If I’d been trying to build a writing career, at this point I’d have gone back to writing the sort of standard stories which I’d sold in the past. Instead I wrote another Hammer story, Under the Hammer. Fred Pohl had commented while rejecting The Butcher’s Bill that military matters were too much in the fabric of the story for a general reader to understand it. I addressed the criticism by making the viewpoint character a new recruit to whom everything had to be explained, thus explaining it for the reader as well.

After the fact, I don’t think that was a real problem: both the Viet Nam-setting stories I’d sold previously assumed equally extensive knowledge of the military. In any case, everybody rejected Under the Hammer also.


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