I have been watching the growing media activity around Gavin Hood’s film version of Ender’s Game, and re-experiencing a niggling unease about the original story. I enjoyed it immensely when I first read it, I’ll freely admit, but subsequent understanding of the author’s political stance has brought something questionable to the narrative. It’s familiar territory, well-trodden by the combat boot of male-dominated, hard SF. Not exactly clean cut, not exactly simplistic but definitely part of a pervasive argument that technological ferociousness will always have a place in our interaction with alien races. A ‘distinguished’ military line within the genre then, from Heinlein’s Starship Troopers right up to Halo 4’s recent mini-series prequel, Forward Unto Dawn.
However, there’s also the sometimes quieter, more complex voice of dissent; the alienation of the returning soldier trying to make sense of the conflict that he or she has been through. With this in mind it’s encouraging to find Joe Haldeman’s Forever War being refreshed as a film project by Ridley Scott – the man who brought corporate complexity to the future battlefield (or maybe that was John Wagner). Although the project is still languishing in development hell, it would be fantastic to see a more pluralistic view of future war and its effects on indigenous life forms and the soldiers sent to kill them.
War. Maybe that never does change but, thankfully, the perspectives on it do.