31 May 2011

My First Book: Endangered Species

The AMP suit is the basis on my APS suits
 If you been wondering why there as been no new flash-fiction on the blog? It's due to me working on my first novel. At the moment, I am more than half-way done with my first novel, which is my take on the classic military sci-fi tale of Armored Power Suit soldiers fighting aggressive insect aliens. the story is told from the First personal point-of-view of a female Captain in the Union of the Americas Army's elite APS corps.  
The book is a product of reading Starship Trooper, and Armor last summer just after starting the blog, and while reading these classic books, I thought I could do better. In addition, much research was done on trying to overcome the usual limitations and issues with MSF...along with reading criticisms of the entire genre of MSF.
The technology, weapons, tactics are based on real military elements and on hard science. It is my hope to for a novel to finally live up the situations in  Starship Trooper, and Armor. While Starship Troopers is a classic and the founding novel of military sci-fi, it has little the way of the actual Bug War, however the Mobile Infantry raid on the Skinny homeworld is the best part of the book, and was the genesis of Endangered Species. While the book by fellow Texas author, Armor, is filled with more combat scene, and well-written, it takes a serious detour in the middle, which derailed the entire novel for me. My hope is to have Endangered Species be a great MSF book that shows what real futuristic combat will look like, and have realistic emotions, dialog, and weaponry...no micro-atomic bombs here.
The book will be offered to publishers, then if not taken, it will be uploaded to Amazon for the Kindle and other e-book sites for about $2-$3. I hope it will led to other opportunities.

Here is the "backcover" to the novel:

Mankind has always wondered if we were alone…we no longer have to wonder.
One-by-one, our colonies among the stars have gone silent, entire pioneer expeditions have disappeared; the UN sent out probes to these worlds …all were found dead. The off-world colonization by governments and companies has been shut down.
Earth is a doomed world, filled with pollution and rot, forcing mankind to the stars…but something has stopping us, they have threatened our very survival.
The hope of mankind is the largest military mobilization in human history...
In the tradition of Starship Troopers and Armor, comes a novel that fulfills their vision and promise, us versus the bugs…

Here is the small section of my book, when the main character, Captain Jorja Leeds, gets her APS out of storage:

Besides escaping from the army mindset, the Mechanized Combat Application Group offered me to fight in one of those beautiful three-ton suits when fully loaded. These Dragoons were not an object of beauty that would hang in the Louvre to most people. But, I had been in the thick with the basic infantry armor, and once you slip into the Dragoon, you have a soft spot in your hard soldier’s heart forever. About 300 suits from all the different governments were lined up in neat rows, with techs floating around them, and chattering in manner of languages. The funny thing was that I fired at some of these other suits.

This beautiful armored suit could take the punishment and dish it out. During combat drops in hostile atmospheres, the armor took hits that would have easily ended my life or I’d being pooping to a bag at the very least. My suit was between them and me. That was something to get romantic about.

“Captain?” I turned to see James Austin, the head suit technician for our unit. We were damn lucky to have him. Wizardry is the only way that I could explain his talent at patch up suits and getting back in the fight. That was one of the limitations of the being in the MCAG; we had to have technical support to keep the Dragoons up and running. We required less down time than a main battle tank and less support elements, and could be easily dropped into a hot planetary LZ several ways, and terrain was less of an issue for us than convention vehicles. All of us added up to that APS boots were normally the first planetside. After a secure drop zone was secure, Austin and his techs were bought down.

“Austin, finally up from the cryo?” I raised my mug, and he did the same.

“Yeah, didn’t even piss myself this time!”

“Good for you!” He came up on the railing on the catwalk over the bay, and we sat there for a moment looking at the busy little bees relatively below us. James Austin and I had started in MCAG ODA units at the same time, and when it came time for me to command my own ODA, I picked Austin as my lead technical. I had seen James personally fix suits while under fire, that were immobile, repair them enough to get back to a safe point, and then dodge incoming, all without being ordered to. He had the medals hanging from his nipples to prove it.

“Lots of suits, Captain.”

“Yeah, the brass has got us all out here, this time.”

“First joint op since that H³ miners’ strike at McGinnis?”

“And before that is was Sirius.” I said the name like a curse, and I felt the ghost that haunted that place.

“Damn, the rumors around the chow hall must be true.” He did not look at me, but I asked anyways.

“What’s the word, chief?”

“The chatter says that those things are the biggest threat to mankind since the last Oil Crisis.” He swirled his coffee, and kept his eyes focused on the bay. “After all, we got no colonies left.”

“We ani’t going fall back to Sol, chief.”

“Yeah…because our collective backs at the sea.”I nodded slowly; the tone of Austin’s voice reflected the mood back home. Everyone on Earth was trying to get off it. It was a dying world, and the colonial movement had only been undertaken when the real bad shit hit the fan. If the human race was pushed back to Earth, we simply wouldn’t survive. I personally didn’t want to live on that rotten shithole anymore, I joined up to leave, not surrender and go home.

“Was saving up my coin and favors for some green land on Triumph or Hestia “

“Groombridge or Sirius A, huh?” I asked, just going through the motions.

“Now, they’re inflected.” He was clearly pissed. Thousands of settlers were gone; this swarm, as they were being called, completely wiped out decades of work right off the star charts. This felt more like an extinction than an invasion.

“C’mon,” I motioned, “let’s check my suit.”

The armor powered suit was the entire reason I had suffered through selection into the MCAG to earn place in the operation detachment unit. I had my fill of being 1st Air-Cav during the conflicts on Ceres, Mars, Titus, and of course, Sirius. Being fired at by everything known to man, and watching the wrong decision in gear, cover, or movement end a pink mist of blood. During these conflicts, and the difference of environment fueled the need for a quick strike force that go in, destroy and get out, without the need of support. The APS unit could operate in all types of environments, with a few changes in equipment, and complete the job.

Most normal infantry suck when you radically changing their combat landscape. Just try and dropping some infantry into a sweaty humid rice-paddy of a world, then jerk them out, and ship them off to an airless, lightless asteroid while fighting for days in a spacesuit. The results are not good. The Union Army developed within the Special Forces community, specially trained suit driver to fight in all conditions, to be quick strike, or quick support. Often, I was called up, to be heavy weapons support until we could secure a planetary LZ beachhead to bring down the heavy vehicles and infantry.

Which means in plain English, we were the bullet magnets.

That was the primary role of the APS in modern warfare, the opener for the rest of the invasion force. Often, we worked alongside specially trained Spaceborne paratroopers that provided protection against infantry armed with portable Gauss cannons and Anti-Suit missiles.

Each suit was roughly two meters tall and while onboard ship, they locked into hanging frames, used to store them in special cargo holds. Once the ship was underway, the “meat locker” is pumped with special foam that hardens to protect the suit, to the counter the effect of acceleration and de-acceleration from FTL.

The APS from the Anime verison of Starship troopers

When mine was excavated from the hardened foam, she was wheeled out to me. There it was, my personal Dragoon armor powered suit, and the only piece of hardware I got more excited to see was my Porsche. It looked good, with a fresh coat of paint; gone was all the Virginis dust, and impact factures. The suit may have been grey in the suit bay, but once the Dragoon was dirt-side, the adaptive environmental camouflage (AEC) would kick and colored her in the local terrain.

I could remember long ship-board night painting the suits with the local planetary pattern when I was a grunt before AEC.

Good times…

“It had the full upgrade, plus some of my personal touches.” Austin ran on, as I grazed over the beauty of it. The Dragoon vaguely human form, and resumed an ancient Samurai warrior readying for battle. It was more suit than the heavy mecha that the army boys used. The suit was a careful balance of protection, weight, and flexible. It some ways, the Dragoon was a nice fusion a European Knight and Samurai.

The suit was heavier at the chest, shoulders, and head with the thickest armor plating, with the next being at the knees, boots, and forearms.

These portions of the suit had sloped dense ring carbon metal mixed with tungsten plates that were rigid and designed to take a great of punishment. My head was sheltered by a thick sloped tear-shaped helmet, but also by high shoulders. These housed some external lighting and sensors. The outside world was projected on multiple HUD holo-screens inside the helmet. A clear faceplate that was only used in emergency was constructed out of transparent diamond whisker coating.

The joint sections were a mixed of hydro-gel, nano ballistic fibers, and carbon nano-tubes. Inside the suit was designed for my survivability and comfort. Many layers of aerogel, honeycombed biosteel, and padding shield me from the traumatic concussive shock of impacts, in additional, the suit was sealed against NBC, vacuums, and water. All of which was limited protection. Despite those stream-vid ads, if a lucky hit from a gauss cannon or rail round, or even a special atomic demolition munitions could crack the armor. I had seen too many times.

“Let’s do a crack check, Austin.”

I had learned through service that nothing worse than have a micro-crack in the suit while in a hostile environment, so every suit got the once over three times. Each one of these pieces of war-tech was a serious investment, and so were the drivers. You had to have been in the service for six years before even applying to the Mechanized Combat Applications Group. I was only accepted after nearly a decade in sidereal active combat service, and on my third request.

“Damn computer! C’mon!”

“Austin, I got PT in 20, can we hurry this up?” I rolled my eyes, while Austin bashed the computer repeatly.

“The techs have looking at too much porn on the terminals! Slowing it down…”

I laughed, “Austin, one can never have too much porn!”

He laughed, “Roger that, Captain!”


  1. Hello, William! I had been wondering why I hadn't gotten my article on Gauss Weapons- now I know. Half-way through your book- that is impressive. Most people who start books don't finish them. Keep it up.

    No colonies left- that is harsh. It would take years to build up a colony on another planet. And then- aliens just come and take you out. Kind of reminds me of the beginning of Space:Above and Beyond. The colonists are listening to a speech affirming that no intelligent life exists in outer space and the way to a human-dominated cosmos seems open, and then PEW!! PEW!! PEW!! LASER BEAMS!! PEW!! BOOM!! PEW!! No more colony.

    The first book that I read that had powered armor was the Cities in Flight series. When the okie cities landed on a new planet to fulfill a contract, the police would wear space armor to keep order and perform work to ensure the city landed properly. The space armor was an armored suit for working in vacuum, and in the second book, some unscrupulous planet-dwellers get quite a surprise when some hostages they had taken escape and reclaim their space armor.

    Cities in Flight had some other cool tech as well- mesotron rifles (particle beam weapons of frightful power), TDX (a shaped charge explosive that expands into a disk at a right angle to the local gravity field), Bethe blasters (giant ship-mounted ray-guns capable of incinerating an entire space-city), and some kind of heavy gas that hugged the ground and suffocated anyone who breathed it. My favorite weapon, however, was a small spindizzy (antigravity device) used as a makeshift weapon. It could tear a building apart or degravitate an enemy, sending him hurtling skyward, screaming. Of course, Cities in Flight wasn't military science fiction, but there were some cool weapons in it anyway.

    I seem some tech I recognize in your story. Helium-3 mining, powered armor (obviously), gauss-guns, and carbon nano-tubes. Hope your characters can use this tech to their best advantage. : )

    What kind of tech do the aliens have? Your character did mention infantry armed with gauss cannons and anti-suit missiles. Being aliens, they could have something unusual the humans never thought of. Being aliens, they might have weaknesses humans don't...

    I always enjoy your posts. I hope you have time to post that article on Gauss weapons soon. The article on SF revolvers looks fun too. Revolvers aren't a bad choice if you don't want your spent brass getting caught in a circuit and short-circuiting it. There have been some unusual revolver designs in the past, such as a semi-auto revolver and the open-chamber revolver that shot trounds. Apparently old designs die hard. After 100 years, the invention of machine guns, semi-auto pistols, plastic assault rifles, H-bombs, and space-craft, the revolver is still used by police and citizens who like firearms. And it seems ready to claim a role in the high frontier.

    Christopher Phoenix

  2. William here, sorry blogger is being HAL-9000 right now. Space: Above and Beyond is one my of favorite MSF, and their ideas about the Chig aliens was great. The Swarm from my book do use some cool tech...but that is for the book. Sorry to be a tease. I will say that it is not the usual weaponry...more Tyranid-like. The post about Gauss Weaponry will be up next, too many people screw up Rail and Gauss making it hard to find examples in MSF/SF...sigh.
    I will have to look up Cities in Flight now...never heard of...

  3. William here...sorry...it cut off my message! never heard of it before. Thanks for the information on other SF with APS! Thank you reading, and commenting. Watch for Gauss Weaponry...here's hoping it's good!

  4. I've read some old SF- Cities in Flight was published between 1955 and 1962. I study the history of SF to find out where my favorite SF inventions originated. I was surprised how old most of the ideas often used in SF are.

    "Blaster" dates back to 1925 in Nictzin Dyalhis' When the Green Star Waned.
    "Disintegrator ray" dates back to 1898 in Garrett Serviss' Edison's Conquest of Mars.
    "Needler" dates back to 1934 in E.E."Doc" Smith's The Skylark of Valeron.
    "Stunner" dates back to 1944 in C. M. Kornbluth's Fire-Power.
    Isaac Asimov invented "force-field blades" in his 1952 novel David Starr, Space Ranger, which was the father of the light-saber.
    There was a form of "virtual reality" in Sir Arthur C. Clarke's 1956 novel The City and the Stars, and a more limited form in E.E."Doc" Smith's 1930 story Skylark Three.
    Zero population growth is discussed in Walter Kately's 1930 story "The World of a Hundred Men."
    Power from nuclear fusion appears in Gawain Edwards' 1930 story "A Rescue from Jupiter."
    Atomic bombs are found in Sewell Wright's 1931 story "The Dark Side of Antri."
    A "tiny computing machine about as large as the palm of a man's hand" (Palm PDA?) is featured in R. F. Starzl's 1931 story "If the Sun Died."
    And an unprotected man exposed to the vacuum of space but did not explode appeared in Nathan Schachner and Arthur Zagat's 1932 story "Exiles of the Moon."

    From my research, one of the earliest references to powered armor suits was in E.E. "Doc" Smith's Skylark 3. Something called "Vacuum Armor". Most of these stories are so old I only found out about them by researching the history of SF. One of my main sources is this site: http://www.technovelgy.com/ Check it out, I love it!

    Tyranids? I hadn't heard of them- had to go look them up. I'm guessing these aliens will tend to swarm the human army, and probably have a hive mind (like ants). Gaah... I hate ants. I just hope there aren't any giant ant-like aliens in space. I find the aliens from Half-Life much more appealing. I'd take on cute little headcrabs and hulking alien grunts any day of the week.

    Someday, I would like to see an alien war novel explore the war from the point of view of an alien as well as the point of view of humans. If aliens are anything like us, they will probably all hold different views, and maybe not all of the aliens would support a genocidal interstellar war against humans. Of course, if the aliens have a hive mind, then free thinking will not occur, so I doubt Tyranids have any qualms about wiping out humanity.

    Christopher Phoenix

  5. I notice the concept of a hive mind is rather popular in science fiction, especially as an enemy. Humans seem to have a fear losing the right to their own mind- a concept becoming more and more real in today's world. Some scientists propose the joining of every human consciousness into a hive mind as the next great step in evolution, but most people are going to find the concept horrific. It is possible an alien race, somewhere out in the universe, has already taken that step.

    The image of a few brave human defenders holding off swarms of alien lifeforms with no individual consciousness, each just a unit in a larger swarm seeking to wipe humanity from the cosmos is an enduring one. The whole hive mind would perhaps consider our individuality a weakness, and despise us for it. The idea of being considered not just inferior but obsolete by some powerful force crops up in Terminator and other SF, and real life (seriously, just look up some of the discussions about trans-humanism). Lets build computers to replace us as the next step of evolution... I've heard of better ideas.

    Do you think you could do an article on plasma weapons? I have heard they would not work, but after reading about Shiva Star (a device the shot a toroid of plasma at incoming missiles to scramble their electronics), I wasn't so sure. The plasma from a plasma rifle would dissipate within 50 cm of the gun due to blooming and collisions with air molecules, but is their any way to overcome this? I am not sure... I would place my bet on particle beams instead. Glorified blowtorches might not be the best weapons. Another topic I would like to see discussed is futuristic assault rifles. What improvements might be made in the future? Perhaps exploding bullets would become popular if aliens were very tough. 10mm exploding armor piercing caseless... where have I heard that before? : ) By the way, did you know the original script for Aliens described the Pulse Rifles as being PLASMA WEAPONS? I found the script online, and the weapons crackled and burned like lighting. Pulse rifle is a generic term for ray-gun.

    Thanks for the great blog, and keep working on your novel!!

    Christopher Phoenix

  6. Ah! Good Research! Amazing how certain comcepts ever go out, like Dr. Porsche's electric car...
    There a few articles in the works on Plasma weaponry, and the future of assault rifles, especially in the realm of Personal Defense Weapons, caseless weaponry.
    The article on Plasma Weaponry is more than half-way written and is damning to the realism of PPC...I used Chris Shield's Terminator 2029 website for research, google it, it's worth a read.
    You are correct, Mr. Phoenix, Hive Mind is a rather old and well-used concerpt in Sci-fi. From the Mars invaders of H.G Wells to the Borg, I think that the lack of individualism is shocking to us, especially as Americans. Added to our experiences, we surround ourselves with animals that indivduals themselves, like cats and dogs. So, aliens are have groupthink are truely aliens. The best work of humans with groupthink is Foundation and the Earth, the character of Bliss.
    I normally would have not used the insect aliens concept, however because of their links to Armor and Starship Troopers, I needed to expand on those original and classic concepts. If Endangered Species gets readers, I have followup in the works, along with six other novels ready to go on different realms of MSF...too much imagination, I guess.
    Thank for reading, posting, and commenting!
    If you interested in ALIENS, than the ALIENS: Colonial Marine Technical Manuel (1996) is a must!

  7. Thank you, William. I enjoy researching the history of SF. SF stimulates the imagination, inspires children to pursue a career as a scientist, astronaut etc., and just spreads that feeling you get when you look at the night sky and wonder what is out there. Many famous scientists were inspired to study science by the SF books they read when they were young.

    I believe that science fiction does not just predict the future but shape it as well. Each new generation of scientists are inspired by SF, and the ideas they explore feed back into SF, forming a cross-pollination of sorts. SF can also spread serious messages, exploring issues in a different setting so we can see implications we might not in a familiar setting. Most importantly, SF spreads hope and wonder about the future. That is why I researched it so extensively, Well, that and it is just so much fun!

    Hive minds are pretty weird- but insect aliens are another popular trope. The alien out of the Alien series was very similar to the wasps of Earth- some species capture insects, lay eggs in them, and then the young wasps eat their way out of the victim- while it is still alive!! BUGS AGAIN!!! Most un-pleasent. Forget phasers and pulse rifles- future space voyagers are going to need a giant can of Raid.

    You can never have too much imagination. More imaginative aliens will lead to interesting story-lines. Perhaps you should do a post on creating aliens species for SF settings- and maybe a post on alien weapons! Speaking of alien weapons, I found a website on aliens that is a rather good read. So far, I only checked out alien weapons and space travel, but this site goes into biology and culture as well.
    and the page on alien weapons is at
    Hope you find it useful!!

    I read Chris Shield's Terminator 2029 website. Very interesting discussion of plasma weapons, however, I am still not convinced that plasma weapons can overcome blooming and atmospheric resistance. If real plasma carbines are ever built, they will not resemble the ludicrous glowy puff-ball guns of SF. What about something like the OSIPR out of Half Life 2? That gun fired bolts of exotic matter stored in an internal magazine. The wikipedia page on plasma said that plasma could refer to ionized gas, or other particles if pinched. Probably a bit unrealistic though...

    You could always try portable kugelblitz projectors- ball lightning guns. That web-page on alien weapons mentioned them. Ball lightning has been reported to be very destructive, blasting holes in walls, shattering heavy oak piling, and boiling water. These glowing plasma balls need no ionized trail, appear to be self-sustaining, and sometimes chase people! A person directly hit by a plasma ball would suffer severe radiation burns, electrocution, and traumatic shock. The military has actually researched using ball lightning as a weapon. You might even be able to guide the plasma ball to the target. Fear my laser-guided ball lightening of death...

    Do you think beam weapons will ever supplant bullet-firing guns? I consider personal ray-guns the mark of a very technologically advanced society. Even if they are ever available, they might be to expensive to issue to every soldier. If a society can issue them to every trooper, than they have some pretty badass batteries...

    As always, thanks for the awesome blog! I really enjoy your posts.

    -Christopher Phoenix

  8. Nice dialogue, actually sounds realistic, but you should find knick names for the dragoons & the mcag. Every grunt does that . Don't have to it's still dope but it'll add a more livelihood to it though. Sick though, tell us when the books able to be bought.

  9. Is the mcag army dogs, jarheads or swabees, cus what's his name called the other guy chief. "what's the word, chief?” the only people in the military that I'm aware of that are called chief is the chief mechanic and squids (& master chief). Just knickpicking.

  10. MCAG belongs to the Union of the Americas Army. The unit itself was a mashup of elements of an Green Beret ODA team, DELTA Force, and an mechanized armored platoon. Some of the ranks are different, given that this book happens in the 26th century. But James Austin is an Chief Warrant Officer.

  11. Ah forgot about the chief warrent officer, nevermind

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. What was the basis for SeaQuest DSV 4600 WSKRS (Wireless Sea Knowledge Retrieval Satellites)? Bob Ballard showed at the end of "give me Liberte" (space station - first season of the show)the vessel behind him on which they were based, but when I tried to look it up on the internet, I came up empty. The numbers on the side of the vehicle didn't come up. I even tried under U.S. Navy and WHOI (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute) to try to find the answer and still came up empty. Did Navy or Woods Hole ever fully develop/deploy WSKRS? It was in the test phase during the show's airing. Thanks.

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