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Novella Coming Spring 2013: The Woman

March 26, 2013 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: The Craft  0 Comments

Because Deep Mountain Studios is as crazy as I am (snicker), my mostly finished novella The Woman will become really super-duper finished and released this spring (ish).

The Woman is a military science fiction novella featuring Arune, a sentient warship, and one Lt. Lexus, an infamous soldier in a war that seemingly will not end. Arune and Lexus are, of course, in Armageddon’s Princess, book one of, my Lexus Toulouse mysteries, but The Woman is told from Arune’s point of view.

The Woman will be a Kindle-only release, and even though it will go through a professional editing cycle and a fancy cover, those crazy dudes at Deep Mountain studios tell me it will be free.

Speaking of the fancy cover, here’s the cover all finished and waiting for the final text interior. It’s by Duncan Long.

The Woman

Isn’t this cover awesome? As sci-fi covers go, it’s enticing and artistic. Not only that, that’s exactly how I pictured soldier Lexus. What’s been on the book covers thus far is Lexus in her Princess body.

If you’re a fan of high tech military sci-fi, The Woman is for you. I had many requests for this story, so, my fans, here you go.

Libertarian Science Fiction: Failure to Feed

February 15, 2013 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Characterization, Plot, Setting, The Craft  3 Comments

On one hand, I feel somewhat guilty for having a high-traffic blog post that was, at the core, fluff.

On the other, I now have a good idea what some want to read about. So let’s first talk about libertarian speculative DNA.

Libertarian Science Fiction DNA, Anthony Style

In the beginning (for me), there was Robert Heinlein, and it was good. Followed up with Vernor Vinge (The Ungoverned was brilliant). Then there was a back-peddle to Atlas Shrugged.

Then there was David Weber and the libertarian themes in the Honor Harrington books, an impressive feat where the main system of government was a monarchy. But the total send up of The People’s Republic of Haven and the Solarian League was a blatant libertarian f-you to their contemporary counterparts.

Then there was, what, really? Oh sure, Baen carried the speculative libertarian fiction torch and I’m sure there is something on my library selves I’ve forgotten, but what followed was a wasteland. The trail blazed went cold. What we were left with was… message-y. A lot.

Enter Michael Z. Williamson in 2003 with Freehold. Freehold is unapologetic anarcho-capitalism libertarian science fiction at its finest, and the related novel, The Weapon, was an orgy of the destruction of statism and all of its evils. For a time. We’ll come back to Williamson.

Then… crickets. We must travel seven years to come to another (Baen) author who went Full Monty Heinlein, Sarah A. Hoyt with Darkship Thieves.

And finally we come to the supremely 80’s deliciousness of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

Libertarian Science Fiction v2.0

My assertion is Williamson rebooted libertarian science fiction. He drove home the obvious evils of statism in absurd detail, provided a large backdrop centered around anarcho-capitalism and projected the triumph of the individual directly into the reader’s brain. A reader following his science fiction books from Freehold to present receives this delicious Libertarian Science Fiction v2.0 meal.

It’s a delicious meal, but it seems to me that Sarah Hoyt is the most serious about pulling up a chair to this rich and wonderful feast. And many of the chairs around the table are sadly empty.

Let me explain what I mean by v2.0: After embarking on the Williamson Trail of Statist Tears, I don’t even need to define what Libertarian Science Fiction is. Readers get it. Libertarians get it. Science Fiction fans get it, and let’s not be coy: any recent book about an anarcho-capitalist society is pure libertarian culture brilliance and when I say brilliance I mean fucking brilliance.

There is no need to reboot The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

But there is a very clear need to offer a current cultural heartbeat to what the core of libertarian science fiction is. And Williamson meets that need with a sledgehammer . He’s still swinging it today.

Failure to Feed

And here we are. I classified a previous novel I wrote as libertarian gun-nut speculative fiction: a blend of urban fantasy and contemporary thriller.  It lives under my bed.

I shoved it under my bed for the simple reason that what I want to write is books that I want to read. And I want to read libertarian science fiction. I really, really do. And I think many other people out there want to do so too.

There’s a lot of science fiction out there that, as a libertarian, drives me up the wall. Most of the science fiction I’ve been reading lately is message fiction with a side of progressive love affair of replacing one socialistic society with a (supposedly) better socialistic society, usually in a dystopian orgy of carnage and destruction.

I don’t want to read that. I want to read speculative fiction that triumphs the trail of liberty sitting before us.

I am convinced there is a want to read this genre in both books for adults and books for young adults. And when was the last time any of us read a young adult libertarian science fiction book?

Anyone?

[crickets]

This is a failure to feed. When a low-detailed blog post about “Red Pill Science Fiction” gathers over ten times my daily traffic, there’s a need going untapped. I decided several years ago to jump into this pool of speculative freedom-loving goodness with both feet and eyes wide open. I have plans. Notice in this essay I do not go into detail of what all these “ism’s” are. I know you know. And now you know I know you know.

How refreshing is that?

The Care and Feeding of Libertarian Word-Building

What do I like to read in libertarian science fiction? I like to read a book where the author has done some serious world-building. And when I mean serious, I mean avoiding pitfalls that seem obvious to me in “mainstream” science fiction while pulling on the strings now present from the Libertarian Science Fiction v2.0 reboot.

Gender Culture and Libertarianism

Science fiction has a serious gender problem. Feminism and libertarianism are diametrically opposed and thus a large swath of science fiction steeped in this feminism  is distasteful to the libertarian. But more than that, the relationship between genders often have a genesis in poor analysis. For example, every major war the United States participates in shifts gender relations. Every. Single. One. Yet this area remains largely unexplored in science fiction, but not in libertarian science fiction. Notice in libertarian science fiction men are men and women are women. Libertarian femininity is a biological construct and women conform to evolutionary psychological reactions. It ignores what people have told us women are in order to feed us a brand of dogma which, at its core, is the antithesis of libertarianism.

Yes, I went there. In fact, my Lexus Toulouse mysteries go there hard.

Feminism relies on coercion by the use of force. The use of force for coercion is the core evil of any libertarian speculative book. A libertarian society has a completely different set of cultural norms for gender relations. Completely. So what does it look like?

And how does technology impact women’s relationships to the men? For example, stick a woman in powered armor and you can speculate that she has a significant impact not only on the battlefield, but also into the gathering of resources. And the “so what?” of that is that has a tremendous impact on how men relate to her. Yet this technology also has tremendous (negative) impact to a woman’s psychological ability to cope with a sustained war.

Raise your hand if you’ve read a science fiction book where women deal with the aftermath of war just like men.

Wow. I thought so.

How do men function in a libertarian society? Really. Like, what does it look like when a man isn’t forced to do anything because of, well, anything, really. How does the lack of coercion shape cultural norms?  One answer to that is men behave differently when not constantly told they are evil and bad so they better be (nice, submissive, feminine, etc.)

Because, you know, most men aren’t evil and bad. In the lack of a war on boys, what kind of men do boys become?

Now, I did come up with a scenario of a  matriarchal libertarian society, and that’s in my Lexus Toulouse mysteries. Think about it.

Kids and Teens

Completely related to gender norms is the largely unexplored realm of what children and teen culture looks like in the future. The teen of today is not the teen of two hundred years from now, but that’s a major assumption present in most science fiction books. In fact, this is a largely unexplored contemporary area, too. Despite all the come-of-age books and movies, what was the real shift from the teen before WWI and the teen after WWII? I know it was significant, but how significant was it?

Libertarianism is the triumph of society through the advancement of the individual without coercion. That impacts children. Deeply and completely.

Corporations and Centralism

Holy freaking glow-in-the-dark cow on a pogo stick. The evil mega-corporation troupe must die. Die, die, die, die, die. Not because it’s a  leftist circle-jerk (messy and sad) but because it makes no logical sense. It makes no logical sense because corporatism is a big failure because centralization is a big failure. And the more technology we throw at centralization, the bigger the failure is going to be. And somehow, technology, which, time and time again in the last 100 years, have proven to empower, not reduce, the individual. So we have tech making big things fall hard, and tech making little things jump out of the way.

That’s libertarianism, Baby. It’s almost as if the history of technology in these science fictions books undergoes redefinition and re-purposed to suit some not-so-subtle war on capitalism.

Hmmmm, that sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

The De-Centralization of the Military

Not a libertarian concept per se, but a libertarian society, when faced with an obvious threat, will absolutely re-tool itself to deal with that threat.

There are other considerations. For example, logistics. Why do you need a central logistical supply chain when the logistics guy can make his own stuff for his platoon? What does a command structure look like when a decentralized and distributed society goes to war?

I bet it’s different. I bet it’s way different.

And like the mega-corporation, there are thematics here that need to die, and die hard. The allegory for the Vietnam War is done. We’ve all read the Forever War. Forever War–that’s it. We’re done, okay?

And excuse me, while I am ranting, Sometimes it’s as if the real writers who’ve gone to war don’t exist. It’s as if David Drake didn’t write Hammer’s Slammers.

But I digress.

The Author-Reader Bargain

In my series, I do not cram my libertarian genetic code down a reader’s throat and as an aside, neither did anyone else I’ve mentioned thus far. Even Williamson didn’t so much tell, through the wonderfully voiced Kendra, what libertarianism is despite that Freehold is Librarian Science Fiction 101. No, he showed what it is through her child-like eyes. It was a message book devoid of a message, a pretty neat trick and a clear sign of storytelling talent.

In Armageddon’s Princess, I do not preach at you through the Princess. Lexus, as the Princess Concubine spends a considerable amount of time seeking sex and getting laid. And when she isn’t chasing or offering tail, she’s hell-bent on catching bad guys. And when she’s not doing any of those she is trying to simply live with the aftermath of a terrible, terrible war.

That, in a sense, is the apex of my world-building for this series. I believe that if a future libertarian people went to war, that war would be an awful thing. It would be total and it would be complete and when it was over the horror of it would be unfathomable and unbearable.

I may be a rehabilitated hack writer, but, if you’ve come here looking for science fiction swimming around libertarian philosophy, I promise to at least deliver some type of speculative meal. I believe so strongly that there is a desire to read this type of speculative fiction, I have no hesitation in alienating a potential reader that hates my guts with this post simply because I don’t subscribe to the statist cult.

Liberty

The Most Human of Us All

September 10, 2012 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Characterization, The Craft  0 Comments

There my main character was, sobbing on the floor, having gone through hell tailored by a computer program, designed to make her confront the very thing she didn’t want to confront. She was done. She had nothing left to discover. She knew all that she needed to know about herself. Yet, why couldn’t she cope? Why did the tears still fall?

It was then I departed from the rails of my outlining process (which isn’t restrictive, but it is an outline) and had the character ask, plead even, with the program. Didn’t it feel anything for the pain she went through? Did it feel anything at all for her plight? Or did was it really an uncaring bit of cleverness, designed to be brutally efficient and cruelly honest at all costs?

At this point, I didn’t know what came next, but I was going somewhere. I typed answer after answer, scene after scene. None of it worked and was worthy of the question before us. One response was five pages of pure speculative goodness, an insight into future artificial intelligence programing born from an understanding of advanced heuristics and neural networks.

But it was missing something. I deleted that, too.

Finally, a week later, I sat down and reached for my poor main character. She deserved an answer.

“Lexus, there is no cure for the human condition,” the program told her.

That was not the answer she expected. She (and by extension, I) wondered if the program was still running. Still trying to make her see through the fog of humanity by stripping it away and replacing it with a program of its own.

Or, was it using logic to reach her, to tell her that bad things happen to good people, that in its own broken way, it did care. It cared a great deal. It cared more than it could say.

I don’t have the answer to that, just as Lexus doesn’t have the answer to being human.

Maybe someday we’ll both find out.

Blood Music

August 25, 2012 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Atmosphere, The Craft  0 Comments

When I want to pull out all the stops and write an action scene that is a cut above the other scenes in the novel, I listen to this.

The music gets in my head. It sits there, causing me to visualize what is going on. I don’t hear, in my mind, things explode. There is no bark of the rifle, no swish of the sword. It’s music and violent visual energy dancing about the page like fireflies on a hot summer evening. If I listen closely, I can see everything. The chords are blood and the lyrics are pure adrenaline wrapped around the terror of the battle scape.

Inadvertently, the scene ends with the Princess holding the dripping Sword of the Empress, standing in a sea of bodies laying about in a grotesque parody of driftwood blown to the shore during a storm. She looks about the carnage around her, wondering, wondering, how did it ever come to this? Was it worth it, Princess, she asks herself. Is all the blood really worth it?

She shakes her head. Her answer, as always, is no, and she weeps.

Death of a Princess

May 04, 2010 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Characterization, The Craft  2 Comments

Chapter 24, cont.

***

I look so elegant, in my formal dress. I finally look like a lady. Posed. Beautiful. Commanding. I am the Princess, after all. I even look regal. That’s what a princess does, isn’t it? Look regal at important social functions. My duty. It’s all I have left.

But I have been undone. My Love’s death is a knife wound right into my heart, and I can almost see the metaphorical life-blood slow leak out of me, leaving a shell. I am the shell that first returned home from the war, alone, without Mitchell, dark and empty.

This is such a lovely day for a funeral. The spring Floridian day is clear and warm, a small breeze blowing this way and that with hints of pine and flowers on the air.

We are in a meadow surrounded by a pine forest, in the middle of a newly constructed cobblestone parade ground. Hundreds of people, almost all of them military, more than I bothered counting, are crammed on the ground, in a circle around what looks disturbingly like a pyre. There she lies in her uniform, looking peaceful and tranquil, the black and blue Federation flag covering the lower part of her body. A smaller circle of unique cobblestone surrounds her dais, and they glow with silver light.

I can hear someone speaking about her, but the words, like my current perception of reality, are fuzzy. Some type of Military-religious mumbo-jumbo. I keep staring at her. There is something, there is, something is wrong.

Suddenly, I realize the person talking has stopped, and I’m standing right next to her. How did I get here? I can’t remember, and now everyone is staring at me.

She is serenely beautiful, and I stare at her, trying to figure out what is wrong. It’s not her uniform or her makeup, or her hairstyle. She is missing something.

Ah.

I draw my saber. It glistens in the afternoon sunlight.

Someone behind me gasps. I place my sword on her, the hilt underneath folded hands, the curve of the tip pointed towards her boots.

There, my Love. I’ve never used it, but it’s a good sword, and very, very, sharp, and beautiful. Like you. A warrior should not be without a good weapon in the afterlife. Go and battle evil in whatever lies beyond, my Love.

I kiss her cold lips and walk back to my place, feeling much better.

I am the Goddess of War, after all. Arming my subjects to serve me in the afterlife is my purview.

If I listen closely, I can hear the Princess crying. I ignore her. The Goddess of War has awoken. And she has no use for tears.

As the body on the pyre burns, the Princess screams, and is no more. Yet, strangely, as I look around, no one notices this is a funeral for two.


A Guide to Guns in the Year 21

October 13, 2009 Author: Anthony Pacheco Category: Not Exactly Random, Setting, The Craft  5 Comments

Guns, guns, guns!

Here’s the deal. My Blog Harem keeps my little blog going with hits. Nevertheless, what really drives traffic, and I mean traffic, are posts about guns. Merely linking to a website about guns does something to my occasional readers of my blog. They love that topic. They love that topic more than my writing!

Waaaaaa!

But, when the going gets tough, the tough slut out their blogs. So today’s post is about GUNS. Guns of the future! Ladies and Gentleman, I give you guns of the Lexus Toulouse books, set in the Federation, Earth’s three species society of the future, set in the Year 21.

 

Needler
An Investigator-only weapon, the recoilless needler shoots an aerodynamic needle anywhere between 800 and 6,000 feet per second. The needle is a collection of nano bots that pierce armor or cover, and deform on flesh, biotech or cyber-gear.

When an Investigator pulls the trigger, the needler instantly programs the nano-needle and computes the relative velocity of the needle based on the armor and movement of the target.

It is a deadly and accurate weapon, the apex of Federation pistol technology. There are no recorded instances of a person or robot surviving a needle round.

Says Investigator Scott:

Scott nods his head in appreciation at my skill. “I went to Fort Lewis, mainly so they could all give me a ribbing about retiring from OCE, and used their force-on-force range,” he says.

I smile. I can picture Scott showing up and being obnoxious while taking a good amount of ribbing.

“They have this simulation where these three bots are in an armored tank. A fucking tank, one of the pre-war non-composite models. Like, a real God damn tank. And I nail all three of them. I simply shot them through the armor. The needles sliced through the armor and then deformed on the bots, blowing them to Hell and gone. Through a fucking tank!”

Charge Pistol
The five-inch barreled Charge Pistol is the precursor to the needler. Essentially, it is a near- recoilless miniature scram-rail.

Charge pistols get their name from the 9mm bullets feed into the scram-rail by the magazine, and the magazine itself. Each bullet contains an energy lattice that deforms when encountering flesh, which in turn causes the bullet to expand from back-to-front.

This weapon causes horrific damage to soft targets, the bullets acting as armor piercers for cover, yet switching to anti-personnel round performance for living targets.

On the downside, it was a marginal performer against bots. The magazine, holding bullets and a miniaturized accumulator necessary for the large power requirement of the scram rail, were not interchangeable with other weapon systems.

Charge Pistols were popular with NI soldiers in the war for various reasons as a BUG (Back Up Gun), mainly because they did not have neural links and had high-capacity magazines (holding only bullets with no need for a shell).

During the war, it was rumored a few prototype Charge Rifles were made, but since Federation rifle technology was already so effective, it is not surprising that these rifles, if they existed, never made it out of Skunk Works.

SiB-Gee
Standard Issue Big Gun

The SiB-Gee is a 14.5mm, near-recoilless, armor penetrator.

Federation soldiers and irregulars used the SiB-Gee extensively in the war, usually against bots, and especially in the extensive underground complexes the enemy created and liked to hide.

Also called the “Idaho FU Rifle.”

Hamilton NI Carbine, MK-2
The Mark II Ham-nCee is a NI Soldier’s primary, personal battle rifle.

We’ll let Lexus describe the Ham-nCee:

In my hands, I have a Hamilton NI Carbine, a nasty little fucker that shoots 6mm rounds from a clip that consumes itself while firing. Wired directly into my nervous system through my neural receptor on my right wrist, the targeting interface is my suit battle computer, with data piped directly into my optic nerves for visual input. It doesn’t project a HUD—it interfaces with my eyes directly. The display is in my eyes because it is my eyes.

Underneath my Ham-nCee is a 15mm grenade launcher, holding ten rounds of pure Hell Fire (the HF-nGL). The grenade is a ball of plasma in a shaped magnetic containment system inside of a composite shell. Once activated through my battle computer, the grenade’s magnetic field propels itself down the scram rails of the launcher. The mag-bubble degrades at the apex of its flight maneuvers, and the plasma then uses the rest of the shell as fuel. The resulting confabulation then smacks into the target, and burns.

And burns. It will burn anything for a brief time. Metal, rock, people.

NI Soldiers were extremely accurate with their Ham-nCee. When one pulled the trigger, something usually died.

Ghost Rifle
A Russo-Sino rifle manufactured exclusively for NI Stealth Soldiers.

Very little is known about the Ghost Rife other that, despite being one of the most sophisticated rifles ever built, they are highly reliable and, of course, extremely accurate.

During the war, the Ghost Rifle was the standard rifle of the Trans-Siberian Sniper Team.

S&W G-Series
S&W manufactures popular civilian weapons, and they target the G-Series line to women.

Based on the tried-and-true old GLOCK design, a G-Series pistol mitigates recoil with additional frictionless parts. It also contains micro-channels in the magazine well/grip construction filled with memory liquid that ebbs back and forth.

The most popular G series pistol is the G-16 Slim-line, a single-stack 9mm pistol manufactured in a variety of colors, including pink.

While technically a fully automatic pistol, magazine capacity limits their effectiveness in this setting.

A popular, back-woods variant is the G-20, a 10mm pistol with a six-inch hunting barrel, where one inch of the barrel pokes out of the five-inch frame. Every decade or two a petition goes out for a “long slide” variant of the G-20, which S&W subsequently reviews and then denies.

All S&W pistols come with a powerful green targeting laser.

The Abominators
Abominators are shotgun-based weapons made by a variety of manufacturers. On an undetermined time-period, The Killer-Bunny Abomination Society (K-BAS) awards the title to a shotgun from a manufacturer that “upholds the traditions of the Abominators and those who use them.” This title is very prestigious for a manufacturer, while to lose it is a great loss of honor.

No one knows when K-BAS came to be, but the archaic and secretive group has been in existence for hundreds of years. On popular net theory is the society existed all the way back to pre-Collapse, human civilization, around the beginnings of the Twenty-First Century in the old pre-Fed calendar.

The current Abominator is a double-barreled, drum-fed automatic 12-guage shotgun, with a 15mm over-the-barrel grenade launcher and a four-charge thunder-lance nestled underneath (in the center channel provided by the two barrels).

Due to their popularity in the war for killing rooms full of attacking cyborgs, weapon aficionados also call Abominators “monster killers.”

M4-MK26
The twenty-sixth version of the M4 carbine, this short-barreled rifle shoots 5mm rounds fed by a standard 5mm quick-feed magazine in either 40 or 60 round capacity, or drums containing 120 rounds. Typical velocities approach over 3,800 feet-per-second at 200 yards.

This bull-pup, variable-automatic design is a popular post-war variant. The rife is light, almost recoilless and very accurate. The M4 weapon system is modular, and is a favorite weapon for home defense and County Safety departments, with many types of accessories and manufacturers competing for the lucrative civilian M4 market.

M4-MK26

 

M4-MK26
The twenty-sixth version of the M4 carbine, this short-barreled rifle shoots 5mm rounds fed by a standard 5mm quick-feed magazine in either 40 or 60 round capacity, or drums containing 120 rounds. Typical velocities approach over 3,800 feet-per-second at 200 yards.

This bull-pup, variable-automatic design is a popular post-war variant. The rife is light, almost recoilless and very accurate. The M4 weapon system is modular, and is a favorite weapon for home defense and County Safety departments with many types of accessories and manufacturers competing for the lucrative civilian M4 market.