A Chain Across the Dawn - Tor/Forge Blog



$2.99 eBook Sale: A Chain Across the Dawn by Drew Williams

The ebook edition of A Chain Across the Dawn by Drew Williams is on sale now for only $2.99! Get your copy today, and prepare for the release of the third book in The Universe After series, The Firmament of Flame, available February 2nd, 2020.

Poster Placeholder of - 20About A Chain Across the Dawn:

It’s been three years since Esa left her backwater planet to join the ranks of the Justified. Together, she and fellow agent Jane Kamali have been traveling across the known universe, searching for children who share Esa’s supernatural gifts.

On a visit to a particularly remote planet, they learn that they’re not the only ones searching for gifted children. They find themselves on the tail of a mysterious being with impossible powers who will stop at nothing to get his hands on the very children that Esa and Jane are trying to save.

With their latest recruit in tow—a young Wulf boy named Sho—Esa and Jane must track their strange foe across the galaxy in search of answers. But the more they learn, the clearer it becomes—their enemy may be harder to defeat than they ever could have imagined.

Order Your Copy




Place holder  of google play- 44

ibooks2 46


This sale ends 1/31/2020.


Top Five Space Battles

As we prepare for the release of A Chain Across the Dawn, the sequel to Drew William’s 2018 debut The Stars Now Unclaimed, we revisit Drew’s guest post about  the most epic space battles of page and screen. A Chain Across the Dawn is on sale May 7!

Place holder  of - 2Written by Drew Williams

Conflict is an inevitable part of humanity; we’ve been waging war since one clan of Neanderthals looked at another clan of Neanderthals and said, “Hey, their caves are nicer than ours and closer to prime hunting grounds. Let’s go jab at them with our spears (which we just invented yesterday), then take their caves for ourselves.” Utopian science fiction aside—which is a fine genre in its own right, but not at all germane to the subject at hand—it seems inevitable that war will follow us into the stars. And moral hand-wringing over the spiritual cost of violent conflict aside… space battles are frickin’ awesome. So, without further ado, the five coolest space battles of all time:

5) Starship Troopers (Robert Heinlein)

So, yes, even with the first entry, I’m bending the rules a bit, since the vast majority of Heinlein’s seminal novel doesn’t actually occur in space: most of it is urban combat against an aggressive alien enemy (and not the mindless “bugs” of Verhoeven’s 1997 film, which, though a brilliant satire and a fascinating look at how a director can completely invert the politics of his source material, is more a pastiche of what came before than anything particularly inventive in its own right, at least where the actual battles are concerned). Still, in terms of influence, it’s hard to get past Heinlein’s “grunt’s-eye-view” of future combat: his titular troopers would pave the way for every gung-ho space marine that followed, from the overconfident grunts of Cameron’s Aliens (mirroring the American engagement in Vietnam), to the icy-cool sociopath at the heart of Twohy’s Pitch Black (mirroring the injustices of America’s own penal system), to damn near every sci-fi video game protagonist from Halo’s Master Chief to Gears of War’s Marcus Fenix (mirroring the fact that… shooting big-ass science fiction guns at inhuman aliens is cool as all hell).

4) Cowboy Bebop – “Honky Tonk Women” (Shinichiro Watanabe)

You can say a great many things about Cowboy Bebop, but the first word that’s going to come to mind is always going to be “cool”. The jazz-infused neo-noir anime that follows the adventures of a disparate pack of loners somehow roped into serving together (though rarely enjoying it) on the titular starship is like science fiction Miles Davis: what should be a bunch of different, chaotic elements working against each other emerges as a wildly improvisational-seeming masterpiece, instead. Picking an episode for this column was difficult, as there are a wealth of great dogfights to choose from, but I ultimately went with “Honky Tonk Women” not just because of the ship-to-ship combat—both exhilarating and phenomenally pretty, as all the dogfights in Cowboy Bebop are—but of the zero-g stand-off at the climax, a clever usage of gravity and inertia that plays up the “space” part of the show’s “low-rent bounty hunters… in space” premise. Bebop excels at both the designs of its craft—witness the juxtaposition between main character Spike Spiegel’s dragonfly-like ship, aggressive and thrusting, versus Faye Valentine’s rounder, more versatile craft, one signifying a character who likes to end a fight as quickly as possible, the other his opposite number, who excels at adapting to whatever circumstances she finds herself in—and in the sheer sense of speed the anime lends its dogfights, both of which are on great display in “Honky Tonk Women”.

3) Battlestar Galactica (2004) – “33” (Ronald Moore)

You can make the argument that “Pegasus” (or perhaps the mid-season follow-up two-parter, “Resurrection Ship”) is actually the high-water mark for the Battlestar Galactica remake’s space combat, and you probably wouldn’t be wrong: “33” isn’t so much a “battle” as it is a “rout”. But that’s what makes it work so damned well: not all fights are won, at least not by the “good guys”. Technically the first episode of the series following the miniseries debut, “33” finds the last remnants of humanity in a desperate flight from the AI zealots intent (or so it seems) on their utter destruction. Episode director Michael Rymer uses a veritas handheld filmmaking style to really sell how exhausting the constant pursuit is for the characters on board the various ships in the fleet, how the greatest ally humanity’s AI opponents have is not their mechanized strength or lightning-quick intelligence, but the frailty of the human condition. When your opponent doesn’t tire, doesn’t rest, doesn’t quit, the physical limits of what the human body can take come into play, and humanity’s constant flight from the overwhelming force of their foes—who arrive 33 minutes after the fleet jumps into a new system, after every… single… jump to hyperspace—becomes a white-knuckle descent into tension and anxiety for the viewer, almost as much as it is for the characters.

2) Challenger’s Hope – “The Fish Attack” (David Feintuch)

There are two common directions to take with space battles, in terms of “metaphor your audience can easily grasp”: WWII Pacific Theater dogfights (single pilot fighters or small crew bombers launched from the aggressive “safe” envelope of heavily armed carriers) or Age of Sail naval engagements. (The third most common metaphor, “the starship as submarine,” is best exemplified by The Wrath of Khan, the sixth entry in this five-entry list.)

David Feintuch’s Seafort series takes the Age of Sail option, structuring not just his battle sequences but his entire space-faring society around an interstellar stand-in for the Napoleonic Wars-era British Navy, complete with a strictly regimented class system, a military service defined by “honor” and “duty”, and a level of emotional repression that only a society based on the British Empire during the Regency could manage. In the stand-out sequence of Challenger’s Hope (the second volume in the seven book cycle that mirrors C. S. Forester’s Hornblower novels, in which we follow the protagonist up the ladder of command throughout the series), the crew of the Challenger – their ship already deeply damaged, almost certainly not able to see them safely home – come face to face with the completely alien threat that has hounded them throughout the novel: a species of organic, space-faring creatures that utterly confounds everything they know about the galaxy. The sheer level of tension Feintuch creates purely through dialogue is one of the most exhilarating things you’ll ever read. The Captain recites Psalm 23 in his mind (“the Lord is my Shepherd”) acting as a counterpoint to the terrified screams of his crew that echo back and forth across the bridge and over an open comm channel, making an intense juxtaposition between the surety of faith and the chaos of the battle raging around their seemingly doomed vessel.

1) The Last Jedi – “The Bombing Run” (Rian Johnson)

I mean, let’s be honest: the question was never “would a Star Wars sequence” make this list but, “which sequence – from which film – would be chosen?” I could have gone for the trench run in the original film, because that’s the sequence that set the bar not just in the Star Wars universe, but in every other Star Wars-influenced space opera universe to come, otherwise known as… all of them. I could have gone for the opening waterfall shot of Revenge of the Sith, because yeah, I’m a prequel defender, and there’s no better sequence out there in terms of selling the scale of a space battle. I could have proved my Star Wars bonafides by choosing the season 3 finale of Rebels, because… well, mostly because it’s fantastic.

But in terms of what Star Wars does, the bombing run on the dreadnought near the opening of The Last Jedi is roughly five minutes of absolute perfection. Populated almost entirely by characters we’ve never met and (as of yet) don’t know the significance of, Johnson crafts a stunningly structured short film full of tension, pathos, bravery, and loss. It lets him simultaneously pay homage to the sort of films that inspired Star Wars space battles in the first place (films like Tora! Tora! Tora! and The Wings of Eagles), and begin to develop the themes that will play out in ways large and small across the rest of the picture. As the annihilation of the bombing wing plays out around it, a single bomber makes its way to its target area and the destruction of the supercraft preparing to kill off the entire Resistance comes down to one woman, injured and likely dying, desperately kicking at a metal strut to will her ship to succeed in its mission, no matter the cost. Whatever medal it was that Luke and Han received at the end of A New Hope, she absolutely deserves its posthumous award, as there’s no greater sequence of valor, determination, or sacrifice in the entirety of the Star Wars canon, and that’s what makes a great battle sequence: not the design of the ships or the maneuvers of the fleets, but the characters involved in the action and what the fight means to them and to the galaxy around them if they fail.

Plus, the whole sequence is… just… stupidly pretty.

Order Your Copy of A Chain Across the Dawn

Place holder  of amazon- 18 Image Place holder  of bn- 93Placeholder of booksamillion -33 ibooks2 14 indiebound


Excerpt: A Chain Across the Dawn by Drew Williams

Placeholder of amazon -89 Poster Placeholder of bn- 86Poster Placeholder of booksamillion- 10 ibooks2 67 indiebound

Place holder  of - 67It’s been three years since Esa left her backwater planet to join the ranks of the Justified. Together, she and fellow agent Jane Kamali have been traveling across the known universe, searching for children who share Esa’s supernatural gifts.

On a visit to a particularly remote planet, they learn that they’re not the only ones searching for gifted children. They find themselves on the tail of a mysterious being with impossible powers who will stop at nothing to get his hands on the very children that Esa and Jane are trying to save.

With their latest recruit in tow—a young Wulf boy named Sho—Esa and Jane must track their strange foe across the galaxy in search of answers. But the more they learn, the clearer it becomes—their enemy may be harder to defeat than they ever could have imagined.

A Chain Across the Dawn is the second book in Drew Williams’ Universe After series! Read the first chapter on Tor.com and continue reading with the following excerpt.

Chapter 2

In relatively short order, we got a response to our banging. That response was, of course, half a dozen rifles pointed at us from murder holes carved out of the sides of the high wall, but it was a response nonetheless. “Travelers,” Jane said, spreading her hands wide to show that she was unarmed—well, to show that she wasn’t holding a weapon, at least. On a world like Kandriad, nobody went anywhere unarmed, and the rifle butt sticking up from behind Jane’s shoulder would have just seemed like an everyday necessity to the locals, no different than a farmer carrying a hoe would have been on my homeworld. “Seeking shelter.”

“This city is at war, traveler,” a voice said from one of the murder holes— sounded like a Wulf, which made sense, since the vaguely canid species had made up about a third of this world’s population, before the pulse. “There’s very little shelter to be had here.”

“Very little to be had out there, either.” Jane jerked her thumb behind us, indicating the smoking craters the poorly aimed bombs had blown in the urban “countryside” of what had once been a factory planet.

“How do we know you’re not enemy spies?” the Wulf growled. I mean, Wulf almost always growl, the sound was just what their muzzles were built for, but I detected a distinct note of aggression in the low-pitched rumble of this one’s voice.

“Esa,” Jane prompted me, and I reached into my jacket—slowly, as the rifles were still following my every move—to produce a tightly rolled-up scroll. The parchment was as close to what local conditions would have allowed the natives to create as Schaz had been able to make it; hopefully they wouldn’t ask too many questions about its provenance beyond that, questions we wouldn’t be able to answer given that we’d actually printed it on board a spaceship in orbit, a concept that had receded mostly into myth for the people on Kandriad.

I held the scroll up, where they could see. “Reconnaissance,” Jane told them simply. “Aerial photography of the enemy assaulting your walls from the north. Troop positions, fortifications, artillery emplacements—enough intelligence to turn the tide of the fight.” Neither Jane nor I really gave a damn who won this particular battle, or even this particular war—whatever conflict it had spun off from, the fighting on Kandriad had long since ceased to matter to the galaxy at large, let alone to the doings of the Justified. What we did care about was getting access to the city, and to the gifted child hidden somewhere inside.

“You have planes? Like they do?” The guns were still holding . . . pretty tightly on us.

“Kites,” Jane said simply. “And mirrors.” That was a flat-out lie, but “we took images from our spaceship in low orbit, then smudged them up to look like low-tech aerial reconnaissance” wouldn’t have gone over nearly as well.

A low sound from the Wulf, not that dissimilar to his growl from before; thankfully, our boss back on Sanctum was also a Wulf, and I recognized the sound of a Wulven chuckle when I heard one. “Kites,” the unseen sentry said to himself, almost in wonder. Then: “Open the gate!”

The big metal gates rumbled open; Jane and I stepped along the train tracks, into the interior of the city, where the sentries—Wulf to a one, their rifles still held tightly, though at least not aimed directly at us anymore— watched us closely. Jane handed over the map to their leader, the one who’d spoken. He unrolled it, studied its contents for a moment, then without a word handed it off to one of his subordinates, who promptly took off, presumably for the factory city’s command. “It’s valid, and it’s recent,” the lieutenant acknowledged to us, his ice-blue predator’s eyes still watching us closely, not as friendly as his words. “I recognize shelling from just a few days ago. Intelligence like that will buy you more than just entry here, strangers. Name your price.”

“We’re looking for some intelligence of our own,” Jane replied. “Looking for one of your citizens, actually. A child, younger than my associate here.” She nodded her head toward me; I didn’t know how well the local Wulf population would be at gauging a human’s age, but at seventeen, I guess I did still have a slightly “unfinished” look, as compared to Jane, at least.

“And why do you seek this child?” the lieutenant asked—not a no. Progress.

“He or she will have . . . gifts. Abilities. We seek children with such gifts, and we train them.” All true, for its part. It was simply a question of scale that Jane left out.

“Train them to do what?”

“Whatever is necessary.” That part wasn’t exactly an official piece of the Sanctum syllabus.

The Wulf nodded his head, once. “I know the child you’re looking for,” he said.

Finally, something going our way for once.

Copyright © 2019 by Drew Williams

Order Your Copy

amazon bottom bn bottombooksamillion bottom ibooks2 92 indiebound bottom

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.