Book Review: Unbreakable by W.C. Bauers


I love getting to discover new sci-fi authors. I recently was privileged to meet the author W.C. Bauers and I had the opportunity to read his newest book, Unbreakable. In short, it was fantastic. Here’s a quick synopsis of the book:

The colonists of the planet Montana are accustomed to being ignored. Situated in the buffer zone between two rival human empires, their world is a backwater: remote, provincial, independently minded. Even as a provisional member of the Republic of Aligned Worlds, Montana merits little consideration—until it becomes the flashpoint in an impending interstellar war.

When pirate raids threaten to destabilize the region, the RAW deploys its mechanized armored infantry to deal with the situation. Leading the assault is Marine Corps Lieutenant and Montanan expatriate Promise Paen of Victor Company. Years earlier, Promise was driven to join the Marines after her father was killed by such a raid. Payback is sweet, but it comes at a tremendous and devastating cost. And Promise is in no way happy to be back on her birthworld, not even when she is hailed as a hero by the planet’s populace, including its colorful president. Making matters even worse: Promise is persistently haunted by the voice of her dead mother. Meanwhile, the RAW’s most bitter rival, the Lusitanian Empire, has been watching events unfold in the Montana system with interest. Their forces have been awaiting the right moment to gain a beachhead in Republic territory, and with Promise’s Marines decimated, they believe the time to strike is now.

I thought Unbreakable was an awesome addition to the many great military science fiction titles out there. While the story took a bit to ramp up, it became clear how much stronger the book was because Bauers took the time to lay such an intricate foundation for his book. He wrote a brilliant protagonist in Promise Paen, and she definitely fits in easily with other awesome women of sci-fi like Starbuck, Ripley, or Rita. I’m all about stories that feature fantastic female protagonists, and this is certainly one such story. Promise is tough, sure, but she’s also complicated. She’s brave in the face of her greatest fears, she does her best to channel pain and loss into a purpose for her life. I can’t wait to see what other adventures are in store for Promise. I definitely recommended this book.

In addition to reading Unbreakable, I also got the chance to ask W.C. Bauers a few questions about anything from his book to his favorite guilty pleasure show. Check out what he had to say:

Kendall: What was your inspiration to write Unbreakable?

W.C.: At first all I had was the briefest sketch of a character. Young woman, orphaned, she was looking for a fresh start. Her name was Promise. It began there and I couldn’t let the idea go until I knew what had happened to her. I explored the first draft and then went back and gave it structure. Actually I rewrote the entire thing.
K: Who are some of your favorite sci-fi authors and shows?
 W: Ender’s Game by Card is my all-time favorite book. Dune. On Basilisk Station by David Weber, the opening of my favorite military SF series featuring the intrepid Honor Harrington. Jack McDevitt’s Alex Benedict novels should be required reading. Battlestar Galactica, both the original and the reboot. Recently, I devoured seasons one and two of The 100. I’m currently enjoying Last Man on Earth, which is a near-future, earth-based SF riot.
K: This has been driving me nuts: do you pronounce Promise’s last name as “Pain”, “Pan”, or something else entirely?
W: It’s Paen, like Baen books. Act like an American trying to speak French and you’ve nearly got it.
K: Promise is an awesome female protagonist, and I’ve heard people compare her to Ripley from Alien. Was she, or another famous woman of sci-fi, an inspiration to Promise?
W: Thank you. Ripley makes for very good company though she honestly never came to mind as I wrote Unbreakable. Others have compared Promise to Katee Sackhoff’s Starbuck. But if I had to name just one female protagonist it would be David Weber’s Honor Harrington.
K: How many books are you planning to write in The Chronicles of Promise Paen? Do you have a number in mind, or as many books as you have inspiration to write?
W: I have ideas for five books at the moment, as well as spinoffs in the same universe. I hope Promise lives for a very long time.
K: So, I’m dying to ask about book two. Are you in the process of writing it, or is it already done? Can you tell us anything about what we can expect?
W: It’s in edits. The title is in flux. But the story is pretty much set in ferocrete.
 There’s more pirates, and loads of betrayal, and Promise fighting against desperate odds both in and out of her mechsuit. A high body count is a must. There’s also a subplot involving human trafficking that came about unexpectedly. Promise hates injustice. Exploring that part of her character was a lot of fun. That and there’s something deeply gratfiying about killing off bad men.
K: If Unbreakable was made into a movie, who would you love to see play Promise?
W: Katee Sackoff.  And if she said no…Starbuck. If Starbuck declined I don’t know what I’d do.
K: How long have you been writing?
W: I dabbled for years. Four years seriously.
K: Do you write anything other than sci-fi?
W: I have a partially complete high fantasy/militaristic novel. Think Matched meets Ender’s Game meets Game of Thrones. And a quarter-baked YA (but who doesn’t). Mostly, though, I love military SF.
K: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
W: Write what you love, not necessarily what you know. You can always learn as you go and the majority of it you make up anyway. After all, I don’t know of a single SF writer who’s met an alien or lived on Mars or survived an apocalypse. And show as you tell. The whole telling verses showing debate drives me bonkers; good authors do both.
K: Anything else you want to say about your book or your writing in general?
W: Please buy it because I have three growing boys who are eating me out of house and home. Seriously, please buy it and don’t hesitate to reach out at  All the latest news is at I hang out some on the twitter too: @wcbauers
And now for some random, rapid-fire questions:
–Kirk or Picard? Shatner’s Kirk. Oh captain, my captain.
Star Wars or Star Trek? Not fair. I hate this question. Okay, Wars. No! Trek. Okay, Wrath of Khan verses Empire Strikes Back verses Star Trek (the reboot).
–Han Solo or Malcolm Reynolds? Never side with a pirate.
–Alien or Predator? Predator. For starters Predators wear clothes, and their tech is cool. All Aliens do is run around buck naked and drool.
–Would you rather live in a robot apocalypse or zombie apocalypse? Robot. At least the bots won’t eat me. And, bots can be reprogrammed to do what I want them to do. I would really like a bot to clean my house.
–Favorite cheesy sci-fi movie? Stranger Than Fiction.
–Guilty pleasure TV show? Once Upon a Time. Except for the season involving Elsa. I so did not want to build a snowman.

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