I have to admit up front that I don’t remember when and where I first met David Drake. Stupid lightning. I know it was many years ago, and it probably first started like any other such thing with a quick hi, love your stuff, thank you glad you do thing. Listening to him, however, quickly revealed a sharp mind and sense of humor to go with a certain degree of being an introvert. David would people until he had enough, then would pull out a book and go invisible. I remember it took a while to do more than the brief commentary thing.
While I don’t remember most of the convention, or even the name of the convention (it was in Knoxville), I do remember him shaking his head, smiling, and providing me with Latin for use in a roast of the legendary Uncle Timmy. Rather than the traditional “Hail Caesar” this version ended with F U. I admit, I’ve used it many times since, because most people (including some superiors) really don’t understand Latin… Thank goodness.
It was always a blast to hear him talk about the roots of some of his work, be it Norse legends, Roman history, or obscure ancient politics. While he would discuss the military and his time in it, if you really wanted to see him get animated you just asked him a question on those first topics. Bonus animation and points for actually knowing a bit of relevant info on the topic.
Up top is the first of several videos of him I did for Blackfive while interviewing various Baen authors. Baen helped sponsor and arrange the interviews, and I suspect somewhere on the Baen site you can find those videos, and if not, you can go here to find them in the Blackfive archives. I think that interview was the last time I saw him in person.
He will be missed, both as a person and an author. I put that in that order deliberately, as I think it is how he viewed things. If he had even a trace of the “Big Name Author” syndrome, I never saw it at any convention. When I was railroaded into helping get LibertyCon off the ground (I heard the whistle and choo choo after the Timmy train had hit), he was one of the easiest people to work with in regards programming. He was just a man who had done a few things. He took pride in his work, be it driving a bus or writing a book. He was a man who believed in honor, which could get interesting if you crossed certain lines. He was a man who did not tolerate rudeness or other idiocy.
And he was one heck of an author. His Hammer’s Slammers books had quite an impact on me, including the realization that someone else felt the same way about some things as I did, that I was not alone. His work on the Eddas took Norse literature and legend into new domains, and opened that world to new audiences. It hurts to know that there will be no more Leary and Mundy adventures. Or that fantasy will be sadly missing a giant who reshaped the genre in ways that echo the influence of Tokien. While he might have disagreed, I do think a good argument can be made that his impact on fantasy should be seen in the same light.
I can’t say we were friends, but rather were friendly. The man could tell a joke, and had a great sense of humor. What advice he gave has stood me in good stead. His efforts to ensure that the work of Manly Wade Wellman were not lost, and his efforts to help Karl Edward Wagner say a good bit about him as a man. Particularly the latter, as that was no easy task.
Raise your glasses high, and honor ‘just a man’ who has done just a few things. A lawyer. A bus driver. An author. And who just happened to have ridden with the Blackhorse. Hand Salute!
I have said my prayers, and for those of you who pray, I would ask you to join in and also to say one for Karl as well.
As for me, I plan to enjoy going through his works. Especially as it seems my memory issues are going to make some of them (many?) a ‘reading again for the first time’ as the memories of reading them the first time are lost. And if as I read some of those memories return, well, then I shall happily welcome the characters and plot back as old and comfortable friends bringing comfort on a cold winter’s night.
Godspeed David Drake. The world is much richer for your life.
Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.