Pixel Scroll 6/8/16 A Wrinkle in Tingle

Loot Crate

(1) GEEK SERVICE. LA Times covers “Loot Crate”, a service that sends buyers a monthly package of mystery merchandise.

In a single town, there might not be enough sci-fi and comics fans to sustain a shop. But across the world, they’ve got plenty of buying power.

The pop-culture-themed T-shirts, dolls, posters, flashlights, magnets and other nicknacks that come stuffed in the Loot Crate box are sometimes available at other online shops. But Loot Crate has separated itself by cultivating relationships with major entertainment companies.

That’s enabled Loot Crate to curate the most interesting products and land at least one big-ticket or highly sought item in every goodie box. Those one-of-a-kind offerings, such as a special “The Walking Dead” comic, often sell for many times the price of the box on EBay.

Entertainment and toy companies sometimes provide Loot Crate with merchandise at a bulk discount and view inclusion in the box as a crucial marketing tactic. Since customers worldwide receive the box around the same date, cool products can spur a blast of social media chatter about, for example, a new movie.

“It’s a virtuous circle of content, commerce and experience with incredible potential for fans and creators alike,” Bettinelli wrote on his blog last week.

(2) STARTING YOUNG. Thoughts on child rearing by Elizabeth Cady in “Raising Your Young Geek” at Black Gate.

A few weeks ago, I was playing with my daughter, who is on the brink of turning four.

“Come here you little demon,” I said.

“I’m not a demon! You’re a demon!” she shrieked before pulling an imaginary sword and shouting “WINDSCAR!!!”

Yup. I got full on Inuyasha-ed by a four year old pixie child….

(3) THAI SCORE. In Episode 10 of Eating the Fantastic Scott Edelman and Mary Turzillo share great food and great conversation at a spot in Las Vegas once dubbed “the best Thai restaurant in America” by Gourmet magazine.

Mary Turzillo and Scott Edelman

Mary Turzillo and Scott Edelman

We talked about whether there’s a Venn Diagram overlap between her horror and science fiction readership, how her Cajun Sushi Hamsters from Hell writers workshop got its name, why she won’t be self-publishing her unpublished novels, what Gene Wolfe taught her about revising her fiction, and much more.

In podcasts to come: four-time Bram Stoker Award-winning writer Linda Addison … followed by Gene O’Neill, Fran Wilde, and Cecilia Tan.

(4) GHOSTBUSTERS WHEELS. The new Ecto-1 is the perfect vehicle for delivering your loved ones to the grave, and returning them to it when they come back to haunt you.

(5) WHO SPOILAGE: BEWARE. ScienceFiction.com has a reason for asking “’Doctor Who’: Will We See Clara Return In Season 10?”.

At the Washington Awesome Con this past weekend during a panel featuring both Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, Capaldi was asked how the Doctor would be getting along now that his companion is gone:

Capaldi: “I’m not sure how successfully Clara was able to wipe his mind. In fact I just did a … I was about to tell you something I can’t tell you.”

Coleman: “I just noticed that. Good save. Good save. It’s something to look forward to.”

Trying to salvage his almost faux paux as well as give a little tease to the attendees, Capaldi added:

“I just shot something… Clara was still there.”

Here’s the video that inspired the article.

(6) WHO’S GOT THE MOST DOE? David Klaus recommends Bjorn Munson’s blog Crisis of Infinite Star Treks: “This man has done an excellent job of detailing all the issues involved in the CBS/Paramount v. Axanar lawsuit, along with timelines.” Munson’s latest post, 22nd in a series, is “Axanar Lawsuit: The Counterclaim and the Road Ahead”.

You’ll see we’re coming up to June 8th where additional defendants, known as “Does” will have to be named or be dropped from the lawsuit (this amounts to a card the Plaintiffs have to play or lose).

There is much speculation about which Does will be named and what their defense lawyers will do. We’ll also know what CBS/Paramount thinks of the counterclaim above by Monday, June 13th.

I’ll save further speculation and observations for others or when I get more information. For now, I mainly wanted to write this post for friends and fellow filmmakers who wanted to know the Axanar lawsuit timeline and how nigh impossible it will be for Axanar to win the case should it go to trial.

I know they’re not going to admit that. That’s playing a card they don’t have to. But they’re going to settle. It’s just a question of when.

(7) RECOVERING AT HOME. Unfortunately, George R.R. Martin came home from Balticon 50 with the con crud. Best wishes for a quick rebound.

I am back home again in Santa Fe, after two weeks on the road in Baltimore and New York City.

Great trip… but I seem to have brought the plague home with me.

Some kind of con crud was going around at Balticon. My assistant Jo was stricken with it, as was my friend Lezli Robyn, though in both cases it did not manifest until after the con. Coughing, fever, headache, congestion, more coughing.

I got it too, albeit a milder case. And then my assistant Lenore was stricken. (So far Parris has been spared, knock wood).

(8) ASK YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT ELROND. Hampus Eckerman sent the link to a HowStuffWorks quiz

Can you spot the prescription drug names among Elf names from J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium? Test your Elven race IQ.

I scored very badly….

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 8, 1949 — George Orwell’s novel of a dystopian future, Nineteen Eighty-four, is published. The novel’s all-seeing leader, known as “Big Brother,” becomes a universal symbol for intrusive government and oppressive bureaucracy.
  • June 8, 1984 Ghostbusters was released.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • June 8, 1910 – John W. Campbell, Jr.

(11) NO OCTARINE. Remember the petition to honor the late Terry Pratchett by giving element 117 the name Octarine — “the color of magic” from Pratchett’s fiction? Well, they didn’t. From SF Site News we get the link to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry announcement:

octarine

Following earlier reports that the claims for discovery of these elements have been fulfilled [1, 2], the discoverers have been invited to propose names and the following are now disclosed for public review:

  • Nihonium and symbol Nh, for the element 113,
  • Moscovium and symbol Mc, for the element 115,
  • Tennessine and symbol Ts, for the element 117, and
  • Oganesson and symbol Og, for the element 118.

(12) CALLING YOU. Alexandra Erin is offering prizes: “De-Gendering Stories: A Challenge”

I’d love to see more writers exploring this kind of writing, so here we come to my challenge: write a story of any length with at least two characters and no references to their gender.

There are many ways to do this, none of them wrong. You can simply avoid using personal pronouns in the narration, as most of the stories I referenced above do. You can use a gender neutral pronoun. You can write it in first or second person, allowing one of the characters to be referred to by gender-neutral pronouns such as I/me or you. The lack of gender can be part of the story (agender characters, distant characters communicating via text, a character whose identity is obscured and unknown) or it can be incidental. It can be a short vignette or dialogue, it can be a classic story with a beginning, middle, and end. It can be a story where the lack of gender is the point, or it can be a story where it’s incidental.

If you undertake this challenge and you post your story somewhere (your blog, Tumblr, a fic archive), please send a link to it to my email address blueauthor (Where? At…) alexandraerin (Neither Wakko nor Yakko, but Dot) com, with the subject heading “Gender Free Writing Challenge”. On August 1st, I’ll post a round-up of links to the stories I have received by that point.

To encourage participation, let’s make it interesting. I will award prizes of $25, $15, and $10 to the story I enjoy the most, second most, and third most, respectively. Depending on how many responses I receive, judging and award of the prizes may not happen until later in the month. As English is the only language in which I am a skilled enough reader to judge stories, I can only provide prizes to stories that are in English or have an English translation. I know there are languages in which the challenge portion of this challenge is trivial, but to be considered for the prize, the English version must also be gender neutral.

(13) OUT OF MY MIND. M.P. Xavier Dalke reviews John Brunner’s 1967 short story collection Out of My Mind at Potpourri of Science Fiction Literature.

Out of My Mind, thankfully, doesn’t contain any of the chaff; nor does it, however, show any great ambition or artistry that Brunner later exhibited along the lines of Stand on Zanzibar (1968) or The Sheep Look Up (1972). The best stories in this collection, comparatively, soar far above such dreck as “No Other Gods But Me” (1966). At the same time, they have an aura of whim exuded by the author—many of them aren’t serious in nature, yet are cleverly based on the kernel of an idea that Brunner ran with. This doesn’t always translate well as it feels just like that: this is my seed of my idea (which may be good or bad, depending on the reader) and this is the roughly textured chaff that surrounds it (sometimes good, sometimes bad, too).

(14) ALL THE BIRDS. Camestros Felapton brings us “Review: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders”.

When we first meet Patricia Delfine she is a young child and her story slips very quickly from realism into fairy-tale with talking birds and unnecessarily cruel parents and sibling. It is unclear what is reality and what is simply the work of an over-active imagination but Charlie Jane Anders’s first novel doesn’t stop to discuss this. Instead she leaves the reader with a choice – to take Patricia’s story at face value (talking birds and magical trees amid the petty tyrannies of school and childhood) or to reject it just as her peers and the adults around her reject it.

Which takes us to Laurence. Anders presents us with a choice here as well, but rather than fairy tales Laurence’s apparent escape into fantasy is via science-fiction. He has built himself a two-second time machine and is using broken up bits of old games consoles to create a super-computer. …

Read the review for the verdict.

(15) ALL FELAPTON ALL THE TIME. Do we need File 770 when there are so many Felapton gems to reblog? “A Special Commission for Brian Z (based on an original idea by Dave F.)” – such artistry, Van Gogh would slice off his other ear from sheer envy.

I couldn’t manage a direct pastiche of John Harris’s covers but why not just have a cover based on the core idea of an army of tea drinking, AI-controlled zombie ancillary walruses?

(16) AFTERLIFE AUTOGRAPH SESSION. Paul Davids will read from his new hardcover about Forrest J Ackerman’s posthumous, paranormal adventures An Atheist in Heaven: the Ultimate Evidence of Life After Death? at Mystery & Imagination Bookshop in Glendale on June 11 from 2-4 p.m. (The book is co-authored by Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D.) Davids says, “Forry friends, living or dead, please come!!”

Paul Davids ad5 556 KB

 

Davids other works will be available, too, DVDs of The Life After Death Project and The Sci-Fi Boys.

Cover artist L.J. Dopp will be signing the hardcover and his prints, and reading from his upcoming, satiric fantasy-genre comic book, Tales of The Donald: The Billion-Dollar Time Machine.

Mystery & Imagination is at 238 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, CA 91203.

(17) COLLECTIBLE COMICS RULE. And mothers world-wide tossed them out…. “High-value comic books are outperforming traditional investments” reports Yahoo! Finance.

Gocompare.com collected information on comic books to determine those that have appreciated the most in price since 2008 compared to the S&P 500’s performance. The top performer was DC’s Batman Adventures #12, first published in 1993. The original cost of the issue was $1.25, and in the last eight years, it has appreciated in price to $800, making a 26,567% return.

“We saw it really take off in terms of rising in value on news that a Suicide Squad spin-off might be in the cards. Then it really rocketed when the producer signed up in 2014, and it was confirmed. That particular comic features Harley Quinn, who we know is going to be one of the main characters in Suicide Squad,” said Nilsson. Suicide Squad will be released in August.

(18) BUSINESS IS BOOMING. Future War Stories lists the Top 10 Critical Elements of Good Military Sci-Fi.

1. An Convincing Enemy

In the real-world, wars and conflicts are fought between groups that have their own philosophies, society, culture, strategies, and point-of-view on the conflict. Rarely, are the parties involved in armed conflict irregular and loosely aligned..even street gangs, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS have their own interior culture and strategies. However, the same cannot be said of the “enemies” seen in science fiction. At times, they are paper-thin antagonists and merely targets for our heroes to shoot at. Creators will forge their protagonist and their side of the conflict in lavish loving detail, but nearly ignore the antagonist side of the conflict. In works like Enemy Mind, Footfall, ROBOTECH, HALO, Killzone, and even Star Trek we see well-developed antagonist to an conflict with the audience seeing more as a fully formed part of the work’s interior universe. This only adds layers to your military sci-fi, making it more memorable and enduring.

However, we have works like Destiny, GI Joe, Armor, Starship Troopers, Edge of Tomorrow, and Oblivion; where we see that the story is mostly centered around the protagonist(s) and their side of the conflict. While Destiny answered some of the questions over the Darkness, the Fallen, the Vex, the Hive, and the space turtle Cabal via Gilmore Cards, they lack any real substance in the actual game besides being targets. And this lack of development leads to a less convincing setting for our military sci-fi universe and for the audience.

There are times, when the story is more about the “good” guys of the story than the enemy, like my book Endangered Species, but I still developed the enemy enough via my characters experiences with them, like the crew of the Nostromo in ALIEN. There has to be a careful balancing act in those kinds of stories. This can also be applied to stories and settings where the enemy is largely unknown for plot and dramatic purposes, like Space: Above and Beyond, ALIENS, and Predator. These types of stories allow the audience a sense of good mystery and wonder about the antagonists, allowing for the work to endure in the minds of the audience. This is the way I felt about the Xenomorphs, the Yautja (Predators), the Skinnies from SST, and the Chigs; I wanted to know more about them and that was compelling, making these enemies more convincing to the fictional universe. Also, an convincing enemy can say more about your protagonist and our fictional universe than you original thought.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Scott Edelman, David K.M. Klaus, Andrew Porter, and Hampus Eckerman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

147 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/8/16 A Wrinkle in Tingle

  1. Catch 22 and The Good Soldier Švejk. How much combat is it in them? None at all if I remember correctly. It was only about people being dragged into a strange military beauraucracy against their will.

    There is some combat in Catch-22 (Yossarian even earns a medal for bravery). But it’s a very minor part of the book.

    steve davidson on June 9, 2016 at 4:27 am said:
    The “tank”, from France’s cute little Renault to Germany’s ridiculous A7V were deployed and saw action, and quite a few started out for battle at Cambrai, but by the second day far more than half were sitting metal ducks. The initial success did offer a potential end to the stalemate on the Hindenburg Line, but tank people were still talking about “land cruisers” after the war had ended….

    They were called land cruisers before the codename ‘tank’ was adopted (it was a navy project after all) and the British kept naming tanks “Cruiser” well into WW2

  2. That was more difficult than I thought it would be. 21 out of 30, and I think years of hearing Dr snowcrash’s conversations helped as much as basic geekdom….

  3. @Hampus: As a peacenik, I want to agree with you, but I can’t. Even in WWI, poster child for war is hell, most surviving soldiers remembered their military service fondly. Indeed they liked it sonics that almost every country involved developed veteran-led cadres devoted to the idea that society needed more military virtue. This includes the USA, where the American Legion started life as a paramilitary proto-fascist organization before being broken by a Republican attorney general in the mid-20s. (How times change.) In many of those countries, the paras won*. Then they set about to have another one.

    ————–
    *Where they did poorly was Britain, and in France they did not quite well enough. My own theory is the Brits and to a lesser extent the French were able to fob their para-types off on their colonial service. Bad for the subject populations. Good for democratic continuity at home.

  4. George RR M: Fans can be hideous disease carrying mutant freakz.

    I was there, and it was a crowd. Maybe the arrogant hotel staff unleashed the bugs in an effort to eliminate the fannish population from future consideration and lodging. .

    And get well soon and keep on typing.

  5. *Where they did poorly was Britain, and in France they did not quite well enough. My own theory is the Brits and to a lesser extent the French were able to fob their para-types off on their colonial service. Bad for the subject populations. Good for democratic continuity at home.

    Alternate theory: Britain and France (both of which did have fascist movements that didn’t amount to much) along with the USA are on the winning side. The oddity is Italy, which managed to be on the winning side of WW1 and succumb to the “we would have won if only we’d committed ourselves properly” meme that Hitler and others rode to power.

  6. (8) 28 of 30. I recognized most of the real Elves, and many of the drugs did not look remotely Elvish. I think they could find harder ones.

  7. steve davidson :

    Footfall!?! Baby elephants with two tusks and elevator shoes!?! Well developed…

    Why not? After all, from a cat’s perspective, you’re a weird moving animal-tree with tentacles instead of claws and a bark that you can shed.

    The Fithp weren’t baby elephants. To humans, they looked like baby elephants. And the text immediately juxtaposed the “ridiculous” image of baby elephants riding under paper airplanes while wearing elevator shoes with the consequences of that “silliness”- ruined buildings and dead bodies. If it looks silly and it works, it isn’t silly.

    Don’t get me wrong – there was plenty to complain about in Footfall. But the appearance of the aliens ain’t it.

  8. In CATCH 22 the madness came about from the paperwork and the military pecking order based on rank. The more rules and paperwork, the more satisfied the top brass was.

    There was combat and there was death and there were escape desires wanting to live forever or die in the attempt.

  9. Tanks have their proponents. Planes are an interesting development. The technology that might have been most influential on World War One though is: the train. Seriously!

    In the decades before the war, western militaries had gone a long way towards developing a professional staff system. This system had a huge focus on logistics. In the run up to the war the military planning staffs were obsessed with train tables.

    ‘If they mobilize and we do not they can transport so many men an hour. There will be a tipping point where we won’t be able to match their forces at the front. It is all very scientific. Look at these train schedules. By not mobilizing now you endanger our people’.

    Reading several histories, this played a big role in the rush to war and limited engagement in diplomacy. This despite relatively good relations between all the nation’s involved at the start. So the train, train tables, and project management in it’s infancy may have led the way to four years of horror.

  10. Jim Henley:

    “Even in WWI, poster child for war is hell, most surviving soldiers remembered their military service fondly. “

    Even in WWI, most people weren’t soldiers at all. And for some very strange reason, a large part of the history were censored for a very long time. Like these soldiers. There will always be people who glorify war or want to be looked at as heroes. And as they often are in power, they will see that other people are struck from history.

  11. (8) Not an Elf, but there actually was a Klingon named Rogaine in John M. Ford’s The Final Reflection. (It predated the drug by a few years.)

  12. Back when Mary was at Oxford, her GM was now fantasy author Juliette McKenna. They gamed around a large kitchen table, and battled foes and NPCs like the thief Fenugreek and the monk Turmeric.

    Jules had a very well filled spice rack.

  13. The technology that might have been most influential on World War One though is: the train.

    The extension of rail networks in Canada in the 19th century was a significant factor in the differences between how the Red River Uprising of 1970 and the Northwest Rebellion of 1885 were resolved.

  14. “Loot Crate” reminds me of “grab bags” (interesting–a google for a link comes up with this wiki. I was unaware of the Japanese version of the concept.) I’ve bought a few grab bags over the years, just for the surprise, and they are almost exclusively filled with the random crap that nobody was willing to actually buy straight-out. So expect a monthly package of things that have been collecting dust for years and the sellers are dumping them on suckers because nobody wants them.

  15. In my sillier RPGing phases, I would use the names of obscure medical conditions for countries (the haunted ruins of far-off Nyctalopia), anything that ended in -ium for metals (magic swords forged of “pure encomium”, shields made with “reinforced gynoecium”) and the names of politicians spelled backwards for supernatural monsters (you did not want to run into the Smug Demon, Rialb Ynot of the Eternal Smile….)

  16. Roleplaying games need a lot of names. And a fair number need to be at least somewhat memorable. Making them silly is an excellent strategy for that.

  17. @Jim Henley

    Starship Troopers is a harder call.[…] On another level, though, it’s an apologia for militarism, and in that context, abstracting away the personhood of the antagonists feels like cheating.

    In my recollection, they key element of making the enemies faceless was to take away any discussion of negotiations. Any sort of mutual arrangement was unthinkable, one side had to exterminate the other. “cheating” is a good word for this, IMHO; the book seems to dodge pretty much every ethical question my declaring any alternative to the choices taken in it unthinkable.

  18. Yes, logistically, trains had a huge impact on the war and on future warfare, but tactically, on the battlefield (not searching for citations right now), that barbed wire, the machine gun (and we’ll give a nod to the developing artillery branch here) – after disease – had the greatest impact. And it wasn’t until folks like Liddel-Hart began pushing mechanization of the whole thing (hey, lets put troops on trucks so they can keep up with the tanks…) that warfare regained its mobility.

    Hampus – sure they called them landcruisers before the war – what I was referring to was the envisioned usage as giant mobile artillery platforms, as opposed to assault weapons. It took the interwar years to analyze the incorrect thinking (I believe it was actually Churchill who moved development of tanks from the navy department to the army – cavalry specific branch – though that may be mistaken memory) that was behind their development and tactical use during WWI.

    Again, if memory serves, there is a story about young Patton during the “Louisiana Maneuvers” who used tanks in a manner consistent with the advanced theories, but was judged to have cheated or to have gone outside the rules of engagement following a lightning victory. (He “used them the wrong way” and showed the old-thinkers up.)

    All of this is really beside the point: the analysis of what must be found in MilSF in that article is too formulaic for generating good literature (and I don’t think the classics of MilSF follow those guidelines) and places the focus on “war porn” as opposed to “people in a military situation”.

  19. What’s the question? What was the most important technology of the Great War? What is the iconic Great War Technology?

    Trains, as far as I can see were critical tech in the American Civil War through to the Second World War. Without them the Great War could not have been fought, at least not in that form, but you don’t see a train and think ‘Great War’ in the way one does on seeing a Sopwith Camel, a Mark I tank or soldiers in gas masks.

  20. For me, the Great War doesn’t become the Great War without the accouterments of trench warfare–barbed wire and machine guns. That is what caused it to be such a meatgrinder. Gas and tanks and early planes were minor by comparison, IMO.

  21. 2) A few years ago my wife was merrily singing a Beatles song: ‘Get back! Get back! get back to- ‘

    And our son suddenly intoned: ‘To the darkness from whence you came.’

  22. ““Loot Crate” reminds me of “grab bags” (interesting–a google for a link comes up with this wiki. I was unaware of the Japanese version of the concept.) I’ve bought a few grab bags over the years, just for the surprise, and they are almost exclusively filled with the random crap that nobody was willing to actually buy straight-out. So expect a monthly package of things that have been collecting dust for years and the sellers are dumping them on suckers because nobody wants them.”

    I subscribe to Horrorblock myself and am mostly happy. Yes, there have been random crap (the last one had lots of that actually!), but there have also been things I really liked and been quite happy with. Some of it are custom orders.

    It is a mixed bag. Some stuff people have really put some thought into. Other stuff is random stuff from the dustbin. It is to take the good with the bad.

  23. I got 28 out of 30 on the elves (wrong on vzva and inypube, I think, have closed the tab now).

  24. @Nick Pheas

    but you don’t see a train and think ‘Great War’ in the way one does on seeing a Sopwith Camel, a Mark I tank or soldiers in gas masks.

    I think that would be my point. Barbed wire, machine guns, tanks, planes, gas masks: all iconic images. The train on the other hand while not iconic was a major driving factor in the decisions that actually led to the war in the first place. It wasn’t even all that new a technology but grappling with it’s implications was a trigger event more important than all the iconic technologies.

  25. Re: nostalgia for combat: Aside from the testimony of literature (All Quiet on the Western Front, “Dulce et Decorum Est”), I have family anecdotes and recollections. My maternal grandfather, a most unlovely man, served in WW1, not in combat but as a driver delivering supplies to the front and returning with truckloads of bodies. Even that experience nearly broke him (and perhaps contributed to the unloveliness of the rest of his life). On December 7, 1941, my mother came home to find him sitting by the radio, weeping. That’s how fondly he remembered his time in service. My father and two uncles served in the war that followed (the Pacific and Italy), and while they managed to avoid the kind of PTSD that clearly affected my grandfather (and as much as my father loved the Navy), they did not have anything good to say about their war, other than they felt that it was necessary. The Vietnam vets that I encountered while in grad school often lacked even that rag of consolation. I’m sure that there are men who somehow found something defining or affirming in combat, but I strongly suspect that they are a tiny minority.

  26. @Russell Letson

    That fits my recollections of my dad. He was a big tough guy. Among other things he was a combat vet of the Korean war and a patrol officer for a police department in a city with a tough reputation. He never talked much about his war experiences but sometimes watching MASH he would break down in silent tears and go get a tumbler of whiskey. Defining maybe, affirming on the other hand???

  27. NickPheas: What’s the question? What was the most important technology of the Great War? What is the iconic Great War Technology?

    Answer to #1: The shovel.

    Answer to #2: The machine gun.

    Robert E. Lee overruled Longstreet during the Gettysburg campaign, otherwise the American Civil War would have looked a lot more like the WWI we see in movies than it did. Longstreet wanted to pick defensive positions and make the Union attack them. Which they would have done. Later in the war, that’s what Lee was forced to do around Petersburg.

  28. My father rarely talked of his experiences in WW2, mentioning once, twice, he hated seafood because he brought up bodies of his friends out of the wter and they would be covered with crabs.

    He had PTSD. He rarely slept well. A breeze would awaken him.

    He was sent off to war trained to kill, but was never taught peace when it was over.

  29. In my recollection, they key element of making the enemies faceless was to take away any discussion of negotiations. Any sort of mutual arrangement was unthinkable, one side had to exterminate the other.

    And yet somehow the Skinnies managed to start off as allies of the Bugs, which is why Rico and his buddies had to terrorize them into switching sides.

  30. @Paul Weimer:

    For me, the Great War doesn’t become the Great War without the accouterments of trench warfare–barbed wire and machine guns. That is what caused it to be such a meatgrinder. Gas and tanks and early planes were minor by comparison, IMO.

    Barbed wire helped, sure. But you could already see the developing carnage of trench warfare at Petersburg and even Crimea. (The definitely had machine guns by Petersburg, tbf.)

    Trains are one of the many reasons the Union won, of course.

  31. @Russell Letson:

    The Vietnam vets that I encountered while in grad school often lacked even that rag of consolation. I’m sure that there are men who somehow found something defining or affirming in combat, but I strongly suspect that they are a tiny minority.

    Anecdotal accounts of PTSD are all well and good, but the Stallhelm was the size it was; the American Legion was the size it was. The annual Vietnam vet gatherings on the Mall during Memorial Day weekend are as jingoistic as they are. The tenor of the local VFW hall is what it is.

  32. @ Stoic Cynic

    Barbed wire, machine guns, tanks, planes, gas masks: all iconic images. The train on the other hand while not iconic was a major driving factor in the decisions that actually led to the war in the first place.

    Another thing eroding the idea of trains as a military icon is the dilution factor from their ubiquity in non-military uses. You don’t see tanks and machine guns regularly in non-military contexts. (Barbed wire, yes, especially in the context of USA western expansion.)

  33. @Jim:

    “Trains. Don’t talk to me about trains…”

    Seriously, I live twenty minutes away from the actual, real-life, “no, it’s not just a song” Chattanooga Choo-Choo. It’s a tourist attraction now, as opposed to a functional railroad station, but the city’s still a major rail nexus. I find it somewhat amusing that Atlanta began as the terminus of a rail line from Chattanooga, but has since grown to take over the role of “major transportation hub” so thoroughly that Chattanooga’s become more like a footnote.

  34. Jim Henley said:

    But you could already see the developing carnage of trench warfare at Petersburg and even Crimea.

    And the US Civil War. Part of why the beginning of “modern warfare” is generally placed in the 1850s-1860s (according the half of my household who has a history degree and a particular interest in military history).

  35. @Petrea Mitchell:

    And the US Civil War. The beginning of “modern warfare” is generally placed in the 1850s-1860s (according the half of my household who has a history degree and a particular interest in military history).

    Indeed! Which is why I mentioned Petersburg, the iconic trench-warfare setpiece from the US Civil War. 🙂

  36. I seem to recall the Turtledove AH where the South wins the Civil War and fights the North again in the 1880’s (How Few Remain) goes all in for trench warfare between North and South

  37. Robert Whitaker Sirignano: THE INCREDABLY STRANGE SCOLLS THAT STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME CRAZY MIXED UP PIXELS

    That’s got a lot of potential!

  38. Part of why the beginning of “modern warfare” is generally placed in the 1850s-1860s

    Perhaps the reason for the popularity of Napoleonic War stories is it’s the last, highest development of the older style of war. [The naval stories draw on jingoistic nostalgia for British domination of the sea (French writers tend to set naval stories in the 18th century instead). ] On the subjrct of styles of warfare, Hornblower in Space makes zero sense to me.

  39. Petréa Mitchell: And the US Civil War. Part of why the beginning of “modern warfare” is generally placed in the 1850s-1860s (according the half of my household who has a history degree and a particular interest in military history).

    If we were having that discussion, and 1850 was a significant date, then I’d suppose it was the advances in rifled and repeating firearms were key, since they made it prohibitive to keep using classic Napoleonic era tactics — even though that’s exactly what Civil War generals preferred to do.

  40. (Barbed wire, yes, especially in the context of USA western expansion.)

    My mother and I were at an area arts-n-crap show in west Texas where one of the booths had ceramic teapots with barb-wire trim. The one with three or four strands as a handle could have resulted in a really fast wake-up when grabbed carelessly. (Also: landscapes painted on sawblades, both long blades and circular blades.)

    My mother said it was just as well my father wasn’t along, he’d have been sick on the floor before the second aisle. (He liked art. And opera.)

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