Tuesday, 18 August 2015
fictional treatments of war;
degrees of divergence between alternative histories.
I am enjoying SM Stirling's Marching Through Georgia, which is not as horrific as I had feared because the central character, Centurion Eric von Shrakenberg, is sympathetic and also because the text clearly does not endorse Draka oppression. I feel that the Draka are rather naive and simply need to be shown a better way. Eric cannot shake off the callousness of his upbringing. He interrupts a Jannisary about to rape a serf but takes no action against the Jannisary. During combat, he orders that locals be ignored if they are quiet but otherwise should be expended - although he does prevent one of his men from dropping a grenade onto an inoffensive family sheltering in a cellar.
As I said when discussing Ermanaric, if there were a judge of the dead, then he would have to take many factors into account. Street Evangelicals tell me that the Judge will ask not, "Are you guilty of crimes against humanity?" but "Did you accept me as your Savior?" If I did, then genocide will not matter!
Another aspect of Stirling's treatment of war:
"The peculiar smell of fresh destruction was in the air... Ruins needed time to achieve majesty, or even pathos; right after they had been fought over there was nothing but...seediness, and mess." (Marching Through Georgia, pp. 108)
Yes, it would be like that. Stirling seems to have been there. A similar passage in Poul Anderson's Psychotechnic History is the description of a dark ruined street at the beginning of "Marius."