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Military Science Fiction Author David Drake, Passes Away at Age 78


Military Science Fiction Author David Drake, Passes Away at Age 78

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Military Science Fiction Author David Drake, Passes Away at Age 78


Published on December 11, 2023


David Drake, the author or co-author of over 80 science fiction and fantasy books, passed away on December 10, 2023 in Silk Hope, North Carolina. Drake, a Vietnam veteran and lawyer, turned to writing full-time in 1981, a few years after his first book was published.

Drake was born on September 24, 1945. He studied at Duke Law School and was drafted into the army in 1970, where he was assigned to the 11th Cavalry Regiment (a.k.a. the Blackhorse), where he, via tank, spent the war in Vietnam and Cambodia. He finished law school after he returned and became Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s Assistant Town Attorney. He turned to writing to help him grapple with his army experiences, and his first book, the short story collection Hammer’s Slammers came out in 1979.

“The stories [in Hammer’s Slammers] were more important to me as self-therapy than they were as the start of a career,” Drake wrote on his website about his first published book. “They gave me a chance to write about what I’d seen and heard; about the men I’d served with and person I’d become in that time. Being able to get that out on paper helped me keep it between the ditches and (from what they’ve told me) helped other veterans by showing them that they weren’t alone.”

Hammer’s Slammers was a ten-book series and became his best-known work, which includes dozens of other novels including the fantasy series Lord of the Isles and the Lt. Leary series. He also provided outlines for numerous books, including the Belisarious series and The General series. 

Drake stopped writing in November 2021 due to health issues. “I have a long memory. This certainly isn’t a virtue when somebody else remembers another way and I refuse to change my belief,” he wrote in his last newsletter on November 17, 2023. “Sometimes it’s clearly a good thing though, being able to remember events in the army. Not so much because they gave me a career, not so much because of specific incidents as by giving me the feel of a war zone. That’s really different from normal life.”

About the Author

Vanessa Armstrong


Vanessa Armstrong is a writer with bylines at The LA Times, SYFY WIRE, and other publications. She lives in Los Angeles with her dog Penny and her husband Jon, and she loves books more than most things. You can find more of her work on her website or follow her on Twitter @vfarmstrong.
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