Newsletter #92

NEWSLETTER #92: June 8, 2016

Dear People,

This is a trifle late and will probably be short, for the same reason in both cases: my wife and I just got back from two weeks in Greece. That’s the big news and I hope to have more to say about it next newsletter, but I want to get this out in closer to the proper time than would be possible if I did the trip justice.

But there’s a lot of other stuff. First, Death’s Bright Day, the latest RCN space opera, is out. There’s a Baen hardcover in the US, a Titan trade paperback in the UK (basically; British sizes aren’t quite the same as US sizes), and an Audible audiobook.

Incidentally, if you look at the images you’ll see that Steve Hickman’s cover is one of the best for the US series, but that the Titan cover is totally different and very good as well. (Titan is doing a homogenous treatment on the series, just as Baen has after the first one. I’ve seen the next two: for With the Lightnings and Lt Leary Commanding.)

I’m extremely lucky. I’m amazingly lucky.

I mentioned the Baen Free Radio Hour. Tony Daniel interviewed me about Death’s Bright Day (mostly) before I went to Greece and it’s up now.  I was really nervous about the trip; I don’t travel well, and this was a long one both in miles and time. I finished the interview convinced that I’d really blown it. My brain had been sluggish; I’d maundered and hadn’t answered questions directly. (This podcast also includes Part One of the complete audiobook serialization of The Sea Without a Shore.)

I’ve listened to it now and the reality isn’t nearly that bad. I suspect that Tony trimmed some of my wandering off-point, and I certainly was choosing my words carefully. That said, the words themselves weren’t stupid. I think I was reacting to my stress rather than to my performance.

Besides the interview, I did an RCN short story for and that’s up now also. I was trying to do a bunch of things with it besides just tell a story–in particular, I want it to encourage somebody who’s never read an RCN novel to give one a try–but telling the story is always the main thing. Cadet Cruise is a story, and it’s on the fun side of my output. ‘The kinder, gentler David Drake’ as Toni once described the author of All the Way to the Gallows.

Which brings to mind The Year’s Best Military and Adventure SF 2015, a June release from Baen also. It includes Save What You Can, my latest Hammer story, from Onward, Drake! That one isn’t kind or gentle, but it’s a good story.

A couple years ago a list site suggested there should be an award for Military SF. I disagreed strongly and said that the last thing the SF field needed was another bullshit award for people to get upset about instead of focusing on story.

Toni Weisskopf came up with a response which isn’t bullshit. People can vote on their favorite of the stories in this annual collection. The writer of the winning story gets a plaque–and five hundred bucks. (Some writers might find the honor of the plaque the more important aspect.)

So: read The Year’s Best Military and Adventure SF 2015. Vote on your favorite story from it. You’ll get a collection of good and interesting stories, and you’ll make a writer happy. Maybe you’ll even help to move SF toward a focus on storytelling, which I think is a good direction for it to go.

Just before we went, a Dane named Martin Juergensen asked to reprint on his website my 1975 report on the first World Fantasy Con, and then asked me some follow-up questions on it. This was unexpected, but it was fun to revisit that time. The link to the follow-up is here, and a link on the website will take you to the original (from Whispers, a very long time ago). (The site is Danish, but my content is in English.)

I usually mention in a newsletter how I’m coming on the current project. That project is Reconquest, for Tor, and it’s coming just fine at about 100K. The trip slowed me up a little, but I did a couple thousand words while in Greece, just to keep myself settled.

As I said, I’m not going to describe the trip in detail at this time, but jeepers. I’ve stood on the Acropolis. I’ve stood on the floor of the room in Mycenae where the Trojan War was planned. Think about that!

We expended a lot of effort. I lost four or five pounds that I was glad to have gone. Jo wore a pedometer and was getting generally 5 to 8 miles per day. One day she hit 9.8 miles, but that was the day that we were so exhausted that both Glenn and I had our pockets picked in the subway coming home. (He lost his wallet but not passport; I lost my Kindle with Pausanias on it.)

And I’ll mention one realization I had, in the (wonderful) new Acropolis Museum. Casts of the sculptures from the Acropolis are displayed in their correct positions relative to one another. A sequence of the metopes is devoted to the battle of the Greeks and the Amazons.

I looked at a plaque of an Amazon riding down a Greek and thought of how unpleasant it would be to lift a heavy shield and a spear, then go out to face other people with shields and spears who would try to kill me. Even if a spear thrust weren’t fatal, it’d be a miserable business to be wounded; chances were, I’d be feeling it all the rest of my life.

And then I thought about Viet Nam, and that it hadn’t been a good time either. It still isn’t, in my mind; where all my injuries were.

Peace is really better, people. It really, really is.

–Dave Drake

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