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    Avatar photoShandy


    I recently read a fantasy novel by Django Wexler: The Thousand Names. It’s set in a sort of 18th century/napolenonic world, no dwarves or elves but gunpowder and only very little magic. In fact, it would work as an ImagiNations novel right until the end, when magic is starting to play a bigger role. The novel was quite different from what I expected and pretty clever and well written. Especially the battles scenes were nice and I kept thinking: This sounds exactly like a Sharp Practice scenario!

    Imagine my delight when I realized that the author is a wargamer! Unfortunately, Wexler doesn’t go into any detail in his blog (http://djangowexler.com/blog/), it seems he plays Warmachine, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he played historical games also. Would be interesting to get an interview with him…

    Anyway, the whole thing got me thinking about the relationship between wargaming and writing fiction. Are there any other authors out there whose depictions of battle scenes or even whose narratives have been structured by wargaming? I’m not interested in topical relationships (such as the Warhammer franchise novels, which just develop the fluff), but in structural parallels. E.g. I once read that Tom Clancy’s Hunt for the Red October was based on a Harpoon scenario he had played (as if anyone would call Harpoon ‘playing’ :-))…



    Avatar photoHenry Hyde

    Back in the 70s, “Operation Warboard” was written by Gavin Lyall the thriller writer. It would be interesting to find out how much his wargaming experience informed his action scenes.

    Editor, Battlegames
    Battlegames on Patreon
    Author, The Wargaming Compendium

    Avatar photoShandy

    Thanks Henry, never heard of Lyall before… interesting that he wrote rules as well as novels.

    Avatar photoJohn D Salt

    Let’s not forget some of the classics of SF. Asimov, Heinlein, “Doc” Smith and L Ron Hubbard were all members of Fletcher Pratt’s naval wargaming circle in the 1930s, and Pratt himself wrote SF. I expect that’s why a “space navy” is a convention of SF, whereas a “space air force” is not. Fred Jane wrote an SF novel, before it was called SF, “The Incubated Girl”. And of course there’s Robert Louis Stephenson, and it’s hard to imagine that Sterne wasn’t a wargamer from Uncle Toby’s game in “Tristram Shandy”. And isn’t Len Deighton a wargamer?

    I would guess that there are plenty more examples to be dug up. It seems to me that the common factors are the exercise of the imagination, and an interest in how multi-party interctions work out over time.

    All the best,


    Avatar photoShandy

    Thanks John, that is fascinating! Interesting point about the ‘space navy’ – never thought about why we always refer to them as navy…

    Another common denominator seems to be the concept of world building in the sense of defining a set of circumstances and rules of interaction and then following through what would happen – controlled flights of fancy, so to say. a simulation, but not in the sense of simply imitating reality, but running a program to find out the consequences of initial parameters – like climate simulations.

    Avatar photoMick Sayce

    Back in the 70s, “Operation Warboard” was written by Gavin Lyall the thriller writer. It would be interesting to find out how much his wargaming experience informed his action scenes.


    Although I haven’t read any of his thrillers, I have a copy of that book on my shelves.  he wrote it with his son Bernard.


    Gavin and Bernard Lyall, Operation Warboard,  A. & C. Black (1st Ed.), Pan Books (2nd Ed.), 1976.

    ISBN 0 330 25547 9

    Blog at : http://thewordsofsubedai.blogspot.co.uk/

    Avatar photoAndy hutchinson

    With regard to Red Storm. I’ve just checked the acknowledgement in the front of book to refresh memory. The hunt for Red October used Harpoon as source material. That then led onto Clancy meeting up with Larry Bond the author of Harpoon. Who Clancy credits as been his co author on Red Storm.


    Larry Bond then went on to write a couple of the best (IMO) war stories going. Vortex (South Africa) and Red Phoenix (Korea)


    *edit* oops, make that 3. forgot about Cauldron. (Europe)

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