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Showing posts from June, 2015

Story Combat Realism 9: Battlefield Injury, Dying, Death, and Healing

Fictional portrayals of how people die in speculative fiction are often unrealistic. This topic has the potential encompass an entire book of its own, but this blog aim has the aim of correcting major errors and re-orienting the speculative fiction writer to how death and injury on the battlefield  should  look. Let's start with epic fantasy and work our way to futuristic science fiction. Epic fantasy, of course, relates to real-world human ancient and medieval warfare, which provides the insights this post discusses. Epic Fantasy Battle Observations 1.  The single blow/single shot rarely kills : You've seen it in the LOTR movies--Legolas fires into an orc, who is blown back by the force of impact of an arrow. And never moves again. Or an orc is stabbed in the chest (right in the middle, no less) and may make a final shriek, but falls down after that, dead, never to move again. I find blows in the middle of enemy armor, without a magically sharp sword or something to ex

Story Combat Realism 8: Universal Human Fears and Reactions in Combat

This blog post stands alone, but is also designed to add depth to other posts in this Combat Realism series, starting from the very first one, which discusses the human surrender reflex. I've heard it reported that human beings only have one natural, instinctive fear that all of us share without learning it. That would be the fear of very loud noises, such as thunder or explosions. That isn't quite true, though. Human beings instinctively feel a sense of intimidation by someone who much taller than they are. And while infants at times seem to show no fear of falling, the terror of falling from heights is very common in adult human beings, whether they've ever had a bad fall or not. As is the fear of drowning. An adult who has never been taught to swim feels instinctive terror of being submersed in water, in almost every case. So there are fears other than loud noises that are for all practical purposes universal, if not fully so 100%. Especially significant to the dis

Story Combat Realism 7--the Human Organism at the Height of Battle

My most recent blog post on combat realism in stories discussed long-term effects of combat on human beings. This post looks at the physical effects a life or death struggle has on a person . (Information below is derived from Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's book,  On Combat . Some of the specific physiological effects are summarized in an  article on Lt. Col. Grossman's website ): When the human heart rate increases from stress alone (as opposed to exercise), certain predictable effects take place. Note a trend in this chart. A certain level of elevation of the heart rate, between 115-145 bpm, benefits everything a human being can do, except fine motor skills. (If you need to thread a needle, it's best to be at resting heart rate.) Beyond that heart rate, human performance generally deteriorates, except for gross motor skills and movement, which are best over 160. The heart rate that supports best the activities of, say, swinging a sword with a full adrenaline power boost,

A Basic Problem With Jurassic World

By the way, this blog post discusses the movie Jurassic World. It does not commit any major spoilers, but it does give away a few story details. You might wonder why I started this blog post with a picture of a helicopter. It so happens this particular helicopter is featured in the film as being used by an airborne security squad to go after an escaped genetically-engineered dinosaur. And it illustrates my problem, indirectly. Don't get me wrong, I liked this movie. At its best it's visually stunning; it has interesting characters, interesting dinosaurs, and a fairly satisfying resolution. I think the very best of part of the movie is found in the beginning, with twenty thousand tourists crowded around to see dinosaur attractions. There are numerous small details in this section of the film that strike me as just right. The Jurassic Park movies do an excellent job preparing the audience for the fact this level of control cannot be maintained forever. The story doesn&#