Tuesday, January 1, 2013
The Second Wave: Resurgence of Men's Fiction
First of all: Happy New Year, everyone.
With Jack Murphy's novel hitting the virtual stands today, and my next one still on track for release later this month, I got to thinking about the "new wave" (or 2nd wave) of men's adventure/military fiction/paramilitary novels. 2012 was a very encouraging year for those of us who miss the genre(s) and would like to read it again. I actually think the resurgence began in 2010, but its growth has been accelerating, making last year the biggest so far.
So following is just a from-the-hip summary of what the state of the genre is right now.
Jack Silkstone's PRIMAL series burst on the scene in 2011 and has been taking no prisoners ever since. His heroes are part soldier-of-fortune and part vigilante. Imagine the A-Team, but more plausible. Imagine a James Bond villain, only righting wrongs instead of doing wrong. PRIMAL is a private military company, but they don't hire out to the highest bidder. They are privately (and well) funded, which means they don't have to compromise their principles to make a living by the sword. His latest installment is PRIMAL Vengeance, and I'm sure he's got another one in the works. He's also got some nice videos up, and a cool website.
I met Jack Murphy after he reviewed my novel, Hell & Gone. The review was a pleasant surprise, mostly because he was not only a fan of the genre, but another veteran, so he could appreciate it on at least two levels. Frankly, before that, I'd been seriously worried that there were no fans of the genre left...that there was no interest or market in this type of fiction. The closest thing to it was the techno-thriller a la Tom Clancy, Dale Brown, etc.
Anyway, Jack and I became cyber-friends and gradually, I discovered that there were a lot more of us out there. He was working on his debut novel, Reflexive Fire, at the time, and posting chapters on his blog. Jack had recently come home from the Sandbox and his knowledge was vast and up-to-date. (He also had some hilarious anecdotes from personal experience in SF and the Rangers that I hope he will find a way to insert in his future fiction.) I wrote Reflexive Fire's first Amazon review and was happy to do so.
Jack's been busy going to school, starting a family, writing books and co-founding SOFREP, a fantastic resource for anyone interested in Special Operations Forces. His novel Target Deck, sequel to Reflexive Fire, just went live on Amazon.
Dan Tharp is a regular contributor to SOFREP, and has recently been commissioned by them to write about the Rhodesian War. His study of African history and politics informed his debut novel, Task Force Intrepid: The Gold of Katanga. The heroes, again, are ethical mercenaries sorting out the chaos in the Congo. He followed up with a shorter adventure about TFI: Highway to Hell. In addition to being a scholar of the Rhodesian conflict (and his blog, Sharp End of the Spear, is a very informative site), Dan was involved in Mixed Martial Arts for a while. I can't wait to read the book he writes about that.
If you haven't discovered Jack Badelaire's Post Modern Pulps blog, do yourself a favor and check it out. He's one of my trusted sources for book and movie recommendations, and we've had some stimulating back-and-forth since we've known each other. And he's become a published author himself in the last year or so. When the craziness of my own authorial efforts die down for a bit, I plan on finishing Operation Arrowhead, his novel of British commandos raising hell in Fortress Europe between Dunkirk and Normandy. In addition to that, there is his debut novel Killer Instincts; a tongue-in-cheek fantasy short: NANOK and the Tower of Sorrows; and the E-Zine Hatchet Force, which I am pleased to have contributed to.
New on the scene is Peter Nealen, and a welcome member of our growing community. His novel Task Force Desperate is a well-written yarn set in the near future, about a PMC suffering mission creep after a US outpost in hostile territory is overrun and hundreds of hostages taken. You might be exhausted after reading it because the tension never lets up. From talking with him, I know that he has many more books in mind, in several genres (kinda' like me). He's also a brand new blogger, and his American Praetorians blog is well worth a visit.
This isn't everybody writing in this genre, but they're the guys I know (in an online sort of way). Of course there are guys out there like comic book writer Chuck Dixon, with his SEAL Team Six novels. All of it is welcome. I miss the 1980s because you had quite a selection to choose from, and you could find a book in the genre at most drug stores and even gas stations. Now you can't even find it in a brick-and-mortar book store. But I must say that the quality of stories now, at least using the authors mentioned above as examples, has improved since then. And you can shop for your E-reader anywhere, including at drug stores and gas stations.
And don't forget Walter Knight's military sci-fi/comedy series, America's Galactic Foreign Legion. Walter is a Two-Fisted Bloggee, and has too many books to represent here, about American expansion into outer space. He's got accolades from folks like Piers Anthony under his belt, and the series sounds like a lot of fun.
BTW, all the blogs mentioned are on my blog rolls to the left.