Attention Readers, this is not Blackfive, but rather Laughing Wolf. If you want to read just him, skip this one. If you disagree with this post, the flow should come my way and not his. I was supposed to do some guest posting for the Brewberry Doughboy these last couple of months, but real life reared its gorgonish head and, as he notes, he has not felt the love. Time to change that.
One of the things I like the best about this site is the fact that he uses it to showcase the writing of soldiers, or of people writing on things important to the military. Through this yeoman service, each of us has been exposed to blogs, articles, stories, and books that otherwise would never have made a ripple as they passed through. One thing I have noted, however, is that few of these ever touch on the underlying philosophical, psychological, and even spiritual underpinnings of the military and combat. Then again, it should not be a surprise as there are few non-fiction books that do so. By its very nature, such topics scare most people, in particular publishers, so the safe way to deal with these important issues is in fiction.
David Drake, one of the first and best modern military science fiction writers out there, discusses this in his writings. When he was trying to work through his experiences in Vietnam, he found that doing so as non-fiction not only did not sell, but from his comments such stories were treated as if they were radioactive. Being the creative soul that he is, he began writing them as fiction, and the further he took it from then modern-day reality the better people liked it. The result is his Hammer's Slammers series of books and stories.
By taking such issues and making them fiction, especially science fiction which is so clearly (*cough, choke, wheeze*) removed from reality, it makes them safe. It is then more comfortable to discuss, debate, and deal with those underpinnings. Doing so is very important, not just to current efforts, but to understanding and dealing with the past, and most especially for moving forward into the future. To that end, this week I am going to introduce you to three authors and their works. Each has a different style, different tastes, and different discussions underlying their works. Two of the three have served in uniform, the third finds their works being used in various war colleges and advanced military course work.
Today, I want to introduce you to Michael Z. Williamson, who has served in uniform and who's wife is currently serving in the Mid-East. If you want to know more, see what he is willing to tell, for that too is his story to share or not as he/they choose.
One of the hardest topics to deal with at any time is what is right and just in combat, conflict, and war. Many have foundered on those rocks, but Michael takes on the topics with an added fillip of what is terrorism and what is legal and proper tactics in time of war in his book The Weapon. As I noted on my own blog, it reminds me of the discredited book Vengeance in tone, and somewhat in pacing. Yet, instead of a vengeance mission, it looks at how a small "country" can and should fight back against a larger and far more powerful enemy. It is a philosophical can of worms, and Williamson does not pull any punches. Indeed, he chooses scenarios that deliberately court the border of what is legitimate war and what is terrorism. As a part of this, he makes many allusions to the past and invokes the ghosts of Dresden, London, and more.
This book is not an easy read, and that is very deliberate. No, don't get me wrong, it is an easy read if one does not stop to think about the deeper parts. It is an excellent action/adventure story, but Williamson also loads it with layers that can be pursued. So much so, that it reminds me very much of an Air Force officer I knew who wanted to be sure that a callow bunch of kids understood what they were swearing to do, and spent some time one day forcing us to think about the unthinkable. Williamson does that, and more, in this book.