For a while I was in grad school doing interdisciplinary studies in Early Modern history and literature. In this way I was going to prepare myself for a career in the food service industry. ("Dost want the hot sauce on't, milady, or would'st rather thou the mylde?") Anyway . . . I ended up studying a fair amount of military history. A general interest in the subject led me to other eras, and so I have a fairly decent mental catalogue of things to copy from when I feel like wiping some pitiful excuse for a civilization off the map. Er--I mean, writing about the terrible human tragedy of war. In my last novel, a kind of constant low-level skirmishing escalated into full-scale war, and I stole from a lot of RL sources for that. One was the sporadic and then systematic killing of Native Americans by the U.S. government, especially in the area east of the Mississippi, where there had been a long period of relatively peaceful coexistence before the hammer fell. I also stole from wars held in areas with terrain similar to the one I had invented: the Vietnam War, and the Pacific theater of WWII. I also stole liberally from the films of Akira Kurosawa, which are not actually wars at all, but look really cool with all those guys running around in Darth Vader-looking helmets. Oh--I stole from WWII air dogfights too, of course, since that's what Lucas based his space battles on anyway. So in a way, I don't really make war up at all--I copy it. In one fic (another fandom) I literally bought a book that was a firsthand account of life in Vietnam and copied the opening events and details precisely--just swapping in my own character instead. Cheatsy, yes, but I felt it was the only way I was ever going to get any authenticity. The reason I copy is that war's such a complicated business, and I (fortunately) have no personal experience with it. I don't think I could ever do it justice by trying to make things up from scratch. I suppose the authorial trick is in knowing what to copy, but in a way, that's editing rather than world-building. When I'm not tired I'll probably be able to think of more resources, but two very-copyable ones that come to mind are Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" (I have the cartoon-illustrated version--yayy!!) and a Discovery Channel video called "Black Sky: Winning The X-Prize." The last one isn't technically about war--it's actually about building a real-life air-to-space craft and the challenges of transitioning from piloting in an atmosphere to piloting in a vacuum. There's some really nice raw material for writing space battles in there. Too sleepy to try writing a fiction snippet just now, but I may give it a shot later.