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July 6th, 2012, 10:30 AM #31
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- Sep 2010
I think war is often started by a leader, whereas often the rest of the group don't want to participate. Playground antics. The bully starts a provocation, and tries to rally others to side with him against his "enemy." But there are usually those who want nothing to do with the conflict.
In fact, some sci-fi stories tell of aliens who "waited" to conquer earth until the humans had pretty much destroyed each other.
I keep thinking back to Close Encounters. We saw contact with aliens just at the end. But what if the contact had continued? Would mankind have been so stupid as to suggest fighting them? I have no doubt as to who would win in such a case (hint: not us)..
And any aggression would be to "show superiority." But truely advanced races wouldn't get into any "I'm better than you" challenges. They would be above that. They would be interested in learning; in exchange; in mutual growth. I think that's what the aliens in Close Encounters wanted.
July 6th, 2012, 11:33 AM #32
July 6th, 2012, 02:59 PM #33
July 6th, 2012, 03:56 PM #34
The thing is we do need a different attitude toward science and science education. Too often the only reason some research gets financed is because they think it will be a useful weapon.
July 6th, 2012, 07:36 PM #35
Who would have more success solving a problem? A group of people fighting and arguing or a group communicating and working together?
Sure war might make the different sides work better amongst themselves, but that's no reason to start a war. The progress of either side could be destroyed and lost. Make it a contest rather than a war. Loser buys the beer.
July 7th, 2012, 05:24 AM #36
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- Sep 2010
I really agree with the last 4 posts ^^^.
War is not necessary. Intelligence and creative collaboration are what we need. Aliens that are truly advanced are those who know how to defeat war, not other beings.
I guess the quality of our sci-fi kind of reflects the quality of our ability to deal with real life issues. If our idea of aliens is that they are "evil," and that the only way to interact with them is by destroying them, does that perhaps say something about how we deal with foreigners on our own planet???
July 7th, 2012, 05:40 AM #37
Yes but a real or perceived enemy will advance technology, discovery, creativity much faster than a life of leisure. This is what happened with the Space Race and this is why we(the U.S.) are currently losing our edge in that area as well as most other science areas. We've become complacent.
Neil deGrasse Tyson speaks of this a lot in his essays on space, astronomy, cosmology.
July 7th, 2012, 09:08 AM #38
July 7th, 2012, 09:54 AM #39
I finally got an "educator" to check out an old science fiction story and respond.
Omnilingual (1957) by H. Beam Piper
Just finished listening to the radio story. This is science gold! I will go back and read the text but quite enjoyed the experience of listening to the audio version. Fascinating how they found their Rosetta stone upon the walls of a classroom. Now we need to to unpack the story so that we can use it in the classroom, perhaps first by writing up a teaching guide that builds upon the history and science ideas. I think what also works is that the author has kept it quite believable, clearly drawing upon how scientists really work rather than popular fiction. Thank you for sharing this.
July 7th, 2012, 10:00 AM #40
Just because there may be no death involve doesn't mean it's not a war. One side of the conflict feels all smug because they've erected a forcefield around the solar system of the other or 'mind controlled' them not to fight. 'Hey, look at us, we haven't killed a single one of them. Aren't we mature?'. Meanwhile the trapped enemy fries as their sun goes nova or quietly starves to death.
The issue is resources. As long as there are life or death issues involving resources there will be war. Even if one side is able to hold the other at arms length until they give up and die, it's still war.
The trick is to recognise when it ISN'T a life or death issue.
July 7th, 2012, 10:55 PM #41
It's only a fraction.
If most of all of the science-fiction books you are reading have to do with wars or massive violence, you need to widen your horizons, because such books are only a subset of what there is. A few throw-out-there titles you might investigate (in random order):
- Signs of Life, M. John Harrison
- A Billion Days of Earth, Doris Piserchia
- "The Briah Cycle", Gene Wolfe (a dozen or so books, with internal three sub-cycles.
- "The Demon Princes", Jack Vance (a five-book cycle)
- Einstein's Dreams, Alan Lightman
- The Fifth Head of Cerberus, Gene Wolfe
- The Green Child, Herbert Read
- "The Instrumentality of Man", Cordwainer Smith (a novel and a short-story collection, all in the same milieu)
- Islandia, Austin Tappan Wright
- Martin Dressler, Steven Millhauser (more alternate-history than sf, but super)
- Past Master, R. A. Lafferty
- Pavane, Keith Roberts
- The Complete Qfwfq, Italo Calvino (collected stories)
- Report on Probability A, Brian W. Aldiss
- The Unholy City, Charles G. Finney
- "Viriconium", M. John Harrison (a four-book cycle, starts sf, evolves toward fantasy)
- A Voyage to Arcturus, David Lindsay
That is not offered as a laundry list of books you are sure to love. It is offered as a list of sf books each of which is, in my opinion and not a few others, an excellent work, but whose member books are hugely diverse in content, setting, tone, style, and pretty much everything. You might, if you tried them all, love a few and hate a few, but I think they are all well worth looking up in reviews to illustrate the width and depth--the richness--of what is out there.
Not every one is free of violence; but we must remember that fiction is ultimately about conflict and resolution. I do think that few or none of them offer violence as a first, natural, and dominating way toward conflict resolution. (The "Demon Princes" cycle is about personal revenge, and hence violence, but is still rather different from the nearly mindless violence of the "exploding spaceships" school of sf.)
July 8th, 2012, 10:29 AM #42
And there are, of course, more besides. I think these books are simply not publicized as much as war-themed books, because it's been established (decided? guessed at?) that war-themed books sell better. Personally, I haven't heard of many of those books in your list, owlcroft, and I may check out a number of them (especially if they're available as ebooks).
July 8th, 2012, 07:39 PM #43
As Clausewitz said, war is the continuation of politics by other means. So, as long as there're governments and political shenanigans, there would be either wars or some other actions that might cause a lot of damage but you might be less aware of if (certain economic policies, for example).
That said, fiction without any conflict would be very boring and very short
July 8th, 2012, 10:30 PM #44
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- Jul 2012
I really enjoy the idea that in the future as different social, technological, and philosophical ideals come into existence and acceptance that there may be new ways to approach conflicts of interests.
However, when you said that there should be new ways to "defeat" the enemy, I would think that this would be just as / if not more interesting if it was about new ways that allowed us to not have to "defeat" anyone.
I have always found diplomatic strategies much more interesting in their fine details. Who knows how diplomacy can change and what subjects it can all include in the future.
July 9th, 2012, 01:49 AM #45
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- Jul 2012
The problem is lack of world depth.
To portray most things that are too "out there" or different requires too much set up and stagnant stories if too much time is spent doing the world background and set up.
A bit of reverse chicken and egg, book requires too much world setup, too much world setup makes for crappy book.