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Title: Infertility in science fiction as a consequence of warfare
Authors: Grech, Victor E.
Vassallo, Clare
Callus, Ivan
Keywords: Science fiction -- History and criticism
Infertility -- Fiction
Apocalyptic literature
Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological -- Psychology
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: British Science Fiction Association
Citation: Grech, V. E., Thake-Vassallo, C., & Callus, I. (2011). Infertility in science fiction as a consequence of warfare. Vector, 268, 27-33.
Abstract: Warfare is an indissoluble aspect of humanity, and is an equally indissoluble part of mythology. Greek mythology is replete with strife between the gods themselves, allegories of human strife, and the most epic aspects were the succession myths, with the primordial couple Gaia and Ouranos overthrown by the Titans, who were, in their turn, overthrown by the Olympians. Warfare is a common trope in all branches of fiction, including science-fiction (SF), and the old pulp magazines were replete with such stories, narratives that featured exotic weapons and that often had Faustian implications, with devastating consequences. Military organisations take technological advances very seriously, as several military works show, to the extent that the ‘line between science and science fiction […] has never been totally clear. One of the earliest and most famous SF novels dealing with atomic warfare was Herbert George Wells’s The World Set Free (1914), which prefigures the misuse of atomic energy as a weapon of mass destruction. Wells was cognizant of the fact that technological development would lead to such deadly weapons as ‘[t]he history of mankind is the history of the attainment of external power. Man is the tool-using, fire-making animal’. Warfare can be nuclear, biological, chemical or cyberwarfare. And it is abundantly clear that the entire corpus of work dealing with warfare and SF is too vast to be discussed. Reginald Bretnor has made inroads into this lacuna with three anthologies that assemble both fiction and essays with regard to potential future trends in warfare of all types. Furthermore although the author of this paper is a medical doctor, even the health aspects are too great to realistically discuss in one paper. Hence, only the intersection of infertility in warfare within the genre will be analysed. The approach will thematic, and will attempt to list and taxonomise all narratives that deal with infertility inflicted by warfare in the SF. Many of the narratives now appear dated with entirely new ways of waging warfare that were too far-fetched for ‘that Buck Rogers stuff’, such as electronic warfare, since for the ‘present and for the foreseeable future, electronic systems serve and will continue to serve as the foundation of systems for the control of forces and weapons […] in all branches of the armed forces’. What follows is a brief reading of key texts, a necessarily concise exercise due to the multitude of narratives that have delved into this intersection.
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