My dad was a veteran of the largest and deadliest war in human history: World War II. Dad was in the US Army, infantry, deployed first to North Africa and then Italy. His unit was in combat, but the Army wisely did not ask Dad to shoot at anyone or anything since he was so short-sighted he’d had to memorize the eye chart in order to pass the physical. He also had pes planus, more often called flat feet, which could also be a medical disqualifier, but somehow he hid that, too. Despite his physical limitations, or maybe because of them, he left the army at the end of the war with a bad back and impaired hearing from getting too close to mortar fire, but otherwise as fit as when he joined up.
Anywhere from 56 to 85 million people, both military and civilians, were not so lucky; they died during the six years between 1939 and 1945 from combat, torture, starvation, and disease—all part of the war. Here’s the part that gets me: World War II was mass destruction that included both the historic and systematic murder of six million European Jews and the dropping of two atomic bombs that slaughtered a quarter of a million Japanese people.
I’m proud of my dad and his buddies. Dad kept in contact and met up with a couple them periodically for the rest of his life. George Roth was president of Spiral Binding Co. of New Jersey and also a wonderful storyteller. He invented a character named Whispering Jack Smith, a member of their army unit who couldn’t speak above a whisper, and George told stories in a whisper about their escapades together in order to get his three rambunctious sons to quiet down at bedtime. Cooper was a chemist and went on to some kind of illustrious career that was Top Secret, or so I thought as a kid. They all joined up to fight Fascism, to fight Hitler, and to fight for Freedom with a capital F. And I’m glad they did and that they all survived.
But it was madness, all of it, and so much destruction of life and beauty and art, it was a diabolical madness. I would say, let us not forget. But many have already forgotten.
One thing that reminds us of what we human beings are composed—imagination, compassion, creation, destruction, brutality, viciousness, transcendence—is art. At WMG, what Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith write is sometimes funny, sometimes scary or sad, sometimes astonishing, and sometimes thrilling. It’s all about humans, even the stories about aliens, and it covers everything we humans are composed of, as listed above, and more. We’re focusing on Kris’s Diving Universe this week in particular because the new novel in that series, The Renegat, is due to be published in September, but we are offering it early as part of the Diving Universe Kickstarter that ends this week.
A very cool thing about the Diving Universe is the novels take the reader on a ride through space as though space were the human spirit—vast, full of mystery and conflict with forces we don’t understand, fascinating. An early reader of The Renegat said “the 800+ pages go by so quickly, really at a thriller pace.” Because it is a thriller!
Check out the Kickstarter page and check out all the cool stuff you can get. And if you want a thrill, one that will pose no threat to your pes planus or aching back, you can get an early epub of The Renegat as a reward for a $5 pledge.