Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Discussing SF

Is it frivolous to post about science fiction given the present state of the world?

No. It is possible to appreciate fiction while addressing the state of the world which unfortunately will probably be bad for a long time yet.

Is sf escapist?

Some is. However, some other works of sf address serious issues, e.g., see:

Serious Issues
Issues In Mirkheim;
War, Wells And Anderson;
Cold War SF
Thermonuclear Warfare And James Blish
Fiction And Non-Fiction
Church And State
"The Old And Protean Enemy"
Future Politics
The Wardens' And Rangers' Time War II
The Sensitive Man 
What We Expect
Remember Wells
Synthesis And Sensitivity
More Background Details
Some References In "The Sensitive Man"
A Note On Draka And Psychotechnic Politics
Comments On A Debate About The Future
The History Of The Science Of Society
A Debate About The Future
Flandry's Theoretical Understanding


  1. In my current work, an alternate history diverging from ours in 1912, it's 1916 -- and someone notes that nobody had expected this sort of war, except H.G. Wells, whose "War in the Air" is starting to look horribly prophetic... 8-).

    1. Dear Mr. Stirling,

      And WHAT went wrong in 1914, for the accursed assassination in Sarajevo to have caused a chain reaction of events leading to the War of Western
      Suicide? After all, none of the Great Powers at that time really WANTED a war!

      But, somehow it still happened! I'm reminded of how you had the Shadowspawn of your A TAINT IN THE BLOOD books infiltrating the gov'ts of the great powers with agents who would manipulate events so that WW I would break out. Not that I really think that actually happened!


  2. Well, some people did want war in 1914. Specifically, powerful elements in the governments of Austria (who wanted war with Serbia) and Germany (who wanted to destroy the Entente).

    The German government (and especially the Great General Staff) were convinced that the balance of power was shifting against them, which was true, and that the Entente were "encircling" (we'd say "containing") them, which was true but their own bloody fault.

    What the assassination of Franz Ferdinand did was shift the balance of power in both governments.

    FF hated and despised the Serbs, but was absolutely convinced that crushing them was not worth the risk of war with Russia, which he thought (rightly) was likely to destroy the Dual Monarchy.

    He wasn't a nice man (though his love for his wife Sophie and his children was intense and charming), but he was no fool.

    He was also a close personal friend of Kaiser Wilhelm, who cultivated him (not least by treating his wife properly, unlike the protocol-obsessed Habsburg court) and was genuinely shocked and enraged at his assassination.

    Killing him removed the major check on both Vienna and Berlin, and prompted the Kaiser to agree to the "blank check" to Vienna.

    After that, the war faction in Germany moved heaven and earth to keep Wilhelm from having second thoughts and chickening out at the last moment, which he'd invariably done before in each diplomatic crisis.

    And unlike the other powers, Germany didn't have a mobilization plan; it had a war plan, in which the moment Russia started to mobilize would result in an automatic attack on France.

    The Second Reich gets an undeserved historical free pass because it wasn't as bad as its ghastly successor, but it still wasn't a nice country in many respects, especially at the top.

    1. Dear Mr. Stirling,

      Thanks for your very interesting comments!

      Yes, it was German diplomatic clumsiness and tactlessness which did a lot to get Germany "encircled." Along with a massive build up in the German High Seas fleet, which alarmed the UK.

      Oh, I knew Francis Ferdinand had his faults, such as not being able to suffer fools gladly. And, as you said, he did not want a war, for the reasons you outlined. It was one of Wilhelm II's better ideas to befriend the Archduke and his wife. I've no doubt Francis Ferdinand's arguments against a war reinforced the Kaiser's better instincts.

      WW I was so very NEARLY avoided, precisely because Wilhelm was desperate not to have one once the risk of a conflict breaking out became plain. Hmmm, do you think the pro war faction in Berlin persuaded him to go to that Navy review in Kiel precisely to make sure he would not be personally overseeing the diplomacy in Berlin? The Kaiser seems to have thought the Sarajevo crisis was damping down when he left Berlin.

      Germany had a war plan? I assume you meant the Schlieffen Plan? It would have been far better if Germany had remained strictly on the defensive in both west and east. Because it would have been so much harder to win fighting BOTH France and Russia. And I doubt neither France and Russia would have attacked a Germany and Austria-Hungary which remained on the defensive.

      But that would first need Vienna agreeing not to attack the Serbs, despite their role in the Sarajevo assassination. Germany should have refused to give that "blank check" to Austria, and Vienna would have been forced to make milder demands on Serbia.