is the question.
Amid the heated
rhetoric on both sides, world famous
Canadian Science Fiction novelist
Mark A. Carter rants about the realistic possibility
of thermonuclear war with
Trump: "North Korea ... will be met with fire and fury like
the world has never seen." Source: CNN.com - 170810
- If North Korea launches an attack that threatens the United
States then China should stay neutral, but if the United States
attacks first and tries to overthrow North Korea's government
China will stop them.
Source: Reuters.com - 170810
Korea warns it could "reduce the U.S. mainland to ashes
at any moment."
Source: Dailymail.co.uk - 170811
Kim Jong Un appears to back down after Mattis, Trump warnings.
Source: Foxnews.com 170815
SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in an extraordinary show of defiance against President Trump on Sunday, saying it had detonated a hydrogen bomb that could be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Source: NYTimes.com - 170903
WASHINGTON, DC – North Korea has, for the first time, threatened to wage an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack against the United States. Such an attack has the potential to cause catastrophic damage to North America, Canada, the West, and many of its neighbors.
Source: Breitbart.com - 170907
President Donald Trump has given military orders for U.S. forces to shoot down and destroy any missile launched from North Korea and moving toward the continental United States, Hawaii, and Guam. The president also is said to be considering a new "shoot down" order for any North Korean missile launched and moving toward Japan or South Korea.
Source: Newsmax.com - 170907
Slim Pickens as B-52 pilot Major T.J. "King" Kong rides
a nuclear bomb to destination in Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film
Dr. Strangelove © 1964 Columbia Pictures.
Foreground: Larry Hagman as Buck, the President's interpreter
and Henry Fonda as the President of the United States in Sidney
Lumet's film Fail Safe © 1964 Columbia Pictures.
|So, here we are
on the literal brink of
nuclear war with North Korea.
I wake up every morning and wonder whether we are still
here. I listen for air raid sirens.
I check to see whether the lights still work. I check
the TV to see whether
FEMA has issued a nuclear
warning on all channels. And I ask myself: How many minutes
of warning will we get before the end? Will we have any warning
or will be plunged into the stone age by a high atmospheric blast
of EMP and run back and forth
in a panic not knowing what to do or where to turn in a last
minute danse macabre
before our inevitable demise? So, why does so called reality
seem more like Dr. Strangelove
than Fail Safe?
1964 Columbia Pictures
||Perhaps it seems
like the 1964 Science Fiction
film Dr. Strangelove or: How I
Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb directed
by Stanley Kubrick based on
the 1958 novel Red Alert
by Peter George because, on
the part of North Korea, we
are dealing with puerile rhetoric
and questionable sanity
much like the purity of essence
rant of psychopath Brigadier
General Jack D. Ripper; whereas, in the
1964 film Fail Safe,
directed by Sidney Lumet,
based on the 1962 novel Fail-Safe
by Eugene Burdick
and Harvey Wheeler, we are
dealing with two rational
heads of the USA and
Russia in last ditch
negotiations to avert the nuclear destruction of
Moscow caused by the technical games of
cold war turned hot. The result of
Dr. Strangelove is a world destroyed by
global thermonuclear war and moreover, made uninhabitable
for ten thousand years by
a secret, Russian, Thorium bomb.
The result of Fail Safe
is far saner. Sadly Moscow
is bombed by the Americans
and the purposeful destruction of
New York City by the Americans,
as well, on behalf of the
Russians; to avert escalation into
all-out nuclear confrontation is the only solution. The
logic behind their decision is the painful
quid pro quo of limited
nuclear war versus all out global thermonuclear war
in which nobody wins. Burdick
and Wheeler remind us of the
insanity of nuclear war to
start with. And at its most basic level, the film is about family,
life, and survival of the human race in lieu of the
thermonuclear Sword of Damocles we each hold.
Remarkably and utterly coincidentally,
while I was working on my 1981 thesis:
The Doomsday Theme in Science Fiction, I went
to the cinema in mid-March and saw the
1979 film The China Syndrome
written and directed by James
Bridges. It was a perfect evening where fiction and reality
were two separate dimensions.
But less than two weeks later,
I was slapped upside the head
with reality. On March 28, reactor
number 2 at the Three Mile
Island Nuclear Generating Station in
Pennsylvania had a meltdown. What did I say in my thesis:
life imitates art ... duh?
We witness the aftermath of a
global thermonuclear war in
the 1959 post-apocalyptic Science
Fiction film On the Beach
directed by Stanley Kramer,
based on the 1957 novel
of the same name by Nevil Shute.
In the story, an American
submarine crew searches for a part of the
Earth that hasn't yet been
irradiated by global nuclear
war, and finds temporary sanctuary in
Australia, in a last ditch
effort to survive, before they too succumb. But the fictional
end did not come soon enough to put us out of our misery from
the repeated playing of Waltzing
1959 United Artists
We see the
post-apocalyptic wasteland, the
decimated cities, and the scant human survivors searching
desperately for food in the 1975
film A Boy and His Dog,
directed by L.Q. Jones, based
on the 1969 novella by
societal devolution to gasoline
culture and ruthless tribal
savagery amid the wasteland in the
1979 dystopian post-apocalyptic film
Mad Max, directed by
George Miller, based on a story by
Miller and Byron Kennedy
in which a one-time Highway Patrol
officer attempts to bring order to chaos.
1984 Orion Pictures
||And in the
1984 Science Fiction film
The Terminator directed by
James Cameron based on his screenplay, the military hands
over control of our nuclear weapons
to Artificial Intelligence
called Skynet that
decides our fate in microseconds.
Skynet decides to wage global
thermonuclear war against the entire human race that
it sees as a threat to its survival. The rest of the story is
wish fulfillment, an attempt
among the scattered survivors of a
post-apocalyptic cityscape, to fight the
terminator cyborgs, and to change history. They attempt
this by building a time machine
to send back Kyle Reese to
save Sarah Conner from a
terminator that has already gone back in time to kill
her because her future son with Reese
named John Conner
is destined to defeat the terminators
in the future and allow mankind to live again, if not
to avert the thermonuclear holocaust
altogether. When you think about it, the action of the
retroactive abortion. But if you really think about it,
the entire premise of post-apocalyptic
Hell and time travel
to change it all is a dream, the last
swirl of extinction spasm before consumption by a
thermonuclear fireball. Right ... sure ... a time machine
changes reality ... you bet.
But the moment that is etched
in my mind forever, is the end of original
1968 film Planet of the
Apes directed by Franklin
J. Schaffner, screenplay by
Michael Wilson and Rod Serling,
based on the 1963 novel La
Planète des Singes by
Pierre Boulle. In Planet
of the Apes, an American
spaceship crashes in the inland sea of a vast wasteland
on an alien planet after spending years travelling to its destination.
The survivors walk toward what they take as civilization following
a trail of increasing vegetation. But what they encounter is
a supposed alien civilization turned upside down in which humans
are considered animals and apes are the considered superior.
This is reminiscent of A voyage
to the country of the Houyhnhnms from
Jonathan Swift's 1726 Menippean satire Gulliver's Travels
in which wild humans called
Yahoos are the inferior race and
erudite horses called Houyhnhnms
are the intelligent species. But the true revelation
in Planet of the Apes
comes in the closing moments when
Taylor discovers the bent, lopsided, and partially buried
Statue of Liberty. His
epiphany says it all:
my God ... I'm back. I'm home. All the time, I was ...
really did it you maniacs. You blew it up.
damn you. God damn you all to Hell.
of the Apes
1959 United Artists
Herbert George Wells
All I can say is that if human
beings are really as stupid as I think we actually are, life
will imitate art and we will destroy ourselves. It's the
Frankenstein motif yet one more time again. We are destroyed
by the fruits of our creation.
We never listen. You probably aren't even reading this rant.
And if you are, you will dismiss it as
gobbledygook. After all, you have more important things
to do. You have a box full of deadly
toys and are itching to play
I cry for humanity. I cry for
the children who haven't yet had a chance to live. Moreover,
I cry for the mutated minions of thermonuclear
war. Ask the survivors of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
on this seventy-second anniversary
of the atomic bombing
of their cities at the end of World
War II about the pain and suffering they have had to
endure. Listen to their pleas for peace. They know. A
thermonuclear war will be so much worse. Yet
North Korea and the United
States are rattling nuclear
sabers. The world has truly never seen such potential
destruction. Have we learned nothing from art? Have we learned
nothing from life? Have we learned nothing from the images of
people photoetched by the
flash of atomic detonation
onto concrete near ground zero?
we don't end war, war will end us.
H.G. Wells stated the facts
plainly in his 1936 novel Things
And if you think
thermonuclear war settles anything, think again. I refer
to the bard's dreadful Scottish play:
and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
in this petty pace from day to day
the last syllable of recorded time.
all our yesterdays have lighted fools
way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
but a walking shadow, a poor player
struts and frets his hour upon the stage
then is heard no more. It is a tale
by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5
Let me also quote from the
father of the atomic age himself who grew to regret the
application of his theory, none other than the creator of the
Law of Relativity:
know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but
World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.
with Alfred Werner
16, April-May 1949
It's a sad day when I regret
one of my conclusions to The Doomsday
Theme in Science Fiction: that
Sci-Fi is predictive. I wish it wasn't so. When it comes
to nuclear war there will
be no winners, only losers, if indeed anyone survives. There
is speculation whether nuclear war can be limited or will burgeon
to become global thermonuclear annihilation.
And I hate to think that the rational among us, the people
who are our representatives, in whose hands our existence depends,
are so overblown with bravado
and ego or
dumb struck by the inevitability
of destiny that common sense ceases because
this is as real as it gets. So ask yourself this:
be, or not to be? That is the question.
Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1
But there is a
flip side to the predictive
nature of Sci-Fi. The played
out scenarios act as warnings as if to say
DANGER AHEAD, do this and there will be
dire consequences. All we need do is heed the sage advice.
At its most dire, the choices
seem extreme: 1 or 0, live
or die, yes or no, white or black,
Fail Safe or Strangelove.
Sometimes it's not about winning
or losing. Sometimes it's about finding a peaceful solution,
a compromise everyone can live with. So adjust your tie, take
a long, deep breath, rein in
your macho invective, your
pride, and your rhetoric, step back from the
brink of the abyss, and do the right thing. And pray
that others do the right thing too. It's not about who blinks
first. It's about who opens their eyes to the horror they are
about to inflict and steps back from the brink.
But, if a peaceful solution cannot be obtained, give 'em Hell.
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