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SIB Cover Concept Image

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Visit the "So It Begins" homepage


For the record, this project wasn't even on the drawing board (let alone in my thoughts), at the time of the Philcon launch party for BTH in November 2007; circumstances beyond my control, my agent (Bob), had already proposed a sequel to Breach the Hull to Marietta Publishing.

Mike McPhail

Thanks Bob!

Update as of 08JUL22:

Currently we are hoping to release "So It Begins (SIB)" by March of 2009, hopefully in time for Lunacon 2009 (, March 20-22nd in Rye Brook, NY.

   At this moment, we have many of the authors from "Breach the Hull" coming back for a second round with "SIB"; as well as adding a few well know new ones to the squad.


So It Begins, CoverTest

Here is the first layout test for the cover. The green box represents the area which will physically makes up the cover. The area outside the box is known as the bleed (the part with is not seen, but gets either cut-off, or folded under to make the cover).
  Next I'll start laying in the invasion fleet in the background, and create a "rearview" shot of the rest of the fleet, which will be reflected in the pilot's visor.

Update as of 09MAR04:

The Cover of So It Begins

The finished cover for Dark Quest Books (Marietta is no more), this will also act as the template for the updated SIB and the future BOM. Please note the "DTF 2" on the spine.


Click on the image for a better look, and please forgive the McP watermark and low-rez image (there be pirates about).



During the early days of the Breach the Hull (or BTH for short) project, we played with both alternative names for the work, as well as possible sequels. Among these was a Biblical reference from the Book of Revelations (Armageddon); "...and so it begins"--since I like three-word titles--this became, So It Begins (or SIB).

  BTH's cover was assigned as part of the project, they told me what they wanted--"a space battle reflecting in a spacesuit's mirrored visor,"--and it was up to me to make it happen. A book series should have some level of continuity among its covers, but I don't want to just do another battle-in-a-visor shot. We will see.

   I was watching Dreamworks', "Flags of Our Fathers/Letters from Iwo Jima", when the idea hit me, stage an invasion from space--so it (the final battle) begins--have an armada of ships ring the planet, with a battleship in the foreground pounding away at the surface. Sounded hot at the time. As the movie went on, it wasn't the sight of the big-guns that told me that the "U.S. Marines was here to stay," no it was the landing craft coming onto the beach. So I changed the primary ship to a troop carrier launching its orbital Landers toward the planet. I also put the planetary horizon on its side for a more dramatic effect.


Starship, AeroCom Destroyer Gettysburg

The AeroCom Destroyer Gettysburg (named after the American Civil War battle of 1863), represents the next generation in warship design; she carries twice the conventional fire-power of the frigates, and supports a core-mounted LASER (see below for additional information). Her drive-section is the more powerful 6x2 (6-tanks with 2-plasma impulse engines) Longhaul configuration used for cargo carries.

Starship, U.S. AeroCom Frigate Ackley

The Normandy's escort, AeroCom Frigate Ackley (named for Charles Ackley, USN). She is basically a re-decaled Chamberlin, with the addition of sloped ablative-armor plates over her fuel tanks. This improvement was carried over to all the new designs, and became a place for additional decals, such as the ship's hull number and AeroCom Starine Blue-Eagle.

Starship, AeroCom, LST Normandy

The AeroCom LST-44 (Lander Shuttle Transport) Normandy (named after the location of the Allied landings in Europe during World War II--June 6th 1944). The LST carries up to four Landers, each capable of landing (and boosting) 200 fully equipped troopers (or in this case, AeroCom Starines, signified by the "Blue Eagle" on the top of the ship).

Lander scalled w/frigate Chamberlin

A re-decaled Lander in formation with the Frigate Chamberlin (for scale). Every fleet Lander is assigned to a specific transport, this one belongs to LST-44 (Normandy); it is craft number "1" of that ships squad of Landers; its designation would be 44-1.

Single Stage to Orbit, Lander 44-1

Lander 44-1 with its atmospheric aerodynamic faring opened, to reveal its main axile docking port, and approach floodlights. From this angle you can see the flight-deck's docking windows (which is a misnomer, since you can't see anything that is directly in front of the Lander from the flight-deck. Docking is handled by a combination of sensors, and the hatch mounted docking camera).


WWII US LST: Landing Ship, Tank. No Enlargement
Image from the Internet,
source unknown.

The landing ship, tank (LST) was developed during World War II to support amphibious operations. They were capable of driving their bows up onto the shore in order to land vehicles, troops and cargo, without the need for separate landing craft. The sight of these ships off your coast meant that the Allies were here to stay.

   These were the inspiration for the Normandy. In order to capture the feel of these ships, I used three main aspects of their design. First was the rounded bow with its large doors (I couldn't work the main doors into AeroCom design; they just weren't needed); second was the circular gun-station (armored bathtub) on the bow; third were the mid-ship cranes.

LSTs Lander Docking Stations w/ Frigate CM for scale

Here we get a better look at the Lander Docking Stations (still in the early design phase). Each crane houses two adjustable clamps (and a pusher) which run in tracks within the crane's arm. These in turn reach out and clamp onto the Landers' hard-points, in order to maneuver, then fix the craft in place at its dock. Note the "bumpers" running alone the side of the ship at each dock. I was using the Chamberlin's CM for scale (and parts) at this point.

LSTs Crane Function Test

One of the "crane function test," as you can see the clamps grab onto the Lander's hard-points (the housings for the landing struts), while the "pusher" in the center creates a counter-force to help hold the Lander against the clamps.

   Here we also get a good view of the Lander's black ceramic heat-shield; engine ports (the four red circles), and its reaction/control thrusters (housed in the gray ring, above the heat-shields.)

Normandy Aft View

In this early rear-view, we get a good look at the Normandy's drive-section and engine cluster. This is the same 6 x 2 used by the Gettysburg (although it was first designed for Normandy). As you can see, there are two groups of engines; the plasma impulse engines are the ones in the middle of each cluster; they are surrounded by four conventional chemical engines (like those used on the space shuttle).


Normandy Stand Off View

A stand-off shot. Note the red docking port numbers (portside 3 and 4)--just like an airport--an approaching Lander would be directed to its dock by a combination of radio signals, flashing lights and finally seeing the dock's number.

Normandy and Lander Lighting Test

One of the "lighting test". In the computer, light can be whatever you wish. In the real world, light comes from a combination of sources: direct lighting (from the sun), reflected (surface of the planet, or nearby objects), or spot/formation lighting from the ship itself. Since we're in space, atmospheric haze is not a factor.

U.S. SAeroCom Destroyer Gettysburg, Laser Mount Test

The Gettysburg's core-mounted LASER is based mechanically on the US Air Forces' Airborne Laser (ABL) which is currently carried aboard a modified Boeing 747-400. The business end of the LASER is a directional ball-turret containing the focusing mirror. In turn this assembly is mounted on a rotating platform, and is protected by a two part, retractable armored shell.


Military Science Fiction .com wanted a header banner shot of a starship with their Icon on its side in place of a fleet marking. Below are a few of the test shots using the AeroCom Destroyer Gettysburg and the Frigate Ackley.







Breach the Hull, Book 3 (BTHIII)

Not currently under development. Proposed release in 2010+



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