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mark211Science Fiction and the experience of modern warfare? 2016-10-02 01:51:21
mark211At the end of last week’s discussion on ‘Best first pages’ of our favourite novels, QM contributor Ironspider recommended M. John Harrison’s “The Centauri Device”, saying “If you enjoy space opera, and if you haven't already done so, please read this book” (it’s on my Amazon Wish list already – it sounds fantastic from the Wikipedia entry on it). 2016-10-02 01:51:33
mark211“The Centauri Device” of the title is a sentient weapon of mass destruction “which might hold the key to settling a vicious space war” according to the blurb. And this got me to thinking about SF and the experience of modern technologically driven warfare: Marinetti, the Italian Futurist poet and madman, was obsessed with the association between the future and violence and created whole new forms of poetry to describe the then modern warfare of World War I: “'1 2 3 4 5 seconds siege guns split the silence in unison tam-tuuumb / sudden echoes all the echoes seize it quick smash it scatter it to / the infinite winds to the devil” and “zang-tumb-tumb-zang-zang-tuuumb tatatatatatatata picpacpampacpacpicpampampac uuuuuuuuuuuuuuu / ZANG-TUMB / TUMB-TUMB / TUUUUUM” (that last bit is his rendering of modern machine gun fire and the whiplashing ricochet of bullets as industrialised weaponry gives birth to the future – or something like that; as I said, he was kind of a crazy person). 2016-10-02 01:51:41
mark211In World War II, tens of thousands of poor boys from Texas and Tasmania – the kind of boys who had grown up without shoes, access to indoor running water or a regular electricity supply; and the kind of boys brought up in the brick-built slums of Bradford or the Bronx – were suddenly stripped, shorn, deloused, repackaged and packed off into a world of awe: lines of troop and war ships the size of mountains stretching out as far as the eye can see on every side of the horizon; wave after wave of bright silver and blue aircraft; the nights lit up by multicoloured tracer fire. I can only imagine that this must have felt as disorienting as if they had set off for war on the planets Mars or Venus. 2016-10-02 01:51:49
mark211So then – what do you think? Can science-fiction writing – especially of the space opera kind – be a kind of catharsis for the experience of technological warfare? Can science fiction really do justice to those experiences? Or is the experience of war in space opera fiction mainly just a bloody good adventure story in the mold of Star Wars? What are your thoughts? Let us know below. 2016-10-02 01:51:57
GordonRowlinsonFortunately I've never seen war. But I strongly feel war is hell and space opera fiction just a bloody good adventure.2016-10-02 11:05:23
IronspiderI'd return to another favourite novel - The Forever War. The author, Joe Haldeman, served in Vietnam and some see the book as his way of dealing with the aftermath. The book explores isolation, estrangement and the chaotic nature of conflict as experienced by the soldier. I don't know if Haldeman has ever confirmed this, but it's a good story none-the-less. As yet I haven't read any of the sequels.2016-10-02 23:42:52
RTIf you haven't been there, any comments are pissing in the wind in terms of true value.

For example, Vonnegut, Hemmingway, Heller experienced it, wrote about it in various forms. They and others like them have a true sense of it.

The closest, I assume to a unofficially declared war in today's world, is street gang living, or in segregationist ot religious/sectarianism environments where deadly force is an everyday fact of life.

My take, RT

2016-10-03 08:30:52
mark211Maybe I expressed myself badly - I'm not trying to suggest that SF stories can actually inform people who have never experienced war as to what it is *really* like. I think what I'm trying to say is that even for people who stay at home, you cannot ignore the awe that the technology involved can inspire. So a clear example of this would be the 1991 Gulf War which shocked the world with the videos of missiles flying down air-vents etc. You don't necessarily need to be there to feel that sensation of the world shifting beneath your feet and realising all of a sudden that "You're not in Kansas anymore". That was what I was trying to say about the dislocation of e.g. my friend's grandfather who literally grew up poor and without shoes in West Texas, but when the war came, he ended up in the Navy and entered what - to him - must have been as wild and unimaginable and awe-inspiring as stepping onto the USS Enterprise (the Star Trek version, I mean). 2016-10-03 12:52:36
mark211@Ironspider: Ah, yes I've heard of that - that's supposed to be very good indeed.2016-10-03 12:53:37
RT@Mark:

For technological change that many can get their hands on, maybe look at automobiles, drive a 1950 Chevy and then drive a Volt or Tesla, or another example an Offenhouser (sp?)Indy racer and today's race vehicles.

2016-10-03 15:49:43
RTJust a totally different comment unrelated to the question. I was just reading Science News. This week they list 10 up and coming scientists. There is one Qian Chen. The work she is doing, and the real possibilities makes science fiction trite. Short of writing about the possible social and moral implications of her work, (just as an example), what are we as writes supposed to come up with that is interesting, not that writing to the question can't endeavor the work of a good story, but she knocked my socks off with her work. And most important, it REAL.

Okay I feel better now.

2016-10-06 14:46:53





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