In science fiction, we have taken every branch of the U.S. military into space. Except one.
And oddly, it is the one perhaps best-suited for space exploration.
About the first book, as yet untitled, in the SAR-1 series:
A lifelong Search-and-Rescuewoman, Coast Guard Captain Jane Oliver is ready for a peaceful retirement. But when tragedy strikes and Oliver loses her husband and her plans for the future, she finds herself thrust into a role she’s not prepared for. Suddenly at the helm of the Coast Guard’s elite SAR-1 lunar unit, Oliver is the only woman who can prevent the first lunar war in history, a conflict that will surely consume not only the Moon, but Earth as well.
Below, author Myke Cole explains his desire to bring the unique Coast Guard branch of the U.S. military forward into the future, and forward into space:
In recruiting videos and press releases, the military often touts the full range of its more palatable activities – providing aid, peacekeeping, diplomacy. We see the Army Corps of Engineers, the Military Attaché Corps, Navy hospital ships at anchor off the coast of devastated countries in the developing world.
But those of us who have been in know better. We have all of us heard the harangues of drill instructors, company commanders and A-school chiefs, “Forget all that,” they say of these feel-good support functions, “the military exists to do just two things – kill people and destroy property.”
Sure, you can make the argument that those roles may wind up saving more lives than they take, but it’s always debatable. That bald truth is unimpeachable for all branches of the armed service.
Just one military branch has a different job. Just one relegates the killing function, the destructive engine, to a subordinate role.
The United States Coast Guard.
The guard has six official missions, ranging from saving lives at sea to protecting living marine resources. They are absolutely a warfighting agency. They are equipped and trained to kill, and have fought in every American war. But for the guard, defense isn’t priority one. The guard alone has law enforcement authority over American citizens who aren’t in the military. The guard alone prioritizes environmental protection, icebreaking and marine science over raw firepower.
Where other branches are built to take lives, the guard alone was chartered to save them.
And that is why I stood in the July sun in New London, Connecticut, raised my right hand, and swore I would obey the orders of the officers appointed over me, knowing full well that the order might one day come to go to my death in furtherance of our unofficial motto: that we had to go out, but we didn’t have to come back, that we did this so others might live.
This singular mission makes the Coast Guard the stuff of incredible stories. There’ve been some stabs at this – movies like The Guardian and The Finest Hours. S.M. Sterling’s time traveling Nantucket series transports the Coast Guard’s pride and joy, our sailing ship the barque Eagle, back 2,500 years.
These works all focus rightly on the guard’s position as a multi-function service with a core mission of life-saving. But the guard is also a warfighting service, equipped and trained to fight, and so it is surprising that, in the field of military science-fiction there is . . . nothing. We have taken every military branch into outer space. We have tracked massive naval fleet battles in far-flung solar systems. We have touched marine assault teams down on alien-held worlds. We have shivered in foxholes beside the army’s mobile infantry, waiting for the bugs to come.
But not the Coast Guard.
Space is a dangerous place. It brims with resources over which nations might compete, with positions that transnational organizations would seek to control. It is unforgiving, the kind of hostile environment where a single slip up might place an innocent trader in need of rescue. It will, as countries and companies expand out into it, develop borders that will need to be policed, quarantines that will need to be enforced, customs that will need to be collected, and, as awful as it is contemplate—wars that will need to be fought.
And as the only military service that can save lives and enforce the law and act as a customs authority and fight wars, you can bet the Coast Guard will be there.
My time in the Coast Guard was some of the most rewarding and fulfilling in my life. I ran intelligence operations in the port of Hampton Roads, preventing illegal fishing that would have seen the stock we depend on made extinct. I waded in emulsified oil off the gulf coast after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. I led a gunboat squadron in search-and-rescue and law enforcement operations off the island of Manhattan, rescuing people from frigid water, protecting the UN, guarding vital bridges and tunnels from terrorist attack.
The decision to leave, driven by the competing needs of duty with the NYPD and my writing career, was the hardest I have ever made. I miss the guard like an absent lung, and have always sought to find a way to pay them back, and to share with the world what my service meant to me.
And now it seems I’ll get that chance, by taking them to the stars.
My new novels will be the story of the Coast Guard in all their glory, grappling with the challenges of deploying on the new frontier that is space. It will be grounded in the real limits of operating in that intensely hostile environment and grappling with the challenges and opportunities of completing a complex mission in a new and rapidly evolving place where the law isn’t clear, and where everyone is trying to stake their claim to power.
But good stories are only ever about one thing – people, and it will be first and foremost a human story, as rich and flawed and wonderful as real Coast Guard sailors. I know them. I served with them. And I can’t wait to introduce them to you.
I’m so glad this book has found a home with Angry Robot. I only ever blurb books that I wish I’d written, and the first book I ever blurbed was Wesley Chu’s The Lives of Tao. From the moment I read the first chapter, I knew I was dealing with an editorial team that was hungry to take the kind of risks that truly make great art. Every major success in the arts is an outlier, and it is critical that art push the envelope at every turn. I just finished edits on the sequel to The Armored Saint, the forthcoming novella The Queen of Crows, with Tor.com Publishing. My editor at Tor is Lee Harris, formerly of Angry Robot, and this appetite for artistic risk-taking is apparent. With Angry Robot, it’s a culture.
There’s a synchronicity to it. With my new novel, I will push the Coast Guard out into a new frontier, taking my writing with them.
Psyched to have you along.
From Angry Robot:
The SAR-1 series begins publication in 2019.
As a security contractor, government civilian and military officer, Myke Cole’s career has run the gamut from Counterterrorism to Cyber Warfare to Federal Law Enforcement. He’s done three tours in Iraq and was recalled to serve during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He recently joined the cast of Hunted on CBS as part of an elite team of fugitive hunters.