Anna Paradox’s “Between The Rocks”: The Courtly Vizier, a utility truck, renders aid to a colony ship but when they return to their asteroid home from supply runs to mines on Old Lumpy from Jupiter’s atmosphere, the colony ship they once helped attacks them. But the situation is not what it seems, and strange circumstances are at hand.
David Lee Summers’ “Jump Point Blockade”: While pirating a mine on an asteroid, Captain Ellison Firebrandt and the crew of the Legacy find themselves forced into battle by Captain Stewart of the New New Jersey, serving as shields against the Alpha Comans at a jump point to Rd’dyggia. But instead of obeying Captain Steward, Firebrandt has plans of his own.
Jean Johnson’s “Joystick War”: Scavenging a storage bunker for salvage, Scott Grayson and Rrenn F’sauu stumble onto mint condition Targeting Drone A.I.’s, joystick controlled combat suits, and can’t resist taking them for a test run. Then an old enemy, the Salik turn up, and instead of joy rides, they’re fighting for their lives and their people...
Mike Resnick & Brad Torgersen’s “Guard Dog”: Watchfleet sentinel Chang leads a lonely life of extended, dream-filled sleeps in between frenetic, life-or-death battles. The Sortu had almost defeated humanity and the lives of everyone, including his wife and son, depend on men like him. Then, called to battle again, he finds himself up against the last opponent he’d ever expected...
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is a national bestselling author and Hugo nominated editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His fourth novel, Simon Says is a page-turning near future thriller. His debut novel, The Worker Prince received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. His children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Books For Kids and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends appeared from Delabarre Publishing in 2012. His short stories have appeared in Tales of The Talisman, Straight Outta Tombstone, The X-Files: Secret Agendas, Predator: If It Bleeds, Decision Points and many more.
He edited the anthologies Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, Beyond The Sun for Fairwood Press, Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age for Every Day, Shattered Shields with coeditor Jennifer Brozek (Baen, 2014), Mission: Tomorrow (Baen, 2015), Galactic Games (Baen, 2016), Decision Points (WordFire, 2016), Little Green Men--Attack! with Robin Wayne Bailey (Baen, 2017), Monster Hunter Files with Larry Correia (Baen, 2017), Joe Ledger: Unstoppable with Jonathan Maberry (St. Martin's Griffin, 2017), Predator: If It Bleeds and Infinite Stars And Infinite Stars: Dark Frontiers both for Titan Books, 2017 and 2019.
As editor, he has edited books for Grail Quest Books, Wordfire Press, Delabarre Publishing and authors including Andy Weir's The Martian which hit number 6 on the New York Times Bestsellers list in 2014, Alan Dean Foster, Mike Resnick, Frank Herbert, Todd McCaffrey, Tracy Hickman, Angie Fox, Leon C. Metz , Ellen C. Maze, David Mark Brown, and more.
He’s also the author of the bestselling nonfiction book How To Write A Novel: The Fundamentals of Fiction.
Bryan can be found online at Facebook, on Twitter as @BryanThomasS and @sffwrtcht and via his website.
Space Battles is a collection of 17 different short stories centered on, you guessed it, space battles. They each have their own unique way of displaying a battle and include anything from one-on-one gun fights, to dogfights between single ships, to even full scale assaults on battle cruisers. Space Battles has a good mix of female and male characters, and generally speaking the women kick even more tail than their male counterparts, a refreshing thing to see especially in this genre. In Space Battles you will find mixtures of humor, a wide variety of sub-genres such as Space Opera and Military Science Fiction, as well as all the action you can handle and more. You will find sentient spacecrafts and Amish space truckers, that's right I said Amish which are shown in a way you could never imagine! There is a little something in Space Battles for everyone.
The character depth is excellent despite the fact that the average length of the stories is about 15 pages or so, quite an achievement when you consider that they have to pack these short stories with as much action as you can handle as well. You have some stories that will make you laugh such as The Thirteens by Gene Mederos where a particular incident involving slippers had me in a fit of giggles. Others will make you appreciate those in the military as admirals valiantly fight to save their ship, and their way of life such as in Like So Much Refuse by Simon C. Larter. Some examine the will to live and the will to die such as in Never Look Back by Grace Bridges. I was hardly able to set the book down as each new story sent adrenaline into my system.
If you enjoy anything in the realm of science fiction this is a book I highly recommend you go out and get. The writing is excellent and if battles themselves are your thing, regardless of genre, than this book will suit your fancy just fine as well. Honestly if you just want some quick reads that are done very well Space Battles is a good choice. The characters do not suffer for the short length of the stories, even in Bait and Switch by Jaleta Clegg which is a mere eight pages! Obviously if you have read this far you can tell I thoroughly enjoyed Space Battles. I really don't have any complaints.
At the end of the day, Space Battles isn’t an anthology I’m going to remember too long, but it was worth reading. That might sound like a contradiction, but it’s really not. Space Battles isn’t incredibly deep, or very memorable, but it’s a ton of fun. While many of the authors aren’t very well known, it’ll be interesting to watch these names and see who ends up doing what in future years. Some of these stories show real potential not only with writing style, but also because some of these stories seem like they’d make some really fascinating novels.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt has collected seventeen tales, each with a different take on the theme of space battles. The collection is good and its strength lies in its diversity. We see both male and female protagonists; human and alien. A majority of the stories deal with ships fighting ships in space, which would be expected. The highlights of the collection for me were Like So Much Refuse (for its unique take on the theme), First Contact (for its strong voice and vivid action scene), Isis (for its originality), The Hand of God (overall story and writing), and Guard Dog (for its thoughtful SF elements and a story with an unpredicted twist).
There are no bad stories in the collection and a person who is looking for a collection of short stories about space battles will find what he/she is looking for. For the casual SF reader, there are a few stories worth picking this volume up for, but I wouldn’t say every story particularly stands out. Some of my criticisms about individual stories can be found below. Overall, I found the collection worth the read.
Between the Rocks by Anna Paradox — Four mineral transporters are traveling from Jupiter to one of its implanted moons when they see that their com tower has been destroyed. Without weapons, the crew members of The Courtly Vizier must use ingenuity to survive against an unknown enemy. This story had good action and crisp dialog, which made the prose move along nicely. A stronger motive and conflict resolution would have fleshed out the story even further.
The Thirteens by Gene Mederos — Captain Andromeda Sax wakes to learn that a bogey ship has entered their system. After withstanding an all-out assault, the crew members fight back to learn the identity of a new enemy and the meaning of The Thirteens. This story had a good battle scene and was enjoyable to read. The amount of characters and back story was a little large for a story this short, but it was told without overburdening the reader.
Like So Much Refuse by Simon C. Larter — The last Confederation star cruiser, the Galaxy, is under attack. Its biggest threat is a man named Engel who is highly trained and will stop at nothing to bring the ship down. This story was told from two viewpoints, which is a difficult task in a short story, but I think it worked for the most part. It was also unique in that this wasn’t a good guys versus bad guys battle — just a man on a suicide mission and the reader wonders who will win.
Jump Point Blockade by David Lee Summers — A crew aboard The Legacy land on an asteroid to steal a few months’ salary of precious ore. After a battleship detects their presence, a landing party from the Legacy find themselves trapped on the asteroid. I found this to be a little large in scope for a short story. There was a battle that involved an Alpha Coma navy, New Earth ships composed of battleships, destroyers, and dreadnaughts — plus several of the individual ships were named. The dialog and writing were decent, but I was left wanting something more tangible.
First Contact by Patrick Hester — Xyn and Zian are non-human anthropods out exploring for enemy League ships near an asteroid belt. When a cloaked ship mounts an attack on them, they flee through asteroids and eventually discover something much bigger than a couple of League fighters. Hester works a tale that draws on inspiration from Star Wars (fleeing through asteroids) and Stargate (the ring). The dialog is real and the action is good. The ending was a bit off the wall, but it delivered as a fun read.
Isis by Dana Bell — The Spacers rescue some human missionaries, bringing them aboard Isis, an artificially intelligent and self-aware ship. When told that they are going to the Badlands, the nuns are concerned, since it is known as the scum of the galaxy. They are followed by a Buton battle cruiser and Captain Blair M’Tok must make the ultimate sacrifice to save them. This story has many unique elements, which is the story’s strong point. The idea of a living ship reminds me of Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy, but other elements are added to make it original in its own right. I found the toddlerish language of the ship to be strange and the Captain’s ultimate decision on how to keep the missionaries safe also odd. But the read was still enjoyable and I appreciated the imagination behind it.
The Book of Enoch by Matthew Cook — Enoch is a crew member aboard the Lancaster, who will soon come into contact with the E’k, an enemy race. The pacifist captain and his crew have taken an oath not to fight back, or even to defend themselves. Will Enoch stay true to his oath or will he do what it takes to survive? This story touches on a few Christian themes (pacifism vs lawful war, salvation, oaths, etc.). I thought that a short story on space battles is a good place to explore such themes. The writing seemed a bit overworked, but it communicated the story just fine. I would have started later in the story and cut out the major, instead focusing on just the ship’s crew, really getting to the heart of who Enoch is and what leads him to make his decisions. Nice to have themes and a story to think about afterward, though, instead of just superficial action.
The Joystick War by Jean Johnson — Scott Grayson and his bushy-tailed, Solarican friend, Rrenn F’sauu, are searching through a storage bunker for salvageable materials when they find the controls for some old drones. While Scott, Rrenn, and other family members are taking the drones out for a trial run, they come across an enemy that puts Earth at risk. Rather than run, they engage in a battle that could define the war. This story had some interesting concepts. I became a little confused with the various characters and the fforeignn diallogg of the Solaricans, but overall it was a good read. Perhaps I would have preferred the story to only include Scott and Rrenn and to focus on what happens when they try out the joystick controls of the drones.
Never Look Back by Grace Bridges — Marit and her suicidal sister Lauren are in a broken explorer vessel, waiting for a repair ship to come. Marit has moved on from a past tragedy, but there is an enemy who hasn’t let it go and won’t stop until vengeance is served. Can they be saved from their attacker, much less themselves? This story dealt with characters that had both internal and external conflicts. The resolution to these conflicts left a little to be desired, but it still provided for a decent read. I would have liked for Marit and Lauren to demonstrate themselves as women finding internal strength to overcome their fears and hopelessness instead of being portrayed as a rescued damsel in distress.
The Gammi Experiment by Sarah Hendrix — Naz Othran returns after being discharged from the military to fight against the Ukran pirates that are threatening the system. As captain, Othran must lead a crew to stop the pirates from overtaking the federation. This story flowed well and was fairly straight-forward. I would have liked to know more about the main character — his back story, how his previous experiences led him to be an asset against the Ukra, and how his personality helped him in battle decisions.
Space Battle of the Bands by C.J. Henderson — The Roosevelt, the Earth’s most advanced warship, is in display in the Belthis System, merely to showcase its grandeur to others. During the proceeding, the Danerians attack the Confederation, wanting its own presence established in the sector. With technology that utilizes sound and light to create weapons, the two enemies battle each other in a space battle of the bands. The title and concept of the story were innovative and the writing flowed smoothly. The actual space battle was a small part of the story and could have been explored in greater depth.
A Battle for Parantwer by Anthony R. Cardno — The Parantwer, which just dropped out of warp, finds itself under heavy fire. Pirates have been a menace to the system and the captain of the Parantwer decides to engage. Will the crew succeed in stopping the enemy and saving one of their own? This story is an all-out space battle the whole way through. I enjoyed the action. Maybe a better understanding of the enemy’s motivations would help round out the story.
With All Due Respect by Johne Cook — Ambassador Tenrife is awakened by a klaxon (alarm), warning of an incoming enemy. The crew of the Kikyan must fight against a savage predatory alien species to survive. The story held my interest and there was a balance of diplomatic talks and military sci fi. Some of the dialog was a bit forced (used to explain why they don’t have shields or artificial gravity on their small vessel, what a transmitter is, etc.), but the writing was effective and held my attention.
Final Defense by Selena O’Rourke — Forent Nahn is a nacre (brain in a pod) sailing through a debris field and communicating on an interstellar CB radio known as Chatspace. It communicates with a navy vessel out on the night shift (?) called the Wakerunner. The Wakerunner attempts to conscript the nacre to assist in defending the Final system. Nahn has the resources the Wakerunner‘s captain needs and considers helping even though it is not human. I must admit that the story left me a little confused as to the nature of the nacre and their role in the Final system’s ecology.
Bait and Switch by Jaleta Clegg — Tayvis is a cadet seeing a weapons demonstration of a patrol cruiser in action for the first time. When his trainer gets knocked unconscious by an incoming projectile, Tayvis and Tish (a spotter) are the last hope. Tayvis is given orders to stand down and he must decide whether to obey or to fight back. This was a simple space battle story, but it was a fun read. Classic military SF trope where cadet is suddenly thrown into a battle due to unforeseen circumstances and must defy all odds to win.
The Hand of God by Bryan Thomas Schmidt — Buj is returning from a simple run to get supplies for a colony when he is ambushed by pirates. A nearby freighter recognizes the unmarked pirate ship as The Hand of God, which had earned a reputation for terrorizing smugglers and commercial pilots. It appears Buj is safe until several ships appear out of lightspeed to assist the pirates. Severely outnumbered, Buj and the Borali Alliance must engage the pirate fleet with ingenuity and skill to survive. This story was written well and it was an enjoyable read. The enemy of evil pirates stealing basic supplies seemed a bit one-dimensional and unnecessary for them, but overall it was a good story.
Guard Dog by Mike Resnick and Brad R. Torgersen — Chang is a wounded veteran turned cyborg, whose head is direct-connected to a spherical ship. He is a member of a Watchfleet and finds himself under attack. As a battle ensues, Chang is confronted with his worst nightmare that will change his perspective on everything. The final story was definitely one of the stronger ones. I have read a couple of Torgersen’s novelettes and enjoyed them immensely and Mike Resnick certainly needs no introduction. This story is short, but complete and a nice ending to the anthology.
Often Sci-Fi is appealing to readers because it provides an escape while simultaneously bringing the reader into an intelligent and logical look at problems found in our present society. It is sharp in its manipulation of the reader's contemplation. The stories found in this genre bring to the readers mind, almost subconsciously, difficulties in our culture with the treatment of females, race, religion, violence, and justice. They twist the subject into a forgivable future that can shape our thinking. Reading this book has reminded me of all the reasons I love Sci-Fi.
In Space Battles: Full-Throttle Space Tales #6, the reader is privy to tales of characters who are attacked because of race or religion, hunted by an avenger, hunted for food, attacked by an unknown enemy, and given no quarter. Each of the stories in this anthology brings the reader into the life or death struggle of war in the Sci-Fi medium of space travel. This is a book both to be enjoyed as well as savored.
Short fiction gives the reader the opportunity to peer into a short moment of a "person's" life. These battles are turning points for the characters. The authors of these tales can be lauded for their abilities to develop credible people who we care about as they battle for their lives. If you are interested in adrenaline pumping suspense combined with clever twists in short bites this one's for you.
Anthologies usually have a recurring theme, but rarely do they contain such a multiple of varying ideas while still maintaining an element of familiarity.
The range of stories Bryan Thomas Schmidt has assemble for Space Battles – Full Throttle Space Tales #6 has just enough individuality to keep the reader intrigued while maintaining the broader space battle element. Each story stands alone, yet as a whole, the anthology is a cohesive collaboration of talented authors.
From Midwest Book Review in October 2012: War has always been a part of human existence, and those battles will spill into deep space. "Space Battles" is a collection of science fiction short stories focused on war in space, as seventeen authors come together and discuss the next generation of combat. From ships that can think for themselves, how much one is really willing to sacrifice, and other dilemmas that may face us in the future. For those enraptured by deep space and the far future, "Space Battles" is a strongly enticing collection, not to be missed.
“Between the Rocks” by Anna Paradox “The Thirteens” by Gene Mederos “Like So Much Refuse” by Simon C. Larter “Jump Point Blockade” by David Lee Summers “First Contact” by Patrick Hester “Isis” by Dana Bell “The Book of Enoch” by Matthew Cook “The Joystick War” by Jean Johnson “Never Look Back” by Grace Bridges “The Gammi Experiment” by Sarah Hendrix “Space Battle of the Bands” by C.J. Henderson “A Battle for Parantwer” by Anthony R. Cardno “With All Due Respect” by Johne Cook “Final Defense” by Selena O’Rourke “Bait and Switch” by Jaleta Clegg “The Hand of God” by Bryan Thomas “Guard Dog” by Mike Resnick and Brad R. Torgersen