One of the best qualities of my favorite authors is their dedication to realism and accountability. Whether it’s an author who pays close attention to the time lag inherent in the enormous distances of a space battle or his/her attention to detail in a particular battle, the feeling that the battle I am reading is firmly anchored to accurate numbers and whatever “science” the author has created adds realism and believability for me. There have been some battle scenes in books I have read that have just blown me away.
When I set out to write military sci-fi, I wanted the same accountability I enjoyed from those authors. In TCOTU, every missile, every mass driver round, every railgun bullet was tracked and accounted for. Although I didn’t always bother the reader by mentioning every munition expended in the book, they were always tracked in the background as I wrote the battle scenes. In many ways, this made the story write itself.
I was astounded at how just following the numbers of the battle created some amazing coincidences, not all of them good for little Ana. For example, the missile salvos that reached Anelace just before and after Ana’s run on Cutthroat weren’t a contrived plot device by me. The numbers just worked out that way. In No Way To Start A War (the second book of the series), following the same process for the larger battles yielded some truly crazy twists of fate. One battle that played out over hours literally came down to a handful of seconds that determined whether or not a fleet would escape to a tunnel point and survive or be caught and dragged down like a gazzelle by a pack of hyenas. In fact, I almost changed the numbers because it seemed *too* coincidental.
I’ve linked below my preliminary (and rough) notes that I compiled for Anelace’s run on Cutthroat. (Spoiler alert, don’t click through them if you don’t want to watch the battle unfold.) I always wrote out these types of crude notes for each battle before really digging into each one. They helped me see where I was going. Sorry for their illegibility. My handwriting is terrible; I never expected anyone but myself to have to decipher them!