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World War III -- Red Dawn

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Bloviating Zeppelin: World War III -- Red Dawn

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

World War III -- Red Dawn

I have read many books over my almost 60 years. I enjoy classic science fiction, mystery, suspense, military fiction, cop novels, some westerns and -- in terms of dealing with this post -- books about armageddon; either self-induced or from external sources.

One of the finest books about a massive paradigm change for the entire world was written in 1953 by Arthur C. Clarke, entitled "Childhood's End." I read a small hardbound version of this book in 1970 and ended up "liberating" it from my then-girlfriend's father so that I could read it again and again. Not quite armageddon but close enough that you could see it from there.

Whilst in high school, I happened to read Pat Frank's "Alas Babylon" and it shook me to my entire core.

From there I read Nevil Shute's "On the Beach," later made into a movie starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner (1959) -- then remade in 2000 with Armand Assante (actually, one of my all-time favorite actors), Rachel Ward and her now-husband Bryan Brown.

Perhaps the first and finest summation of armageddon can be found in George Stewart's novel (1949) "Earth Abides." In my estimation, you cannot omit this from your reading.

On this path, one should not omit the novel "Fail Safe" by Eugene Burdick and, actually, its predecessor, "Red Alert" by Peter George.

Frequently overlooked is the book "The Bedford Incident" by Mark Rascovich (1963). This was later turned into a movie featuring Richard Widmark and Sidney Poitier (1965).

And perhaps the most overlooked book in this category is the detailed and exquisite novel "The Last Ship" by William Brinkley.

A few of my favourite movies regarding armageddon (that I shall mention here):

Dr. Strangelove (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb); -- one of my all time favorite movies regardless of category!

World War III: a 1982 TV movie starring David Soul (woke my ass up Big Time);

Red Dawn: 1984's illuminating movie starring Patrick Swayze, directed by John Milius;

Also, not to be forgotten is "The Day After" (1983) with Jason Robards and JoBeth Williams.

What does this have to do with the Here and the Now?

One book proffered what I fear at this point:

What if, for example, China decided to invade our sovereign soil?

And, more importantly, what is keeping various nations from invading our sovereign soil?

Eric Harry postulates this in his novel "Invasion," in which China decides to take action against the US and land troops upon our soil.

You've stayed with me for this long;

I ask you this: if Nation X decided to invade our shores, we would be able to repel their attacks or would we simply roll over?

Do we have, I ask, even the Will To Survive?



Blogger shoprat said...

America is a nation of Iron and Clay. Parts of it will surrender immediately and parts of it will fight to victory.

Fri Aug 10, 08:41:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

08 11 07

Hey BZ:
Great post! I too muse over this issue quite a bit and agree with shoprat. I certainly would fight because ain't nobody gonna take my home and my loved ones away!

But on a more sinister note, I believe China has already began a multipronged effort to weaken us. One cannot ignore the incidences of straight up negligence (or not) that has led to TOXIC pet food, TOXIC childrens toys, TOXIC toothpaste and TOXIC seafood. Little by little, the Chinese beaurocracy is putting out deadly products that are knowingly shipped out here. Call me conspiratorial, but they are killing us softly.

I believe the avid free traders sold their souls to the devil and we are reaping the consequences of that deal.

I have always maintained that if you freely trade, it had better be with a trading partner that has similar ETHICS and STANDARDS to you, otherwise there is no such thing as a freely trading deal.

Alas I ramble, but this really bothers me!

And while you are not musing on armaggedon, please have a great weekend;)

Sat Aug 11, 03:24:00 AM PDT  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

To me China's problems with food contamination and such are a reflection of its own low standards that it can't adhere to... not of a nefarious plot, but the outgrowth of crony capitalism in a land where life is cheap and disposable. al Qaeda and a few other Islamist groups are already moving to expand into western China where their cash will outweigh that of the central governments... decades of ignoring smuggling routes through there will now bring problems as Islam seeks to expand north of Kashmir and inculcate/intimidate in western China. Just might work, too...

Armageddon fiction, however, was losing its staying power by the time I was reading SF deeply, but many seminal works had been put out on the topic and some seem strangely prophetic.

Day of the Moron by H. Beam Piper remains a chilling reminder of what happens when complex power is given to folks with a grade-school education and attitude.

For alien invasions Footfall remains near the top of the list for how humans can directly fight back against a foe so very close to us technologically...

The flip side is for aliens so vastly superior to us that we do not only lose, but then face submission. Way of the Pilgrim shows what sets humanity apart from those that are so strong in so many ways and yet without a vital ingredient that makes us human.

In cinema the Terminator showed us the doom of mankind and Terminator II reminds us that our future is in our hands.

For all of its taking place in Australia The Road Warrior strikes close to America's heart, for all the fact it is nearly a silent film for all the dialogue spoken... it is not a time of words, but deeds.

Back to books, Spinrad's The Iron Cross looks hard at what America could have become if we sat for too long and awaited fate instead of meeting it.

While dated, John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids gives us a chilling view of hostile nature gone awry and mankind blind to its own stupidity.

When Worlds Collide is still a bit too fantastical for my taste, but the views of your average group of humans is still quite striking, even decades later.

While on another world Nightfall the short story, not the novelization, by Asimov again proves to be a fantastic view of humanity and how we do not adapt to regular change.

After the nuclear holocaust... way after... is Vault of Ages by Poul Anderson... Likewise is A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter Miller, one of the true foundations of post-armageddon novels in SF.

One of the best, if strangest, is the coming of the Messiah in The Branch by Mike Resnick, a very hard to get book and a fascinating read for all the humorous aspects involved, it is also highly chilling. Yes, Yahweh did not lie to his chosen People... but the Messiah is less than perfect, just the same. Resnick would expand upon this theme in other works, but this one is still unique in SF.

For crossing cold-war themes and print to cinema (and back!) there is Invasion of the Body Snatchers... they look *just* like real people, but they are soulless inside. If ever there was a great use of what Communism does to a person, and its nature on how it proliferates, this story is it.

On television there were the Cybermen episodes of Dr. Who giving a very, very prescient view of where that line of fiction would go. Not really men... not really robots... heady stuff for the 1960's!

But it was not alone for that era, and Patrick McGoohan would trump many series past and present with The Prisoner and the omnipresent idea that the Village would spread across the world... a global, totalitarian Village run by one side or the other, it does not matter who runs it. And while there would be security cameras everywhere, no one would be in the least bit 'secure'. Plus the Rover was always there to herd you... or kill you... if you got out of line.

But if you really need to go back, then The War in the Air by HG Wells (hah! thought it would be the more famous one, didn't you?) would be a stunning choice. Written in 1907 it gives a clear view of what would happen with warfare (rightly and wrongly) and the fate of man to it.

Truly many a great piece has been written... not all dour nor fatalistic, about the End of Times and what happens after that. Such works have been put out for decades and continue to attract readers. Some, like War Plan Orange done by the US Navy, was stunning review of what could happen in the opening of WWII in which America stood alone against Japan. Not all of it is baseless or without value... and working on scenarios and planning is a work of fiction based on fact. Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven and other authors were called in during the 1980's to speculate on the future of warfare and their views helped prove seminal to the modernization of the US Armed Forces. They encouraged the entire move to geopositioning for munitions and 'accurate guidance systems' to reduce bomb loads and increase effectiveness. That was fiction and speculation in the 1980's, but would become fact in less than two decades.

We are always haunted by the future... and yet we still make it, just the same.

Sat Aug 11, 06:34:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Ranando said...

I just hope it all doesn't end today, tomorrow would be better for me.

Sat Aug 11, 06:53:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Ranando: I read your comment and spontaneously burst out laughing! I NEEDED a laugh!


Sat Aug 11, 03:07:00 PM PDT  
Blogger TexasFred said...

Short, and to the point... Ranando hit it on the head... And some of us DO have the will to fight but we're getting really long in the tooth...

Sat Aug 11, 04:13:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

TF: I am likewise involved in a length similar to yours -- however, I am a very WELL ARMED older tooth.


Sat Aug 11, 05:25:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

AJ: by the way, thank you for the many links in your comment; I used them to order, just now, three books you had recommended. Footfall, Way of the Pilgrim, The Iron Dream. I remember I once owned a copy of Footfall, but I didn't read it then and I can't find it in my book boxes. THANKS for the recommendations! I am VERY much a SF kinda guy.


Sat Aug 11, 06:06:00 PM PDT  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

ranando's comment was perfect.

if Nation X decided to invade our shores, we would be able to repel their attacks or would we simply roll over?

Do we have, I ask, even the Will To Survive?

I believe we do. The problem with us today is that most of us are not made to feel that our very way of life is at stake; that we are vulnerable to Islamic terrorists, and are making ourselves vulnerable.

Since WWII, we've enjoyed such domestic peace and prosperity that we've raised generations that have not known the kinds of hardships and warfare that others experience elsewhere in the world. We've been largely sheltered, affording us the luxury to wallow in self-criticism and malaise and sanctimonious idealism that would have us believe if we were only nicer to other countries, we would not find ourselves in the predicaments that we do.

Sun Aug 12, 01:15:00 AM PDT  
Blogger A Jacksonian said...

Mr. Z - My pleasure!

We are, I'm afraid, much closer to internal collapse than anything else. Lincoln was absolutely right about a 'house divided against itself' and this Nation is so internally divided and disassociated from what democracy *is* that it will not last as it is. The Founders gave us ample warning from both the Federalist and Anti-Federalist sides and the Hamiltonian prescription for one democratic government fails is resounding: scrap it all to the lowest level and start afresh.

I am afraid that time is coming as we have not learned from the past. We need not repeat others mistakes, but to do the *right* thing means trusting in ourselves *first* and remind ourselves what Liberty *means*.

Sun Aug 12, 05:12:00 PM PDT  

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