Posted in Guest Post

Guest Post: Ray Daley on Space Force

Author Ray Daley takes over my blog today. He is one of 11 authors in the military sci-fi anthology, Space Force: Building The Legacy, edited by Doug Irvin and published by Midlands Scribes Publishing. The book is available to be purchased as both an e-book and print edition at the link above. Ray’s story is: For The Duty.  

 

I’m Ray Daley. I contributed “For The Duty”. That wasn’t my first sub to the anthology, but after a quick rejection Doug suggested I write something based on my military experience.

My time in the RAF during the 1990’s wasn’t exactly what you’d call “fun” what with the first Gulf War and a conflict with Bosnia as UNPROFOR staff. I wore many hats during my relatively short 6-year career. A good amount of my time was spent on my war role (Operational Message Clerk), in a nuclear bunker. Anything up to

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fifteen hours spent underground per day on rolling day and night shifts meant you had to be adaptable.

I was young, able to sleep whenever I needed it. I kept my mental health problems between me and a friendly bottle of Jack Daniels I kept in my room.

My interactions with US Space Command were probably my favourite parts of that job.

Just so you understand, I’m still bound by The Official Secrets Act. Once signed, your bound until you die. So if I’m vague in places, that’s why. OpSec is still a thing.

Part of my job was the sending and receiving of secure comms (Voice & data). I’d get calls to mostly receive stuff in the wee small hours, a lot of onward direction for folks who couldn’t find any NATO staff awake at 3 AM in the UK for the obvious reason. Several of those calls came from the good folks in Cheyenne Mountain.

I was mostly interacting with these folks after 1994 so the Stargate movie was globally known, and they’d probably heard every joke and throwaway comment about it by the time I was speaking with them. Apparently, they didn’t get many Wargames references though.

The character of SAC Ray Daley is me, or was me. I worked in Air Staff Registry for almost two years, the largest registry in the Royal Air Force. Anything involved in combat flight went through us, both fixed-wing and helicopters. You went on Exercise Red Flag to Nevada? Thank me and my colleagues who worked their asses off, frequently after hours, to ensure you and your jet/ground crew got to the States. You’re welcome. Where the hell are the Oakleys/beers/coffee/chocolate you promised us? Yeah, we never got your thank you cards either.

You may see me reference the movie Behind Enemy Lines. You can read my involvement in that on my blog:- https://raymondwriteswrongs.wordpress.com/2016/03/06/a-message-to-former-usaf-captain-scott-ogrady/

That’s not classified, it was just off-book, done as a favour from one air force brother to another. If you know Captain O’Grady, feel free to mention me to him.

While I may have left the Royal Air Force in 1996, it’s never really left me. Heck, I’m still writing stories about it! My first ever sale was something based on a signal I’d seen during the Gulf War (now declassified, you can call off the Provosts!) and a recent sale was a science fiction retelling of my recruit training at RAF Swinderby.

I’m always happy to share old war stories if you want to pull up a sandbag?

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Not The Official Seal of the United States Space Force. This is a proposed seal for the USSF circa 2120 created specifically for this anthology.
Posted in Guest Post

Guest Post: Chris DiNote on Space Force

New Author Chris “MOGS” Dinote takes over my blog today. He is one of 11 authors in the military sci-fi anthology, Space Force: Building The Legacy, edited by Doug Irvin and published by Midlands Scribes Publishing. The book is available today in both e-book and print editions at the link above. MOGS’s story is: Frickin’ Guard Guys!

 

We’ve all seen the memes, right? The minute the world started talking about the mere idea of a United States Space Force, we were all instantly greeted by “LOL, Space National Guard/Space Force Reserves!” Notably, many of these parodies feature poor Jek Porkins, and that guy just can’t catch a break.

All joking aside, the irreverent interservice banter and, shall we say, “robust,” back-and-forth on social media reflects the very real, and very important, national-level discussions about creating a new military service branch. Part and parcel of building a military service, is how to organize, train, and equip its reserve component (or components, if we end up following the three-component model of the present-day US Army and US Air Force). As the anthology’s theme is “the first 100 years of the Space Force,” what we decide to do now and in the next few years will set the tone for those first 100 years. That’s not a small thing.

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Regardless of whether we construct one or more reserve components to the US Space Force, the development of a unique reserve culture will inevitably follow. Currently, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units comprise the majority of reserve component space capabilities. If those organizations “swap patches,” then Space Force reserve culture will resemble the parent service components for a long time to come. However, as in the present day, reserve culture isn’t quite the same as the active component, and that’s perfectly okay.

I think the Guard in particular, with its unique dual-status existence, will still and always be “the Guard,” which is also perfectly okay, and that idea formed the basis of my story in this anthology.

The relationship between the parent services and their National Guard components is something I’ve experienced personally for about 14 of my 21 years in uniform so far. I’ve seen it go through many, many ups, downs, freezes and thaws. I recently completed a two-and-a-half year sentence assignment at the Pentagon, so I had a front row seat with the extra jumbo-sized popcorn to some of the conversations, staff work, research, arguments, politics, thinking, and pontificating on the Space Force itself, and the still unsettled questions about the role of the Guard and Reserve in its formation. As a professional, I’ll protect the integrity of what I bore witness to, but trust me, I do also have my own opinions.

While my story doesn’t take itself too seriously, it deals with some very serious experiences and issues, albeit with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Guard units are like families, and in many cases, they literally are families. They are often the closest and most direct community interaction that most of parts of America ever have with the US military, given that the majority of units aren’t on an active duty post and instead live in tiny armories and readiness centers, or on regional airports scattered throughout the country. Missions change, aircraft change, names change, but usually, the people don’t. To them, the unit is that much a part of life, and many if not most will stick it out unless the organization is no-kidding disbanded or moved so far away that commuting to drill isn’t a viable option for them. The dual lives of most guard members provide the military access to diverse skills, ideas, and perspectives that you often can’t readily find in the active component, in combinations that sometimes need to be seen to be believed.

Transitioning from the active-duty Air Force to my first Guard unit in 2006, the culture shock was very real. Then, as a full-time guardsman, later a staff officer, and as a squadron commander, I experienced and presided over drastic unit conversions, something else I briefly touch on in my story. Personally, I think there will be a Space National Guard in some form or another, and not just because the Guard’s actually been doing space missions since about 1995. Over time, the expansion and integration of space into the economic and social fabric of our states and communities, our daily lives, will only grow. Just a few short years ago, conventional wisdom didn’t see much of a role for the Guard and Reserve in cyber. Today, that role is significant, and rarely questioned, and that is largely because domestic cybersecurity demands emerged from our states, territories, and communities that few in the national-level defense establishment readily understood or foresaw. I think the same thing will happen with space, and that will spawn second, third, and nth-order effects we haven’t even thought of yet. I bet the Guard will be there for it too.

Christopher “MOGS” Dinote, has served twenty-one years so far in the United States Air Force and Air National Guard. Chris is currently serving an extended active duty tour in the Florida Panhandle. He has deployed for Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and Noble Eagle. The views expressed in this article do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense of the U.S. Government.

Future_USSF_SEAL_2
Not The Official Seal of the United States Space Force. This is a proposed seal for the USSF circa 2120 created specifically for this anthology.
Posted in Guest Post, New Release

Guest Post: Jim Robb on Space Force

Author Jim Robb takes over my blog today. He is one of 11 authors in the military sci-fi anthology, Space Force: Building The Legacy, edited by Doug Irvin and published by Midlands Scribes Publishing. The e-book is scheduled for a Memorial Day release and you can order the print edition now to be delivered around that same day at the link above. Jim’s story is: Olivia and the Asteroid Pirates.  

 

I’m Jim Robb, and I wrote the story, “Olivia and the Asteroid Pirates”, which will appear in “Space Force: Building the Legacy”.

Back in my university days I accidentally found my way into the sport of fencing. One of the members of our club was a fellow student, a good friend — I was best man at his wedding — and one of the most challenging opponents I ever faced. His favourite tactic was the attack in second intention — he would make a false attack intended to draw an anticipated response which he would parry, and then proceed to win the hit with his counter-riposte. He had adopted this technique, he told me, after reading about it in a novel titled, “Scaramouche”. He in turn taught it to me, and it served me well.

This also served as my introduction to the works of Rafael Sabatini, the author of “Scaramouche”. Sabatini wrote some three dozen romance and adventure novels in the first half of the 20th century, several of which were made into swashbuckler films starring the likes of Tyrone Power and Errol Flynn. Once I started reading Sabatini’s stories I quickly became a fan. I was even lucky enough to find a first edition of his 1932 novel, “The Black Swan”, in a second-hand bookshop in Ottawa.

“Olivia and the Asteroid Pirates” is very much a tribute to Rafael Sabatini. As such, its title character shares her surname with a character in “The Black Swan”, and the leader of the asteroid pirates uses the name of that story’s hero as his nom de guerre. There had to be romance and, of course, a happy ending.

Most importantly, I had to find an excuse to make swordplay an integral part of a story set in the early part of the next century. My major break with the swashbuckler tradition came because I didn’t want Olivia to be a mere damsel in distress, so she became a combatant in her own right. I owed that much to my wife, my comrade-in-arms both with épée and C7 rifle.

The story is also my way of saying thanks to my friend Ken. You can be sure he’ll be getting an autographed copy of the book.

Future_USSF_SEAL_2
Not The Official Seal of the United States Space Force. This is a proposed seal for the USSF circa 2120 created specifically for this anthology.
Posted in Guest Post, New Release

Guest Post: Brennen Hankins on Space Force

Author Brennen Hankins takes over my blog today. He is one of 11 authors in the military sci-fi anthology, Space Force: Building The Legacy, edited by Doug Irvin and published by Midlands Scribes Publishing. The e-book is scheduled for a Memorial Day release and you can order the print edition now to be delivered around that same day at the link above. Brennen’s story is: One Time, One Night on Aldrin Station.  

 

On an otherwise normal weekday, I stumbled upon a unique opportunity, via my Facebook feed. I was in the middle of surfing through my notifications on my lunch break when I saw a call for submisssions to the “Space Force: Building A Legacy” anthology. The title struck me, and I immediately had a vision for a story.

You see, during my military career, I’ve heard it said multiple times that “Logistics win EBOOK_COVER copywars.” Off the top of my head, I can think of a few examples of this in action: logistics were a large factor in the reason why Texas ended up part of the United States instead of a Mexican one, why nobody has ever successfully invaded Russia from Europe, and why the Allies won over the Axis powers in World War II.

However, that’s only one part of the equation. In order to ensure a successful supply chain, not only do you have to be able to move goods and troops from one point to another, you have to move them to a secure point, where the resources in question can be utilized effectively. Troops need a place to sleep and eat. Planes, tanks and Humvees all need places to where they can take on fuel and have maintenance and repairs done. And you’re going to need spots to store all the food, cots and tools you need to accomplish this….

Thus, strategically located, fortified bases win logistics, which in turn, win wars.

These bases don’t spring up overnight, though. It’s a long road from a couple of tents set up under natural concealment to a fortified, heavily defended encampment, to an established base, complete with parade ground, Military Personnel & Finance Office, and bowling alley (Seriously). In the Air Force, such accomplishments are usually done via the backs and hands of Civil Engineering (CE) personnel/

It seemed only natural that the fledgling Space Force—which, upon venturing into unchartered space, would need to establish the same bases and supply chains as the American Armed Forces did when island hopping in the Pacific—would follow suit.

My entire military career has been within CE. This story pretty much wrote itself.

A few details needed to be established. Firstly, as America’s earliest migrants discovered along the Oregon Trail, there were bound to be indigenous folk around who didn’t take kindly to newcomers moving into their territory. Enter the Kalanuskanites, proud defenders of the frozen, vapor-shrouded moon of Titan. Second, rank protocols. My NCO buddies and I have been joking for awhile that those of us who got pulled from the Air Force to the Space Force, should it ever happen, would be reclassified as “Space Stargeants”, and I would be very remiss if I passed up the opportunity to use the joke in a meaningful way. Third, characters. Stargeant Grantham is an amalgam of every irritable, frazzled, ill-tempered Staff Sergeant I’ve ever met in my career, but Spaceman Padilla is partially based on a real person. (Specifically, an airman who had the unmitigated gall to play Wham’s “Last Christmas” within my presence last December, forcing me to experience “Whamaggeddon” for the first time, and to also write the single funniest (joke) Letter of Counseling in my career.) Throw in a few side characters, and the rest is history.

So, I had my characters, I had my setting, and I had my plot. But something else was missing.

Heart.

What makes a person do the things they do? Why do servicemen and women willingly sign their life and freedom (in part) away to serve their county. What motivates them to leave their families, get sent to far-off lands for extended periods of time, and put up with overbearing leadership, regulations that at times can seem impractical and nonsensical, and just the general drudgery of working in a massive organization?

Simple: These people love what they do.

I can speak on this one from experience. My job is awesome. I’ve traveled to places I never would have seen otherwise, made lifelong friends the world over I still keep in touch with today, and trained me in a skill that, if this writing thing doesn’t pan out, should help me make a good living once I finally separate from the military. Shoot, it’s because of the military that I’m even able to afford to sit down and write this blog post. Not exactly sure what I’d be doing otherwise. And I know I’m not the only person who has this mentality.

So, I wrote a story about people whose hearts are filled with dreams of space, who are just as eager to help get the rest of us off this mudball and into the stars.  Only difference is in the future, they have the means to lay the groundwork for us.

After all, heart (and logistics) wins wars.

 

Future_USSF_SEAL_2
Not The Official Seal of the United States Space Force. This is a proposed seal for the USSF circa 2120 created specifically for this anthology.
Posted in Guest Post, New Release, Writer's Life

Guest Post: Doug Irvin on Space Force

Editor Doug Irvin takes over my blog today. He is the man who started it all, coming up with the idea for the military sci-fi anthology, Space Force: Building The Legacy, published by Midlands Scribes Publishing. The e-book is scheduled for a Memorial Day release and you can order the print edition now to be delivered around that same day at the link above. 

Welcome to the opening of a new era, the era when space as an operating environment comes of age.

When I first heard the 45th President of the US call for a new branch of the military, my first reaction was excitement. Sure, several nations have ventured outside our atmosphere, and several vehicles have landed on the Moon, as well as Mars. But where

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other branches of service have played a part in space activities, it was the primary focus for none of them. This announcement, however, set in motion a dedicated intent to go into space, and stay there.

My second reaction was the thought, what would their legacy over time be like. At this point, the Space Force had no legacy to lean on. Every other military of every nation on Earth has a legacy, a history, that helps define their members outlook. They all have their heroes, their screw-ups, their examples of how to behave – and how not to.

With that thought in mind I asked a few people I knew who were involved in either publishing or editing. The initial reaction wasn’t overwhelming. Hey, everyone has their own concerns, their own priorities. Developing a series of stories for a new concept wasn’t a pressing issue.

But several weeks later, one editor contacted me. If I were willing to undertake the receiving and editing of stories, he had a publishing imprint he had started a few years before, but never used. Would I take the challenge?

Would I! So with his guidance a call was put out for stories. And people responded.

The stories contained here are a sample of the ones I received. Some of the stories I couldn’t use. Understand that I did not have a theme I wanted the stories to follow (I won’t make that mistake again!), though I did have a few limiters. I decided that the Legacy would span a century of time – the first one hundred years of the Space Force. The stories had to project the Space Force in a positive light. A lot of very good stories don’t do that; but a negative slant wasn’t what I wanted.

And it had to be the United States Space Force. Several good stories fell out of the running because they presented more of a United Nations force. That was too wide a gap to span. A multi-national force has too great a swing in customs for a fledgling branch to handle. Too much dilution of ethos.

There was no restriction to the nationality of the writers – and in fact we have several foreign nationals represented here. But their stories maintained a USSF centered outlook.

In all, I’m impressed with the shared vision these people have presented. They aren’t identical, but they portray an identical wish for the stars. I hope you like them.

Many years ago I ran across a phrase that motivates me, and I think it does for these people.

Un rêve d’étoiles – A dream of stars.

That’s a fine focus.

Future_USSF_SEAL_2
Not The Official Seal of the United States Space Force. This is a proposed seal for the USSF circa 2120 created specifically for this anthology.

 

Posted in Guest Post, News

Guest Post: Karl Gallagher on Space Force

Author Karl Gallagher takes over my blog today. He is one of 11 authors in the military sci-fi anthology, Space Force: Building The Legacy, edited by Doug Irvin and published by Midlands Scribes Publishing. The e-book is scheduled for a Memorial Day release and you can order the print edition now to be delivered around that same day at the link above. Karl’s story is: Visitors.  

 

SF Grandmaster Lois Bujold says one of her sources of inspiration for stories is to find the “worst possible thing” to happen to a character. This provides plenty of conflict as the poor protagonist tries to evade the dread fate.
EBOOK_COVER copyFor a main character who is as arachnophobic as, say, I am, the worst possible thing would be trying to be diplomatic in an encounter with spider-like aliens. Big spiders. Van-sized spiders.
But a guy breaking down and gibbering just doesn’t make an entertaining story. So I turned the premise around: what if our very ugly aliens show up, and an arachnophile is recruited to negotiate with them. Someone who’s only qualification is that he’s an
arachnophile, and lacks all the other training for such high stakes talks.
That’s the situation for Space Force Captain Alan Micheletti. He’s switched from routine satellite operations to a first contact situation with no preparation.
Writing Micheletti let me draw on my experience in Air Force Space Command as a weather satellite operator. I commanded enlisted crews in executing real-time control. Later I programmed the satellites’ data acquisition. Fascinating work, but not a “people person” job.
For someone as nerdy as Micheletti–or me–getting through a conversation where a verbal blunder could seal the fate of the Earth is the Worst Possible Thing.
Karl K. Gallagher has designed launch vehicles, calculated orbits, simulated system performance, and evaluated profitability of a rocket start-up. That technical background went into his hard SF Torchship Trilogy, a finalist for the Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian SF Novel of 2018. Karl’s other writings include the portal fantasy The
Lost War and the upcoming space opera The Storm Between the Stars.
News about Karl’s new releases can be found at https://kelthavenpress.com/.
Future_USSF_SEAL_2
Not The Official Seal of the United States Space Force. This is a proposed seal for the USSF circa 2120 created specifically for this anthology.
Posted in Guest Post, Writer's Life

Guest Post: Rosie Oliver on Space Force

Author Rosie Oliver takes over my blog today. She is one of 11 authors in the military sci-fi anthology, Space Force: Building The Legacy, edited by Doug Irvin and published by Midlands Scribes Publishing. The e-book is scheduled for a Memorial Day release and you can order the print edition now to be delivered around that same day at the link above. Rosie’s story is: Slivers of Hope.  

 

Slivers of Hope started as one of those serendipitous light-blub moments on a dark January night while driving home.  The moon was almost full, the stars twinkly bright and no patches of cloud to be seen anywhere. The uphill stretch of road was bendy and the silvery grazing fields were about turn into dark forest. Up through the gap in the trees I saw a wide silvery contrail crossing diagonally. It gave every impression of climbing from a field to my right and going off into space on my left. What a pity I could not drive my car up along it?

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Being an aeronautical turned systems engineer, I knew it was a ridiculous idea. Or was it? The waves in the contrail suggested some hefty fluid dynamics going on. If only it could be stabilised to lift weight? Yes it might work for a miniscule vehicle. No way for any decent sized object. I’d need another action force like they do for mag-lev trains. How? Well that cloud could be magnetic. A step in the right direction. Still way short of being able to carry a man, let alone a car. What more could I do? Needless to say, this engineer thoroughly enjoyed herself in building up the ideas into a feasible concept of cloud-based surfboard to ride into space.

It was so far off the normal engineering designs the only way I could use it was to write it into a science fiction story.

The British have a tradition of people coming up with ideas and kind of developing them in their backyard. Take Steve Bennett for example. He wanted to build prototype rocket systems to investigate the feasibility of space tourism. Of course he needed sponsorship and got it. One sponsor was the Tate and Lyle a famous company in the UK for producing sugar, because the fuel he used in his first rockets was sugar.

It was only natural my protagonist had to be a backyard inventor. Only snag was that there were so many different technologies involved that it would have taken a super-genius to develop the space surfboard alone. He needed help. Well I had to put some realism into the plot!

The other story issue was I needed to compare this technology with the actual available space technology. There was only one country I could do that in. So I had to move my story to the USA.

And the result was Slivers of Hope.

I am thankful Space Force: Building the Legacy came along to give it good home.

 

Rosie Oliver has been in love with science fiction ever since she discovered a whole bookcase of yellow-covered Gollancz science fiction books in Chesterfield library. She was very disappointed when she read the last of those novels. her only option then was to write science fiction. Which is what she did after gaining two Masters degrees in mathematics, and a career in aeronautical turned system engineering. To help her along the way, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. She has nearly 30 science fiction stories published in magazine, anthologies and as standalone e-publications. She recently gained a Silver Honourable Mention from the Writers of the Future contest to go along with her previous 9 Honourable Mentions. Her website is: https://rosieoliver.wordpress.com

 

Future_USSF_SEAL_2
Not The Official Seal of the United States Space Force. This is a proposed seal for the USSF circa 2120 created specifically for this anthology.