi White Christmas. As I wrote it, more inspiration struck. It's time for a giveaway. It's time to plan for 2016 reading. Hey, why don't I help those who share my affinity for geek culture get their 2016 "read" on?
So, enjoy the tune. Check out the cool stuff I'm giving away (see pics and rules for entering below). Leave a comment for a chance to win. And please tell your friends.
Good luck, Maker's Speed, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!
- W. C.
John and Patrick were very gracious with their time when UNBREAKABLE came out; the podcast they produced was terrific. These guys are SF/F to the core, and tolerable singers too. Donate to support their podcast, Functional Nerds, and keep the conversation going. See here for details: https://www.patreon.com/functionalnerds?ty=h
Cheers to John Anealio,Patrick Hester, and functional nerds everywhere.
You're wondering, I'm sure, what these Military Science fiction novels and Neil Patrick Harris's abs have in common?
Isn't obvious? Rock-hard writing and mil-spec'd action...er, abs. Besides appearing in bleach-white skivvies for the 2015 Oscars, Harris appeared in a military SF movie years ago, which will remain nameless because it ruined one of my all-time favorite novels. Oh, okay, because you asked: Starship Troopers.
But, back to the abs...the mil-spec'd novels. Please check these out including my own, UNBREAKABLE, at B&N's SF/F blog, HERE.