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Subject: War, Fantasy and SyFy rss

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David Dockter
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Interesting read in the NYT Sunday Review today: "How J.R.R. Tolkien Found Mordor on the Western Front" By JOSEPH Loconite...JUNE 30, 2016

I've been intrigued by the link between wargaming, fantasy and SyFy lately; goes back to the beginnings of Avalon Hill, SPI and GDW (a number of stories have been told on my podcast Guns, Dice, Butter ).

Always interested in hearing about other links between the three story genres. I wonder what link Game of Thrones has (I think I heard that the author based story on The War of the Roses); I wonder if he ever pushed cardboard or lead.
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Bill Eldard
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Conflict occurs in many settings: historical and fictional (i.e., speculative, fantasy, and science fiction). The basics don't change even if the participants do.

I often get into discussions about war movies, and occasionally someone observes that there don't seem to be as many war movies today as 40-70 years ago. I suggest that the numbers may be down, but not as much as they think. Many of the fantasy and sci-fi movies today are themselves war movies. A similar statement can be made about video games.

Most fans of fantasy and sci-fi may not acknowledge it, but it's true. I think it may be because we generally abhor real war because of its costs in lives and destruction, while fictional war can simplify the struggle between good and evil, and reaffirm justice without actual costs.

A corollary of this is tolerance of violence. I know people who are repelled by graphic violence in war dramatizations, yet tolerate the graphic violence (often greater) in a zombie show.
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Wendell
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Eldard wrote:


A corollary of this is tolerance of violence. I know people who are repelled by graphic violence in war dramatizations, yet tolerate the graphic violence (often greater) in a zombie show.


Or when elves are lopping heads off of orcs. Good point.
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David Dockter
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Also the first step in running any decent and thorough cleansing campaign: dehumanize the "other"/opponent. Pauline Nyiramasuhuko (her particular talent was hate radio I believe), among a LONG list of others, spring to mind.

The evolution of zombies has been interesting; from dawn of the dead (slow and stupid) to World War Z (where, a gaming mate described them to me as "These aren't your usual punk arse zombies: these bastards swarm like angry bees").

===

On a lark at the moment to secure a BIG "get" (related to the topic) for my podcast: almost no chance. None.
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Bill the Pill
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Herr Dr wrote:

Always interested in hearing about other links between the three story genres. I wonder what link Game of Thrones has (I think I heard that the author based story on The War of the Roses); I wonder if he ever pushed cardboard or lead.

I would assume yes for GRRM on one of these counts, as he was a long-time tabletop RPGer.
 
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I had heard that the Dead Marshes was inspired by WWI: "In The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Tolkien speculated that the description of the Dead Marshes may have been based on his personal experience in World War I, specifically, the Battle of the Somme, in which he saw dead men who were lying in the mud where they were killed."

http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Dead_Marshes
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Rex Stites
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Herr Dr wrote:


On a lark at the moment to secure a BIG "get" (related to the topic) for my podcast: almost no chance. None.


Peter Jackson? George Lucas?
 
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Michael McLean
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rstites25 wrote:
Herr Dr wrote:


On a lark at the moment to secure a BIG "get" (related to the topic) for my podcast: almost no chance. None.


Peter Jackson? George Lucas?


Jeri Ryan?
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Jason Cawley
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Starship Troopers was based on the WW2 PTO, with islands replaced by planets (and Aliens then copied it). Star Trek is full of cold war metaphors, with other history bits in specific stories e.g. the first Romulan episode mirrors WW2 ASW fighting. Star Wars fighter combat lifts from PTO as well, and some from other very specific sources like movies about RAF dam busting. Dune copies the Lawrence of Arabia campaigns, with spice a clear metaphor for the oil discovered later.

Very few sci fi writers have any imagination about military things. They copy with cosmetic changes and upgrades. This results in tactical laughers and plot holes as they can't think through the real effects of technologies they put in their stories. E.g. the Star Trek remake movies imploding over the idea of beaming bombs around with transporters - why do they need phasers again? Or to infiltrate HQs, when they have interplanetary beaming, supposedly?

I was at a tech conference where the techies were despairing about their efforts to create truly human like AI, and one of them remarked that at this point, they could only hope to get insect level intelligence, and even that they couldn't hope to implement at insect physical scale. An army colonel in the back raised his hand to make a comment. "You give me a machine as smart as a mosquito and as big as a softball, and I'll take over the world."
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JasonC wrote:
An army colonel in the back raised his hand to make a comment. "You give me a machine as smart as a mosquito and as big as a softball, and I'll take over the world."


I'm now picturing a battered, bruised and exhausted army colonel who was unable to get any sleep the night before because there was a softball loose in his bedroom.
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rayofsunshine wrote:
JasonC wrote:
An army colonel in the back raised his hand to make a comment. "You give me a machine as smart as a mosquito and as big as a softball, and I'll take over the world."


I'm now picturing a battered, bruised and exhausted army colonel who was unable to get any sleep the night before because there was a softball loose in his bedroom.


If only he had chosen the HEAVY DUTY mosquito netting for over his bunk.
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David Dockter
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rayofsunshine wrote:
JasonC wrote:
An army colonel in the back raised his hand to make a comment. "You give me a machine as smart as a mosquito and as big as a softball, and I'll take over the world."


I'm now picturing a battered, bruised and exhausted army colonel who was unable to get any sleep the night before because there was a softball loose in his bedroom.




...or.....



...or....

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Barry Harvey
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JasonC wrote:

Very few sci fi writers have any imagination about military things. They copy with cosmetic changes and upgrades. This results in tactical laughers and plot holes as they can't think through the real effects of technologies they put in their stories. E.g. the Star Trek remake movies imploding over the idea of beaming bombs around with transporters - why do they need phasers again? Or to infiltrate HQs, when they have interplanetary beaming, supposedly?

There's a lot of military sf writers out there who extrapolate their technology to logical conclusions. However, they're also the most likely to create a paradigm that allows them to covertly, or sometimes blatantly, refight historical battles in their own sf setting.

On the other hand, there's nothing more annoying than space operas like Star Trek where the logical result of a technology is not followed up, or more often, used in one episode and never seen again.
(see http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/TR-116_rifle for a transporter rifle).

Then there's the illogic of Star Wars. How many storm troopers could a modern-day platoon of soldiers take out? How many rpgs (the weapon kind of rpg) would be needed to kill Darth Vader?
(PS don't ever play an rpg (the game kind of rpg) with people who really want to find this out.)
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David Dockter
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not a bad related read:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Physics_of_Star_Trek

True story, after reading I lent to a mate. His psyco Ukrainian dog chewed the book to pieces for some reason.
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Jason Cawley
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ray - more like, he already knows he can get grenades smaller than a softball and quite destructive (indeed, if necessary he can get nuke cores about that size); he already knows he can get a "quad chopter" drone at the toy store that can be programmed to fly anywhere; he already knows he can put a GPS in the thing so it always knows where it is; he already knows he can put accurate small scale maps and put them in SD cards the size of a fingernail; he already knows how to deliver dangerous munitions near his enemies from a multitude of platforms; he already knows how to arrange the manufacture of scads of any small sophisticated components he might require; he already has a full military doctrine about getting inside the enemy's C^3 I to paralyze his forces. All he needs is the grenade to be smart enough to fly through building interiors and into bunkers and caves and tunnels and so forth, seeking its targets with its own sensors as efficiently as mosquitoes manage to find and bite us - the insect mind in the brilliant grenade. Give him that, and he's got all the rest wired.

The tech guys think they have to make a replacement private for him, made out of metal and silicon. He doesn't need more privates, he's got privates coming out of his backside. He just needs insect intelligence on a cheap, expendable submunition, and existing tech and tactics can do all the rest.
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Derry Salewski
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JasonC wrote:
He doesn't need more privates, he's got privates coming out of his backside.


Don't ask . . .
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scifiantihero wrote:
JasonC wrote:
He doesn't need more privates, he's got privates coming out of his backside.


Don't ask . . .


Don't tell...
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Herr Dr wrote:
Interesting read in the NYT Sunday Review today: "How J.R.R. Tolkien Found Mordor on the Western Front" By JOSEPH Loconite...JUNE 30, 2016

He was up to his waist in water at Ovillers, where he fell ill soon after arriving. He returned at the end of the battle, in bad weather, and low temps, fell ill again and was removed once more. I suspect most writing at that time was away from combat.

Quote:
I've been intrigued by the link between wargaming, fantasy and SyFy lately; goes back to the beginnings of Avalon Hill, SPI and GDW (a number of stories have been told on my podcast Guns, Dice, Butter ).

Keith Laumer's Bolo stories are recreated by the Ogre game series. We note in modern war a tendency to follow Machiavelli's supposition that as new technology improved, it would be represented by fewer examples on the battlefield, as more would be unnecessary or, as we find, too expensive to deploy. There is also a tendency, as shown in Heinlein's famous book, that peacetime soldiers punish or keep the peace rather than exterminate. This author's contention that it was far too difficult & expensive to run a space piracy operation, or a non-national army of war, from lawless, trackless planets or areas, seems to be exploded by modern Islamic extremism, possibly because at then time of writing the deaths of a few thousand third-world peasants would have gone unnoticed, along with their aspirations. Today the nowhere city of Raqqa has a million inhabitants, whose sudden obliteration at the hands of a President Trump, keen on destroying IS HQ, might send the internet into a heretofore unmatched frenzy.

Quote:
Always interested in hearing about other links between the three story genres. I wonder what link Game of Thrones has (I think I heard that the author based story on The War of the Roses); I wonder if he ever pushed cardboard or lead.

The author is self-admittedly crap, and a major error of his was far too many characters that he couldn't handle in microcosm anyway. I always feel sad when a pointless nobody who has never troubled the principal characters due to their invisible status gets casually whacked [eg. Rickon...though Tommen was a surprise. If his suicide occurs on paper, it suggests literary failure going down a rung to degradation]. A flying air force is always useful in SF&F, as it is usually unvexed by AA artillery. I recall an alien breed of bird that would offensively defecate in a screaming 80-degree dive, which was quite accurate.

There was a particularly memorable story in Omni mag around 1979 about a display cabinet of four soldier insect colonies, one in each corner, that fought in each other singly or in alliances, much to the fascination of their owner who couldn't resist putting his oar in, to influence matters. To his eventual disadvantage IIRC.

Jon Snow may not know just how little he knows about who his parents were, but we know now we know even less about what really goes on in the world around us. I suspect Prof. Al-Khalili's "The Secrets of Quantum Physics" on BBC [http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04v5vjz] may be remembered as a seminal show that kicked off a whole new understanding of nature. The suggestion that sentience is actually mediated by quantum effects in the human brain is perhaps the wildest of the genre yet, but before too long we may be executing what appears to human senses to be magical effects by exercising control over matter at the sub-atomic level. At this point imagination may not be enough of the average writer trying to predict a further future, and what went before may be lumped in with ancient & medieval myths and legends.
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Barry Harvey
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aforandy wrote:

There was a particularly memorable story in Omni mag around 1979 about a display cabinet of four soldier insect colonies, one in each corner, that fought in each other singly or in alliances, much to the fascination of their owner who couldn't resist putting his oar in, to influence matters. To his eventual disadvantage IIRC.

That was Sandkings, latter adapted into a comic and an episode of the Outer Limits.
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Rick Rodrick
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I apologize because this is off topic a bit. Please don't let SyFy, which is the created name of a TV network replace Sci. Fi. which, with or without periods, is the abbreviation for a literature genre. Not a rant, just a hope.
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rrodrick wrote:
I apologize because this is off topic a bit. Please don't let SyFy, which is the created name of a TV network replace Sci. Fi. which, with or without periods, is the abbreviation for a literature genre. Not a rant, just a hope.


Thank you.
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rrodrick wrote:
I apologize because this is off topic a bit. Please don't let SyFy, which is the created name of a TV network replace Sci. Fi. which, with or without periods, is the abbreviation for a literature genre. Not a rant, just a hope.

Tangential anecdote, and another reason to avoid "SyFy" (besides it being an even cheesier stupider abbreviation than "Sci Fi", and indeed merely the name of a TV network rather than a literary genre) :

When the SciFi channel rebranded themselves as "SyFy", Polish speakers were amused because "syfy" in Polish is a slang word for syphilis / dirt / mess, obviously with negative connotations:

https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syfy
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gocamels wrote:
rstites25 wrote:
Herr Dr wrote:


On a lark at the moment to secure a BIG "get" (related to the topic) for my podcast: almost no chance. None.


Peter Jackson? George Lucas?


Jeri Ryan?


Oh come on - those would be easy.

I'm guessing J.R.R. Tolkien.
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caracfergus wrote:
aforandy wrote:

There was a particularly memorable story in Omni mag around 1979 about a display cabinet of four soldier insect colonies, one in each corner, that fought in each other singly or in alliances, much to the fascination of their owner who couldn't resist putting his oar in, to influence matters. To his eventual disadvantage IIRC.

That was Sandkings, latter adapted into a comic and an episode of the Outer Limits.


and written by George R. R. Martin, winning the Hugo & Nebula awards.

Well i may only have been 16 but I could tell the man had talent...I suppose its what you do with it that counts...
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badinfo wrote:
rrodrick wrote:
I apologize because this is off topic a bit. Please don't let SyFy, which is the created name of a TV network replace Sci. Fi. which, with or without periods, is the abbreviation for a literature genre. Not a rant, just a hope.


Thank you.


I'll show my age here because I suspect this battle has been lost but ...

Please don't let Sci-Fi (with or without spaces or periods or hyphens) replace SF. The former is a genre of (generally schlocky) movies and TV series, the latter a genre of literature.
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