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Dan Breen continues as my first reader, I'm happy to say. He has particular merit on clerical issues, but he's very good on matters of size as well.

I'm occasionally asked how I keep details straight while writing complex novels in several subgenres in quick succession. The assumption tends to be that I have a cross-indexed file of names, etc, to which I refer frequently. That would indeed be a good way to do it.

What I actually have is a retentive memory and more recently a team of continuity checkers who do a much better job than I could if I were to concentrate on names instead of story. Dorothy Day and Evan Ladouceur carried out this duty splendidly on The Way to Glory. The mistakes remain my mistakes, however.

Incidentally, occasionally an error will lead to a bit of found art. When I realized that the I'd given the Alliance vessel Moltke fewer, larger guns than a Field Marshal Class heavy cruiser should mount, I didn't go back and change the equipment. Instead I renamed her Scheer and left her a pocket battleship, which opens possibilities for later books in the series.

My webmaster Karen Zimmerman both archived my daily files and provided (generally in a matter of minutes) information which I suddenly needed. Well, wanted: was it important that I have the real Haitian national anthem before me (in Creole and English versions) when I wrote a throw-away scene? I guess the answer is that it was important to me. There's a lot more story background in my head than ever gets onto the page . . . but if it weren't in my head, what was on the page would be thinner and paler. I think.

Andre Norton gets a specific note of thanks for noting how useful lizards could be as pets on a spaceship. I say "specific" because I probably wouldn't be writing adventure stories of this sort if I hadn't read Andre's when I met science fiction.

I had computer problems. My son Jonathan fixed them. An acknowledgments page reminds me of how very lucky I have been in life.

My wife Jo bore with me as I wrote another novel and my immediate neighborhood became a deepening morass of books, documents, and pictures. (I use a lot of references while I'm working.) I try to clean up my mess in the short intervals between novels, but I'm aware that it isn't a perfect existence for an ordinarily neat person.

My thanks generally to all those who've brightened my life by their presence in it.


The general political background of the RCN series is that of Europe in the mid-eighteenth century, with admixtures of late-Republican Rome. (There's a surprising degree of congruence between British and Roman society in those periods.)

Major plot elements in The Way to Glory, however, come from the nineteenth century. Those of you who know some American history may note echoes of the Somers Mutiny, and if you're really well-versed you'll understand how greatly I simplified the details of political factions both in Washington (Whigs, Democrats, and the intimates of President Tyler whose own party had repudiated him) and in the U.S. Navy. Real history is a great deal more complex than anything I could make up.

The situation of the British North America and West Indies Squadron, based in Bermuda, would've been much as described during the eighteenth and even seventeenth centuries, with one important difference: Haiti didn't gain its independence till 1804. From that point through the 1880s (from which I've drawn several plot incidents) much of the squadron's work involved interceding in Haiti on behalf of British citizens (many of whom brought no credit upon their status) and refugees in general. One could scarcely ask for a better description of the term "thankless task." This one came with cockroaches.

In more recent times, the U.S. has taken over the former British role in Haiti. I suspect the roaches are still there; certainly nothing else has changed.

I'll note again that I don't invent systems of weights and measures for the background of the RCN series: the practice would neither advance my plot nor make the world a better place. I don't assume that people thousands of years in the future will still be using the systems in use today. Those who would quarrel with my choice here might usefully ask themselves, however, how long feet and inches have been in use thus far.

óDave Drake

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