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SF Tidbits for 2/20/10

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About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

3 Comments on SF Tidbits for 2/20/10

  1. The link to the Star Wars Steam Punk Speeder Bike needs to be fixed.

    Currently it’s https://www.sfsignal.com/v

  2. God, The Lucky Strike again?

    Here is what I left over at Cory’s place.

    A deeply flawed story from a historical perspective.

    By the numbers.

    First, we can examine Japanese reaction to the use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima in the original timeline. More or less, the reaction was this.

    “They are killing more of us with firebombing than they are with this one superweapon. And the Americans surely only have one of these. We should continue to resist.”

    The quote is mine but the attitude can be found in Edwin P. Hoyt’s book Japan’s War, the Great Pacific Conflict. You can also find that sentiment, expressed by the Japanese militarists of the Supreme War Council, recounted in John Skate’s work, The Invasion of Japan: Alternative to the Bomb.

    If dropping the weapon a city, killing 60 to 80 thousand outright didn’t move the Japanese Government (who correctly pointed out that they had lost 200,000 plus in the Tokyo Firebombings alone) then I sorely doubt that dropping the bomb in the water would have the effect predicted by this story.

    That, is the first problem with this story. It denies evidence from the original timeline from the point of view of the very enemy it is purporting to spare.

    Second, it is very unlikely that aircrews would be rotated to the Pacific for this mission or any other mission from Europe.

    Third, the Army Air Force would have had plenty of time to get into the heads of these people. I sorely doubt Captain January would have been in a position to misuse the weapon.

    Of course, KSR has a political message he wants to push with this novel, mainly that the bomb was wrong. He also pushes this farcical notion that FDR would not have used the weapon (after authorizing the project, I find that laughable).

    The only way this story works is if the reader is completely ignorant of what the Japanese were thinking at the end of the war. It also complete ignores their continued willingness to resist even though they knew, militarily, the war was lost.

    Finally, the story does not address alternatives other than a demonstration. Setting aside the two projected invasions, Olympic and Coronet, there were other plans.

    One was a total naval blockade advocated by Admiral Kelso, which would have starved millions of Japanese civilians to death.

    A second was continued firebombing without a ground invasion. This would have killed far more than simply using nuclear weapons.

    A third option was to combine blockade and firebombing.

    Even the use of the second weapon on Japan did not immediately produce an end to the war. It took direct intervention from the Emperor to push the council to accept unconditional surrender. Even then there was an attempted coup de tat by hardliners at the last minute.

    Finally, the depictions of the other characters in the story, nominally depicted as gung-ho rednecks bent on killing, does not reflect the overall war weariness extant at that time.

    In terms of pure literature, it is well written.

    In terms of historical accuracy, it is a sorely flawed work in desperate need of consideration against the background of evidence and research on this period.

    Of course, KSR’s main point is to peddle a polemic, not educate. So long as readers remain ignorant of the rest of the original historical narrative, he will probably continue to achieve his goal.

    Steven Francis Murphy

    North Kansas City, Missouri

  3. @Chris: Link fixed.  Whenever you see that URL, it means my finger was not resting on the CTL key of my CTL-V cut-and-paste.  Thanks for the correction.

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