Wednesday, June 9, 2021


Patrick Chiles has been fascinated by aircraft, rockets, and spaceflight ever since he was a child transfixed by the Apollo missions. How he ended up as an English major in college is still a mystery, though he managed to overcome this self-inflicted handicap to pursue a career in aviation operations and safety management.

He is a graduate of The Citadel, a Marine Corps veteran and a private pilot. In addition to his novels, he has written for magazines such as Smithsonian’s Air & Space. He currently resides in Tennessee with his wife and two lethargic dachshunds.

Chiles applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Frontier, and reported the following:
Page 69 is a terrific window into the central conflict of Frontier:
He opened up an encrypted message app and began typing.


With that, he sent a compressed file that held each satellite’s encryption codes as planted by Billy. It took longer using the frequency-hopping algorithm built into his message program, but someone would have to know what they were looking for to find it.

The reply came much sooner than he’d expected, thankfully. He didn’t want to risk having this hack laid out in the open for the others to wake up and see.


“Cleanup.” A typically anodyne euphemism for some very nasty work. Nick quietly disconnected his laptop and replaced the antenna cables. When he switched his headset back to the company frequency, the alert tone startled him. They were demanding he acknowledge something impossibly urgent. When he read the message in the comms window, he understood. His initial fright soon gave way to a sense of focused calm—he knew the contingency plan for a CME. It wouldn’t be pleasant, but the experience would be survivable.

There were many opportunities for tragic accidents in space, some more believable than others. He checked the time and began moving supplies into the tunnel while the others slept.
What’s happening here is Nick Lesko, a natural tech wizard who uses his talents as an organized crime fixer, has been sent on the ultimate “fix it” job. He’s recruited a small team of former astronauts and hackers to hijack satellites in Geosynchronous orbit. He has no real interest in why, he’s just there to do a job and if certain people get in the way of that, they get whacked. This scene illustrates what a nasty piece of work he is—a complete sociopath.

The “CME” he’s just been warned about it is a Coronal Mass Ejection, a massive solar flare. This will become one of the story’s critical turning points for many reasons, but for him it presents a convenient opportunity to eliminate the people he’s brought up into orbit now that their work is done. He’s using them for their expertise, and once he’s finished with them he’s finished with them. None of them suspect they’re disposable. Ironically, Nick has no idea who he’s really working for or that he’s only slightly less disposable.

Nick’s little crew of misfits are part of an important subplot. To him it’s just another job but their mischief in orbit is part of a much larger plan. They’re enabling an unseen state actor to control other countries’ satellites and lunar mining shipments, and that solar storm just gave the bad guys an enormous window of opportunity. Earth orbit is falling into chaos and the lone military spacecraft that could do anything about the hijackings, the U.S.S. Borman, is hurriedly sent into deep space to search for a missing asteroid exploration team. The Borman is about to end up in deep doo-doo as well, and that’s when it becomes clear that all of these events are connected. The question is what to do about it?
Visit Patrick Chiles's website.

The Page 69 Test: Frozen Orbit.

Coffee with a Canine: Patrick Chiles & Frankie and Beanie.

My Book, The Movie: Frontier.

--Marshal Zeringue