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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Striking back, ineptly

Darth Vader's failure at the Battle of Hoth:
How did the Galactic Empire ever cement its hold on the Star Wars Universe? The war machine built by Emperor Palpatine and run by Darth Vader is a spectacularly bad fighting force, as evidenced by all of the pieces of Death Star littering space. But of all the Empire’s failures, none is a more spectacular military fiasco than the Battle of Hoth at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back.

From a military perspective, Hoth should have been a total debacle for the Rebel Alliance. Overconfident that they can evade Imperial surveillance, they hole up on unforgiving frigid terrain at the far end of the cosmos. Huddled into the lone Echo Base are all their major players: politically crucial Princess Leia; ace pilot Han Solo; and their game-changer, Luke Skywalker, who isn’t even a Jedi yet.

The defenses the Alliance constructed on Hoth could not be more favorable to Vader if the villain constructed them himself. The single Rebel base (!) is defended by a few artillery pieces on its north slope, protecting its main power generator. An ion cannon is its main anti-aircraft/spacecraft defense. Its outermost perimeter defense is an energy shield that can deflect Imperial laser bombardment. But the shield has two huge flaws: It can’t stop an Imperial landing force from entering the atmosphere, and it can only open in a discrete place for a limited time so the Rebels’ Ion Cannon can protect an evacuation. In essence, the Rebels built a shield that can’t keep an invader out and complicates their own escape.

When Vader enters the Hoth System with the Imperial Fleet, he’s holding a winning hand. What follows next is a reminder of two military truths that apply in our own time and in our own galaxy: Don’t place unaccountable religious fanatics in wartime command, and never underestimate a hegemonic power’s ability to miscalculate against an insurgency.
I've probably given the art of attempting to describe fictional battles in a realistic manner a little more thought than most, given the heavy military elements in my current series.  What I find interesting is how little thought goes into most such portrayals, and how obviously unfamiliar with the various military strategists most authors and filmmakers are.  Now, obviously some things are just there because they look cool or allow the hero to do something heroic; the Imperial Walkers are totally ridiculous in literally every single way.

Most "military" science fiction shows no sign of having ever encountered even the most basic military concepts such as unit cohesion, leadership, and morale.  This is fine in today's SyFy world, where the readers are inordinately female and more interested in the vicissitudes of the romances of the beautiful and tactically brilliant United Nations of Earth major with naturally curly hair, who has never lost a sporting competition, a fight, or a battle, and is torn between her attraction to the handsome enemy general with executive hair and her affection for her rugged, loyal, African company commander.

The amusing thing is how these "military" writers don't even pay attention to the most fundamental facts of militaries in the real world.  For example, over 10 percent of the women in the U.S. Navy have to be shifted to shore leave every year due to pregnancy, and then receive a one-year reprieve from ship deployments or combat zone assignments after giving birth.  But when is the last time you saw or read about a single female warrior getting pregnant in order to escape a deployment?

The worst example of pseudo-military action I can recall seeing was in The Return of the King, when Faramir leads a cavalry charge against Osgiliath.  Now, as a general rule, even the charge of the Rohirrim against Saruman's Uruk-Hai at Helm's Deep was more than a little dubious, since horses resist charging towards disciplined bodies of infantry bristling with long pointy objects.  But horsemen charging towards archers safely ensconced in a fortified position could only be topped by a naval invasion of Topeka by the Imperial Japanese Navy.  In military history terms, it is a straightforward category error.

One of the things I'm enjoying about writing A Rash of Blings is exploring the different military doctrines, especially in light of how the availability of magic and other elements affects them.  The Amorrans were obviously based on Vegetius, with just a dash of Maurice, but I will be very impressed indeed if anyone is able to identify the historical model upon which the elvish doctrine has been built.

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180 Comments:

Anonymous jack February 14, 2013 5:07 AM  

OK. I will try a bite at that. The strategies of the indigenous Hawaiians in line of battle with their Kahunas mentally charging up throwing sticks to heave at the enemy over the heads of their war club wielding warriors. The discharge of vital force [?] would stun the enemy warriors for a space of time. Time enough to smash their heads in.

This was supposed to have been something that was actually used and actually worked. I guess you, as the unit commander, wanted to be sure your Kahunas [battle mages] were well fed and protected while working their magic.

Anonymous kh123 February 14, 2013 5:11 AM  

Walker scene was my first moment of having belief completely suspended for something sci-fi and cinema, the way it was presented FX-wise.

To hell with CG.


Anonymous kh123 February 14, 2013 5:16 AM  

...Therein lies the rub: When does verisimilitude give way to just telling a good story, or having a memorable moment.

Blogger redlegben February 14, 2013 5:17 AM  

The shield could keep the invasion out within its sphere. The walkers were necessary to traverse the space between shield protection and rebel base. Obviously the shield was able to keep out space/air traveling vehicles but not land based ones. Cuz that's the way it worked. Quit ruining the story!

Blogger redlegben February 14, 2013 5:27 AM  

Besides the shield is a helluva lot more believable than the floating mountains of Pandora.

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 14, 2013 5:32 AM  

I'd say the most likely explanation is that the Force was invisibly working against the machinations of Vader and Gang on a scale so grand even Vader couldn't detect it (because he was enveloped in it), causing the Empire to continually make bad decisions and miss easy shots. If you lack the Mandate of Heaven there's nothing you can do no matter how many cool-looking weapons you have, you're gonna lose. People do stupid things. In 1917 the Germans had Lenin himself and virtually half the major Communist leadership in custody, and instead of just killing them all on the spot, they put them on a train back to St. Petersburg. The Tsar kept letting them go, too. Hilarity ensues.

Think of it. It's 2013, only one year away from the centennial anniversary of the start of the Sylvia Plath Century, the West's epic series of crazy pointless attempts to commit suicide. In 1914 the West in aggregate controlled virtually the entire planet, and instead of sitting back and enjoying the fruits of conquest, they decided to all slaughter each other. Again, and again, and again.....

Of course the real reason for the Hoth failure is, had Vader done a good job, there'd only be one movie and it'd be over in like half an hour, instead of six movies and a grillion-dollar franchise. I know which one I'd pick.

Anonymous VD February 14, 2013 5:32 AM  

The walkers were necessary to traverse the space between shield protection and rebel base.

Sure, but there were presumably transport options besides slow, four-legged, machines vulnerable to rope available.

Blogger redlegben February 14, 2013 5:39 AM  

Rope was the ingenious strategy developed by the hero. No one would have thought of such a simple solution. Similar to WWII American GIs using rain spouts to launch mortar rounds and peeing on the tubes to cool them. Machines that move human like are much more capable of traversing difficult terrain than tracked or wheeled vehicles.

Blogger Markku February 14, 2013 5:51 AM  

The worst example of pseudo-military action I can recall seeing was in The Return of the King, when Faramir leads a cavalry charge against Osgiliath.

Just that nobody gets the wrong picture about the culprit:

Wikipedia:
"In Peter Jackson's film of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Faramir takes Frodo, Sam and Gollum to Osgiliath, where they witness a battle. This does not occur in the book."

Anonymous VD February 14, 2013 5:54 AM  

Machines that move human like are much more capable of traversing difficult terrain than tracked or wheeled vehicles.

Sure. And Hoth was an ice planet. You know the sort of thing perfectly suitable for fast, tracked vehicles... like snowmobiles. The real reason, of course, is that George Lucas has no genuine interest in anything tactical or strategic. The "military" aspects were all pseudo-martial coloring meant to serve as a backdrop for the heroic actions of the hero.

Blogger redlegben February 14, 2013 6:02 AM  

The empire didn't know what type of terrain they would face on any given conquest. So, they brought the most adaptable APC they had which was the walker. Why did we take HUMVEES to Afghanistan? It's very believable when you consider current military strategy. Always fighting the last war.

Anonymous sprach von Teufelshunden February 14, 2013 6:04 AM  

Darth Vader, huh. I have been watching on Netflix, Once Upon a Time. I'm trying to figure out what Vader's Storybrooke counterpart would be. Would it be the mayor or Mr. Gold? Not sure here. Watching the Hansel and Gretel take, (True North) and could not get Bugs Bunny out of mind saying, "Hansel, Hansel, Hansel?"

Anyway, back to Vader. Vader is still an apprentice. Who is his master? (at least until Episode VI). Perhaps the...

Sith Lord Pope?

So that is why they had to off Patton. And silence Ratzinger. They both knew/know way too much...

Now this is the real kicker. Anyone here play Crysis?

North Korea is the exo-biology research center for Earth. Eventually, there may be no one left in North Korea with human DNA. [1][2]

Final thought here. Will Wired, "Danger Room" begin to engender the cojones to link to VT? One really wants to inform people about true danger? Or, is one just "following the script?"

Oh, thought I would throw in this bonus, that is indirectly referenced via aforementioned article. Amusing reading. Even more amusing comments:

Female CST and Special Forces Enabler Speaks Out




----------
[1] For one to truly comprehend both the pretext and context here, one needs to read this article, and listen to the embedded interview.

[2] Make sure you look up what exo-biology is. Put that in context with the DPRK. Look at a night time photo of the earth. Look at all the lights. Why so little in NK? Most around Pyongyang only. Something possibly going on underground here?

Anonymous VD February 14, 2013 6:15 AM  

The empire didn't know what type of terrain they would face on any given conquest. So, they brought the most adaptable APC they had which was the walker.

That's ludicrous. What terrain could possibly require tall legs and a top-heavy structure? It's an intrinsically complex and unstable mechanism for movement, which is why we drive tanks off-road instead of riding motor-horses. I doubt a real Walker could even function; the weight combined with the relatively small size of the footprint would probably drive the leg down far enough into the ground that the leg would snap and Walker would collapse... and as we saw in the movie, subsequently explode. Or at least cause it to get stuck very, very easily.

Stickwick or Markku, care to work out the physics of that one?

I suspect you are arguing out of emotional affection for a childhood favorite, which is noble, but quite literally irrational.

Anonymous Kyle In Japan February 14, 2013 6:22 AM  

Yeah, stuff like this is why I've completely eschewed armies and giant battles in my heroic fantasy writing. Small-scale fights between just a few individuals are more interesting to me, personally. I enjoyed the military action in AToB, but it was entirely from an outsider's perspective for me.

Blogger Markku February 14, 2013 6:32 AM  

Stickwick or Markku, care to work out the physics of that one?

We can't know what fantasy materials they had available to reinforce it. It could have had adamantium skeleton inside.

Blogger Markku February 14, 2013 6:36 AM  

And I can almost see the top-heavy form justified because it gives much greater visibility than a tank. It would be a lot easier to mow down large numbers of infantry with the guns at that height.

Anonymous Psychohistory February 14, 2013 6:37 AM  

VD: "For example, over 10 percent of the women in the U.S. Navy have to be shifted to shore leave every year due to pregnancy..."

Hah! In my experience shore side, I've had the pleasure of associating with LIMDU moms who've almost fulfilled their entire commitment on maternity leave by staying perpetually pregnant. Proudly and at tax payer cost so she could have, how has dh put it? "equal" opportunity of outcome. And they still complained about how tough and unfair it all was. Poor First Class who never did a single sea tour yet somehow managed to promote anyway.

Blogger redlegben February 14, 2013 6:38 AM  

Mountainous terrain is more easily traversed by horse. The problem with a horse is you have to feed it and it can die. Tauntaun. Hmmm...I was thinking Lucas happened into being smart. Now, I'm wondering. The mechanics of a walker are too complex and awesome for either of us to imagine. The bio-mechanics however favor the most adaptable APC being a legged one.

I won't deny my emotional attachment. I always wanted a walker. It was $100 and that was all my pickle picking money for the summer. I got an Atari instead.

Anonymous Outlaw X February 14, 2013 6:44 AM  

Vox, here is a 4 legged one low profile. Pretty amazing.

http://singularityhub.com/2012/09/12/new-video-of-armys-alpha-dog-robot-this-thing-is-awesome-2/

Anonymous Psychohistory February 14, 2013 6:45 AM  

redlegben: "The shield could keep the invasion out within its sphere..."

RUMSFELD PRINCIPLE #1: "Everyone knows wars are won by the Air Force."

The Empire could have easily snuffed them with a few shots from orbit and been home in time to watch Spaceballs.

Blogger JD Curtis February 14, 2013 6:49 AM  

Recent Arctic blasts in the Northeast have a certain 'Hoth-like' feel to them

Anonymous Starr February 14, 2013 6:54 AM  

In 1917 the Germans had Lenin himself and virtually half the major Communist leadership in custody

You have that backwards, the Germans fully supported the Bolsheviks as that was their ticket for knocking Russia out of the war so they could fully focus on the western front. However blowback, like karma is a bitch.

As an analogy think of the US support of the mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviets

Anonymous VryeDenker February 14, 2013 6:59 AM  

Would the Elvish military doctrine be based on the Book of five Rings by Musashi Miyamoto?

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 14, 2013 7:24 AM  

If they needed to traverse rough terrain, it's clear that they had some kind of hovering technology, as illustrated by Jabba the Hutt's giant floating party bus in the next movie. But that's beside the point.

From a visual-imagery film perspective, the important thing about the walkers was their imposing height, and the fact that they were heavily armored, slow, and inexorable -- in other words, they are a metaphor for the Empire itself. The idea of the little guys cleverly finding a way to take out the towering giant machines by finding their weakness is the key to the scene, even more than the hero's heroics. If they'd been low-to-the-ground tanks or cruisers or something, that's not simply not as cool, but also not as visually charged with information. The sight of the tall walkers coming crashing down conjures images of David and Goliath, the walls of Jericho, Hannibal's elephants, etc etc. It's full of associations. Visually, it's a rich, powerful bit. Maybe a lousy battle, but a memorable scene.

Think of the opening shot of the first movie, where a massive imperial star cruiser is chasing after some little spacecraft. It's like sending an aircraft carrier to chase a speedboat. Tactically it's ludicrous, but it's a masterstroke for an opening shot. It tells you everything you need to know, but at the same time makes you curious what the rumpus is all about. You're sold instantly.

Anonymous FUBAR Nation Ben February 14, 2013 7:26 AM  

Can you comment on the Dwarvish doctrine? How the hell would you fight a dragon? What would be your strategy?

Anonymous FUBAR Nation Ben February 14, 2013 7:30 AM  

Vox, you are ignoring the point that the emperor was only interested in maxiumum firepower. That's why he built the death stars as well as the super star destroyer. The SSD wasn't very maneuverable and we know how that worked out: one rebel fighter kamikazied it and blew up it's shield generator.

Anonymous SD February 14, 2013 7:37 AM  

It is because Palpatine WANTED the Rebels to escape. The Rebel Alliance was his Separatists of that generation. He needed a low level war (new Clone Wars) to maintain power. But he also had to make a show of military might.

Vader's motivation was trying to NOT kill his own son (this plot point bets a little messed with Lucas revisons in the Specia Edition, but either way Vader might have known that a guy named "Skywalker" might have been a blood relative...)

Geeze, you guys did see rest of the movies right? Not saying they were good films, but they did explain Vader and the Emperor's motivations.

Anonymous Hoffman February 14, 2013 7:39 AM  

@ VD: What would be the best way to learn military strategy and historical styles of warfare so as not to come off incompetent?

@ Outlaw X: If you are reading this thread could you go back to the thread about the Pope retiring and answer a question (so as not to derail this thread?)

Blogger tz February 14, 2013 7:39 AM  

They have power sources for hyperdrive, but can't do apaches or ospreys?

Or even hovercraft? Or melt the ice and go amphibious?

It had to be a lot colder than it looked - pressure melts ice so they would be in an icy quagmire.

A forest, maybe, where vertical clearance is greater than horizontal, but that is the only place.

Blogger tz February 14, 2013 7:43 AM  

There are worse things. Gunfights - in westerns or acton films. Car chase scenes. Almost any hand-to-hand fight scene, be it a red-neck bar brawl or some kind of martial art battle.

Anonymous daddynichol February 14, 2013 7:45 AM  

I never understood why all of the star war fighters relied on visual/manual acquisition and firing. Soooooo WWII. You would think that the entire identify, acquisition, targeting and firing would have been computerized. After all, they had the technology to jump space, have millions of handy-dandy robots, yet they had to jump in the plexi bubble and swing the Ma Deuce.

Even their drones sucked.

Blogger Markku February 14, 2013 7:45 AM  

If they needed to traverse rough terrain, it's clear that they had some kind of hovering technology, as illustrated by Jabba the Hutt's giant floating party bus in the next movie. But that's beside the point.

It was the Afghanistan of the universe. The poor bastards stationed there don't get newest technology.

Blogger IM2L844 February 14, 2013 7:47 AM  

Hah! In my experience shore side, I've had the pleasure of associating with LIMDU moms who've almost fulfilled their entire commitment on maternity leave by staying perpetually pregnant.

Surely, you're not suggesting there are women who would wield their vagina's as a strategic asset. /sarc

Blogger Markku February 14, 2013 7:48 AM  

I never understood why all of the star war fighters relied on visual/manual acquisition and firing.

Hypothesis: They were SO advanced that any automatic targeting could easily be jammed (or made to target friendlies), and it was cheaper to build the jamming technology than the auto-targeting technology. So, the one building the latter always loses financially.

Blogger redlegben February 14, 2013 7:50 AM  

Scoobius you are right about the imagery thing. However the shield was impenetrable to air based attack. Hovering would be included. Why do I feel like I'm in TBBT arguing comic books with Sheldon?

Blogger Nate February 14, 2013 7:58 AM  

Wait wait wait

The whole point of Faramir's charge... was it was an INSANE order given by an INSANE king... and a loyal son following the order even though he knew it was certain death. Come on man this has Charge of the Light Brigade written all over it.

/facepalm

Blogger Nate February 14, 2013 8:00 AM  

"I never understood why all of the star war fighters relied on visual/manual acquisition and firing."

The notion that we would have star fighters and droids before we would have smart phones should indicate how little vision lucas actually has.

Blogger Nate February 14, 2013 8:03 AM  

"There are worse things. Gunfights - in westerns or acton films. "

Dude. Stormtrooper blaster accuracy is among the longest running jokes in Nerd Joke World. And in the very same movie... they are described as amazingly accurate... despite never being able to hit... anything.

Which is totally bizarre given that they are genetic clones of a stupendous badass who apparently hit everything he shot at ever.. except perhaps Obi Wan.

The fact is Star Wars has held up really really well.. but its starting to fade now.

Blogger redlegben February 14, 2013 8:05 AM  

What do you need smart phones for when you have holographic messaging? Obviously the Empire destroyed the ability of anyone having easy communication via satellite. They weren't stupid.

Anonymous VD February 14, 2013 8:07 AM  

The whole point of Faramir's charge... was it was an INSANE order given by an INSANE king... and a loyal son following the order even though he knew it was certain death. Come on man this has Charge of the Light Brigade written all over it.

No. There is a difference between highly dangerous and completely and utterly impossible. The horses were charging a walled position. This would be akin to accepting an order to mount a cavalry charge against a fleet at sea. Faramir was obedient, he was not as insane as Denethor himself. What were the horses going to do even if they made it to Osgiliath, climb the walls?

And Denethor wasn't so completely out of his gourd that he would have given such an order. Attack the city? Sure. Via cavalry charge? No. He was in despair, he wasn't thinking he was a squirrel.

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 14, 2013 8:11 AM  

"how little vision lucas actually has."

You're looking at it wrong. Lucas made THX-1138 which was quite a visionary futuristic film, and he made American Graffitti, which kick-started the 50s nostalgia craze in the early 70s. That's some pretty crafty stuff.

The Star Wars movies, in terms of production design and storytelling, are deliberate pastiches of the old Republic serials -- Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, stuff like that. The spaceships have visual target acquisition so that the audience can look over the pilot's shoulder and watch, and play along. He didn't want actual futuristic visionary stuff (besides, it's not the future, it's somebody else's past), he wanted it to look like a 1930s romp -- I almost expected Errol Flynn to drop by for a cameo. Actually, that happens, when Luke grabs Leia and swings her across that giant nuclear pit in the first movie, which I also thought looked a little unnecessary.

The great riff on this is the hilarious bit in "Galaxy Quest" where the plucky crew has to make it to the engine room of the alien ship, but the door to the engine room is blocked by this giant Rube-Goldberg death-machine. Sigourney Weaver has a nervous breakdown: "It's the damn ENGINE ROOM! People have to go in and out of there all the time! WHY would somebody put all these booby-traps right in front of the door to the ENGINE ROOM?!?"

I peed my pants over that one.

Anonymous Zartan February 14, 2013 8:18 AM  

The first comment on that article is WIN!

"JordanViray • 2 days ago −
Have you even served with the Imperial forces? Sure it's easy to take potshots from your military blog in some no-name star system while the fleet and its legions fight the rebel insurgents, but combined space/air/ground operations are a lot messier than any infographic could ever portray.

Even with the Empire's full spectrum dominance of the battlespace, you can't just leverage fleet assets which are optimized for ship-to-ship combat into a large scale ground invasion force. A Star Destroyer might have more firepower than the entire militaries of less advanced worlds but you still need a proper ground assault ship to support infantry landings.

Unfortunately, the do-nothing blowhards in Coruscant couldn't get funding for the promising alternative designs from Sienar Fleet Systems and we ended up (as usual) with Kuat Drive Yards' overpriced, overdue, and underperforming AT-AT mess."

Anonymous Mystery Man February 14, 2013 8:22 AM  

with naturally curly hair

Nice Peanuts ref.

Anonymous VD February 14, 2013 8:22 AM  

The Star Wars movies, in terms of production design and storytelling, are deliberate pastiches of the old Republic serials -- Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, stuff like that.

Of course. But none of that changes the fact that they are absurd. The fact that one has a perfectly good reason for making it absurd is irrelevant. I'm not criticizing it as entertainment. I am pointing out that the objectives are different.

Blogger Nate February 14, 2013 8:24 AM  

"No. There is a difference between highly dangerous and completely and utterly impossible. The horses were charging a walled position. This would be akin to accepting an order to mount a cavalry charge against a fleet at sea. Faramir was obedient, he was not as insane as Denethor himself. What were the horses going to do even if they made it to Osgiliath, climb the walls?"

/facepalm

1) Osgiliath was a ruin. I suppose what they would do.. is ride straight through the various gaping holes in what little remained of the walls.

2) Charging walls is no less insane than charging a heavy artillery battery that is sitting there waiting on you, over a mile of open terrain almost entirely in their field of fire. For crying out loud they literally charged into direct fire scatter shot from cannons! It was insane. It was entirely impossible. In fact it was probably far more impossible than merely charging at the windmill of Osgiliath... I mean archers? We're talking about f'ing cannons. direct fire cannons. Not BS indirect fire longbows. In the immortal words of Keyshawn Johnson... C'MON MAN!!!

Blogger IM2L844 February 14, 2013 8:27 AM  

I will be very impressed indeed if anyone is able to identify the historical model upon which the elvish doctrine has been built.

I always assumed it was some kind of Bushido sort of thing, but I really haven't given it much thought.

Blogger Nate February 14, 2013 8:28 AM  

Look... the whole reason the Charge of the Light Brigade became such a big deal to the english people was because the Duke of Cardigan knew damned well the order was insane.. he knew damned well he and his men were going to die... but he followed the order anyway.

For some reason the damned limey bastards found suicide noble.

Faramir's charge is far to similar to a massively important cultural event to simply brush it away and suggest that it isn't a deliberate inclusion.

Blogger Markku February 14, 2013 8:28 AM  

Just to make sure: Is it possible that Nate has watched the extended edition and Vox the theatrical? I watched the extended, and I vaguely remember a strong implication of Denethor wanting Faramir to die, hence the command.

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 February 14, 2013 8:31 AM  

Naruto Shippuden is currently doing a fairly decent job of employing military strategy in a fictional universe. Especially now that all the characters are currently engaged in a major war.

Of course, when you fight in the open, you cease being shinobi really. I'm not an expert on Japanese military history, but I suspect that shinobi weren't used as soldiers. But then again, this is a fictional universe...

Blogger James Dixon February 14, 2013 8:31 AM  

Hypothesis: They were SO advanced that any automatic targeting could easily be jammed...

Sigh, I'm getting old. I can't remember the details of which book it was now. But wasn't that Heinlein's reason for having the default weapon of the future be a needle gun?

Anonymous the abe February 14, 2013 8:34 AM  

The last vestigage of common sense I can even recall being set in popular science fiction is the neutral zone in "Star Trek", and even that is (likely) only attributable to the fact Gene was ex-military and traveled extensively as a pilot.

Blogger Nate February 14, 2013 8:36 AM  

"Just to make sure: Is it possible that Nate has watched the extended edition and Vox the theatrical? "

...

You're aware the movies are actually loosely based on books... right?

Blogger Markku February 14, 2013 8:37 AM  

You're aware the movies are actually loosely based on books... right?

Exactly the reason I previously quoted from Wikipedia:

"In Peter Jackson's film of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Faramir takes Frodo, Sam and Gollum to Osgiliath, where they witness a battle. This does not occur in the book."

Blogger Nate February 14, 2013 8:43 AM  

" "In Peter Jackson's film of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Faramir takes Frodo, Sam and Gollum to Osgiliath, where they witness a battle. This does not occur in the book." "

Osgiliath was lost. They didn't lose it in pristine condition mate.

Blogger Markku February 14, 2013 8:45 AM  

Osgiliath was lost. They didn't lose it in pristine condition mate.

I'm just saying that if the scene was unique to the movie, then it needs to make sense in relation to what's actually shown in the movie.

Blogger Markku February 14, 2013 8:46 AM  

If it's at least in the extended edition, then Jackson's addition makes sense. If not, then it doesn't.

Blogger Nate February 14, 2013 8:48 AM  


http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Osgiliath

Osgiliath was a ruin... it had been wrecked and smashed and fought over for literally 1000 years... and to suggest that it had anything resembling military walls... is simply ridiculous.

Blogger Nate February 14, 2013 8:50 AM  

Jackson gave Denethor the shaft in the movies. There is no question about that. I don't think anyone suggests that Raglan had any malice toward the light brigade or the earl (I said duke earlier I was mistook) of cardigan when he gave his moronic order either.

Its just a great example of a stupendously idiotic order... being given.. and followed... with no hope of success... to the cost of many many lives.

Anonymous jack February 14, 2013 8:52 AM  

Nate February 14, 2013 8:28 AM

Look... the whole reason the Charge of the Light Brigade became such a big deal to the english people was because the Duke of Cardigan knew damned well the order was insane.. he knew damned well he and his men were going to die... but he followed the order anyway.

My understanding, and it may well have been from these hallowed posts, was that the brigadier that ordered the light brigade to make the charge did not realize, until too late, that his orders had been misinterpreted. He sent a captain [?] galloping out to head off the charge before the troopers came in range of the guns. Unfortunately the courier was killed before delivering the correct orders. If this is not correct I would appreciate a correction.

Blogger Nate February 14, 2013 8:52 AM  

Look.. All I am saying is... I do believe it is far more likely that Tolkein wrote Faramir's charge as a nod to a very important cultural even from his own country's past... rather than assigning it to military tactical ignorance.

Blogger Markku February 14, 2013 8:59 AM  

It wasn't a charge in the book.

http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Faramir%27s_defense_of_Osgiliath

In the book, Denethor did not order Faramir on a suicidal cavalry charge against Osgiliath, although Faramir did regard the order to go to help defend Osgiliath ill-advised.

Anonymous Bobby Joe Trosclair February 14, 2013 8:59 AM  

As Tolkien was a WWI veteran who saw the stupidity of the mass infantry (and occasionally cavalry) charges from the trenches, ordered by a terminally clueless officer corps, I have always thought this scene was based on Tolkien's own wartime experience.

Anonymous Outlaw X February 14, 2013 9:01 AM  

@ Outlaw X: If you are reading this thread could you go back to the thread about the Pope retiring and answer a question (so as not to derail this thread?)

OK Go look that's all I feel like right now.

Anonymous ZhukovG February 14, 2013 9:02 AM  

Hmmm... If Faramir was going to obey the order, he had to do the best with what was available. Nate is right. The walls were already destroyed. A stealthy night attack would be best but I think orcs see well in the dark.
Faramir selected the best option, charge with armored cavalry to get into melee range.
Might have worked if Sauron hadn't blocked the sun, could've charged with the sun in the archers eyes.
It still has Battle of the Somme written all over it though.

Blogger Nate February 14, 2013 9:10 AM  

holy crap.

You're entirely correct. The cavalry charge that I have had in my head for years never happened.

This is bizarre to me because I swear I saw it as a cavalry charge before the movies even came out. I even once wrote a paper about this whole thing... the charge of the light brigade and faramir's charge on osgiliath. Apparently my professor didn't pay much more attention to the reading than I did... because he dug it.

Thanks Marrku.

Blogger Nate February 14, 2013 9:13 AM  

now I have to go back and re-read that whole section...

Anonymous Jeigh Di February 14, 2013 9:13 AM  

At least at Hoth the Empire actually won, even though the star destroyers' pilots were so incompetent that they couldn't avoid crashing their ships into each other.
In the battle on Endor, the imperial contingent was wiped out by stone age teddy bears using spears and slings. Oh yes, And booby traps. The imperial troops on guard must have been almost as alert as those in Monty Python and the Holy Grail to miss seeing them being set up.

Blogger Markku February 14, 2013 9:16 AM  

Apparently my professor didn't pay much more attention to the reading than I did... because he dug it.

Or he figured Peter Jackson has more authority on the issue than Tolkien, since he had the good sense to add elf-girlpower.

Anonymous SD February 14, 2013 9:18 AM  

Two wild theories to consider:

A) The Rebel Alliance as just a pawn of the Sith, just like the Separatists. Who was the Sith Agent? Maybe Mon Mothra? Somehow Palpatine was manipulating the Rebels, as we learn at the end of ROTJ.

B) Perhaps Vader was in contact with Qui Jon, or even Obi Wan, via their Force Ghosts. Not saying he was following what they had to say, but they could've been advising him to half-ass it in his attack on Hoth, to spare Luke.

Blogger Nate February 14, 2013 9:31 AM  

"Or he figured Peter Jackson has more authority on the issue than Tolkien, since he had the good sense to add elf-girlpower."

No... I wrote that paper in college in the mid 90s.

Anonymous Heh February 14, 2013 9:32 AM  

horsemen charging towards archers safely ensconced in a fortified position could only be topped by a naval invasion of Topeka by the Imperial Japanese Navy. In military history terms, it is a straightforward category error.

LOL at the dumbass French who did exactly this at Crecy and Agincourt!

Anonymous Heh February 14, 2013 9:33 AM  

as a general rule, even the charge of the Rohirrim against Saruman's Uruk-Hai at Helm's Deep was more than a little dubious, since horses resist charging towards disciplined bodies of infantry bristling with long pointy objects.

And it worked! Because Orcs are apparently too dumb and indisciplined to stand there and hold a spear...

Blogger Nate February 14, 2013 9:35 AM  

...

There's no chance that I am actually to blame for Peter Jackson's screw up right?

Blogger A February 14, 2013 9:37 AM  

Didn't Palpatine want to replace Vader with Luke? I thought that's what his plan was, so everything was orchestrated for that design.

Anonymous Josh February 14, 2013 9:39 AM  

There's no chance that I am actually to blame for Peter Jackson's screw up right?

It's not your fault, son.

It's not your fault.

Anonymous JartStar February 14, 2013 9:43 AM  

I think we are overlooking an even more ridiculous battle with is the Gungan vs. Droid battle. The entire Gungan army was bunched up and simply walking out of the swamp without air support. The droids had complete air superiority. That battle should have been over in 10 minutes as the army was bombed into oblivion.

Hell, even if the droid fighters couldn’t target the ground the Gungan army was stationary when the shield was up, the droids don’t need to eat so they could just surround them and wait for them die of dehydration or force them to leave their protection.

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 14, 2013 9:44 AM  

"an order to mount a cavalry charge against a fleet at sea"

Well you know what the poem says...

"Into the Valley of Death rowed the six hundred."


Anonymous rienzi February 14, 2013 9:45 AM  

Raglan....Cardigan...

Why is it over-aggressive cavalry commanders seem to be better suited to be fashion designers? Custer with his fringed buckskin jacket for example?

Anonymous Josh February 14, 2013 9:47 AM  

JartStar:

THE PREQUELS NEVER HAPPENED!

Anonymous JartStar February 14, 2013 9:47 AM  

BTW, this complete lake of military thinking in so many fantasy/sci-fi movies has always puzzled me. I understand that the battles are there to make the heroes heroic, but they can’t hire a single retired colonel to at least advise them on how an army fights? They could ignore most of it and it would still make the scene better.

Anonymous JartStar February 14, 2013 9:48 AM  

@Josh

JAR JAR! You read it. Read it again. JAR JAR. Now whatever you do, do not think of his voice all day today.

Blogger Markku February 14, 2013 9:51 AM  

Jar Jar is raciss!

Remember that brouhaha?

Anonymous Viking February 14, 2013 9:52 AM  

You didn't finish your story Vox. So... did she get with the enemy general or the African commander? There is an army of angry 12 year old girls at the gates who want to know.

:)

Anonymous Josh February 14, 2013 9:53 AM  

JAR JAR! You read it. Read it again. JAR JAR. Now whatever you do, do not think of his voice all day today.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

THAT'S NOT POSSIBLE!

I'LL NEVER JOIN YOU!

Anonymous VD February 14, 2013 9:55 AM  

Osgiliath was lost. They didn't lose it in pristine condition mate.

True. But that didn't make it ground accessible to horses. And it wasn't in Tolkien. It was just Jackson being totally clueless as to the military absurdity, further evidenced by the way in which his depiction of the Dead cleaning up the battlefield rendered the valiance of the Rohirrim almost entirely irrelevant.

Anonymous VD February 14, 2013 10:00 AM  

I'm just saying that if the scene was unique to the movie, then it needs to make sense in relation to what's actually shown in the movie.

I'm talking about what I saw in the movie, I'm not even referring to the book, which didn't have any cavalry charge in the first place as Gondor was not known for its cavalry. And what I saw was archers up on stone several feet off the ground. I'm not suggesting a cavalry charge in place of a siege, but a cavalry charge against inaccessible broken ground.

Anonymous ZhukovG February 14, 2013 10:02 AM  

@Vox

"Gondor was not known for its cavalry."

Prince Imrahil would like a word with you.

Anonymous VD February 14, 2013 10:03 AM  

LOL at the dumbass French who did exactly this at Crecy and Agincourt!

The cavalry dismounted at Agincourt and advanced on foot. At Crecy, the ground was accessible; it was more comparable to the charge of the Rohirrim at Helm's Deep.

Anonymous maniacprovost February 14, 2013 10:05 AM  

I think the elves are based on... the Revolutionary militia in "The Patriot".

Anonymous Daniel February 14, 2013 10:10 AM  

For the Elves' doctrine, I'm going to guess you were forced to turn to Malkin.

Anonymous maniacprovost February 14, 2013 10:11 AM  

I am a little confused as to how the Amorrans can be based on a Dragon Ball Z character.

Blogger Nate February 14, 2013 10:14 AM  

ya know I am terrible at remembering what happened in what book... and that's bad because I have read a lot of fantasy in my day.

Its a miracle I haven't asserted that Gandalf is a tall wizard from chicago with a penchant for dusters.

Blogger Nate February 14, 2013 10:19 AM  

"And what I saw was archers up on stone several feet off the ground. I'm not suggesting a cavalry charge in place of a siege, but a cavalry charge against inaccessible broken ground."

I'll have to go back and look... but I think the walls were pretty much wrecked. there was wall here and there for archers to get up on... but there would've been plenty of smashed holes for the horses to get through.

Anonymous Heh February 14, 2013 10:24 AM  

The cavalry dismounted at Agincourt and advanced on foot.

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZT, wrong.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Agincourt#The_French_cavalry_attack

The French cavalry, despite being somewhat disorganised and not at full numbers, charged the longbowmen, but it was a disaster, with the French knights unable to outflank the longbowmen (because of the encroaching woodland) and unable to charge through the forest of sharpened stakes that protected the archers. John Keegan argues that the longbows' main influence on the battle was at this point: armoured only on the head, many horses would have become dangerously out of control when struck in the back or flank from the high-elevation long range shots used as the charge started.[40] The mounted charge and subsequent retreat churned up the already muddy terrain between the French and the English. Juliet Barker quotes a contemporary account by a monk of St. Denis who reports how the wounded and panicking horses galloped through the advancing infantry, scattering them and trampling them down in their headlong flight from the battlefield.[41] The Burgundian sources also say that the mounted cavalry retreated back into the forward ranks of French men-at-arms advancing on foot.

At Crecy, the ground was accessible

It wasn't a castle but it was a strong defensive position on high ground, which the English fortified with ditches, pits, and caltrops.

Blogger jamsco February 14, 2013 10:28 AM  

Regarding the Insanity Of Attacking Osgiliath:

I think all of you have forgotten a distinct possibility - that Faramir's plan was to get his cavalry behind some protected space and then (quickly and with the orcs none the wiser) DIG A TUNNEL into Osgiliath and attack from within.

What's that? Why doesn't Tolkein give any clues to this? Well perhaps he didn't want to spell out what was logically obvious.

Anonymous IanB February 14, 2013 10:28 AM  

There was a cavalry sortie from Minas Tirith to cover Faramir's RETREAT from Osgiliath.
Faramir came from Ithilien, reported to Denethor who overworked and committed his son and sent him to Osgiliath to help defend it.
This failed, of course, and Faramir was injured during the defeat.

The cavalry counterattack was successful in allowing the retreat to actually secure the lives of the remaining Osgiliath forces. It was led by Gandalf and Imrahil. I think you actually see it portrayed somewhat in the movie in the form of Gandalf riding out to save Faramir.

Anyways, Denethor's command to charge Osgiliath after it was taken never occurs in the book.

Blogger jamsco February 14, 2013 10:33 AM  

"It was just Jackson being totally clueless as to the military absurdity"

And don't forget the positioning of Aragorn's army outside of the Black Gate!

Blogger Ian Boyd February 14, 2013 10:38 AM  

Denethor never ordered an attempt to retake Osgiliath. Faramir fell in the retreat, and was ordered there by a father recklessly using his son as a tool.
Gandalf and Imrahil led a successful sortie which covered the retreat before being judiciously called back.
Denethor was prudent up to when faramir fell.

Anonymous Daniel February 14, 2013 10:45 AM  

What's that? Why doesn't Tolkein give any clues to this? Well perhaps he didn't want to spell out what was logically obvious.

That's some literary judo right there!

Now if only you could do it for Calvinism...

Anonymous Daniel February 14, 2013 10:50 AM  

And don't forget the positioning of Aragorn's army outside of the Black Gate!

Yeah, that was pretty insane. I mean, I know they only hoped to be a distraction but I don't think Tolkien intended for the Enemy to be distracted by a huddle of men in the basin of death ground.

Orc 1: Hey Azog! What's them doin'? Hunchin'?
Orc 2: I figger. Hunchin'.
Orc 1: Huh. That's distractin'.

Anonymous Krul February 14, 2013 10:53 AM  

And don't forget the positioning of Aragorn's army outside of the Black Gate!

Now that was a facepalm. Ruined a serious moment.

I mean seriously, why were they standing in a big round mob instead of formation? Why did the let themselves get completely surrounded instead of attackeing the Orcs when they were bottlenecked at the gate? And why, oh why, OH WHY didn't the ROHIRRIM have their HORSES?!

Anonymous Daniel February 14, 2013 10:56 AM  

Okay, not military, so mebbe OT, but could she qualify as a candidate for Hultgreen-Curie Syndrome?

I mean, isn't being a model and dating a guy without legs somewhat pioneering? Or does being an advocate against violence against women and then getting killed by her boyfriend count?

Come on. Women pioneers have pioneered so many things now that there's not that much left for them to pioneer.

Anonymous VD February 14, 2013 10:59 AM  

What's that? Why doesn't Tolkein give any clues to this? Well perhaps he didn't want to spell out what was logically obvious.

Exactly. He didn't spell it out at all. You see, I merely tread in his footsteps.

Anonymous ZhukovG February 14, 2013 10:59 AM  

And don't forget the positioning of Aragorn's army outside of the Black Gate!

This was not just a distraction by force. Aragorn and co. wanted Sauron to think that Aragorn had taken the One Ring and was thus reckless with assumed power.

Anonymous VD February 14, 2013 11:00 AM  

And don't forget the positioning of Aragorn's army outside of the Black Gate!

That was brutal. Especially the bit right before the fall of Sauron when they are surrounded.

Anonymous DaveK February 14, 2013 11:03 AM  

The 1 thing I never understood about tha AT-AT Walkers in Star Wars was how did they work in the first place? Were they troop carriers? Because if they were, then how did the troops dismount from them from such a tall height? Did the Walker somehow lower itself on its legs to ground level? Did it kneel? Or did the troops repel out of it?

Another movie that I thought gave very little thought to military strategy was Stormship Troopers; it seemed that the whole strategy of the Infantry was just to land enmasse, then charge straight into the enemy. There was no flanking, no skirmish line, nothing. Just a mob of soldiers running pell-mell into the enemy.

Perhaps I have given more thought to this than is warranted, but stuff like this really bothers my military sensibilities.

Anonymous DaveK February 14, 2013 11:04 AM  

Not repel; rapple.

Anonymous VD February 14, 2013 11:06 AM  

Another movie that I thought gave very little thought to military strategy was Stormship Troopers; it seemed that the whole strategy of the Infantry was just to land enmasse, then charge straight into the enemy. There was no flanking, no skirmish line, nothing. Just a mob of soldiers running pell-mell into the enemy.

To say nothing of the coed showers....

Anonymous cheddarman February 14, 2013 11:06 AM  

We don't know all of Vader's motives for fighting the battle. The Empire was governed by a religious organization, and their spiritual objectives trump military and political objectives.

While Vader failed to destroy the Rebels (or allowed them to eascape), he was able to separate Luke from them, so that he could try and seduce Luke to the Dark side, with the offer that they could together rule the galaxy as father and son...if that was his strategy, it was successful.

sincerely

cheddarman

Anonymous Daniel February 14, 2013 11:12 AM  

The bit about the Hoth blunder is funny, but I still like those scenes. There wasn't any reason for the Tolkien movies to avoid reflecting the good military writing of Tolkien. And yet they did. I mean for goodness sakes, they could have made a CGI mod to one of the Total War games and gotten more interesting martial art out of it.

Instead we got elves on makeshift Ski-Doos. Oh well. Still liked the movies - but some times I alternate between scenes from The Longest Day and Gallipoli in my head, just to remember what good war fantasy looks like.

Honestly, Branagh did a better job, militarily, on a backlot with about 50 extras and no CGI in Henry V.

Anonymous cheddarman February 14, 2013 11:17 AM  

Thinking about it from the perspective of Clauswitz, where political considerations trump military consideratiosn, Vaders actions make sense.

If he destroys the rebels and kills Luke, he cements the Emperor in place as ruler of the galaxay, and himself as #2.

If he scatters the Rebels and separates Luke from them, he has a chance to seduce Luke to the dark side, in a similar manner to which he was also seduced.

Then he and Luke can overthrow Palpatine, and rule together as father and son, most likely with Vader #1, Luke # 2.

So perhaps the Empire Striking Back was about the attempted seduction of Luke?

sincerely

cheddarman




Winning the battle and killing Luke would have solidified emperor Palpatine's rule. allowing Luke to live, along with his friends, would further Vader's plans to overthrow the emperor and rule the galaxy with his son. Destroying the rebels would weaken Vader's chance of seducing Luke to the dark side



Smashing the rebels would further harden Luke against Vader. In a Clauswitzian sort of way, Vader played his cards correctly.

Sincerely

cheddarman

Anonymous Tallen February 14, 2013 11:20 AM  

VD is correct wrt the movies. The books on the other hand, I haven't read in a few years but it started similar to the movies. Minas Tirith placed troops at river crossings; these were thrown back by orcs from Mordor. Minas Tirith also had some outer defenses - a "great wall of Gondor" if you will. When the garrison at Osgiliath and the island/ford further north were broken, they returned to the city and left the outer wall undefended. It was this wall that Denethor requested Faramir reinforce but I can't recall if the orcs had reached/taken it at that point. Some may recall that the Rohirrim overran some orcs en route to Minas Tirith at the same wall. IIRC the orcs had broken the wall at certain points including the one the Rohirrim passed through and were supposed to guard it against outside reinforcements to the city.

Anonymous Koppernicus February 14, 2013 11:32 AM  

To be fair to Tolkien, in the book the military tactics make sense. The Rohirrim charge at Helm's Deep is against the rear of an unsuspecting and disorganized siege army. The charge at Minas Tirith is also a surprise charge against the flank of the attacking army. Why Jackson botched them both is beyond me.

Anonymous Koppernicus February 14, 2013 11:33 AM  

Also, I'm still upset that none of Gandalf's awesome fire magic from the books was included. I desperately wanted to see the battle with the wargs before they reach Moria.

Anonymous Jim Clay February 14, 2013 11:34 AM  

The elves rely on archery and minimizing losses, so I'd guess that they would combine archery with high mobility- i.e. horse archery a la the Mongols or the Scythians. Am I close?

Anonymous Josh February 14, 2013 11:36 AM  

Why Jackson botched them both is beyond me.

Probably because he wanted to make really cool visuals

Anonymous Daniel February 14, 2013 11:36 AM  

Gettysburg did a pretty good job with the details, but that obviously isn't a fantasy. However, if fantasies just ripped off the staging of that movie, they'd be way ahead of the game. Lucas movies are Battle of the Network Star Wars.

Anonymous Stilicho February 14, 2013 11:41 AM  

Nate: IIRC, in the book, Faramir & company are returning to Minas Tirith via horseback while the Nazgul attacks them, wounding Faramir. Gandalf then rides out to provide cover for their retreat. I think that Faramir was out to delay the advancing orcs, so it is likely they were operating as cavalry and this would be an historically and tactically correct use of cavalry. no charge at walls though.

Anonymous Daniel February 14, 2013 11:51 AM  

Probably because he wanted to make really cool visuals

I think it has more to do with Vox's proposal: Jackson doesn't know military concepts. There are some very cool visuals to be had (including arial, collisions, feats of improbability) in more believable combat scenes. All Quiet on the Western Front, for example, did a good job on the military front and kept the cool factor.

I think he did cool visuals to make up for a lack of visual military sense, but not because he could only do one or the other.

Or look at Red Cliff. Jon Woo didn't do the actual history very well (on purpose - wanted to make a popular movie, not a documentary), but was painstaking in the depiction of battle. Definitely sizzles with the "cool factor" while also remaining believable.

I avoid saying "realistic" because I've never seen a war movie that looks like a documentary, and most documentaries have to fake quite a bit. Even with modern air photography, it is rare to get a really good picture of war outside of squad tactics. After that it is too big, too much cover, too much variety, etc. to really have much of an idea of what is going on on a grand scale.

Honestly, the most realistic battle depictions you could have in a movie is when field reports are coming in, to show the commander organizing these and showing brief glimpses from each report. Of course, the most realistic computer depictions you can have in a movie involve the top secret file being too large to send as an attachment, and the hero posting it to pinterest instead. There is a reason I do not work in the film industry.

Anonymous Daniel February 14, 2013 12:02 PM  

Oh, and if you are going to do stylized fantasy warfare, Ran is a great template. Lots of symbolism in the combat forms (so therefore not realistic), but more meaningful than the missteps in LotR movies.

Blogger A February 14, 2013 12:11 PM  

It also just occurred to me, I thought that the Empire in Star Wars was supposed to be so coldhearted that they didn't care about their own losses and only ever won through brute force.

Anonymous Jack Amok February 14, 2013 12:26 PM  

Nate: IIRC, in the book, Faramir & company are returning to Minas Tirith via horseback while the Nazgul attacks them, wounding Faramir. Gandalf then rides out to provide cover for their retreat. I think that Faramir was out to delay the advancing orcs, so it is likely they were operating as cavalry and this would be an historically and tactically correct use of cavalry. no charge at walls though.

And considering how near-run a thing the final battle was, with Aragorn and his ghosts showing up just in the nick of time, that slight delay in starting the siege may have been the difference between victory and defeat.


Why Jackson botched them both is beyond me.

Probably because he wanted to make really cool visuals


Or, as Vox remarked in the OP, "...little thought goes into most such portrayals, and how obviously unfamiliar with the various military strategists most authors and filmmakers are."

Another movie that I thought gave very little thought to military strategy was Stormship Troopers...

I assume you mean Starship Troopers. If so, well that's another movie based on a book where the book was better with the military aspects. And the boardgame was one of my favorites.

Anonymous Asher February 14, 2013 12:33 PM  

The real reason the empire used walkers at Hoth was that it was covered by Medicare Part W. Hell, the imperial welfare state is going to collapse sooner or later and you might as well get some gravy while it's there.

Blogger ajw308 February 14, 2013 12:33 PM  

Why did we take HUMVEES to Afghanistan?
Have you read about the Special Forces guys who used legged vehicles in Afghanistan? At least they were fast and able to be fueled by the local infrastrucure.

All movies have unrealistic situations for plot devices and story telling. Some just depart more from reality than others.

Blogger ajw308 February 14, 2013 12:46 PM  

The elves rely on archery and minimizing losses, so I'd guess that they would combine archery with high mobility

I've bought ToB, but haven't had time to begin it, but I'll join in anyway.

Do Vox's Elves ride horses? I've always pictured and played Elves (D&D) as using sorcery, stealth and forests to conceal themselves. I can even see heavy Elven infantry, but cavalry? I associate Elves with forests and forests are just bad juju for cavalry.

No practical reason for Elves to not have cavalry other then their cultural preferences, I guess, as I see it.

Anonymous Josh February 14, 2013 12:57 PM  

I think the elves with their war hawks are patterned after the us in Vietnam using helicopters to pick up and drop off troops into battle. And also ancient chariot forces with one or two archers firing from the chariot.

Anonymous Anonymous February 14, 2013 1:06 PM  

Peter Jackson is too worried about cool visions and "tension" to make the battles realistic. I recall from one of the extras on the DVD for The Fellowship of the Ring where Jackson talked about creating tension in the story.

There are places where they almost get it right in making it realistic only to ruin it at the last moment. One example is at Helm's Deep when Gandalf an the Rohirrim charge down the hill at the Orc army. Initially the orcs put their pikes up, and then bright light from Gandalf puts fear in them and the pikes falter and come down. It could have been perfect right there, but alas, Jackson has them raise them again. I suppose you could assume large casualties among the horsemen, but none are shown.

Another instance is the Initial Rohirrim charge on the Pelennor Fields. It is a charge into the army's flank and it could easily have been shown with no pikes, or at least with more fear on the part of the defenders to justify the apparent total lack of effectiveness of the pikes. Instead we get a horse charge into pikes with a miraculous lack of casualties among the horses. Some fear among the orcs is shown, but why not go ahead and add a little realism and have the undisciplined orcs break? I suppose there would not be enough TENSION for Jackson that way. Hollywood is all about CGI and manipulation of the audience. Sadly, they could get the job AND be realistic but they choose to be lazy and do it their way rather than hire and listen to a consultant.

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 14, 2013 1:09 PM  

"Gettysburg did a pretty good job with the details, but that obviously isn't a fantasy."

Oh, I assure you that entire war was very much a fantasy.

Blogger Nate February 14, 2013 1:11 PM  

" no charge at walls though."

again with the walls. Guys... Osgiliath hadn't had anything that could be considered walls in over a century by the time this battle happened.

Assuming I'm not confusing this with Narnia...

Anonymous scoobius dubious February 14, 2013 1:14 PM  

"extras on the DVD for The Fellowship of the Ring where Jackson talked about creating tension in the story."

What a bullshit film-school thing for him to have done. Did some professor tell him that stories have to have "tension"? LotR is on a giant sprawling canvas, it's one of the most leisurely-paced stories I can think of. Tension. Pah. No wonder those movies bit.

He couldn't even LOCATE the story in The Hobbit. Tension. Tell him to see a massage therapist.


Anonymous Jim Clay February 14, 2013 1:23 PM  

@ajw308 I've read the book, but to be honest I don't remember if it mentions the elves using horses or not. They do definitely use stealth, sorcery, and ambushes. In one of the books it mentions that there are no elvish heavy infantry.

Anonymous Jim Clay February 14, 2013 1:24 PM  

Okay, if the elves make use of horses I'll go with Mongols/Scythians for the historical model, if they don't I'll go with the Vietnamese.

Anonymous Stilicho February 14, 2013 1:25 PM  

Nate, you are correct that Osgiliath was in a state of ruin and had been for some time. I was not trying to imply otherwise. However, only a complete retard (PJ?)would try to use cavalry inside those ruins unless they were nearly completely flattened.

More importantly, I was just giving you a possible explanation for your association of Faramir's delaying action with cavalry. It would make sense to use cavalry to harass and delay the orcs crossing the plain between Minas Tirith and Osgiliath, but I don't recall if the book specified if Faramir & co. were operating as cavalry or just escaping via horseback.

Anonymous Josh February 14, 2013 1:34 PM  

Did my comment get eaten? Crap.

Elvish model is us airborne troops during Vietnam using the war hawks to transport troops into and out of hot zones.

Blogger ajw308 February 14, 2013 1:45 PM  

I really wish I had time to read the book...

Anonymous Zion's Paladin February 14, 2013 1:52 PM  

And I can almost see the top-heavy form justified because it gives much greater visibility than a tank. It would be a lot easier to mow down large numbers of infantry with the guns at that height.

It has been described in one EU novel as "death on ground troops." And other EU books feature a vehicle that's basically a walker that uses anti-grav instead of the legs.

Besides, it's not like that's so different from real life. I can think of a couple of vehicles produced for the US military for certain purposes that are not nearly as effective at them as they should be to offset what they cost. The F22 comes to mind.

Some of the EU writers struck me as having a pretty good grasp of military strategy though, such as anything by Timothy Zahn or to a lesser extent, Michael Stackpole.

Vox, have you ever read anything by either of those authors?

Anonymous Luke February 14, 2013 2:07 PM  

Sigh. Re the charge towards Osgiliath: am I the only one here who understands the difference between cavalry and dragoons? Hint: the troopers in the Osgiliath charge were armored more like the latter than the former...

Anonymous Daniel February 14, 2013 2:32 PM  

Oh, I assure you that entire war was very much a fantasy.

Not in that way Scoobs. I just meant a regular war with regular bullets and hardtack and fancy leaders in nice coats and a bunch of normal dead guys.


And no AT-ATs.

But yes, Ablehrmhrm Lincoln was a literary giant with his own live-fire re-enactment society to tell the tale.

Anonymous Me So February 14, 2013 2:38 PM  

by a naval invasion of Topeka by the Imperial Japanese Navy. VD


They were gearing up for it! It was in the works! You know they were.

Anonymous tungsten February 14, 2013 2:56 PM  

Lucas has actually addressed the AT-AT issue in the past - the sheer akwardness of their design and mis-match with the icy terrain was intentional. The thinking was that having established overwhelming Imperial engineering superiority in the first film, the opening to the second film would contrast this by showing Imperial forces hampered by equipment that was overengineered. Thus they Empire showing up for a battle on Hoth with tecnologically complex yet tactically odd walkers.

Anonymous Daniel February 14, 2013 3:13 PM  

That's actually an interesting inspiration (or retrofit. Who knows, either way it sounds good.) I saw these weird switchblade scissors knives in a crummy kung-fu movie once and thought they looked ridiculous and useless, though cool, some prop-guy invention. Years later, I found out they were a real military invention from India or something, created completely for show because they were awful weapons.

AT-AT as hegemonic hubris - I like that, even if it is blown smoke. I would note that the AT-ST in Return of the Jedi doubled as a mobile watchtower. Still crappy though.

But I'd love to here Lucas' military explanation of either Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones, or exactly how every Jedi in the galaxy was killed so swiftly that less than 20 years later, everyone thought they were an ancient myth. Let me guess: Imperial Public School system?

George Washington built a fort in a ravine. It flooded.

Anonymous DT February 14, 2013 3:25 PM  

I can think of a couple of vehicles produced for the US military for certain purposes that are not nearly as effective at them as they should be to offset what they cost. The F22 comes to mind.

The F-22 costs roughly 5x what an F-15 costs. The lowest kill ratio in any air exercise against the F-15 has been 30:1. One of the highest was 144:0.

F-15 pilots have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to effectively engage Raptors. That's their job so that Raptor pilots aren't caught off guard by an enemy with an effective counter should they go to war. After nearly a decade of war games the consensus is "Hope to God that the Raptor pilot gets cocky and makes one of two mistakes we've observed in air exercises, which will give you a 1 second opening for a kill."

That's the best they've got so far. Hope to God the Raptor pilot makes a mistake. And even then he's probably going to kill you and everyone you're flying with.

The Raptors rape any other fighter currently in existence. You can argue that we're too broke for expensive planes. You can argue (foolishly IMHO) that we will never again have the type of war where they are needed. But it's ridiculous to claim that they are not effective for their purpose. We've never seen this large of a gap between our air superiority fighter and the next best in the world.

inb4 jokes about technical issues that all new airframes have in one form or another.

Anonymous WaterBoy February 14, 2013 3:37 PM  

DT: "inb4 jokes about technical issues that all new airframes have in one form or another."

Like the F-35 not starting in cold weather?

Useless on Hoth, I tell you.

Anonymous TA711 February 14, 2013 3:50 PM  

@DaveK
"The 1 thing I never understood about tha AT-AT Walkers in Star Wars was how did they work in the first place? Were they troop carriers? Because if they were, then how did the troops dismount from them from such a tall height? Did the Walker somehow lower itself on its legs to ground level? Did it kneel? Or did the troops repel out of it?"

Not being much of a Star Wars guy, I don't know if it is ever shown or stated in a canon source, however the stormtroopers in the Star Wars: Empire At War RTS do repel out of the underbelly when you disembark them.

Still a stupid design, but that does seem like one of the most logical ways of deploying troops from that thing.

Anonymous DT February 14, 2013 4:02 PM  

Like the F-35 not starting in cold weather?

Useless on Hoth, I tell you.


Give the AT-ATs credit where credit is due: they didn't freeze.

Blogger Duke of Earl February 14, 2013 4:11 PM  

But I'd love to here Lucas' military explanation of either Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones, or exactly how every Jedi in the galaxy was killed so swiftly that less than 20 years later, everyone thought they were an ancient myth. Let me guess: Imperial Public School system?

Or how Obi Wan managed to age 50 years in 20?

I guess he spent too much time in the hyperbolic time chamber.

The original concept, that Obi Wan was a significantly older teacher and mentor to Anakin Skywalker, who fell to the dark side through hubris and impatience, would have worked. Instead Lucas replaced old Obi Wan with Qui Gon Jinn, and made Obi Wan almost a contemporary of Anakin.

Anonymous Zion's Paladin February 14, 2013 4:24 PM  

The Raptors rape any other fighter currently in existence. You can argue that we're too broke for expensive planes. You can argue (foolishly IMHO) that we will never again have the type of war where they are needed. But it's ridiculous to claim that they are not effective for their purpose. We've never seen this large of a gap between our air superiority fighter and the next best in the world.

I'll grant that point (can't exactly do the research to confirm or refute that at work anyway). My overall point though is that there has been military vehicles in real life designed for a specific purpose that did not adequately fulfill that role to justify the money spent on it.

Anonymous bob k. mando February 14, 2013 5:04 PM  

Markku February 14, 2013 6:36 AM
And I can almost see the top-heavy form justified because it gives much greater visibility than a tank.





ludicrous.

even in 20th century tank battles, 'scoot cover to cover' and 'hull down' are the preferred fighting styles. AP rounds are far, FAR too deadly to even the most advanced armor systems. better not to be shot at at all than to be taken out by a handheld rpg with shaped charge.

consider this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CBU-100_Cluster_Bomb
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a00Spe8U6PM#!&t=2m40s

that weapon delivers *247* individually computer targeted anti-armor weapons to the battle field. and that's tech that's JUST BARELY 21st century.

this goes back to my complaint about Modesitt's Parafaith war. CURRENT tech renders those scenarios ridiculous. you're going to postulate a society capable of cryogenics, interstellear flight and hundreds or thousands of years more advancement in comp tech ... and it's supposed to be susceptible to infantry?

currently, armor doesn't serve much use on the battlefield unless you've got a major assymmetry between the forces AND the low tech force doesn't have access to a bunch of shoulder mount rpgs.

putting armor up in the air doesn't accomplish anything besides increasing the LOS radius from which it can be targeted by man mount weapons.

if you WANT a greater targeting radius for your armor mount artillery there's this new technology, i don't know if you've heard of it, we call it "trig". you emplace behind a hill, put elevation into your barrel and use concealed forward observers to direct fire. works LOADS better than jacking your cannon way up in the air.




scoobius dubious February 14, 2013 7:24 AM
If they needed to traverse rough terrain, it's clear that they had some kind of hovering technology, as illustrated by Jabba the Hutt's giant floating party bus in the next movie. But that's beside the point.



*psssst*
Luke had a floater in the first movie.




daddynichol February 14, 2013 7:45 AM
I never understood why all of the star war fighters relied on visual/manual acquisition and firing. Soooooo WWII. You would think that the entire identify, acquisition, targeting and firing would have been computerized.



this.

any 'future tech' scenario in which human scale reflexes play any significant part in the conflict is ludicrous.

you can assert that the fight / flee / parlay decision is made by a biologic, but after that the tactical stuff is just going to be way too fast for a wetware system to keep up with.



scoobius dubious February 14, 2013 8:11 AM
(besides, it's not the future, it's somebody else's past)



there you go. that's the dirty little secret.

Star Wars is NOT science fiction at all. it's fantasy in space.

Anonymous WaterBoy February 14, 2013 5:16 PM  

bob k. mando: "you emplace behind a hill, put elevation into your barrel and use concealed forward observers to direct fire."

Indeed, the forward observer role just screams out for employing droids in the position. Especially on Hoth, where they could probably burrow under the snow into advantageous positions undetected.

Anonymous WaterBoy February 14, 2013 5:17 PM  

Oh hell, why not go full throttle and arm the snow droids to just go in and blow up the targets themselves. It's not like Asimov's Laws were in effect in the SW universe.

Anonymous Daniel February 14, 2013 5:48 PM  

Oh hell, why not go full throttle and arm the snow droids to just go in and blow up the targets themselves. It's not like Asimov's Laws were in effect in the SW universe.

Technically, the Empire implemented a completely daft policy of non-violent droid manufacturing only following the Clone Wars. Because the useless battle droids that they thoroughly defeated with bio-engineered humans were such a threat to security, I guess. I'm not sure when or if that restriction on business practices was lifted. The truth serum torture droid (with the syringe) in Star Wars was a hacked medical droid, systemically unaware that it was harming threatening Princess Leia with violence.

Not that I've thought about it or anything.

Anonymous Daniel February 14, 2013 5:49 PM  

oops missed an "or" between harming and threatening

Anonymous Azimus February 14, 2013 6:11 PM  

Regarding cavalry charging a fleet, didn't French troops capture a Dutch Squadron that way during the French Revolution? I understand that I'm avoiding the point, but it did happen.

Anonymous WaterBoy February 14, 2013 6:14 PM  

In the wider, non-canon SW universe, there were a number of assassin droids, some of which were also bounty hunters that even fought Boba Fett.

That Darth Vader would pay any attention whatsover to "rules" or "laws" strikes me as remarkably silly. It would be trivial for him to have a few hundred miniature probe droids equipped with thermo detonators dropped onto Hoth and programmed with the coordinates that the original probe droid sent back.

Nope, I gotta go with the OP on this one...the Empire was remarkably poor at conducting warfare.

Anonymous WaterBoy February 14, 2013 6:15 PM  

That was @ Daniel, re: Empire outlaws violent droids.

Anonymous David February 14, 2013 6:42 PM  

"It was just Jackson being totally clueless as to the military absurdity, further evidenced by the way in which his depiction of the Dead cleaning up the battlefield rendered the valiance of the Rohirrim almost entirely irrelevant."

That really bothered me too. The way they were portrayed in the movie they could just carve their way through Mordor to Sauron himself.

Blogger Duke of Earl February 14, 2013 7:09 PM  

Or putting Elves at Helm's Deep.

Legolas killed about 40 Uruk alone, exceeded only by the dwarf, and whilst he was a prince of Mirkwood, there's no reason to suppose he was a particularly skilled warrior for his race.

500 Elves versus 10,000 Uruk Hai?

It would have been a very short fight.

Blogger Markku February 14, 2013 7:14 PM  

ludicrous.

even in 20th century tank battles, 'scoot cover to cover' and 'hull down' are the preferred fighting styles.


If those battles, they expected an equal enemy who has armor too. The Empire would have expected only a local insurrection. The ability to mow down infantry would have been the important thing. The enemy wouldn't have had time to build any armor.

Anonymous Jack Amok February 14, 2013 8:41 PM  

The F-22 costs roughly 5x what an F-15 costs. The lowest kill ratio in any air exercise against the F-15 has been 30:1. One of the highest was 144:0.

Yeah, those are simulated battles. It wouldn't exactly shock me to find out that the F-22's capabilities are overestimated by the judges.

OTOH, the F-15 is pretty ancient.

Anonymous maniacprovost February 14, 2013 9:35 PM  

The Empire restricted droids because Palpatine's base was labor unions. Duh.

Anonymous Daniel February 14, 2013 10:19 PM  

Nope, I gotta go with the OP on this one...the Empire was remarkably poor at conducting warfare.

Not denying that whatsoever. What the empire should have done is sit there and wait. For Pete sakes, the Wampas were dwindling their tiny little base to nothing.

"What? The rebels have chosen to hide out on a remote planet, with no hope for recruiting more members to their army, and no means of production? Mmmkay. Let's just 'keep looking for them.'"

Blogger JCclimber February 15, 2013 12:22 AM  

Osgiliath used to be the major city of Gondor, the capital city if I recall correctly, for over 1000 years. It had been lost decay, civil war, and plague. East Osgiliath was taken by Morgol forces, and West Osgiliath was held and patrolled by Gondor. It had been the most beautiful city of ancient Gondor, with Minas Tirith and Minas Morgol being quite nice but were basically summer palaces.

Considering how strong both of them still were by the time of the War of the Rings, Osgiliath must have been very strong indeed to dwarf both of them into summer residence status.

I also loath how Jackson used the army of the dead to cleanup that battle.

Blogger JCclimber February 15, 2013 12:38 AM  

The battle of Morannon, the whole point was basically: there was no way to stand up to Sauron using armies, because he only lost one of several armies against Minas Tirith. Distracting Sauron's attention from searching for the ring was the only way to get Frodo to Mount Doom.

By confronting him using the Palantir, winning the battle of wills, and revealing that a true King was about to reclaim the throne, Aragorn panicked Sauron. In Sauron's worldview, OF COURSE Aragorn would take an army and confront Sauron using the power of the One Ring. Sauron supposed that Aragorn's plan was to use the One Ring's power to bind the orcs and trolls to himself (which actually may have been possible).

For whatever reason, Sauron was more afraid of Aragorn than of Gandalf or Saruman.

Anonymous bob k. mando February 15, 2013 1:00 AM  

Markku February 14, 2013 7:14 PM
If those battles, they expected an equal enemy who has armor too. ... The enemy wouldn't have had time to build any armor.




no, you're completely missing the point, Markku.

the POINT is that there is NO DEFENSE against jets of hypersonic, superheated plasma. certainly there's no defense for something which can be destroyed simply by falling IT'S OWN BODY HEIGHT.

Imperial walkers were subject to destruction by rope and gravity. Luke sliced the bottom of one open effortlessly with his 'light saber'. the only reason Lucas wasn't showing those things getting their legs whacked off by Rebel beam fire, IS BECAUSE HE'S AN IDIOT.

Imperial Walkers wouldn't have stood up to a couple of Somalian skinnies outfitted with rpgs. there wouldn't have been a Black Hawk Down scenario though, cause the Empire doesn't care if it loses a couple of clones here or there.


hell, weren't the Ewoks taking out Imp armor with logs? wtf?

Anonymous Daniel February 15, 2013 1:26 AM  

For whatever reason, Sauron was more afraid of Aragorn than of Gandalf or Saruman.

The reason was simple: Saruman was Sauron's old compatriot, and he knew him well. Gandalf was lost for dead, and if Sauron was aware of his victory over the Balrog, he may very easily have presumed a "higher order" Gandalf to be less daft and more like Sauron himself - in other words, a potential ally. Gandalf was the only one of the Council who did not fall sway to a greater (Saruman) or lesser (Radagast - loved vegetables more than the men he was sworn to protect or the blues who went and formed cults elsewhere) evil.

It isn't a huge leap to assume (from Sauron's height) that dodgy old Gandalf had achieved Sauron's level of "enlightenment" and was now a potential ally in preparing the way for the coming of Morgoth.

Aragorn, however was a man who would never fall subject to the Dark Lord - the Palantir battle confirmed it.

The War of the Ring was indeed, won at that contest. The rest is just thrilling mop-up. Not only did Aragorn draw Sauron's eye, providing cover for the bearer, but it was the moment that Sauron's invincibility was exposed as an illusion.

The minute you know you are able to strike a strong man in the mouth is the moment that you do it.

Blogger JCclimber February 15, 2013 3:29 AM  

I suspect the reason is more along the lines of being Isildir's heir and the fact the Numenorians still scared him at some level. Gandalf said himself after returning that he was more powerful than any other in Middle Earth except Sauron, more than Elrond or Galadriel.

Even as Gandalf the Grey, defeating a Balrog in solo combat is a pretty impressive feat.

Back to the ESB, the walkers were cool, but it is pretty obvious from watching the movie even as a teenager that the combat strategies were bunko. Reading the webcomic Darths and Droids just makes it more obvious.

Anonymous TGR White February 15, 2013 5:30 AM  

"To say nothing of the coed showers...." Laugh now but we all know this will come in due course to the military, in the name of equality.

Still, it will lead to a great recruitment boost from clueless omegas desperate to see hairy dyke tits...

Anonymous Rantor February 15, 2013 5:44 AM  

@DaveK

Rgarding Starship Troopers... Heinlein derived the Mobile Infantry's tactics from US tactics in Vietnam where air assault troops would do just what you described. Drop onto the enemy position, fight them, and then leave via helicopter. Of course there would have to be a little maneuvering around the target... but not much. The goal in Starship Troopers was destruction of the enemy hive, not holding any specific piece of ground.

Anonymous bob k. mando February 15, 2013 6:02 AM  

Scott Card's "Shadows in Flight" was just published in paperback this January. seems fitting to annoy Tad, so i bought it.

i would call it a good continuation of the Shadow books / Enderverse.

Card never has been much on the hard tech, sociology and pathos have always been his metric. as such, the last three lines of the book work well:
"I'm going to lie down now," said Bean.
And then he did.
And then he died.




Card has made a couple of novel expansions on Formic sociology and technology ... and also put an ENTIRELY new wrinkle on Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide. WHEN does Andrew Wiggin get to find out?

*drums fingers* that probably comes in Shadows Alive.

the question that most interests me most though, is i wonder what Card intends to do with the new hybrid species, Formic Leguminotes. and i wonder what he's going to conceptualize as the Hive Queen response to it ... although the Human response is liable to be intriguing as well.

Anonymous WaterBoy February 15, 2013 12:39 PM  

Daniel: "What the empire should have done is sit there and wait."

Yes and no. A space blockade would have been able to easily control the small window in the shield through which the rebels came and went¹, as was pointed out in the article. But it also would have given the entire rebel fleet time to better coordinate the evacuation, which could have left en masse in scattered directions as soon as the generator was shut off. The Empire simply didn't have enough firepower on hand to stop them all.

The thing that really gets me, though, is the physics of the shield itself. So sunlight and radio waves (and presumbably other forms of cosmic radiation) could get through it just fine, but laser blasts could not? WTF? All the Empire really needed, then, was a powerful enough laser which worked on one of the accessible wavelengths, or a massive EMP burst to fry the shield generator's electronics and bring the whole thing down. While it's certainly possible that the generator could have been shielded against such attacks, it's unlikely since it was a laser blast from an AT-AT which ended up taking it out.

Vader really needed to Force Choke whichever idiot headed up the military R&D department, which designed weapons with such easily exploited vulnerabilities as the Death Star and the AT-AT, but never thought to develop weapons which could really be useful such as a shield-penetrating laser cannon and kamikaze droids.

Anonymous WaterBoy February 15, 2013 12:41 PM  

¹ So, ground vehicles could penetrate the shield but airborne ones couldn't? Must've been an electrical issue where vehicles needed to be properly grounded.

Anonymous bob k. mando February 15, 2013 1:30 PM  

*groan*

Anonymous DT February 15, 2013 2:26 PM  

All the Empire really needed, then, was a powerful enough laser which worked on one of the accessible wavelengths, or a massive EMP burst to fry the shield generator's electronics and bring the whole thing down.

That's Star Trek talk. If an Imperial character had suggested this during ESB, half the audience would have walked out.

Of course the walkers were absurd. But they were big! And terrifying! And approaching the base! Their armor was too strong for blasters! (Queue John Williams.)

Blogger JCclimber February 15, 2013 2:54 PM  

Imagine watching Star Wars WITHOUT the John Williams soundtrack.

Much of it would become a MST3000 type film.

Blogger Duke of Earl February 15, 2013 3:17 PM  

EE Smith had the right idea in his Skylark series. Sure, you could create an impenetrable shield, but nothing would come through it, not light, not air, not even gravity.

Although then he introduced aliens with technology of a level high enough to act through, and act on, such a shield.

Anonymous DT February 15, 2013 4:12 PM  

(Queue John Williams.)

I meant cue John Williams.

Imagine watching Star Wars WITHOUT the John Williams soundtrack.

Much of it would become a MST3000 type film.


The prequels are even with John Williams.

Blogger Markku February 15, 2013 4:27 PM  

The thing that really gets me, though, is the physics of the shield itself. So sunlight and radio waves (and presumbably other forms of cosmic radiation) could get through it just fine, but laser blasts could not? WTF?

Amplitude was capped to some saturation level to allow visibility.

Blogger Anthony February 15, 2013 5:04 PM  

Steven den Beste covered the insanity of the Star Wars military 11 years ago: "...what we get is a massive battle on a featureless plain, fought with space age weapons and Babylonian tactics. Napoleon could beat these idiots; they're not even smart enough to go prone to fire their weapons."

"Nobody in that galaxy a long time ago and far away seems to have invented bombs or missiles! (We've seen them used once; to attack the first Death Star.) Their aircraft strafe; the weapons on their walkers are little better. Their infantry use human-wave tactics. The US military of 2002 would make short work of them. "

Anonymous bob k. mando February 15, 2013 5:37 PM  

a-yup.

to further explicate Lucas' lack of respect for his own story ( and general stupidity ), this is an old hypothesis which tried to retcon the story inconsistencies of ep4-6.

you thought, "I am your father, Luke" was a plot twist? you ain't seen nuthin.

http://beastwith.in/1999/09/06/bringing-back-the-force/

of course, Lucas never implemented that. but then again, Lucas thought the Padme / Anakin scenes in ep 3 were 'romantic'.

Anonymous maniacprovost February 15, 2013 7:58 PM  

Vernor Vinge's libertarian scifi... Across Real Time series.. had impenetrable shields that not even time could penetrate.

I think the first time the shiny impenetrable shield was used in fiction was in a 1950's story about the cold war, or the one where the island biologist created short lived beings who evolved beyond him.

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