Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The Three World Wars

We are familiar with World Wars One, Two - and Three. The first two were collective experiences and have become history whereas the third has been projected and imagined. We read about it not in history books but in science fiction novels, including "future histories."

Twentieth century science fiction had three kinds of scenarios:

(i) near future space travel and interplanetary colonization;

(ii) near future nuclear war destroying civilization;

(iii) combinations of aspects of (i) and (ii), e.g.:

civilization survives nuclear war as in Poul Anderson's Psychotechnic History, Maurai History, Twilight World, Shield and Vault Of The Ages;

some people got off Earth, e.g., onto Ray Bradbury's Mars, before the nuclear war;

space-based precautions against nuclear war - the Space Patrol in Robert Heinlein's Future History or the Lunar Guard in Anderson's Psychotechnic History.

Anderson's many works of science fiction seem to present each possible answer to every speculative question about aliens, telepathy, immortality, FTL, AI, time travel etc. In accordance with this apparently systematic approach, several, though not all, of Anderson's fictitious futures include World War III as a historical event.

For some other fictional treatments of nuclear war, see here.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I am not sure if our civilization could truly be said to have survived following the War of Judgement in the Maurai timeline. Pretty much EVERYONE seems to have been smashed in the Maurai series. What we see are successor states like the Maurai Federation in remote corners of the world which escaped destruction.

I would also argue that S.M. Stirling's DRAKON comes close to combining your points "(i)" and "(ii)." After all, the Alliance for Democracy was destroyed and even the victorious Domination was badly damaged and shaken.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Correction: the Stirling book I had in mind was THE STONE DOGS, not DRAKON. Drat!