The Jungle

THE JUNGLE grew out of the series of Tor dos-a-dos double novels which I discuss in my comments on Surface Action. You can check the background there, so I won't repeat myself.

Tor had terminated that series, but my plan remained basically the same: to write a short novel that could be packaged with Henry Kuttner's novella Clash By Night. That 1943 classic was a formative influence on me, and I wanted to bring it back into print.

I like to stretch myself in my writing by doing something new each time. The setting of this one would be the same Kuttner Venus as Surface Action: land masses covered with ravening jungles; domed underwater cities; and competition between cities through proxy battles by fleets of mercenary warships.

Surface Action had been a very simple story stylistically, though. I decided to use three viewpoint characters in the new piece, and to run one strand of the story in continuous story present. Paired with each such chapter was another, from the same viewpoint but at widely scattered periods of the story past.

The result was far and away the most stylistically complex thing I've ever written, even compared to the Northworld trilogy. I'm really pleased with the way it turned out.

Another aspect of the book came from Anthony Price, one of the best writers of spy novels. Most of his novels have contemporary settings, but he did one that was never published in the US: The Hour of the Donkey, set in the chaos of the Fall of France and the prelude to the British withdrawal at Dunkirk.

The Hour of the Donkey is about real heroes: people who go on doing their job because it's the only thing they understand as the world goes to pieces about them. They don't think about what they're doing as remarkable; mostly they don't even feel that they're carrying their own weight. They're confused and afraid; they make mistakes, and the best of them were never saints.

But they go on until they're killed; and because of them, others can go on also.

I was lucky enough to know and serve with some of those people in the Blackhorse. I hope I did them justice in The Jungle.

And I hope that if the time comes, I'll be one of those who goes on also.

--Dave Drake

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