Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Warrrrrr!

Just finished reading Rolling Hot by David Drake, from his Hammers Slammers universe.

I was actually expecting a rather turgid future war story, but what I got was a relatively humane story of combat, gore, bravery and sacrifice. It was the point at which the peacenik joins the hawk in their contempt for the hypocrisies of the liberal who wants a clean, nice war - Drake, a veteran, presented war in all it's random insanity, the dissociation, the noise, the despair, the cock-ups and the bravery. He is noted as saying that behind the glittering tech he is interested in the basic balls of the men and women who make a war machine go.

My point is that the same story can be read in two ways, it isn't a screed in favour of war, but a toned down description of events - he even masterfully manages to put the metabackground of the war to one side, his mercenaries fight because they fight, and the framework of causation is irrelevant to them - much like the films Saving Private Ryan or Zulu, the point of which is the glory of the pointless battle, the fight which soldiers put up without a deep personal motive, because then can and they must.

It is not, as such science fiction, it is the reality of war masked by some shiny technology and transposed out of our immediate cultural context - more fantasy than SF I'd say, but then, I'm developing a hardline on such things.

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3 Comments:

Blogger stuart said...

"but then, I'm developing a hardline on such things"

A hardline on what? On what is SF and what fantasy? What are they?!

6:04 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

SF is the cyborg dreaming.

8:14 AM  
Blogger stuart said...

Like it. What then is fantasy?
I like Gene Wolfe's answer. He says something like: all literature is fantasy, it's just that some authors are most honest about it than others.

3:11 PM  

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