The real moral challenge of our century

John Howard says that he won’t sacrifice Australia’s great economy on the altar of climate change. Our Dear Leader is shining a torch towards a future where we can all be at ease. But, but, has he considered the most pressing threat that our security faces? DoD consultants in America are planning for a guerilla war against the coming alien invasion. Can we really sleep soundly in our prosperity when space octopi might threaten our sacred way of life? Our great mates in the sprawling American defence complex are taking this possibility with the ominous seriousness it deserves. Could it be that our own man of steel is asleep at the wheel?

<img src="http://larvatusprodeo.net/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/war-of-the-worlds-46.jpg&quot;

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Posted in Howardia, levity, War
34 comments on “The real moral challenge of our century
  1. Graham Bell says:

    Kim:

    Having a couple of people working on contingency plans for something like this is fine ….. because of the potential for useful spin-offs [good old serendipity] and because, when the sh*t hits the fan through human activity here on Earth, the people working on this arcane project can be reassigned within minutes to more immediate tasks.

    If, however, US Defense is giving this high priority ….. either they know something we don’t …… or they are smoking non-tobacco substances again.

  2. Pavlov's Cat says:

    I’m very glad I haven’t had any breakfast yet.

    Surely space octopi could not make an even bigger mess of it than we already have? Besides, as a good Darwinian, I say let the best species win.

  3. It’s just a book some (admittedly reasonably knowledgeable) people have written for public consumption on the topic.

    It’s not an official DoD document.

    Personally, my working assumption is that if any evil nasty aliens are on their way to subjugate/eliminate us, we’re more than likely screwed. If they’ve got the technology to fly a vessel across the immense distances of interstellar space, and their intention was violent, presumably their tools of the trade are similarly much more capable than the best our militaries have got right now.

    How did indigenous populations go when they went up against colonial forces who were intent on mass killing, rather than merely subjugation?

  4. Paul Norton says:

    Personally, my working assumption is that if any evil nasty aliens are on their way to subjugate/eliminate us, we’re more than likely screwed. If they’ve got the technology to fly a vessel across the immense distances of interstellar space, and their intention was violent, presumably their tools of the trade are similarly much more capable than the best our militaries have got right now.

    Agree. However this then begs the question of how evil nasty violent aliens with expansionist ambitions could possibly achieve the technological capacity for interstellar travel without wiping themselves out either through internecine conflict or inadvertant environmental catastrophe. Even we humans are doing a good job of stewing ourselves in our own juices as a result of the synergy of individual and collective decisions which are basically benign in intent.

    Also, Stephen Baxter in Time suggests that rather than space octopi invading Earth, intelligent spacefaring squid created by humans will start having ideas of their own about their place in the cosmos rather than simply following our orders.

  5. Jerry Pournelle says:

    Merkel and Norton are typical of the defeatist quiche-eating lefty quislings who would allow our way of life to be extinguished by commie ETs. I and my co-author Larry Niven have shown how American free enterprise and can-do spirit can defeat an invading force of aliens resembling baby elephants in our book Footfall.

  6. Fiasco da Gama says:

    How did indigenous populations go when they went up against colonial forces who were intent on mass killing, rather than merely subjugation?

    This looks like a question for Admiral Fiasco da Gama, 3rd Keyboard Flotilla, Imperial Portuguese Navy.
    There’ve been far fewer colonial forces bent purely on mass killing, in the ‘Mars Attacks’ style, than you’d immediately imagine, Robert. The Spanish in the early colonisation of South America are the only obvious ones who spring to mind, and their success came largely because of the mutual misunderstandings about the nature of warfare. (Inga Clendinnen’s work on the Aztecs is a good example for further reading, if you like ethnography). Once the Conquistadores had achieved their immediate objectives—conquest and looting—the mass killing stopped and they got back to the orderly business of subjugation and enslavement. Conversely, misunderstandings about warfare can work to the defenders’ benefit, as the Maori found fighting the British in the Victorian era.
    African colonialism was centred around centuries of slave trading and mineral expropriation rather than people-clearing, both exercises that required the active participation of the exploited. Ditto much of the history of the subcontinent.
    Even in Australia’s colonial history, where punitive killing expeditions against Aboriginal populations by colonists was an essential part of land settling, there remained always and remains today a vibrant Aboriginal Australian culture. Call it a draw?
    As for active resistance: when you get smart, well-led indigenous forces who’ve taken the time to arm themselves with technology and the mindset of the occupying forces, you can get astounding results. Isandlwana, Little Bighorn and the first British expedition to Afghanistan should prove good examples for the eventual defence of Earth against the space-octopus.

  7. Fiasco: quite true with regards to elimination vs. subjugation.

    The question then arises as to what possible purpose any aliens would have for subjugating, rather than eliminating, us. Colonization was to largely to exploit the natural resources and cheap labour of the colonized area. What use would an interstellar species have for either, given the logistics of interstellar trade in anything other than information are completely ludicrous?

  8. Fiasco da Gama says:

    Well I’d have thought that was quite obvious. Ravishing our honourable womenfolk, naturally.

  9. Paul Norton says:

    The question then arises as to what possible purpose any aliens would have for subjugating, rather than eliminating, us.

    They might be the ET equivalent of Communists, neo-cons, Christian missionaries or Islamist jihadis, i.e. they’d think they’re doing it for our own good.

  10. Lefty E says:

    Relax, they’re probably just anthropolgists studying primitive galactic cultures.

  11. John Winston Howard says:

    We’ll decide which space optopi invade and the circumstances under which they’ll do it.

  12. Fiasco da Gama says:

    …and furthermore, I’d be surprised if there’s anywhere other than the Japanese islands of Earth that can produce so much volume of bizarre alien-themed porno at such little cost. There’d be economies of scale in exporting the stuff intergalactically, I’m sure.
    Especially since, as in Star Trek, an intergalactically travelling civilisation would have moved beyond crudely capitalist modes of production and consumption.

  13. Fiasco da Gama says:

    Snap.

  14. John Greenfield says:

    Robert Merkel

    How did indigenous populations go when they went up against colonial forces who were intent on mass killing, rather than merely subjugation?

    Are you people STILL banging on about “colonialism?” Change the tune, dude, the 70s are over! But if you are really interested in turbo-charged expansionist violence check out the Mongols, the Inca, twentieth century Communists, the Arabs of Sudan, and the Mughals. I know they probably aren’t white enough to feed your occidentalist fantasies, but they were the best.

  15. Fiasco da Gama says:

    None of those expansionists were into extermination, John. In fact, all of them, despite the Mongols’ taste for scorching earth, and the Soviets’ taste for moving entire populations East, were heavily into looting and levying tribute.
    In any case my very favourite hyper-expansionist power has got to be the 1900-1940s Japanese Empire. Came from nothing, whipped everybody important, ransacked an entire hemisphere, added a few interesting words to the global vocabulary, died young, left a glorious corpse.
    What’s not to like? Banzai!

  16. Atticus says:

    Kim wonders, “Could it be that our own man of steel is asleep at the wheel?”

    Fortunately, the Solicitor-General let slip that the Government is aware of the issue, and has established its constitutional power to deal with it:

    MR BENNETT: … The third matter, which it is not necessary for your Honours to consider in this case, but it is worth bearing in mind in looking at the breadth of the power, is that the threat under the implied power of protection of the nation need not be human. It could be invaders from outer space…

  17. No evil octopi in this old pulp cover, but it has a certain charm:

  18. Enemy Combatant says:

    As a metrosexual alien travelling solo, I’m worried sick about what sort of terrestrial entrance I should make. First impessions are important, even in a species about to be subjugated.
    Broad brush H.G. Wells was Shock & Awe overkill. A little too much “Hey! Notice Me!” Besides, I havn’t had my booster shots yet.

    The “personal approach” favoured by my colleague in the film where he bursts from John Hurt’s thorax, had a certain je ne sais quoi quality, although the creature’s orthodontic work was disgusting. Certainly got the crew’s attention.
    Many astronomers are convinced that all life on Earth sprung from the garbage of former Fiascon explorers. Tacky genesis.

    You people deserve to be taken out in style.

  19. Zwilnik says:

    Space octopi? Space octopi!!??

    Ho ho ho hah hah hah ho ho *big breath* hah hah ho ho ho!

    Oh you foolish foolish Tellurians.

    Boskone has not employed them as frontline troops for several hundred years, not since the ill-fated Porpoise Major System campaign. (Our Cetacean Intelligence Unit’s failure to properly research certain dietary peccadillos has earnt them an endless lifetime in the Pain Amplifier).

    Rest assured we will not make the same kind of mistakes about your juicy juicy womenfolk when the Glorious Day of Liberation comes.

    Even as I dictate this to a quivering onion minion, I am watching hotsy totsy vidtank transmissions of our crack Bimbo Probing Legions training away on life size replicas of Jessica Rabbit, Marge Simpson, Snow White, the Little Mermaid, Mona Lisa, Minnie Mouse and many other of your juicy earth maidens.

    So tremble and moisten yourselves with fear, Tellurians. All hail Boskone!

  20. John Greenfield, my point was not that colonialists were big on the whole wholesale slaughter thing (clearly, they had better things to do). I was merely illustrating that while resisting subjugation seems to be possible, if a technologically superior force is set on genocide, guerilla/resistance movements don’t tend to do very well in those circumstances.

  21. John Greenfield says:

    Robert Merkel

    What you are basically saying is that in conflicts between two groups one tends to come off worse than the other.

    This really is no revelation. See how simply it can expressed without all the bells and whistles of self-loathing passe marxist agitprop?

  22. Behold your nemesis, Zwilnik!

  23. H.P. Lovecraft says:

    “space octopi…”

    Told ya.

  24. FDB says:

    Alright, quit it with the incorrect plural term for our cephalopod masters from beyond the sky.

  25. Zwilnik says:

    Hah! Kimball Kinnison, so we meet again. Is that a DeLameter in your leather jodphurs or are you just glad to see me?

    May I speak off record with you Tellurians, just ordinary overlord to future slaves? That is very old tired image of the Grey Lensman.

    Have you seen him lately? He’s been really stacking on the spacekilos and many reported trips to the cosmetic surgey clinics of Vosper 4 too. Also I not one to repeat gossip but I hear he’s on the bentlam again. So sad. Like your elvis jackson.

    I tell you this more in sorrow than anger, and more in evil good humor than either.

  26. Paulus says:

    Our great mates in the sprawling American defence complex …

    Ahem.

    Dr. Taylor has a variety of experiences working for the Department of Defense and NASA. Dr. Boan has been an active member of the space community for over a quarter of a century. Dr. Powell is a professor with specialties including space trajectories, attitude dynamics, and numerical analysis. Mr. Anding has worked as a chief engineer for the development of a new mission to Pluto.

    So it appears that one out of the 4 authors of this imaginative tome had some “experiences” working for the DoD at some stage. The other 3 are either academics or NASA personnel.

    I realise that this was meant to be an amusing post, but still. On behalf of sprawling defence complexes everywhere, I would say: don’t try to make us look sillier than we already are. OK?

  27. Mick Strummer says:

    Hey Fiasco da Gama and others. Colonial forces intent on subjugation of indigenous people didn’t HAVE to do any mass killing. The microbes – smallpox, measles etc – they brought with them killed far more than were ever mown down by steel wielding conquistadores. So when European colonisers had to face indigenous peoples who had worked out that it was fight or die, most of them were dead and there weren’t enough left to make a difference through fighting.
    Anyway…
    Cheers…

  28. Nabakov says:

    On behalf of sprawling defence complexes everywhere, I would say: don’t try to make us look sillier than we already are. OK?

    Yes, if you actually click through the linkstream, the book in question turns out to be a privately funded thought experiment by a bunch of scientists and analysts, treating the central premise as a good blue skies workout albeit slightly tongue in cheek and perhaps with a few coded messages for Centcom now.

    I seriously doubt Space Command, NASA or GeneralNorthropLockheedDynamicsMartinGrummanElectric could get together to produce and sustain both the intellectual rigour and writing chops needed to produce what looks like a very entertaining read. Just ordered my copy off Amazon.

    Anyway, how do we know the aliens ain’t already here and messing with us like lab rats? Can you think of a more viable explaination for the rise and rise of Eddie Mcguire and reality TV?

    Also there’s this presumption that any sentient beings capable of interstellar travel are automatically superior in all other respects. Exhibit A: Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems. Of course that may be just alien misinformation. The script certainly was.

    Frankly I think any aliens making contact with us should be worrying more about what homo sapiens could do to them than us about them.

    “We come from a blue planet light-years away
    Where everything multiplies at an amazing rate
    We’re out here in the universe buying real estate
    Hope we haven’t gotten here too late

    [chorus:]

    We’re humans from earth
    We’re humans from earth
    You have nothing at all to fear
    I think we’re gonna like it here

    We’re looking for a planet with atmosphere
    Where the air is fresh and the water clear
    With lots of sun like you have here
    Three or four hundred days a year

    [chorus]

    Bought Manhatten for a string of beads
    Brought along some gadgets for you to see
    Heres a crazy little thing we call TV
    Do you have electricity?

    [chorus]

    I know we may seem pretty strange to you
    But we got know-how and a golden rule
    We’re here to see manifest destiny through
    Ain’t nothing we can’t get used to

    We’re humans from earth
    We’re humans from earth
    – words and music T-Bone Burnett

  29. Fiasco da Gama says:

    Oh really? Diseases you say, is that so? Next you’ll be telling us that it was we who brought the alcohol to Redfern Park.
    I guess the Black Death must have been a very successful pre-colonialist pre-emptive alien attack. Zwilnik, I look to you for an apology or at the very least some practical reconciliation.
    By the way, would you please stop fucking cheersing anyway, anyway, cheers? It’s really getting on my nerves.

  30. Megan says:

    Good God! Is that what they’ve secretly discovered on that habitable planet orbiting the red dwarf star?

  31. Kim says:

    You read about it first here, Megan!

  32. Paulus says:

    Out of curiosity, Nabs, have you actually ordered a copy off Amazon? If so, I hereby decree that you must write a review of this interesting work and post it here at LP! How will we otherwise know what to do when the alien Sturmabteilung land? 🙂

  33. Zarquon says:

    Mr Nabakov, they’re already on to you: yoyodyne.com

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