04.11.2016

Eyes of the Super Soldier: Keys To Compassion or Post-Human Cruelty?

Eyes of the Super Soldier: Keys To Compassion or Post-Human Cruelty?

Many sci-fi authors are debating issues surrounding the so-called "super soldier." By "super soldier," sci-fi authors simply mean soldiers who are equipped with the powers of modern technology. Since sci-fi authors are always looking into the future, some are concerned about how the ideals of the soldier will change in the coming years. Sci-fi writers wonder what effects these de-humanizing technologies will have on soldiers, commanders, and how we all generally think of war.

Even soldiers nowadays in industrialized societies have a remarkable amount of technology at their disposal. With GPS tracking, portable computers, infrared lasers, and many more tech tools, the skills soldiers of the past few centuries needed to survive have been quickly obsolesced. But with all this technical convenience, sci-fi authors wonder if the soldiers of tomorrow are becoming more like unthinking stormtroopers rather than the free thinking rebel soldiers of Lucas' Star Wars films.

One way sci-fi authors believe writers in the future will still be able to explore this issues of "machine versus man" is to place soldiers in situations that require prolonged solitude. Even in older war novels from the Civil War, the World Wars, and Vietnam, most readers can probably recall many instances where protagonists have to do soul-searching away from the battlefield. This confrontation with one's own humanity will have even more power in the sci-fi works of tomorrow.

One example sci-fi authors often go back to is the classic film Blade Runner. Although not specifically about war, this film deals with all the issues that will weigh on man's conscience as the technological revolution continues. Rick Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, is the conflicted "super soldier" par excellence. Deckard works in this futuristic Los Angeles as a "Blade Runner" tasked with killing many sophisticated and conscious robots. Throughout the course of the film, eyes become a central symbol through which Deckard learns more about his own identity, as well as learning more about compassion for those he is tasked with killing. In this film, it is hard to tell whether the so-called "robot's" eyes are more or less "humane" than the actual human's eyes are.

Where does man end, and where does his machine begin? This is a central question the future tech-savvy soldier will increasingly have to face. Many sci-fi writers believe this is a central question they will have to meditate on in their fiction.

Some sci-fi authors who have an interest in history are also discussing the possibilities of using the innovations in sci-fi fiction to re-visit famous military expeditions of the past. One proposal often put forward is to rework the campaigns of Napoleon for a future age. Authors imagine how soldiers and civilians in this world and other worlds would react to Napoleon's grand intergalactic conquests. Also, writers wonder how would Napoleon be brought down in such an age?
Would he lose, despite his entire technical prowess, due to a simple miscalculation? In the end, would this future Napoleon fall at the hands of a "primitive" warrior? And, if that is the case, what does this have to say about the human condition?

All these are speculations sci-fi authors feel we should explore in order to gain clarity on the human predicament in the digitalized age. They hope that their texts will explore how our technology changes the way we think about the military, the values of a soldier, and the role of civilians in an age where soldiers have incredible technological might.


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