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Chain of Command: Prologue

       Last updated: Wednesday, July 19, 2017 20:49 EDT



    For Beth


    Thanks first of all to my many friends and colleagues who read the work and offered both insightful criticism and generous support, especially Nancy Blake, Rich Bliss, Linda Coleman, Craig Cutbirth, Tom Harris, Bev Herzog, Glenn Kidd, Jim Nevling, Bart Palamaro, and of course Jake and Beth Strangeway. I remain enormously indebted to my three writing/critique groups. How essential they are to my creative process was particularly brought home by this project. The book which emerged from rewriting after their critiques and always thoughtful suggestions is immeasurably superior to the earlier version. I know, a lot of folks say that, but it’s really true here. Without meaning to slight anyone else, I want to single out Elaine Palencia and John Palen who consistently see what I miss and seem to know where I want to (or ought to) take a character before I do.

    Above all, I am most indebted to Tony Daniels and Toni Weisskopf at Baen Books who put their collective editorial finger on exactly what was wrong with the original manuscript of this book. That insight not only produced a superior book, it made me rethink how I was writing.

    A word about science: aside from the interstellar jump drive itself, most of the differences between our universe and the fictional one of Stars and Hard Vacuum stem from engineering advances, not breakthroughs in theoretical physics. That notwithstanding, this novel at its heart is more space opera than hard science fiction, but I’ve never felt that authors of space opera needed to check their brains–or their hearts–at the door. Nor should their readers be expected to. In keeping the physics within what I consider the bounds of willing suspension of disbelief, I am indebted to Rich Bliss, Jim Lenz, and Jim Nevling as well as several enormously useful books by Ken Burnside of Ad Astra Games. That said, none of this should be considered an endorsement of the physics of the book by any of them.

    But war’s a game which, were their subjects wise,

    kings would not play at. Nations would do well

    T’extort their truncheons from the puny hands

    Of heroes, whose infirm and baby minds

    Are gratified with mischief, and who spoil,

    Because men suffer it, their toy the world.

    -William Cowper, The Task, 1785

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