As you may know, I am a lover of history and a futurist. I have previous blogs where I talk about some of my thoughts on the future. I also study history.
I look at the reasons events happened and how it affects the people living through the events. This is for two primary purposes. Studying historical geopolitics allows for more realistic stories. And stories are about people, after all.
Events in the past have echoes that reverberate through time. This can be argued by using the Treaty of Versailles (the treaty that ended World War One) and how it helped sew the seeds of World War Two. Another example is how the end of World War Two set the stage for the following Cold War. One event sets up another as no event happens in a vacuum and no events happen without context.
It is impossible to understand the reasons for the Vietnam War and the Korean War without understanding why the Cold War was even a thing. Once the Cold War is understood, then both events become clear. The reasons the leaders made specific decisions will make complete sense once the context is understood.
For an author, this is important to make sure the situation the characters are tortured in, makes sense. There are dozens of novels with unsubstantiated geopolitical events with armies waging uninformed events. Understanding geopolitical history can allow science fiction and fantasy authors to have realistic settings.
An example of this is where a science fiction story has a large amount of trench warfare. Understanding the events of World War One and World War Two will tell the author that trench warfare is impossible if one of the enemies is mobile. The French learned this the hard when Divisions of Panzers circled around the Maginot Line. In World War One, trench warfare was a reaction to the use of machine guns and artillery. This devastated infantry in the open without cover. In World War Two, trenches were used on a smaller scale to hold specific strategic points. In a futuristic science fiction story, trench warfare will only happen if mobility is removed. Why hide in a trench when you can drive back to safety?
Living throughout the event is a single important person. This one person is who the story is about. A story can’t be easily told about the event. Then it becomes a history text. This is shallow and dull to the reader.
Studying how a person lived in the middle of a vital event allows an author to truly understand him. A soldier fighting in World War One will experience war differently than World War Two, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. These soldiers all experience the horror of war. However, it’s unheard of a soldier in the Vietnam War to have to go over the top to charge the enemy trenches. Soldiers of World War Two enjoy knowing which way the enemy is, luxuries a soldier of Vietnam never experienced.
What does all of this mean for an author?
That is simple. The urge to write a futuristic story that mimics a historical event or situation is great. I’ve read a few where the soldiers fought a large, final melee charge at the climax of the book. This makes no sense when they have rifles and bullets. A futuristic science fiction battle would be different if the enemy has a battle fleet in orbit. This is also evident when an author tries to explain how the war started. One event breeds another, which breeds another.
Once the geopolitical and methodology of the event is set up, then the soldier’s experience can be modelled to make some type of sense. If a soldier on the Western Front of World War One had to describe his war, he might choose “Mud.” One fighting in Africa in World War Two might use the word, “Sand.”
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