So, I just finished reading the latest bit of MilSF from Tanya Huff (andpuff
), her book An Ancient Peace
. It was an entertaining book, if not especially profound. But the book highlighted a gripe of mine.
My gripe is this - the future militaries of MilSF look an awful lot like the early 21st Century US military. For example:
1) Space Marines are always the unit to conduct landings from spaceship to ground. This is because, in modern warfare, we expect the (oversized relative to other countries') US Marine Corp to do landings. Except MacArthur did three landings in the Pacific and the US Army did six landings (including D-Day!) in Europe with nary a Marine in sight! IMHO, the role of "Space Marine" would be a small-scale force optimized to fight on asteroids and space stations - vacuum and variable Gs being a tricky environment.
2) Everybody has the same military rank system - the US system. Tanya, a Canadian, at least has a slight variation in that she has Master Corporals. (Come to think of it, she was
a Master Corporal.) But rank structures evolve and differ by countries! For example, the French Army Major Generals
are billets, not ranks. Also, in the old Soviet and current Russian Navy, there is no rank of "Commander." You're either a Lieutenant, a Captain (1st, 2nd or 3rd) or a Captain-Lieutenant.
3) Everybody has an agreed-upon definition of what type of spaceship is what. But in our world, that's largely a function of some 20th-century treaties. Even that is variable - Japan operates several helicopter destroyers
that everybody else would call a light aircraft carrier.
4) Battlecruisers! There was a period from about 1910 to 1930 that, due to limitations of steam engines, one could have a ship of battleship* size, speed and firepower but not equivalent armor. These faster but less-protected ships were called "battlecruisers." Then, steam turbines became available, and in ships like the US Iowa
-class battleships, you could get speed AND firepower AND armor. In short, the "battlecruiser" was a historical accident, yet MilSF has them zipping around by the gross.
5) Unit organization. In 90% plus of MilSF I've read, the XO of a unit is of a lower rank than the CO. This is generally true in US military units, except in Navy aviation squadrons,
where both officers are of the same rank and the XO "fleets up" to the CO spot.
I could go on, but I shan't. I shall end by saying the US military is not the be-all or end-all.
* The word "battleship" prior to the 1880s was used (rarely) as a contraction for "ship of the line of battle" and could refer to any of a number of types of ships.