Operation Grendel by Daniel Schwabauer is a Christian science fiction novel set in a distant future on a planet far, far away where human rights and freedoms come at a cost. Thematically, it centered around free will and the place technology has in our society (and minds).
There were so many good things about this book that it has definitely ended up in my top five for 2021 so far. The beginning of the book seems simple. A war correspondent goes to the frontline to find the story. And, directly after that, the whole thing goes sideways.
Mr. Schwabauer used a (very) unreliable narrator, constant plot twists, and fast pacing that kept me engaged. I actually read it in one sitting, it was that good. And this is not a short book! The story is a roller coaster ride and I definitely have to go back and re-read it because I know, somewhere in there, I’ll figure out where the unreliable narration started. It was hidden pretty well, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Just a side note, this is not a typical science fiction novel in the sense there are no aliens, there’s very little space flight. It takes place on one planet, mainly. So, if you’re looking for a space opera, this isn’t it. However, if you are looking for a twisty-turny, psychological romp on a planet in the far distant future, then you definitely want to read it.
While this is labeled as a Christian novel, there isn’t anything in the novel itself that is inherently proselytizing. Anyone, teen and up, would enjoy reading Operation Grendel (if they like sci-fi that is!).
My GoodReads Rating: ★★★★★ It was amazing!
Book: OPERATION GRENDEL
Author: DANIEL SCHWABAUER
Genre: FICTION / Science Fiction
It’s the war story he’s dreamed of. But the battle may cost him his mind.
Military journalist Raymin Dahl thinks he’s finally getting the story of a lifetime. Secret peace talks on a remote tropical moon are about to surrender five colonized worlds—and six hundred million civilians—to a ruthless enemy.
But when his commanding officer, Captain Ansell Sterling, is fatally wounded before the negotiations can begin, Dahl can no longer just report on the mission. He’s ordered to complete it. With help from the AI embedded in Sterling’s comms bracelet, Dahl must impersonate his commander—a Marine Corps hero and psychological operations expert.
However, Sterling’s AI may be luring him to surrender more than he realizes. And the mission Corporal Dahl thinks he’s running isn’t the only operation underway.
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About the Author
Daniel Schwabauer, M.A., is a lifelong reader of speculative fiction. He studied the genre under science fiction great James Gunn before graduating with honors from Kansas University’s Masters program in Creative Writing in 1995. Winner of the Eric Hoffer and Ben Franklin awards for his middle grade fantasy series, The Legends of Tira-Nor, Daniel enjoys riding his motorcycle on country roads and pondering other worlds. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and dog.
More From Daniel
The Operation Grendel Origin Story
I’ve always been fascinated by the power of storytelling, especially as a lever for moving culture. For several years I studied the development of modern propaganda, the rise and fall of yellow journalism, and the relationship of these to psychological warfare. This culminated in 2017 with a brief investigation into quantum computing and the rising popularity of trans-humanism. Sometimes the best story ideas are combinations of things that have rattled around in the back of your mind for years.
Operation Grendel is a keyhole glimpse of a future in which every person in the galaxy is bonded to an artificial intelligence. Some AIs are embedded in the brain, and some are snapped onto the wrist as a wearable device. I didn’t realize when I started writing the book that Elon Musk had already launched Neuralink to create this technology in real life. I discovered the corporation after finishing my fourth draft.
The use of this technology probably means a lack of autonomy. How can you think for yourself, or even know what you think, if your thoughts are constantly being shaped and influenced by a quantum computer wirelessly connected to your brain?
Then again, is that all we really are as humans—biological computers? I don’t think so. But if not, then there will surely be resistance to the trans-humanist movement. Which means, in a work of fiction, clearly opposing sides. One empire supports this integration of man and machine; the other places limits on AI technology.
But “warring empires” was not a story I felt capable of telling. I wanted something closer to home, something smaller and more accessible, something more human. I wanted to show what a life spent entirely under the influence of an inner nanny—a substitute Holy Spirit—might look like.
Well, who better to tell that story than a man who has, in his own way, been manipulating others through storytelling? In other words, a journalist. This fit my desire to write the story as military science fiction. Since I never had the honor of serving in the armed forces, I needed a way to give my narrator a believable voice. Corporal Raymin Dahl, a military reporter who barely scraped his way through reservist boot camp, fit the bill. Before long the story seemed to take on a life of its own.
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To celebrate his tour, Daniel is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon card, a signed copy of the hardcover first edition, and 2 laptop stickers!! (photo attached)
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.