cover image The Complete Hammer's Slammers: Volume One

The Complete Hammer's Slammers: Volume One

David Drake, . . Night Shade, $35 (395pp) ISBN 978-1-892389-69-5

Fans of Drake's edgy stories of a mercenary tank regiment in a future not all that different from our present will rejoice that Night Shade is issuing the entire series in three volumes. Drake, a Vietnam vet who served in the Blackhorse Regiment, uses prose as cold and hard as the metal alloy of a tank to portray the men and women of Hammer's Regiment as neither cartoon heroes nor propaganda villains but as competent professionals trying to survive in a deadly business. His bad guys are typically the politicians and extremists who think that war can be desirable and positive when it's merely sadly necessary. In "The Butcher's Bill," we see how every line trooper makes policy regardless of higher wishes, while "Hangman" shows the ethical dilemmas facing a soldier of conscience. If the 21 stories collected here present an episodic account of the Slammers' history, that's because this is the way that the line soldier experiences a campaign. In his depiction of combat, Drake (The Way to Glory ) rivals Crane and Remarque. (Feb.)