David Drake’s Hammer’s Slammers Stories
Dear CaitieCat, I agree about ignorance not being a sin; but when I'm depressed (well, when I'm _unusually_ depressed) I wonder why the heck people write about things they're ignorant of. But I made a point of not writing an essay on the history of the sub-genre, so I'll shut up about that. The Night Shade hcs are truly lovely books. The contents (including the art) is the same in the Baen tps (actually omnitrades) and they're cheaper; but I really appreciate Jason and Jeremy doing their editions. Oh, and one further note to P-1: to a reader, all that matters is that a book is available in some form. To a writer, it matters a great deal whether the book is in print and the writer will be paid for the book the reader buys. The reason I mentioned being in print is that it's an accurate predictor of the book's lasting popularity. Dave Drake
David Drake’s Hammer’s Slammers Stories
Dear P-1, (#8) I thought about this before replying. (As usual.) I think the Locus Crowd would have agreed with your second formulation: that no one who read traditional Military SF was a serious, literate SF reader. David did not and does not subscribe to that statement, but the people who considered themselves serious and literate SF readers did believe that. Unless you were the target, I don't think you can imagine the venom that was unleashed on people like Jerry Pournelle (who appeared to relish it) and me (who most certainly did not like to be abused). Among other things, I remember calling Bruce Sterling on a flat untruth. He responded, "I don't care about facts. People can get facts anywhere. I'm creating opinion." I am intelligent and educated; I think it would be fair to describe me as cultured, at least on the basis of my translating Latin verse in my spare time. But it was all right to lie about me because I wrote what looked like traditional Military SF. I think David's essay accurately described the attitude of the Locus Crowd. They may not remember now what they said then--but I remember. Sincerely, Dave Drake
A Kind of Humor
Dear Mr Hardy (44), Thank you. My fiction was a tool to keep myself mentally between the ditches. (I wasn't conscious of this for a long time, but it's obviously true.) Prettying up the truth to gain the approval of folks like Stanley Schmidt wouldn't have helped me at all. Except, of course, to make sales. Which is much less important than keeping out of jail or worse. Best wishes, Dave Drake
A Kind of Humor
Dear John (AKA 22), It is no longer acceptable for generals to slap soldiers with PTSD (shell shock) and call them cowards as Patton did; or for that matter, to shoot them for Lack of Moral Fiber as the British did in WW I. People are able to be more open about their problems. I don't think that means the problems are more common. For that matter--take a look at the picture of me at the head of this essay. Do you think I was normal? I sure told people that I was. Dave
A Kind of Humor
Dear People, 14) Thank you. 15) A good point--the best example I can think of, though, is Ballard wo was in a Japanese prison camp. But they're none of them (that I know of) writing Military SF. 16) Agreed. 17) Don't get into that 'our war was worse than their war' crap. I would be amazed to learn that combat troops today are any more sensitive than we were in Nam or our great grandfathers were during the Philippines Insurection ("They may be Taft's little brown brothers, but they ain't no kin to me!"). 18) Charles Platt contrasted my 'queasy voyeurism' with Heinlein's realism, because Heinlein was a combat veteran and I was not. The comment about Heinlein, who spent the war in Philadelphia and Thought Very Hard about kamikazes bothered me as much as Mr Platt's lie about my own background. 19) Don't weaken a valid argument with crap. Off the top of my head, look at This Island Earth by Raymond E Jones (three novellas bound as a novel) directly comparing Earth in an interstellar war with Guadalcanal, and The Liberation of Earth by William Tenn, a story. I could find more if I thought it was worth looking. As always, Dave Drake
A Kind of Humor
Dear People, I'm going to try another group reply. Keep your fingers crossed. 9) Dr Schmidt states categorically that it isn't his policy to attack Nam vets; but quite clearly, it wasn't something that bothered him enough to change. Believe me, worse things happened to other vets, and even to me. 10) Thank you. I try to tell the truth as I know it. 11) From comments he made in PITFCS from ca 1960, Russell was an enlisted man in the RAF. 12) And absolutely yes! A friend of mine was a fire fighter. Boy! did he have stories about that sort of thing. Dave Drake
A Kind of Humor
Dear Shalter (and Irene), Thank you. I have successfully done that. (Actually, it had been done for me a while ago but I didn't remember how) Dave
The Classical Approach
Dear People, I'll try another group answer. To the first four questions. (Not necessarily in order.) Spartacus: Blood and Sand doesn't ring a bell. (I saw the movie from the Howard Fast book many years ago, of course.) I'm not good on popular culture. As a matter of fact, when a friend mentioned he was in the Farmville Community website, I thought he was talking about the town in Idaho he grew up in. Truly. Writing is hard work and often frustrating; but yes, I take great pleasure in it. If you're doing something for any reason except that (on balance) it makes you feel good, you ought to be doing something else. Umm. The Dragon Lord is my first novel. It's got some good stuff in it, but it's badly structured and a great deal harsher than most fantasy readers are going to want. (It's very much on the Robert E. Howard end of the spectrum rather than the Tolkien end of the spectrum.) I think I'd recommend Lord of the Isles for fantasy (or Legions, for that matter). The Voyage would work as an introduction, but the first of my RCN space operas, With the Lightnings, would work at least as well. (Feel free to buy everything I've ever written, but I'm trying to be honest, here.) And sure, I gave myself 750 words and used 743, so there are lots of nuances that I elided. (The evidence of female praenomina is new to me, though.) One thing I'd have liked to add to the essay is the confusion which the lack of specific female names causes. For centuries people assumed that the Clodia about whom Catullus wrote and the Clodia about whom Cicero wrote were the same woman. I'm now convinced that they were sisters (and there was a third sister of similar habits too). All best, Dave Drake
The Classical Background
Dear People, I'm going to try this again. I had (after some effort) managed to get logged in (I'm not very good with internet stuff; and Henry VIII had some domestic problems). I then did a careful response to the first six comments. When then vanished when I hit Preview. We were in the mountains for our (43d) anniversary and the internet connection wasn't 100%. We're now home and I'm going to try this again as a Word document which I will attempt to cut and paste. Wish me luck. 1) I'm impressed by your Pindar. The one thing I translated from Greek of which I'm proud is Hector's farewell to Astyanax. That may be the best short passage not only in Homer but in all literature, so I guess I can claim to have gone out on a high note. 2) A friend who read a draft mentioned the ST4 connection, which seems likely to me also. I thought of dropping it from the essay but decided to leave it because: a) it was told for true--and the customer really did head for S in the Literature section; and b) it makes a good point. When Stephen Donaldson speaks of the classics, he means 'classic English literature'. What you see depends on where you're standing. 3) Wow, that's a heck of a lot more of Cicero's speeches than I've gotten through. (Though I read a couple of the OCT volumes of his letters and may get back to them.) If you do decide to read Ovid, remember that he was trained as a lawyer (as was I). His internal dialogues can generally be read as alternative defenses. (I was not in the state at the time the murder was committed; and if it be proven that I was in the state at the time, nonetheless I didn't kill the victim; and if it be proven that I did kill the victim, it was in self defense and anyway, the bastard deserved it.) And yes, the Founding Fathers were very heavily steeped in classical thought, though not always first hand. Washington and Jefferson both were affected by Addison's play Cato at Utica, for example. And you can't intelligently discuss any of the (English) Augustan writers without a grounding in the classics. 4) Ah! Yes, see the paragraph above. You personally may be amused to learn that I've used "Hesiod's" Shield of Heracles in the sequel to Legions (working title Monsters from the Deep) which is currently something over half drafted and will be rising again now that I'm back from Chimney Rock. 5) Ammianus was a major influence on me. My first series (Vettius and Dama, which I began to write in 1971) was a result of reading him. The reason I mentioned Amida is that it really hit me; to the extent that when I managed to get to Turkey, I made a point of going to Amida (modern Diyarbakir) and standing on the enormous walls. The stonework you see today is medieval, but the foundations go back to Rome--and Ammianus. 6) That now seems likely (see 2, above). 7) My bikes have motors, but I haven't driven a car in close on 25 years. I can sympathize more vividly with you than you might imagine. I'm very sorry. 8) I'm not ept on-line and so not familiar with your Lacus Curtius, but I'm hugely amused by the name. Classicists really do have a sense of humor! (Brave young knight hurls himself into a spreading chasm and saves Rome by his sacrifice.) The historians--particularly Polybius--have given me lots of plot business for my SF; but not for my fantasies, for some reason. On which subject, check the essay the nice people at tor.com will be running next week (Friday, I guess?). I will now make a second attempt to post this. If I can't do it, I'll send it to Bridget as an attachment and she will do what's necessary, but I'm going to try. Every day in every way.... Dave Drake

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