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Showing posts from July, 2020

Speculative Fiction Writers Guide to War, part 13: Training for High-End Capabilities

Travis P here. In contrast to the layout of other weeks, I’m going to first introduce and later illustrate a post initiated by my fellow Travis (Chapman). In this post, he focuses on the training for “high-end capabilities,” which is the term used for highly expensive weapons systems that constitute the most advanced means of fighting that modern nations have. Note that even though the terminology of high-end capabilities has a very 21st Century feel to it, the concept can be applied to speculative stories that mirror the legendary past as well as those set in highly technological futures. Note also that the type of training this post explores is highly technical. Instead of focusing on training warriors to endure the hardships of up close combat, this kind of training requires mastering the highly advanced weapons systems of high-end capabilities. Whatever those high-end capabilities may be. Travis C here. I’d like to introduce a few terms of art. In a modern parlance, high-end warfig

Speculative Fiction Writers Guide to War, part 12: Military Training Types

Travis P here. Our last post on this topic looked at the military training for the very best warriors in both fiction in reality–and please note when we say “best” we mean the most capable, especially able to fight no matter the circumstances, and the most able to resist the psychological pressures of war that cause soldiers to fail to perform when they need to do so. (“Best” in this context is definitely not directly equivalent to “most moral.”) It’s never been true that every warrior has been elite–historically, a great many nations have lacked the time, money, or knowledge to train  any  soldier to the highest possible level. And among those nations able to train elite troops, it simply hasn’t been normal to train every last warrior to the highest level. Even the Romans, who hold the record of any historic civilization in terms of the percentage of its population it put in arms, who also adopted a great deal of standardized training in an attempt to make every member of its leg

Speculative Fiction Writer’s Guide to War, part 11: Training a Spartan, Samurai, or Starship Trooper

Travis P here. In part 7 of this series  we discussed those combatants who are naturally elite in a way most warriors are not (in not suffering harmful effects of combat stress). Spartans, in spite of battlefield courage that implies they are natural-born warriors, were in fact the product of superior training, training that in essence was designed, as much as was humanly possible, to overcome the psychological difficulties a human being experiences in combat. Note that this kind of highly-trained fighting professional is a different sort of fighter than found in warrior cultures who emphasized battlefield rage. This type of elite training was not just a characteristic of Spartans, it was also true of a number of other renowned warriors from times past, such as Samurai. And in spite of the fact that elite troops in our own era tend to recruit those with unusual natural talent for war (intentionally or not), elite training is the primary factor that explains the amazing skills of elite

Speculative Fiction Writer's Guide to War, part 10: The Aftermath of Combat

Travis P here. The picture I’ve included above is by Tom Lea, an artist who traveled with US Marines in the Pacific during World War II (this particular painting is called “The Two Thousand Yard Stare”). The image captures better than words ever can one of the effects combat has, a particular example of what the aftermath of combat can be. Painting by Tom Lea. I first meant this post to talk about long-term after the fact effects of combat, how it changes the warrior who fights in battle permanently. But I’ve found the actual information on this topic more elusive than I believed it was. So I’m going to broaden the topic a bit to talk about the effects of combat after the fact in general, not just long-term. Let’s start with the “thousand yard stare.” I read one source that suggested that eyes staring unfocused in the distance is adaptive for survival, because by not focusing on any particular thing, the peripheral vision expands, so any potentially dangerous motion is easily