1. Lorraine says:

    I wanted to personally thank you for this series – I have a character that has been through war and is trying to live on the other side -this insight into the soldier and warfare has been exceedingly helpful. I have been following them with great interest.

    • It’s absolutely our pleasure Lorraine. I remember a world-building resource called Eight Day Genesis that felt similar. It read like a series of articles (with different authors too, so very different voices). It wasn’t a recipe, but it at least reminded you of all the ingredients available and many you hadn’t thought of before. I hope we can do something similar. While reading all of the books available on warfare would be great, maybe we can give you enough to get started and make the story just that little bit better!

  2. notleia says:

    See also: quite a bit of post-WWI literature. Hemingway in particular. The style of warfare had shifted enough to the long-distance, modern approach that it was doing that new sort of psychological on the soldiers, that you could be killed by people you never saw and never saw you. (And the realization that you were doing the same to the other side.)

    There is also a lot of work put into dehumanizing the enemy, whether by means of propaganda or less formal means like (raaaaaacist) nicknames like the jerries or the nips or what have you. It doesn’t always work to override natural empathy, but it’s probably more disturbing when it DOES.

  3. Whether or not people have built empathy in the first place might be part of this as well. We hate the idea of killing because we live in a relatively decent society where fellow humans are often friends, family, or significant others. Someone that, as a child, wasn’t raised to have a close bond with others(had little to no affection from a caregiver, or, especially, lived with abuse and never had a context outside that) might not be bothered by killing as much, at least until they do have a chance to have a close bond with others(depending on their personality type. Some people develop things like NPD and become horrible people.)

    People also are happy to kill people they see as inferior or evil. Nazis were happy to kill Jews, and many modern people talk as if they’d be happy to kill Nazis.

    Gonna also talk about Fate Zero and Naruto/Naruto Shippuden again since there’s so many interesting examples of death/killing in there, too. There’s characters like Kiritsugu and Itachi who put aside their feelings and kill because they see it as necessary in the moment. Sasuke, Itachi’s little brother, is also an interesting example, since he’s sought revenge his whole life and there was a bit of a consequence to achieving it.

    Kiritsugu is a very sad and tragic case, because early in his childhood he had an example where he hesitated to kill when it was necessary, and a large swath of people died as a result. So he’s a lot more willing to kill from then on, and becomes somewhat numb to it even if he hates it. His situation is a bit different than the average soldier because the first few time he had to kill, it was someone he cared about, but throughout his backstory he is still shown killing strangers and witnessing deaths of people he doesn’t know well, and from the way he ponders it, it obviously has an effect on him.

    The thing in Star Wars you mentioned never really struck me as odd, considering how ruthless the Empire was supposed to be. They kind of seem like Nazis in the the way they indoctrinate their soldiers, and they would probably only put people in command if they seemed suitably brainwashed to Empire ideals. None of the other workers on the Deathstar would be able to show compassion for those they kill in the name of the Empire because that might cause them to get punished or killed. So any reaction they had would have to be on the inside. Novels written in the Star Wars universe tend to show more of that.

  4. Travis Perry says:

    Travis C, thanks for adapting the material we started working on a couple of weeks ago for this week’s post. I appreciate it.

  5. Wanted to share another example that came up for me this weekend. I’m a sucker for westerns, and really enjoyed the latest retelling of The Magnificent Seven. I think Antoine Fuqua did a great job, as discussed in the special features, of painting a diverse picture of the Seven and their motivations & experiences. I found Goodnight Beauregard a well-thought out character, as he’s shown to struggle with the misalignment of his reputation (skilled sharpshooter) and reality (not a killer). Antoine doesn’t delve into it, but I was left wondering if he ever really pulled the trigger as a Reb. It also raised the question of cultural differences, as the Comanche, mercenaries, homesteaders, warrant officer, hermit, and others collide.

What do you think?