David Drake (born September 24, 1945) is an author of science fiction and fantasy literature. A Vietnam War veteran who has worked as a lawyer, he is now one of the premier authors of the military science fiction subgenre.
Drake graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Iowa, majoring in history (with honors) and Latin. His studies at Duke University School of Law were interrupted for two years when he was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he served as an enlisted interrogator with the 11th Armored Cavalry in Vietnam and Cambodia. He now lives in Pittsboro, North Carolina.
His best-known non-collaborative work is the Hammer's Slammers series of military science fiction. His newer Republic of Cinnabar Navy (RCN) series are space operas inspired by the Aubrey—Maturin novels.
In 1997, Drake began his largest fantasy series, Lord of the Isles, using elements of Sumerian religion and medieval technology. In 2007, Drake finished the series with its ninth volume.
In addition to his own works, he often provides both plotting and a military perspective to many collaborative writing projects, such as his contributions to the Heroes in Hell series. Earlier in his career, Drake worked in collaboration with some other authors by providing detailed plot outlines (5,000 to 15,000 words), after which they did "the real work of development in the outline into a novel." He doesn't "consider [his] involvement to be that of a real co-author." His co-authors include Karl Edward Wagner, S.M. Stirling, and Eric Flint. With Wagner and Jim Groce, he was one of the founders of Carcosa, a small press.
Drake's plots often draw heavily on his extensive knowledge of history, literature, and mythology. Starting with Northworld in 1990, he has generally explained the background to each book in an afterword or preface. Additionally, Drake's plots frequently center around a clash of political systems.
As John Clute concluded in the entry on Drake in the 1993 edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, "Today there seems very little to stop [Drake] from writing exactly what he wishes to write."
Some of Drake's works are available for free download in the Baen Free Library.