23 Mar

Stupid Question #37

Recently another writer asked me (via email) how do I know my stuff is good enough for  anyone to publish? She labeled the email “Stupid Question #37.”

Rather than being a stupid question, it’s one that cuts to the heart of what it means to write.

No one wants to pour your heart onto the page just to have some faceless editor send you a form rejection on an otherwise blank email, right? No one wants to publish a piece of fiction you’ve bled your soul into just to see…well…to see nothing happen.

Why am I doing this? you might begin to think.

How do I know I don’t suck? Or do I suck? Yes, that must be the answer. I totally suck.

The human brain is deviously twisted to the idea that success means the world is merely humoring us, and that normalcy has returned when the wall of failure slaps us in the face with the truth.

The problem, of course, is that “good enough for someone else to publish” is a question that’s out of a writer’s hands. The answer doesn’t exist until someone else, specifically an editor, says so. Editors often surprise me. They hate things I like and like things that I hate.

All a writer can do is finish. Tell the story you’re working on today as well as you can tell it, then get it in front of as many eyeballs as you can. After that, it’s up to other forces.

I’m thinking about this because I’m getting ready to head to Los Angeles to be a return winner at the Writers of the Future. This should be fun, of course. Very little beats getting steeped in a community of writers. The question above made me flashing on an L. Ron Hubbard bit about what “good enough” means—which was, as I recall it: “any art that evoked an emotional response in a reader is good enough.”

I’ve always liked that.

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14 Mar

Starclash is published!

It’s always fun to see a project move along, isn’t it? Yes, that means it’s that time again: publication week!

STS-Bk4-STARCLASH-300-200

I’m so excited to be able to announce that Starclash, book 4 of my SF series Stealing the Sun is now available! You can pick up a copy at pretty much any of your fave online book outlets by doing the clicky thing on this button:
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The wonders of modern technology never cease, am I right?

This volume begins to tie a few things together for our several of our main characters. Of course, in the process, things changed and I broke the volume into two pieces…meaning there will be a “new” book 5 and that my original plans for a five-book series has morphed itself into five books and a hefty novella (Starbound, which should be published at reduced price in April).

If you haven’t started this series, you can check out Starflight, which of course is book 1!

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25 Feb

Starclash Available for Pre-order!

STS-Bk4-STARCLASH-300-200

I’m quite excited to note that Starclash, book 4 of my SF series Stealing the Sun is now available for pre-order at Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo.

Here’s the fun blurb that accompanies it—which, coming from Mike, makes it another of those uber-cool moments.

“STARCLASH proves once again that Ron Collins is a master of the science fiction adventure story—not the crazy stuff you remember from the pulps, but the kind of interstellar adventure that has believable characters, plotting that makes sense, and a future that rings true.”

Mike Resnick
Hugo Award–winning author of Kirinyaga

If you haven’t started this series, you can check out Starflight, which of course is book 1!

sts-bk1-starflight-ecover-600x400

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20 Feb

On the Pulling of Milo’s Book

Some years back I was talking to an editor. At the time I was a pretty bright-faced newbie. We were discussing the job of acquisition editors—in other words, the choices publishers make in deciding what books they buy and what books they don’t.

The guy described the final assessment as this: “If we can make money, we’ll publish it.”

That was it. It didn’t matter about content. Write about anything you want to write about. Drugs, violence, perversion, sex, mother, fathers, assholes, brilliance, human sacrifice, how to vivisection a mouse, mah jong…whatever, and the only question on his mind was how much money the publisher could make from it.

I remember this disturbed me. And, to be fair, it disturbed the editor, too. He understood what that was saying about the moral position of the company he worked for. Of course, that’s the moral position of every company in existence. Companies are not people. Companies, when pushed into a corner, will almost unanimously make decisions that result in them acquiring the most money. This is what they do.

Note, though, that through it all, the editor in question was clear and adamant that this was not about freedom of speech and not about censorship. The concept that the content itself made no difference in the decision was something he was quite committed to, and he would brook no argument on these kinds of political grounds. “We do not censor,” he specifically said. “We, frankly, do not care about anything except how much money we think we can make with a book.”

I’m thinking about this today specifically due to the news that Simon and Schuster has cancelled Milo Yiannopoulos’s controversial book Dangerous, for which he was paid a quarter of a million dollars in advance of royalties.

I have no idea of what’s going on in the background of this decision. I have no idea of the discussions that Simon and Schuster have had. I understand Yiannopoulos has been found to have made comments regarding activities that most everyone would consider to be in support of pedophilia. It’s easy to link the two and say S&S suddenly got some kind of an ethical backbone and decided Yiannopoulos had finally gone just way too far.

But seriously, all I could do when I heard this comment was remember the pained look on this guy’s face as he said “We don’t care.”

So, yeah, maybe S&S made a moral or ethical decision.

But the fact that Simon and Shuster already gave Yiannopoulos a quarter million dollars says they do not censor. That fact alone says they do not care. So the fact that they are taking back that quarter of a mil tells me that something else happened–something that almost certainly has more to do with the pocket book than any reflection in any mirror. My purely wild-assed guess is that someone with big pockets called someone else and threatened to pull a plug somewhere else.

But what the heck do I know?

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14 Feb

The Knight Deception is Published!

Publication day is always a great day, and this one is perhaps even better than the rest. Why, you ask? Well, today represents my official full jump into the realm of political/SF thrillers, as The Knight Deception is now available through Skyfox Publishing! This makes me very happy. Trevin Knight has been one of my favorite characters to write about, and this book is one of my wife’s favorites. So I’m guessing there will be more where this one came from. [grin]

Here are the cover and product description:


The Knight Deception

TREVIN KNIGHT:
Well-liked up-and-coming lawyer on a senator’s staff, still figuring life out.

The CEO of a genetic research firm turns up dead and Trevin Knight falls into the crossfire of a covert inside game. International politics, genetic science, and even the nature of life itself hang in the balance.

Can Trevin stay alive long enough to save not only himself, but everyone else, too?

THE KNIGHT DECEPTION, a fast-paced, near-future political thriller by Derringer Award Nominated author Ron Collins.


You can pick up a print or electronic copy at most online vendors:

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Or order at your local bookstore!

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05 Feb

Making it

If you’re a new writer, I want you to think about this.

Technically, the idea applies to everyone—I lived for years in the corporate world of product development, and the idea applies there, too—but new writers or others in creative fields will probably relate to it more than others.

To you, I want to say that you are going into a field where actual people make their living as their actual selves. By that, I mean their name is their brand, and the brand is their name—unless, of course, you have a series of pen names…but even then it’s the same thing, it’s just that those names can come and go. Names matter. Readers buy names they trust. Even the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises learned that they sold more books when they had name writers do the work.

When you are a new writer, completely out there on your own, those names you see chiseled into the bookstore racks feel like unobtanium, right? You go to there and see the Gaimans and the Kings and the LeGuins and the < insert your favorite author here >s and it’s like stepping into a hall of Gods.

However, you’re going into a business where, if you don’t quit and you work hard, you’ll almost certainly have at least a little success. And having at least a little success means that a newbie writer is eventually destined to rub elbows with those heroes. When you work in the field long enough, it’s natural to get to the point where some very cool things happen.

Yesterday, one of those things happened to me when Kris Rusch posted her recommended reading list for January, and included both Starflight and Starburst on it.

My first thought was “wow, that’s really, really nice of her,” and that I was going to thank her when I saw her later this month.

Then I read her commentary, I flashed on something valuable (to me, anyway).

I’ve read Ron’s work since before he sold his very first short story. I remember his work arriving across my desk when I was editing. I always looked forward to whatever he had to offer, even before his craft had caught up to his idea machine. Once those two things combined, and he added powerful storytelling to the mix, Ron went from writer to watch to writer to read no matter what.

This block made me reflect on where I’ve been.

The thing is, I know Kris Rusch now. I’ve written for her, I’ve learned from her, marveled at her innate skills from close up. We’ve shared jokes. She’s given me contract advice, helped me with dialect, helped me make an award quality story even better. Along with my daughter, we’ve shared a laser battle, fer cryin’ out loud. That’s right, I’m among what are certainly only a few people who can say “I’ve been to war with Kris Rusch.” (this makes me giggle just typing it).

When I read that block she wrote about me, I looked at Lisa and said, “If someone told me twenty years ago that Kris Rusch was going to put something I wrote on a recommended reading list, I would have…well….”

Because Kris, to me, was one of those icons. As a newbie writer, I wanted to sell stories to her, of course, but mostly I wanted to be like her. I wanted to be able to write across the spectrum of fiction. I wanted to be prolific. I wanted to know what I was talking about. I listened to her at convention panels (these were the days when “blogs” didn’t really exist, but were, at best “web journals”). I went to her and Dean’s “show” when it was in town. I devoured her short stories in particular, because that’s what I was trying to write at the time.

I’m not saying this to pump myself up, or to pump her up, or anything else. Nice things happen from time to time when you are in this business, though, and the day I stop being excited by being included on this kind of list is the day I should quit doing this kind of work. When these things happen, however, rather than spend a few hundred words on them, I generally just note them here and move on.

This one is a little different, though. If I look at this in the right way it helps me see things more clearly. If you are a new writer, I want you to see that this is a business where people flow in and out, and where the people are just that—people. The names you see as unobtanium today? Well, a lot of them are going to be gone from the racks twenty and thirty years from now, but they’re still just folks like you and me. Assuming you stay with it, those who remain, well, somewhere along the line those heroes—while remaining heroes in that compartment of your brain that is always an awkward beginner—have a very real chance to become “just people” too. You are, in all the ways that matter, just like them. Talk to them and you find their careers happened just like yours did and will, by doing hard work that they loved until they got where ever they are.

Which is pretty danged cool.

If you are like me, that change of view is not going to happen at the flick of a switch. You’re not going to sign a contract or get the keys to SFWA or whatever, and suddenly feel like you’re with the “in” crowd. In fact, if you’re like me you’ll never really feel any different at all. If you are like me, your “career” will not feel like it ever changed.

Of course, I am no Name. My career is not (yet?) in the leagues of the people I grew up reading. I’m no Stephen King, as the comment invariably comes up when speaking with people who suddenly learn I’m a writer. I’m no Dean, I’m no Kris. I’m no Mike or Laura Resnick or Kevin Anderson. I’m no J.K. Rowling. No Neil Gaiman. No Connie Willis. No John Scalzi. I’m not any one of a hundred different people I could name (some of whom came up in my “class”). I’m just me. My career is whatever it is. But I can look back and see a hundred or so short stories, and a successful fantasy series, and a newly launched SF series, and a thriller coming out, and … well … holy crap … I mean, I may not feel like any of those folks, but the fact is that if my 20-years-ago self saw this he would be holding parties every night. I can fairly honestly say that under my blustery exterior, my 20-year-ago self would have considered what I’m doing right now as being unobtainium. Somewhere along the way, though, somehow, without me understanding how it happened, this level of unobtanium became, uh, obtainium.

That’s the thing, you see? That’s the reason I’m writing this overblown bit of self-aggrandizing conversation.

I’m a writer. I have a career. I can tell, because I’ve been doing this for … well … a lot of years, and because I’m still doing it, and because there’s at least a little bit of money in it. I can tell because I feel like I’m slowly getting better, and because I still want to keep getting better, and because … well … it has become part of who I am.

If you are a new writer, this is important to keep in mind. It’s been helpful to me to see Kris’s comments because, like the people I know who are successful in this business, I’ve been on a months-long struggle to make various deadlines. Nose hard to the grindstone, as it were. Creating things. Packaging things. Attempting to live something of a real life in there somewhere, and watching some projects do okay while others just kind of cook along at a slow burn. Add on top of that the extremely depressing and distressing things that are going on around us, and it’s been easy to get stuck in the mire.

So, here’s the thing:

If you’re setting off on this kind of a career I want you to promise that every now and again you’ll stop and look at yourself from the eyes of the person you were five years or ten years before, and I want you to see how cool the current you would have looked in the eyes of that person of the past. I want you to say “Wow, that’s freaking awesome. I wish I could be them.”

Because, if I’m right, you’ll be mired in the muck and trying to keep your head above water. And if I’m right, you’ll be worried that your next book, story, song, or whatever, is going to tank. You’ll probably be in the middle of a day job that’s not working how you want it too, or worse, a day job that’s brilliant and that you’re good at that’s taking all your time. Or you’ll have a family thing happening that you know in your heart is higher priority. Or you’ll get your 50th rejection (or, like me, your 1,000th), and you’ll be questioning the very idea of your existence as an artistic person.

That’s the moment that I want you to promise you’ll do what I did when I saw Kris’s words: Look into the metaphorical mirror and say “hey, dude (you can call yourself dude even if you’re a woman, right?), check this out. It’s all cool. You’re making it, right? You’re making it.”

Then take a deep breath, take care of yourself, and get back to making what you make.

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01 Feb

Hero #8 Appears in Fiction River: Tavern Tales!

I’ve had my nose to the grindstone for a bit, so it’s great to be able to pop up and report that my story “Hero #8” is now available in Tavern Tales, the latest issue of Fiction River. This volume is edited by Kerri Hughes, who has quite an interesting taste in fiction. This means that if you pick up this anthology, you’re not going to be able to tell what’s coming next, but you’re pretty sure it’s going to go somewhere you didn’t quite expect.

Of course, if you scan down the table of contents (which I’ll list after the cover shot) you’ll find a few of my other favorite authors, including Lisa Silverthorne and (of course!) Brigid Collins…hmmm…where have I heard that name before?

[grin]

Anyway, here’s the obligatory cover!

FR 21 Tavern Tales ebook cover

And here’s the Table of Contents!

“Quest for Beer” by Stefon Mears
“Closing the Big Bang” by Michèle Laframboise
“Hero #8” by Ron Collins
“Girls That Glitter” by Dayle A. Dermatis
“The Kids Keep Coming” by David H. Hendrickson
“One Last Round at Cozy’s Tavern” by Lisa Silverthorne
“Wider Horizons” by Diana Benedict
“Grounds for Dismissal” by Anthea Sharp
“The Next Dance” by Jamie Ferguson
“Schrodinger’s Bar” by Kim May
“The Gods Are Out Inn” by M. L. Buchman
“The First Ingredient” by Eric Kent Edstrom
“The Legend of Long-Bow and Short-Staff” by Brenda Carre
“Freedom Unbound” by Dory Crowe
“Killing Spree” by Brigid Collins
“The Hot Eagle Roadhouse” by Chuck Heintzelman
“Death at the Pines” by Annie Reed

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16 Jan

Seriously, Martin, just get over it

So, I wrote and posted this a couple years back. It’s a post that discusses my own experience with reading Dr. King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail.”

Reading it today is hard.

Stunningly hard in some ways.

I suggest you read it now, though. And as you read it I suggest you imagine Dr. King sitting in the cell he wrote it in, and imagine a citizen of the city entering into the jailhouse, probably smoking a cigarette if he’s a male. Imagine that citizen peering into the cell where the pencil is flashing. Then imagine that citizen straightening up, crossing his arms, and saying, “Seriously, Martin, just get over it.”

Then imagine a world in which Dr. King had followed that advice.

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13 Jan

STARFALL: Book 3 is Published!

The calendar is whooshing along isn’t it? I’m so pleased to note…



The third book of Stealing the Sun, a space based Science Fiction series from frequent Analog contributor and bestselling Amazon Dark Fantasy author Ron Collins.

Available from Skyfox Publishing at:



A streak of light across a clouded sky

A distant planet. A harsh and desolate surface shrouded in layers of poisonous clouds. A sentient species formed by generations fighting both themselves and the planet they live on.

A blinding light burns through the sky before crashing into the farthest reaches of the desert lands.

Families want to own it. Priests want to turn it to their favor. But Jafred E’Lar, his clan’s representative to the Council, holds a terrible secret and another agenda altogether.

“Ron Collins covers the spectrum with clear prose, compelling characters and settings, and a bright imagination.”

Kevin J. Anderson
New York Times bestselling author of ETERNITY’S MIND


If you’re interested in the whole series, you can start with STARFLIGHT or even book 2, STARBURST. This is because I’ve configured the series to allow any of the first three books to act as “entry points.” If you like it, you will probably need to read all three before you get to what will eventually be book 4 (STARCLASH, due in March!).

Here are some handy-dandy links and all that:

Buy it here

“Ron Collins is one of our best hard science fiction writers. A novel from him is a major event. Enjoy!”

Robert J. Sawyer
Hugo Award-Winning Author of Quantum Night

Buy it here

“Great characters I cared about, a kick-ass plot with surprising twists, great techie details, and a powerful story. Pick up Starburst. I guarantee you won’t set it down until you’ve read every last word.”

Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Hugo Award–winning author of the Diving Universe


Praise for STARFLIGHT: (From Amazon Reviews)

“This is truly GOOD stuff if you’re a fan of old-school science fiction; it’s like stumbling on some undiscovered Larry Niven, or something from Andre Norton, or Orson Scott Card, or even Asimov himself . it’s that good.”

“Ron Collins takes complex scientific concepts and makes them accessible to everyone.”

“If you’re looking for a great read with strong characters, Starflight should be on the top of your list.”

“If you love science fiction, you NEED to read this book!”

“I’ve been following Ron Collins’s writing for some time now, and it just keeps getting stronger and stronger.”


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01 Jan

2017: whereupon we attempt to save ourselves trouble

This is a strange New Year’s Day post. It went places that I didn’t intend it to go. Sorry about that. I debated not posting it, but then, what would that say about me?

—-

In the late 60s, when I was a young boy, there were only three television stations. All of them played thirty minutes of news each night. Of those thirty minutes, a lot of them were focused on the Vietnam War in some way or another. I don’t remember that specifically. I mean, I was seven in 1968, right? I have no idea how many minutes Huntley and Brinkley gave to the war. But I remember the images of men in dull green uniforms, camouflaged and shooting weapons while they were running through a thick and smoke-filled jungle. This was part of the norm of the day. As I’ve written before, I grew up fully expecting to go to a similar place.

I don’t remember being particularly afraid of that. I was a kid. That’s what you did. You grew up and you went to the Army and that was pretty much that.

My great uncle had been in the pacific theater of WWII. My grandfather had not served, but only because he had a skill that the army needed more in the states—the ability to drive double trailer trucks, which were used to move everything around. My dad was too young for WWII, and was an academic at later times, and did not serve either…so that told me something that didn’t really register at the time. Of course, his brother was in college, too, and was still going to be drafted. Perhaps this was the difference between an engineering degree and one in Russian History. Dunno. Regardless, my uncle enlisted for three years rather than take the two he would have been indebted to if he waited for the draft. For that, he got to select his first assignment.

So, yeah, that’s how it was.

I expected, without any real dread, to go overseas and do army things. Or, maybe air force things. I liked things that flew, after all.

Realize that I had no idea why these soldiers were fighting except that they were heroes, and they were in some way protecting us from the loss of freedoms that we hold so dear. That seemed like it was a good thing to fight about. I fully understood the Red Commies were no good.

It never crossed my mind to consider other ideas. Never crossed my mind to ask deeper questions. Again: seven, maybe eight. This was just what normally happened.

I’m thinking about this now because for the past three days Lisa and I have binge watched the old Band of Brothers HBO series, which, for the folks who weren’t paying attention when it first came out fifteen years ago (a group that includes me), is a 10-episode series that presents the events around Easy Company of the famous 101st Airborne from their training camp, to D-Day, through the Battle of the Bulge, and out to the end of WWII. It is not focused on the war, exactly, but on the men—or, more specifically, what these men actually did. How they trained, and what they thought of that training. How they jumped from airplanes into flak-filled air. How they followed orders, or in some cases did not. Who they followed, and why. How they dealt with the multitude of harsh aspects of their job. In the end, the series reflects how the unit became the unit they were.

At one point, while sitting in the back of a transport truck, some of the unit passed a string of German prisoners being marched the opposite direction. One of the men of Easy Company heckles the prisoners, growing more agitated as time passes. He’s angry at them. He’s frustrated with the situation he’s in. He’s tired and sore and he’s seen his friends die at the hands of these prisoners. Finally he stands up as the trunk bounces him around and he screams at them, ending his tirade by asking them all “What in the fuck are we here for?”

This, of course, is before the allied forces come across the Landsburg concentration camp, a moment when the series shows us so clearly exactly what these men were doing in Europe.

So.

Here’s the thing.

With the benefit of hindsight, I admit fully that I watched nearly every frame of this series with the idea that I was observing the price that real people paid to defeat fascism in the 1940s. By price, I don’t mean just woundings or deaths—though these casualty figures are the easiest factors to measure, and those numbers alone are staggering and mind-boggling enough that they should make anyone pause. What I mean, in addition to those base figures, are the decisions that these people were required to make, the balances they had to weigh, and the lasting effect that their decisions had on their lives. People who live through these things do not survive. They become different people, and in the end that too is a deeply grievous cost, a cost that is nearly impossible to measure and that is too often forgotten by anyone who was not actually there.

It is important, I think, to realize that these were not the only prices paid in that time. I think it is very important for us today to remember there were two sides to this war.

Toward the end of Band of Brothers, as the company moves through Europe and liberates a string of cities, we see the prices paid by the citizenry of these places; the division between the German population, the decisions people of occupied territories made, and the prices one pays for having been on the wrong side of history. Some of these people are publicly shamed. Some are beaten. Some hunted and killed. Some “oblivious” citizens are made to clean up concentration camps. And, at the end, a German officer addresses his own troops, discussing his pride at their bravery and the relationships that they have forged in the battle for that side of the question of “why in the fuck are we here?”

Yes, the German people paid a large price in dead and wounded, and their soldiers also paid the required battlefield tax of dealing with mayhem of their own. But beyond these, the people of Germany also paid the soul-crushing price of having to live with the underlying evil that they allowed into their leadership, and hence allowed to be unleashed upon the world.

In the end, the people in Germany, the regular, everyday workers and partiers and hooligans and scholars and soldiers and … all the people in Germany, were mostly just like the people in Easy Company. Human. Mostly good. Mostly just listening to their leaders. Many either afraid to do anything to stop what was coming or, most likely, making decisions to go along with things that they never thought would work out as they did. In other words, there is a lot of there but for the grace of God go I in this type of thing.

Right?

I say that because one can argue that the Second World War began in November of 1932 when the German people voted Adolph Hitler into power. They were an angry people then, struggling with economic problems and sense of lost identity brought on by the results of World War I. And, yes, you can go further back, too, and say that the Second World War began in 1918 when the Treaty of Versailles pretty much ensured the people of Germany would be in this state. That treaty was a harsh agreement for the German public. It set the foundation for what was to come.

But, still, it was the people who voted, and they voted for Adolph Hitler.

Anyway…

—-

There’s this thing that goes around in writerly circles that says we should not talk about politics on our blogs, twitter feeds, and other services of mass communication. Don’t want to alienate a set of your readers, after all, right? Don’t want to risk losing valuable sales revenue because you say or write something that offends them.

Despite the fact that I don’t always follow that advice, I understand the concern.

The world is full of prices.

—-

On the other hand, I just spent three days watching a series that laid out the prices that are paid across the world when things go deeply awry. The prices were clear, and they were deep.

Among the best parts of the series are the bits where the actual people represented in the stories speak. The directors gave these men a few minutes at the beginning of each episode, and a few at the end of the last. Band of Brothers was made in 2001, fifty-five years after the events the stories depicted. These men were old now. They had lived with the prices they paid to remove a totalitarian fascist government that overtook the people of Germany, and the pain they still carried was deeply embedded in their commentary. But their voices also carried unbounded pride that I felt as being tied to the fact that they knew they had done what needed to be done.

Their war, unlike most, was actually about freedom.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that many of the wars we send our citizens to fight are not about our freedom—though our politicians will always say they are. The men who died in Vietnam, for example, did not give their lives protecting our freedom. They were brave people. They fought hard, and paid those terrible prices, thinking they were protecting our freedom, because that’s what our leaders told us…and they believed them—or at least they wanted to. I want to, also. If it were true that these people died protecting my freedom I would feel better. But that’s wrong. The Vietnam War was not about freedom in itself. You can tell this by the simple fact that we lost Vietnam, and (except for the parts that we have purposefully given away) we still have our freedom. By definition, this means that the Vietnam War was not about Freedom. That war was about complex political situations that I won’t even pretend to understand. These men died fighting for their country; that is true. But they did not die protecting our freedom. They gave a great sacrifice. I give great honor to every fallen vet of Vietnam.

Likewise those of Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, and all others. Freedom is always in the mix someplace, of course. At least in some small degree. And many of our wars might well have been primarily about freedom for the other side (or not). But they were demonstrably not about freedom for us because if we would have lost, we would not have lost our freedom. Pick any other war we’ve been in outside the Revolution itself and the Civil War; none of them have actually been about true personal freedom and liberty for American citizens.

Except World War II.

World War II was about Freedom in every aspect. And it’s clear that the men portrayed in Band of Brothers paid immense prices to protect it. Judging only from the Wiki page for the series, only three of the many men who were portrayed in those ten episodes remain alive today (and that assumes the pages are up to date).

—-

There is a scene toward the end of Band of Brothers where the men hear news that Adolph Hitler has committed suicide. One of the men notes that he wished Hitler had done this three years ago. “Would have saved us a lot of trouble,” he says.

—-

To be direct, I’m glad I waited until now to watch Band of Brothers. I’m glad I didn’t see it back when it first came out.

Last night, as Lisa and I went to bed just past midnight on what is now officially 2017, I found myself thinking about this group of people who were in Easy Company from 1944-1945. I couldn’t help but wonder how these men would have felt had they been able to see the direction the country they paid that price for is going today. The parallels with 1932 are obvious to anyone who isn’t actively attempting to ignore them, after all.

Parallels do not necessarily mean anything, of course. Parallels are just that: parallels. History doesn’t always repeat itself, even when parallels are in place. But it’s fair to say that history does not repeat itself at all without such parallels being in place.

So, I asked myself as I was fading off to sleep, if you could go back in time to 1945 and tell the men of Easy Company that seventy years later their country would elect an authority-minded leader whose appointments and whose views on immigration and business are what Donald Trump’s are, and whose base behaviors so strongly point to a somewhat simple-minded and fascist core, what would they think? How would they feel—these people who did so clearly fight for our actual freedom—to see us give so much of it up so easily? Would they even see it as I see it? Would they recoil, or would they stand beside their leadership come hell or high water? Which of Donald Trump’s words would they believe? Which would they turn their eyes and ears away from? Would they choose to support the Make America Great Again rhetoric that is so dependent upon the idea of bringing back manufacturing jobs that don’t exist? Or would they stand up and call bullshit on the man who the American public and its system has now made the most powerful bullshitter on the planet—just as the German system did with their own leader back in 1932?

Those guys of Easy Company were “just people,” after all. Our soldiers were as human as any other country’s soldiers. How would they view this? Would they follow these politicians who want to build our own little Berlin Wall? Who want to register followers of a religion? Having served in the civil service of the Navy myself, I can imagine the dissonance within the ranks of the military for the next few years may well be mind-bending. Would news of possible internment camps remind them of Landsburg? Or not?

Just what would these guys think of the events of the past year?

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I have opinions about how the men of Easy Company would answer those questions, of course. I admit I don’t know much about any of them, so my opinions are almost certainly wrong to some degree. They have to be, actually, because my guess is that each one of those men would have a different way of viewing things. But, in the end, I think there would be a general consensus. And I think that consensus would not be favorable.

I think the consensus would be that the American public has let these men down.

I believe they would fear an entirely new generation was going to have to pay another price to deal with this aspect of humanity. I believe they would grieve in advance because they know the true price of the fight for this kind of freedom. And I think they would hope beyond all other hope that this generation would pay attention to the parallels and take its steps much earlier than theirs did.

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So, yeah. Happy New Year, right?

Sorry about that, but it is what it is. For those who have known me over the years, or for anyone who wades through the archives of my blog, you’ll see that on the whole I’ve always been an optimist at heart. I’ve looked for the positive sides of things, and I’ve always had that level of privilege that allowed me to think the world is out there to save me. I still believe that, in the end, all things will work out. I wish everyone well, and I wish you all a very happy year.

But I am not blind.

I think it’s going to be a tough year.

A very tough year.

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