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Authors: John Ringo,Gary Poole

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Table of Contents


Edited by John Ringo & Gary Poole

Advance Reader Copy



A collection of all-original stories set in the  Black Tide Rising series of novels created by multiple 
New York Times
 best-selling author John Ringo  Stories by John Ringo, Eric Flint, John Scalzi, Dave Klecha, Sarah Hoyt, Jody Lynn Nye, Michael Z. Williamson and more.

The news that humanity had been dreading for ages had come true. Zombies are real. Worst of all, we created them. The apocalypse was upon us, and every man, woman and child had to answer a simple question of themselves: “What do we do now?” For a group of neighbors in the Chicago suburbs of Northern Indiana, it was “work together or die”...and figure out how to live on top of oil storage tanks to keep the zombies at bay. For the Biological Emergency Response Teams in New York City, it was “how long can we fight off the infected before it's too late” . . .as well as having to fight other groups all out to claim a dwindling stock of supplies and safety. And for a group of cheerleaders, it was about the end of their world. And about what happens when you get a group of physically fit young women really,

Featuring original stories from some of the brightest stars in the science fiction universe: John Ringo; Eric Flint; John Scalzi; Dave Klecha; Sarah Hoyt; Jody Lynn Nye; Michael Z. Williamson; Kacey Ezell, a cheerleading coach, veteran, and helicopter pilot; and more.


Under a Graveyard Sky

To Sail a Darkling Sea

Islands of Rage and Hope

Strands of Sorrow • Black Tide Rising
(edited by John Ringo & Gary Poole)

Live Free or Die


The Hot Gate

A Hymn Before Battle

Gust Front

When the Devil Dances

Hell’s Faire

The Hero
(with Michael Z. Williamson) •
Cally’s War
(with Julie Cochrane) •
Watch on the Rhine
(with Tom Kratman) •
Sister Time
(with Julie Cochrane) •
Yellow Eyes
(with Tom Kratman) •
Honor of the Clan
(with Julie Cochrane) •
Eye of the Storm

There Will Be Dragons

Emerald Sea

Against the Tide

East of the Sun, West of the Moon

Into the Looking Glass

Vorpal Blade
(with Travis S. Taylor) •
Manxome Foe
(with Travis S. Taylor) •
Claws that Catch
(with Travis S. Taylor)

EMPIRE OF MAN (with David Weber):
March Upcountry
March to the Sea
(collected in
Empire of Man
) •
March to the Stars
We Few
(collected in
Throne of Stars

Princess of Wands

Queen of Wands



Choosers of the Slain

Unto the Breach

A Deeper Blue

Tiger by the Tail
(with Ryan Sear)

The Last Centurion • Citizens
(ed. with Brian M. Thomsen)

To purchase these and all Baen Book titles in e-book format, please go to

Black Tide Rising

This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.

Copyright © 2016 by John Ringo & Gary Poole

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.

A Baen Books Original

Baen Publishing Enterprises

P.O. Box 1403

Riverdale, NY 10471

ISBN: 978-1-4767-8151-8

Cover art by Kurt Miller

First Baen printing, June 2016

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Distributed by Simon & Schuster

1230 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10020

Printed in the United States of America

As always

For Captain Tamara Long, USAF

Born: May 12, 1979

Died: March 23, 2003, Afghanistan

You fly with the angels now

Thanks to Star for believing

in me for two decades.

“A path traveled together

overcomes all obstacles.”


Gary Poole

When I was first approached about co-editing this anthology, after working with John through the first four books of the series, my initial thought was, “Well, this could be fun.” Then again, some people consider running with the bulls in Pamplona fun, so there’s no accounting for taste.

It’s been said assembling an anthology is akin to herding cats, except not as easy. And as it turned out, it was indeed quite fun, all cat-herding aside. I was able to not only work with a number of writers whose work I have long admired (and luckily can count many of them as friends), but I was also able to work with a fresh group of writers who are in the early, bright stages of their careers. To use a baseball analogy, I felt like the manager of a team made up of experienced all-stars and a crop of talented rookies, all ready to go win the World Series.

What can I say, I’m a baseball fan.

But was really an eye-opener to me was seeing the many different ways that writers can look at the same situations and come up with very different takes on the prevailing theme of the Black Tide universe. Which, basically, is “Okay, the zombie apocalypse has happened, most of the population is either dead of infected, civilization has fallen, the survivors are horribly outnumbered…so now what?”

The “what happens next” theme is what I find, both as an editor and a reader, the most interesting. Can civilization be rebuilt? And if so, what kind of civilization will it be, and could it even possibly be a better one? Or could it be even worse?

Post-apocalyptic themes are all the rage these days, and have been for some time. There is something about the destruction of civilization that connects with the modern reader. But, at least to me, far too many of these stories are all about the fall and not about the rebirth.

Human beings are the most resilient species on the planet. You can wipe out ninety percent (or more) of the population, and the survivors will regroup, rebuild and emerge stronger than before. It has happened many times in history and look around…we’re still here and better than ever.

At least on most days, that is.

So when John originally proposed the idea for the series, a “what happens after the apocalypse” concept, I was hooked. I was intrigued to read about what people, in many cases just regular people, would do to keep humanity not only alive, but figure out how to make the race prosper once again. If you, like me, greatly enjoyed what John created in the novels, I’ll hope you’ll be just as entertained with what John and the rest of the writers have come up with themselves. These aren’t superheroes and superhumans; these are regular people making the best (or the worst, in some cases) of the situation.

That said, as interesting as I find the Black Tide world, would I like to live in such a place? Of course not. Take away my smartphone, tablet and my broadband Internet connection and I am not a happy camper. But I do believe in humanity as a whole, and am certain that even if I and my neighbors would perish in such a world, the race itself will continue.

And maybe, just maybe, if the apocalypse does indeed come to pass in reality, these books might help to keep a few more people alive and headed on the right path.

One can always hope.

Just make sure you have plenty of ammunition and a good melee weapon.

Never Been Kissed

John Ringo

“Skipper, got a question,” Hocieniec said as they were stripping down their M4s for cleaning.

Harper’s Ferry
Class Landing Ship Dock Oak Hill was returning to Mayport from successfully clearing the CVN-72 Abraham Lincoln which had been spotted aground off the coast of Guyana. It had been a hairy bitch finding the few remaining two hundred survivors in the bowels of the listed Nimitz Class supercarrier. They were due for some downtime but First Lieutenant Faith Marie Smith had already gotten the word there was a priority clearance in Baltimore. And since they didn’t have Trixie along that meant another fucking air assault like LRI. Joy. At least they’d already Subedeyed Baltimore so they infected levels should be down.

She was about to go off on Colonel Ramos. Her guys needed some shore leave and she wasn’t going to have one of them go off the reservation like she had from battle fatigue.

“Go,” Faith said, flicking out her bolt and giving it a dubious eyeball. She’d found that bolts only tended to last her a few months at the rate she put rounds downrange.

“Back at Parris,” Hooch said. “Before, you know, the incident.”

“Yep,” Faith said. She was past that in her opinion.

“I get naming the gator who nearly ate you,” Hocieniec said. “I even sort of get letting it live.”

“All it was doing was following the natural order,” Faith said, shrugging as she set the bolt aside. “No reason to kill it. And gators keep the infected population in check.”

“Why ‘Reginald?’” Hocieniec said, curiously. “I hate to ask but…boyfriend?”

“Not hardly,” Faith said with a snort, starting to swab the M4’s barrel with a rod and cloth.

“I know it’s not…good to talk about old times,” Hocieniec said, shrugging. “If you don’t want to…”

“He was a bully,” Faith said after a pause. “When I was in fourth grade, Reginald Abrams was in fifth. He was always sort of odd. Didn’t really fit in real well. Was already starting to go through puberty and had some…issues with it. It’s pretty weird for a kid in fifth grade to be growing a beard and he was always trying to kiss girls and do…inappropriate thing with them. Cop a feel, things like that. Kids were scared of him in general, not just girls. When I was in fourth grade we were out at recess and he was bullying some of the first graders. Hit one kid and pushed him to the ground. Calling him names. I just got tired of it and walked over and kicked him in the fork.”

“Ouch,” Januscheitis said with a chuckle.

“He started to get up and got another kick for his troubles,” Faith said, shrugging again. “He eventually decided to stay down. I was always sort of the more violent of the Smith Sisters.”

“Really?” Hocieniec said, raising one eyebrow. “That comes as a complete surprise, ma’am.”

“Sarcasm is the last refuge of the incompetent, Hooch,” Faith said, dimpling. “Yeah. Call it a short fuse for injustice. Anyway, he really took to me after that. Kept following me around with puppy dog eyes and trying to kiss me. Which I didn’t take to. He ended up pretty bruised. Nor did other girls. Not a popular guy. When we went to middle school he was at a different school which was fine by me.”

“School bully,” Hocieniec said, nodding. “Curiosity satisfied. Thank you, ma’am.”

“I sort of wish I had kissed him,” Faith said. Cleaning complete, she was reassembling the M4 swiftly and unconsciously, her eyes distant.

“Ma’am?” Januscheitis said, frowning. “Why? Sounds like a clear case for future sexual predator.”

“Oh, agree there,” Faith said. “But…Girls were scared of him like I said. He was just creepy. Even wherever he turned up, I’m pretty sure it was the same. And now?”

She gestured out with her chin outwards towards the distant shore.

“He’s either dead or infected,” she said, shrugging again. “Ninety-nine nines on that. And as a young adolescent infected, probably dead. Those first graders I protected? Dead. Even if they turned, what’s the survival rate on infected kids? Fucking near zero. See many my age or younger left around,

She finished assembling the weapon and cycled the bolt several times, eyes still distant in memory, in distance, in time.

“There’s nobody I grew up with who’s probably alive,” she said. “All the kids I went to school with are scattered bones. Friends, enemies, bullies and victims it’s all one with the snows.

“I just hate to think of all the kids in the world who died. Even Reginald.

“And they’d never been kissed.”

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