Shaara says that he writes about damaged people. Most often, as in "Soldier Boy," "Grenville's Planet," and "Wainer," society has wounded his protagonists, striking at the innate differences which mark them as superior but misunderstood or even hated. Their talents generally estrange Shaara's lonely ones from the rest of society, as with "Wainer," a man born — and despised — as man's first evolutionary step to the stars. Shaara says that "Wainer was hope," leading him to his novel The Herald (1981), where he develops a disturbing variation on the end-of-the-world theme, a device lethal to most of humanity which will spare those gifted individuals capable of a new beginning. Most of Shaara's protagonists share Wainer's alienation and his "herald's" Promethean dilemma: Can the new world be worth the destruction of the old and the price the individual who brings it about must pay? For Wainer, a composer rejected by his society, it was; he died in the happy knowledge that his physical abnormalities foreshadowed new men, able to live in alien atmospheres, just as Chamberlain in the carnage of Gettysburg rejoiced at what Lincoln would call "a new birth of freedom."
The five mainstream short stories Shaara included in Soldier Boy also deal with characters whom life has hurt into insight, "Come to My Party" was the first story Shaara based on an actual experience, in which he lost a professional bout "to a guy . . . who boxed, but couldn't hit" and won on...
(The entire section is 452 words.)