AISFP 282 – Brad R. Torgersen and Jonathan Carroll Review

Mission to Mars This episode is brought to you by Mission: Flight to Mars, by V.A. Jeffrey.

Bob Astor is a Quality Assurance agent working at Vartan Inc. Lately his days have been stressful, to say the least. Butting heads with upper management has put his career on life support. A surprising change in circumstance has Bob going on a business mission to the moon city, Langrenus. On the way, he meets one of the delegates on board the Starbird, a desperate man with a dark past and a very dangerous secret. Through a mysterious series of events Bob finds himself in the middle of an interplanetary crises that no one knows about. These secrets could change – or destroy – all human life on Earth. The key to the answer of the crises is on the Red Planet, Mars. It’s up to Bob, the burnt-out Q. A. agent to rise to the occasion and stem the dangerous tide coming from beyond the solar system.

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The Chaplains WarBrad Torgersen, author of The Chaplain’s War, joins us this episode. Here’s a quick synopsis of the book:

ORIGINAL TRADE PAPERBACK. A chaplain serving in Earth’s space fleet is trapped behind enemy lines where he struggles for both personal survival and humanity’s future.

The mantis cyborgs: insectlike, cruel, and determined to wipe humanity from the face of the galaxy.

The Fleet is humanity’s last chance: a multi-world, multi-national task force assembled to hold the line against the aliens’ overwhelming technology and firepower. Enter Harrison Barlow, who like so many young men of wars past, simply wants to serve his people and partake of the grand adventure of military life. Only, Harrison is not a hot pilot, nor a crack shot with a rifle. What good is a Chaplain’s Assistant in the interstellar battles which will decide the fate of all?

More than he thinks. Because while the mantis insectoids are determined to eliminate the human threat to mantis supremacy, they remember the errors of their past. Is there the slightest chance that humans might have value? Especially since humans seem to have the one thing the mantes explicitly do not: an innate ability to believe in what cannot be proven nor seen God. Captured and stranded behind enemy lines, Barlow must come to grips with the fact that he is not only bargaining for his own life, but the lives of everyone he knows and loves. And so he embarks upon an improbable gambit, determined to alter the course of the entire war.

Topics Discussed:

  • Telling military stories about people who don’t usually receive much credit;
  • Treating the enemy aliens are more than “the bad guys”;
  • The role of isolation in the development of Chaplain Barlow’s character;
  • How we might face an ancient and advanced species;
  • Making room in our own consciousness for the “Other”;
  • Some of his favorite authors of military science fiction;
  • How we dehumanize others who hold different political or religious views than our own;
  • How social media allows us to talk past each other, not to each other;
  • Some of his favorite military SF novels and what he wanted to do differently;
  • The price the victor pays in war;
  • The evolution of language, and how he used that to make the book more accessible to younger readers.

Book Review of Bathing the Lion, by Jonathan Carroll.

StenA Reckoning of KingsThe Forever War

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  1. Shaun – I was amazed to learn from you that I have an accent. Who knew? I enjoyed the interview with Brad and, while I’m not a huge military SF fan (although I read Heinlein as a teenager), this is the sort of novel that does appeal to me. It’s often the people who aren’t hailed as heroes who are the real heroes – the ordinary people caught up in dreadful conflicts which they have to find their way through, as is happening in Syria and Afghanistan and other parts of the world right now.

  2. Shaun Farrell says

    Accent, John. . . . of what do you speak. 😉

    Yes, THE CHAPLAIN’S WAR focuses much more on the consequences of war, and the limited thinking that sometimes brings them about. If you’re looking for a book that is action packed, this isn’t it, but it’s a great read for a character study and some theological questioning.

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