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Author Topic: EP120: The Sundial Brigade  (Read 47323 times)
bolddeceiver
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« Reply #20 on: August 26, 2007, 05:32:16 PM »

Like a lot of the people posting here, I was more interested in the context than the story itself.  Don't get me wrong, the story was good, but what really got me thinking is the discussion of the UK terrorism legislation.  I'm kind of surprised I hadn't heard about that provision elsewhere. I am a pretty close follower of world politics; I guess this one slipped past me.

Does anyone know if Battlestar Galactica is airing in the UK?  It would seem that Season 3 would be questionable, by the letter of the law in question.

But on the other hand, I think the lack of fines and arrests of SF authors points to an interesting phenomenon.  It is possible to take some of the most controversial subjects of the day, set it in the future or replace the players with robots or aliens, and people are very slow to directly recognize what is going on.  You see the same thing in some of the great Cold War era SF.  I guess this could be read two ways; it either means SF writers are powerless to move opinion because people are so slow to recognize current events in SF, or it could mean they are capable of stealth satire, able to subtly and subconsciously affect people's attitudes through this kind of invisible analog.
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ajames
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« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2007, 06:01:34 PM »

Thank you for providing some more information on the anthology, Palimpsest - the stories you spoke of sound very interesting, and I would love to read your story!  It seems that these stories are taking a broader look at terrorism than I thought [I'm not sure I would consider killing some to save many terrorism per se, for example, but that is another discussion], and I will keep my eye out for the anthology now, which quite honestly I had no intention of doing before reading your post.

My reaction to The Sundial Brigade remains the same, and it is just that, a reaction.  But really I don't care if it challenges the law or not.  It's a bad law, and I only hope the British government does not abuse it before it is taken off the books.  If the anthology raises awareness of the law, then it has accomplished something important, indeed.

 
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swdragoon
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« Reply #22 on: August 27, 2007, 02:04:37 AM »

First let me apologize for seemingly putting words i mr. eEly's mouth. I is very easy to hear what you believe echoed in somebody else's words. I did not mean to speak for him.

And to Ruhlandpedia yes he dose say this but it still doesn't make a museum a valid military target. Or one for freedom fighters.
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wherethewild
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« Reply #23 on: August 27, 2007, 10:18:23 AM »


I really, really liked this story.

EscapePod is certainly making me think about what stories I like and why, and interestingly it appears I like a bit of SF in my politics (as opposed to a little bit of politics in my SF, which is how I previously thought of it).
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Chodon
Lochage
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« Reply #24 on: August 27, 2007, 10:50:09 AM »

But as to one mans terrorist is another's freedom fighter. I must call bs. While i would agree with and even assist fighting against this government at no point in time dose anybody in this story attempt to do that. Instead they strike at civilians whom have little to no say in the stasis quo. No attempt is made to combat those in power.

What would the British have called Militiamen if the US lost the Revolutionary war?  George Washington would have been the 18th century version of Osama Bin Laden.  (I hope the Brits don't come get me for talking about old-school terrorism).

Terrorists or freedom fighters are defined by who won the war.  The point of any army is to cause terror in the other army (and people).  They want to scare them out of fighting, making every army "terrorist" in a sense.  That's why the Germans (and the US, and the British) bombed cities of no military value.  Does that make them terrorists?  Maybe we need a definition of terrorism.  As far as I see it it's a person or group who wants to make change through fear.  Under that defintion some politicians are terrorists (Ban guns or assault-weapon armed criminals will invade your home and kill your family!).

My two cents...I'm expecting change.
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Mr. Tweedy
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« Reply #25 on: August 27, 2007, 11:59:16 AM »

What would the British have called Militiamen if the US lost the Revolutionary war?  George Washington would have been the 18th century version of Osama Bin Laden.  (I hope the Brits don't come get me for talking about old-school terrorism).

Terrorists or freedom fighters are defined by who won the war.

No no no.  I could not disagree with you more, and I think you're being wrong on this is dangerous.

The British called the militiamen rebels, which they were.  All rebels are not terrorists.  Terrorists use ambiguous violence, attacking indiscriminately with no regard for who they kill.  George Washington did not do that.  He didn't send agents to England to bomb London markets.  He did not target random British citizens for assassination.

Terrorism is a very specific type of violence that basically amounts to holding a population hostage.  The purpose is to cow the population into doing what you want because they fear execution.  It is debatable as the whether the bombing of a non-strategic city is terrorism.  Maybe it is.  But equating terrorism with war in a general sense is not accurate, and it is a dangerous equivocation to say that anyone who uses violence to achieve a goal is an "Osama bin Laden."  To do that is to say that all acts of violence are morally equal.

I'd say that the difference between terrorists and freedom fighters has nothing to do with who wins the war.  Freedom fighters use violence against specific targets who are essential parts of the oppressive regime and whose deaths weaken that regime in a quantifiable way.  They fight for (what they perceive to be) the good of the man on the street, to bring freedom to their people, as the name suggests.  Terrorists don't care who they kill, and their ends are selfish: They kill on the man on the street for the sake of their ideology.  These distinctions do not vanish when the terrorists win or the freedom fighters loose.

It's also interesting to note that a freedom fighter is generally trying to dethrone an oppressive minority.  In contrast, a terrorist is almost always a member of a minority group that is trying to subjugate the majority.  (Not definitive, but generally true.)  That is the case in this story, when the minority Sundial Brigade is using terrorism to cow the majority Martians, who favor museum cities.
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swdragoon
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« Reply #26 on: August 27, 2007, 01:03:41 PM »

what Mr. Tweedy said pretty much hit the spot. attacking innocents to effect change through fear is terrorism. to attack a strategic targets to remove a government is not.
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Pink Shift
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« Reply #27 on: August 27, 2007, 02:15:22 PM »

Mr Tweedy,
Very well
said.
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Chodon
Lochage
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Molon Labe


« Reply #28 on: August 27, 2007, 02:21:41 PM »

To do that is to say that all acts of violence are morally equal.
All acts of violence are immoral.  There is no way to morally blow someone up, or shoot them in the face.  It's the ends that justify the means.

I'd say that the difference between terrorists and freedom fighters has nothing to do with who wins the war.  Freedom fighters use violence against specific targets who are essential parts of the oppressive regime and whose deaths weaken that regime in a quantifiable way.  They fight for (what they perceive to be) the good of the man on the street, to bring freedom to their people, as the name suggests.  Terrorists don't care who they kill, and their ends are selfish: They kill on the man on the street for the sake of their ideology.  These distinctions do not vanish when the terrorists win or the freedom fighters loose.
I think if you ask a terrorist or a freedom fighter he would think he is bringing freedom to his people.  The targets of terrorism have changed since the 18th century, but the object has not.  They want the general populace to be so afraid they simply quit fighting.  Most British soldiers did not care about the Americas, but they would be shot by the revolutionaries (or terrorists) nonetheless.  The British soldiers used terror on the colonists at the Boston Massacre.

It's also interesting to note that a freedom fighter is generally trying to dethrone an oppressive minority.  In contrast, a terrorist is almost always a member of a minority group that is trying to subjugate the majority.  (Not definitive, but generally true.)  That is the case in this story, when the minority Sundial Brigade is using terrorism to cow the majority Martians, who favor museum cities.
I can see your case being a modern distinction when you think of the stereotypical angry, young middle eastern terrorist.  The American revolutionary war soldier was undoubtedly in the minority (at first) and was overthrowing a large regime.  The point I was trying to get across was that governments use the term "terrorist" to marginalize and dehumanize a group just like the terms "Jap", "Jerry", and "Kraut" were used in World War II to dehumanize our enemies then.  Each terrorist has a story and cause, and I'm not making a judgement on if it's right or wrong.  Personally, I believe the current wave of Middle Eastern Terrorism is abhorrent, but you need to understand the underlying reasons for a terrorist to use terror to stop them.  I think this story illustrates this point well.
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Mr. Tweedy
Lochage
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« Reply #29 on: August 27, 2007, 02:33:53 PM »

All acts of violence are immoral.  There is no way to morally blow someone up, or shoot them in the face.  It's the ends that justify the means.

I'm confused.

If you think all violence is immoral, then what's with the assault rifle and the quotes from Ben Franklin and Leonidas?
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swdragoon
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« Reply #30 on: August 27, 2007, 02:42:42 PM »

I fear you are in the majority. And i am deeply saddened at what that means for the future.
I think that maybe by calling our current conflict a “war on terror” has given credence to your logic. But i continue to see a grate difference between the two. And i fear that if the world continues to handle both groups the same it will be a very bloody conflict. Also i do not reference only the terrorist that spring to mind but also thoughts of Spain, Ireland ,the Philippine Islands ,and the US.
 :'(
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Chodon
Lochage
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Molon Labe


« Reply #31 on: August 27, 2007, 02:49:24 PM »

All acts of violence are immoral.  There is no way to morally blow someone up, or shoot them in the face.  It's the ends that justify the means.

I'm confused.

If you think all violence is immoral, then what's with the assault rifle and the quotes from Ben Franklin and Leonidas?

I'll try to keep this short because I don't want to de-rail this thread.

Violence is immoral, but the greater good sometimes requires it.  Nobody who is a good person wants to commit violent acts (if they do they are not a good person).  However, sometimes violence is needed to protect safety, values, or liberties.

::counts coins in hand:: I think you gave me too much change, Mr. Tweedy.   Grin
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sirana
Lochage
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« Reply #32 on: August 27, 2007, 02:57:22 PM »

to be honest, I didn't enjoy the story at all.
I was really looking forward to it, the "Glorifying Terrorism"-anthology is a truly interesting concept (and the cover is just kick-ass), but I was pretty disappointed with the story.

The characters were as cliche as they come, the dialogue was awkward and the story shied away from the really interesting questions about terrorism, imho.

Characters: the "they killed my mother, so now I want revenge" character has been done over and over again, so has the "they imprisoned my girlfriend". combining the two doesn't make it any better. Also I don't buy the transformation of Antonio from more or less upstanding citizen to terrorist in two days.
And is it really necessary to have the hero and THE GREAT EXPLAINATOR to literally ascend on a clowd, while the latter explains what it really was about?
The relationship between Antonio and his girlfriend also feels rather hollow to me, it serves only as a point to show more about the world they live in, but doesn't say much about the characters or their feelings.
Also Antonio's reaction to Ilona's death struck me as rather strange and unrealistic.
Which leads me to my next point:

Dialogue: The dialogue in the whole piece felt strange and fake to me, but especially the dialogue between Antonio and Jussuf at the end made me cringe:

I'm worried about Ilona. She's there in the prison.
- Then the gas has already got her, Tony. Don't feel bad. She would have wanted this.
No.
- Some things are worth dying for.
Like what?
- Like your humanity. You know how we need to see that.
What's that supposed to mean?
- I maybe a dissident and an exile, but I'm still a Terranian.

Who would talk that way in that situation? Jussuf may be a Terranian and so it may fit the story when he speaks strange. What is Antonio's excuse?


Issues: Maybe I'm wrong, but wouldn't the conflict of killing innocent people (or Terranians) be something that might at least cross Antonio's mind? The only thing he seems to think after he has decided to blow up the museum about is "where is the bomb from?" and "oh, i'm going to destroy some art".
Also the fact that Antonio doesn't really know how many people the bomb is going to kill, takes a lot of the moral implications out of the story. he isn't really the one who decides about the life of the innocent people, the unknown politician is.
But because we don't get anything about his thoughts on this matter the whole dilemma of killing innocent people (which imho should be at the heart of a story like this) gets mostly ignored.
Much of the setting also felt very unrealistic to me, but since realism isn't that important for the story anyways, I won't go deeper into that.

The reading also didn't do much for me, but that is a pretty minor nitpick, compared to all the other things I hated about the story.
My least favorite Escapepod story so far, especially because my expectations were pretty high.
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sirana
Lochage
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Posts: 409



« Reply #33 on: August 27, 2007, 03:06:40 PM »

Terrorism is a very specific type of violence that basically amounts to holding a population hostage.  The purpose is to cow the population into doing what you want because they fear execution. 
(...) Freedom fighters use violence against specific targets who are essential parts of the oppressive regime and whose deaths weaken that regime in a quantifiable way. 

I would say the difference isn't as clear cut as you make it out to be.
Is the insurgent in Iraq that attacks a military convoi with a IED a terrorist or a freedom fighter?
How about the suicide bomber who drives a truckload of explosives in a police HQ?
How about the person who flies a plane into the Pentagon?

I'd say all three examples would be included in your definition of the violence freedom fighters use, but I'd find it difficult not to call them terrorism.
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swdragoon
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« Reply #34 on: August 27, 2007, 03:11:00 PM »

all viable targets
and if it was the mo i would agree they were freedom fighters.
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sirana
Lochage
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« Reply #35 on: August 27, 2007, 03:15:33 PM »

all viable targets
and if it was the mo i would agree they were freedom fighters.
so you'd say flying a plane into the Pentagon is not terrorism?
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Chodon
Lochage
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Molon Labe


« Reply #36 on: August 27, 2007, 03:15:55 PM »

I went back and re-read my posts and got confused myself, so here's my thought in a nutshell:
No terrorist is going to think he's a terrorist.  He's going to call himself a freedom fighter (just like Antonio).  He thinks he has a good good cause and what he is doing is right.  Antonio had the good fortune (or bad fortune I suppose) to see the consequences of his actions and realize how wrong they were.  
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swdragoon
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« Reply #37 on: August 27, 2007, 03:18:31 PM »

not buy its self
no flying an airplane into the world trade towers was though.
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ajames
Lochage
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« Reply #38 on: August 27, 2007, 06:12:40 PM »

Here are some defining features of terrorism and terrorist acts as I see it.

Violent Acts committed by a relatively powerless faction against a vastly superior force.

Violent Acts committed for a general political cause rather than military strategic advantage.

Violent Acts committed against soft, civilian targets, sometimes selected for symbolic purposes and sometimes selected relatively at random.

Violent Acts that have no immediate goal other than to spread fear and weaken an opponents resolve.

Terrorism probably needs to be viewed along a continuum.  In general, the more violent an act, and the more features above that it meets, the further along it is on the continuum.  So hijacking a plane and holding the passengers hostage to negotiate release of political prisoners is very threatening and potentially lethal and meets probably 3 out of the 4 features above [there actually is an immediate goal in this kind of terrorism].  Flying a plane into the World Trade Center meets all of the above features and, well, you get the point.

Sadly, in the U.S. we are fighting a war against terrorism and haven't really bothered to define it.  But that hasn't stopped us from giving out government a lot of power and giving up our some of our rights to fight it.  Looks like we aren't alone, though.   
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bolddeceiver
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« Reply #39 on: August 27, 2007, 07:20:28 PM »

what Mr. Tweedy said pretty much hit the spot. attacking innocents to effect change through fear is terrorism. to attack a strategic targets to remove a government is not.

While I generally agree with this, it is important to understand that these things aren't cut-and-dried.  While your description applies to WTC or the London subway or bus bombs in the West Bank, it could just as easily apply to Hiroshima or Nagasaki.  It's not just rogue independents who use terror and attacks against civilian populations as a tool of political action.
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