“Notes on the Carreraverse (A Concordance, More or Less), Part 1” by Tom Kratman
This is a three-part series on the world-building behind Tom Kratman’s Carreraverse, presented with Kratman’s inimitable, deadpan style. Days of Burning, Days of Wrath is now out from Baen Books and chronicles a climactic storyline finale within Kratman’s best-selling Carrera military science fiction series.
A. The story of the story
The Carreraverse actually began with a conversation between myself and an old friend, call him “Ken”1, while we were both assigned to the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion. I can’t recall, at this late date, whether that was in Saudi Arabia or on Fort Bragg, though I think it was the former.
Though an infantry officer, like myself, Ken had been assigned as a civil affairs officer2 to the Rangers jumping into Rio Hato, in Panama, during our invasion before Christmas, 1989. Not everybody jumped, though, one plane—a C130, his—had to make what I gather was officially a crash landing on the airstrip after taking fairly heavy anti-aircraft fire right through the belly of the plane.
Unassing the plane, he accompanied a group of Rangers moving to establish a roadblock. This is where it gets icky. It seems that a young mother, in a car with her roughly eighteen-month-old baby, got confused by the fighting and the air support and, instead of driving away from it drove into it. Note, here, that there had been reports of drive by attacks already in the vicinity of Panama City and the Canal, so the Rangers were primed to expect that. Then, too, what kind of idiot who doesn’t intend mischief drives toward the fighting, right?
They colanderized the car, the woman, and the baby. War crime? No, it was just one of those things. Unfortunate, yes, but the amount of risk soldiers can be expected to take from suspiciously hostile acting vehicles is quite limited. Ken took it pretty hard, I thought, but it wasn’t his fault.
At this point, I need to give a little excursus on the United States Army and the rest of the Armed Forces. Engrave this in your mind; they cannot, generally, and will not admit to a mistake. Democracy and a free—ignorant as dirt, but free—press demand that there be no mistakes. Some first sergeant at West Point is forcing an enlisted women to blow him nightly as part of a mythical “first sergeant’s article 15”?3 Is he court-martialed? Sent to play rock hockey at Leavenworth as he should have been? Not a chance; he’s moved out quietly and let get away scot free, with a better NCO and human being then being brought in to undo the damage, because that kind of thing would reflect badly on West Point, hence on the Army. Has the Army bought a boner—the M561 Gama Goat—of a six-wheel drive tactical vehicle that is the very Platonic essence of mechanical shit? Is it a vehicle that is career death for the poor bastard officers that get stuck as motor officers to units with the sonsabitches? No matter; the Army cannot admit the system made that grievous an error, so the Goat must remain.4 A similar tale could be told of the essentially worthless Improved Tow Vehicle.5
And then there was Pentomic, and son of Pentomic, the Brigade Combat Team, which were and are such appallingly bad, idiotic, misconceived, stupid, moronic . . . never mind, suffice to say that the Army wouldn’t and won’t admit the damage done by general officer fantasies and ignorance, then or now.6 So, over the course of the next fifteen or twenty years they’ll change everything back to what it was, one piece of damaged crap at a time, until everyone hopefully forgets what a grievous mistake both Pentomic and the Brigade Combat Team were and are.
And this is where I come back into the story. My wife is Panamanian. I had a brother-in-law and two cousins-in-law on the other side during the invasion. “What would have happened,” I asked myself, “if, instead of being some unknown poor Panamanian girl and her kid who were shot to bits, it had been an Army officer’s wife and kids?”
My answer to that question? Like blowjob-demanding first sergeants, idiotic purchases, and insane organizational fantasies, the deaths would have been swept under the rug and, quite likely, evidence planted purporting to show they’d been taken by the Panama Defense Forces and murdered by them.7 Anything, but admit in public to a bad, career threatening mistake.
And if the officer in question had found out and gone for justice? Same thing; sweep it under the rug. Maybe try to bribe him. But admit to the mistake? Not if at all avoidable.8
And so I wrote that book while I was in law school and in the early practice of law, a more than half-million word novel concerning one man’s revenge against not only the former comrade who murdered—he believes it had to have been murder, else why plant the evidence with the PDF? Yes, I might know better but Carrera does not—but against the army that forgot loyalty was a two-way street. It was, in many ways, an even better story than the Carreraverse you know. But events intervened.
The intervening event was 9/11 and the war on “le Rif,” Radical Islamic Fundamentalism.9 Once that happened, what the country needed was not a morality play on loyalty nor even an excursus on how we might overplay our hand badly someday. It needed more in the way of instruction on the war that was upcoming . . . rather, the wars that are upcoming because the assault of Transnational Progressivism is more threatening by far than some Arabs hijacking planes and knocking down buildings.
I was able to save about sixty or sixty-five percent of the original book, which, after additions, then being too large to bind, you saw as A Desert Called Peace and Carnifex.
The origins of the third volume, The Amazon Legion, I’ve already related in the essay, "The Amazon’s Right Breast." All the other volumes are continuations of the initial story based on and demanded by the peculiar circumstances of the planet Terra Nova, its politics, and the influence of United Earth.
B. Shape of the planet:
Speaking of Terra Nova, why does it look so much like Earth?
It’s a fair question. I mean, sure, we should all be wary of mirror image planets after so many of them showed up in the original Star Trek, for no better purpose than a threadbare attempt as nagging us with some bludgeoning moral point or other.
In fact, originally it wasn’t going to. Indeed, I had no intention of mentioning it at all, except in the broadest, most general terms. Really, except for Balboa, the shape of the place hardly mattered one way or the other. And then someone sent me an article, the title was something to the effect of “We’re all Panamanians.” It seems that the rise of the Isthmus of Panama had a massive effect on our weather, hence of the evolution of animal life on Earth. This got me to thinking: “Hmmm . . . so Terra Nova is obviously an animal sanctuary or hunting preserve, but probably the former. It was set up by aliens, the Noahs, to whom preserving endangered species is something of a mission in life. But to preserve those species, they have to thrive and breed. Both of those demand a compatible environment and that demands compatible weather. Weather, in turn, demands a pretty similar geography, so that the surface of the planet will be unevenly heated, approximately in the same manner and degree as it is on Earth.”
As you can see, at that point I was pretty much stuck with something that looked a lot like, if not exactly like, Earth. I could fudge it a little on the theory that the nearly all powerful Noahs could predict weather patterns and set up something to suit that was close, but not exactly the same.
As for the political shape of the planet, go back to the interludes in A Desert Called Peace and Carnifex, and particularly the Cheng Ho Disaster, et seq., as covered in the interludes to A Desert Called Peace and by Vivienne Raper in her story, from The Wars of Liberation, "The Long Dark Goodnight."
There was a moral there, concerning the future, in what followed the Cheng Ho Disaster and the pattern of emigration, and what happened to Old Earth. We’re very wrapped up, the last thirty or forty years, in the prospect of unwanted cultural (and for a few assholes, genetic) change as a result of immigration. That’s about half the issue, and yet all the half-witted can see. The other part of it is who leaves. From neighborhoods to nations, who leaves is as important as who comes in, when talking about culture change.
C. What countries colonized which parts of Terra Nova?
In Twain’s words, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
Most of the colonies-turned-nations make no difference to the story at all. Of the ones that appear in the story and matter, with a little backstory where fairly implied:
The United States got, or took, the southern area of the second largest continent. This was not set up as a unitary colony. Instead, in order to entice out the various “extremist” groups and viewpoints, they were allowed to set up their own colonies far enough from each other to imagine they’d founded their own little slice of Heaven. Thus, for example, the polygamists could go and found their own New Deseret or whatever turned their fancy. What turned those separate colonies into a superpower was the series of wars mentioned in the books, in passing, as the “Formation Wars.” It was these that created the “Federated States.”
Spain colonized Castilia.
France colonized Gaul, then Gaul colonized a goodly chunk of the rest of Terra Nova, for a while.
Great Britain colonized Anglia, which further colonized a good deal of what the Gauls didn’t. Again, this was only for a while.
The Irish colonized Hibernia. They never really knew what they wanted but were always willing to fight to the death for it.
The Italians colonized Tuscany.
The Dutch Colonized Haarlem.
The Japanese colonized Yamato.
The Somalis colonized Xamar, which was just as much of a dump as Somalia is.
The Argentines colonized La Plata.
The Colombians colonized Santander.
The Indians got Bharat, but I seem to recall mentioning that it split up into different contending states. India’s a pretty artificial construct. I’m frankly amazed it’s held together, here on Earth, as long as it has and gives the appearance of holding together into the future. Give the Brits their due; when they cobble something together it tends to stay cobbled together.
Israel colonized Zion. They originally had no colony, but the Saudis arranged to give them a chunk of theirs to get as many Jews as possible off of Earth. See comment, above, on the importance of who leaves.
The Cubans colonized Cienfuegos.
The Poles got Jagiellonia.
Vietnam colonized Cochin.
Canada got another frozen wasteland, Secordia, named for Canadian heroine Laura Secord, and seemed happy enough with it. Quebec was set up as a politically separate colony—New Quebec—because, after all, they’re pains in the ass, while Anglophone Canadians have had just about enough.
Balboa, of course, was settled by Panamanians.
All the European-based colonies were awarded by the European Union, which used this as a dumping ground for anyone either useless or against the EU project.
The Chinese settled Ming Zhong Guo, or New Middle Kingdom. That “Ming,” New, is important. Even so, of course, no one ever names their colony “New” anything, perish the thought. And I was not born in Boston, which is named for Boston, England, which is in New England, which is named for Old England. There is no New South Wales in Australia. There is no New Carlisle, in Quebec. All are figments of the imagination; so it’s been tacitly claimed.10
The Russians settled Volga.
The Germans got Sachsen.
Iraq was awarded what became Sumer, another patch of miserable desert with a couple of nice rivers running through it.
The various peoples of Afghanistan took possession of various chunks of Pashtia, and proceeded to carry their feuds from Earth along with them.
The Chileans settled Valparaiso.
The Saudis took a chunk of desert, less what they gave to get more Jews to emigrate.
The Turks colonized Kemal.
Honduras got what became Lempira.
San Vicente was settled from El Salvador.
Nicaragua settled Cordoba.
The Egyptians settled what would become the Misrani Arab Republic.
New Zealand settled Wellington.
Hordaland was settled by Norwegians.
The Danes settled Cimbria.
Australia got nothing, since the world detests the way it has generally supported the United States in its wars, and since it isn’t part of any of the supranationals below the UN through which the new planet was parceled up. Instead, the United States allowed Aussies to move to its colonies. Hence the name of the city, Gaganddie, the result of an early settlement nearly exterminating itself by sampling the fruits of the Tranzitree, the Bolshiberry, and the Progressivine; nobody but Aussies could come up with a name like that . . . well . . . okay . . . them and me.
Is there a code for these? Yes, there is, or, rather, several of them.
In the first place, the place names not only served as mnemonics for me, while writing, but—see below on the different ways to read the series—keys for the reader. Thus, for example, there is a place overlooking the Panama Canal, Cerro Paraiso, or Paradise Hill, that is inversely echoed in A Desert Called Peace, as Hell Hill. The State of Shelby, in the Federated States, isn’t a cognate for Mississippi, nor even Shelby, Mississippi, but for Tennessee, where the novelist and historian Shelby Foote lived. Yes, this, too, is an echo to the kinds of motives for the various groups on settlers in the area; it is a strong hint that anyone who would name their home after Shelby Foote is likely a very much unreconstructed neo-Confederate, hence naturally neither welcome nor happy on increasingly cosmopolitan Earth
For the most part, the national country names fall into the following six categories. though some fit more than one category, the one I give refers to my initial motivation in naming them:
1. Those named for larger or smaller places on Earth, within the borders of the polities that sent out the colony: Wellington, San Vicente, Valparaiso, Cienfuegos, (arguably) Yamato, Xamar, Pashtia, Haarlem, Sachsen, Cochin (for Cochinchina), and Tuscany.
2. Those named for significant rivers in the originating countries on Earth: Volga,
3. Taking a leaf from The Princess Bride, those named for the prevailing currency in their country, on Earth: Balboa, Lempira.
4. Those named for their earlier Latin names, perhaps modernized in some cases: Gaul, Hibernia, Lusitania (if I ever mentioned it), Anglia.
5. Those named for national heroes: Santander, Kemal, Secordia. Jagiellonia (though that’s actually named for a dynasty).
6. Those that kept an old name, possibly with “New” added, which sounded sufficiently strange to western ears that I felt it could be left alone: Misrani Arab Republic, Ming Zhong Guo, Bharat.
D. Different ways to read the series:
I get a fair amount of feedback from fans that they find new things in the books every time they reread them. There is, in fact, a pretty good reason for that. What good reason? I wrote them in layers, so to speak, to be read in any of about seven different ways. Yes, there are a lot of different ways to read the series.
In the first and most obvious place, it can be read as a straight science fiction story—different planet, strange flora and fauna, some of which matter and some of which do not, spaceships, somewhat different technology, lesser tech in some areas, and more advanced tech in others, an Earth somewhat to very politically different from the one we know today, that kind of thing—where revenge is a core component.
Another way to read it is as a roman a clef, a novel with a key. If the reader does this, it also becomes a kind of alternate history commentary on the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, or, more broadly, the war against Radical Fundamentalist Islam, le RIF. That way can further be read as a broad and fairly detailed critique of where and how we screwed up and what we should have done differently. (Disbanding the Iraqi Army? Trying to institute democracy in a place like that or Afghanistan? More or less overnight? Jesus . . . just Jesus.) Naturally, it can’t help, under that reading, being a fairly severe criticism of Neo-Con thinking, which is appallingly bad, arrogant and ignorant, both, where it is not even a contradiction in terms.11
It can be read as a romance because, after all, what could be more romantic than someone waging what amounts to a private world war to avenge the murder of his woman?
The reader can also look at it, if he or she is willing to twist their minds a bit, as an allegory of us, today, fighting against the rather unpleasant future in store for our descendants if we do not get control of, and destroy, the Tranzi—Transnational Progressive—apparatus and dream. Yes, if you want to read it that way, the setting of ninety-nine percent of the story, the planet named—with deliberate lack of originality—Terra Nova, is us, today, while Earth, “Old Earth,” in the story, is them tomorrow.
One could read it as a series of fictional essays on political and military reform. In terms of the latter, in particular, since I am a huge fan of the political system in Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, I thought to put some philosophical meat on the bare bones of the that system, but to do so in a place, Balboa, were our style of federalism is basically impossible.
In terms of military reform essays, The Amazon Legion, too, as further explained in the accompanying piece, "The Amazon’s Right Breast," is absolutely an essay, in that case on how to turn women into ground combatants, as compared with current (despicable, vile, rotten, stupid, doctrinaire, and evil) efforts which are largely about how not to do so.
That’s not the whole of the reform essay aspect, though. Note the tacit criticisms of high tech. See the illustrations of a high tech-low tech mix. Note the reserve system which, as the United States, food and energy independent, now, disengages from the world and our unwise, entangling alliances,12 we might find useful. Note the different kinds of organizations on display depending on the mission: expansion, counter-insurgency, or mid-intensity (they call it high intensity now). Note the entire operation and philosophy of Obras Zorilleras.13
Note the method of selections for officers and senior non-coms.
Finally, I intended it to be a one stop shop for a course in Art of War: Administration, Organization, Intelligence, Leadership, both innate and as developed, Training, Tactics and Techniques, Doctrine, Operations, Strategy, Logistics, Psychological Operations, use of the arts, etc., in several different forms of war, from low intensity to high. Can any eight novels, one anthology, and three essays hope to do that? To do it completely? No; war is the art that subsumes all other arts and sciences. Eight thousand volumes cannot cover it all. But eight can get the reader to thinking, at least. The series probably does about as much as one could hope for in that line.
E. Shape of the Balboan Armed Force / the Legions
I covered a good deal of this, sometimes directly and sometimes only by implication, in the essay "Principles of Organization for War." Nonetheless, it might be of interest to the reader to understand the standard corps of Carrera’s force, and the general deployment for the final battles. This is mostly from memory, so if I make a minor mistake somewhere . . .
Every corps consists of three legions or legions and brigades, which are roughly equivalent to divisions or, for brigades, rather less than divisions. The First Corps, Mechanized, has only two maneuver divisions but also a full legion of artillery, which is further staffed to be able to control the fires of a large number of additional tercios (regiments) and brigades of artillery. Second and Third Corps had two maneuver divisions each, plus an additional brigade of infantry. Fourth Corps, which is intended to fight a static battle to keep the port of Cristobal out of enemy hands, also has two legions and a brigade. Fifth Corps, which is intended to defend the Fortress of Isla Real and the coast east, and west of the capital, have only two maneuver divisions. In the case of Fifth Corps, one of those divisions is largely sham, having been composed of troops still in their initial entry training and situated as far back from the front as possible. Sixth Corps has almost no regular troops, just its own headquarters, the Tercio Amazona, a good deal of the 14th Special Operations Tercio, 44th Tercio de Indios, Tercio Gorgidas (the gays), and the reinforced Fifth Mountain Tercio. Almost all the rest are discharged and retired veterans, to the tune of several score thousand.
It is mentioned in the series that the last thing an about to be discharged veteran does before discharge is to attend a course in guerilla warfare, taught by, among others, Colonel Nguyen and his wife, Madame Nguyen.
Every corps gets, in addition, a Legion or a Brigade of combat support forces. These generally consist of tercios of Engineers, Air Defense Artillery, Military Police, Reconnaissance, and Artillery, tube and rocket, both. First Corps, however, the heavy corps, has only a brigade of combat support, because its artillery is in the Tenth Artillery Legion. Fifth Corps also has only a brigade, because it owns the Twelfth Coast Artillery Brigade.
There is a Headquarters and Support formation, sometimes a legion, sometimes a brigade, for each of the corps as well, with all the tercios and cohorts required to administer, control, support, maintain, etc., their corps.
There are number of combat, combat support, and headquarters and support formations at national level. The primary ones, here, are the 16th Legion (Jan Sobieski), which is the air force for Balboa, the 17th (Don John) Naval, and the 18th Air Defense Legions. There is, further, a brigade of engineers, the 19th, and the 52ndDeception Tercio, whose primary mission is dirty tricks, confusion, obfuscation, and the like.
A more numerate breakdown would look like this:
C means cadet
Legions and Brigades 6 Mech, 13 inf, 14 Inf, and 15 Inf, are "second formations." In peace they appear part of the staffs of 1 Mech, 2 Inf, 3 Inf, and 4 Marine. One tercio of the parent legion goes with them.
Tercios 10,11, and 12, are normally part of legions 5,7, and 9. Upon full mob they are moved to 8th and 11 Inf.
Tercios 40-44 are composites with extra emphasis on keeping nationalities that do not like each other apart, forex, no Valparaisans (Chilean descent) with de la Platans or Limanes (too much bad blood).
Tercios with "c" after number are cadet tercios, reinforced with scouts. 37th Tercio is a composite formed from the "cazador clubs" of the 6 regular cadet tercios.
Legions and Brigades are both flag officer positions, brigades are smaller and have less in the way of combined arms. Some are arms pure.
This chart does not include CSS and HQ tercios and higher formations.
VIth Corps has control of all partisan forces in areas overrun by outsiders. It is reinforced with five independent tercios, 5th Mountain (reinf), 14 Caz, 35th Gorgidas, 36th Amazona, and 44th Indio.
F. How does Carrera command the legions:
We usually say “Command and Control” as if it were a single word. In fact command and control are not just different, but opposite.
Command exists when what the commander wants to happen does happen, with little further input necessary from the commander than something to the effect of, “This is what I want to happen.” Control exists, conversely, when what the commander wants to happen happens only because he is directing events in considerable detail. There’s no particular shortage of good controllers in the militaries of the world, but there is a serious dearth of good commanders.
That said, perfect command probably never existed, any more than perfect control does. There will almost always be something even the best commander must control and something even the most fanatical controller must give over to command. And that said, command in almost always superior to control, not least because it allows a greater span of influence than control does.
Carrera commands the legions through various organs and agencies, as well as through his subordinates. The major organs he uses for this are the Estado Mayor, Centipede, the Balboan national training center, Cazador School, the initial entry training establishment, on the Isla Real, the higher level military schooling, also on the Isla Real, his Inspector General, Professor Ruiz’s information, which includes publications, Obras Zorilleras, subordinate commanders.
Among the higher level schooling are Officer Candidate and Centurion Candidate Schools, which ensure that leaders meet certain minimal standards (actually, they’re pretty high standards) before being commissioned or made into centurions. It would, one supposes, be sacrilege to admit it, but one of the reasons armies tend to fall back on control, rather than allowing command, is that their officer and senior NCO selection system just cannot guarantee a good enough product. Look at the U.S. Army’s percent of commissioned officers these days. Twenty Percent? Dear God, twenty percent. And you think most of those have what it takes to be real officers? Leaders of men? Yeah, right. Worse, when you have that many, command tours are short enough to ensure that anyone in command can put on a show long enough to get by.
Conversely, the Legions keep officer strength down to three percent, including air and naval, and have very stringent filters in place to weed out the unfit. This gives people Carrera can rely on, which allows him to command rather than control. The same might be said for the centurion corps, which is the senior NCO corps and somewhat larger than the officer corps.
This is key, while there are a few things he keeps very close to his chest and controls tightly, in general he does not try for tight control. The process generally runs: He expresses his will to his subordinate commanders and staff. Professor Ruiz’s organization publicizes that will. Cazador School and the twin candidate schools provide people who can be relied on to execute that will. The Centipede, since most of Carrera’s will concerns training the force, checks that this is being done, even as the IG looks, systemically, to the issues and problems interfering with that will.
He does, as shown in a couple of places, spot check to make sure that his organs of command are following and advancing his will, of course. Sometimes they are not and then he controls them very tightly and unpleasantly for a while.
G. Questions and Answers:
What happened to the United States, on Old Earth:
The United States went under to the UN a little more slowly than the rest, but they went under all the same. Remember that line on how important emigration is to cultural change? Enough unassimilated and inassimilable foreigners came in as to make the United States less comfortable for many Americans. They left in dribs and drabs. As more Americans left, the laws and culture changed more, driving still more to leave. Once there was a consensus for knuckling under to the UN, still more left, sooner, younger, and faster.
Currently, however, the area of the former United States is a mix of reverted to barbarism (In other words, not under Consensus control) and glaciated. So much for Global Warming.
What was the name of the last Pope on Earth, the one who was burnt at the stake at the Ara Pacis, the Altar of Peace, in Rome:
I have no idea, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t Francis, since this Francis is, and anyone in the future who takes his name is likely to be, a Tranzi through and through.
Where did the idea of awarding medals to brave foreigners, who fought against the legions, and putting on trial for treason foreigners who try to help Balboa but who are citizens of countries Balboa is at war with come from:
Mark Twain, actually. He wrote the following passage concerning something he saw while visiting New Zealand:
A couple of curious war-monuments here at Wanganui. One is in honor of white men “who fell in defence of law and order against fanaticism and barbarism.” Fanaticism. We Americans are English in blood, English in speech, English in religion, English in the essentials of our governmental system, English in the essentials of our civilization; and so, let us hope, for the honor of the blend, for the honor of the blood, for the honor of the race, that that word got there through lack of heedfulness, and will not be suffered to remain. If you carve it at Thermopylae, or where Winkelried died, or upon Bunker Hill monument, and read it again “who fell in defence of law and order against fanaticism” you will perceive what the word means, and how mischosen it is. Patriotism is Patriotism. Calling it Fanaticism cannot degrade it; nothing can degrade it. Even though it be a political mistake, and a thousand times a political mistake, that does not affect it; it is honorable—always honorable, always noble—and privileged to hold its head up and look the nations in the face. It is right to praise these brave white men who fell in the Maori war—they deserve it; but the presence of that word detracts from the dignity of their cause and their deeds, and makes them appear to have spilt their blood in a conflict with ignoble men, men not worthy of that costly sacrifice. But the men were worthy. It was no shame to fight them. They fought for their homes, they fought for their country; they bravely fought and bravely fell; and it would take nothing from the honor of the brave Englishmen who lie under the monument, but add to it, to say that they died in defense of English laws and English homes against men worthy of the sacrifice—the Maori patriots.
The other monument cannot be rectified. Except with dynamite. It is a mistake all through, and a strangely thoughtless one. It is a monument erected by white men to Maoris who fell fighting with the whites and against their own people, in the Maori war. “Sacred to the memory of the brave men who fell on the 14th of May, 1864,” etc. On one side are the names of about twenty Maoris. It is not a fancy of mine; the monument exists. I saw it. It is an object-lesson to the rising generation. It invites to treachery, disloyalty, unpatriotism. Its lesson, in frank terms is, “Desert your flag, slay your people, burn their homes, shame your nationality—we honor such.”14
Moreover, from a strictly PSYOP point of view, it is rather clever, no?
Why did you repeat parts of The Amazon Legion in other books, or vice versa:
The Amazon Legion was a parallel story. Without giving dates, which may or may not have meant anything to the reader, repeating a few brief sections from another POV allowed the reader to place the story in chronological context. Oddly, a few people objected to this, and a couple of them outright lied. I will continue to write for the intelligent and honest, nonetheless.
What order should the books be read in:
Leaving aside the anthology:
A Desert Called Peace
The Lotus Eaters
The Amazon Legion (though those last two can be switched, too)
Come and Take Them
The Rods and the Axe
A Pillar of Fire by Night
Days of Burning, Days of Wrath
The essays can be read at any time.
What is the Neo-Azteca recipe for chile:
Do you really want to know? Well, in that case, first, buy a young and tender slave girl or pre-pubescent boy, then sharpen your obsidian sacrificial knife . . .
Why is Terra Nova’s history, post colonization, so similar to ours:
Because, as mentioned, while history doesn’t repeat itself, it does rhyme.
In other words, we have a geography very similar to ours. We have a set of national boundaries fairly similar to ours. We have settlement by groups extremely similar to ours of an earlier time. We have them starting from a technological base about where we were three to five hundred years ago. So why wouldn’t their history rhyme with ours?
Why was there no region for Australia to settle:
There were three reasons. One is that there was no continent-sized island set up by the Noahs. We don’t know why this may be, but we may well speculate that the indigenous animals of Australia were not endangered because human beings hadn’t yet shown up to drive them to extinction, so the Noahs didn’t bother raising an island. Or perhaps they just thought marsupials deserved to die. Or got lazy. Or had their funding cut. Take your pick.
However, we do know the reasons they didn’t get anything. There were two of these. One was that Australia was a faithful—well, relatively faithful—ally of the United States, hence was much detested in Tranzi circles, while there was no “supranational” organization to which Australia belonged to apportion some part of that supranational’s area to Oz.
What happened to the other staff from the first book:
Some were killed or crippled in action. Some went home. Some stayed on staff or were put in command. More broadly speaking, though, Carrera wanted his senior commanders to be mostly Balboan, so that they could carry on the culture and values of the legions into the unseen future.
Will you ever write Historia y Filosofia Moral:
If I live long enough, maybe.
Who keeps all this stuff straight:
Modean Moon, God bless ‘er.
And my personal favorite, isn’t Carrera just a Marty Stu / Mary Sue:
There are a couple of problems with this notion. One is that those making the claim don’t actually know what a Marty Stu / Mary Sue is. No, dummies, it’s not a stand in for the author, or, rather, it’s not the fact of being a stand in that makes a character a Sue or Stu. Instead, a Mary Sue or Marty Stu is a character with amazing abilities, all of which are unearned, coming from nothing. Conversely, when you first meet Carrera, he’s studying his calling, in a library that indicates a lifetime of study and a good deal of prior practice. He was likely born with some talent, but it’s the study and practice that makes him what he is.
Secondly, he’s a composite. Am I in that composite? Sure, I taught the boy everything he knows, after all. But that doesn’t mean I taught him everything I know.
Finally, Marty Stus are too perfect; they never make mistakes. There are quite a number of mistakes Carrera makes in the series, plus a couple of idiotic things—there’s a place for luck in war, after all—that he gets away with.
However, if some idiotic and thoroughly dishonest transvestite wants to believe it, what that hell; I don’t really care if I’m living rent free in s/h/it’s head.
Okay, so if Carrera isn’t you, who is he?
That would be telling.
Oh, all right.
To a large extent, as mentioned, he’s a composite, but there is one fictional character who was extremely important to Carrera’s outlook, values, and personality. You wouldn’t believe . . .
The short version is that Carrera is the anti-Jack Ryan. You see, unlike some fictional character, and quite despite my name, I am East Coast Irish, South Boston, Massachusetts, to be exact. Moreover, unlike some fictional characters, I really am a graduate of Boston College and a former infantry officer. When that goody-two-shoes Jack Ryan interfered with the President righteously nuking an Iranian city in reprisal for their attempt at spreading a plague among us, Clancy pretty much lost me. But when Jack Ryan had in his hands the power to pistol whip to death the IRA motherfucker who machine gunned his wife and little girl, and didn’t do so? That was the last straw. Thereafter, whenever I had a moral quandary for Carrera I simply asked, “What would Jack Ryan do?” and then had Carrera do the opposite.
As an aside, and not concerning who Carrera is but what he is, there’s another factor in there, one that makes Carrera almost unique among modern fictional protagonists. He’s not a whiney bitch. He understands, to paraphrase Napoleon, that if a man can’t look with equanimity upon a battlefield strewn with the dead and maimed bodies of forty-thousand boys, he probably needs to find another line of work. Yes, yes, I know that, modernly, nobody is supposed to be like that in fiction. But when they’re not? That’s when fiction doesn’t make sense and real life does.
H. Technological innovations and odd procurements of the story:
There is a theme, so to speak, to Carrera’s selections and direction for research and development, as well as procurement. Every program and system he pushes is geared to one of three things, mitigating enemy strengths and enhancing Balboan strengths, mitigating Balboan weaknesses or exploiting enemy weaknesses, and the geography of the theater of war, to include the enemy continent.
Moreover, not everything that could have been done was done, since every program was a potential warning sign to keep the enemy from walking into his naval and land artillery ambushes. For example, the Meg Class subs are short ranged. Why not outfit a freighter to tow them to attack the Tauran Union and the Zhong in their home waters? Because the benefit wasn’t worth the risk of exposing early just how capable they were, within their range, nor what numbers they were in, nor how long Balboa had been getting ready for this particular war, which might have warned one or the other, hence both, off, to wage some other kind of war for which Carrera could neither prepare nor prevail.
1Ken and I are living proof that it is, indeed, a small world. We were in the same company in the 101st Airborne, in 1976, but he was just reporting in as I was leaving. We didn’t actually meet, but passed each other in a corridor. Then we were lieutenants together, in 3rd Battalion, 5th Infantry, in Panama. We didn’t serve in the same company there, but switched jobs at the beginning of 1983. After that, we were in different but overlapping classes at the Infantry Officer Advanced Course, at Fort Benning, in 1984. And then we ended up in the same battalion, the 96th, for the First Gulf War.
2 Civil Affairs is a branch in the Reserves, like Infantry, Armor, Artillery, or what have you, but only a functional area for the Regulars. Functional area? Think: Secondary MOS.
3 Non-judicial punishment. Only commanders can give non-judicial punishment. And blowjobs are not on the list of authorized punishments for them, either.
4 We eventually got rid of the Goat, but to do so—this is my firm belief—the Army had to present a new and improved, do-anything vehicle, the Hummer. Sadly, we had to give up our beloved M151 Jeeps to make the lie stick.
5 So I’ll tell one part of it. In 1987, after giving up command of my rifle company, I took over the HHC. While doing the inventory, the battalion commander asked me to set up and run some live fires for the battalion’s platoons. Actually, he asked me to set up and run one, but I came back with a plan to run four, for every platoons in the battalion. One of these was a deliberate attack, supported by self-propelled air defense (Vulcans) and ITVs. The TOW missile, which the ITV fired, was a very expensive round, so, rather than waste them, the sights had to be verified by higher level maintenance. They came out, checked everything, and verified that the sight was fine. As line of departure time neared, the ITV raised its hammer head . . . and a piece of the sight fell out. Yes, really.
6 But if you don’t want to “never mind,” go find my essay on the principles of organization and see for yourself.
7 I say this with great confidence.
8 At this point I am sure my reader is shaking his head at the wickedness of military man. Just stop right there; you’re the one who has demanded a zero defects Army, well, you and your ancestors. You’re the one, with your ancestors, who want the troops so overloaded with equipment and armor that they’re doubly safe; they won’t get hurt themselves and will never catch up to the enemy to hurt him, either. You’ve got the Army you demanded and the one you deserve. It just so happens that it s an army that cannot admit to a mistake, because you cannot tolerate or accept a mistake.
9 As near as I can tell, the phrase, “le Rif” or RIF, was coined by Jody Dorsett and myself on Baen’s Bar, about nineteen years ago. We thought it rather a pretty beau geste.
10 Yes, this is a deliberate dig at an idiotic, and deeply dishonest, transvestite, who used to inhabit a particular website, and spent so long lying to the world and himself about what he was that the very notion of truth would appear to be alien to him.
11 Neo-cons are not conservative at all. Rather, they are clean cut, suit-wearing liberals, with a vast faith in the efficacy of military power, the prospects for social engineering of foreign societies, and their own innate wonderfulness. While all of those are dubious propositions, the evidence for the last, in particular, is extremely scanty. Fortunately, their abject, miserable failures in Iraq and Afghanistan have pulled their fangs for a while. Nonetheless, as my Panamanian wife is fond of saying, “Hierbe mala nunca muere.” Weeds never die.
The Con, in Neo-con, stands for con man.
12 I’m being charitable there; our allies are generally moochers, on moral-defense welfare. I’ll change my mind when they pay as much for their own defense and when they raise forces commensurate with their populations and economies, as we do to defend them.
13 “Skunk Works,” for you folks who don’t understand Spanish. Yes, named for Kelly Johnson’s outfit, at Lockheed. Allow me my little jokes, please.
14 It may be that Twain misunderstood the monument and the action it commemorated rather badly. Even so, the principle he puts forth is valid enough.
Copyright © 2020 Tom Kratman
This is a three-part series on the world-building behind Tom Kratman’s Carreraverse, presented with Kratman’s inimitable, deadpan style. Days of Burning, Days of Wrath is now out from Baen Books and chronicles a climactic storyline finale within Kratman’s best-selling Carrera military science fiction series.