Saturday, April 29, 2006

Ve Haff Veys Of Updating Your Homepage!

My homepage has been updated with a new sample chapter from my novel-in-progress THE TALE OF THE SOLDIESSE.

The novel in question is an attempt to write a "military science fiction" bok, primarily for the American market. I have read Heinlein's STARSHIP TROOPERS, Haldeman's THE FOREVER WAR and Card's ENDER'S GAME -- the three novels which have become "benchmarks" in this subgenre of SF. I had issues with all three, even as I saw what made them popular.

I decided that my attempt in the genre must NOT imitate them. There are enough STARSHIP TROOPERS imitations as it is.

First, when I planned the scenario and synopsis, I thought: this story will have to be about humans fighting humans -- not humans VS. aliens. And the story must take place on Earth. The idea of interstellar war strikes me as wasteful and unrealistic.

Often, stories about future war do not take the theme "really seriously", but are thinly disguised parables of historical conflicts. Spaceships are described in terms of naval warfare, the hot jungle planet becomes a Vietnam in space, etc.

So I thought: try and skip the parables. Let's approach the subject coldly and analytically: what might a future war really be like?

I arrived at a few early conclusions which I wrote into the synopsis, and did some research into areas relevant to the subject:

1. GEOPOLITICS. Will future conflicts center around natural resources? (Water, oil, uranium, food etc.) Or will the value of them change dramatically? How will this affect the fortunes of countries that exist today?

2. DEMOGRAPHICS. A sensitive issue, but very real: I speculated that countries with demographic gender imbalances and future high levels of male unemployment would be more likely to wage war.

3. TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE. An unanticipated new invention can suddenly alter the way wars are fought, or turn the geopolitical landscape upside down. Technological change is THE source of future conflict. (Historical examples: gunpowder, railroads, the atom bomb, tanks...)

4. CULTURAL UPHEAVAL. In the 60 years since the end of World War II, Western culture has changed very fast. Other parts of the world have lagged seriously behind in cultural change. An obvious source of future war is the tension of such change, and resistance or reaction to change.

I am absolutely convinced that in the next 60 years, the world will experience technological and cultural upheavals -- mostly for the better! -- that will make the 20th century seem slow by comparison. This doesn't have to lead to war... but it might, under the right (bad) circumstances.

All these factors I tried to incorporate in my novel about global warfare in the near future (some 30-40 years from now). Most likely, the real world isn't going to be anything like I describe it in THE TALE OF THE SOLDIESSE. Or at least I hope it will turn out more sensible and peaceful than in my novel.

Years ago, a journalist wrote in a column that he thought war isn't really fought for rational reasons. He meant the underlying motive has always been the same: "We fight because it is in our nature to fight."

Was he right? I'm not at all sure. Maybe it's right about some people but not others? I have no idea...

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