July 5th, 2012, 03:47 AM
If you remember the aliens of Close Encounters, or the meccas at the end of AI, both of these were examples of beings with extraordinary powers, and probably powers sufficient to defeat any enemy without violence. And yet they were "puny" and "skinny" and "wimpy" in appearance. Very paradoxical. Brawn is not always might.
I could imagine these beings, upon facing an aggression from another group of beings, merely raising a daintly hand, and transmitting a power that would lock up weapons, and/or stun the aggressors into a type of dazed suspension. It would be quite impossible to attack them, actually.
Without getting Biblical, I have always been curious as to how Jesus was able to "pass through" a crowd of people who were wanting to throw him off a cliff. Or, when the Roman guards came to arrest him, he responded, "I am he," and the guards fell to the ground. Again: no violence, no bloodshed, just a type of telepathic/supernatural power that the "primitives" couldn't withstand.
That's the type of power that would be fascinating to explore. Raising the dead, or other strange things.
I honestly don't know where I stand regarding human emotions. They can perhaps stir good things like compassion, yes; but they also stir hatred that leads to war. Even world war. Or consider women who remain in abusive relationships. Logic and reason would tell her to leave him. But because of emotion, she is stuck with him, sometimes to the point of her own death.
It is a "natural" tendency to react with emotion when someone does us wrong. But reason would tell us to deal with conflict in the least harmful way. Thinking again of a biblical perspective (but also common in other religions, too), there is a saying that "by giving food and drink to your enemy, you punish him." (paraphrased) I think it is this type of power that is more futuristic than weaponry. And a good sci-fi story would be able to explore this territory, I think.
July 5th, 2012, 04:07 AM
John Sladek had fun with this idea in the Muller Focker Effect - an incredibly funny book which, in my opinion, should be read at least once a year. (Iain M Banks and Ramsey Campbell among others have listed it at one time or another in 'favourite books' lists).
Originally Posted by MoonDoggie
In the book a General hits up upon the scheme of having infantrymen dressed in pink, wearing tu-tus, skipping and prancing round the battlefield. The enemy, the theory goes, would be so disgusted, demoralised, and embarrassed that they would just give up and go home.
Last edited by JunkMonkey; July 5th, 2012 at 04:10 AM.
July 5th, 2012, 04:19 AM
Originally Posted by JunkMonkey
I heard a similar story, perhaps a true historic account (but I don't have the book anymore where I first read it, so I can't say for sure) where an invading army, once it reached and surrounded the castle it was planning to attack, was "received" by a dead animal carcass thrown over the castle wall (apparently the last of the food that the poor people within the castle had). They too, were so disgusted by the gesture, that they called off the invasion and left.
I was also really surprised to learn that at Christmas during WWI, the germans and french stopped fighting, met, exchanged gifts, shared food and drink, etc.... and then resumed fighting the next day!!
Last edited by ahigherway; July 5th, 2012 at 04:22 AM.
July 5th, 2012, 06:03 AM
Man of Ways and Means
Boys will be boys. Humans will be humans. Maybe in a billion years if we survive...
also much of the point of science fiction and speculative fiction is to reflect on current affairs.
July 5th, 2012, 07:45 AM
I write SF. SF is cool.
A great deal of Man's predilection to combat comes from two things: Need; and Discomfort. Need is obvious--I need something you have and won't give/share with me. Need breeds greed and desperate measures, hence, combat.
Discomfort is more psychological--I don't understand you, I don't trust you, I think you are capable of harming me, etc. Discomfort breeds fear, and fear triggers the fight-or-flight response; and if one side refuses to flee and leave behind their possessions, you have combat.
Understanding these two things tells us that the way to end most wars is to wipe out Need and Discomfort. Is that impossible? I don't believe so, given a serious effort by Mankind. But we have a long way to go to achieve that.
Most media SF is designed to elicit a response from the largest common denominator in order to make big sales, which is why movies like Star Wars pull in big money, and movies like Solaris and Moon get ignored (See; there are examples out there, you just have to look a bit deeper). It's also the reason why books like the Honor Harrington and Ender's novels get the most press, while books like Beggars In Spain or Chindi get overlooked.
There are many sources of conflict besides war. But war is big and flamboyant, so you have to do a bit of work to get past it and find the other conflicts out there.
July 5th, 2012, 11:35 AM
Live Long & Suffer
There is no escaping the fact that the vast majority of science fiction is the result or Western European Culture and the science and technology that made its spread possible. So that affected the psychology of sci-fi writers which affected readers, some of whom became writers, etc. etc.
Its a cultural feedback loop.
But now we have 7 billion people on the planet and getting into space is nowhere near as easy as all of the sci-fi books had us believe.
We need a change in the psychology of the culture and the boys will be boys crap has got to go.
July 5th, 2012, 06:53 PM
I write SF. SF is cool.
I'd love to be more exposed to the SF writings of non-Western cultures (such as the "Dark Forest" thread in this section). The different attitudes and psychology of Japanese SF has strongly impacted my SF leanings and given us a different way to look at the future, technology and our place alongside it. SF needs more of that expansion of viewpoints in order to thrive in the near future.
Originally Posted by psikeyhackr
July 5th, 2012, 07:25 PM
Am I the only one having Monty Python flashbacks after reading Junk's and Higher's posts? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qxs3gmewuhI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQ8jGqdE2iw
Other possible psychic options are creating a calming influence amongst others or making some kind of mind to mind connection between enemies to bring better understanding. Charles Xavier???
Something else that could make for a good story is if there is a third party that both enemies trust and respect that sacrifices themselves to show the enemies how stupid they're being. Not exactly Romeo-Juliet, but you get the drift.
July 6th, 2012, 12:27 AM
It never entered my mind
I think you're looking for the second in the Ender Saga books by Orson Scott Card : Speaker for the Dead. its main theme is the inherent threat of violence at the contact between two civilizations and how to try prevent it.
July 6th, 2012, 01:02 AM
Man in the High Castle
July 6th, 2012, 05:40 AM
I can certainly understand where you're coming from. Yet, look at the changes that have been coming about in recent years: technology has helped us (in general) to reach a level of well-being that we have never known before. Medical procedures are becoming less invasive, less painful, less drastic, with less healing time, etc. The futuristic dreams of the 50's and 60's have already been exceeded.
Originally Posted by kennychaffin
On the political front, people are demanding equality for all, freedom for all, human rights, animal rights, diplomacy rather than aggression..
War is big business. And in order to make war, men have to be trained to consider the enemy as "non-human." Otherwise, it is very difficult to attack. Stirring the base emotions of the masses is the only way to "justify" aggression.
And to me, all of this indicates that we are indeed developing in a particular direction. Need and discomfort are real things; it's how they are addressed that has to change.
Just thinking out loud a bit..
July 6th, 2012, 05:41 AM
Ah! The old 'bore the enemy to death' strategy.
Originally Posted by Awesomov
July 6th, 2012, 08:26 AM
July 6th, 2012, 10:13 AM
I write SF. SF is cool.
The best way to defeat an enemy without violence is to make them believe they're better off with you than without you. How you do that is open to interpretation, but often the introduction of a mutual threat that can only be vanquished by cooperation can be enough to unite warring factions.
For an example, see "Watchmen."
Then there's the Absolute Defense model: If you have a defense the enemy can't beat, they can't defeat you.
For an example, see "The Great Wall of China."
Another tactic is to simply surrender to the enemy: Accepting the rule of a prospering society may be preferable to destruction.
For an example, see "The Mouse That Roared."
Last edited by Steven L Jordan; July 6th, 2012 at 10:16 AM.
July 6th, 2012, 10:29 AM
a future without any war is a future without progress