I was (un)fortunate enough to be at Dragoncon this week, and two of my favorite military SF authors were there, ranting about things that were (barely) on topic.
John Ringo is quite a character. He is funny, irreverent, and well-spoken. He dominates panels like Scalzi, but he does so in a much more “I don’t give a flying eff…” than Scalzi does. He is closer to a funny, benevolent tyrant, shutting down others when it suits him and pursuing tangents like a dog chasing rabbits. This doesn’t mitigate his entertainment value, and somehow, he always manages to come back to the question at hand...but only after throwing out his viewpoint. It is also refreshing to find a science fiction author who isn’t an idealistic libertarian or a raging leftist. I would label Ringo as a pragmatic moderate, who leans right of center on issues such as militarism and gun control. I haven’t found anyone else in the field that I can closely identify with in terms of their political viewpoint. He also wears a kilt to every con he attends while his attractive girlfriend dyes her hair blue. He says it’s all about marketing himself, and I have to agree that it makes his appearance memorable.
David Drake is soft-spoken and brilliant. It is obvious that he has forgotten more about military history than I'll EVER know, and I profess to have that as a hobby. To write such brutally grim stories, I expected someone who was a bit of a hardass, but it turns out that he was funny, intelligent, and sort of retiring. He made a huge point to say that science fiction writers do themselves a disservice by going in to lengthy discussions on how something works. It is enough to assume that the need for something will exist, and then assume that the technology has caught up with us enough to make a device possible. According to Drake, identifying the need for something is one of the arts of a speculative fiction writer. Making the perceived need believable is a crucial part of world building. The next time I have an urge to get on my technobabble soap box, I'll remember Drake's words.
All in all, it was a good experience. I have some galleries of some costume freaks up on my site (click on the URL in the signature) if anyone is interested.