FIND in
<--prev V21 next-->

From: m.driussi@genie.com
Subject: (urth) War and Sense
Date: Wed, 25 Nov 98 00:45:00 GMT


This seems the time for my recent thoughts on the "absurdity" of
certain units at the battle front.  I know this is something you keep
turning over, the tallman riding dwarfs, the daughters of war, and so

I think we all agree that they are surreal, at least, and that there
are such weird units on the friendly side as well as the enemy side
just adds to the dream-like quality.

Beyond that level: While I don't want to argue that tallmen units
"make sense" (i.e., I don't have any new insight as to how they would
work, let alone work out), even in the sense of "put mx missiles in
fiberglass sailing boats" (an idea floated in CASTLE OF THE OTTER, I
think), I do want to put a bit of question into the underlying idea
that warfare is always rational, especially when there are new
technologies introduced, and/or mixtures of wildly different groups.

Witness the massed charges in WWI trench warfare.  Why on Earth did
it have to happen more than =once=?  As predictable as feeding men
into a sausage grinder, making them run across open ground toward
fixed machine guns.  And yet the generals kept ordering them.
Senseless and un-learning of mistakes.

Sayings like "armies are always prepared to fight the previous war"
remind us that each new conflict (especially true in the modern age)
involves a lot of untried tools and techniques.  The French thought
they'd built an invincible wall; the Germans just went around it.  If
stressed ice battleships had saved the Allies during WWII, their
plans would be enshrined; if the atomic bomb failed to work, it would
have been yet another kooky pipedream. But just because the tool
becomes enshrined doesn't mean that it will be adequate or
appropriate for the next conflict, and yet it will still show up as
"old trusty, the one thing we can count on" when the new conflict

So.  My point being that these weird units serve to highlight the
senselessness.  Honor guards, marine bands, even the Salvation Army
out there battling it to the death, while giant shirukens and martian
tripods play "Stars (pentadactyls) and Stripes (tripod flame beams)

We know that the Daughters of War are an important cultural thing for
their people.  We see an earlier stage of the same process happening
with the semi-naked horseback riders (Tarentine?)--each one who
survives is convinced that his personal magic chant was the key.
Presumably the tallman riders developed as a response to some other
conflict, somewhere else, somewhen else, under conditions where it
might have somehow made sense.  (I'm reminded of Vaughn Bode's robot
series, the early history of which has a German unicycle bot of 1911
that went amok in a lightning storm and was finally defeated by a
farmer with a pitchfork--a statue stands in his honor.)


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

<--prev V21 next-->