NOTICE: This Website Will Be Turned Off May 1, 2018

Final Staff

Stacey Janssen

Managing Editor:
Dave Noonan


  • Mishell Baker
  • Bluejack
  • Amy Goldschlager
  • Emily Lupton
  • R. K. MacPherson
  • Scott James Magner
  • Robin Shantz

Copy Editors

  • Sarah L. Edwards
  • Yoon Ha Lee
  • Sherry D. Ramsey
  • Rena Saimoto
  • Paula Stiles


  • Marti McKenna
  • Bridget McKenna


  • Geb Brown

Publisher: Bluejack

July, 2005 : Editorial:

The Wars of the Worlds

who's we, terran chordate?

July has clearly arrived, heralded here in the US (where I live) by explosions celebrating our Independence Day holiday. Fortunately (locally at least) these are essentially benign – accompanied by colored lights and coordinated with music. Fireworks, in other words. Nevertheless, my paranoid reflexes still cause me to startle at the beginning of each set of reports, and I usually find my mind wandering to places where such noises aren’t easily dismissed as holiday revelry.

War is not a pleasant, nor an easy topic to discuss. Even in the abstract, emotions run high, and often more heat than light is the result. The distance given by writing about conflict in the venue of fiction, science fiction in particular, becomes extremely valuable as a result. We can consider the alien enemies of SF at a remove great enough to allow examination of even the most emotional arguments from multiple angles and viewpoints. At the same time, the skillful author can draw on resonances with real current or past conflicts in a manner that illuminates complex situations and can aid understanding.

Our current issue offers the example of H.G. Wells’ classic War of the Worlds, in both the original and a just-released cinematic interpretation as examples of an examination of this disturbance. The longevity of the story’s popularity is a testimony to the skill with which it draws on our concerns about war and struggle between ourselves and the outsiders who seek our resources or our destruction. The outcome of events (in both versions) reaffirms the attackers are truly alien, vanquished by hubris, biology and fate.

Alas, as much as I would like to rejoice at us casting out our foes, it seems deceptively easy to accomplish. A more chilling vision (especially if you are familiar with the ideas of Fourth Generation Warfare) of alien conflict and its outcome can be found in Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis stories. How much victory is there in being assimilated by a culture or by conquerors, and how much defeat? How do you fight a war when Us is (or is becoming) Them? Though lacking our beloved explosions, the latter may be the questions that matter more, in the end.

Copyright © 2005, Joy Ralph. All Rights Reserved.

About Joy Ralph

"Science Fiction fan" was the first group label I ever consciously associated with myself growing up, probably because I've always been drawn to the potential in things. Other hats I wear include anthropologist, computer geek, ailurophile, coffee fiend, and walking dictionary.


Jul 4, 23:51 by IROSF
This thread is open for discussion of the July issue, or Joy's editorial.

(You may want to check out the editorial here.
Jul 26, 07:42 by A.R. Yngve
The Editor wrote:

"How much victory is there in being assimilated by a culture or by conquerors, and how much defeat? How do you fight a war when Us is (or is becoming) Them?"

The assumption is that cultural assimilation "naturally" occurs by violent means.

Look: an alien visit, ANY alien visit, would alter and influence our culture and way of thinking -- without even trying. Imagine an alien visitor who lands and Does Absolutely Nothing. Humans would topple nations, upset religions, start wars, emulate the alien... simply in reaction to an alien presence which Does Absolutely Nothing.

I wrote a novel, ALIEN BEACH, in which something like that happens: without doing much at all, a small group of alien visitors trigger enormous change in human society, even war. (You can read the whole novel for free HERE.)

If daffodils invaded Earth, we would stomp them all out -- with a great deal of chest-thumping and flag-waving. Because we're primates, and that's what primates do.


Want to Post? Evil spammers have forced us to require login:

Sign In




NOTE: IRoSF no longer requires a 'username' -- why try to remember anything other than your own email address?

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now!

Problems logging in? Try our Problem Solver