Eric Hoffer Book Awards
Honorable Mention for Legacy Fiction & Short List for Grand Prize
An honest, engaging tale of living through war.
Warmones, hormones, and conscience compete for the souls of young pilots in the VietNam war. An air combat tale of vivid realism and whimsical humor.
It’s 1967 in DaNang, Vietnam, as new pilot Steve Mylder reports for duty to his fighter squadron and meets fellow pilot Avery Aughton. Avery is cocky, unbearably patriotic, and outrageously successful with women—everything Steve is not! Yet they become friends as they drink together at the DOOM Club bar and learn the ropes of air combat together. As they dogfight in the air, their mutual friend Sub-Lieutenant Sam the Collie —who thinks he’s a fighter pilot too—parallels their war by dogfighting on the ground against his rival Charlie, a junkyard mutt.
Steve, unenthusiastic about the war, fights for his life in the skies over North Vietnam but battles for his soul against the Red Baron of his nightmares. Avery—master of the art of combat seduction—acquires a measure of humility as he thunders fifty feet over a North Vietnamese beach, looks down and locks eyes with an improbable bikini-clad woman … and falls into hopeless love. Both pilots seem on-track to survive their tours of duty when Avery is shot down and Steve has to face himself—balancing hope and imagination against reality—in the aftermath of
a rescue attempt.
In Counters, former air force pilot Tony Taylor weaves whimsical humor and authentic details of air combat into a brooding yet fanciful tapestry, illuminating the hormones and warmones that impel young men to war and stupidity.
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*** Note ***
From the teller of tales of the brethren of the large flying mammals—2017/01/02. The ebook was replaced last month with an updated version without the flaws of the old one, and is available again at online bookstores like Amazon, B&N, iUniverse, &etc.
This book is destined to become a classic. The story is told by a young Air Force pilot caught up in the Viet-Nam war. He takes the reader, both mentally and physically, inside the minds and bodies of young men on the battlefield. The reader will fully sense how it feels to fly a F-4C Phantom II fighter jet. The vivid description of battles fought in the air, and also in barracks and clubhouse on the base where these young men live come to life. It’s a searing question of survival. The reader will finally deeply understand the camaraderie, as well as the life-long brotherhood of young men who have lived through a war together. The author is an extraordinarily gifted writer, who claims to have navigated spacecraft to every planet in the solar system. He makes that claim almost believable.
– US Review of Books (for Hoffer Award Honorable Mention in Legacy Fiction)
The book is studded with rich, often juxtaposing characters that touch on philosophical questions of war. There’s a vivid contrast between swaggering language and graceful, even prose, which is underscored with deep internal subtext. The author brings a balanced and original perspective to a genre too often dominated by the action. . . . An honest, engaging tale of living through war.
– Kirkus Discoveries
It was a dark and sultry night as Steve struggled against time-worn clichés for the opening sentence of his next dispatch. Alone in the squadron building, he tickety-tapped the keys of the typewriter in McNish’s office. The first shift of night fliers had flown the coop—ten Phantoms, twenty pilots—and briefings for the next shift hadn’t started yet. McNish was out on a foray for office supplies and cornflakes for the squadron commander, and Steve held the fort all alone.
“Twenty-fvie conters, only seventy-fvie to go,” he typed, then pulled the paper from the typewriter, crumbled it into the trash can and rolled in another sheet.
“Tewnty-five counters—only sventy-five to go.” Damn!
He leaned back in the rolling green government issue office chair, took a sip from a coffee cup with the squadron’s chicken hawk logo on the outside and a layer of fine brown moss on the inside, closed his eyes, nodded his head, and drummed his fingers against the top of the government issue desk. He drew a finger across his upper lip. Hmmm?
He went to the latrine to stare in the mirror and was disappointed because the protomustache was blond—all blond—and absolutely invisible to the naked eye from more than two feet away. Maybe with a magnifying glass.
He came back to the desk, ripped out the sheet and rolled in another. He sharpened a pencil and scribbled an abstract pattern on a yellow pad. Then he spent five minutes neating up the laces of his combat boots.
Oops—he was out of coffee. He took another trip to the coffee bar to drain the last cup and start another pot, then back to the desk. Then, it was time for a latrine visit. He leafed through a magazine in the stall, read an interview with Bob Dylan, and returned to the desk fifteen minutes later. He sat in the chair—fidgeting right, fidgeting left, drumming his fingers against the desktop, then he leaned forward and placed them on the keys.
“Twenty-five counters, only seventy-five to gi”
The front door opened, and Steve heard two pilots arguing as they came in.
“… not going there, man, I’m sorry, it’s just one of those places I’m not going to mess with.”
“I’m telling you, Karl, I’m short. I’ve got five crews gone to Clark, three people are down with flu, and two just finished their last mission yesterday. I don’t have any choice.”
Steve didn’t need to recognize the voices or hear the name to understand that it was Major Jasper dickering with Sir Walter Scott to get out of a mission.
“I’m sorry, but I’m telling you I’m not going to Tchepone. Look, you can give me a combat proof over Package 1, or something down south, but damned if I’m going to fly over that hellhole. You sent me there last night. I went, and you could practically read a newspaper from the light of the tracers. No more! Never again to Tchepone.”
There was a long silence.
It was a resigned “well” from the throat of Major Scott. It was a “well” that would inevitably be followed by: “Maybe I can replace you with …”
That’s it? Steve was amazed. It’s that easy? Scott didn’t even put up a tussle. What if I said no?
Suddenly, Steve realized that he could say no. It was within the realm of the possible, even the plausible and the probable, that he was free to choose. Free to refuse.
And if he did? What consequences sprang from the actions of a loner? What happened to pilots who refused to join the hunting tribe and celebrate the rituals and play the games and fight the fights of the brethren of the large flying mammals?