Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Two Novels

This is not a review. This is simply a comment.

Before I entered high school I read STARSHIP TROOPERS by Robert A. Heinlein. In this work, which was written in response to pacifist agitation, Heinlein explains how a military organization should function and more importantly, why it should act this way. Heinlein also explains what he believes the obligations of citizenship are.

I was mentally blown away.

When I was in high school I read THE FOREVER WAR by Joe Haldeman. It was an anti-war novel written by a veteran of ground combat in the Vietnam War. It was written in part as a response to STARSHIP TROOPERS. This work was a virtual step by step manual on how not to run a society and fight a war.

First, shoot first and don't ask any questions of anyone. The war began with the assumption that the loss of a colony ship was due to a recently encountered alien race. No attempt to communicate with the aliens is made. The first group of aliens encountered is simply killed as if the troopers were back in Vietnam. Later on we are told that the aliens are a group mind that is a priori incapable of communicating with an individual mind. It is only when a Terran group mind is created that communication became possible. I suppose that someone could drive a Nimitz class aircraft carrier through this plot hole.

Second, don't ask for volunteers. Conscript the best and the brightest, no one can refuse the draft. And because the troopers lives belong to the collective they cannot withhold consent to sexual contact. Gang rape of women in the mixed gender units is shown to be the norm.

Third, collectivism is the future. Social engineering in practiced to the point that a collective mind is created. Communication, and thus peace, with the aliens becomes possible.

I was not positively impressed by this novel.

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