All Because of Chickens

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Saturday Morning Musings: Our genre and war/military history

Happy Saturday...and weekend...everyone.

Today we're musing on how we should teach war and military history in our genre. This seems a boring topic because who wants to read to learn, right? However, when we read we do learn and in the most fun way possible...on our own and our own choosing of material.

Muser Margaret Fieland offers her unique insight on this topic

How should we teach YA about war and military history? Through the telling of stories. Sadly, I didn't pay much attention in Social Studies, as it was called then, but my father's World War II stories fascinated me, to the extent that they ended up, in modified form, in my science fiction novels.

All three of the published Aleyne novels take place in the context of a Terran military base on an alien planet, as does the fourth, due out sometime in the near future.

When I started out plotting the initial novel in the series, my middle son was still in the army, stationed in Afghanistan. Some of my worry about his safety filtered into the novel. Aleyne is hot and dry, and the area where the stories take place is desert. My aliens are the good guy here, however.  In the course of writing all of the novels, I peppered my son with questions about military life and procedures. The novels may take place in an imaginary future, and the Terran Federation Guard be an imaginary army, but I wanted it to ring true.

What were the stories that made their way into the novels? The first was a story about a plane ride. My father was with the  command the built the air bases. He got leave -- he was in Germany somewhere, and wanted to go to Paris, so he hitched a ride in a (single-engine) plane with a buddy. Part way through the flight, he noticed the pilot becoming increasingly tense. They landed, and as soon as they left the plane, the pilot fainted dead away. When he came to, Dad asked:

"What happened?"

"For the last fifteen minutes," the pilot replied, "we've been flying on empty."

The second story is quite disturbing. Dad was a Judge Advocate General (a lawyer in the army) and was charged with defending a Black sergeant who had "gone AWOL" to a bar 100 yards off the edge of the base. He'd been in the company of a number of White soldiers. He was the only one charged.

Dad never told me what happened with the sergeant, or if he did, I've forgotten, but that sort of injustice drove Dad crazy.

Keep reading and dreaming. If there’s anything you’re curious about just drop me a note:


  1. War is often such an integral part of the story and I can't imagine not doing the research thoroughly and accurately. Personally I enjoy the researh Ive done for my books. Nothing like learnong as you write......


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