a question about military novels.

Think about your favorite military-themed novel (SF or otherwise), if you have one.  Did the author serve in the military?  Is it necessary for a writer of military fiction to have been in the military to lend the story authenticity, or is it possible to “fake the funk”?

Furthermore–can someone who’s never served write a military novel that’s convincing enough to a veteran?

When I read a military novel of whatever genre, I can generally tell if the author has first-hand knowledge of military service.  Research can get you a long way, but there are certain bits and pieces of flavoring that usually mark the military vet author.  Those are the things that will often only be picked up by military vet readers–small stuff that seems insignificant to someone who hasn’t worn a uniform, but that’ll instantly lend verisimilitude to the story. 

For example, John Scalzi and Joe Haldeman are both outstanding MilSF writers, but I can tell which one of the two has carried a rifle and a rucksack in a combat zone.  The Old Man’s War books are among my favorite military science fiction novels, but some of the details just kind of bumped me in the synapses, so to speak.  (For example, a drill instructor would never aim a loaded weapon at a recruit, or tolerate a recruit aiming that weapon at someone else with live ammo in the gun, regardless of the safety protocols active on the weapon.  That’s just one thing that wouldn’t bother someone who’s never been a drill instructor–probably 99% of the readership.)  With other writers, it’s stuff like weapons technology and -handling, or other military procedure that doesn’t at least somewhat match real life.  Overall, Scalzi’s writing is so good in every respect that I am more than willing to overlook that little niggle and keep reading.

(To give a contrasting example, John Ringo gets all his military and weapon details right, but his writing isn’t as polished as Scalzi’s, and I can’t get into his stories precisely because a weaker handle on the language is a much bigger turnoff to me than a very minor technical inconsistency in otherwise great writing.  I’ve read all of Scalzi’s stuff; I’ve read very few of Ringo’s books.)

If you have a favorite military novel, whether SF or historical or what-have-you: how does your military experience (or the lack thereof) make you look at the narrative considering the author’s military experience (or the lack thereof)?  Can a good, strong story overcome minor flaws based on lack of personal experience?  Can an in-depth knowledge of military technology and procedure save an otherwise mediocre narrative?

In short, do you have to have been a soldier to write novels about soldiers that are convincing enough to soldiers?

43 thoughts on “a question about military novels.

  1. J.R. Shirley says:

    I’m not certain you do, but I love Ringo’s stuff. If you can’t tell from my reading list on my blog.

  2. LL says:

    I lurrrrrrrrrve John Ringo and I’ve spent all of my life around military men. Ringo’s irreverence and “feel” ring very true for me. I’ve read other military sci fi and I can tell who has and has not served. *shrug*

    By the way, Ringo and a couple of other sci fi novelists did interviews with Laughing Wolf on Blackfive.net several months ago. They’re interesting.

  3. Peter says:

    In short, yes, absolutely you need military experience (and, more than that, combat experience) if you want to convince military veterans.

    As a combat vet, I find myself reading military SF with a very jaundiced eye. I find a great many combat scenes completely unconvincing, precisely because the nature of combat won’t change as far as the reactions of individual participants is concerned. Sure, they may be using a Mark 40 DeLameter projector with infrared gizzwatts, but they’ll still be putting their lives on the line, trying to get the other guy before he gets them.

    In my own military SF writing (still in its infancy, but hoping for publication soon), I strive to draw on my combat experience and ‘translate’ the scenes into my scenario. So far, other combat vets have told me it’s working well.

  4. Ken says:

    I never served, and I’m kind of at a loss as to how to approach this question…but that never stopped my opening my yap before, but here goes.

    My favorite novelists, genre or otherwise, are J.R.R. Tolkien and Herman Wouk. Okay, Lord of the Rings isn’t a military work, but I think the Professor’s time in the trenches probably contributed to his ability to tell the War of the Ring. Wouk’s experience in the Navy pretty clearly contributed to The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War, and War and Remembrance. Anton Myrer’s service doesn’t seem to have hurt Once an Eagle any, either.😉

    My favorite works of military SF (so far) are Freehold and Road to Damascus, and both Williamson and (as has been mentioned already) Ringo are veterans. So I’m gonna say that, yes, it probably helps with authenticity and/or verisimilitude. It might be possible to overcome a lack of actual experience with sufficient writing ability and a good technical advisor (above and beyond research).

  5. Chris C. says:

    I’m a non-combat veteran, but 40 years of reading military history and sf (both military and other flavors) has given me a decent feel for how depictions of combat should read. I have found that, more often than not, having combat experience is quite important to writing about combat. That being said, the ability to write a good yarn is more important. If you can do both together, you’re going to go far.

    I like some of Ringo’s writing, but not all. I like nearly everything from David Drake. I obviously need to pick up Scalzi (thanks for the recommendation).

    As a side note, when I was in ROTC, I went to Ft Knox for 2 weeks as a “third lieutnenat.” One day on the rifle range, as a junior safety officer, a trainee was sloppy with his weapon and pointed it in my general direction. Three drill instructors more or less teleported on top of that young recruit and proceeded to “instruct” him as to proper weapons protocol. Heh.

  6. Mark Alger says:

    I like the Dorsai stories — in particular The Tactics of Mistake. And, yes, Gordon R. Dickson was a vet — served in the U.S. Army during WWII.

    M

  7. Chang says:

    I never served. I honor and respect those that did.

    I figure if Scalzi can write good military SF so can I. With some work.

    Is the point to get it right or to tell a story?

    Sandra McDonald is a fave of mine. Folks say she gets the military stuff down pat.

  8. Eric says:

    I actually returned my copy of Ringo’s Ghost, it was that bad.

    I’m surprised Heinlein hasn’t been mentioned. He was a Naval Academy graduate. In my opinion, Starship Troopers couldn’t have been written by anyone without military experience.

  9. pdb says:

    I’ve never served, so discount my opinion that much.

    However, as a student of military history, one thing I appreciate in John Ringo’s writing is how nothing ever goes according to plan, but the good guys find a way to win anyway.

    Too much .mil scifi is concluded with the good guys coming up with a cunningly complicated plan that is flawlessly executed. I’m looking at you David Weber.

  10. pdb says:

    Oh yeah, Ringo also has a keen and apparently personal understanding of the forehead slappingly stupid ways the military bureaucracy goes about its business, and the ways in which type-A’s circumvent it.

  11. Bob S. says:

    I would have say it depends on if the combat is being used to move the story forward or to provide atmosphere, if that makes sense.

    If the combat is central to the story, then getting the details right is essential. On the other hand, if the combat is the backdrop (thinking Heinlein’s Starship) then it isn’t as critical.

  12. cremes says:

    My favorite mil-sf author is Michael Z. Williamson (already mentioned above). I never served, but his stuff really clicks for me.

    I’d say that military experience is necessary but not sufficient. I’ve read plenty of mil-sf that may have been accurate (how would I know?) but the ideas were so sucky it didn’t matter (the Orphanage series, for example… I forget the author).

  13. Chris Byrne says:

    I almost always know, sometimes I care sometimes I don’t.

    There have been times when I thought someone served and they didn’t, that’s how good their understanding was. It’s never been the other way around; though some wrote badly enough it was hard to tell.

    Although there are times when a former servicemember is writing about another service (it’s usually Navy writing about Air Force and vice verse that gets it the most wrong), or the service of another country (the brits almost uniformly screw up writing about our military, except the navy. We almost uniformly screw up writing about their military, except the Navy) that can also get irritating.

    Yeah, getting gun, aircraft, vehicle etc… details wrong always irritates me, but I can generally get over that (unless they keep making the same stupid mistakes over and over again). Hardware is hardware, and it changes over time anyway (though again, really stupid mistakes can ruin it).

    Also I give more slack to those authors who have not served, but who at least understand and convey the ethos of service.

    What really pisses me off, and ruins books for me; is when they write the military “as seen on tv”.

    What I mean by that is, they write what a TV or movie writer would have the characters doing or saying; not what a real servicemember would do or say under those circumstances.

    The defense for that is usually “well, it’s adventure fiction, we need to add excitement” or some other such crap… and I suppose to an extent that can be true; but when the major dramatic dilemma could be solved by anyone with the most basic military knowledge in two minutes… Yeah that’s a book ruiner.

  14. Assrot says:

    In a word my answer to your question would be “Yes”.

    I can’t stand military SciFi that is written by someone that has never been there. It’s irritating to me when I catch the stupidity that I know a soldier would never do or say.

    Joe

  15. Chris Byrne says:

    Eric,

    Ghost was actually bad intentionally. He said before he wrote it that it was going to be bad, and that he was deliberately making the worst possible Marty Stu, etc… etc…

    It’s like someone trying to write military SF as Don Pendleton.

    So long as you approach it from that stance, it (and its followons) are great fun.

  16. Aaron says:

    I have to largely agree with Chris. Not too surprising, it happens a lot.

    Scalzi is a very good example. Even Tom Kratman came out and said it was an excellent series, even though Scalzi was not a veteran. Sure, I know he wasn’t just a few pages in, but then I am.

    The fact is, it doesn’t matter. Does it make a difference? Sure. It certainly makes the job of the author a lot more difficult and he may have to change the structure of his story to play to his strengths, but a truly excellent mil novel does not require a veteran writing it.

    Although it pretty much does require having a veteran (or veterans) on hand to answer questions.

  17. Al T. says:

    I enjoy Ringo, but he is not a combat veteran. He gets some of the details right, but dates himself.

    As far as needing to be a veteran, everybodies experiance is a bit different. I think if you stick to broad statements, the realism will come through. IMHO, Harry Turtledove does a good job at this and he never served.

  18. Eric says:

    Chris,

    Well, if Ghost was intentionally bad, he succeeded. I don’t have the money to waste, which is why that one went back to the bookstore unfinished.

  19. EleDee says:

    Peter Rabbit Tank Killer by Beatrix Potter and Sven Hassel

    Peter Rabbit Tank Killer

  20. Kaerius(SWE) says:

    The first four books of the posleen series by ringo were awesome, I understand it goes downhill from there as he brings in co-authors though, and I’ve skipped them.

    And yes, I think you can do well enough, even so the vets can’t tell, at least if you stick to mil-sf, or truly well-researched historical mil fiction. I’d say it just takes a lot more effort, and perhaps empathy, to do so.

    If I had the drive to do it, 6 months could probably have me churn out a short story about life in the trenches in WW I, that would fool current day military vets… though I’d probably need 15 years to make a novel out of it. (Note: I make no claims that it’ll be a good read).

    Of course an author can also cheat by having access to a real vet as a consultant and sounding board would help the process a lot, even without the author being a vet himself.

  21. Strings says:

    Well, I can’t really speak for milscifi: most is based on ground units, and I was in Unca Sugar’s Yacht Club. However, it was my experience in the Nav that opened my eyes to the glaring problems with Star Trek…

  22. mac says:

    No mil xp here. Nor do I typically read mil sf. I do rather like Ringo’s stuff, because it seems to focus on small-unit activities and tactics. He made war theory actually make sense to me. Still, most of what I’ve read that involved military action was high fantasy. High fantasy warfare never makes sense to me.

  23. Y.T. says:

    I don’t know, but USMC general Paul van Riper*(retired) said, that he didn’t believe civilians could get what war/combat is really about, until he read John Keegan’s Face of Battle.

    Now he thinks, if they study a lot, and want to know what’s it’s like, they can. But the likes of Mr.Rumsfeld, or McNamara.. never bothered.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/pentagon/interviews/vanriper.html

    *the soldier who ran red team in the Millenium Challenge war game.

    So, I think if you put a lot of effort into it….

  24. MarkHB says:

    Depends on what you want out of the book. Do you want to be transported and entertained, do you want to be drenched in the fiddlin’ minutiae of a professional warriors’ life, or do you want both?

    I’ve not served, but I can tell the difference between a serviceman’s book and a nonserviceman’s. These days MilSF from ex-servicefolk tends to get the first quarter-to-third of the book skipped because, minor variances notwithstanding, if I read about Basic one more time then blood will jet out of my eyesockets and I’ll slam my nuts in a desk drawer a few times just to distract myself. I’m working through Michael Z. Williamson’s “The Weapon” at the moment, and skimmed the Basic, the Intermediate and the Advanced training sections, disposing of the first 25% of the book in about 30 minutes rather than read about the Same Damn Thing All Over Again.

    Cue outraged howling. Look, I loved Freehold, OK, and I get it, the guy can write – but training has been done a thousand times by a thousand people, and there are only so many ways you can write about it. Alright? At this point, The Training Bit is seen as de rigeur and it’s Not MilSF if you don’t have a clone of Gunny Hartman bellowing creative abuse at people.

    Yawn.

    Scalzi managed to make The Basic Training Bit actually entertaining, by not having it remotely like Actual US Army Basic. In fact, his characters were rarely Warriors First, having had 70+ years of life in utterly unrelated careers. This gave him the freedom to layer in a lot more character interest and vibrance which is largely missing in a lot of MilSF.

    Heinlein managed the same vibrance in his MilSF, because he’s Bob and he traded in a battleship for something much more dangerous in his hands – a typewriter.

    I’m picking on the training here as a single example, though. MilSF, like all SF, has the same basic hangups.

    Some people get put off by technical failures: Spaceships moving like Spitfires through the aether, laser bolts moving at a brisk walking pace, “five light-minutes to port” meaning “ship looks 50% size on screen”. Boo-boos. Cockups. Inaccuracies.

    Some people get put off by dry descriptions, thin characterisations, unsophisticated writing styles and OH JOHN RINGO NO.

    Frankly, I get put off by both. *shrugs* I’d rather have a book written by someone who knows what they’re talking about, but isn’t so married to their knowledge that they turn the whole book into a field manual. Taking a sideways cant on it, I know a thing or two about physics, but if I wrote a story about spaceflight, I wouldn’t spend a quarter of the story telling my readers the exact minutiae of how a Polywell fusor can be used to provide a plasma fountain for a magnetic nozzle. In fact, that’s probably 90% of what I’d say on the topic.

    By the same token, a serviceman or ex-serviceman’s story can be aided enormously by adding little bits of knowledge as garnish – but turning the whole yarn into a field-manual becomes boring, grating and after long enough repetative.

    Invoice for $0.02 in the post…

  25. wolfwalker says:

    Pay that invoice, Marko; ’tis a well-spent tuppence.

    No military background here either, save secondhand as an amateur military historian, so apply salt as desired: When I read military-themed fiction, I can generally tell if the author knows anything about the military, but I usually can’t tell if it’s first-hand knowledge or second-hand (ie, from lots of research and talking to veterans) knowledge.

    For that matter, when I read military nonfiction I can often tell whether the author actually understands the subject or not. I have read books where the author so obviously didn’t understand the subject that it hurt. I can also often tell the difference between a book written by an enlisted man vs. one written by an officer.

    I think the point is that the more you know about a topic, the more likely you are to notice what the author gets wrong, and the more likely it is to matter to you. I can’t read most biology-based SF anymore. I know too much about biology for it to be convincing. Likewise for any SF that depends on an alien planet’s lifeforms being compatible with terrestrial lifeforms.

    Mac: your statement that high fantasy military stuff makes no sense to you surprises me, because I generally find fantasy mil-fic easier to understand. What about it doesn’t make sense to you, may I ask?

  26. T.Stahl says:

    In short, do you have to have been a soldier to write novels about soldiers that are convincing enough to soldiers?

    So it appears to me.
    Tom Clancy, Frederick Forsyth – not convincing.
    Harold Coyle, Andy McNab – convincing.

    I finished Forsyth’s The Afghan a few weeks ago. In retrospect I felt like reading a story developed by McNab but written by Clancy. A nice read for people who haven’t served, with limited knowledge about military technology and weapons. It compared to a McNab novel like <Red Storm Rising compares to Coyle’s Team Yankee. Both are books about WW3, the first with carefully knitted complex plots, the other a convincing description of the actions of a company in a modern war.

    So yes, having done what you write about helps to sound convincing.

    A completely different topic is translations.
    My brother has German versions of (originally) English books that I have. Most of them are horrible.

  27. LittleRed1 says:

    My favorites are still the Sterling/Pournell Spartans series and David Drake’s Hammer’s Slammers. “Starship Troopers” is somewhere between the top two.
    I’m not in the military, but many of my friends are and I grew up reading military history.I’m a civilian pilot, and I’ve also worked with paramedics and seen non-combat small-group leadership in action (and in inaction).
    I’m not so concerned about whether the author has served or not. I want a readable story, characters that catch my interest and make me want to follow along, and a detailed but not overly complicated plot (ahem, David Weber, if you are reading this . . .)
    I write mil sci-fi as a hobby, and the few military (Army and Marines at this point) folks who’ve read bits like my stuff and say I haven’t made any glaring errors yet. I take that as a compliment, and encouragement to keep doing more homework.
    So there’s my minor contribution.

  28. Matt says:

    WEB Griffin, Stephen Coonts, Alistair Maclean all served, and all write (or wrote [mostly]) very entertaining books. Admittedly the quality tailed off towards the end of Maclean’s career as he grew too fond of the malt, and some of the other two gentlemen’s collaborative efforts haven’t been my cuppa, but mostly good. Vince Flynn, for example, though he’s a hometown guy, might be better off writing graphic novels for all of the character depth he seems capable of.

    As for Mil SF, I read and enjoyed Scalzi’s series. I tried to read one of Ringo’s books, but the rather abrupt shift from Clancy-esque weapons talk to Penthouse grade pr0n-I’m not a prude, but combine that switch with a rather wooden writing style, and I donated my copy to my local library.

    Matt
    St Paul

  29. Chris Byrne says:

    MarkHB, you are very wrong about the training sequences in “The Weapon”.

    Otherwise, yeah, the bootcamp thing is cliche at this point; but there’s a reason for that. When you write, do you write assuming your readers are knowledgeable and experienced in the genre, or do you write for every reader; including those that are first time readers, or not otherwise experienced in the genre?

    It’s a balancing act; very similar to the balance between exposition, dialogue, description, and plot. Not enough of one can ruin the others just as easily as too much.

  30. William the Coroner says:

    Never served myself, but I’ve done an awful lot of work in V.A. Hospitals over the years. I have an idea. It probably helps to have lived as a soldier/sailor before you pick up a pen. Then of course, it also probably depends on what you thought of your service. Heinlein had a totally different take on his service career than Asmiov did. Likewise Gene Roddenberry, who was a Navy vet and the whole “Starfleet isn’t a military force” is just irritating. Again, Steven White in his Sector General novels has a General Hospital in space with a Starfleet thing grafted on. I can’t swallow his Starfleet clone nor his hospital nonsense. But I choose not to care for the three hours it takes me to read the book.

    BTW, thanks for the reading suggestions, and eliminating my free time. What do youse guys think of Iain M Banks?

  31. MarkHB says:

    William: I think quite a lot of Iain M. Banks. Brilliant imagination. A far more realistic “Utopia” than Gene Roddenberry’s (if that’s a good thing or a bad one is up to you). However, it must be said that he rarely “tells a story”, instead taking 400 pages to describe a situation, to paint a picture rather than to build a narrative.

  32. Matt says:

    I haven’t served beyond a few years as a Royal Canadian Air Cadet. Not sure if that counts but I have at least been exposed to concepts like basic, teamwork, military discipline (both motivational and punishment), some basic weapons handling skills and so on.

    Perhaps unlike other civilians who have never served in a formal sense, I do understand what it feels like to have a drill (flight) sergeant screaming in your face about having a thread on your uniform or a chevron not sewn on properly.

    I have never seen combat. So all I can do is drawn upon others experiences and from those I have known who have seen combat. Whether I write it convincingly I do not know as I have not sent any of my work out for critique.

    I think it is possible for a writer who hasn’t served to get it right but it requires work and research. Ideally, it serves to have friends who have served and dodged bullets. I’d argue that accurate documentaries can help. History and Military Channel can be your friends to get a sense of how things are done. Friends who are in it and gone through it are better though.

    I focus on the Naval/Air Force sci-fi side of things but I am a proponent of “hard” science fiction. And rather conservative from a technological standpoint. No visible laser beams, no “Star Wars” fighter combat, actual realistic vector based movement, long combat time frames, targets virtually never seen each other and so on. Whether it is possible for someone who has never seen battle to capture the terror of fighting and dying silently and alone, I don’t know but I do try.

    I prefer the human aspects of it with the military experience serving as the scaffolding. It is about the characters and not about the military they are in. I try to not make the military aspects central.

  33. williamthecoroner says:

    An additional thought, I don’t know about being yelled at by a D.I., but I have a whole lot of experience being humiliated in morning report. I think there may be some overlap.

  34. perlhaqr says:

    *hoovers more books into the gaping maw of literary consumption*

    Books books books books books books!

    Sorry, I can’t tell. I have no taste. I like Scalzi and Heinlein and Ringo and Niven and Correia and and and…

    I’d probably even read those stupid Twilight books. 😉

  35. Eric Hammer says:

    I find this sort of thing bothers me a good bit, but only when it is a main plot point or focus of a scene. I have problems watching movies with melee combat where the fighters are just “Flynning” not actually believably fighting, or writers like Lee Child who can’t be bothered to research how guns work, or what happens to a body when it is dropped out of a helicopter at a few thousand feet.
    On the other hand, I didn’t even notice the bit in Old Man’s War with them pointing the guns at each other, just taking in the general theme of “Advanced gun, very safe.” Now, it did occur to me that “military stuff never works THAT well” but it wasn’t important enough to the story that it threw a flag.
    I guess that is the key, at least to me: versimlitude is much easier when you don’t point out the weak spots. In other words, if you are writing about swordsmen, learn to personally use a sword. Even if you are not a world class fencer it will give you a lot of insight into what is and is not possible.

  36. MarkHB says:

    I guess what it comes down to is that a nonserviceman can ignore a lot of the military stuff, and get away with it through good plotting. But no amount of Clancying on the intricacies of a firearm’s operation is going to make up for stilted dialogue, cardboard cut-out imagery and plastic characters.

    When it comes to your point about smacking true with servicemen themselves, I think that they can call “bullshit” a good few kilometres out – as with any specialty, it’s not just got it’s own specialist knowledge, it’s got it’s own language (of which there are many dialects), even it’s own syntax of radio calls, brevity code, pronounciations and do you pronounce it “Ell Ay See” or “Lack”.

    As to which is more important though old man, your “basic” in TBMSFO was sufficiently fresh and different from De Riguer that my eyes remained unhaemed and my balls undrawered, despite your intimate knowledge of the subject matter. You delivered the texture of someone who’s actually strapped hellychupters to their bottoms for Queen and Country or similar, without getting so close to the daily drudge of it that it feels like a checklist rather than a chapter.

    In, as ever, my arrogant opinion.

  37. Anytime and every time you get into a specialized field, it’ll either take actual experience in which you were paying attention, or a heck of a lot of research and a really good skill at writing (as well as a good critique circle) to pass for realism in that field.

    Or, as my mother often grumbled, never watch a military movie with soldiers, or a flying movie with pilots. She’d end up retreating and glaring daggers at anyone who came into the kitchen for more snacks or beer before rejoining the enthusiastic critiques and suggestions shouted at the screen. She’d probably do the same if she ever saw my friends and I watching any movie or show “set in Alaska” or “with bush pilots.”

    The military brat in me is often enough to tell whether or not something sounds real – if it feels like something I heard late at night in the living room, chances are high the author’s served. Communications always go to hell, equipment breaks down, bureaucracy stifles every attempt at fixing the first two and resupply, soldiers will pull pranks and creatively interpret orders, boredom is rampant, and movement of mass groups means everything you need gets scattered. And there’s always mud.

    On the other hand, the converse is not true – being former military does not mean they’ll create a good story, because a good story is about plot and character, not paperwork, rifle parts, sleep, mud, and bitching in that peculiar and profane dialect of english called Army. A nonserving author can still write a story good enough I’ll happily read it, while a serving author may make me drop the book in disinterest ten pages in.

    This is especially true if the action encompasses military but is not limited to it. I often like books that follow timelines through civilian and military sides, and show events from both points of view. I rarely like books that are about a young punk entering basic training and being straightened up and taught to shoot right, then sent off to glory hallelujah, because the military as a coming of age plotline has been mined out, usually poorly. Similarly, the tendency of military authors to spend twenty pages obsessing over their battle plan through the various factions reviewing it takes all the the surprise, immediacy, and enjoyment out of it, even if the battle plan goes to hell in a handbasket about three shots in. Three pages obsessing over your awesome superweapon are similarly dull, and the super special ranger unit as the deus ex machina is tiresome and worn.

  38. T.Stahl says:

    Or, as my mother often grumbled, never watch a military movie with soldiers, or a flying movie with pilots.
    Watched a semi-documentary movie about the hijacking of the Landshut in ’77 and the terrorist racked the slide of his 1911, and racked it in the next scene, and in the next scene, andin the next scene,…
    Will have to watch it again and do a count.😉

  39. JRD says:

    I’m reading the Jack Campbell “Lost Fleet” series which does a decent job of describing tactics of fleet engagements at relativistic speeds.

  40. tjbbpgob says:

    I have read several of W.E.B. Griffins books including some of the police novels. Griffin is a veteran, I am a veteran, his works however seem to be “read one you’ve read them all ” type of novels. What gets to me are the endless military radio or teletype transmissions from one unit to the next or from one superior to a subornate.

  41. Wow this is tough one. One of the reasons I wrote my two novels about submarines is many authors lacked the first hand knowledge of submarines and submarine operations. Shouting “DIVE DIVE when you are already underwater really ruined it for me.

    I do believe that someone who has done exhaustive research and has at least talked with military people can do a great job.

    D. Clayton Meadows
    Author of
    OF ICE AND STEEL
    EPITAPH

  42. wrm says:

    I’m about three quarters through _Old Man’s War_ and I actually went and googled for how old Scalzi is. Because he came across as being young-ish (well, he’s a *bit* younger than I am).

    Not having a military background, the military stuff doesn’t jar, although I don’t think that realistically, in that scenario, basic training would resemble his version.

    But there are other things that jar. Things that Tom Robbins would probably have got right🙂

    Anyway, thanks, Marko, for the Scalzi tip.

  43. […] Live Blog Stats Scalzi rocks 19 Jul '09 19 July 2009 @ 3:46 pm by wrm Marko pointed me to Scalzi. Being of the opinion that Marko knows what he’s talking about most of the time🙂 […]

Comments are closed.