Summary: This chapter describes the slow painful dawn of civilization after the apocalypse. Nice people cannot blast away barbarians to plant the seeds of civilization. That requires even tougher people. Ultra-Violence is military science fiction about a day when technology takes us to the edge of extinction – and what comes next. File these weekly chapters as “terrifying dreams.”
See the previous chapters of Ultra-Violence, tales from Venus.
- The sins of our fathers.
- A Boy Meets a Girl.
- The Lost Generation.
- Let’s Do Something Fun.
- The Meek Shall Inherit the World.
- A Sign from God.
- The Siren’s Offer.
- The Riddle.
- Wolves Among Sheep.
- The Man Who Would Be King.
- The Angel and the Badman.
- Goliath’s Revenge.
- The Head of Every Man.
- In the Land of the Blind.
This contains violence and strong language (unfortunately, words even children commonly hear today).
Chapter Nine: The Riddle.
Hanson has a radio. A week ago Hanson found the nymphs, and Alex found the radio. It’s a military-issue handheld unit with a waterproof case and hand crank, eliminating the need for batteries. Every day the two men take turns listening to it, flipping through frequencies. So far they’ve heard nothing, but continue their ritual anyway. Today is different. Hanson hears something. It’s a distress beacon. “Why would someone set off a distress beacon now?” He wonders. “It’s a little late for that.”
“Doesn’t make a difference,” Alex says. “If there’s a distress beacon that means there are people. If there are people, that means there’s loot.”
“It could be a trap,” Hanson says.
“If someone is setting a trap, that means they probably have some good shit.”
Alex swore off petty murder and thievery the day Hanson brought him that old copy of Plutarch’s Lives, but he still requires weapons, gear, food, and other necessities. All those things need to be stolen. A couple of hours of trekking later, they’re getting close to the signal’s point of origin. It’s stationary, and almost right on top of a canal. Then they hear the sound again. The thunder of gyrocopter engines. There’s two of them hovering over the trees a few kilometers ahead, right over the source of the distress beacon. Alex and Hanson are close enough to hear the blare of a loudspeaker.
“This is the Garrison, we’re responding to your distress signal.” The voice booms. “Remain in your camp and shelter in place. We’re deploying a rescue party.”
“The Garrison?” Alex muses. “The Garrison of what?”
“Do you think they’re actually rescuing people?” Hanson asks.
One of the gyrocopters descends out of sight below the tree trunks. Its counterpart continues to circle overhead. The blip of the distress signal from Hanson’s radio ends and the grounded gyrocopter takes off, both of them disappearing over the horizon. Alex and Hanson arrive at the camp soon after. It’s set up close to the canal and well hidden. As expected, it’s deserted. A paddleboat is pulled up out of the water nearby. Sleeping bags, backpacks, eating utensils, gear, and other personal items are strewn all over the place.
“Why would people leave their stuff here instead of taking it with them?” Hanson says.
“Or why would they do that?” Alex points. There’s a pile of guns and ammunition at the side of the camp, on fire. The rifle barrels are melted, destroyed beyond use. The ammunition is destroyed as well.
“Those would have been useful to us,” Hanson says.
“Yes, they would have been. That’s why the Garrison destroyed it all. They don’t want anyone besides them running around with guns.”
“What about the people? What does the Garrison want with them?”
“That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Alex grins.
“What do they want?” Hanson says. “Are they finding more people for a settlement? One of those old fallout vaults could hold thousands of people.”
“I very much doubt that. Any refuge, underground shelter or vault city would have too many people, not too few. Even if they could take in more people, there would be refugees pounding down the door every day. There is no honest, legitimate reason they would have to send gyrocopters a hundred miles in every direction as ‘rescue parties.’ They’re up to something. And whatever that something is, it’s burning through people so fast they have to keep rounding up more.”
Alex finds the distress beacon. He drops it into his pack. It annoys Hanson to no end, but Alex is a compulsive hoarder. There’s no reason to keep the beacon, but Alex likes it and there’s no gain in arguing with him.
Hanson looks at the paddleboat. There are skid marks next to it. “The Garrison didn’t get everyone. There were two boats here.”
The river is wide here and the current is strong. It would be dangerous to swim in it. Before the Fall this was a major shipping canal. On the other side, there are the ruins of what was once a great metropolis. Close to shore there’s a medical barge grounded on some rocks. It’s a two-hundred-meter-long mobile ambulatory vessel designed for mass casualty events, like a terrorist bombing. It’s not seaworthy anymore, but the hull is mostly intact.
“Hey, back when I killed those two guys and you found the radio, there was something I didn’t tell you about,” Hanson says. “There were two women who got away.”
“You couldn’t handle two women?” Alex snickers. “Did they take your lunch money?”
“No, it’s complicated.” Hanson blushes. “Never mind that. They said something. One of them mentioned they were going someplace not far from there. A treasure of some sort.”
“And it didn’t occur to you that maybe this was valuable information to share?”
“Maybe yeah, I should have, but look at that barge over there. Do you think that could be the treasure?”
Alex squints his eyes at the ruined medical ship. “Hmm, perhaps. There may be a lot of valuable supplies aboard. It’s odd this ‘Garrison’ flying all over the place hasn’t been there already. Or maybe they did look there but didn’t find anyone at the time. If they only want to take people and destroy weapons, the barge itself wouldn’t interest them.”
“It’s been years though,” Hanson says. “Wouldn’t people have looted it already?”
“Maybe, maybe not. It doesn’t hurt to look since we’re here.”
Between the two of them, Alex and Hanson have enough weapons and gear to safely raid the ship. Just barely enough. Hanson has a submachine gun and one full 30 round magazine for it. He still has his sawed-off shotgun on his back, but no shells for it. Alex has a pistol loaded with nine cartridges. Ammunition is getting increasingly difficult to find, and the men can’t weigh themselves down with excess weapons in the hope they’ll find ammo in the right caliber.
They take the remaining boat and row out to the medical barge. There’s no way to enter it from this side, so they have to navigate around the bow. It’s a tedious process. They have to navigate the rocks, any one of which could destroy the little paddleboat and wash the two men away to their deaths.
Finally reaching the other side, they see the second paddleboat tied up against an entry port. Having heard Hanson’s full explanation of what happened with Natasha and Veronica and given a few minutes to ponder it, Alex pieces together what happened.
“Your two lady friends did this,” Alex says. “They found some more wicked men with lust in their hearts and strung them along to help them find the treasure. But the women never intended to share it. With only two people, there might be enough supplies here to last them for a long time. The men were just extra mouths to feed. These delightful women you speak of betrayed their lovers. They set the radio beacon off themselves and paddled away in the night before the men woke up. The Garrison took care of the rest.”
“Huh, I never thought of that.” Hanson scratches his head.
“The Lord tested you, and you passed,” Alex congratulates him. “Wicked Philistine temple whores tried to seduce you, and you shunned them. Those other men didn’t pass their test and are paying for their sin as we speak.”
“But wait a minute. If the Garrison interrogates the men, they’ll find out they didn’t get everyone. They might come back and search the barge.”
“I said the whores were wicked, I never said they were smart,” Alex says. “We must complete our business here with haste and be gone before the Garrison returns.”
Knowing that Natasha and Veronica are probably still aboard, the two men decide to stick together and sweep the ship with caution, starting from the top deck and working their way down. The ship’s interior is pitch black. Alex and Hanson’s red-tinted headlamps is all they have for light. There’s not much to be found on the first level. It’s mostly living quarters, hospital dorms and the bridge. As they approach the hatchway leading below, Alex finds a tripwire.
“You think the girls did that?” Hanson whispers.
“Maybe, it would be pretty clever of them if they did,” Alex answers, finding a smoke bomb at his feet.
“Why would they use smoke, instead of a frag grenade? All smoke would do to an intruder is annoy him.”
“I don’t know.” Alex shrugs. “Maybe smoke is all they had. Hell, they’re women. They might not know the difference.”
They head down the ladder well to the bottom deck. There’s canal water going up to their ankles. “Would you look at that.” Alex laughs. He shines his headlamp on the bulkhead in front of them. There’s a message scrawled in blood. “Run,” Alex reads.
“Fear for your souls” An ethereal voice whispers.
“What kind of spooky bullshit is this?” Hanson says.
Alex and Hanson continue down the corridor. The barge is tilted, submerging all the compartments to the port side. There is nothing of interest on the starboard side. The ship’s emergency lighting, consisting of small red incandescent bulbs lining the corridor, starts to flicker intermittently.
“That wouldn’t be happening unless there was a power source online,” Alex says. “Someone’s definitely here.” He steps into the next compartment and the hatch slams behind him, locking in place.
“Fuck!” Hanson groans. He peers through the small porthole in the hatch. Alex can’t unlock it from his side either. Hanson has to find another way around, and they’ll regroup at the stern of the ship. He comes across an open hatch leading the correct direction and keeps going. There’s a dark lump on the deck, leaning against a bulkhead. Hanson shines his headlamp on the lump.
It’s Veronica. She’s stripped bare, hands bound behind her back, and extremely dead. Her head is slumped over, exposing two holes in her neck. Hanson finds that an odd way to kill someone. There’s an open hatchway beside Veronica’s body, dim light flickering on the wall behind it. Hanson switches off his headlamp so he doesn’t make himself a target as he moves forward. He’s at the absolute back of the barge now. The stern is comprised of a giant chamber, the deck fully submerged in knee-deep water. The hatch Hanson just entered leads to a small platform. It’s high enough that he can creep forward without splashing into the water.
The source of flickering light is a circle of candles bobbing around in the water; each candle contained by a little copper basin. At the center of the circle, there’s a raft with two people standing on it. One of the people is Natasha. Like Veronica, her wrists are tied, and she’s as naked as she was the day Hanson saw her in the river. An ominous tall figure cloaked in black has Natasha in its clutches. The creature has human-like hands, but sharp metal talons for fingers. They’re wrapped around Natasha’s pale body with a featherlight touch but could tear her apart in an instant.
She isn’t resisting. The girl is enraptured, like she’s enjoying this. It’s disturbing. She tilts her head to the side, exposing her throat to the monster. Its mouth opens and razor-sharp fangs glint in the candlelight. The teeth graze Natasha’s skin long enough for her to know they’re there, then sink into her jugular. The woman grimaces in momentary discomfort before sliding back into bliss.
A trickle of blood escapes down her breast, but the monster catches most of it between his teeth. She remains standing for the whole ordeal, making no attempt to pull away. The abomination feasts on her blood, gripping her tighter as her knees weaken. Natasha goes limp and the creature lets her collapse at its feet.
“Come forward traveler, I know you’re here.” The caped monster says to Hanson. “You are safe for now, but do not be misled by the events you have witnessed. I will ravish the lifeblood of a man with the same abandon as I would a woman.” His voice is just as ominous as his appearance and seems to come from all directions. The emergency lights behind Hanson flicker and red smoke shoots up from around the raft.
“Are you some kind of vampire?” Hanson asks.
“Your intellect astonishes me.” The vampire says. “Yes, I am Count Acheron, a vampire lord. Like all vampires, I was once a mortal like yourself. Before the Fall I worked in a blood bank. Trapped within those walls, that was the only food I had. But once I drank the taboo elixir, I developed a taste for it. Like the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge, the blood of mankind gave me unnatural abilities.”
“Is this going somewhere?” Hanson is growing impatient. The Garrison could be dispatching more gyrocopters already.
“I am a generous host, but do not abuse the privilege of continued life that I am bestowing on you.” Count Acheron rebukes him. “I would like to know why you chose to enter my lair. Were you attempting to rescue these fair women who came before you? As you can see, you arrived too late. They were youthful adventurers, not realizing the danger they were in. I had no trouble overpowering them. They begged for their lives, but once I had them under my spell…”
“Actually no, I don’t care about the women.” Hanson interrupts him. “I don’t really care what you’re up to in here either. It’s none of my business. You do you. I’m a little short for time, so not interested in a fight. I’m just looking for loot. You must have all kinds of cool stuff from the people you’re eating, or drinking, I guess. Give me some of it and I’ll leave you be.”
“You came here to demand gifts?” The vampire laughs. “I should strike you down where you stand for your impertinence. However, fortune favors you today. I have already fed on the young women, so am no longer hungry. We shall play a game. If you win, I will allow you to live. If I win, then I will feed on you as well.”
Hanson is irritated. He doesn’t have time for this. But Alex hasn’t shown up yet, so either way Hanson will have to wait. “What’s the game?” He asks.
“It shall be a game of wits.” Count Acheron cackles. “I will give you a riddle. If you answer it correctly, you can give me one. And so on, until someone fails to solve a riddle. Then the game is over, and your fate is decided.”
“Alright fine, I’ll play your stupid riddle game.” Hanson relents.
“Excellent, as if you had a choice. I shall go first.” The count raises his arms, and his cape pops outward like giant bat wings. Fire bursts behind him. “What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the midday, and three legs in the evening?” His voice booms.
Hanson has no idea. He was never any good at riddles. What kind of creature would walk on different numbers of legs throughout the day? That doesn’t even make sense. “Ah, man.” He mutters, trying to think.
“Correct!” The vampire says. “The answer is man. As an infant, a man crawls on all fours. As an adult, a man walks on two legs. In the last years of his life, he walks on a cane, making three legs. Very good. Now it’s your turn.”
What riddle could Hanson ask? He doesn’t really know any. Then he remembers one he heard as a child at the orphanage. “A man is going to the marketplace.” Hanson starts. He doesn’t quite recall how the riddle went but is doing the best he can. “And he, uh, sees a Berber. I mean seven Berbers. Yes, seven Berbers. Each Berber has, uh, seven wives. And each wife has seven children. And each child has, actually wait no, that was it, I think. How many men, I mean people, are going to the marketplace?”
“Just one.” Count Acheron says. “You did not specify any of the Berbers were going to the marketplace. You’re going to need to do much better than this if you expect to win. Now it’s my turn.” More fire shoots up behind the monstrous villain.
“It is greater than God, and more evil than the Devil!” the vampire declares. “The poor need it, and the rich want it. And if you eat it, you’ll die. What is it?”
“Uh, food?” Hanson guesses.
“What? Why would you think it’s food? What kind of answer is that? Why would food be greater than God or make you die? Did you even think about it at all? The answer is nothing!”
“Bullshit!” Hanson yells. “You’re cheating! You can’t just say it’s nothing. You have to come up with a real answer.”
“No you moron, that is the answer.” Count Acheron burns with rage. “Nothing is greater than God, or more evil than the Devil. The poor need nothing and the rich want nothing. And if you eat nothing you die.”
“I guess, but I still like my answer better. Everyone needs food, whether they’re poor or not.”
“You’re the dumbest person I have ever met!”
“Hey now there’s no call for that,” Hanson says. “Just because I didn’t know the answer to your stupid riddle doesn’t mean I’m dumb.”
“Dumb or not, you have failed to answer the riddle correctly.” The vampire smirks, rolling Natasha’s corpse into the water. A winch whirs to life underneath Hanson’s platform, reeling Count Acheron’s raft toward him at an astonishing speed. “Now you must die!” The vampire screams, his wings flaring open and fire shooting from his hands.
Hanson swings up his submachine gun. Floodlights burst open around the room, blinding him. Count Acheron laughs at his prey’s helplessness. Hanson can’t aim. He can’t hit the monster careening toward him. But he can hit something else. Hanson aims down and squeezes the trigger. His stream of bullets saws the speeding raft in two, flinging the vampire into the murky water. Hanson’s eyes adjust to the light. Count Acheron is sputtering and flailing under his cape.
The gun’s bolt is locked back, smoke trailing up from the open chamber. Hanson pops the magazine out. Empty. “You son of a bitch.” Hanson snarls.
“Mercy!” Count Acheron cries, trying to keep his head above water.
“I liked that gun. You made me use up all my bullets. It’s ten fucking millimeters! How the fuck am I going to find more of that? I might as well throw the whole gun away now.” Hanson goes up to the vampire. His caped “wings” are just aluminum frames draped in black fabric. Now they’re broken and twisted beyond repair, fouled up against the vampire’s sharp claws. Hanson grabs him by the back of the neck. His hand hits something hard. Hanson rips open the black fabric.
Count Acheron is wearing a nano armor covering his chest, legs, and arms. The suit is a prototype never put into mass production. It can stop .50 caliber rounds, and regenerates itself, making the wearer almost invulnerable. It’s not helping now. The weight is just making it harder for him to keep his head above water.
“I thought you were immortal,” Hanson says. “Why do you need armor?”
“Please, I’ll do anything! Don’t kill me!”
“Why shouldn’t I?” Hanson pushes the count’s face into the water. “I wasn’t even looking for a fight. Fuck you.”
“No wait, please! I have something you want!”
“And what would that be?” Hanson asks, letting the vampire up for air. “You got three seconds.”
“One of the travelers I caught here had a device.” Count Acheron gasps. “It lets you listen in on the Garrison’s radio communications.”
“Great. Why would I give a shit about them?”
“You want loot, right? Just listen to what they’re saying and follow them! They’ll take you straight to all the good places.”
The vampire has a point. The Garrison raided that camp by the canal. It didn’t have anything useful in it, but others might. “Okay, deal,” Hanson says. “Where is it?”
“You promise you’ll let me live?”
“Not if you keep pissing me off.”
“It’s in the safe at the back of the chamber!” Count Acheron cries. “The code is 37-6-1.”
“Alright, I’m going to put you in the corner. You’ll sit there all nice and quiet-like while I go look in the safe.” Hanson drags the vampire to the starboard bulkhead, where the deck is tilted just far enough out of the water for someone can lay on his stomach and not drown. The cape is easy enough to rip off, but the talons are another matter. If Hanson zip-ties Count Acheron’s hands, he might be able to cut himself out of it.
“Sorry but can’t let you keep your magic vampire claw things,” Hanson says, pinning one of Count Acheron’s arms under his boot.
“No wait, wait, wait, wait, they’re ahhh!”
Hanson swings the buttstock of his gun down on the vampire’s hand, pounding it into a bloody paste.
“Stop, please!” Count Acheron screams.
“You’ll be fine. They’ll grow back, right?”
“No, they’re fake! They can come off! Please, for the love of God!”
Upon closer examination, the claws aren’t real like Hanson thought they were. They’re just metal pieces over the vampire’s fingers connected to a strap hidden in his sleeve. It only takes a moment for Hanson to remove them.
With Count Acheron on his stomach with his wrists and ankles zip-tied, Hanson goes looking for the safe. Nearly all the candles are flipped over and extinguished from the commotion. Natasha is still floating where the vampire left her. Hanson feels a little bad for her, but she kind of did this to herself. The two women would probably still be alive if they weren’t so greedy. He finds a generator humming in the back, next to a workbench and a row of cabinets.
Alex shows up, covered head to toe in glitter. “Sorry I’m late.” He says.
“What happened to you?” Hanson asks.
“I got caught up in more of this fucker’s supernatural bullshit, that’s what.”
“He’s a vampire.” Hanson nods.
“No, he’s not,” Alex says. “He’s only pretending.”
“Oh. That makes a lot more sense, actually.”
“It’s all smoke and mirrors, see look at this.” Alex opens a cabinet, revealing a row of glass bottles filled with blue fluid. “He gets the drop on people, then drugs them so they can’t fight back. This whole place is wired with speakers and his bullshit smoke traps. It’s all meant to get in your head. He’s powerless if you aren’t scared of him.”
“But he drinks blood.”
“That part is true,” Alex says. “I found a transfusion machine. That’s how he does it. That’s what he did to the dead one outside before he dragged her back. I guess he thought it would scare us or some shit. He probably just finished capturing the girls when he saw our boat coming. So he used them in his gay little magic show.”
“Yeah but I actually saw him drink that one’s blood, teeth, and everything.” Hanson points toward Natasha.
“Well, there’s a logical explanation I’m sure,” Alex says, grabbing a pair of plyers off the workbench. “Probably dentures or a mouthpiece of some sort.” He comes up behind Count Acheron and grabs him by the hair. Before he can get a word out, Alex grabs a fang and yanks on it. The count screeches and collapses back to the deck, blood pooling around his mouth. Alex stares at the sharpened tooth for a moment.
“I stand corrected. They are real. He must have filed them down.”
Hanson goes to the safe and unlocks it. As the vampire promised, there’s a device in the back. It’s a key loader; a handheld computer for disseminating updated encryption codes to military radio operators.
“This is useless.” Hanson frowns. “Any encryptions on it would be years out of date.”
“It’s good, I swear.” Count Acheron whimpers. “The Garrison never changed theirs. I don’t know why. Maybe they didn’t see a need to.”
“Well, that’s a wrap,” Alex says. “Time to die, asshole.”
“Your friend promised he wouldn’t kill me!” The vampire begs.
“Did he promise I wouldn’t kill you?” Alex asks. Count Acheron breaks down into hysterical sobs. Alex reaches into his pocket and reveals the smoke grenade he found earlier. “I think you dropped this.” He says, pulling the pin. “You can have it back.”
Alex pulls Count Acheron to his knees and shoves the grenade into his mouth. The steel ball is too big to fit, but anything can fit if enough force is applied. Once he has the grenade pushed down far enough, Alex wraps his elbow around the squirming vampire’s head and clamps his jaw shut. Count Acheron convulses under Alex’s grip, choking on his own blood and vomit. Things are about to get a lot worse for him. There’s nowhere for the grenade’s expanding gas to go. Count Acheron’s skin bloats, smoke bursts from his ears and nose, and his eyeballs pop.
“Anything good in here?” Alex says, dropping the dead count.
“Well, Count Acher-whatever is wearing nano-suit armor.” Hanson answers.
“Useless. It’s too heavy and needs to be constantly recharged. Leave it. What else?”
“There’s a ton of canned goods and rations. I guess fake vampire guy was only interested in blood.”
“Much better.” Alex grins. “How about weapons?”
Hanson finds two sets of gear and weapons. He recognizes them. They belonged to Natasha and Veronica. On top of Natasha’s gear, he finds an old shipping schedule for a drawbridge. Hundreds of transports traveled down this canal every week, so they had to be meticulously planned down to the hour so they wouldn’t pile up behind one of the bridges. This schedule is dated the day before The Fall. With the schedule in hand and a little math, someone could know roughly where the barge is. One can guess how the story went. Some man had this schedule and blabbed about it to the two lovely girls he met. Then they killed him and took it for themselves.
“I found the women’s stuff,” Hanson says. “It’s way better than ours. They had a bunch of guns, ammo and a couple of grenades.”
“Take the temple whores’ equipment and as much food as we can carry. Leave everything else. The Garrison could show up any time now.”
“It doesn’t make sense. If the girls had all this, how did the bloodsucker guy capture them?”
“Fear, my friend,” Alex says. “The harlots fell for his tricks and lost heart. The Lord taught us a valuable lesson today. ‘Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.’ This so-called vampire can’t hurt you if you aren’t afraid of him.”
“Oh yeah, I see now.” Hanson agrees. “He was counting on people to run away instead of standing up to him.”
“Yes and no. It’s much bigger than that. Don’t you see the lesson? This means we can’t be killed!”
Hanson thinks that’s a terrible lesson, but there’s no talking Alex out of it now.
Come back next Sunday for Chapter 10: “Wolves Among Sheep.“
A chapter will be posted every Sunday.
Critiques welcomed, but will be moderated.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events, and incidents are either works of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or used in any matter without permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. This copyright overrides this website’s Creative Commons license.
About the author
Ian Michael served 5 years in the US Marine Corps. He did two tours patrolling in Helmand Province (Afghanistan) and one in Kuwait. He is now a Staff Sergeant in the US Army Reserve. He lives in Iowa.
Some of his other articles.
- Generals read “Ender’s Game” and see their vision of the future Marine Corps.
- Pain and misery build discipline! Or so we’re told.
- The Atheist Conservative shows why secular conservatism continues to be an irrelevant and impotent force in American politics.
- Alita, the Battle Angel, fights her feminist critics.
- Plato and Diogenes warn us about hubris – Here is a fun short story, historical fiction about one of the clashes between two of the larger-than-life people of the ancient world.
For More Information
Ideas! For some holiday shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.
Fiction echos reality. See Chet Richards’ (Colonel, USAF, retired) post about this novel, about how it illustrates many of John Boyd’s ideas in action.
- Why we have not gone into space, & why we will. – Insights from Heinlein, Pournelle, and Clarke.
- How does The Hunger Games compare to other classic stories of children fighting children? – Star Trek and Heinlein’s Tunnel in the Sky.
- Why don’t our dreams of a better world inspire us to act? – Visions of a better world in science fiction.
- Looking at technological singularities in our past & future. – Science fiction from (not about) the Cro-Magnon era.
Modern science fiction classics of future war
The Peace War (1984).
Marooned in Realtime (1986).
By Vernor Vinge.
Most science fiction stories about future wars re-tell WWI. Sometimes WWII. Vinge’s stories provide visions of plausible future war – using what are to us miracle weapons (as today’s weapons would be to armies in 1920). Plus, they have Vinge’s excellent plotting, characters, and writing.