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So It Begins, book two in the Defending The Future series Review of Breach The Hull

So It Begins' Homepage


The Defending The Future series



Breach The Hull, Homepage at McP Concepts



Editor Mike McPhail
Mike McPhail

Biography of editor Mike McPhail


Title: Breach The Hull
     Defending The Future series

Science Fiction
Sub-genre: Military

Type: Anthology
Stories: 16
Page Count:
Size:  6x 9 inches
Cover: Color, CGI
Illustrations: B/W, line art

Publisher: Dark Quest Books
ISBN: 978-0-9796901-9-8
Other Books In Series:
    So It Begins (DTF book II)
By Other Means (DTF book III)

First Edition: Marietta Publishing
    Trade paperback: 1-892669-43-9
    Library edition: 1-892669-42-0

Breach The Hull, book 1 in the Defending The Future seriesBreach the Hulls' Homepage

Contributing Authors: Interviews or Bios

Jack McDevitt

Lawrence M. Schoen

John C. Wright

James Daniel Ross

John G Hemry

James Chambers

Patrick Thomas

Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Mike McPhail

Jeffrey Lyman

Bud Sparhawk

Tony Ruggiero


C.J. Henderson



Dream Realm Awards
Winner 2007 Best Anthology
Finalist 2007 Best Cover Art


Space and Time, Issue 101

Fall 2007
Space And Time Magazine, Issue 101

Reviewed by: Sam Tomaino
(Review copied from magazine by premission of Hildy Silverman)

Breach the Hull
is an anthology of 16 stories with a military or war theme, edited by Mike McPhail. All but three of the stories are new and all but one got a Very Good from me. The book has a special dedication which I will honor by quoting in its entirety:

This book is dedicated to the memory of: Charles G. Weekes, United States Navy - A sailor and submariner who served his country in its time of need. A science fiction writer who envisioned the grandeur of galactic warfare. Creator of: Juan Carlos Mendez, Commander of the Federal Empire's Stateworld Class Galacticruiser C2100D UCNS, Arcturus (United Celestial Navy Ship)

The anthology begins with "Cryptic" by Jack McDevitt, the first of two stories by McDevitt from the early 1980's. Our lead character, Harry, is a Jesuit priest who has been put in charge of Sandage, a scientific facility with a powerful telescope and an array of antennas that had been dedicated to the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, a project now being abandoned. Clearing out old material, Harry finds an envelope containing computer discs from some 20 years ago. The discs are marked "Procyon" (the star 11.3 light years distant). Harry must find why these discs were stashed away by one of his predecessors when they might be an important find. Next, comes John C. Wright's "Peter Power Armor", a story set in a future where a particularly nasty type of smart bullet could make anyone a target and has caused many deaths and a sundering of the United States of America. The lead character, who calls himself Tom Paine, finds an armored suit that was his as a child. He uses it to help a child who has been ill-served by a repressive government. In "Wayward Child", Mike McPhail gives us a story if a future war on some distant planet. Morgan is a young woman, new to the battlefield, that cannot bring herself to shoot the first enemy she sees. Then, her immediate superior is killed and she is alone. What will she do now? James Daniel Ross contributes "Not One Word", a story set in his world of the Radiation Angels, commandoes who undertake dangerous missions. Todd Rook has an important task, stealing an "avalanche drive" with proof of a corporation's nefarious deeds. His escape is thrilling and what happens to him along the way is memorable.  

Another story by John C. Wright, "Forgotten Causes" begins with a man in free-fall towards an alien planet. Why is he there? It appears that he is investigating why Earth was destroyed many years ago. Are the people of this planet responsible? Next, we have the longest story in the book, "In the Dying Light" by Danielle Ackley-McPhail. Ushima Yakata is First Officer on the Stellar Clipper McKay, far out in space. Through a view-screen, she sees a strange artifact heading towards the ship. She retrieves it, a short, squat obelisk, no bigger than her head. When she and a scientist start examining it with a spectrometer, things take a deadly turn. Jack McDevitt's second reprinted story, "Black To Move", concerns an expeditionary force that discovers a planet with an abandoned city. Where are its people? One man looks at a painting and makes a deadly conjecture. James Chambers' "Killer Eye" is the story of a team of four soldiers whose only task is to launch an attack whenever an order is given. The order comes but is incomplete. Is this a trick of the enemy? What should they do?

"Compartment Alpha" by Jeff Lyman features the crew of a ship called The Glory. When a maneuver to drop out of hyper-space and ambush an enemy from behind fails, the ship experiences "catastrophic decoupling" (I loved that phrase). Gunner Sgt. Kirchov must find a way to survive and complete his mission. John C. Hemry's "Dead End" is a story set in a future war between humanity and a race called the T'Kel. Both use asteroids thrown at a planet to destroy it. The T'Kel destroyed Earth & humanity destroyed their home world. The war continues as one planet after another is destroyed. How can it be stopped? Bud Sparhawk's first story for the anthology is "Broadside."  It's a tale set during a trade war between Earth and rebellious colonies. Opposing forces fight each other by stealing each other's ships. Marines from Earth attempt to steal back a ship stolen by the rebels. Lawrence M. Schoen's "Thresher" is the story of a future pirate ship that takes advantage of a war between Earth and Mars. Schoen introduces quite a few technological advancements that are involved with this war, but also tells a good story.

"Alliance" by Bud Sparhawk is set in the same trade war as his other story. In this one, some new combatants enter the fold and representatives from Earth and the Rebel Alliance must work together to survive. Sparhawk gives us some likable characters here. Patrick Thomas's "Dereliction of Duty" takes place where a deadly plague has wiped out Earth and a man must take extraordinary measures to save the inhabitants of another planet in peril. How he does that makes for a great story. The penultimate story in this volume is "Perspective" by Tony Ruggiero. It's the only story that I found disappointing. The fighting forces in this story use sunlight-shy, blood-sucking aliens they call vampires to destroy their enemies. Disgusted with this tactic, they decide to exile the remaining vampires to a world that may prove a threat in the future, one steeped in "myths and legends." The end to this story is one of the hoariest science fiction clichés. The book recovers well with its final story, "Shore Leave" by C.J. Henderson. This one is not to be taken seriously but it's a lot of fun. Two sailors, nicknamed "Rocky" & "Noodles" escape from a barroom brawl on some planet but find themselves in charge of a group of alien children who need their help.

All in all, I enjoyed this book and heartily recommend it.

David Sherman

David Sherman

Co-Author of the StarFist and StarFist: Force Recon series, and author of the DemonTech series.
(Review posted by permission of David Sherman)

Breach the Hull is an anthology of (mostly) original short stories that run the gamut of military science fiction:

There are stories of vast space armadas in conflict, and single men against the machine.  Stories of deep drama, and high (or low) comedy.  Here you'll find classic space opera, and stories that take off from today's headlines.  There are just wars, and wars waged because of mistakes. Tragedies and glorious heroism.  Stories based on sound military principles, and stories grandly speculating on how warfare might change with far-future technology.

The authors also run the gamut:

There are best-sellers and award winners, and writers you probably haven't heard of yet.  Your favorite writers are here, as are writers who will join the ranks of your favorites.

Pick up Breach the Hull. You're sure to find stories that you like.


Will McDermott


Author of such works as Lasgun Wedding, and the PC game
Guild Wars Nightfall
(Review copied from blog by premission of Will McDermott)

Hey everyone. A friend of mine asked me to review this anthology. It's a good read (the anthology, not necessarily the review), Enjoy.

I met Mike McPhail through his wife, author Danielle Ackley-McPhail as she and I were ran the East Coast convention circuit. Mike is a huge fan of military SF and this anthology is truly a labor of love.

What Mike understands best is that military SF doesn't have to be just about epic space battles and high-powered grunts waging war against alien bugs. In fact, Breach the Hull is at its best in stories like "Peter Power Armor" and "Forgotten Causes" by Asimov's veteran John C. Wright and the two reprints in this edition, Jack McDevitt's "Cryptic" and "Black to Move" (both originally printed in Asimov's in the ‘80s), which bring us down out of the stars and delve deep into the human condition. That's where SF does its best work, even SF of a more military bent.

But that's not to say there aren't some great space-faring yarns here. I really liked "Thresher," which contained some truly innovative tech along with a well-developed story of personal loyalty and honor. And for just plain, edge-of-your-seat, wartime adventure, you don't want to miss Jeff Lyman's "Compartment Alpha." This story also has some cool tech driving the plot, but what brings it to life are the characters, whom you can immediately connect with as they strive to survive in the heat of battle.

The final story in this volume, "Shore Leave," by the always wonderful CJ Henderson, is an amazing romp through a fanciful future city where the military of many worlds come to relax. But again, it's not the tech or the guns that make this story work, but the two incredible jarheads at the center of the action. While absolute caricatures, Rocky and Noodles made me believe in them and their often wacky future.

I have to be honest, though, some of the stories in this volume are a bit of a mixed bag. Not all the authors here are seasoned professionals, and it shows at times. It's not that they're badly written. No, I enjoyed every story for what it brought to the anthology. But some of the stories here just didn't feel complete. Some had brilliant ideas and crisp writing, but failed to engage me with their characters. Others pulled me into the stories and made me care about the lives of the inhabitants, but didn't deliver in the end.

Still I saw definite promise in these newer authors and I would give each of them a look again in the future. In the end, there is more than enough great SF in Breach the Hull for any true fan of the genre, military or not. And without small press anthologies like these that provide a venue for up-and-coming authors, the next crop of McDevitts, Wrights, and Hendersons will languish in obscurity, never given the chance to reach for the stars... and perhaps blow one up.


FTC 16 CFR Part 255 Discloser:
Reprinted with reviewer's premission from other sources.

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