The Draka/YMMV

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

  • Complete Monster: The Draka, obviously, but even amongst those monsters Yolande Ingolfsson takes it Up to Eleven, and combines it with Psycho Lesbian and Karma Houdini. Let's see:
    • Yolande's lover is killed in action by an Alliance soldier named Fred LeFarge. Note that there was nothing unusual about her death[1], and it was, if anything, morally justified[2]. Yolande's grudge and thirst for revenge in response to this goes beyond all human comprehension, to the point where other Draka start looking at her funny.
    • Around the same time she captures Fred's sister Marya, turns her into a serf as well as a concubine, and forces her to have her lover's cloned child by repeatedly torturing her.
      • She is called out on this on several occasions by other Draka, including von Shrakenberg himself (who dresses Yolande down not only for triggering the Final War over her blind lust for vengeance but also for leaking information about the Stone Dogs virus to Marya, a known Alliance agent) and her own brother:

My sister wouldn't do that to a mad dog!

    • It gets better. Later she serves in space and captures an Alliance spaceship with Fred's wife and children aboard. When she finds out who they are, she leaves them on the ship... with only the corpses to eat. Fred's wife manages to sedate the kids and feed them with a soup made from her own blood, and vents the corpses into space. They're none the worse for wear, but the wife looks like she survived Auschwitz.

LeFarge: The bodies... they didn't float away. They hung there, outside the window... so hungry...

    • It Gets Worse. Yolande learns who Marya is, and is distributing a computer virus throughout the Domination that would cripple them in the event of war. So, she leaks the info on the Stone Dogs to her and lets her escape. This forces the Draka to launch a first strike against the Alliance that results in the Final War, which the Draka win. So, basically, Yolande is willing to risk human extinction to get revenge for her girlfriend's death. Best thing? None of this ever get published, because she's the niece of the head of the Domination, who needs as many people as possible to form a stable government after the war. So she probably ended up as Archon or something.
    • But it's not all bad: LeFarge and his family manage to escape to Samothrace, and 400 years later they return and are only just defeated by the Draka on Earth. Not only do they have the lead on FTL and AI research, the Draka have accidentally engineered themselves to be less creative and focus on (militarily useless) genetic engineering. So Yolande either destroyed the Alliance on Earth, or unwittingly gave the Samothracians an advantage.
  • Fan Nickname: S&M Stirling. Not undeserved.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Given the large amount of similarities between them (right down to everyone being bi), the trolls from Homestuck could easily be interpreted as a parody of the Draka, but this is almost certainly unintentional.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The Draka refine this in large quantities. You know it's bad when they make the Nazis appear tame in comparison you ROOT for the Nazis when they face off against the Draka.
    • Hell, in Marching Through Georgia Standartenfuhrer Felix Hoth, a fanatic Nazi war criminal who was canonically a rapist and mass murderer, still tempts the reader to root for him because at least he's not the Draka.
    • There's a line early in Marching Through Georgia that states that even the Draka high command were shaken by reports of the Nazi death camps. But from what we see of the Draka, that's hard to believe.
      • They weren't shocked by the moral dimension of it, they were shocked at the waste of valuable resources. It's so typically Draka that when confronted with the Holocaust, their emotional reaction is 'But you could have used them for something!'
  • Uncanny Valley: Stirling went to great length into suggesting the alienness / otherness of the Draka in everything pertaining to their social life, until they could just as well be some extraterrestrial beings. In Under The Yoke, some contrasts between Draka and Frenchmen or Finns are obviously deliberate:
    • Language: Tanya von Shrakenberg talks (especially about sex) almost exactly like a young male from Real Life, although with no rough words. Funnily, males (even Draka) are more conservative in their language, more typical to a Real Life man from the 1940s.
      • Body Language: the Draka are not called 'snakes' in order to make an Incredibly Lame Pun. They practice extreme conservation of body movement, making no gesture or expression that is not completely intended and betraying nothing with their mannerisms. The effect on Alliance citizens who interact with the Draka is described as extremely unsettling.
    • Architecture: Draka buildings are so colourful and pimped-out they might just as well be from a fairy tale. European designs of the time were exactly the opposite, neat, clean, marble everywhere, or older gray masonry.
    • Clothing: also colourful and tacky for civilians, almost BDSM for troopers. Real Life fashions of the time (to fit the rather polluted European and American cities and muddy countryside) used strong fabrics, dull colours, rougher designs - unlike what a modern person may believe, Film Noir characters wore their coats and suits for practical reasons.
    • Staging: Draka use the parades and other public events in a disconcerting manner, like some 20th century Ancient Romans or Ancient Persians. By comparison, Third Reich public events were conceived to impress foreign observers and prove the strength of the regime. Draka public events were designed by Draka for Draka, nobody cared what someone else may understand (or if someone else understand them or not at all).
    • Attitude: the Nazis in Real Life looked and talked like a military aggressor was supposed to: they occupied land, settled themselves, captured supplies and production facilities, interrogated prisoners; there was a language in which people could relate to them. The Draka thought like a different species, they did not show any interest in European cities, edifices, art and other valuables, just molded the landscape immediately to fit them.
      • The Draka did appreciate fine art, especially Greco-Roman and Renaissance work. They systematically looted the Vatican specifically for its art collection.
  • Villain Sue: Several readers have noted multiple instances of Plot Induced Stupidity acting in the favor of the Draka during their rise to power; as mentioned above, much of the point of the Draka is to have The Empire win "for a change". Still it's somewhat unlikely and Stirling shows complete favouritism.
    • This site does a fairly decent job pointing out the many problems with the whole Draka concept (and uses the phrase "act of God" eight times). This site presents a much more likely scenario for Draka history.
      • Although the first link is made a bit suspect when early on it makes the error of claiming no significant eruption happened in Iceland 1783-86. SM Stirling gets it right since it was actually the most devastating eruption in Icelandic history and killed a third of the population. Considering the rest of the points, having a large proportion of the population settle somewhere else isn't so unrealistic-half the current population is a bit of a stretch though.
      • One review of the Wraeththu RPG described the Draka books as "handing them an I Win button."
      • Stirling in later years has become more willing to acknowledge the holes in his earlier work (the Draka series was one of his first professional sales). In the Drakas! anthology (which he edited) there is a rather ruthless deconstruction by another author of Marching Through Georgia in general and Eric von Shrakenberg in particular. One of the best stories in the book.
    • However, that's what you get with alternate-universe fiction. Those many, many universes in which the Draka much more plausibly got their asses handed to them aren't the ones we end up hearing about.
      • There have been quite a few attempts essayed, some more successful than others, to write alternates to the Alternate Universe in which the Draka get theirs., as noted above, plays host to a number of them. Stirling himself has participated in forum discussions related to several of those writing projects: There's least one incident in which Stirling got into a tremendous fight with several participants in one of those projects about just how absurdly over-armored the Draka Rhino ground-attack aircraft was.
      • Admittedly, the A-10 "Warthog" is almost that absurdly armored in real life.

Back to The Draka
  1. She was a military officer during a war. She was in a battle and shooting at the enemy with a rifle. She got shot. This is about as normal as it can get, re: dying.
  2. It was an unprovoked war of aggression the Draka had started.