Novels by Vincent H. O'Neil

Mystery, Horror, and Science Fiction

Blogs From Exile

On Veterans Day, a few notes on how my military service influences my mil sci-fi writing

November 11, 2014

Tags: Veteran, Veterans Day, military, science fiction, military science fiction

Today, HarperVoyager asked its veteran authors to blog about the ways their military service affects their writing. Here's my part:

I graduated from West Point in 1985, and spent the next few years as an officer in the US Army Infantry. I was a platoon leader with the 10th Mountain Division at the newly-activated Fort Drum, N.Y. and then served as a company commander with the 1-508th Airborne Battalion in Panama.

During those years I got to meet just about everybody. One of the great things about military service is that the people you work with come from every part of the United States (as well as other countries) and from every walk of life. I quickly learned that there was a vast pool of talent all around me, and that it was important to foster an environment where individuals would step forward to offer their advice or special skills when they were needed.

I incorporated that lesson in my military science fiction tale of survival, Glory Main. In that story, four strangers find themselves marooned on a seemingly barren planet. Confronted with increasingly dangerous threats, their survival often hinges on the hidden talents and inner strengths of the groupís dissimilar members.

Another lesson from my time in the Army was the importance of building genuine, functioning teams. When a team member feels his or her contribution is unwelcome or unappreciated, it can cause that individual to stop trying, or even to withdraw from the group. The initial behavior of the castaways in Glory Main threatened to do just that, and it was an interesting exercise to come up with plot developments that overcame that problem.

Although I never went to the war zone, peacetime training exercises showed me just how complex a military operation can be. When different units act in concert, especially for the first time, there is a huge potential for confusion. Even with effective communication and the best intentions, things still get SNAFUíd all by themselves.

After Glory Main, I wanted to write a story that explored how minor miscalculations can have an enormous impact on a military operationís success and dire consequences for the soldiers involved. A big battle scene in Orphan Brigade óthe sequel to Glory Mainóincludes a chain of missteps that put the soldiers of the Orphan Brigade in an extremely dangerous situation.

The Human Defense Force depicted in this series is not meant to represent any existing military organization, but of course I was able to draw on my Army experience for the atmosphere and the tone. Both books are a testament to the toughness and resilience of human beings, which I saw demonstrated many times in my years with the Infantry. Whenever I capture that successfully, itís a tribute to the dedicated men and women of our armed forces.

You can read the entire blog here:

http://harpervoyagerbooks.com/2014/11/11/harper-voyager-veteran-authors-reflect-how-their-military-experiences-influenced-their-books/#comment-699020

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Military Science Fiction
Horror
Death Troupe Mysteries
Frank Cole Mystery

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