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David Drake

Fiction and Excerpts [2]
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Fiction and Excerpts [2]

Monsters of the Earth (Excerpt)

, || Governor Saxa, of the great city of Carce, a fantasy analog of ancient Rome, is rusticating at his villa. When Saxa's son Varus accompanies Corylus on a visit to the household of his father, Crispus, a retired military commander, Saxa graciously joins the party with his young wife Hedia, daughter Alphena, and a large entourage of his servants, making it a major social triumph for Crispus. But on the way to the event, something goes amiss. Varus, who has been the conduit for supernatural visions before, experiences another: giant crystalline worms devouring the entire world.

Monsters of the Earth (Excerpt)

Check out Monsters of the Earth, the new novel in David Drake’s ongoing chronicles of Carce, The Books of the Elements, available September 3rd!

Governor Saxa, of the great city of Carce, a fantasy analog of ancient Rome, is rusticating at his villa. When Saxa’s son Varus accompanies Corylus on a visit to the household of his father, Crispus, a retired military commander, Saxa graciously joins the party with his young wife Hedia, daughter Alphena, and a large entourage of his servants, making it a major social triumph for Crispus. But on the way to the event, something goes amiss. Varus, who has been the conduit for supernatural visions before, experiences another: giant crystalline worms devouring the entire world.

Soon the major characters are each involved in supernatural events caused by a struggle between two powerful magicians, both mentored by the deceased poet and mage Vergil, one of whom wants to destroy the world and the other who wishes to stop him. But which is which? There is a complex web of human and supernatural deceit to be unraveled.

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A Kind of Humor

Today it’s accepted that fiction (broadly defined; I’m including film and TV) can describe war in a realistic fashion. Stories aren’t required to be realistic, but they’re permitted to be. Until quite recently, that wasn’t the case. (I remember very vividly being called a pornographer of violence by Analog because I was trying to describe war as I’d seen it from the loader’s hatch of a tank in Cambodia.) That may be part of the reason why very few WW II veterans wrote Military SF.

Robert Heinlein and Gordon R Dickson wrote the most memorable military SF of the 1950s, but they had no combat experience. Mr. Heinlein served briefly as a naval officer in the ’30s before being invalided out with tuberculosis, while Gordy had asthma and spent WW II mowing lawns on army bases in California.

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Series: Military Science Fiction on Tor.com

Poul Anderson’s The High Crusade: An Appreciation by David Drake

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Poul Anderson’s The High Crusade in the pages of Astounding magazine (later to be known as Analog that very year). In celebration, Baen Books is releasing an anniversary paperback edition on Tuesday, September 7th, with appreciations from some of science fiction’s greatest names.

Tor.com will be posting these appreciations throughout Monday and Tuesday of this week, courtesy of Baen Books. These appreciations originally appeared at WebScription, where you can also sample the first few chapters of The High Crusade.

I bought the Astounding (it was in the process of changing its name to Analog, so both names are on the cover) with the first installment of The High Crusade on the newsstand. I didn’t have a subscription to the magazine; I’d read a couple issues, but nothing in them had really blown me away.

I was a working-class fourteen-year-old. I loved SF, but cost was a real factor in my decisions.

The cover of a knight standing in front of a forest of spaceships got my initial fifty cents. I read the installment and immediately subscribed to the magazine. I didn’t care whether it was called Astounding or Analog: if it occasionally ran stories like The High Crusade, it was worth my money.

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The Classical Approach

In my previous post I discussed what the literature of ancient Greece and Rome meant to my writing generally. Here I’ll show you how the classics have specifically affected my latest novel, The Legions of Fire.

This has two parts: first, the texts and incidents that I’ve taken from classical literature for Legions; and second, the cultural ambiance of the world which I’m describing. I’m going to start with the details.

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The Classical Background

A bookstore owner told me a few years ago that a customer had asked her, “Where do you keep the classics? You know—like Jacqueline Susann.”

What I mean by ‘the classics’ is the literature of ancient Greece and Rome. Throughout my adult life, much of my pleasure reading has been in classical literature.

My Latin is good enough that I translate Ovid’s poetry for fun. I put the results up on my website just to keep myself honest, but to my amazement, a fair number of people do read them. My Greek only equips me to annotate other people’s translations, though that can be surprisingly useful.

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