For decades, the holy grail of many military innovators has been “perfect sensing, perfect strike” capability. If you could identify and destroy any target on the face of the Earth, the logic goes, how could you possibly lose? Recent history has not been kind of this belief, because the dynamics that matter most in war lie within the individual human soul. They are beyond the reach of even the most sophisticated military hardware. I spent a lot of time pondering the question: what if a country really could develop perfect sensing and perfect strike capability, but still lose?
I put my vision into a short story titled “The Wasp Keepers”, which appears in the magnificent new War Stories anthology edited by Andrew Liptak and Jaym Gates.
I’ll be honest: other than the usual classics (like The Forever War, Starship Troopers, Ender’s Game, and Old Man’s War), I don’t read much military science fiction. That’s largely because so much of the genre doesn’t fit my experience of war. I have spent my military career navigating the shadowy, ambiguous world of “war among the people”, so I can’t relate to interstellar ships re-enacting the Age of Sail, futuristic WWII platoons fighting conventional battles, or Cold War-style superpower confrontations. With War Stories, the editors deliberately sought to break the mold and expand the genre, by telling war stories that are about more than just soldiers and battles. I was excited when Andrew and Jaym first articulated their vision and fervently hoped to get published in the anthology. The very fact they accepted my story says something about their unique perspective; “The Wasp Keepers” is about a Syrian civilian mother.