Tommy and Tom

“For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Chuck him out, the brute! “
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country ” when the guns begin to shoot;”
Rudyard Kipling, Tommy.

By the time this post goes live it should be Memorial Day in the US. I’m not American, but my father served alongside American Soldiers in North Africa (“They got ice-cream!” was one of the things he must have said a thousand times. Funny how small things can make a big impression) and I owe my sf reading and what I’ve ended up doing to American service personnel leaving pulp sf mags for my Artillery Sergeant mother to find (my mum served the naval guns that guarded Cape Town and Simonstown), read read and become addicted to. My respects and gratitude to the fallen. I am aware of what that sacrifice has brought. I wrote about this in SHADOW OF THE LION – I paraphrase (but I can do that to myself) a comment about the feared Knights of the Holy Trinity. “The fat little burgers watch us ride past. They sneer. They call us ‘Knots’. But it is because we exist, and because of what we do, that the fat little burger sleeps safe in his bed tonight, with a full belly.”

It’s certainly easy to forget when you’re safe in suburbia, absorbing the MSM, or at WisCon telling each other how bad men are. The various Puppy Kickers, including George Martin (who suggested it should have a separate award to keep us happy in our ghetto) love to denigrate Military sf. They don’t like the military, and they don’t like those who read it, let alone the books. Hmm. Given the way old foes seem to be creeping back out of the woodwork, stronger, nastier and more determined to devour the fat little burgers I think it’s worth quoting Rudyard Kipling’s TOMMY

“Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap.
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul? “
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes,” when the drums begin to roll.”

A wise person would remember that. Those are the same ‘bad men’, the same second class citizens not good enough your awards.

On a somewhat different track and totally unrelated to that Tommy, I finally got through with digitizing TOM – my book based on the universe of short ‘The Goth Sex-Kitten’, and have put it up on Amazon. It is intended to be light and fun, with a few pokes at various shibboleths and SJW inanity. The picture is a link.

Tom is a cat in trouble. The worst possible kind of trouble: he’s been turned into a human. Transformed by an irascible old magician in need of a famulus — a servant and an assistant, Tom is as good at being a servant as a cat ever is. The assistant part is more to Tom’s taste: he rather fancies impressing the girl cats and terrorizing the other toms by transforming himself into a tiger. But the world of magic, a vanished and cursed princess, and haunted skull, and a demon in the chamber-pot, to say nothing of conspiring wizards and the wickedest witch in the west, all seem to be out to kill Tom. He is a cat coming to terms with being a boy, dealing with all this. He has a raven and a cheese as… sort of allies.

And of course there is the princess.

If you were looking for ‘War and Peace’ this is the wrong book for you. It’s a lighthearted and gently satirical fantasy, full of terrible puns and… cats.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but this seems to happen to me a lot with good shorts. I find myself saying ‘I wish that were longer…’ – and with my own work I can do something about it.


    1. Dear heaven Camestros! Are you sick? Approving of a cover of one who is not of the chosen, instead of kindly supporting the battling poor writer with substituting of a walrus, and as a noble socialist gesture of solidarity with the working man – denigrating things you haven’t read. Don’t compound your error and read it. You’d find the lack of gay people being dragged behind pickups and your failure to find the misogyny you believe there (without ever bothering to read) might ruin your illusions. No, get your friend Glyer to read it and selectively quote disparate sentences to ‘prove’ your preconceptions. ;-/

    2. Your friendly act would be more convincing, if we didn’t already know it was exactly that: an act.

      1. What an odd statement. Do you think that I secretly DON’T like the cover?
        I think it is excellent in lots of ways – particluarly as a cover for an ebook which needs to work as a thumbnail image. The cat, aside from being cute, draws the eye in and contrasts nicely against the background. The paw edging out beyond the apparent edge of the book is not only a neat effect but also suggests the character has the kind of rule breaking curiosity of a cat. The visuals support the idea of the book.
        It really is quite lovely.

  1. It isn’t just the military. The leisure class resents and fears the people that they are dependant on, and respond by showing them with contempt and scorn. You only have to look at the acceptable targets for the elite’s stereotyping.

    They need farmers, so farmers are portrayed at ignorant rednecks. Construction workers, mechanics, utility workers–you’ll almost never see any of them as a sympathetic character either in fiction or on the news. Police, of course, are never the good guys, unless you have a lone minority struggling to over come the prejudices of the corrupt majority.

    Lately the official stereotype of the “geek” has shifted from being a harmless outsider to being as racist/sexist/homophobic/badthinkers as cops or farmers. Why? Because the leisure class has figured out just how dependant it is on the modern information infrastructure and the people who maintain it.

    1. Yep – I’ve noticed that as well; the intellectual classes have been snotty about the military since Vietnam at the least (maybe longer) but lately they’ve become absolutely vicious about the working class as well.
      All while congratulating themselves on being so tolerant, of course.

      1. It’s just another verse of a song that’s been around since the Ancient Greeks. They’ve always had nothing but contempt for working men and women. So it was that some centuries old bit of drivel, an ode to a craftsman, thought it paid him an honor to portray him as a a witless savant.

    2. In fairness, the dislike they have for anyone they stereotype as a redneck, and for Jacksonian tribesmen, is the same ethnic hatred that many inhabitants of big settled cities have held for the Scotch-Irish.

    3. I found an amusing snippet in a survey a while back – Labour – a political party in Australia ostensibly to support… labor. You know, working men, the poor battlers… supposedly left wing, and loud in the support of most typical left wing causes… their supporters have a considerably higher median income than Liberal/National coalition (liberal in Australia does not = liberal US) – the more socially conservative party, often put as the party of big business. The battlers, the one-man businesses, the working poor… support a bunch who probably are doing them over. But at least they don’t sneer at them while they do it.

      1. The battlers, the one-man businesses, the working poor… support a bunch who probably are doing them over. But at least they don’t sneer at them while they do it.

        Give them time.

  2. The leisure class…

    I am reminded of the story about a fancy type passenger disembarking a jet and claiming “It’s such a pity that America hasn’t a leisure class.” And, so the story goes, a stewardess (it was a while back…) informed the traveler that, “Oh, but America does have a leisure class, sir.” “Oh?” “Yes. We call ’em ‘bums’!”

    And the story still fits, provided one doesn’t confuse a mere bum with the more honorable hobo – who is willing to work.

  3. In a sort of foul mood this Memorial Day. My family was lucky in that all who served in combat made it home again. They could have very easily died and been laid to rest thousands of miles from home (if they were found at all). Many of their friends were not. So it boils my blood that some . . . h*ll, call them lower than ticks on a snakes belly, have defaced US war memorials in their own country. That’s the same as defacing a grave, and yes, we’ve had some do that here, too, on occasion.

    It doesn’t help that it’s become the unofficial start of summer in the US, a day marked by sales. I suppose nothing says how much the sacrifice of others means to you than cruising the stores for discounts.

    But as I’ve said, I’m in a foul mood, mostly over the desecrations. To absent friends. those we knew and those we didn’t, whether they served under an American flag or the flag of an ally..

  4. Typo in the blurb? I think “and haunted skull” should be “a haunted skull”.

    Broke now, but plan to buy it when I’m less broke.

      1. There was a minor defacement here a while back, when copper scrap scrap still had a high price, and someone went after a memorial statue. The local law enforcement said, honest to goodness, they could turn themselves in or let the vets find them.

  5. “The various Puppy Kickers, including George Martin (who suggested it should have a separate award to keep us happy in our ghetto) love to denigrate Military sf. They don’t like the military, and they don’t like those who read it, let alone the books.”

    I’ve always liked the military. I didn’t like being -in- the military mind you, but that was more about me being the wrong kind of kid for that job. The military itself, when populated with honorable men, is a great institution. They do the things that have to be done, so that effete snobs can pursue their fetishes in comfort.

    I am therefore content that GRRM and company should go right on hating the military and playing with their pronoun stickers on their name tags. Should they all suddenly come to love and value soldiers and respect their sacrifice, it will be due to hellish war, the kind that visits up close and personal. I can do without any of that.

  6. It will be seen that comfort and security, as known to a suburban street in peace-time, are the ultimate values; those things which can alone produce or spiritualize comfort or security are mocked. Man lives by bread alone, and the ultimate source of bread is the baker’s van; peace matters more than honour, and can be preserved by jeering at colonels and reading newspapers.

    C. S. Lewis
    The Abolition of Man

  7. Military SF has always been sneered at, ever since Starship Troopers. As our media has drifted ever leftward, it’s increasingly looked at like pornography. You might read it, but do you really want other people to know? I think a big part of that is the lack of veterans. Of course there’s guys like David Drake and John Ringo, but they’re something of an exception. Back in the ’60s and ’70s, there was more representation in the community and therefore more SF writers who knew something about the military. Nowadays the field seems to be dominated by those who either protested Vietnam or who were chanting “No blood for oil” back when it was a Republican fighting endless Middle Eastern wars. All they seem to know about the military are regurgitated 50-year old clichés and the clueless crap from modern Hollywood. And those writers who do know what they’re talking about are looked down upon, relegated to a ghetto inside the SF ghetto and treated like second-class citizens.

    Damn it, where did this soapbox come from?

    1. Ever notice how business and money never get mentioned in SF either? Except in Monster Hunter, and look how that was received. Sneers and huge sales numbers.

      Almost as if the people doing the sneering had no idea about the thing they were sneering at.

      1. Go check out the “Quarter Share” series. Good SF about all those cargo ships that are ignored, or mentioned in passing in the average space opera. Darned fine read, the lot of them.

    2. I feel a guest post coming on. After I finish this other one, though.

    3. I think a big part of that is the lack of veterans.

      I’m not so sure. It’s fairly hard to not trip over them everywhere. A rather remarkable number of people have served in the US military, even if only for one enlistment.

      Now, knowing that they are veterans is another thing. No suspects me unless I say something, usually about buying my first house with a VA loan or how my Air Force job (NORAD radar software) landed me my current job.

      I think that’s why it sells.

      1. Myself as well – NO ONE EXPECTS THE VETERAN INQUISITION! I don’t really make a thing of it, it’s mentioned on my author page as just one of those things.
        My daughter and I were thrashing out some issues to do with the Luna City series, as I was afraid that perhaps we had put in too many veterans among the residents of Luna City … and then we began counting up – by comparison – the veterans in our own suburban neighborhood. No – not all that out of line. About every fourth household contains veteran, active-duty, reservist, or even DOD civilian. But this is San Antonio, the mother-in-law of the Air Force, and the heart-home of the Army Medical Service. It just depends, I think, on the place and on the socio-economic level, and the age, as well. Until the draft ended in the early 1970s – just about every able-bodied male was apt to have at least a brief turn in uniform. In places with less of a tradition, and fewer working-class people, then not so many veterans.
        And there’s also the element of military service being so scorned during and slightly after the Vietnam War that a LOT of veterans of it, just wiped four years of their service off their resumes and out of their public persona, through an enduring desire not to be seen as a drug-addled, guilt-ridden nutcase.

        1. There’s job searches where I left my military service off my resume. Especially when I learned the demographic/culture/politics of the interviewer/hiring manager. In my current company I’m the only one with any prior service of any type. I don’t talk about it nor politics.

  8. We are rapidly diverging into two population groups: One who has been in/knows someone in the military, and the other that has never been in/never known someone in the military. I haven’t been in the military, either, courtesy of a bum shoulder that kept me from passing the MEPS physical, but family and friends have, so it’s not something alien. So I wasn’t surprised when names I knew went to the Sandbox. That’s part of the military.

    In the first Gulf War, though, a local girl was dating a boy sent in harm’s way, and who was subsequently injured. A sad thing, as all such events are. His family, though, had a stunning reaction: He should have never been sent because he had joined in order to pay for his education.

    I must have had a shocked expression when told this, because it was explained the boy’s family had no military experience in living memory. As incredible as it sounds, on a basic level they did not realize that to be in the military meant you are subject to fight in war. To them, it was something other people did.

  9. I’ve never understood the segment of population that despises the military, the police, private gun ownership and still expects the world to cater to their whims. They are truly living in a fantasy world and need a dose of reality. Unfortunately for them those they do attempt to suppress and shame have been stockpiling weapons and ammo for the last two decades…

    As for the military, all the military family men in the generation that went before me didn’t encourage me to serve. They laid the realities of service, including showing me wounds from D-Day and causality list of their units in Korea. I still went and did my service with open eyes. I do the same with the young generation in the family, make sure that they understand they may be throwing their life and sanity away in vain for political whims and profit.

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