Saturday, March 02, 2013

What is Mine and what is Elsewise

A friend asked me recently how much of Six Easy Days is from Mark Owen's No Easy Day

Which part of this is "yours" and which part is from No Easy Day?
Well, I feel you can sort of tell when it goes into my own voice. Paragraph-to-paragraph it's mostly the structure of the original book. But all (or most) of the sci-fi things have been made sci-fi-ish. So guns, details about his armor, the existence of androids, those sorts of things I just made up.
Obviously the android stuff is new. But what about the story? Is the way the story unfolds from being on the way to the Xenomorph AI's compound and then going back and describing other missions the way it worked in No Easy Day?
By and large, yes. The structure of No Easy Day is very very good. 

There are two major bits of story that I altered. Well, three actually. One is the story of the search for an Army soldier who was captured and still hasn't been found. I felt uncomfortable about making a parody story about that so I made it about a Skinny General who'd defected instead.
The other thing is finding the Brain Bug. In Owen's story the whole point to that mission was that they did a hard mission but were successful and they had no casualties. Instead, I made that mission have a whole impact on the rest of the War.
The third major thing I altered was the way the "helicopter" (which is actually a drop boat in my story) crashes. I give a reason for it. Plus I make the narrator more of a hero by having him figure out how to save the mission.

Owen's parents were missionaries, but obviously not for the Machine God. Obama is now Atredes and Washington is Beijing. The "Skinnys" and the "Bugs" (or Pseudo-Arachnids) are from Starship Troopers. Of course I had to be snotty and make it so that although we're fighting the "Skinnys" we'd been concentrating on the males rather than the females and the narrator is deliberately and spectacularly unreliable.

I do make fun of Owen's complaining about paperwork and treatment of prisoners and "Governor Atredes". Also, I cut out the very ending of the book because it wasn't interesting. Obviously Owen does not have a chip in his brain which helps him control combat armor. And Usama bin Laden was not a Xenomorph Artificial Intelligence. As far as you know.
So, why on earth did you do this?
I thought it was funny. When I was reading the book I thought "This would be even better if they were wearing servo-powered armor and were hunting the Xenomorph AI."
You wrote/re-wrote/heavily edited a book just because it amused you?
You got it. I read No Easy Day and thought that the story was so cool it needed to be retold in space.
Other than Starship Troopers, what else do you reference?
Man, there's a lot of stuff. Very briefly there's The Forever War (the bit about the blades inside your armor cutting off limbs and sealing you in, also the notion that there's heat-venting at the back of the suits). Also the notion of the HUD and the chip in the brain is a cross between Old Man's War and the Jeff Somers Avery Cates novels.
What about the Machine God?
There's a Machine God in the Warhammer 40,000 novels. But I think I was thinking more about the God-Emperor in the Dune universe. I can't think of a direct analog of it. 
How much of your inspiration came from Owen's anti-Obama stance? 
Well. A lot actually. It made me think about how unreliable narrators are. And I wanted to see the logical conclusion of Owen's ideology. I thought that it was interesting that although Owen is so clearly (I mean, he says so) anti-Obama yet every single successful mission he talked about occurred after Obama became President. I thought that was interesting. So the "parody" part of the book is mostly about that.

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