Then I decided that I’d write an SF story using my background with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Viet Nam (and Cambodia, for a couple months) instead of interjecting a fantasy or SF element into a real-world setting. That is, I’d write about a future armored unit fighting a future war. What I’d done before was simply to use the 11th Cav as background, the way New York City or the French Revolution could be backgrounds for stories.

I made the unit a mercenary company, as Kuttner and Moore had done in Clash by Night in 1943 and Gordy Dickson had done in 1958 with Dorsai! (in both cases in Astounding). I called the unit Hammer’s Slammers, following as much as anything the practice of Robert Heinlein in Starship Troopers, where unit designators include the commanding officer’s name.


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