This is the fifth installment in a set of blog posts about my current science fiction series. The first book, THE SILVER SHIP AND THE SEA, is now available in paperback. The sequel, READING THE WIND, came out on July 22ndin hardback. Each post explores one way the books address a problem we are also affected by, or probably will be affected by in the future . I hope you enjoy this one: World Peace: Can we have it?
I wrote THE SILVER SHIP AND THE SEA during the lead-up to the Iraq war. I really didn’t want us to go, and I went to anti-war demonstrations and wore anti-war shirts and chanted on street corners. Iraq felt a lot like Vietnam (still does). Years ago, I dated men who came back from that war. Almost all of them were damaged. Some of my friends died early because they never recovered from it. The anti-war theme came through stronger than I originally intended for it to, I think because I wrote the book during a ramp-up to war. Let’s explore the question a little more here:
In the opening of the third book, WINGS OF CREATION, Chelo says, “War leaves fear and loss worse than bitterlace in the hearts of everyone associated with it. There are no winners. Only scars, and for the lucky, the time to heal them.” She and the others like her are spoils of a small war in THE SILVER SHIP AND THE SEA, they are in the first battle of a big war in READING THE WIND, trying to stop it in WINGS OF CREATION, and by the last book in the series, they are fully engaged.
So I set out to write about prejudice and genetic engineering (both of which are major topics of the series). So why did I also write about war?
Partly because I’d love to stop it, but I don’t know how to. Humans thrive on conflict. War has boosted economies, and changed them fundamentally (Rosie the Riveter never went back home to stay). War devastated Japan, and let them rise like phoenixes from the ashes. War makes for interesting rhetoric. World leaders like it as a topic (Bush, Ahmadinejad). Although waning in some countries, military power is a huge industry, especially for China, the US, India, Russia, and North Korea – in that order if you look by number of troops, starting with us and the EU if you look by military expenditures. For an interesting read, go to the Wikipedia page that lists active troops by country and think about it.
In the previous paragraph, I suggested we thrive on war. Generally, I meant that on a societal level. I know career military people who at least love the military (I don’t know if they love war – that might be like saying a pro-choice person is for abortion), and I’ve certainly known ex-soldiers who function in society at high levels and are great human being. But I’ve seen pain as well. I’ve known vets fighting their fears and self-loathing with drugs and alcohol, endless therapy, crimes against others, and suicide. It’s a waste of human lives whether soldiers die in the war or bring their troubles home to haunt them.
So one question this series of books asks is, “Do we have to keep fighting?”
I don’t know the answer yet. I’ve just finished the third book and haven’t started the fourth book yet. I bet I won’t know the answer after the series is done, either. But it’s a question we should all be talking about. It’s a scary question; we have a lot of big weapons. Look at how much the end of World War II, and then 9/11, changed at least us, and the world. Then imagine how much another nuclear strike could do, or for that many any of the other massive WMD’s available today from dirty bombs to genetically engineered poisons.
Doing more of what we’ve been doing hasn’t worked, so we need a new and different solution. We need to find some way to address conflict, and problems like energy and climate change and poverty, on a world scale that avoids the dangers of a worldwide totalitarian government.
Pretty tall order. Please feel free to comment and add your ideas.