I began a short series of military science fiction writers last week with Mike McPhail and Alan Smale. This week, I feature Bud Sparhawk and Charles Gannon. Hope you enjoy.
Bud Sparhawk began writing in the 70s while in the Air Force. He was stationed in Japan during a cold winter with not much to do. After finding a copy of Dangerous Visions, a short story anthology edited by Harlan Ellison, he read it for 4 hours. Not too impressed with the writing, and thinking he could write better stories, he completed a short story in a few weeks. He said to himself, “Well, that wasn’t too hard. Maybe I better start sending these things out.” Thirty-five stories later, all rejected by 19 different magazines, Sparhawk finally made his first sale, “The Tompkins Battery Case,” to Ben Bova at Analog.His short stories have since appeared in Asimov’s, several anthologies, and other print media and online magazines in the United States and Europe. He is also a three-time Nebula Award finalist.
A member of SIGMA, Sparhawk is part of a group of science fiction writers who offer futurism consulting to the United States government. Many members have earned Ph.D.s in high-tech fields, and are accomplished science fiction authors. They suggest various new technologies, while explaining the possible science and speculating about the effects on the human race.
Sparhawk admits that his experience in the military has influenced how he portrays the characters in his stories. He said that in order to draw readers into a military SF story, he writes protagonists exhibiting realistic reactions to being in battle: “Oh my god I don’t want to die oh no oh no.” Said Sparhawk, “I try to write about people and their problems. If you don’t include their inner lives and emotions, all you are doing is writing formulaic war porn.”
Visit his website: www.budsparhawk.com.
Before he became a famous author, Dr. Charles E. Gannon worked as a television producer and professor of literature. He has written military SF (Extremis), hard science fiction (Fire With Fire series), and urban fantasy (Taints).
In his academic career, Gannon has achieved the position of Distinguished Professor of English at St. Bonaventure University and was a Fulbright Senior Specialist in American Literature & Culture from 2004 to 2009. Also a member of SIGMA, Gannon helps to advise U.S. government intelligence and defense agencies on proposed new technologies.
When asked about diversity in the military while on a panel at the Baltimore Book Festival, Gannon said, “Cultural shifts regarding women in the military have been dramatic in the past 30 years.” He noted that men belonging to his generation would tend to worry about protecting women in combat, further endangering their safety.
Acknowledging that military SF uses high-tech terms for futuristic equipment, Gannon said he doesn’t use slang until halfway through a novel. He tries to focus on why people decide to go to war and why they commit to enlisting in the military.
For prospective military SF writers, Gannon recommends reading The Art of War by Sun Tzu and biographies of Julius Caesar, General MacArthur, and Erwin Rommel.
Visit his website: http://charlesegannon.com.