The Cauldron, the Geek, and the Mechanized Marine

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Image: Melanie R. Meadors
Image: Melanie R. Meadors

This week on Geek Speaks… Fiction!, we welcome science fiction author W.C. Bauers. His Chronicles of Promise Paen series features a strong heroine, mech, space action, and has been lauded as Katee Sackhoff’s Starbuck meets Starship Troopers with a dash of Firefly. Please welcome him!

A common plot in fantasy fiction finds a young heroine at the mouth of an earthen cabin in an enchanted wood. Slowly opening the door, she discovers an eccentric old woman tending a smoke-shrouded cauldron. Our heroine has come to broker a deal with a witch to save her kingdom. If only she possessed the elixir of…

Image: Tor Books
Image: Tor Books

“Wait,” you ask, “What do hags and magical pots and under-worldly potions have to do with military science fiction? That’s powered battle armor on your cover, sir. The model left her cloak and crown back at the Unhewn Throne. She looks like Juana Rico to me. Doesn’t W. C. write Heinlein- and Scalzi-inspired military SF? ”

Yes, yes I do. My point just happens to begin with a witch’s brew. Drink up, my pretties. Then don your ever-loving mechsuits!

Note to heroine: cauldrons contain magic-imbued chemical weapons, and hags are the fantasy analog to mad scientists sick with terroristic heart-rot. Encounters with either or both are best avoided like spinning wheels and enchanted Fuji apples.

When I set out to write the Chronicles of Promise Paen, I’d gathered only a few key elements of Promise‘s narrative arc. She was young but about to come of age, and she was angry at the ‘verse. At some point, she’d become a Marine. I knew that much. And that war would find her unprepared. How would she rise and fall? Those elements went into a black cauldron, chased by a long, rough-hewn wooden spoon. Stir, add, test, gag. Wordy herbs and crude weapons provided much-needed seasoning. At times I kicked the cauldron on its side, spilling hours if not days of keystroked conflict and thousands of rounds of spent ammunition onto the floor. With time and experimentation came a story I believed in. Sage advice from learned literary mages made my best better (my beta readers, agent, and editor are all level-capped) 
.

The entire process of writing the books was, for me, like nerd heaven. I eventually traded the caldron for a Hyper-Dimensional printer (I just bought a new one for 50,000 Poké Coins, which I thought a steal). Out came mechsuits and robotic mules, LSAWs (pronounced lah-saws, for Lethal Semiautonomous Weapons–we don’t dare give them full agency) and myriad polymer battle rifles powered by fusion cells… all in record time. And sprinting grenades, which sprang from nowhere and took me by surprise. I geeked out over the craft of writing, and then over the stories themselves.

An iron-forged cauldron still sits in the corner of my office. On occasion, a silken wisp of things to come snakes over the side and down to the wooden floor, slithers over, and coils at my bare feet. Smells of gunpowder and scorched grasses and the sounds of mechanized heel strikes rattle my sympathetic ears. War beckons: “Time to boot up the Hyper-D printer and see what comes out.”

Roger that. Give me a moment to grab my cauldron spoon and pulse rifle. Hold on. I’m having trouble with my mechboot. Give me a hand?

Two books later Promise and I are just getting started.

About Indomitable:

Lieutenant Paen barely survived her last encounter with the Lusitanian Empire. She’s returned home to heal. But the nightmares won’t stop. And she’s got a newly reconstituted unit of green marines to whip into shape before they deploy. If the enemies of the RAW don’t kill them first, she just might do the job herself.

Light-years away, on the edge of the Verge, a massive vein of rare ore is discovered on the mining planet of Sheol, which ignites an arms race and a proxy war between the Republic and the Lusitanians. Paen and Victor Company are ordered to Sheol, to help hold the planet at all costs.

On the eve of their deployment, a friendly fire incident occurs, putting Paen’s career in jeopardy. When the Lusitanians send mercenaries to raid Sheol and destabilize its mining operations, matters reach crisis levels. Disgraced and angry, Promise is offered one shot to get back into her mechsuit. But she’ll have to jump across the galaxy and possibly storm the gates of hell itself.

BAUERSAbout W.C. Bauers:

W. C. Bauers works in sales and publishing during the day and writes military science fiction and space opera at night. His first novel, Unbreakable, was an Amazon and B&N, Science Fiction and Fantasy Best Book of the Month pick, for January 2015. His second, Indomitable, is a B&N and Kirkus Best of the Month Pick, for SF/F, for July 2016.

Bauers’s interests include Taekwondo, military history, all varieties of Munchkin, and drinking hot caf. He lives in the Rocky Mountains with his wife, three boys, and the best rescue in the world.

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