In yesterday's post, announcing the publication of my military SF short story "Hail to the Victors" at Abyss & Apex, I was talking about the history of the story and included this quote from my notes:
04/27/05 23:24 Wed
Hail to the Victors Version 1.0
okay, this is the opposite of a happy winning warrior story – the humans are too stupid to quit
After I posted, basking in the glory of having a new story out in the world, it occurred to me that someone might take exception to the phrase "too stupid to quit". That I was making fun of or mocking the military. Actually, I wanted to deal with a war on another world in which the humans were losing, or at least not winning -- and attrition was taking this to the sort of end game you rarely see in chess matches. You know, where you are left with too few pieces to win.
If I was mocking anyone, it would be the University of Michigan, from whom "Hail to the Victors" is the title of their omnipresent fight song. (evil grin)
A Bit Of A Backstory
I once worked with a man who, it turned out, had fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Actually, one of his buddies outed him. His response? He'd lost his best friends on either side of him during the fighting. Then he told me, "We weren't geniuses or heroes. We were just too stupid to quit."
That phrase stuck with me for a long time. I've often thought about what it would be like in a long, drawn out, desperate battle. How do you go on? I know that when I wrote that note six years ago, that "too stupid to quit" was shorthand for a whole lot of things going on.
Anyway, go read my story. I think you'll see I meant no malice.