Back | Next


As always in this series, Cinnabar weights and measures are given in English units while those of the Alliance are metric. I use them merely to hint at the variation I expect would occur in a future in which humans have spread across the stars.

Despite my saying this, I will probably get a note from someone telling me that the metric system is much better. For scientific purposes I agree, but logic isn’t going to rule our distant descendents any more than it does us. (And for weather information, Fahrenheit beats Celsius all hollow.)

The historical incidents on which I based Death’s Bright Day come largely from the Greek world at the close of the 3rd century BC. The empire of Alexander the Great had broken into three parts within a few years of his death in 323 BC. Now the large fragments were shrinking or crumbling. There were new players—Sparta, the Kingdom of Pergamum, and, overwhelmingly, Rome—and a world of opportunists at the edges and in the spaces between.

People at that time made short-term decisions based on short-term urges, among which pride, greed, and envy were prominent. And also fear; fear was a big one.

Perhaps this is the only way things ever happen in human societies. Current events seem to me to support that view. It’s a milieu which creates many backgrounds for action-adventure. (I used only a few of these. My original plot had nearly twice the number of incidents, some of them quite dramatic, but I trimmed it for length.)

Speaking as a writer, this is a wonderful milieu. Viewing it as a member of humanity, though, I often wish that we were better as a species at taking a long view. The Greek world of 200 BC wasn’t a safe place for anyone or a happy place for most, and things very rapidly became worse.

I would prefer that the reality my son and grandson will face were a better one, but my field is history. I don’t find much hope there.

—Dave Drake

They have forgotten all that vanished away

When life’s dark night died into death’s bright day

—Alfred Noyes

The Progress of Love, Canto III

Back | Next