While waiting to get onto a computer booked at the local library about 2 years ago, I picked up a sci-fi novel whose name and author I cannot recall and began reading.

Elements of the opening part of the book that I can recall.

  • A small squadron is trying to penetrate the defenses of an enemy power.
  • It is mentioned they are traveling at an altitude of NN mm (which seemed odd at the time)
  • They are swamped by autonomous flying defenders that hone in on the approaching craft and attack them (mostly by physically disassembling them in-flight).
  • The pilots have a conversation in which it is revealed that this is not the first time they've attacked, and the defenses have improved over time.
  • As each of the attacking craft are swamped the situation becomes more hopeless, until the last of the attackers is destroyed.
  • It then turns out the pilots of the attack vehicles were at a far distant point, remotely operating micro/nano-machines..

That was mostly in the first chapter, as far as I read. I'd guess it was written within the last 10 years (15 at the outside).

Can anyone identify this book & author?

  • I can almost recall it, it was a war game. Seems like they were training for something. I just have glimpse of the scenes, and I don't recall anything significant afterwords. Maybe it was a short story? – James Jenkins Apr 12 '13 at 23:38
  • @JamesJenkins My recollection was that it was a novel and there was no 'practice' about it, but if you can recall the name of that story, please drop it in as I might be mistaken. – Andrew Thompson Apr 12 '13 at 23:40
  • Interesting question! (My 2,000th vote btw) – The Fallen Apr 13 '13 at 18:00

This sounds like the 1st book of the Succession Series "The Risen Empire" by Scott Westerfield. The opening chapter called Pilot fits what you have described.

Below is a brief SPOILER ALERT excerpt explaining your remembering NN mm:

Marx checked the altimeter's last reading: 174 centimeters. At that height, the craft would take at least a minute before they hit the ground. Even with its sensor array furled and main rotor stalled, in a normal-density atmosphere an intelligence craft fell no faster than a speck of dust. Indeed, the Intelligencers were not much larger than specks of dust, and were somewhat lighter. With a wingspan of a single millimeter, they were very small craft indeed.

Master Pilot Jocim Marx, Imperial Naval Intelligence, had flown microships for eleven years. He was the best.

The Risen Empire Description

  • Yes that definitely seems to be the one, barring my mistake with the dimensions. I was almost going to mention a 'monarchy' but that detail was only vaguely formed in my mind.. Thanks! – Andrew Thompson Apr 12 '13 at 23:58
  • Glad I could help. – beichst Apr 13 '13 at 0:03
  • Explains the 'NN mm' altitude-measuring units. – Solemnity Apr 14 '13 at 0:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.