Pixel Scroll 10/22/20 Yondo Lies The Pixel Of My Filer

(1) GET READY TO LAUNCH. At Nerd and Tie, “Interview: Eliana González Ugarte and Coral Alejandra Moore of Constelación Magazine” conducted by Andrea Johnson,

NOAF: I am so excited for Constelación Magazine! When and how, and why did you decide to make this magazine a reality?

Coral Alejandra Moore: The entire process of building Constelación from the idea to what you can see on the website and social media now was really organic. Eliana and I met at a virtual convention called Flights of Foundry in May of this year, and a few weeks later we met again at the Nebulas convention. We both happened to be a in a zoom room where John Picacio and Mary Robinette Kowal started talking about Spanish language speculative fiction because of Eliana’s experience with it, and that got the hamsters in my brain turning. A few emails, and Twitter DMs later, Eliana and I were already moving forward at warp speed, and we really haven’t stopped since then. Lots of people got quarantine puppies during the pandemic, but we got a quarantine magazine!

NOAF: What makes Constelación Magazine different from other speculative fiction magazines out there?

Eliana González Ugarte: We take stories in both English and Spanish! One of our goals is to publish more Latin American and Caribbean authors who may not be able to submit their stories directly in English, or they’d have to first pay someone to translate it for them in order to be able to submit. 

(2) NEXT REVELATION. Alastair Reynolds has delivered the latest book in the Revelation Space series. It will probably be called Inhibitor Phase: “I’ve delivered a book”.

… As may be apparent to those familiar with my work, the book takes place in the Revelation Space universe and is largely set in the years after ABSOLUTION GAP, my 2003 novel. 

It’s not intended as a sequel to that book, but merely another entry in the mosaic of books and stories which illuminate a larger future history. That said, it does have connective tissue with some of the other novels. although I’ve scrupled as carefully as I can to make the book function as a standalone title, a single book which tells a complete tale in its own right and can be read as “just” an isolated story.

.. What happens in the book? I’m not going to say – just yet. I can state that some of the influences that have fed into the book include a film by Ingmar Bergman, a song by Scott Walker (in fact more than one), and the closing track of a Muse album.

(3) HEINLEIN STANDING DOWN. “‘Starship Troopers’ is off the Marine commandant’s reading list, but ‘White Donkey’ by Terminal Lance is in”. Would you like to know more? Task & Purpose has the story.

The Marine Corps commandant’s reading list saw some big changes this week, with the sci-fi military classic Starship Troopers getting the boot as newer works of fiction like The White Donkey took a place on the shelf.

The change came on Tuesday when Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger released the new reading list, which includes 46 books across a range of topics and genres….

(4) AFTERLIFE POSTPONED. Yahoo! Life reports ”End of the world delays Ghostbusters: Afterlife to June 2021″.

Perhaps sensing that the minds of the moviegoing public—as much as concepts like “moviegoing” and “public” exist during the COVID-19 pandemic—were otherwise occupied with images far more horrifying than a giant SlorSony announced this afternoon that the release of Ghostbusters: Afterlife has been pushed to June 11, 2021. For those keeping score at home, that’ll put the Jason Reitman-directed sequel into theaters 37 years after the original Ghostbusters, four months after its first revised release date, and approximately two-and-a-half years after self-proclaimed “first Ghostbusters fan” Reitman stuck his foot in his mouth upon announcing that his new addition to the comedy franchise was “for all the other fans.” But then again, what’s waiting 16 additional weeks in the midst of 40 years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, and all of the other stuff that Dan Aykroyd might attribute to the difficulties of getting a third film set in the continuity of the first two Ghostbusters movies in front of people?

(5) A FLASH FROM FIFTY-EIGHT. Fanac.org has added 17 photos from the late Karen Anderson’s collection (thanks to Astrid Bear) to the Solacon (1958 Worldcon) album. These include half a dozen photos from “Alice in Thrillingwonderland”  which was performed at the con.

In issue #795 of Karen’s fanzine Zed, you can read the script for the play starting on page 7. So now you can read the script, see the pix and imagine yourself there. There are also some wonderful masquerade photos and some individual photos as well. Thanks to Astrid for letting us put them up.

(6) SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL MAMMAL. “It’s a Wild City! Funny Wildlife PSAs Appear in NYC”Untapped New York knows where they came from.

… Hynes got his start writing for Untapped New York and turned his animal-focused column into Wild City, which was released earlier this year. It’s an illustrated exploration that highlights everything from the return of the humpback whale to the pizza rat…. 

The illustrator of the animals on the posters is Kath Nash, who also illustrated Wild City. Each of the PSAs have more highlights about each creature. The Mandarin Duck one says “Remember this little guy? Used to be around all the time! Loved to swim in Central Park and have his picture taken. But now he’s just gone! We will always love you, Gucci duck. Please come home soon! ENJOY YOUR LOCAL WILDLIFE TODAY!” One of the mastodon says, “NEW YORK GIANTS. Mastodons were the original New Yorkers. These big buddies lived all over the city back in the day. Just imagine this furry elephant roaming around Inwood or wherever. It’s wild.”…

(7) VINTAGE 98.6. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] It’s a cold Halloween night. What better to curl up with than a warm bucket of blood? “Halloween Kills: Jamie Lee Curtis Jokes About All The Fake Blood Needed For The Sequel” at CinemaBlend.

[…L]egendary scream queen [Jamie Lee Curtis} recently joked about the massive amount of fake blood needed to make the project [Halloween Kills] into a reality.

Halloween Kills is in the can and was set to arrive in theaters this October, before being delayed a full year amid the pandemic. Jamie Lee Curtis is as disappointed as anyone else about this, although she recently posted an awesome video from the movie’s set. The Knives Out actress shared the story behind said clip, saying:

So the second movie that we shot takes place immediately where the first movie lets off, which is similar to what Hallowen II did. Halloween II picked up exactly after Halloween I. So I’ve been stabbed in the stomach by Michael. And the first sequence is us in the back of this truck which you see us climb into at the end of the movie. I posted on Instagram this video because you’re in the back of a truck, they’re trailing behind you. But I’m supposed to literally be bleeding out, I’m supposed to be hemorrhaging. So we had to freshen the sticky blood. And they have this big bucket, like a paint bucket. And by the end of it I was like ‘Give me my bucket. I want my bucket.’ Because it was warm, and it was super cold. David called it ‘the sauce.’ He said ‘Bring in more sauce.’

[…Y]ou can check out the video that Jamie Lee Curtis was referencing [at Instagram].

(8) MONTANARI OBIT. Gianni Montanari, writer, translator, curator of the Italian prozine Urania from 1985 to 1990, has died at the age of 71 reports Fumetto Logica. Francesco Spadaro called him, “A genius I’ve known for years through printed paper, then in person in an unexpected friendship like all the great gifts life gives you.”

Montanari was also creator of the Urania Prize.


  • 1990 — Thirty years ago at ConFiction, Hyperion by Dan Simmons wins the Best Novel Hugo. Runner-ups were George Alec Effinger’s A Fire in the Sun, Orson Scott Card’s Prentice Alvin, Poul Anderson‘s The Boat of a Million Years and Sheri S. Tepper‘s Grass. It is the first book of his Hyperion Cantos and was followed by The Fall of Hyperion. It would also be nominated for the BSFA and Clark, and win the Locus Award for Best SF Award. (CE)


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born October 22, 1882 – N.C. Wyeth.  One of America’s greatest illustrators; his masterpiece Treasure Island; over a hundred books.  For us e.g. Rip Van WinkleRobin Hood.  Outside our field e.g. Coca-Cola, Lucky Strike; Beethoven, Liszt, Wagner for Steinway & Sons; public and private buildings; patriotic images during both World Wars.  Besides illustration – “Painting and illustration cannot be mixed” – portraits, landscapes.  Here is a gallery.  (Died 1945) [JH]
  • Born October 22, 1927 – Lee Jacobs.  When he wrote “The Influence of Science Fiction on Modern American Filk Music”, filk was a typo.  But it acquired a life of its own.  Active in Washington, D.C, fandom; then Los Angeles.  Took part in FAPA (Fantasy Amateur Press Ass’n, our oldest apa), SAPS (Spectator Am. Pr. Society, our second-oldest), SFPA (Southern Fandom Pr. Alliance), The Cult.  Wrote The Ballard Chronicles (pulp-magazine parody featuring Wrai Ballard) and Redd Boggs – Superfan.  (Died 1968) [JH]
  • Born October 22, 1938 Derek Jacobi, 82. He played a rather nicely nasty Master in “Utopia”, a Tenth Doctor story. He’s currently Metatron on Good Omens. And he was Magisterial Emissary in The Golden Compass. I’ll single out that he’s played Macbeth at Barbican Theatre in London as part of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre ensemble. (CE) 
  • Born October 22, 1939 Suzy McKee Charnas, 81. I’d say The Holdfast Chronicles are her best work to date. “Boobs” won the Best Story Hugo at ConFiction. She’s also won the Otherwise, Nebula, Gaylactic Spectrum, and Lambda Literary Awards. Any of you read her Sorcery Hall series? (CE) 
  • Born October 22, 1943 Jim Baen. Editor of Galaxy and If for three years. He edited the sf line at Ace ad then Tor before starting his own namesake company in 1983. In late 1999, he started Webscriptions, now called Baen Ebooks, which is considered to be the first profitable e-book service. He also was the editor of Destinies and New Destinies which I remember fondly.  He was nominated for Best Editor Hugo five times between 1975 and 1981 but never won. At Nippon 2007, he’d be nominated for Best Editor, Long Form. (Died 2006.) (CE)
  • Born October 22, 1948 – Debbie Macomber, 72.  Over 200 million copies of her books in print worldwide.  First winner of the Quill Award; Romantic Times Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award; RITA Award.  For us, three novels about three angels who work miracles but have a hard time resisting the use of human technology, which sometimes lands them in trouble; they are named – which couldn’t resist – Shirley, Goodness and Mercy.  [JH]
  • Born October 22, 1952 Jeff Goldblum, 68. The Wiki page gushes over him for being in Jurassic Park and Independence Day (as well as their sequels, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Independence Day: Resurgence, but neglects my favorite film with him in it, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, not to mention the  Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake he was in. (CE) 
  • Born October 22, 1954 Graham Joyce. Selecting his best novel is a futile exercise as everything is fantastically good but I’ll single out Some Kind of Fairy Tale and The Tooth Fairy as the ones I found the most interesting reads. (Died 2014.) (CE) 
  • Born October 22, 1956 Gretchen Roper, 63. Long-time member of fandom, filker and con-runner. She co-founded Dodeka Records with her husband, Bill Roper. She received with her husband the Pegasus Award for Best Original Humorous Song, “My Husband The Filker”, and was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame. She runs The Secret Empire, a business selling filk-related stuff and other things at cons. (CE)
  • Born October 22, 1958 – Keith Parkinson.  A hundred forty book covers, a hundred eighty interiors. Three artbooks, most recently Kingsgate.  Cards. Video and online games.  Here is the May 85 Amazing.  Here is In the Shadow of the Master (in Dutch; English title After the King; Tolkien).  (Died 2005) [JH] 
  • Born October 22, 1960 – Dafydd ab Hugh, 60.  Eight Star Trek novels, four others; four shorter stories including “The Coon Rolled Down and Ruptured His Larinks, a Squeezed Novel by Mr. Skunk” (novelette; Hugo & Nebula finalist).  Served in the U.S. Navy. [JH]
  • Born October 22, 1992 – Carrie Hope Fletcher, 28.  Four novels for us; career onstage including A Christmas Carol (Menken, Ahrens & Ockert 1994), The Addams Family (Lippa, Brickman & Elice 2009), Cinderella (Lloyd Webber, Zippell & Fennell 2019), Mary Poppins (Sherman, Sherman, Drewe & Fellows, 2004).  Singer, Internet celebrity.  YouTube channel with 650,000 subscribers.  [JH]


  • At Bizarro, Trolls and Gremlins come to an agreement.

(12) HELD FOR RANSOM. Brenton Dickieson found an unexpected connection between some works of C.S. Lewis: “My Paper, “A Cosmic Shift in The Screwtape Letters,” Published in Mythlore” at A Pilgrim in Narnia.

 …It isn’t that Lewis wrote these Screwtapian letters; rather, as he says in the preface published in your copy of The Screwtape Letters:

“I have no intention of explaining how the correspondence which I now offer to the public fell into my hands.”

What is intriguing about the handwritten preface, is that Lewis makes a link between Screwtape and his Ransom book–Out of the Silent Planet from 1938 and Perelandra, which he was writing at this time. This is the first sentence of the “Ransom Preface,” as I call it:

“Nothing will induce me to reveal how my friend Dr. Ransom got hold of the script which is translated in the following pages.”

It is a pretty exciting discovery and one that I have spent years working on…. 

…. You can purchase Mythlore here, and the free open-access copy of this paper is available here.

(13) VIDEO OF THE MINUTE. In “Honest Trailers: Us” the Screen Junkies take on the 2019 film, which has “enough social commentary to trick snobs into watching B-movie sci-fi horror action.”

(14) POE IN TOWN. In “Edgar Allan Poe And The Rise Of The Modern City” on CrimeReads, College of Charleston English professor Scott Peeples looks at Poe’s story “The man In The Crowd” to discuss Poe’s attitudes towards urban life.

First published in December 1840, Poe’s story “The Man of the Crowd” encapsulates the mystery and fear that attended the rapid development of cities and the influx of “strangers.” Though set in London, where Poe had lived as a child and whose density and growth exceeded those of American cities in 1840, the tale reflects the future shock of mid-nineteenth-century urban experience generally. For the first third of the story, the narrator, recuperating from an unnamed illness, sits alone at the “large bow-window” of a coffee house, watching the parade of pedestrians at the workday’s end. A shrewd taxonomist of urban types, he identifies the professions and social stations of passersby. The first group includes “noblemen, merchants, attorneys, tradesmen, stock-jobbers . . . men of leisure and men actively engaged in affairs of their own.” He proceeds down the social ladder, calling attention to visible clues…

(15) SHARDS OF PLENTY. Gizmodo finds Bennu is ready for its close-up. “Stunning Images Show NASA’s Attempt at Scooping Samples From an Asteroid”.  

…Pictures snapped by the spacecraft’s SamCam imager show the 1-foot-wide (0.3-meter) sampling head absolutely bathed in debris. Though I’m no expert, it would be hard to believe that nothing got scooped up by the collection system, known as Touch-and-Go, or TAG. But images can be deceiving, and the team, led by the University of Arizona, will spend the next week trying to figure out how much debris was collected.

Approximately one second after making touchdown, the probe fired a nitrogen gas bottle, which produced the debris cloud, according to a NASA statement. OSIRIS-REx arrived at a predetermined site called Nightingale and reached the surface during its first attempt….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Bob Marley — Redemption Song” on Vimeo is an animation of the classic Marley song by Octave Marsel and Theo de Gueltzl.

[Thanks to Rob Thornton, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Rich Horton, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Michael J. Walsh, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Smith.]

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79 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/22/20 Yondo Lies The Pixel Of My Filer

  1. All the things that microtherion says are elements of ST‘s fascism are elements of the relationship of individual soldiers to the larger military structure, but fascism isn’t defined by the structure of its military. It is defined by how it governs its civilian population, and there is so little discussion of civilian life in it that it is silly to draw broad conclusions from it.
    I don’t think Eco’s checklist is a very good measure of whether Troopers is fascist (or anything else is, for that matter). When people point at a thing and call it “fascist”, they intend to call to mind the fascism of WWII. They are saying “this thing is like Mussolini, Franco, and the Nazis”. It is a way of getting around Godwin’s law.
    And by that measure, ST isn’t very fascist at all. The state is not authoritarian with respect to its civilians, nor propagandistic. It doesn’t have imperial designs. No concentration camps. No black or brown shirts.
    This is also why claims that Campbell was fascist ring so hollow. He didn’t line partisans up against the wall and shoot them, or implement a final solution to the Jews, or seek lebensraum; nor did he advocate that these things be done.
    If you want to criticize Campbell’s philosphy, then criticize it. But “fascist” brings with it the connotation of the Axis powers, and Campbell was on the other side of that conflict.

  2. @bill: This is why the tick-box method of argumentation is so pernicious.

    I agree with you that fascist isn’t the best description of Campbell. But “He didn’t…seek lebensraum” isn’t the sort of argument I’d make in favor of that. If it is, we have to turn to Chapter 3 of Time for the Stars, “Project Lebensraum”, which motivates the action, yet I don’t think you can call that book fascistic. I can’t.

    (Though it is my least favorite of the juveniles. It’s quite grim. That’s not what I read Heinlein juveniles for.)

  3. bill: This is also why claims that Campbell was fascist ring so hollow. He didn’t line partisans up against the wall and shoot them, or implement a final solution to the Jews, or seek lebensraum; nor did he advocate that these things be done. If you want to criticize Campbell’s philosphy, then criticize it. But “fascist” brings with it the connotation of the Axis powers, and Campbell was on the other side of that conflict.

    Wow, that’s a really impressive strawman argument.

    Fascism: a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy.

    One does not have to “line partisans up against the wall and shoot them, or implement a final solution to the Jews, or advocate lebensraum” to qualify as a fascist. 🙄

  4. Looking back from 9975, my preferred word for Campbell is “reactionary”:

    opposing political or social liberalization or reform (adjective); a reactionary person (noun).

    I wouldn’t argue with “fascist”, but it obscures as well as instructs, especially since he was contemporaneous with Fascists, American and otherwise. There’s a moral appropriateness to the judgementalism of “fascist” for him–he was too wrong and too certain too often about too much for it to be otherwise–but not so helpful for analysis.

  5. @JJ — okay, then arguments that claim Campbell was fascistic should show that he advocated dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy.

    But that’s a socio-political argument, which is not what Ng was doing. She used the term because of the emotional baggage it carries, not in its literal sense. She wanted you to put him mentally into the same class as Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Moseley, etc. And despite his faults, that’s a hyperbolic argument.

  6. @bill: I’m not surprised that Heinlein would not characterize his own work as fascist. But I don’t find that entirely dispositive.

    Thanks for reminding me that I misremembered Rico’s social background. I remembered him as rather aimless, though I should have remembered at least his father as well-to-do.

  7. @John A Arkansawyer

    The idea of a mathematically provable, logically consistent moral philosophy seems to me to be an Enlightenment wet dream

    That’s a very interesting idea, and I think I’d agree. But ST protagonists don’t set out to mathematically prove their moral philosophy, they say “children need to be spanked, because maths”.

  8. @bill

    fascism isn’t defined by the structure of its military.

    I would argue that there are definitely fascist and not-fascist ways to fight wars, e.g. the employment of Einsatzgruppen, issuing of Kommissarbefehle, etc. But that seems beside the point — the behavior of the ST troops in combat (apart from their questionable tactics), seems to me the least fascist aspect of the book.

    In contrast, the training, featuring routine corporal punishment, people dying of training incidents in what appears to be a calculated manner, and a public execution, is not exactly business as usual for contemporary armies in civilized countries.

    It is defined by how it governs its civilian population, and there is so little discussion of civilian life in it that it is silly to draw broad conclusions from it.

    We know that it’s an oligarchy, featuring permanent warfare and compulsory political indoctrination classes, and those in power evince an enthusiasm for corporal punishment of all kinds against people of all ages that would get them kicked out of any decently run BDSM club.

  9. @Cat Eldridge:

    I don’t think [Heinlein], like the creators of Trek’s Federation, thought of either polity as being facist though its hard to call them democratic either. What both did do is create very long-term stable peaceful societies

    “stable”, yes. But “peaceful”? I don’t recall whether he mentioned details, but I’d assume Dubois lost his hand in combat. And the book does not think highly of “peace”:

    “Peace” is a condition in which no civilian pays any attention to military casualties which do not achieve page-one, lead-story prominence—unless that civilian is a close relative of one of the casualties. But, if there ever was a time in history when “peace” meant that there was no fighting going on, I have been unable to find out about it.”

  10. microtherion says “stable”, yes. But “peaceful”? I don’t recall whether he mentioned details, but I’d assume Dubois lost his hand in combat. And the book does not think highly of “peace”:</I em>

    Not a valid assumption as any Military force loses and has seriously injured a not insignificant number of troops in peace time operations for a number of reasons. We just lost several Navy personnel in an plane crash this week Stateside . So he could have well been injured in a non-combat situation.

  11. @microtherion

    In contrast, the training, featuring routine corporal punishment, people dying of training incidents in what appears to be a calculated manner, and a public execution, is not exactly business as usual for contemporary armies in civilized countries.

    I’d have to see an expansion on “calculated manner” to accept that part of the description, but otherwise none of this is inconsistent with US military training up through WWII, and certainly not inconsistent with Heinlein’s experience in the 1920s. Perhaps military training has changed significantly since then, but I wouldn’t say it used to be “uncivilized”, and certainly it wasn’t fascist.

    We know that it’s an oligarchy,

    Cites? We know that veterans (of service, not limited to combat service) have the franchise. We don’t know what percent of the population that is — it could be much greater than whatever limited part defines oligarchical — and we don’t know what style of government the franchise executes — democratic republic? parliamentarian? A strong or weak federal system?

    featuring permanent warfare

    It is peacetime when Johnnie first considers joining up.

    compulsory political indoctrination classes,

    It’s a history class that you have to audit. You don’t even have to pass it. Hardly in the same league as Chinese “reeducation” style indoctrination.

    and those in power evince an enthusiasm for corporal punishment

    Again, I think you are using the miltary hierarchy represent society as a whole, without justification. The only places I can recall examples of civilian power is when the cops come up after the street fight, and they are content to let everything slide and don’t bust any heads; and when Dillinger is captured off post by civilian authorities, but he is returned to the MI for punishment.
    And “enthusiasm for corporal punishment” doesn’t even characterize the MI. Zim and Frankel are clearly distraught that Hendrick gets flogged.

    “stable”, yes. But “peaceful”?

    Clearly, until Buenos Aires is bombed, Earth society is peaceful. And appears to remain so afterwards. The war is at the boundary between Earth and Bug societies. I’m reminded of this exchange, about American society since 9/11:
    “America is at war”
    “No, the Marines are at war. America is at the mall.”

  12. but I’d assume Dubois lost his hand in combat.

    “At mail call today,” he said, “you got a letter. I noticed—purely by accident, none of my business—the name on the return address. It’s a fairly common name, some places, but—this is the personal question you need not answer—by any chance does the person who wrote that letter have his left hand off at the wrist?”
    I guess my chin dropped. “How did you know? Sir?”
    “I was nearby when it happened. It is Colonel Dubois? Right?”
    “Yes, sir.” I added, “He was my high school instructor in History and Moral Philosophy.”
    I think that was the only time I ever impressed Sergeant Zim, even faintly. His eyebrows went up an eighth of an inch and his eyes widened slightly. “So? You were extraordinarily fortunate.” He added, “When you answer his letter—if you don’t mind—you might say that Ship’s Sergeant Zim sends his respects.”
    “Yes, sir. Oh . . . I think maybe he sent you a message, sir.”
    “Uh, I’m not certain.” I took out the letter, read just: “‘—if you should happen to run across any of my former mates, give them my warmest greetings.’ Is that for you, sir?”
    Zim pondered it, his eyes looking through me, somewhere else. “Eh? Yes, it is. For me among others. Thanks very much.”

    Sounds like a combat loss to me, but it isn’t explicitly so.

  13. @ P J Evans and @JJ

    Thank you for the feedback! I have passed it on to my friend who is very grateful for in information.

  14. @John A Arkansawyer

    That said, it’s interesting to note that the characters are noticeably diversely named, but that not one of those names sounds Russian.

    At one point, before they enlist, Johnnie refers to Carmen as “Ochee Chyornya,” which is Russian for “Dark Eyes” and is the name of a Russian song.

  15. bill says Sounds like a combat loss to me, but it isn’t explicitly so.

    All it tells me that the two of them went through something together including the possibility of boot camp. There’s nothing in Starship Troopers suggesting a society at war before the Bugs attack. And I repeat: we suffer a not insignificant number of serious injuries to military persons no where near a hostile situation.

  16. @Cat: As I recall, there’s been no war in the ST universe for decades until the Bug War (which doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been occasional combat that didn’t impinge on the consciousness of civilians)

  17. Andrew (not Werdna) says As I recall, there’s been no war in the ST universe for decades until the Bug War (which doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been occasional combat that didn’t impinge on the consciousness of civilians)

    I expect combat exercises with live ammo to have happened regularly. What Heinlein didn’t explain is why such combat technology existed as that powered armor and specialised starships suggested a combat situation already prepared for. It’s not stuff you just have sitting there.

  18. @Cat: I think that there was occasional combat without a big enough war to get into the papers. There has been plenty of combat in American history that didn’t get into the history books as a war (I didn’t hear about the Barbary Wars, for example. So when Johnny’s dad says that there hasn’t been war in decades, that doesn’t mean that the MI isn’t getting killed in combat from time to time.

    As far as the powered armor is concerned, it might be possible to mothball that equipment for later use so that when war comes, the equipment is ready (the USS Iowa spent 24 years decommissioned in the “Reserve Fleet” after Korea before being brought back into service in the 1980s).

  19. @John: Yeah, that’s the kind of thing I was thinking of. Juan’s father thinks there hasn’t been a war in ages, but the infantry would know differently.

  20. @bill

    I’d have to see an expansion on [dying in a] “calculated manner” to accept that part of the description

    Here’s how a survival exercise is described:

    The others made it, too […] except two boys who died trying. […] we buried them with full honors […] a cap trooper isn’t necessarily expected
    to stay alive (dying is part of his trade)… but they care a lot about how you die. […] They weren’t the first to die in training; they weren’t the last.

    Now, accidents in training happen, but this sure sounds to me like these were calculated deaths, i.e. the instructors would have considered their training too soft if nobody had died. That’s not how the army I served in, or any army I would care to serve in, operated.

    We know that veterans (of service, not limited to combat service) have the franchise.

    I would have described the system as a “military dictatorship”, but I wanted to avoid triggering the debate whether there actually were real non-military service roles (I know that Heinlein is on record saying that 95% of service roles were non-military, but there is a pretty compelling analysis of the actual text contradicting this idea). It’s definitely part of the backstory that the country had an universal franchise before a military coup restricted that franchise.

    We don’t know what percent of the population that is

    It seems pretty clear that at least at the chronological beginning of the story, attaining citizenship was considered a rare and unusual choice by the general society.

    we don’t know what style of government the franchise executes

    Indeed we don’t. Not a single person in the book is shown participating in the political decision making of the nation — although the book is a treatise of how nations ought to be properly governed. And both citizens and non-citizens refer dismissively to the political rights conveyed by citizenship. Which leads me to believe that the decision making process is closer to “women in ponds distributing swords” than “all decisions to be ratified at a bi-weekly meeting”.

  21. @microtherion: Some of that information is in the book – apparently on some planets, fully 80% of the population volunteers for Federal Service, while on Earth, “some nations” have voluntarism rates of only 3%.

    One person is interested in a political career, and has volunteered for that reason – he washes out (he’s the guy who is flogged before being discharged).

  22. So, regarding “enthusiasm for corporal punishment”: you made me dig up an e-text.

    1) Dubois’ class features a lesson going from “nowadays juvenile delinquents and their fathers are flogged side by side” to “the proper ways to housebreak dogs is to rub their noses in their feces and then beat them (not a dog person, but I understand this is no longer considered state of the art)” to “children ought to be spanked” (with the narrator reminiscing that he certainly was) to “schools should spank children” to “criminals should be flogged” to “Man will only develop a moral instinct if one is beaten into them”.

    2) Army boot camp: Several recruits whipped, routinely beaten with batons by their officers, and occasionally otherwise physically assaulted. One execution for murder.

    3) During active service, the narrator and another officer beat each other up over a promotion that the other officer didn’t even want.

    So I think it’s really (1) that left me with the impression that the society was very much built on a foundation of violence.

    As for whether that society was “peaceful” at its core, consider this passage:

    All wars arise from population pressure. […] Morals — all correct moral rules derive from the instinct to survive; moral behavior is survival behavior above the individual level […]. But since population pressure results from the process of surviving
    through others, then war, because it results from population pressure, derives from the same inherited instinct which produces all moral rules suitable for human beings.

    Check of proof: is it possible to abolish war by relieving population pressure[…]?
    Without debating the usefulness or morality of planned parenthood, it may be verified by observation that any breed which stops its own increase gets crowded out by breeds which expand. Some human populations did so, in Terran history, and other breeds moved in and engulfed them.

    […] Either we spread and wipe out the Bugs, or they spread and wipe us out — because both races are tough and smart and want the same real estate.

    Do you know how fast population pressure could cause us to fill the entire universe shoulder to shoulder? The answer will astound you, just the flicker of an eye in terms of the age of our race.

    But does Man have any “right” to spread through the universe? Man is what he is, a wild animal with the will to survive, and (so far) the ability, against all competition. Unless one accepts that, anything one says about morals, war, politics — you name it — is nonsense. Correct morals arise from knowing what Man is — not what do gooders and well-meaning old Aunt Nellies would like him to be.

    The universe will let us know — later — whether or not Man has any “right” to expand through it.

    So the moral imperative of this society is to expand and wipe out all other life forms to acquire more Lebensraum until it fills “the entire universe shoulder to shoulder”. Not my idea of “peaceful”.

  23. @microtherion: That’s what happens when you invoke evolutionary psychology with too little known about evolution–and psychology!–to make sense, let alone morality.

    I’m not going to say a species should expand to fill all available niches as a moral imperative, but I will say that’s what species do. We’re a species that (supposedly) has some control over that aspect of our collective behavior, but there’s not a lot of evidence in favor of it.

    In a universe full of other species which presumably do the same thing species everywhere we know of do–which is an aspect of the argument found among the ellipses in your excerpt, to restore some context–and with uninhabited niches available, why not occupy those niches?

    And once again, the text is not entirely consistent. The bit from Rico’s OCS paper about “wiping out the Bugs” is later softened, the motivation for a massive raid being:

    We needed to learn more about Bug psychology. Must we wipe out every Bug in the Galaxy? Or was it possible to trounce them and impose a peace?…

    To learn their psychology we had to communicate with them, learn their motivations, find out why they fought and under what conditions they would stop…

    So “the moral imperative of this society is to expand and wipe out all other life forms” is an overstatement. The simple model Heinlein gives us is three species which share the same ecological niche. Presumably one doesn’t go to war with a silicon-based species over sunny beaches or methane-cycle species for breathing room.

    And presumably some species are involved in cross-niche alliances and other entanglements that make this rather simple model–two belligerent parties and an ally which changes sides, all seeking the same type of living area for themselves–break if you use it too roughly.

    It’s not intended for the same purpose, but Poul Anderson’s The Star Fox is still more successful in engaging these issues. (Including pacifism.) Much as I love Heinlein, it might be a better world if Anderson had made the primary SF libertarian impact. That’d be a much less weird world, though, so I’m not building any time machines.

  24. @John A Arkansawyer, Cat Eldridge, Andrew and bill

    Thank you for your responses. I probably have a couple more things to add. They would be borderline duplicative with your responses. I’ll try to keep it down to a minimum. [In retrospect…nope…couldn’t manage it.] Y’all have covered most of my thoughts with style and grace.


    With respect, I would be far more motivated to go down your critiques item by item if I thought you had read my piece at the link I supplied. As that piece already covers many of the items in your response, I suspect you didn’t bother to take a hard look at it. Additionally, it took at least a couple of days for you to even quote from the book to support your position.

    From your responses…..

    ….it seems that you are mapping the culture described in the movie onto the rather amorphous culture presented in the book.

    ….it seems that you are mapping a military culture onto a larger society when such a relationship isn’t indicated in the text of the book.

    ….it seems that you are asserting that the culture of the ST society is fascist based primarily on the fact that the book does not include a disclaimer to the contrary. One might just as easily say that ST is bad MilSF because of the vampires and base their argument on the lack of a disclaimer saying that vampires don’t exist in the book.

    ….it seems that you are not familiar with any reality-based military. Over the last 14 years, the majority of US military deaths have come from non-combat related activities. [https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/IF10899.pdf] Within the context of ST, they lost two troopers in a battalion scale training event. An event for which the troopers were trained. An event that was known to include significant risk. And as soon as the event was completed, everyone stopped everything they were doing to attempt to rescue (if possible) the missing troopers. That isn’t evidence of the military of ST not caring about troopers. Military operations are by definition risky. We/they minimize that risk as much as possible and evaluate every evolution that results in a death to identify ways of minimizing risk, but risk will always be there.

    [At one point, Marine Corps boot camp had recruits had to low crawl under concertina, past reinforced pits where explosives were going off, while the DIs were shooting M60s about 48″ over their heads. It would not have been very healthy for a recruit to stand up. And then there is this little gem. When I went through, there was a thick layer of sawdust to catch you if you fell and no safety rope. The objective is always to make training as realistic as possible while minimizing death/injury. Too safe and the training is useless. Too risky and you lose too many good people in training.]

    ….where you have quoted from ST, you have carefully elided text that contradicts your perspective.

    A couple of other points….

    Disagreement is treason….patently false. At the beginning of the book, Juan Rico’s dad is PO’ed at the H&MP instructor and threatens to write a letter to the government. He even says that non-citizens still have rights. That apparently includes the right to voice disagreement with government policies without fear of significant retribution.

    Action for action’s sake. cf. “Everybody fights”….what are the “dubious actions” [in the book, not the movie] to which you are referring?

    Ur-Fascism must be against “rotten” parliamentary governments….the book is not anti-democratic. In fact, it favors democracy with the qualifier that those willing to wield government power/authority first demonstrate their willingness to submit to government power/authority.

    John nailed it. The ST novel doesn’t exist to present new technologies; i.e. powered armor or interstellar tactics. It exists to provide a backdrop for the H&MP classes. Go back and reread those sections. You will find precious little that would indicate the presence of a fascist state.

    The whole point of the H&MP sections is to dissect the idea that responsibility and authority are inseparable. You cannot hand a person the responsibility for making something happen without also giving them enough authority to make it happen. Conversely, you cannot hand a person the authority to perform a task without also making them responsible for the results of their actions. Bad things happen when responsibility and authority are mismatched.

    IMO, RAH left the details of the political and cultural structures somewhat vague so as to eliminate the distraction of focusing on those features and to keep the focus on his interest in the relationship between responsibility and authority.

    Take another crack at the book….ignore the movie. Take another look at my argument. Then let me know what I’m missing. I’m interested in those thoughts. As a heavy lift goes…this just wasn’t it.

    My thanks to OGH for his tolerance and bandwidth.

    Now playing Dreams by Fleetwood Mac

    War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. John Stuart Mill

  25. I forget which critic noted that the liberty=responsibility equation underlay just about all of Heinlein’s writings.

    However, Heinlein often made clear that he wrote from a ‘what if’ perspective, and that Starship Troopers took off from the idea of ‘what if we met up with a species and the two species were totally inimical — that we just couldn’t stand each other.’
    He was also very clear that he wrote to make a living. His criterion for success was not competition with other writers, but whether or not somebody would spend the money on his book that might otherwise be spent on a six pack of beer. –Starship Troopers may well have been his first really serious assault on the profits of the beer industry.

  26. Jon DeCles: Starship Troopers may well have been his first really serious assault on the profits of the beer industry.

    I should hope so, when you consider all the juveniles he wrote before it. 🙂

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