Here Be Dragons

Escape Orbit has been nominated for the Dragon Award for best science fiction novel!

The Dragon Awards are purely fan-driven, anyone can nominate their favorites at DragonCon’s website and registration is free. You don’t even have to vote in each category, only the ones for which you have a clear preference. The most nominations in each category will move up as finalists for voting in August. If you enjoyed Escape Orbit, I hope you’ll consider clicking the link and adding your nomination to the tally. I also hope you’ll consider adding a rating or review on Amazon, B&N, or Goodreads (or all three!) and spread the news with your friends and family. Word of mouth goes a long way, and I truly appreciate your contribution.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you about a new anthology: The Ross 248 Project is a collection of stories about humanity colonizing the worlds around a faraway star. When Baen first approached me about contributing, it was tempting to decline as I was neck-deep in the first draft of Escape Orbit. The greater temptation was to be featured in an anthology that also contained stories by writers like D.J. Butler and Monalisa Foster. Thankfully I made time to do it because writing “Garden of Serpents” was terrific fun. It has something of an Aliens vibe, with an advance team of soldiers carving out a base camp on a planet named Eden. Suffice it to say Eden is a long way from paradise. The Ross 248 Project is available now from, Amazon, and anywhere else fine books are sold.

The Reviews Are Coming In…

Publishers Weekly on Escape Orbit:

Chiles couches a high-stakes rescue mission in a fascinating and believable methodology for traversing space in this sequel to Frozen Orbit… Though part of a series, this outing’s self-contained plot and interwoven backstory is easy for new readers to follow as mission control on Earth reacts to the reappearance of Jack’s ship at Planet Nine after disappearing from their radar five years prior… Much of this space opera’s enjoyment stems from Chiles’s use of convincing science… This is sure to impress sci-fi fans.”

Upcoming Appearances

ESCAPE ORBIT is coming out in two short weeks, just in time for convention season!

My first appearance this year will be at FantaSci in Durham, NC, this coming weekend (March 24-26). Among other things, I’ll be on panels discussing how to whip your wayward writing muse into submission, how much research is too much, bringing your otherwise flat characters to life, and defending the honor of the US Marine Corps in a panel called “Tanks, Ships, and Crayon Eaters.” (My favorite flavor is red, BTW.) My better half will also be on a panel for writer’s spouses where they dish on life with the perpetually distracted.

There’ll be a signing event during release week on Saturday, Apr. 8th at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati, OH, and Friday, Apr. 14th at The Book Loft in Columbus, OH.

If you’re in the area, I hope to see you there!

Five Books for Space Nerds

Shepherd is a new book discovery site, which is competing with Goodreads to become the place for finding good writers you may not have heard of before (and if you’ve spent much time on Goodreads then you know they could use the competition).

Last year they asked me to recommend five books that had an influence on my writing, which I was delighted to do: The best space history books that read like novels. The hardest part was narrowing down the list to only five:

Winter Meltdown

Southwest’s Holiday from Hell has dominated the news this week. Their route system has fallen to pieces and I can only imagine the nightmare of piecing it back together. I worked in the business for a long time as an aircraft dispatcher, which is the behind-the-scenes function of planning each flight and making sure each one reaches its destination.

That’s the short version. The long version is that they are the people in an airline’s control center who evaluate the weather, plan and file the routes, determine the fuel required, and manage a zillion other small details for each flight, each day, to make sure the whole system runs like a fine watch. It’s fascinating work, but it can also be a burnout job. Like I’m sure it is right now.

I say all this because it gives me some appreciation of the absolute mess Southwest has on its hands. One of the most memorable (as in worst) days of my career was putting a route system back together after our hub had been shut down for weather. Airplanes were out of position, flight crews were timing out (because they can’t stay on duty forever), and we had run out of options. One night’s disruption took the better part of a week to get back on schedule, and that was for a smallish freight operation with about 20 airplanes. Southwest has over seven hundred.

While they have a lot more people to deal with the minutia, the basic problem remains. If anything, it’s exacerbated by the fact that they don’t operate the traditional hub-and-spoke system. All of their routes are “point to point,” meaning they don’t concentrate airplanes and crews at strategic locations like Delta, United, or American do. Some airports get more Southwest traffic than others, but they don’t necessarily maintain ready spares at those locations to pull from when everything goes south.

This is super efficient when it works, but when it doesn’t? Yeesh. Disruptions cascade to the point where the whole system just grinds to a halt. That’s what we’re seeing right now, a metastasizing boulder of crap careening relentlessly downhill. They’ve trimmed their schedule down to less than half the normal daily departures and added a whole bunch of empty positioning legs–which is pure cost to them–all so they can get back to a mostly normal schedule by the end of the month. In the meantime, thousands of passengers are stranded and don’t even ask about their bags.

Some anonymous SWA insiders on Reddit have pinned a lot of the blame on staffing problems and an outdated scheduling and dispatch system. You can do more with less, to a certain extent, if you have the software tools in place to make their jobs easier. 1990’s-level tech won’t cut it. If crewmembers are holding on the phone for hours just talk to scheduling, that time is ticking away against their daily duty limit instead of being spent taking the next trip.

Other than these few brave souls’ admissions, I have no insider knowledge of what’s going on inside the company. But based on my own experience, I can picture it and sympathize. And I’m eternally grateful to be in a consulting gig now instead of in the trenches, struggling to make chicken salad out of chicken $&!+. There’s a saying that it takes decades to build a reputation and minutes to lose it, and I don’t know if they recover from this fiasco.

If you’re stuck in a terminal waiting for that elusive flight out, be nice to the gate agents. It’s not their fault, and I really wouldn’t want their job right now.

We’re Number One!

Worlds Long Lost is the #1 New Release in Science Fiction Anthologies on Amazon. WOW.

When I was asked to contribute a story for this project last year, I was in the middle of writing Escape Orbit and realized it would be the perfect opportunity for a tie-in. And boy, am I glad to have done it! If you’re intrigued by stories of interstellar archeology amid alien ruins, and if you want some idea of where Escape Orbit will be heading, check out “Rocking the Cradle”.

It was an honor to appear in this, and it was especially thrilling to see my name appearing on the cover along with the great Orson Scott Card. This writing thing is starting to feel like the real deal.

New Book, New Look

Five years ago, astronaut Jack Templeton took the spacecraft Magellan to the farthest reaches of our solar system, never to be heard from again. 

Until now. 

When the Magellan suddenly reappears where an undiscovered planet was suspected to be, it poses more questions than answers. How did Jack survive all this time? Can he return before his life support runs out? And what is the object long thought to be the elusive “Planet Nine?”

In a race against time, Jack’s former crewmate Traci Keene spearheads a desperate effort to outfit a mission to bring him home. But she has competition. Agencies of both American and foreign governments have their own agendas, and saving rogue astronauts isn’t among them. 

And at the edge of all that is known, a gateway to the unknown awaits. . .

Available for preorder now for release in April 2023. If you can’t wait that long, a little taste of what’s in store will be appearing in the Worlds Long Lost anthology this December:


We were not alone. The farther we push into the universe, the more obvious it becomes. The signs are everywhere: canals and pyramids on Mars, old roads on the moons of Jupiter, ruined cities on worlds about the nearer stars. The galaxy once teemed with life, or so it seems. Which begs the question: What happened to it all?

These stories explore the ruins of lost civilizations, solve ancient mysteries . . .and awaken horrors from beyond the dawn of time.

Featuring stories by Orson Scott Card, Griffin Barber, Adam Oyebanji, Jessica Maguire, Patrick Chiles, and an all-new entry in the Sun Eater universe from editor Christopher Ruocchio. Join us for your next adventure to Worlds Long Lost!

Summer Book Blowout

It’s been a busy summer. In fact, the past year has been kind of nuts and the fruits of all that labor are now making it to the shelves. The latest is WORLDBREAKERS, a short story anthology I was honored to be a part of along with greats like David Weber and Larry Correia.

The theme is a little outside of my normal space-nerd setting, so let me sum it up in two words: sentient tanks. If that conjures visions of Cylons and Terminators in your mind, then know that’s also where my head went when Baen first approached me about contributing to it. Here’s a taste from the jacket copy:

Brute force. Intransigent defiance. Adamantine will.

These are the hallmarks of the AI tank. Formed from cold steel and superpowered computing brains, these gigantic tanks with the firepower of an entire army have been the decisive factors in interplanetary battle. But are humans worthy of the extraordinary instruments of war that they have created? Are the World Breakers the greatest protector of human liberty, or its worst threat?

My money’s on “worst threat,” but you be the judge. WORLDBREAKERS will be available Tuesday, August 3rd. You can preorder it now on Amazon. And because I’m so excited about this, BATTLESPACE will also be FREE for a limited time. 

BattleSpace by [Patrick Chiles]

This book was something of a labor of love. I badly wanted to flesh out the story of Vladimir Vaschenko, the missing Cosmonaut at the center of the mystery from last year’s FROZEN ORBIT. It’s set in the 1960’s when the American and Soviet space programs were not only racing each other to the Moon, they were secretly vying for control of Earth orbit.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention FRONTIER. I’ll let you be the judge if I’ve saved the best for last, but I am immensely proud of this one. It’s a near-future tale of the U.S. Space Force and their first crewed patrol ship, the USS Borman. It features plucky spacewalkers, wayward asteroid explorers, and a mysterious space station that is not what it appears to be.

Frontier by [Patrick Chiles]

That’s everything I’ve been up to this year…so far. More to follow this fall!

The Early Bird…

…gets the E-book. Official release day is June 1st, but FRONTIER is available now on Kindle if you can’t wait. So hit that button!