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tkdguy

Swords in science fiction -- why?

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19 minutes ago, Badger said:

 

Vibro blades seem a bit meh.

 

I also find the bat'leth of the Klingons about as impractical as you can get.

 

IIRC, there's a YouTube video explaining why Bat'leths are stupid.

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On the one hand, bat'leths are stupid.  On the other hand, for inventing a Klingon-looking weapon out of thin air, and creating something that looks like a martial art to go with it, I have to give credit to the creators.  There are real-life martial arts weapons that are stupider than a bat'leth.

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On 3/29/2020 at 10:42 PM, Old Man said:

On the one hand, bat'leths are stupid.  On the other hand, for inventing a Klingon-looking weapon out of thin air, and creating something that looks like a martial art to go with it, I have to give credit to the creators.  There are real-life martial arts weapons that are stupider than a bat'leth.

It's not the weapon, it's the master who uses them.

Storytelling 101: He's saving the hit-himself-in-the-crotch scene for the climax. 

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14 hours ago, Sundog said:

You could do that, but if you're fighting humans be prepared to be charged as a war criminal if you survive. People DON'T like poisoned weapons.

 

Well, in Dune, the upper classes seemed to have little issue with poison knives etc... and that is a classic "swords in space!" novel.

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2 hours ago, pinecone said:

Well, in Dune, the upper classes seemed to have little issue with poison knives etc... and that is a classic "swords in space!" novel.

 

Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen uses an envenomed blade in the arena, but that seems to be part of the protocol - he gains the advantage by putting the poison on his long blade, when his opponent thinks it's going to be on his short blade, so obviously it's something expected in that situation. Later, in his duel with Paul, he makes a fuss when he realises that Paul's cut was drugged - and Paul calls him out on it, saying it's just a little stimulant to match the soporific on Feyd-Rautha's own blade, humiliating Feyd. Feyd also uses a hip-mounted poison needle against Paul, but that again is pretty clearly cheating.

 

The only other time I recall poisoned weapons being used is in Children of Dune, on Maula dart pistols, used by assassins. Poison in food (chaumandry) and in drink (chaumurky) are mentioned as being standard tools in pursuit of a vendetta (Kanly), though it's noted that on Arrakis the high spice quantities in everything people consume make them less or even ineffective.

 

Notably, those of notable military virtue, such as the Atreides, Fremen and even the otherwise ruthless Sardaukar, don't use poisoned blades. They seem to be the province of the more shadowy characters, such as the Harkonnens, or the Tleilaxu.

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Guns can run out of ammunition or a power pack. Whereas knives and blades rely on your strength..

There is also the risk of puncturing a ship (or aircraft) with a gun. You can't really do that with a blade (lightsabre or vibro blade notwithstanding).

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Kashima Shinto-ryu is a school of bujutsu that's been around since the 16th century and the sengoku-jidai. It's a pragmatic school, it seems. Not very heavy on the esoterics, but more focused on how to cut a beeyatch.

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On 9/21/2019 at 5:43 AM, tkdguy said:

How popular are sword and planet adventures nowadays? The John Carter movie didn't do well at the box office,

 

In the USA. If you look at its overseas box office, it looks like a runaway hit.

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Honestly, this is just part of the larger and more general problem that swords are considered cool, but historically they are a specialized, secondary weapon. The samurai are associated with the katana, but during the height of medieval warfare in Japan, the chief weapons were the spear and the bow. European knights had their swords mythologized by 18th and 19th century writers who romanticized swords because fencing was popular. As in Japan, in Europe, the sword took on greater status as its utility on the open field of battle waned. The Roman gladius was a sidearm. During the Crusades era, the sword was popular in part because it could be depicted as cruciform, and the Arabic scimitar as a crescent, and this imagery persisted centuries later as the Crusades era became romanticized. But most of the actual killing during the Crusades was done by arrows, axes, maces, spears, and flails. High impact weapons were needed to breach mail or mangle flesh under it. The sword is incredibly effective in a duel, but as a general utility weapon, you would rather have a dagger in a scrum, a spear in a charge, and an axe against a well-armored foe. So all the arguments against swords and space are really just arguments against swords in general, but in space. In short, the reason to have lots of swords in space would be to resurrect the reason swords were popular in real life: duels, as status items for aristocrats, and as secondary weapons in pitched battles that hadn't quite got to the dagger/choking/atomic piledriver stage yet.

Daggers, though. You can always find a justification for a dagger.

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Yes. Only the Romans used a sword as their primary military arm - and even then, not for all of their soldiers. The all time winner in that stake has pretty much always been some variation of the spear.

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On 5/10/2020 at 8:10 PM, Sundog said:

Yes. Only the Romans used a sword as their primary military arm - and even then, not for all of their soldiers. The all time winner in that stake has pretty much always been some variation of the spear.

A spear and shield, with a couple similarly armed comrades by your side, sounds like a pretty good melee option in a starship corridor.  You just walk the other guys back until you can impale them.  If they get too close, someone brings the sword out.  

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Maybe. But I can't help but consider the situation in the trenches of WWI, where they found that a rifle with bayonet - effectively a spear - was too unwieldy for close-in trench fighting. Sharpened entrenching tools, spikes and large knives were preferred. 

Still, a short-hafted spear, like a Zulu Assegai, would be fearsome in such conditions.

 

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On 5/12/2020 at 7:07 PM, Sundog said:

Sharpened entrenching tools, spikes and large knives were preferred.

 

I note that swords are not on that list. But, like pawsplay said: "Daggers, though. You can always find a justification for a dagger."

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