Friday, January 13, 2012

Doctors, Soldiers, and Cowboys. Oh My!

Like I promised not only yesterday, but also last week, here is the long awaited first post on a couple of short stories. Some you may have heard of already, while others may be new to you. I hope you can check out the ones you haven't heard of yet, and if you feel like being nostalgic, go ahead and drift back to the past with some of the older stories.

Today there will be three stories: Kurt Vonnegut's 2 B R 0 2 B, A Militant Peace by David Klecha and Tobias Buckell, and Cowboys of Carnostus by Timothy Miller. Vonnegut's story, of course, is the classic while the other two are more modern, being published in the last couple of months. If you click on the titles in the headings down below, you will be redirected to pages where you can find these stories to read for yourself.

2 B R 0 2 B by Kurt Vonnegut -- World of If Science Fiction
This tale is set in a future where people live much longer lives due to advances in health and medicine. However, such doesn't come without its sacrifices. The world is at the population limits with people living so long in this future. In order for new life to come into the world, other life must go away.

However, many people must not be enthused by such a long life because there is a hotline number, 2 B R 0 2 B (zero should be read as "naught," so it should read "to be or not to be"), where people can call and have their lives terminated. Which brings up the question: why did that hotline even exist? It's based on the famous soliloquy from Hamlet (click the link to be redirected to Wikipedia if you want to learn more about it).

The painter ends up calling the number in the end. From the beginning of the story we learn he is disheartened in his job as a painter. So does he call the hotline because he has lived so long that he has perhaps forgotten or even lost the urge to live?

A Militant Peace by David Klecha and Tobias Buckell -- Clarkesworld Magazine
In the not-so-distant future, speculate Klecha and Buckell, we will have different strategies in fighting our wars. Instead of sending troops in to fight, we will drop U.N. sanctioned camp towns deep behind enemy lines (in this case, North Korea), where refugees can come and learn about the new cultures. These new strategies will focus on a non violence approach to dealing with matters like this. They will most likely have much superior technology, and it would be best not to use that technology to injure the enemies in anyway. Another strategy that Klecha and Buckell used was more effort coming from neighboring countries and countries with similar backgrounds. This tactic is so that the enemies feel less threatened by Western invasion.

As I'm starting to notice, and I like playing with these ideas most of all, is that there is often some sort of ethical dilemma in most of these stories. I'll try to pose one from each story if I can find one. The ethical question that arises from this story, at least the major one, asks: "Is it better to kill one to save many, or to allow many to die to save face?"

Cowboys of Carnostus by Timothy Miller -- Ray Gun Revival
Ok, I just said most of this stories raise an ethical question. Not all of them do. Some stories can be read for pure entertainment. Like this one. Go get some popcorn or some other kind of snack, sit back, and enjoy the laughs with this exciting tale presented by Timothy Miller.

Wait. You want to know what happens in this story? Two words: Zombie (well, infected by a virus that mutates them into raging carnivores) cows. Need I say more?

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