Saturday, March 08, 2014

On the racks: "Rules of Engagement"

So it looks like the April/May issue of Asimov's is out, containing my story "Rules of Engagement." Two reviews are already up too, and both are pretty good: Sam Tomaino at SFRevu calls it a "good, solid story" with "a shattering conclusion" while it's one of just two Recommended stories in Lois Tilton's early March short fiction reviews at Locus.

Here's the first page of "Rules of Engagement":

A Reporter At Large

It was not much of a fight, as bar fights go: not even enough to get Kevin Bishop, Tony Cervantes and Tom Hollis thrown out of the bar in which they had spent the afternoon and evening of July ninth. The three soldiers had been drinking at The Swiss Bar and Grill, a bar popular with college students on weeknights but largely taken over by military on weekends, when their implants relax the usual restrictions on alcohol. Bishop, Cervantes and Hollis had served together in the 23rd Infantry Division of the 2nd Infantry Brigade (more often referred to as the 23-IN), mostly in Somalia and Yemen, and two of them were still on active duty. Fire team Chinook had survived the worst that the war and al-Shabaab could throw at them, but before long two would be in prison and one would be dead.

The immediate cause of the fight was money. Bishop, who had ordered the last two rounds, had revealed that he was unable to pay his share of the night's tab. The entire 23-IN had been flush with back pay when they had come home from deployment in Yemen, bringing a welcome stream of money into the city's bars; it was not unusual during that period for John Pratt, The Swiss's owner, to make two or more bank runs per night, each time with a duffel bag full of money. (Soldiers in the 23-IN pay for almost everything in cash, due to a widely-held belief that their implants track direct payments.) Two months later the money was beginning to run out, and for Bishop – who was no longer receiving combat pay and was also making regular payments to the city's ghat dealers – it already had. 


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