There’s an old sci fi story

About the scientist who insists his new invention is terrific as it makes explosives not work. No More War!

The General wants to kill him right there and then. For no more explosives or projectile weapons means reversion to worse forms of war, not its extinction.

China has said it is moving 20 martial art trainers to the Tibetan plateau to train its forces.

No official reason for the decision has been given, but it comes after at least 20 Indian troops were killed in clashes with Chinese border forces.

Under an agreement dating back to 1996, neither side carries guns or explosives in the area.

45 thoughts on “There’s an old sci fi story”

  1. Kung fu vs Kalari Payattu?

    Hardly–unless they are going to revive the weapons side of those arts–sword, spear etc.

    Practical modern combatives are derived from traditional martial arts. But few of the really evil and brutal arts that would have been used in the past’s battlefields remain intact.

    Some old and savage Jiu jitsus from Japan’s age of war–ended 1600–still abide but much that came after that was significantly less martial with most arts being practiced on tatami mats or polished wood floors not in the mud and uneven ground of open spaces.

    Much the same elsewhere in the world. As the ancient and medieval worlds receded in time the arts became more “civilised” –though still with some danger–and less oriented to pure combat.

    Thus the need for systems like Fairbairn-Sykes’s Silent Killing training for the Allied special forces of WW2.

    Indeed a number of piss poor Chinese kung fu “masters” have recently been knocked out left right and centre by 2nd eleven Chinese MMA hacks–so far has kung fu fallen in general.

  2. It makes one wonder how many Chinese joined the 20 Indians on the path to resurrection.
    But, as above, I doubt Kung Fu masters will tip things in China’s favour.

  3. An idea in Dune Messiah et al is that with Computers and Atomics forbidden and shield technology, fighting reverts to hand to hand, and interstellar society becomes Feudal ( bit feeble when you write it down). I recall another story in which it was discovered that with an old bit of hose and some crystals weapons of limitless power were available to anyone
    It was a short short story but the implication was that a much more respectful and orderly world would ensue.
    The scale of slaughter achieved by the Mongols with only basic technology was recently remarked ion and the European religious wars were astonishingly bloody.
    Nukes have kept the peace bit its a high risk strategy . Nonetheless ,I have never believed in Japans supposed intention to surrender without two big hints. They forgot to declare war in the first place so why would you. I dread to think what fighting Japan to a standstill on the ground would have been like.

  4. It sounds very similar to the short story
    “Report on the Barnhouse Effect” written by Kurt Vonnegut in 1950.

    Definitely worth a read.

  5. Quite like the idea of this. I can fence & was, at one time, quite good at it. And I own a state of the art compound bow. I’d have to find time to practise both more. And that’s the end of governments holding the easy monopoly of violence. To have it you have to put more warriors on the ground than your adversary. In offence a considerable numerical superiority

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    I hate to say it but Newbie might be on to something. There is an old Frank Herbert story about a reluctant conscript manning a fox hole in the Arctic against the Soviet Union. Said soldier has a brain flash for a shield – soon to appear in Herbert’s slight more famous Dune – which would slow down any rapidly moving metal object that comes within its field. Thus, he thinks, abolishing war.

    His officer explains to him that just means assassinations and terrorism rather than direct conflict.

    It may well be a little too obscure to be the story our Good Host refers to. A little.

    On the other hand it is not wrong. Moscow did not want to risk nuclear war by driving through the Fulda Gap but Putin is happy to send people to kill people in the UK and Germany.

    I would look up the name of the story but I have not read it since I was a student. Which was some time ago. And I don’t have a copy.

  7. Anyone care to venture a guess at how many times, in fiction, the fate of the universe (or occasionally only the galaxy or the Earth) depends entirely on the outcome of a fist fight?

  8. So Much For Subtlety

    BraveFart June 28, 2020 at 1:57 pm – “The Indians just need to hire Steven Seagal”

    He does think he is a great religious leader of the Tibetan people so he might do it for free.

  9. Interestingly my wife, who is HK Chinese, commented to me a few days ago after watching Chinese-language HK TV news, that it was reported the combatants in that fracas had beaten each other to death. At the time I discounted it not realising that neither side carried guns. Now it makes sense. You don’t necessarily need martial arts, a supply of baseball bats should suffice.

  10. Looking over the comments, the force field sheild blocks penetration of objects above a certain velocity, makes sense. The explosive suppressor doesn’t. It’s an oxidation process. Same as what’s happening in your body. Turn it on & you drop dead. The speed an oxidation process proceeds from molecule to another only figures on a macro level. On a micro level it doesn’t. If you stop oxidation, you stop oxidation.

  11. Come to think of it, doesn’t only figure probably makes more sense. Although it ammounts to the same thing. If you bugger about what’s happening in the chemistry in explosives you bugger about with what’s happening in your own cells. The chemistry’s similar.

  12. The ‘Forever War’ by Joe Haldeman has a battle requiring a ‘stasis field’ which renders modern weapons useless.

  13. You might be thinking of “A Piece of Wood” (also known as “Rust”) by Ray Bradbury

    “Then they’d beat each other with their fists. If it got down to that. Huge armies of men with boxing gloves of steel spikes would gather at the national borders. And if you took the gloves away they’d use their fingernails and feet. And if you cut their legs off they’d spit on each other. And if you cut off their tongues and stopped their mouths with corks they’d fill the atmosphere so full of hate that mosquitoes would drop to the ground and birds would fall dead from telephone wires.”

    The ‘Official’ reaches into his pocket after the scientist has left, and discovers that his metal pen is no longer there…

  14. I lost a fight once when my opponent bit my ear. There’s an impressive amount of blood from a head wound but probably a lot less then you’d lose from blood donation.
    Next time I won’t be so prissily middle class and go for his balls and his eyes.

  15. The bloodiest single day battle in history involved the Romans, something like 60,0000 dead of memory serves. As a race we have been very efficient at killing large numbers for a long time

  16. It makes one wonder how many Chinese joined the 20 Indians on the path to resurrection.

    Very good point. This was a fight that the Chinese started and they got round the ‘no firearms’ rules by using bats with nails stuck in them. Yet they still feel the need to bring in martial arts trainers. Perhaps they didn’t come off so well…

    It’s all hype of course. The way of the empty hand tends to come up short against the way of the robustly-wielded big stick.

  17. Hopper’s quote had me thinking:

    This was the point of Rollerball ( James Caan, not the rubbish remake). There would be no more war, nor for that matter countries. The world is divided into corporations and they slug it out on the Rollerball track ( which was actually the Munich Olympic velodrome). Needless to say as the violence increased so did the TV ratings.

    Rollerball

  18. The bloodiest single day battle in history involved the Romans, something like 60,0000 dead of memory serves. As a race we have been very efficient at killing large numbers for a long time

    Cannae, I imagine.

  19. Gatling’s mechanical rapid fire gun was intended to reduce the size of armies, hence casualties.

    How’d that work out for you, Richard?

  20. “The bloodiest single day battle in history involved the Romans, something like 60,0000 dead of memory serves. As a race we have been very efficient at killing large numbers for a long time

    Cannae, I imagine.”

    I cannae imagine it, mon.

    Scrivens, I’ll get ma coat.

  21. Boudica, Queen of the Iceni, who for some reason the British revere, lost around 80,000 in a day at Mancetter.

    Cannae is the largest DOCUMENTED single day loss in battle. It is documented as the Romans kept records. Iceni losses are estimates.

  22. After further review . . . .

    The American (conventional) bombing of Tokyo May 9/10 killed around 90,000. This was over TWO days, so it’s not the greatest loss of life in a single day’s battle. And 90,000 is an estimate.

    The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bomb casualties are estimates, and vary wildly.

    So Cannae keeps the record.

  23. There’s an old cartoon showing a caveman holding up a club with a nail driven through it. The captions reads:
    … and this weapon will make war so terrible that nobody will ever dare …

  24. Yet they still feel the need to bring in martial arts trainers. Perhaps they didn’t come off so well…

    They declined to share casualty figures. Stating that it was “in an attempt to cool things down”.

    The cynic might think they got a drubbing and don’t want to admit it…

    I remember a sci-fi book about a tool that would donate any gunpowder nearby. Can’t remember what it was called. Made the point at the end that if you stop war, we’d be ready pickings for any hostile aliens passing by…

  25. “Made the point at the end that if you stop war, we’d be ready pickings for any hostile aliens passing by…”

    Net Zero will have same effect. Your grandchildren will be speaking Danish or Norwegian.

  26. Ottokrieg

    Mack Reynolds had a series of stories in which corporations settled their differences in a gladiator- style setting. And another series in which states settled there differences in well defined areas using selected teams using no trchnklogy not available in (I forget – 1900??)

  27. I read a lot of science fiction as a teenager,this takes me back. A story I really liked was ” The Red Queens Race”.
    A man succeeds in going back in time to Ancient Greece and the people desperately trying to stop him assumed they would all blink out of existence.
    In fact they were living in the reality he created, already, so nothing happened and his knowledge of modern technology changed nothing. A nice touch was the reference to the fact that the Ancient Greeks had indeed invented the steam engine amongst other ideas but had no use for it and none of the other tech ( like metallurgy ) to use it.
    Only at the end of the story do you see why it is called” The red queen’s race” .

  28. “BraveFart

    The Indians just need to hire Steven Seagal”

    I wondered why recent Steven Seagal films always did the fight scenes in slow motion.

    Then I realised they weren’t slow motion. He’s just getting old.

  29. If we’re going back to pre-gunpowder warfare that puts our leaders in the front rank of the shield wall. What’s not to like?

  30. The original proponents of aerial bombing – General Giulio Douhet in particular – suggested that modern warfare would not be fought between armies or navies, but rather by air forces bombing the enemies’ capital cities. This would force peace so rapidly that the total death rate would be low.

    We all know how that turned out…

  31. @Sam Vara
    June 28, 2020 at 2:02 pm

    “Couldn’t they just sell the Indians some bat or pangolin meat?”

    Indians are mostly Hindu. Vegetarians…..

  32. So Much For Subtlety

    People shouldn’t mock those that thought they had invented weapons so terrible that they should put an end to war. In the end we came up with nuclear weapons.

    BlokeInTejas June 29, 2020 at 3:01 am – “And another series in which states settled there differences in well defined areas using selected teams using no trchnklogy not available in (I forget – 1900??)”

    This is so well travelled it is hard to narrow down. But I like Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore’s Clash By Night. Not quite sure why. Anyway, mankind lives on Venus in domed cities under the sea. They settle their differences by hiring mercenaries Navies to duke it out.

  33. Thanks, Ecks. The reference is ‘archive.org/details/Astounding_v60n05_1958-01_dtsg0318/mode/2up’.

  34. Indians are mostly Hindu. Vegetarians…..

    Hindus are not necessarily vegetarians – though many are, some for religious reasons :).

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