May the Armed Forces Be with You

The Relationship Between Science Fiction and the United States Military


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About the Book

Science fiction and the United States military often inhabit the same imaginative space. Weapons technology has taken inspiration from science fiction, from the bazooka and the atomic bomb to weaponized lasers and drones. Star-spangled superheroes sold war bonds in comic books sent to GIs during World War II, and adorned the noses of bombers. The same superheroes now appear in big-budget movies made with military assistance, fighting evil in today’s war zones. A missile shield of laser satellites—dreamed up by writers and embraced by the high command—is partially credited with ending the Cold War. Sci-fi themes and imagery are used to sell weapons programs, military service and wars to the public. Some science fiction creators have willingly cooperated with the military; others have been conscripted. Some have used the genre as a forum for protest. This book examines the relationship between the U.S. military and science fiction through more than 80 years of novels, comics, films and television series, including Captain America, Starship Troopers, The Twilight Zone, Dr. Strangelove, Star Trek, Iron Man, Bill the Galactic Hero, The Forever War, Star Wars, Aliens, Ender’s Game, Space: Above and Beyond and Old Man’s War.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Dedman is a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Western Australia and the author of five novels and more than 100 short stories.

Bibliographic Details

Stephen Dedman

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 252
Bibliographic Info: 20 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9742-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2286-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface: Study War No More? 1
Introduction: “The Impact of Actual or Imagined Science” 5
1. “See You Later, Space Cowboy” 23
2. “The Eve of the War”: 1926 to 1942 32
3. “A War Increasingly ­Science-Fictional”: 1942 to 1945 42
4. “The Meaning of Atomic Weapons”: 1946 to 1949 51
5. “I’m Not Working for the World”: 1950 to 1961 56
6. “A Taste of Armageddon”: 1962 to 1975 84
7. Murder in the Air: The Quest for the Death Ray 123
8. Ender’s Game: Killing Machines 147
9. “The Punisher”: The Gulf Wars and Beyond 166
Appendix A: Science Fiction Writers Who Served in the U.S. Military, World War II to Vietnam 187
Appendix B: From Jeep to JEDI: SF Influences on Military Terminology 190
Appendix C: The Vietnam War Advertisements, 1968 192
Appendix D: Science Fiction Films Made with the Assistance of the Pentagon (to 2013) 194
Chapter Notes 197
Bibliography 227
Index 231

Book Reviews & Awards

“The research is incredible. The value of this book is its historical documentation of creativity and innovation and its adaptation/inspiration for modern military systems. The sources are thorough, detailed and plentiful”—H-Net Reviews.