Two nights ago I saw Rogue One, a logic-defying adventure to be sure (never assault a planetary defensive grid without a sound plan), a western space opera with one of the grandest shoot-outs in cinematic history (the AT-AT Walkers against ground troops was an obvious and welcome nod to EMPIRE STRIKES BACK), a movie that at its core explores the concept of war. It's the perfect holiday film.
Actually, it's the perfect Christmas film. Really. In the Christian tradition, Christmas, specifically the birth of Christ, is at its core an act of war. The Christmas story shows us God as never before. God closes the unfathomable divide between the eternal and the mortal, draws close, puts on flesh, and rolls in the mire. Here comes the Lord of Hosts, the Full Metal Savior.
Saviors show up when saving needs doing, and saving typically involves combat. According to the Bible, the incarnate god/man - AKA Jesus the Christ - grew up, learned the family trade in his dad's carpentry shop, and then, in his 30th year, chose twelve novices to start a planet-wide insurgency. They wore swords and sandals and preached a revolutionary faith built upon twin pillars of grace and truth. Enemy number one: a fallen messenger named Lucifer. Jesus' infant cries were in actuality an epochal calling-out. As if to say, "I've come. What's Hell going do about it?" Christ the cosmic rebel. That's worth thinking about a second time.
ROGUE ONE'S Jyn Erso and a band of freedom fighters face seemingly insurmountable odds during the entire film and without a sound battle plan, and that's where the analogy between it and Christmas obviously breaks down. God's son came with the greatest ground game possible. In contrast, Erso and her rogue crew shoot from the hip the entire movie. Imperial walkers against ground troops should be a no-win situation. But bad odds are the rebel's currency and the director's calling card. Spend me some impossible, please. ROGUE ONE does that and more. Rebels do what seems impossible. They assault the unbeatable behemoth, the empire of injustice, evil incarnate. That's what Christ did, and guess what? He won.
So, yes, serve me up some war. After all, it's Christmas time.
December 7th will forever be marked on my calendar. I think of my grandfather, Chief Petty Officer William Coates, who endured horrors in the Pacific. I bear his name. I miss his war stores...about bad coffee and bawdy Naval tunes. If Grandpa took his sense of humor to Heaven, he's likely dancing down streets of gold to the Benny Hill theme song. Now that's a word picture.
Not many WWII vets among us. They are a rare breed. Thank you one and all. FBNF. Miss you, grandpa. You were (and are) a great man. Until we meet again.
"They say that in the Navy
The coffee's mighty fine
It's good for cuts and bruises,
But tastes like iodine!
I don't want no more Navy
Gee Ma, I wanna go home!"
Folks, we need to know how to win and lose, and how to graciously do so in either case, while respecting the law and the freedom of choice we are blessed to have in this great nation.
Obviously, there's a sea of all ages struggling to process Trump's win. And there's another sea of folks that are all too happy to gloat about the big, historic win. Our country is oil and water, and we're going to be shaken together whether we like it or not.
Let kindness rule the day.
If you didn't vote Trump, I'm sorry. Disappointment is never welcome. I don't know how you feel. If you're frightened, that's the last thing I want for you. And I can promise you this, no matter our political differences, if Trump tries something illegal or unconstitutional, like rounding up Muslims similar to what happened to the Japanese Americans during WWII, I'll proudly stand with you against it. If legal immigrants are harassed in the nation, I'll fight against that. If ICE squads storm America's streets in some Gestapo-styled cleanse, I'll speak out. Illegal immigration is a problem that must be addressed with both truth and grace. We are a nation of laws and compassion. It's not an either/or proposition.
I'm not in your shoes but I can at least try to relate to you, to some imperfect degree, by drawing from my own past. Years ago, my family moved from Colorado to Hawaii. My sister, a Korean American (adopted at age 3 months), for the first time found herself surrounded by people of all ethnicities, including folks from Korea and Japan and China and across the Pacific Basin. Hawaii is a wonderfully diverse melting pot. But our family encountered the unexpected. We were a white family with a little girl of color. My sister looked "local" but her middle-American upbringing stood out like a signal flare in a midnight sky. She was ostracized, and called names by her classmates. "Banana" means you look local on the outside but on the inside you're not one of us. I could share other injustices. There was that white family whose disgust over our "mixed" household was impossible to ignore. Their words hurt.
My parents told us to love and to let it go. We did so imperfectly.
I experienced great disappointment eight years ago. On most issues the President and I stood apart. His skin color was a non-issue. I wanted to know about the man. He's a good father, husband, and a great orator. At times I was deeply troubled over what he said and over what he might do. At times I feared for my country, my faith, and my family. For eight years I pounded into my own skull, as best I could, and my son's, that while we disagreed with the President on issues, we still respected the office and the man. (Even when in our eyes he wasn't acting worthy of it) And, we prayed for him, which at times was hard to do; in retrospect we didn't pray for him nearly enough.
For the record, I did vote Trump. Trump was not "my man" or my first, second, or eighth choice. He's said deplorable, indefensible things. I took him seriously on some policy issues but not literally on the stupid, ugly things he said. I do believe he was/is the better choice of the two viable candidates we were given. We could debate Hillary over Trump. Both are deeply flawed and both have said and done deplorable things. I'm just not interested in arguing over the prize for least worse sinner. I still have major reservations about Trump. He needs my prayers too.
Let's be honest. You already made up your mind over what you were willing to forgive or tolerate or overlook or pardon in your candidate, and so did I. Like President Obama said eight years ago, that's what elections are for. What matters now is how we move forward.
Civility and kindness must rule the day. The only alternative is hate. And neither one of us can afford that.
I'm making a couple of stops in October. Hope to see you there.!
B&N, Citadel Mall, S. Colorado Springs
Signing, October 22nd, 12PM
MileHiCon - October 29th (Denver, CO)
Double-check before you push send. Always. That's the leading-edge-equivalent of "think before you speak."
Email: Scan the fields, To..., Bcc..., Cc.., twice. Note everyone listed. Know everyone listed? Do they need to know what you're about to send? Yes? Then it's a go. No? #$%^ HOLD the digital locomotive in queue for a microsecond longer! Delete. Regroup. Thank the Maker you didn't just cause a rift in the space-time continuum.
Text: is that your wife you're about to text? Hmm...best make sure...particularly if your wife and boss (boss and sister, sister and wife) share names. Enough said.
First, is it spelled correctly (says the writer who vacuums at spelling). Secondly, is it well said. Thirdly, does it need to be said outside your head?
One final thought. We all need to slow down to catch our collective breaths. The pace of everything has outpaced the human capacity to manage it all. Hence, in the words of David Allen, “Do It, Defer It, Delegate It, and Delete it.” The Quad of Ds. Do the later three most of the time and the former as little as possible, and ONLY for the matters that truly matter.
This has been your PSA from your friendly neighborhood science fiction writer.
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.
We're a month out from the publication of INDOMITABLE. Here's chapter One for your reading pleasure. Check out the full excerpt available at Tor.com, and please tell your friends.
April 14th, 92 A.E., Standard Calendar , 0545 Hours
Republic of Aligned Worlds Planetary Capital
Hold Marine Corps Central Mobilization Command
A round the size of Promise’s trigger finger hit her like a maglev. It tore through her mechsuit and mushroomed in her chest, just above her heart. Miraculously, it didn’t go off. Promise stumbled backward and off the cliff’s face, into thousands of meters of darkness. Neuroinhibitors flooded her system almost as fast as the pain. This is it flashed across her mind as her body flatlined. Tomorrow I’m hero-dead.
Her vision grayed out and she lost all feeling in her hands and feet.
Promise rag-dolled in her mechsuit… fell and fell and fell, perilously close to the cliff’s face. Her heel caught an outcropping several hundred meters below. Her AI, Mr. Bond, sealed the hole in her chest, and patched and packed it with cauterizing goo. Then Bond isolated the round kissing her heart in a null field, in case it decided to go off on its own timetable. Removing it was out of the question, and beyond the mechsuit’s capabilities. A Marine Corps cutter would have to brave that. And there were more pressing matters to attend to. Her heart had stopped beating.
The mechsuit intubated her and zapped her pumper. One, two, three… six times before her heart’s arteries and connective tissues remembered how to work in concert. A single stroke came followed by another, and then a stable thrum thrum thrum. Promise gasped, and came to. Her heads-up display blared with error messages she couldn’t process. Her ears weren’t discriminating sounds. Her body felt disemboweled, as if someone had ripped her soul clean out and now someone else was trying to stuff it back in but the fit was wrong. Insert leg there. No, not there, there. The tube down her throat was the worst violation. Mercifully, Bond pulled it out.
“SITREP,” Promise said, the words a faint, hoarse whisper.
“You’re in an uncontrolled descent. There’s an armor-piercing explosive round in your chest.”
“Is the APER hot?”
Promise exhaled, blinked hard, but still couldn’t make sense of her HUD.
“Today is a bad day to die.” Her voice was stronger now, the sky a starless void. “Why aren’t my lamps on?”
“Stand by,” said Bond at the same time that her proximity alarm howled.
Promise’s forward lamps lit several milliseconds later. She gasped, and threw her hands out in front of her, which sent her tumbling backward end over end. Meters away, the rock face somersaulted in and out of view.
“Could… have… warned… me,” she said through clenched teeth. Down became up became down until she couldn’t tell the difference between them anymore.
“I tried, Lieutenant.” Bond sounded mildly put out. “Tuck your arms to your sides. I’ll right you.”
Her mechsuit’s ailerons bit into the wind, stopped the tumble, and reoriented her: head down, feet up, knifing toward the watery deck. The distance opened between her and the wind-carved face at her six o’clock.
“Forty-five hundred meters.”
“There’s an island up ahead, ten degrees to starboard, three klicks out. Because of the headwind, you’ll cover one-point-three klicks before splashing down.”
That means a long swim… if I survive impact. “Comm the gunny.”
“Your comm is out. The APER pulsed when it hit you, and the pulse knocked out most of your systems, including your heart. My secondary shielding held. You’ve lost weapons, scanners, countermeasures, braking thrusters, and the gravchute. You’re going to hit hard.”
“…Of my armor? You’ve got to be kidding.”
“You tweaked my personality chip to make that impossible, ma’am.” Bond sounded a bit too sure of itself for Promise to be sure her tweaking had fully taken hold.
“Mr. Bond, I don’t believe my tweaking worked.”
Her AI made a tsking sound, three times. “Let’s debate that later, ma’am, during my next inspection. Your beegees were recently upgraded. Use your microgravchute embedded in the fabric between your shoulder blades.” Her beegees, or standard-issue mechsuit underarmor, were good for a lot of things. Prevented chafing. Absorbed energy fire. Made using the head while suited tolerable. Barely. The microgravchute was going to come in handy. But first she had to bail… out of her armor… which was the only thing keeping her alive at the moment.
“It’s double-shielded and should still work. Theoretically. I lost my link to it so I can’t tell if it’s operational. You’ll have to manually activate it.”
“And if it doesn’t work?”
Not one tsk now. “Passing three thousand meters.”
This is going to be fun. “Did I see lights overhead while we were flipping?”
“Someone went over the cliff’s face with us,” Bond said. “I can’t tell friendly from foe, not without my scanners.”
“It won’t matter if we botch the landing,” Promise said. She stretched her limbs to slow her fall, and then made a slight correction with one hand, and rotated onto her back. “Open up on three and stay level. I’ll rise. You fall away.”
“Roger that,” Bond said. “Good luck, ma’am.”
“On my mark.” She counted down from three. “Mark!”
Her mechsuit’s chest, arms, and shanks unsealed. The air chilled her to the marrow. She felt the slightest movement upward before the suction ripped her out of her suit and into the open sky. For a moment she felt like a leaf blown about the air by an unrelenting gale. She wrestled the wind for control for several seconds. Far below her the lamps on her mechsuit grew dim.
Promise spread-eagled to kill as much speed as possible. She pressed her right thumb against her pinkie for a two-count. Her mechsuit’s lamps vanished. Bond just splashed down. She flexed the thumb again. Prayed the drive-by-wire backup transmitted the impulse from her thumb to her minigravchute. She was nearly panic-stricken when the chute deployed a second later and dislocated her left shoulder.
Her descent slowed to a survivable fall before reaching an all-stop. Her night vision intensified until the darkness around her lifted. The sun crested the horizon. Howling winds fell silent. Promise looked down, looked between her mechboots, looked at the endless indigo ocean for as far as the eye could see. Her arms flailed widely for something to grab hold of as the fear of falling warred with her other senses; contrary to the laws of physics, she was standing on air. No, she was floating. Flying, maybe? Somehow she was hundreds of meters above the watery deck, holding station. After a few moments of abject terror she willed herself to calm down.
I’m not falling. I’m safe. Relax, P, you can figure this out.
A far-off object entered her field of view. A door perhaps, maybe a person. It was moving toward her. The door became a human silhouette and then a heavily damaged mechsuit: armor crushed; helmet lost somewhere in the clouds. The driver’s eyes were open, lifeless. Now she could see the rank on the driver’s armor and her bloodshot eyes. Then another mechsuit floated into view. Promise turned her head and saw not one but three lifeless bodies, all suited, all closing in. None wore helmets. Their faces were cadaver blue. Their hair waved gently in the air though no breeze stirred it. With nothing to grab ahold of or push off from, somehow Promise was able to rotate in the air and look behind her. The sky was raining dead Marines. Above her. Below her. The nearest boot opened his mouth to speak.
“Lance Corporal Tal Covington, present.” The voice howled like a windshot cavern. Covington’s eyes rolled up into his head and began to bleed. Then his body blew apart.
Promise threw her hands up without thinking, slammed her eyes shut to blunt the bright flash of light that followed. A moment later it dawned upon her that she was still alive, not blown to quarks. When she dared to look, Covington was still floating in the sky, two meters away, but his body was rent asunder. The explosion had frozen in process milliseconds after happening. Covington’s armor was cracked a thousand ways, his organs and bones stitched together with little else but air.
To her right, Promise heard labored breathing, followed by an anguished cry that punched her squarely in the gut. A blast of heat swept over her, blistering the side of her face, her lips, and the inside of her mouth; the taste of death was on her tongue. Turning, she saw a mechsuit engulfed in fire. The wearer was desperately trying to put the flames out with what was left of his gauntlets. She couldn’t look away from the hands. Metal and flesh clung stubbornly to skeletal hands. Then, as unexpectedly as the blaze had appeared, it simply went out. The smoking remains of a scorched mechanized Marine came to attention, and a blackened skull opened its mouth. Bits of charred flesh dangled from its upper lip. “Corporal Vil Fitzholm, present.”
“Private First Class Molly Starns, present,” came from Promise’s opposite side. Starns started convulsing. She ripped her tongue from her throat and threw it at Promise. Starns’s head rolled to the side and off of her shoulders. Bits of connective tissue refused to let go.
“Staff Sergeant Moya Hhatan, present.” Hhatan was floating dead ahead of Promise. “All boots present and damned for eternity.” Hhatan’s lips curled upward, exposing shaved canines stained with blood.
No, this isn’t possible, Promise thought. Hhatan was trying to swim through the air toward her. I watched you die. I tried to save you but your wounds… and the enemy was so close. You sacrificed yourself for me. Told me to go and then… I ran away.
“I’m so sorry, Staff Sergeant,” Promise said. Hhatan was nearly on her. “I tried, really. I did my best, I couldn’t stop them all.” Promise raised her hands palms-up in front of her and kicked her legs to try to get away. “Please. Please… you have to believe me.”
Staff Sergeant Hhatan drew a Heavy Pistol from her holster and took aim. “You don’t deserve to live, Lieutenant.” Then something peculiar happened. The staff sergeant’s face grew young. Years of experience melted away, the eyes changed from blue to green. “You left me on Montana.” The voice morphed so quickly that Promise barely registered the change. Now complete, Hhatan’s appearance was for Promise a looking-glass mirror. “Your time is up. Good-bye, Lieutenant.”
Promise heard her own voice say, “I’ll see you in perdition.”
Hhatan’s gloved finger tensed around the trigger of the Heavy Pistol, took up the slack. The air cracked in two. Muzzle fire blossomed. When Promise opened her eyes the bullet had traveled half the distance from Hhatan to her. A second later it was a meter away, and then half a meter off. Promise screamed as the bullet pierced her temple, drilled through the crown of her skull, and tore her mind apart.
Legalized marijuana is a damnable enterprise that infects my state, Colorado.
That's according to SAM and some of the brightest minds in medical research...in the country (Harvard, UC Denver, John Hopkins - see the link below).
All around it's bad, bad, bad. Generations will pay the price. Chances are my state is trafficking drugs to yours and with it God knows what else. There is a thin but growing link between legalized marijuana and human trafficking. Not to mention the addictive quality of pot, or how it damages the brain. Smoke pot and drive, or operate heavy machinery, or participate in any number of risk-involved jobs? Er...not a good idea. DUIs are rising in Colorado thanks to legalized pot. So is drug use by twelve year olds. So is crime. It's no tax gold mine. The overwhelming majority of users aren't chronically ill. They are drug users with a state sponsored license to use (and be used). Smoking marijuana comes with a host of health risks. Those who suffer and smoke could simply end up worse off. Just read what the US government says about it:
Legalized marijuana is Big Tobacco 2.0 on monkey juice steroids.
If you smoke pot, I hope this post gave you pause. I wrote it because I care about your future. Your life matters. You were meant to live for so much more than this.
If you smoke just because, and reading this made you mad, good. I hope you have a horrible night's sleep and in the morning wake determined to make a change.
If you are chronically ill, you have my sympathies. (I'll gladly keep you in my prayers). But, I'd ask you to consider alternatives to smoking marijuana to ease your pain.