For the next 42 days we're going to be counting down to the release of SEAL Team 666. why 42? Because it's the answer to the universal question.
1. What’s your favorite military movie, book or television show?
I'm sure in 42 days you're going to hear this a few times, but if I had to pick just one, Full Metal Jacket would be it. Others include Top Gun, The Hunt for Red October and The Rock, for those who'd like some variety.
2. Why is it your favorite? Here’s where you can ramble a bit.
It's pretty visceral, especially when viewed by an 18-year old kid fresh out of boot camp in 2001, eight months before 9/11 even happened. Not only did Kubrick's movie show a vastly different basic training experience from the one I had just finished, I came of age in the 90s, when Vietnam and its aftermath was well past us. Full Metal Jacket portrayed an otherwordly realm to me as much as the science fiction and fantasy I grew up reading, to be completely honest.
Having said that, my life has been a patchwork of visceral experiences, something I'd like to think is reflected in my choice of entertainment and, more importantly, my writing. I watch and read less military-related material than you might imagine, since I am a soldier and like my entertainment to provide an escape. For a similar reason, the military has yet to figure into my fiction work. I do, however, enjoy shows like Dexter, Boardwalk Empire and The Walking Dead and brutal books by guys like Jack Ketchum, Brian Keene and Wrath James White.
CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY? anthology of dark superhero fiction (featuring Wes and a plethora of other fine wordsmiths, I should point out) and FOUR IN THE MORNING, featuring my mid-life crisis novella with a dark science fiction bent alongside novellas by Tim Marquitz, Ed Erdelac and Malon Edwards. I love wizards, ghosts, monsters and The Goddamn Batman, but give it to me raw and with as much logic and realism as can be applied to such creatures--just like Kubrick did--and I'll love you long time. Which is, of course, the same relationship I try to build with my readers.
3. What themes are overused? And is it overused, or just truthful observation?
Speaking as a genre author as well as a soldier, the most overused military theme in genre fiction might be its frequent negative portrayal. I guess this is perhaps most prevalent in post-apocalyptic fiction. It might be because the stories are written by people unfamiliar with the service. Perhaps it's an extension of the mistrust of the government that also features prominently in those sort of stories (where a secret lab is typically believed to be responsible for the outbreak). I've read more than one horror story where the soldiers featured therein were rape-happy mercenaries, drunk on the last vestiges of real power available in a world gone to hell. The fairest portrayals in my memory have been written by servicemen--Wes' EMPIRE OF SALT and Bryon Morrigan's THE DESERT and ACHERON spring to mind, along with John Hornor Jacobs' THIS DARK EARTH, to which I lent my expertise as a consultant.
In reality, you'd probably end up with a lot of that--the military just might be America's most diverse workforce, and I've served with patriotic workhorses, college kids looking to pay off loans, wimps who've obviously bitten off more than they could chew, tiny lesbians who could still beat the brakes off some of the guys I've worked with and more than one redneck who ran his mouth about the wrong social topics until being threatened with a cigarette in the eye. So, in the kind of stories I enjoy reading, some soldiers would absolutely turn mercenary, use their talents for bad, etc. but many others would do the right thing. Similar to any other cross-section of humanity, I'd imagine.
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