24 June 2010

Book review: The Complete Hammer's Slammers (vol 1)

The Complete Hammer's Slammers (volume 1), David Drake. Baen, 2009. (Individual stories 1974-2005)

I enjoy reading space opera and books about people fighting in space. The stories I write are about people fighting in space. It's a good idea to read other books in your subgenre, to see what other people have done (so you don't repeat it, for one thing).

David Drake's Hammer's Slammers series was recommended to me by a friend, and a different friend gave this to me for my birthday. I went to a writers conference outside Charlotte in April, and Drake gave a seminar. Afterward, I asked him if he'd sign my copy, and he told me I shouldn't read it. I was perplexed: an author is telling me not to read his book. He elaborated: I would probably find it disturbing, because it's based on his actual experiences in Vietnam and depicts soldiers being soldiers in wartime.

That's what I was looking for in the book, actually, and that's what I got. I will admit that some of the imagery was unpleasant, if not outright disturbing (and, on one occasion, made me regret reading it while I was eating breakfast), but it wasn't shocking.

It's not pleasant. The men and women we meet in the Slammers are human, with everything that entails. They have flaws. They fuck up. They make bad decisions. They make good decisions. They love, they hate, they do their job.

Recommended for anyone who enjoys military science fiction or space opera.

Further reading: David Drake's official website

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