Popular and prolific speculative fiction author David Allen Drake passed away of natural causes in Silk Hope, North Carolina on December 10, 2023. He was 78. He had announced in 2021 that he was retiring from writing novels, due to health issues, including “unspecified cognitive health problems.”

Drake was best known for his military science fiction, especially the Hammer’s Slammers series of books. Drake was drafted partway through law school. Like many other veterans, he turned to fiction writing after the war to sort out his complicated feelings on surviving combat.

David Drake was born September 24, 1945, in Dubuque, Iowa, and made his home in Pittsboro, North Carolina.

The University of Iowa had this to say about alumni David Drake:

“David Drake was born in Dubuque, Iowa, and raised in Clinton, Iowa. He graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in history and Latin and went on to attend Duke Law School before being drafted at the end of his third semester. Drake spent the next two years in the U.S. Army, where he served in Vietnam and Cambodia for most of 1970 with the 11th Armored Calvary Regiment–Blackhorse. When he returned to the U.S., he finished law school and worked as Chapel Hill’s assistant town attorney in North Carolina for eight years.

Though Drake had written some fiction during college, he started writing more seriously after returning from Vietnam and analyzed his experience using science fiction to distance himself from memories too tender for him to address directly. More or less by accident, Drake says this self-therapy (along with the work of two other veterans) helped create military science fiction as a publishing category. Drake says the education he received at the UI helped him survive in the Army, and has greatly informed his writing.”

The University of Iowa awarded Drake the Hawkeye Distinguished Veterans Memorial Award  for “exceptional service to [his] country and the Hawkeye community.” “Criteria for the award include a strong university connection, to have served honorably, military accomplishment, and service to their community.”

Hammer’s Slammers was his most popular series, but not his only series. Hammer’s Slammers was adapted as a board game and as a setting for the role-playing game Traveller. He also wrote or co-wrote ARC Riders, the Northworld trilogy, the Republic of Cinnabar Navy (RCN) series, and a nine volume fantasy series, Lord of the Isles. He often collaborated with other writers: Janet Morris, Eric Flint, Karl Edward Wagner, and S.M. Stirling, Bill Fawcett, and Larry Niven. Drake and his frequent collaborator, Karl Edward Wagner, along with Jim Groce, founded the Carcosa Publishing House. Although only a small press, Wagner, Drake and Groce won a World Fantasy Award in 1976 for Carcosa.

David Drake served honorably in the U. S. Army. We thank him for his service and his stories.


Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.