Author’s Notes: I’m starting to notice that recently there’s been some confusion regarding how to perceive the military. As the pendulum swings back from the glorification and idolatry the military experienced within the first decade of the 21st century, it has stopped short of widespread vilification, because people still remember how disgusting it was to treat Vietnam veterans the way they got treated. So now, there’s a growing segment of the population stuck with the question, “Well if a soldier isn’t necessarily a villain, but not a necessarily a hero, then what are they?” The disconnect is reinforced by the smaller overall percentage of people who serve in the military, something I see many articles about. I think the real answer is more complicated than most would like: In the military you see good guys, bad guys, good guys being bad, bad guys being good, and ultimately everybody just trying to get by in their own way. IMHO that’s why a good chunk of veterans feel uncomfortable being publicly thanked for their service; they often feel that people doing the thanking are putting the veteran on a pedestal, and by that very action advancing a potentially dangerous and blind idealism that refuses to consider the deeper meaning behind war and sacrifice in lieu of glorification. But a lot of them won’t say that, most are simply grateful that the aftermath of Vietnam isn’t being repeated. If you’re interested, there are articles that go into it with more clarity than I ever could.
So accordingly, since the perpetuator of oppression in Echo is a militaristic, dark-age regime, you’ll see many characters in the Department that are reflective of ignorance and selfishness. Chapter 4 goes into that, constantly contrasting Atriya’s disgust with his opponents’ oblivious indulgence in their lack of awareness. He knows something is wrong with the way people around him see the world, and it’s boiling over into conflict.
Starting from the beginning: A little play on words with Atriya’s name, tying into religion vs. spirituality themes that come later. Next, Benson walks everybody through some basic stuff to show off; apologies to any military/LEO that might read this. I’ve presented an extremely dumbed down version of CQB/MOUT/(I hear now it’s SOUC?)/urban terrain stuff in order to streamline the story. Urban fighting is one of the most complex iterations of modern day fire and maneuver warfare, and tactics, techniques and procedures vary across countries, branches and units. It’s also constantly evolving; stuff that was around ten years ago has changed. So if I present something that’s off, I’m sorry.
Which leads me to my next point: This is a sci-fi novel, and I’m a big fan in what I call “progression of action.” What do I mean by that? I’ll explain. When I first saw the Matrix in the theaters, I thought the opening scene was pretty awesome. Cool martial arts, some super powers…then I watch the Morpheus vs. Neo in the simulation and I’m like “whoa.” Then I see the scene in the lobby with the SWAT guys and I’m like “WHOA.” Each action scene I paused to think “Well if they ended the movie with this, then it was pretty cool.” But they kept going. As each new piece rolled by I’d go from “whaat” to “what WHAAT” to “WHAT WHAT WHAAAAAT” (Yeah I was a big fan if you couldn’t tell). Point is, I’m trying to do that in my story. Where I may start with some fundamentally recognizable action, I fully intend on taking advantage of the sci-fi aspect and pushing the warfare beyond basic enfilade/defilade principles, and the hand-to-hand stuff beyond punch/kick/block/evade/grapple.
I’m sure everyone has had experience being bullied and being the bully-I have for sure. (For those of you who were just straight up bullies your whole lives…I’ll leave that for someone else to correct. By nature though, if you are one of those, you probably aren’t aware of it). I tried to capture some of that with Benson: His ability to piss people off and get right up to the edge of their temper, his offensiveness that you aren’t sure whether to say something about because he seems oblivious to it (but you secretly suspect that he gets pleasure from your indecisiveness and resulting inability to confront him about it), his surprisingly underserved charisma that attracts a following…All of that stuff was considered. I’m building a lead-in to the physical portion of the confrontation.
Chapter is out August 12. Thanks for the reads and compliments! Back to work for me, gotta keep it as entertaining and readable as possible. To all you writers out there, I wish you inspired drafting and insightful editing!