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Title: Breach The Hull
Defending The Future series
Genre: Science Fiction
Page Count: 225
Size: 6x 9 inches
Cover: Color, CGI
Illustrations: B/W, line art
Publisher: Dark Quest Books
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
Contributing Authors: Interviews or Bios
Dream Realm Awards
Winner 2007 Best Anthology
Finalist 2007 Best Cover Art
Space And Time Magazine, Issue 101
Reviewed by: Sam Tomaino
(Review copied from magazine by premission of Hildy Silverman)
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.
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.
Co-Author of the StarFist and StarFist: Force Recon series, and author of the DemonTech series.
(Review posted by permission of David Sherman)
the Hull is an anthology of (mostly) original short
stories that run the gamut of military science fiction:
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.
authors also run the gamut:
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.
up Breach the Hull. You're
sure to find stories that you like.
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.
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
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.