What are your thoughts on a mandatory military service requirement, also called the Draft?
Periodically, this subject surfaces, often in connection with Israel. I saw it surface again last week. Israel has a mandatory service requirement for women and men. Should we?
I'm opposed to the draft for two principle reasons.
1. Forcing people to go to war seems to me to be an intrinsically bad idea. The all-volunteer military is the obvious alternative, and my personal preference.
2. I'm for freedom. If the state has the power to force you into harm's way, or possibly order you to surrender your life for the greater good, then you aren't truly free.
"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." Mr. Spock said as much in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. To an extent he's right. The fate of a ship or a nation is more important that that of any single crew member or citizen. But, remember, Spock made the choice to sacrifice himself for his crew. He wasn't forced or compelled to do it. The needs of the many - in our case the state - might outweigh the needs of the few. But, in the course of defending its interests abroad and even its homeland, the state should never strip away the rights of the people it's sworn to protect and serve.
Philosopher and noted author Ayn Rand [and others] have argued - and rightly so - that all other rights hinge upon personal property rights and, I would add, are given to us by our creator. See the Declaration of Independence for more on that. My body, my property. I lose that then I've lost everything. My rights don't come from the state, they come from God. I am not a ward of the state; the state doesn't own me. My life is a gift from God. The state may not cash it like common currency.
Note: For this post, I'm specifically thinking of wars fought upon foreign soil. If America was invaded, I'm confident that, without being asked, tens of millions of the body politic would open their closets, take out their Remington bolt-actions and AR-15s, and refresh the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
Okay...let me know what you think. And thanks for reading.
You're wondering, I'm sure, what these Military Science fiction novels and Neil Patrick Harris's abs have in common?
Isn't obvious? Rock-hard writing and mil-spec'd action...er, abs. Besides appearing in bleach-white skivvies for the 2015 Oscars, Harris appeared in a military SF movie years ago, which will remain nameless because it ruined one of my all-time favorite novels. Oh, okay, because you asked: Starship Troopers.
But, back to the abs...the mil-spec'd novels. Please check these out including my own, UNBREAKABLE, at B&N's SF/F blog, HERE.
Why Promise? Where'd I get that name from? Promise is an odd name for a character, don't you think? Couldn't you have come up with something else besides Promise Paen? Really?
Before I hike into the weeds you should know a bit of back-story about Promise. My kid sister is named Promise. No, I didn't set out to name my character after her. I don't see it that way at all. The name fit my character so I went with it. “Promise” just happened to be my sibling's name too. It is an unusual name, I'll give you that. But, to me it's no more unusual that Katniss or Hermione or Triss.
Someone will inevitably raise this point so I'll make it now. Sigh. My sister can be a PITA. All kid sisters are at some point. Mine is a blunt, no nonsense lady. She's a killer mom and wife. She's a fierce friend. I'd gladly take a bullet for her.
Now the weeds. I have a tragic view of life. Pain is inevitable. Maybe it's now, maybe it's later, but life is going to suck at some point. BUT, and it’s a big one, I'm an eternal optimist too. Life is ahead; it always is. Life is dualistic. It's tragic and hope filled. It's full of pain but also great promise. That duality is at the heart of my character.
Promise loves the suck. She thrives on it.
UNBREAKABLE is in some ways as much a critique of suffering as it is a romping-good military SF read. Yes, it's about the mil spec'd hardware, the Marine ethos, and peeling back the fog of war. Bullets fly and beams slay aplenty. I love mil history so you’ll get a bit of that in the book too. But, on a primal level, it's also about thriving in spite of tragedy and maybe even because of it.
What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, right? For Promise, what doesn't kill her also makes her more lethal.
I just wrapped up my chat with John Anealio and Patrick Hester from Function Nerds. You can check them out at www.functionalnerds.com. Thanks guys. It was great fun. My chat should be up December 30th so please look for it.
John, Patrick and I spent a bit of time talking music. John's a musician and music teacher. From the sounds of it Patrick just loves to sing; I'm pretty sure I heard southern soul in there. And it sounded good. Me, I'm a vocal misfit turned book sales rep. and science fiction writer; in college I wanted to sing opera but I didn't have the bombastic pipes to make a go of it. Maybe we should put a band together for one of next years' cons. Names anyone?
Three years ago, my brother-in-law (the finest pastry chef in the Centennial State) challenged me to write every day for an entire month. He was going to do it and I’d been making noises about a storyline that wouldn’t go away. So, we signed up for a once-a-month writing challenge called NaNoWriMo and off we went. Thirty days later, after many late nights at Panera and Starbucks and my kitchen table, I had 50,000 words staring back at me, a can-do space Marine named Promise, and the bones of a military space opera.
Then I did what most would-be writers do. I filed it away in a graveyard of best intentions and ill-conceived plans. December came and went. Snow accumulated in the Rockies. Late at night - before bed, when my boys were sleeping and I had that rare moment of solace - I thought of Promise and her exploits.
She kept calling my name. “William, I’m not done yet. Finish my story.”
I kept answering her with the same excuses. “Seriously, do you know how much work that entails? I have a day job, which requires me to travel…weeks out of the year. I have a wife and three boys. Ink Master, Cinemark, and Once Upon a Time will miss me. But, Promise wouldn’t shut up. So, back to the kitchen table I went.
When I passed 100,000 words I knew I was in this for good. I was hooked. I wanted Promise out there, storming the shelves of booksellers everywhere in her powered mechboots. When it got personal I made a list of next steps.
1. Rewrite and focus upon quality verses quantity
2. Gather early readers and knowledge experts to vet my work
3. Research my knowledge gaps
4. Find a killer agent
5. Sell the book
The rewrite was an invaluable learning process. I threw whole sections out. Entire characters died on the cutting room floor. Frankly, offing them was a lot of fun. Promise changed her last name. Close family read early drafts. Their candor hurt at times but thickened my shell. And, I discovered as much about what not to do as I did about what works on the page. Promise and her Marines came to life.
Developing a focus group was no small task; actually, it’s still a work in progress and I suspect it always will be. Many well-meaning people said yes, I’ll read it, and then never did. A few people actually read it but had little to say beyond the self-imposed, obligatory “I really liked it.” I needed more than that.
Then Mark Gabriel stepped into the gap. He’s a retired Navy commander turned teacher-of-troubled-teens and part-time gunsmith. Mark became my no-holds-barred beta reader. At one point, I crashed a shuttle with a platoon of Marines aboard. There was just one glaring problem with that scene, and Mark spotted is immediately. “What? No ejection seats?”
My mother, Doctor Deborah Bauers, became my in-house editor. I’m a crappy speller and grammar is no friend of mine. Just ask my mom. In case I haven’t told her lately, thanks Mom, you’re aces.
Quality readers are like rare earth ore. There’s not enough to go around. Find one and you’ve discovered Lucky Charm’s cauldron of gold. I had to seek them out. Living in a military town certainly helped. Soon, I had a corps of retired Sailors and Marines given me feedback. Coming from a military family filled in some of the gaps in my knowledge but by no means all of them. I followed Stephen King’s advice in On Writing: write until you run into something you don’t know and then go find out about it, and then write some more. I read and interviewed and listened and asked questions. The veil fell away. I started talking in military acronyms. Stuff became “gear.” The wife became my “alpha unit.” When I left the house I ordered my boys to “look lively” and “stay on me.”
Finding an agent required a solid year of patience and stick-to-itiveness. A. Solid. Year. I queried over thirty agents and researched many more that were not good fits. Cherry Weiner was near the top of my list and the first to respond to my query. She told me to come back in six months if I still didn’t have an agent. As the months rolled by so did the rejection letters. Several agents responded with encouragements and “keep goings” but ultimately chose not to take me on, and the reasons were strikingly similar: I didn’t feel as strongly about the writing as I hoped; there were moments, William, but not enough for me to want to take this further. Stuff like that. One of the top SF agents in the country flat out told me my book wasn’t marketable. Six months later, I went back to Cherry. She read the book and asked me to revise a small list of items. This was her test and thank God I passed it. Less than two weeks after she signed me I had a book deal with Tor/Forge.
Cherry Weiner is worth her weight in gold-plated contracts.
My debut SF, Unbreakable, the first in the Chronicles of Promise Paen, is out in less than three months. January 13th, 2015 is P-day (publishing day). The sequel is scheduled for a year later. Unbreakable is releasing in hardcover, e-book, digital audio, and at least one publisher has inquired about foreign language rights. Unzerbrechlich? Maybe. Two years ago I had a manuscript and a dream. Now, I’m walking in high cotton: great agent; great editor; great publisher; and a very small but growing list of converts/fans. I even have an evangelist or two.
I owe a lot of thank-yous to a lot of people. This list is by no means exhaustive:
To Jeremy, my brother-in-law, for encouraging me to try.
To NaNoWriMo, for some much-needed structure and encouraging dailies.
To Lauren Kaplan and Ronie Kendig for their early reads and encouragement.
To Bryan DeBates at the Space Foundation Discovery Center.
To Lt. Col. Gary Foster, USAF (ret.); Col. Tim Hill, USMC (ret.); and Maj. Mike Heath, USMC (ret.).
Special thanks to Cmdr. Mark Gabriel, USN (ret.), for advice and technical assistance.
To Mom, for tolerating less-than-stellar writing and line edits.
To Cherry Weiner, for seeing something there.
To Marco Palmieri and Tor, for giving a fledging writer a shot.
To the author of life. You wrote a crazy story and I can’t wait to get to the end.
Galleys just hit my door. Whoot! I'm giving away a signed copy. To enter simply leave a comment below by 9/2/2014.
Help me get the word out about UNBREAKABLE and Promise Paen.
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#Unbreakable by @wcbauers is a fantantastic debut SF, part #StarshipTroopers, part #Firefly, you had me at Firefly! http://www.wcbauers.com/books.html
@daytonward @davidweber1 @dkollin recommend #Unbreakable by @wcbauers, "mil spec'd" SF you can't put
@daytonward says #Unbreakable is a bit #StarshipTroopers, a bit #EsmaySuiza,
& a bit #Firefly for flavor http://www.wcbauers.com/books.html
I can't thank you enough!
I try to swim above politics, and not get too bogged down by what this politician said or that politician did. Life is too precious to obsess about political chicanery. I have little faith in my own party...or the fringe movements…mostly, they aren’t worthy of my time. But, the recent comments by Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden about their wealth (or lack thereof) have got me hot like a tarred arrow set on fire. If you haven't followed the news in the last week, both presumptive candidates for the Democrat Party nomination for POTUS are trying to downplay their personal wealth in a bizarre attempt to do only God knows what…appeal to Main Street maybe? Or the little guy? Or make me feel sorry for their vaulted status? Joe, you may not own stock or a savings account but your wife does and she’s loaded, buddy. Speaking as one of those little guys on Main Street, I find their comments loathsome, disgusting, disingenuous, and impoverished. Comments worthy of a political straw man but not of a leader.
I’ve never been poor. But my parents went through hard times when I was a child. I remember the day mom and dad came home from work and told me they’d lost their jobs…on the same day! We lost our home a few months later. You know what, they picked themselves up and we recovered and I am better for it. Enough said.
Let's be honest, please? If you enter political office at a high enough level, your future is set for life. For your lifetime. (Hugh Hewitt made exactly this point yesterday on his radio show) You're going to have a nice lecture circuit when you leave office, and very likely a book deal, and you'll be asked to sit on boards and consult and you'll be compensated well for your efforts. And why shouldn't you be. I’m a capitalist and money is not the root of all evil. To act otherwise is just insane. Like Jon Stewart said, "Why do these two seem to think we need a hobo for president? Own what you have, it's fine."
Jon, I couldn’t agree more. Who’s the bigger hobo? I’ll let you decide.
But, I have a suggestion to help you make up your mind. I've become a recent fan of Dr. Ben Carson. (maybe
not for president, but I’d take him as SECHHS any day) How about a Carson/Clinton/Biden "Poor Off." Carson owns what he has and he owns his meager, dirt-poor beginnings too. He’s made a life for himself and his family
by NOT making excuses for his disadvantages or playing the sympathy card for his successes.
Poverty is nothing to be ashamed of. Wealth is a blessing, not something you hide under a bush. (There are at least three of them in politics so take your pick) Biden and Clinton expected their woe-is-me talking points to score political points with the little guys, and it’s backfiring on them. Clinton, please turn around in your limo seat and take a good look out of the back window. See the cloud of smoke pouring out of the tailpipe? Stop growing your carbon footprint by spewing fiction. What you’ve proved, beyond all doubt, it you are too poor to lead.