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!

The Need For Speed

Latest iteration of the Aerion AS2 (I think. There’ve been a lot).

This is disappointing:

Aerion Corp. today ceased operations, citing a lack of available financing for its plans to bring a family of supersonic aircraft to market. In a statement, the company said it had built an $11.2 billion backlog for the first of that family, the Mach 1.2 AS2 business jet, but “in the current financial environment, it has proven hugely challenging to close on the scheduled and necessary large new capital requirements to finalize the transition of the AS2 into production. Given these conditions, the Aerion Corporation is now taking the appropriate steps in consideration of this ongoing financial environment.”

-AIN Online

Possibly related: last fall, Boeing suspended its NeXT “future innovations” unit. While not directly tied to Aerion, it’s indicative of Boeing’s cash crunch and the need to refocus on its core competencies (that is, building airplanes that don’t crash). Between the 737MAX and COVID, they’re not in a position to throw billions at projects that might never make it to the runway.

I really hoped they could be successful, but it’s also been in development for close to twenty years so it was hard to get too excited.

Making airplanes go faster presents all kinds of technical challenges as you approach Mach 1, and it’s not as simple as adding more wing sweep or bigger engines. One design choice affects other choices downstream, and sometimes those trades can’t be resolved to anyone’s satisfaction. A lot of tradeoffs that are useful for military jets don’t translate well to civil transports and the FAA’s Part 25 certification standards. Adding speed adds complications like wave drag, and the optimum ways to solve it sacrifices performance at lower speeds, which is crucial to controllability in takeoff and landing (and a big focus of those Pt. 25 standards I was talking about). Example: a clipped delta wing is great for high-speed cruise but terrible for takeoff, approach and landing. Maybe you can mitigate this with more power from the engines, but now you’ve created a noise issue that cannot be ignored if you ever want to get the thing certified to fly anywhere civilized.

This really made me wonder about Aerion’s plans for a Mach 4 jet. While that puts it just shy of hypersonic (and the related heating / materials problems), that’s still pretty freaking ambitious when they hadn’t even cut metal on the “slow” Mach 1.2 version.

Finally, before anyone is willing to spend serious money on overcoming the technical challenges, there’s this hurdle: convincing Congress and the FAA to rescind the prohibition on supersonic flight over land. Without that, the business case may never close. It’s a huge chicken-and-egg problem when you consider the newest business jets regularly tickle M.90. Once you’re already at 90% of the speed of sound, adding another 20 or 30% might be too expensive to be worth the trouble. But man would that thing look cool on the ramp.

Having said all that, this is a setback I hate to see. Hopefully Boom doesn’t suffer the same fate.

T-Minus Ten Days

FRONTIER in the wild, at Secrets Beach Resort in Cancun. Wish I could say I took this, but it was one of my “advance readers.”

Writing a new book is always exciting but I especially enjoyed this one. Its an action-adventure / technothriller that builds on characters introduced in PERIGEE and FARSIDE. FRONTIER combines themes of exploration, military sci-fi, and Earthbound intrigue to project present-day geopolitical conflicts into near-future space. The ending surprised me as I was writing it and things didn’t turn out *at all* like I’d planned. It’s a good thing when the writer surprises himself.

Get ahead of the crowd and preorder on Amazon! Preorders are a tremendous help with initial rankings on release day, which increases reader visibility, which increases sales, which secures my ability to keep writing. Bottom line, I sincerely appreciate it and will continue doing my best to provide more great beach reads.

Coming Soon

The blog may have been dormant for a while, but rest assured I haven’t been. I have two titles coming out this summer, and a short story appearing in an anthology with such greats as David Weber and Larry Correia.

First up is Frontier, out June 1st (available for pre-order now, so hit that button!):

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Marshall Hunter only wanted to fly: the faster, the higher, the better. But the Space Force has other plans that will take its newest officer beyond anything he imagined.

Assigned to the cislunar cruiser U.S.S. Borman as a search-and-rescue officer, Ensign Hunter is resigned to a life of rescuing wayward spacefarers and derelict satellites. The novelty of Earth orbit soon wears off after a series of arduous spacewalks, confirming his suspicion that the new space economy has attracted too many people with more money than sense.

His fortunes appear to change when a billionaire couple goes missing on their way to survey a near-Earth asteroid. Out of contact and on a course that will eventually send them crashing into Mars, the nuclear-powered Borman is dispatched on an audacious, high-speed interplanetary run to find the couple’s wayward spacecraft and bring them home. As they approach the asteroid, the Borman itself becomes hopelessly disabled, its only chance of rescue coming from a surprising source.

With the Borman suddenly out of commission and far beyond reach, cislunar space begins falling into chaos as critical satellites fail and valuable lunar mineral shipments begin disappearing in transit. Nothing is as it seems, and the crew suspects none of it is by coincidence.

Facing an impossible choice between salvation and sacrifice, Marshall Hunter will have to find a way to save both his crewmates and their civilian charges.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Next is BattleSpace, a novella I’d wanted to write for a long time that explores the background of Vladimir Vaschenko, the Soviet cosmonaut at the center of the mystery behind last year’s Frozen Orbit. This one is a straight-up Cold War technothriller that just happens to be set in space. As seems to be everything I do, but anyway…

This one is taking longer than I thought, as I’d hoped to have it out in concert with the audiobook release of Frozen Orbit last month. Which, yeah, that’s a thing. The new cover looks pretty cool to my eyes:

Frozen Orbit

So, back to BattleSpace. It’s a tightly-paced story, about 100 pages, which is not nearly enough for my publisher to do a print run. This one will be independently published by moi and available anywhere fine e-books are sold later this summer.

It’s going to be a busy summer, so stay tuned!

FROZEN ORBIT Review Thread

Today was a good day. Saw Frozen Orbit in a bookstore for the first time, which floored me. Even though I knew it was there, the feeling of finally seeing it for sale out there in the big old world next to my favorites like James S. A. Corey and Larry Correia is, well…wow. I should be able to find words but I Just. Can’t. Even.

Hot on the heels of that experience, it garnered this mention from Booklist:

The story moves quickly with elements of both a spy thriller and a space race, and never seems to drag, though years pass during the telling of it. Readers are given glimpses of Russia’s Cold War space secrets as astronaut Jack Templeton pores through a long-dead cosmonaut’s journal on the lengthy space flight to the lonely Kuiper belt. A mystery about a crew driven to mutiny at the very edge of nothingness needs to be solved, and questions about humanity’s very existence are asked. Frozen Orbit could make for an impressive movie, one that would stand with greats such as Contact or Interstellar.

I’ll take that all day long, especially the movie part.

UPDATE: From Amazing Stories:

If you’re looking for a hard-core space-hardware saga in the vein of Clarke, Baxter, Mary Robinette Kowal (The Calculating Stars, The Fated Sky), or the recent Last Astronaut (David Wellington), you’ve come to the right place…There’s enough character drama to pull the story along (with a married couple and two single astronauts aboard) but the real story here is on the science side…The author covers a lot of ground in this space procedural, and you’ll see a reexamination of the themes in Clarke’s 2001 a Space Odyssey here, but with technology and concepts informed by the five decades that separate the two works.

I’ll update and bump this post as new reviews arrive. In the meantime, you can help a brother out–if you liked it, please consider leaving a review or at least rating it on the Amazon page. That helps make it more visible, which is yuuge.

P.S. There are now signed copies of Frozen Orbit at Barnes & Noble in Hendersonville and Brentwood, TN. Act fast!

Isn’t That Special?

Woke up this morning to a couple of challenging pieces linked by Ace of Spades. First up, an Atlanta rabbi on the Question That Must Not Be Asked

Connect the dots. There is a pattern. A direction. An ugly revolution churning in this country.

America has done more uplifting of humanity and promotion of freedom than any other country in the history of this planet. We Jews have been blessed beyond our wildest fantasies, enjoying her gifts, her bounty, her grace but we must step away from what is happening and not be seduced by a deceitful, pandering mirage. The Left is not our friend, not as Americans and not as Jews. 

That one’s gonna leave a mark. It’s from FrontpageMag, so I doubt too many of the people who need to see it most actually will. Could be wrong. Hope I am. Read the whole thing and decide for yourself.

The next piece from American Spectator wraps the whole thing up with a nice little bow: It’s time we had a talk about…hmm…I don’t know…maybe…

Come to think of it, this might just become a recurring theme around here.

The Measure of a Man

Sarah Hoyt describes her struggle to reconcile competing views on one of the 20th century’s visionaries. Her perspective is unique: having experienced the Portugese Revolution as a young girl, she knows of what she speaks.

Von Braun exhibit at NASA Marshall’s Space and Rocket Center

Having also just recently toured Marshall Space Center, this has been on my mind as well. I’ve always wondered how normal people, just trying to live their lives, perceive a national descent into hell like Nazism or Communism as it’s happening. How many tiny compromises does one make each day just so it’s possible to see the next?

I suppose the only cut-and-dried solution would’ve been mass execution of all captured Germans: kill ’em all, let God sort ’em out. Good thing we didn’t, likewise a good thing that we picked him up before the Red Army got to him.

Welcome display at Huntsville International Airport. They know how their bread got buttered…

According To Hoyt

As you guys know I’ve been reading about von Braun.  Mostly I’ve been reading about Von Braun because I visited Huntsville for TVIW and got curious.  Before that all I’d heard bout him, as a person, was, dropped in a conversation “I figure he was a true psychopath who didn’t care, so long as he got to space.”

After reading four biographies (two for, two against) I regret to tell you that I’m not sure that was true.

I come neither to bury Von Braun not to praise him.  I doubt if he knew, in himself, if he was a villain or a hero.  And I doubt he was a psychopath.  The reason I doubt he was the later is that he didn’t take to a totalitarian regime like a duck to water.  Instead he tried to compromise his soul a little at a time, a vestige of humanity and…

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Las Vegas Shooting

David Burkhead, the Writer in Black, on some sickening reactions to the Vegas shooting. The implications are perhaps as frightening as the event itself:

The Writer in Black

I’m a little too angry to write much here.  I’m not going to go into the shooting itself.  For one thing, for the first 2-3 days you usually have more speculation and made-up nonsense than actual facts.  Instead, I’m going to go into the responses of some people to this tragedy.  So, let’s see that folk had to say:


Isn’t that just charming?

Let’s see what else is out there.  Oh, there’s this gem:


Leaving aside the factual errors (giving her the benefit of the doubt) in the statements look at the line “I don’t feel sorry or feel bad about what happened in Las Vegas”.


Only counting those who voted not those supporters who, for whatever reason, didn’t make it to the polls, that’s just under 63 million people “i am cassie” wants dead–over political differences.  Five times the total killed in the Holocaust, she wants dead because she…

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