January 22, 2019

David Drake

Thinking the unthinkable

One of the pioneers of military science fiction, David Drake has drawn on his combat experience in Vietnam and his education in history and Latin to create fictional worlds that feel vitally, immediately real. His latest series, Time of Heroes, takes the classic characters of Arthurian legend and transports them to a chaotic universe where humanity is attempting to build a better, safer future. The Storm, Drake’s second installment in the series, follows the heroic and goodhearted Lord Pal as he embarks on a quest for his missing mentor. We talked to Drake about his favorite fictional world, his ideal library and more.

Share this Article:

Sponsored by Baen Books.


One of the pioneers of military science fiction, David Drake has drawn on his combat experience in Vietnam and his education in history and Latin to create fictional worlds that feel vitally, immediately real. His latest series, Time of Heroes, takes the classic characters of Arthurian legend and transports them to a chaotic universe where humanity is attempting to build a better, safer future. The Storm, Drake’s second installment in the series, follows the heroic and goodhearted Lord Pal as he embarks on a quest for his missing mentor. We talked to Drake about his favorite fictional world, his ideal library and more.

Which fictional world would you most like to live in? Which fictional world would you most hate to live in?
The world of Clifford Simak’s The Big Front Yard in which like-minded members of many—perhaps infinite—universes form a community of positive, problem-solving people.

The world of Asimov’s The Caves of Steel, in which the people of overpopulated Earth live and die in human Habitrails in which there is no hope for a different future.

For you, what is the most difficult aspect of world building?
Finding the world I want to use as a template. I almost always start with a place that is or has been real.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
I guess Ned Beaumont, hero of The Glass Key by Dashiell Hammett. Beaumont is very smart and competent, but he’s not trying to run anything. He’s completely loyal to his boss—even when the boss is willing to sell him out.

He leaves when he’s treated badly enough, but he remains loyal—saving the boss as his final act before leaving.

Beaumont is a man of principles and sticks to them even when those around him fail him and fail themselves. That’s their business; he’s responsible for himself.

What do you need to get into the zone while writing?
Ideally I have a photo or drawing of the setting for the current scene laid out beside my computer.

What is the ideal snack/drink to pair with your latest book?
Pal, the hero of The Storm, is a kid from the sticks. He has simple tastes. He prefers ale to lager, and either to wine, which goes to his head.

The author is from Iowa and avoids alcohol because things went badly for those of his ancestors who were not abstainers. This book was written on tea.

Which books were your gateway drug into science fiction & fantasy?
The Angry Planet was the first real SF I read at age 11. It’s a YA, but the themes were utterly adult. Kids stow away on their uncle’s spaceship to Mars. They find a battle between good and evil, which they join on the side of good.

Evil wins, completely and horribly.

This showed me that SF is capable of thinking the unthinkable.

What is the hardest passage you have ever had to write?
A scene in which the viewpoint character of Igniting the Reaches confronts a pair of men who have betrayed him and his friend, and reaches a friendly accommodation without violence.

I came back from Vietnam with a great deal of anger. Describing a man who is well used to violence stepping away from it was very hard—but I knew it was what I needed to do.

Which of your characters would you most like to get a drink with?
Pal, of The Storm. He’s a decent and polite man who isn’t trying to run other peoples’ lives.

Describe your ideal library.
A lot of classical texts—the Greeks in translation.

A lot of memoirs, many of them military. Relatively few biographies. Some secondary history, but mostly those that are memoirs by participants.

Lots of classic SF and fantasy, including magazines.

What’s the first fictional world you came up with as a kid?
Oh, I don’t know about world exactly, but a jungle place with vine-covered ruined cities. Lots of exotic animals.

 

Order The Storm now from: B & N | Amazon | BAM

Get the Book

The Storm

The Storm

By Arif Anwar
Atria
ISBN 9781501174506

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our enewsletters to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.

Trending Interviews

Sign Up

Sign up to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres!