Space War Blues

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Lupoff, Richard A. Space War Blues. New York: Dell, 1978. Fixup of "With the Bentfin [sic] Boomer Boys on Little Old New Alabama," in Again, Dangerous Visions, Harlan Ellison, ed. (New York: Doubleday, 1972). "Our Own Little Mardi Grass" [sic], in Heavy Metal magazine, 1977; "After the Dreamtime" in New Dimensions IV, Robert Silverberg, ed. (New York: Harper & Row), 1974; "Sail the Tide of Mourning," in New Dimensions 5, Robert Silverberg, ed. (New York: Harper & Row), 1975; "The Bentfin Boomer Girl Comes Through," in Amazing Stories magazine, 1977. — From title page of 1978 Dell edition; see also H. Ellison's Introduction to the 1978 Dell edition and opening and "History" section of Wikipedia article.[1][2] The 1978 Dell also has a Preface by the author.

The Mode of Satire (sic on the initial capital letters) has been said to be imperialistic in that it figuratively infiltrates and can take over other forms. It may be more useful to speak in taxonomic terms of a Mode of Satire of various sorts, which can inform more specific genres. So in literary taxonomy we might classify Space War Blues as Satire of the Swiftian variety, using some key conventions, tropes, and such from SF. The major theme of the satire (lower-case "s") is US race relations, and there is very little on the human/machine interface: very, very little. Expanding "machine" to include technology — what today we'd call "bio-tech" — and what human/technology interface there is, is handled here in a way that is rare and interesting (though cf. and contrast the Frankenstein story).[3][4][5]There is also some consideration of prosthetics, a significant theme in SF.[6]

The bio-tech leads to the production of salvaged and recycled warriors and workers — space marines are what we see and hear — unusual in being technologically-produced zombies, with zombies in the formal voodoo sense, although we see them in a platoon rather than an individual; but they are not the colloquial, ghoulish "zombies" of pulp-cinema. They are also sympathetic, and (no spoiler) probably the racially chimeric hope — "chimera" in a science-fictional biological sense — for the future of a sick interplanetary culture (again, this is Satire of the cutting, Swiftian sense, influenced by Harlan Ellison). These "resusceitees" (274 f.; ch. 24) are described in one place "as a quasi-automaton for military or industrial duty," with the immediate variation of "A quasi-automaton [...]. Or a zombie" (165; ch. 14). See chs. 11, 14, 16, 19, 21, 24-25, and 26.

And the prosthetics show up in a section on future pornography. (A quick Google search brings up some articles on prosthetic penises in cinematic porn but not much else. And that was in 2020, not the 1970s.) For more conventional nitty-gritty on a prosthetic eye on a dusty world in the manner of Alabama, see "Old Leander he fines bothiz eyes getting some wetting, one with a tear dropper two, one with a couple drops lube oil" (247; ch. 22). For the brief handling of porn, see the run-up in ch. 22 and the culmination in ch. 24.

Note also the sections on descendants of Earth's Indigenous Australians and their relationship with far-future versions of our-reality 19th-century clipper ships — "membrane ships — in Space War Blues sailing the interstellar winds, with the unencumbered (or protected) sailors in the rigging usually experiencing joy and contrasted strongly with "the meat": "the men and women who are carried like freight in the iron bellies of the membrane ships" and any of the "meat" who venture onto the "outer decks" "Clad in huge and cumbersome spacesuits" (pp. 37-38, 39; ch. 1). The very high tech of the "collapsed matter" and "agonized-matter principle" of the membrane ships may be technobabble, but sounding up-to-date even in 2022 (pp. 38-39; ch. 1).

NOTE/CAUTION: In one section of the fixup, Lupoff experiments in a moderate way with gender-free pronouns. Much longer sections are written with what the Wikipedia entry describes as "an attempt to represent (orthographically) vernacular English of the southern states of the USA."[7] The exercise of reading aloud "Ladle Red Rotten Hut"[8] would be good preparation for reading these chapters; they cannot be speed-read or read with the look-say/"whole word" protocol.

RDE, finishing, 12Nov20, 12May22