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.

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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 New Release, News

The Path To Space Force

Most of last week my blog hosted authors who share one thing in common: They were among the 11 chosen by editor Doug Irvin to have their stories included in Space Force: Building The Legacy. The new military sci-fi anthology, based on the newly created United States Space Force, is now live on Amazon as both an e-book and in print.

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When Doug approached me with the idea, I was intrigued, not only for the potential of the anthology, but by the overall concept of the United States Space Force itself. As someone who has read, watched, listened to and otherwise mentally devoured science fiction for nearly five decades, the real and the fictional USSF was right up my alley.

After I moved to Nebraska two years ago, I started a podcast produced by Midlands Scribes Productions. I created that entity with an eye on eventually expanding it into a publishing imprint that focused on Midwestern authors. Tuscany Bay Books remains open to all authors everywhere, but Midlands Scribes Publishing will have a narrower focus.

Doug Irvin, being a Texan, had delivered a perfect first opportunity for MSP and I took on the role as the anthologies publisher while Doug went out and rustled up some submissions. And, according to Doug, we got quite a few and from all over the world. In the end, the book is an international effort with authors from the United States, Canada and the U.K.

Among the 11 authors you will also find members, both current and former, of the United States Air Force and the Royal Air Force. One author even was assigned to the United States Air Force Space Command at one time. From the depths of both experience and imagination you will find 11 incredible stories that I am sure you will enjoy reading as much as Doug and I did.

That being said, when we first embarked on this journey, I had no intention of submitting a story to it. I’ve never written military sci-fi. I’ve barely read it aside from less than a dozen short stories and books. But one thing you’ll notice from my bibliography is that I’m not afraid to take on a new genre when the muse strikes. And, at literally the 11th hour, the muse knocked on the door and tempted me with a story concept.

So I put together CAG, which Navy folk will recognize as – Commander Air Group – polished it up a bit and sent it over to Doug.

Lest you think that I was an automatic accepted story because I’m the publisher, allow me to insert this edict I’ve given to every editor of an anthology I’ve published from this one to the Planetary Anthology Series: If you don’t like my story it does NOT make it into the book! I want the best possible collection to be presented and I’m also an old enough dog in this business to understand that rejections are part of the deal and my feels don’t get bent out of shape when I get them. And yes, I still get them.

Back to CAG, off it went to Doug, who obviously liked it because it is one of the 11 stories in Space Force: Building The Legacy. As an author you know you’ve hot the mark when the editor tells you that even though they’ve read the story several times and know what’s coming it still hits them emotionally.

CAG in this story is Lt. CMDR Robert “Cag” Carrington, Commander Air Group on board the carrier USS Shepard. Cag and his wingman, Matthew “Preacher” Carson, are on patrol in near-Earth orbit. Escorting cargo ships, keeping an eye out for pirates and other menaces is their daily routine. Carrington is a widower, his only child already embarking on his own career in Space Force and is reflecting upon his career as he enters his final month in the service.

But on this patrol, the two pilots will be put into the crucible. There’s will be the only ships standing between Earth and an asteroid on a collision course with our world. If they cannot stop it, no one on the surface below will survive.

As I mentioned before, Doug loved the story and I have to admit, despite my trepidations at tackling the genre for the first time, I’m really happy with it myself. The challenge with all short stories is developing both the characters and a fully in-depth plot in such a short space. With CAG, I believe I found that balance and accomplished both.

I hope you enjoy reading my entry into this incredible anthology as much as I did in writing it. And I also hope you enjoy reading the other 10 stories as much as I did too.

You can get Space Force: Building The Legacy on Amazon in e-book and print right here:

SPACE FORCE: BUILDING THE LEGACY

 

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, 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

 

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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, News, Writer's Life

Guest Post: Brena Bock On Space Force

Author Brena Bock 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. Brena’s story is: The Decision.  

 

My father served in General Curtis LeMay’s Air Force as a member of a Strategic Air Command Air Refueling Wing. His time in service was the mid to late 1950s, the years leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

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I couldn’t even guess how many times we watched the movie Strategic Air Command with Jimmy Stewart together. His face would light up during certain scenes, or when certain planes appeared on screen. He never tired of explaining this or that detail.

Sharing this and other experiences with him, helped develop my concepts of service and sacrifice.

In addition to my father’s stories of his time in the Air Force, I was influenced by Robert Heinlein, Leigh Bracket, Arthur Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and many other authors of that era. They all helped form my view of the world.

The seed for this story came to me in a dream one night. Basically the opening paragraphs. What happens when you have to make a decision and all the options are bad? Not a no-win scenario like the Kobayashi Maru from Star Trek, but when the only options are bad and worse and doing nothing is the worst decision of all.

How would this affect the individual who made that decision? Even if they survived, would they ever believe they’d made the least bad choice? I’m sure they would second guess themselves, especially given the constraints, time and otherwise, they were under.

Marina Petran, the main character in my story, is someone who can’t help but push herself. Good just isn’t good enough. Though no matter how well she does, she always thinks she could have done better. This leads her through college and into the United States Space Force. Eventually, it leads her to the decision called for in the title.

Bits and pieces of this story came to me over a few months. A scene here, a line of dialogue there. I had no idea what I was going to do with this story until about halfway through. That’s when I heard about the Space Force anthology. I only had to make a few changes and I thought it would have a decent chance at acceptance. Imagine my pleased surprise when Doug told me I’d made it, my story was going to be in the anthology.

Sadly, my father, the person I most wanted to share this news with, never got to see the results, he passed away in early April of this year.

So while I’m proud of my story and honored to be in the company of these amazing writers, it will always be somewhat bittersweet for me as well.

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 New Release, News

Space Force: Building The Legacy

My friend Doug Irvin had a brainstorm not too long ago. When President Trump announced the formation of the United States Space Force as the newest branch of the U.S. Military, Doug thought it would be a great idea to write so speculative fiction about the first 100 years of the new service.

He had the general theme and he wanted it to be a collection of short stories. But what he didn’t have was a working knowledge of how to get the completed collection published. Which is where I entered the picture.

Tuscany Bay Books is swamped as far as its production schedule for 2020 what with the Planetary Anthology Series cranking out a new title every six weeks until February 2, 2021. So TBB couldn’t publish it.

But, with Doug doing the heavy lifting of putting out the submission call, sifting through the subs and selecting those he felt were best suited for the anthology, I could handle the publishing side of it for him.

Thus, under the Midlands Scribes Publishing banner, Space Force: Building The Legacy was given the green light. As you can see from the link, the book is up on Amazon for a May 25, 2020 release and you can pre-order your e-book copy right now. There’s even a cool book trailer for it too.

Doug has done an excellent job assembling 11 talented authors from around the globe. Yes, it isn’t just American authors who wanted in on the action. Three different countries and two continents are represented in this collection. We even had one sub from Italy.

EBOOK_COVER copyWhich left it to me to get the manuscript formatted for print and e-book, get the covers for both formats ready, get the book trailer together and all of the other little details that goes with putting a book up on Amazon these days.

I’m happy to say that I couldn’t be more happier with the final product. And I am sure that you will enjoy reading these stories too.

When we first decided to launch this project, I hadn’t intended to submit a story to it. I’ve never written anything close to Military Sci-Fi in my life. But one thing I have noticed over the past few years is I haven’t been afraid to try writing in a genre that I’ve never written in before. Okay, I sincerely doubt you’ll ever catch me writing romance or erotica (Hey, I’m a guy, so…) but who knows?

Still, one fine day, when I found myself with nothing to do for all of three minutes, I had an idea pop into my head that I thought would fit the parameters of what Doug was looking for and decided to give it a go. Even if he said no, at least I had tried my hand at MilSciFi.

As an aside, Doug had the clear option to airlock my story if he didn’t like it. This was also made clear to the editors of the Planetary Series. Just because my name is attached to the publishing house, doesn’t mean I get a free pass. If its a no, its a no and I’ll have no issue with that.

In this case, Doug liked the story and included it. The title is simple: CAG. Military folk will know who the main character is from the title. Doug’s reaction after he read it was: “You went full Heinlein!” I’ll take that compliment and run, especially on my first attempt in the master’s genre.

The other ten stories? I’ve read them all and they are incredibly well done. After you have read them, I think you’ll agree.

My only disappointment is that I had intended the print edition to be the old pocketbook paperback size of the pulp days of Heinlein. A 4″ by 6″ book that could easily slip into the back pocket of your blue jeans or the jacket pocket of one of our servicemen and women. Sadly, the smallest size Amazon allows is 5″ by 8″. So we’ll roll with that size and pray everyone has big pockets.

So, in the meantime, check out the trailer at the link above and pre-order your copy. Doug’s already hinting at a second Space Force anthology. Hmmm, I have a story idea that might work for that one too…