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"The use of force is always an answer to problems. Whether or not it's a satisfactory answer depends on a number of things, not least the personality of the person making the determination. Force isn't an attractive answer, though. I would not be true to myself or to the people I served with in 1970 if I did not make that realization clear."
David Drake

One of the current gods of Military SF, along with Jerry Pournelle, S.M. Stirling, and David Weber--in spite of not writing any military SF anymore. (Unless you count Naval Space Opera.) Known for his explicit and graphic depictions of the effects of warfare on both human bodies and human societies.

David Drake is the author of several sci-fi series, and has a major fantasy series, The Lord of the Isles which finished in late 2008 with The Gods Return. Has numerous other works.

From the book jacket for The Dance of Time :

  • "Vietnam veteran, former lawyer, former bus driver, and now best-selling author..."
  • "Drake graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Iowa, majoring in history (with honors) and Latin."
  • "His stint at Duke University Law School was interrupted for two years by the U. S. Army, where he served as an enlisted interrogator with the 11th Armored Cavalry in Vietnam and Cambodia."

  • From Notes on Northworld on David Drake's website: "I made what I thought was a pointless change from my normal procedure by adding a short afterword to Northworld....Lo and behold, all the reviews of Northworld noted the intricate play of Norse myth in the novel. Well, yes; I'd precised the Elder Edda, the Prose Edda, and the Volsungensaga before I even started to plot. But I always work that way: I'd outlined all of Procopius' works save for The Buildings before I started plotting my first novel, The Dragon Lord. The only difference with Northworld was that I told the reviewers what I'd done; and, being told, they were able to see what I in my innocence had thought was obvious. Live and learn. I frequently write explanatory essays now."

Anecdote on book covers from Notes on Northworld at David Drake's website:

  • "While I was writing Northworld, Beth called to ask what the book was about because they needed to put a cover on it. I sent her a scene of people dueling in powered personal armor. Beth called back in a week. "We had a cover conference on your book," she said. "We're going to put a tank on the cover. Is there a tank in the book?" I told her that there would be, now that I'd been told about the cover. And there is."

Major Series

  • The Lt. Leary series, loosely based off the 18th century British navy, complete with spaceships that travel through hyperspace using sails. However, the sails are handled fairly realistically: stripping a ship's sails with a plasma cannon is a quick and easy way to keep it from escaping into hyperspace, the sails need to be furled and stowed before entering an atmosphere, and when deployed, interfere with the ship's realspace maneuvering and combat.
    • Also known as
      • the Republic of Cinnabar series
      • the Leary/Mundy (after the main characters) series
      • the Lt. Leary, Commanding (after the title of the second book) series.
      • The RCN (Republic of Cinnabar Navy) series, however, is the nomenclature Drake uses.
    • Author's note from The Way to Glory, third book in the series: "The general political background of the RCN series is that of Europe in the mid-eighteenth century, with admixtures of late-Republican Rome. (There's a surprising degree of congruence between British and Roman society in those periods.)"
    • In the same way that Honor Harrington is Hornblower/Nelson In Space, the RCN books are Patrick O'Brian In Space, with Daniel O'Leary in the role of Jack Aubrey and Adele Mundy as Stephen Maturin (only with her being the ship's comms officer rather than its surgeon). And a right deadly comms officer she is, too.
  • The Lord of the Isles: Heroic fantasy series. Ended in late 2008 with The Gods Return, which was the last of the Crown of the Isles trilogy. You read that right.
    • The last three books in the series are known as The Crown of the Isle series.
  • Hammers Slammers] - short stories about futuristic mercenaries under Colonel Alois Hammer. The toughest mercs who ever killed for a dollar. According to Word of God, partly based on the French Foreign Legion in the 1950s, when that service had a large proportion of former SS in its ranks, but also loosely based on the Vietnam-Era 11th Armored Cavalry regiment, with fusion-powered hovercraft "panzers" replacing tanks and smaller combat cars replacing M113 cavalry vehicles.
    • Several collections of short stories, Hammer's Slammers, At Any Price, The Warrior, The Tank Lords, The Butcher's Bill
    • Paying the Piper - The Macedonians against the Aetolian League In Space! Okay, on a planetary surface. (Happy now?)
    • The Sharp End - Rewrite of Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest on a Crapsack World in the Slammerverse, except that one of Colonel Hammer's contract teams serves as the collective hero.
    • Rolling Hot - The Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War retold in the Slammerverse.
    • Counting the Cost - The suppression of the Nika ('Victory') riots in Constantinople under the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 532.
    • Cross the Stars: a retelling of the Odyssey In Space with former Slammer Major Donald 'Mad Dog' Slade as the Odysseus character. Colonel Hammer plays Zeus off-screen.
    • The Voyage: Re-write of the Jason and the Argonauts myth in the Slammerverse. The Jason character is female. The nephew of 'Mad Dog' Slade from Cross the Stars is the viewpoint character. Colonel Hammer again is cast as Zeus, but with only a brief message as an appearance.
  • The General series with S. M. Stirling. (This is not his Belisarius Series. See the next entry.) A retelling of the life of the Byzantine General Belisarius in a sci-fi setting on a world after the fall of civilization. The world, Bellevue, has rebuilt itself to approximately 1900 technology. Aka the Raj Whitehall series, and the Raj Whitehall and Center series. After the fifth book (The Sword in 1995) the stories shifted to other worlds.
    • The Chosen - World War 1.5 on another world. Crammed with references to real-world military events. "The Chosen" themselves are expies of Stirling's own Draka.
    • The Reformer and The Tyrant continued on yet another world in the same Universe with Raj existing as a computer simulation. This time it's the Roman Civil War(?). The Tyrant was co-written with Eric Flint in 2002 and seems to have ended the series.
  • The Belisarius Series with Eric Flint. The life of the Byzantine General Belisarius as an alternate history, where the two great powers from the far future have each sent an emissary to alter the past in Belisarius' lifetime.
  • Northworld series. Retelling of selected Norse myth as sci fi using powered armor. The name's a pun. North for a cold world like the frozen north of Norse myth. "Norse" itself probably ultimately derived from Middle Dutch nort for, what else, "north." Also for "North's World" for the expy of Odin, who in the books is named North and commanded a team sent to explore the planet.
  • The Reaches: Igniting the Reaches, Through the Breach, and Fireships. Set a thousand years after the collapse of an interstellar government, and based on the period when Spanish and British exploration and exploitation were colliding in the New World, with particular inspiration from the exploits of Sir Francis Drake (no relation). The planet Venus fills the role of Britain (ruled by Governor Halys), while Spain is played by the Canada-based government of North America.

Selected Other Works

  • Ranks of Bronze: The campaigns of an ancient Roman Legion captured by aliens who survive as a mercenary army used on low-tech planets.
  • Patriots: Sci-fi retelling of Ethan Allen's capture of the British Fort Ticonderoga during the American Revolutionary War.
    • From David Drake's website: "There were other interesting things about Allen. While unquestionably violent, neither he nor the violent men under his command killed anybody. That's really remarkable. Taking Allen as a model, I wrote a book in which nobody is killed (which a lot of people will find remarkable also)."
    • In the book the Ethan Allen character was described as the type of person who could charge into machine gun fire and survive. This made him dangerous to be around, because the people around him would still get slaughtered.

 "I've met his type before."

"Type? He's a type?"

"Like the Mars Diamond is a type. It's just that all the others aren't flawless and weigh 32 pounds."

  • The Books Of The Elements: Ancient Rome With Magic!
  • Redliners: Science fiction story of a burnt out elite unit assigned to guard involuntary colonists on a Death World. In a weird way, it mixes a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming with High Octane Nightmare Fuel by taking War Is Hell to its logical conclusion--what do you do with, and how can you help, the Shell-Shocked Veteran, when the war is over?
  • Forlorn Hope - Sci-fi foreign mercenaries fight their way out of encirclement and then fight their way off-world when their employers betray them.
  • All the Way to the Gallows - Gallows humor short stories. Includes
    • Mom and the Kids with L. Niven.
    • The Noble Savages - sci-fi sendup of special ops force operating under Political Correctness Gone Mad.
    • A Very Offensive Weapon: Novella in which Fantasy Quest tropes are mercilessly slaughtered.
  • Vettius and Friends: Short stories of gritty fantasy around the time of Ancient Rome.
  • Killer: Alien like aliens come up against retired veteran of the Roman Gladiatorial games. Veteran trained killer vs natural born killers. Think Predator vs Aliens without the sci-fi equipment.
  • The Dragon Lord - Gritty retelling of the story of King Arthur; Drake described the personality of his Arthur as a cross between Alexander the Great and Adolf Hitler.
    • This novel was originally intended as a pastiche novel of Robert E. Howard's historical adventure character Cormac Mac Art. Drake re-wrote it when the pastiche was declined.
  • The March Up Country: Xenophon Recycled in Space.

Full Bibliography at David Drake's website. Not quite up to date at the time of this writing (Mar, 2009).

His works provide examples of:

Click on Related to... at the top of the page for articles linking to this page. Currently (2009-03-13) there are 42. Most of them are tropes with examples from David Drake's works.

The Belisarius Series and The General series have their own articles with trope examples. Again, click on their Related to... links to find tropes with examples from those series.

  • The Quiet One: Tovera, Adele Mundy's aide. Subverted in that she's a tiny female. So self-effacing she's ignored by police responding to murderous violence at a society garden party in Lt. Leary, Commanding, despite the fact that she's holding a sub-machine gun. Deadlier than her mistress, the Badass Bookworm. Much deadlier.
  • Occasionally drops Shout Outs to modern culture into his work. A punning one was in The Sharp End when a ship from the Marvelan Confederacy was known as the Argent Server.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Adele Mundy from the RCN, Joachim Steuben from Hammers Slammers, Hussein ben Mehdi from The Forlorn Hope, Stephen Gregg from The Reaches.... And that's not counting how, in The General and its follow-ons, Center can augment someone's marksmanship to levels that leave hardened soldiers staring in awe.