Daedalus Combat in the next short installment in Mr. Williscroft’s Daedalus series, which is based on the concept of a “slingshot” space launch system and the Navy SEALs who staff the project. I’m a fan of the series and recommend the full-length novel, “Slingshot.” Mr. Williscroft has another short story set in the Daedalus world, titled “Daedalus: SWIC Basejump from Fred Noonan Skyport.” The latest story, SWIC Combat Drop from Low Earth Orbit, is not as gripping as the earlier story and is more of a practical application example of how the LEO launch platform could be capable of tactical intervention anywhere in the world. As a pitch to the Department of Defense about the value of the program, it’s fine, but as a short story, it’s a bit flat.
The plot of the story is quite interesting and has a lot of potential. A cruise ship is hijacked by pirates off the coast of Madagascar. On board is a U.S. Senator with aspirations of being President, along with his family. Cue the SEALs of the Daedalus unit, who launch into immediate action to hurl themselves from the LEO platform in their fixed wing flight suits. They can soar halfway around the globe and drop into the scene, landing on the hijacked ship on a rescue mission to free the Senator and the other hostages and return the ship to safety. As you see, has the potential for some exciting narrative – from the details of the space drop to the battle on the ship against the pirates, to the rescue of the Senator, to the thrilling escape from the Pirates’ home port.
Unfortunately, the execution here is lacking. The characters go through the motions of the mission, but there is no suspense, very little action, and no sense of peril or risk of failure. The mission elements move from point A to point B to point C with minimal description and no twists or glitches that would have been interesting to read about. It’s a flawless mission and the short story reads much like an after-the-fact mission summary from the officers. Quite a mission, but without much drama or interesting narrative. It’s interesting, but not gripping, and it should be, and could be, gripping. The same story line could have been much more interesting to read. Instead, you reach the end of the story and the reaction is, “that’s it?” There is then a long excerpt from “Slingshot,” which is worth reading, but better to just go buy that book and enjoy it.