Jump Start

“Close your eyes.”

Brüks obeyed; the insides of his eyelids glowed brief bloody red as the laser scanned down his face

“Word of advice,” Moore said from the other side. “Don’t tease the zombies.”

Brüks opened his eyes. “I wasn’t teasing him, I was just chat—”

“Don’t chat with them either.” The Colonel ran his eyes down some hovering mid-air diagnostic invisible to Brüks without his hood. “Remember who they answer to.”

“I can’t see Valerie forgetting to tell her minions not to spill any dangerous secrets.”

“And I,” Moore said, “can’t see her minions forgetting to tell her anything you might have asked them. Whether they answered or not.”

Brüks considered that. “You think she might take offense at the melanin-fetish remark?”

“I really have no idea,” Moore said quietly. “But I sure as hell did.”

Brüks blinked. “I—”

“You look at them.” There was liquid nitrogen in the old warrior’s voice. “You see — zombies. Fast on the draw, good in the field, less than human. Less than animals, maybe; not even conscious. Maybe you don’t even think it’s possible to disrespect something like that. Like disrespecting a lawn mower, right?”

“No, I—”

“Let me tell you what I see. I see people who once had names. The one you were chatting with was called Azagba, back in day. Zag to his buddies. But he gave that up— maybe for something he believed in, or because it was the best of a bad lot of options, or because it was the only option he had. You look at Valerie’s people and you see a racist joke. I see the seventy-odd percent of zombies recruited from places where warfare and starvation run so rampant that nonexistence as a conscious being is actually something you aspire to. I see people who got mowed down on the battlefield and then rebooted, just long enough to make a choice between going back to the grave or paying off their jump start with a decade of blackouts and indentured servitude.” He stabbed the air and nodded: “I was right: it’s precancerous.”

“That’s why you went up against her,” Brüks realized. “Not for me, not for Sengupta. Not even for the mission. Because she killed one of your own.”

Moore looked right through him. “I would have thought, by now, that you’d have learned to keep your attempts at psychoanalysis to yourself.”

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Sunday August 14 2011at 10:08 am , filed under Dumbspeech, fiblet . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

41 Responses to “Jump Start”

  1. Holy crap. You really don’t lie, do you… lol…

    Can’t wait to see where you take Zag and his buddies. I hope some of them are women. More than anything else I hope they are thoroughly unrecognizable from what has generally been written before. You remember what I mean, hopefully. And if not, well, bah…

    Still can’t wait to get my mitts on this next tome.

  2. Sweet. Zombies by choice. Love it.

    Is this the work of FizerPharm? Should we expect another PowerPoint presentation around the creation and management of Zombies?

  3. Awesome, most transhumanists pretty much ignores or marginalises the 3rd world, good to know that the singularity won’t emancipate us all equally. After all, Capital will use whatever resources are economically available, vat growing self-repairing machines cost R&D, so why not use the by-products of primate evolution, they almost grow on trees!

    Also interesting to note the resemblance to Haitian vodoun, that would make a nice reference.

  4. @Daniel

    I suspect this “ignorance” of the third world is what makes transhumanism appear religious. Somehow the singularity will fix the inequality issue or something similar.

    Considering that it may not draws it closer to transhumanism noir, or cyberpunk for you “old folks”. The haves have more and for longer (baring terrorist action, potentially eternally), while the rest makes do with what they scrounge or get out of being a pawn in the haves eternal sociopathic chess games.

  5. I *really* this is a really cool, hard sci-fi idea as only Peter Watts can create, and not Peter Watts jumping on the zombie bandwagon. Zombies have ruined the horror section at Chapters and I would hate to see the contagion spread to the sci-fi section.

    Seriously, Peter, I mean no offense. I’m a fan.

  6. Should have written “I *really* hope”. That was a typo. iPhones are tough to write with.

  7. Oooh! More fiblets!
    [drools]

    This looks like it’s coming together nicely, Peter.
    I, for one, salute out new FizerPharm Powerpoint presentations, err, overlords.

  8. “Watts…braaaiinnnsss…nom nom nom…”

    I was gonna comment on how that li’l ole lady in Schenectady must really like you a lot, but I sense the reference may be too Jurassic for readers here. Diggin’ the prose all the same. It’s like hearing locks click loudly shut, reading each sentence, which is A Good Thing.

  9. Y’know, now that I think of it, Peter is slowly reinventing all of the classic monsters.

    The sequel to DumbSpeech (or State of Grace) will probably tackle the Werewolf, or the Mummy or maybe even the good old fashioned Ghost.

    You should really think about writing an episode of Scooby Doo:

    “It’s old man Caruthers, the rouge Geneticist!”

    “I would’ve gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for you meddling kids and your pet Vampire!”

    Awesome.

    PS. Just kidding about the Scooby Doo thing.

  10. “I suspect this “ignorance” of the third world is what makes transhumanism appear religious.”

    Oh, sweetie, that’s like looking at a heart-attack patient and seeing only a hangnail — the resemblance between transhumanism and Rapture theology is anything but a historical coincidence.

  11. Good morning, Peter!
    I was reading a post about your disease. Looks creepy. How you feel himself now? I cannot find any message about it from may.
    Thanks in advance.

  12. Interesting idea, which is always a good sign.

  13. Most what passes for transhumanism is a staggeringly naive fantasy..
    When most of humanity becomes obsolete, you can bet it won’t be pretty.

    The zombie switch reminds me of a recent novel by Chris Moriarty, in which the whole of IDF is operated by an AI, including individual soldiers. Supposedly enhances survival rate, disabling the primate brains. There was a catch I think there.. can’t remember what.

    I wonder..
    Is this Valerie that Val the Vampire from the too-old fiblet that used to be advertised as a preview of Dumbspeech?

  14. Yes.

  15. excellent !!! Hopefully this paradigm shifting hard sci fi classic will be out soon. All hail our soon to be genetically engineered overlords, and the eternal debt they owe to one seriously underrated sci fi author.

  16. p.s. Sorta like the whole telecommunications and satellite industry owe the late A. C. Clarke

  17. Please rise ABOVE resorting to “voudun” of any stripe, haitian or otherwise.

  18. @Leona: Ah, that might have been better said “something like the reality of the Haitian zombi”. If you’ve ever read “Serpent and the Rainbow” and related actually-scholarly works, you can see that the “traditional” Haitian zombi was in about the same boat as moderns in places like the US, who have numerous convictions for rather minor crimes which are more the result of mental illness than of criminal intent.

    The Haitian zombi was created more-or-less by a combination of ritual and drug-induced mental breakdown overlaying cultural expectations and belief-systems, ultimately maintained by even more drugs and close oversight. One can easily attribute this approach to the general lack of publicly-funded jails, which have to be reserved for extreme criminals rather than overfilled with minor criminals. Little or no hospital space exists for people who have mental illnesses that make them incompetent to survive on their own without offending, but whose offenses don’t warrant incarceration (or execution). Their handlers tend to work them to exhaustion so that even if they had much will or intentions left, they’re too tired to do anything other than sink back into somnolence.

    The modern mental-healthcare system zombi is someone for whom there is no need for inpatient status, or for whom the mental-healthcare systen can’t find a placement. Often remanded into this system by the system of the courts, which discern that this person’s problem is less one of crime and more one of incompetence, these people go through a lot of ritual and wind up drugged into a state where they can be managed.Their case managers try to keep them worked into exhaustion so that even if they had much will or intention left, they’re too tired to do anything other than sink back into somnolence.

    This is effectively the same approach, and it’s just personnel management of mentally-ill repeat offenders. Whether it’s “vodoun” or “christianity” or “soviet enlightenment” is really irrelevant.

  19. Was it annoying using a VP character with umlauts in the name?

  20. The character was originally named “Brooks” after a real-life parasitologist of my acquaintance. But Siri’s Dad, who is also a major character, was already named “Moore” back in Blindsight, and the names — both of which applied to older baseline gents in a world of transhumans — struck me as almost designed to engender confusion. So I Brüksified one to make the names more visually distinguishable.

    Not annoying at all, after I told Word to Autocorrect “Bruks” to “Brüks” whenever I typed it.

  21. “I see the seventy-odd percent of zombies recruited from places where warfare and starvation run so rampant that nonexistence as a conscious being is actually something you aspire to.”

    I think this concept is going to be a hard sell. I find myself resistant to it even as I find it interesting.

    But if you do this, and do it well . . . yowza.

    Only you could embed a kernel of hope in such a dark future, even if that kernel is a dirty joke or a sarcastic comic.

    As long as we can laugh, we’re alive.

    [OT: I find it vaguely unnerving every time I see the zombies' leader's name. I've never seen a character with my first name in a book before except an 'offscreen' character in Jean-Louis Trudel's 13,5 km sous Montréal, although apparently there was a poorly written one in the first Far Cry videogame.
    Anyway, you get some freebie heebie jeebies for that one. *wry* ]

  22. *facepalm* sarcastic comment I meant to say, not comic. Gah, pardon my typo.

  23. Val, I’m not sure what you’d be resisting here. The idea of Africa as a continent where ongoing violence provides a ready source of rebootable bodies?

  24. @Peter

    The idea of the entire continent being easily dismissable as such, and its people being dismissed as a “source of rebootable bodies”, yes. But I also think I know, based on what I have learned of your views from your other work, blog posts, etc., that you find the idea abhorrent as well, which why you’re writing about it. I tremendously admire your work because not only do you take on many topics that also trouble me, but you manage to be skilled and humorous in the process. Which is why what I perceive as a misstep in this scene bothers me and I am willing to flap my yap about it in public on the interwebs to you in the comments section, which may have been stupid but there’s no going back now . . . Might as well screw up here as in email.

    The problem I see in this scene is (and it may very well not be one because I’m reading it out of context) that it reads to me as if you’re setting up a character as the Mouthpiece of the Author who fails to communicate your nuanced views.

    I think I see what you’re trying to do here, calling on the cultural legacy of zombification as a metaphor for enslavement.

    I think I see what you’re trying to do with The Colonel in this scene, where he is supposed to serve as a foil to Brüks’ apparent reflexive thoughtless privilege/inability to imagine a non-privileged life.

    You even give one of offscreen “zombified” characters a name, which The Colonel tells us.

    But (and I can only speak for myself) there’s one phrase that really kills it for me, ruins The Colonel’s credibility for me and by extension appears to me to push your use of the metaphor into troubling waters: “where warfare and starvation run so rampant that nonexistence as a conscious being is actually something you aspire to”.

    Giving us a zombie’s name in that context read to me like a throwaway, made him seem to be just another interchangeable pitiable person in a deprived mass of millions.

    That phrase reads to me as “They’re better off slaves than starving,” which doesn’t seem to be much of a step above “They’re lawnmowers.”

    I’m also a bit bothered by what I perceive as an apparent equation between indentured servitude (potentially chosen) and slavery (forced) with the use of the zombie metaphor, two states which although I know the line can be blurry, have had different meanings in different places at different times. But I don’t feel qualified to speak much to that as I do not have what I feel to be reliably adequate background knowledge.

    Now, if The Colonel isn’t supposed to have credibility . . . maybe there isn’t a problem?

    That said, if possible, I want to walk around inside a “zombie’s” head in some way, and not in a way that reads as if it were cuing me to feel pity or sympathy, but in a way that encourages empathy, solidarity . . . Although even the idea of solidarity is fraught with privilege.

    What I have done here is say what troubles me in the text I see, knowing that I cannot metaphorically “wade through feces without getting any of it on me” (quoting from Hopkinson, Nalo. “A Reluctant Ambassador from the Planet Midnight,” Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, Vol. 21, No. 3, 2010.)

    If I screwed up, I’m sorry.

    I presume lots of other folks have said stuff about this during the writing and editing process already.

  25. An Interesting paper suggests that we aren’t entirely rational (surprise!) in our attitudes to death and awareness.
    “More dead than dead: Perceptions of persons in the persistent vegetative state”
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0010027711001752

  26. I’d like to know if, “with a decade of blackouts and indentured servitude”, means that people can sign up for service, have their sentience turned off, and after the 10 years of service, then have it turned back on. or is it the case that there is no going back?

  27. @Val:

    You may be disappointed, then. I’m not writing metaphor here. I’m writing literally. I fully expect that the future will continue to be unevenly distributed, and that the disenfranchised will continue to be disproportionately represented in the world’s armed forces. I also expect that various parts of Africa will continue to be hot spots for a lot of horrific violence. (If you read the excerpt carefully it doesn’t actually dismiss “Africa” as a continent, doesn’t even mention “Africa”. Moore uses the word “places”, meaning a plurality.)

    The upshot of these expectations is that blacks will still be disproportionately evident in global armies by late-century, and if said armies have a zombie subclass, a lot of zombies will therefore be black. If you think those premises are in error, by all means set me straight; I want to make this tale as accurate as any transhumanist novel with vampires and zombies can be. But I’m making a demographic prediction here, not a political statement; and I’m not going to change it just because some people will inevitably read it as a metaphor for slavery (I prefer to think of both slavery and milzombiesm as aspects of the same underlying phenomenon; they are merely correlates.)

    I recognise that a lot of folks hold that all human activity is political by definition, and I recognise that there’s some truth in that. But if I was studying the impact of Inuit hunting on endangered bowhead populations, I wouldn’t alter the data for fear that some might brand my results “racist”. By the same token, I’m not going to alter an sfnal projection to make it more politically acceptable; I’d only do that to make it more technically accurate.

    I’ve grown kind of impatient with such politics anyway. Even back before that whole racefail debacle, I had to deal with people who decried Blindsight as racist because the cast was too “whitey-white”; one even misquoted the actual text to make her point (claimed I’d written “yellow taint” where I’d actually written “fashionable butterscotch”), and then went around telling people she wanted to punch me out after I corrected her. And when I saw the vitriol heaped onto Elizabeth Bear — one of the kindest, most open-minded and inoffensive people it’s ever been my pleasure to know — I basically figured, fuck it. Some of the everything-is-political folks I’ve met have been wondrous and challenging and would be welcome in my home at any time; but there’s this other contingent, and trying to appease those fuckers is like Obama trying to meet the Republicans halfway. I’ll write what I write. Let the cookie crumble as it will.

    @Sheila:

    The sentient state is facultative. Milbies are as self-aware as you or I most of the time; they only switch into zombie mode in combat situations, where fast reflexes are especially important. In fact, Moore himself (Siri’s dad, and the “colonel” in the above excerpt) has a zombie switch himself, although he hasn’t used it for years. There’s actually a nifty little section in DumbLucidEchpraxiaCatSpeech where he talks about what it’s like to be a zombie — I’ve avoided fibletting it so far because too many of the fiblets to date have been dialog pieces, but maybe in light of the current discussion I should throw it up.

  28. @Peter

    Thank you for the clarification. I read Blindsight on multiple levels, and so I was reading this future novel that way.

    I’m not sure I can argue with your projection convincingly, although I wish I could.

    I was also interested in Sheila’s question, and your response to it satisfied some of my interest in seeing the POV of a zombie.

    I hope I did not offend you overly; as noted, I respect your work tremendously. You write the kind of hard sf that makes me love sf.

  29. Oh Val, of course you haven’t offended me. We have hung out, you and I. Whenever I feel myself getting cranky, I remind myself that we’re basically having a sometimes-intense conversation over beers in a pub somewhere. Except without the beers or the pub. And in that context, it’s always more fun when there’s an argument happening.

  30. : D
    Awesome.

    OT: Here, have a fun thing to watch (thinking of the last time we were in an actual pub, sigh)

    The Cube, by Farbrausch
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXE2pn_s818

    Not 4k tho.

  31. Peter, you wrote
    “I fully expect that the future will continue to be unevenly distributed, and that the disenfranchised will continue to be disproportionately represented in the world’s armed forces”
    which sounds to to me as perpetuating the generally left-wing view that the armed forces are a horrible anachronism and no sensible person would ever join of their own free will.

    Blacks are supposed to be over-represented in the US Army: possibly this is because it’s a less racist environment than most and they have better prospects? No doubt some only enlisted because there were no other opportunities, but that’s true in many fields: ask your local garbage collector or McDonalds counter staff whether they really want to be doing that job. Some Western militaries were trying to keep blacks *out* as late as WW2 and those views are still around.

    Worldwide there have been and are plenty of cultures, black, white, and all shades, where being a warrior / soldier meant you were of higher status, not “disenfranchised.” Recent example: post colonial Rwanda.

    From your expressed views and occupation(s) I’m guessing you don’t actually hang out with military people very often if at all.

    Feel free to rip me to shreds in reply.

  32. btw, I had been imagining a demographic also including poor rednecks when you posted this.

    And… and I missed the possible Haitian zombie allusion. My mind got stuck on the philosophical zombies.

  33. Another question, which was contingent on zombie mode being reversible:

    Would people who are in combat in zombie mode have combat related PTSD? I don’t know it PTSD requires awareness. I’m guessing you’ve looked in to it.

    for a probably not apt analogy, I know that some people with anterograde amnesia don’t remember doing a task repeatedly, but still show an improvement in performance (or so I heard once or twice). so something goes on to cook that in there somewhere.

  34. @Hugh:

    …which sounds to me as perpetuating the generally left-wing view that the armed forces are a horrible anachronism and no sensible person would ever join of their own free will.

    Don’t know about “left-wing” — I’ve always thought that any set of political beliefs that can be accurately summed up by one-dimensional scale is gonna be pretty simplistic. (Although I’d certainly rather be called left-wing than right-wing, given the behavior of folks who self-identify on each side of that divide.)

    As for the armed forces as an anachronism, conventional warfare has changed radically by the time the story takes place. Moore is explicitly of the opinion that if you have to resort to brute force in meatspace, you’ve already lost. Most wars in the Dumbspeech era are fought online by people who don’t even realise that they’re fighting, don’t even know they’re being used as soldiers. (This also proves to be a great budget-saver in terms of things like benefits.) Zombies serve a number of roles in this fictional society, including military (also the sex industry); but that doesn’t mean that war hasn’t diversified beyond the physical battlefield. It only means that, once again, the future is unevenly distributed.

    Blacks are supposed to be over-represented in the US Army: possibly this is because it’s a less racist environment than most and they have better prospects?

    I’ve no doubt that the US army is less racist than a lot of other places (certain universities, for example). We part ways when you suggest that your average dude or dudette is going to sign up for a job which entails an elevated risk of coming home maimed or dead, simply because that work environment is relatively non-racist. The environment is also relatively lethal, and that’s gotta act as a disincentive for anyone with a survival instinct. (Of course, such instincts can always be subverted — but wanting to stay alive is always going to be a factor, and generally an important one.) Relatively few people will sign up to get their asses shot at so long as there are safer and more lucrative options to be had. Why else the repeated downgrading of entrance requirements during the Bush years? Why else the aggressive on-campus recruiting? My left-wing understanding is that the military was starving for recruits, which — no offense — is hardly consistent with the premise of all those sensible people signing up of their own free will.

    This has nothing to do with racism. People of any ethnicity would rather not get shot at. It’s a question of available options. Dubya was a rich boy, and had rich and powerful friends to keep him out of harm’s way back when the draft was in effect; ditto Cheney and the other chickenhawks. Most people have fewer options, and the poor/disenfranchised have the fewest. There’s an obvious historical correlation between being black and being disenfranchised, and it would be insane to ignore that; but that doesn’t mean the system keys on melanin.

    No doubt some only enlisted because there were no other opportunities, but that’s true in many fields: ask your local garbage collector or McDonalds counter staff whether they really want to be doing that job.

    I quite agree, and will keep that firmly in mind when I write a novel about garbage collectors or MacDonald’s employees. But this is not that novel.

    Worldwide there have been and are plenty of cultures, black, white, and all shades, where being a warrior / soldier meant you were of higher status, not “disenfranchised.” Recent example: post colonial Rwanda.

    That’s a good point. You could even look to folks like Colin Powell and argue that the US is one such culture. But you could also point to the way veterans were treated at Walter Reed, and argue the exact opposite. I guess the question is, are there more Colin Powells out there, or more Walter Reed alumni?

    From your expressed views and occupation(s) I’m guessing you don’t actually hang out with military people very often if at all.

    Not entirely true, but fair enough. I know a few professional soldiers, and have them on my go-to list in the event I need some expert insight (maybe I should avail myself more often, hmm?). I like them; they’re really good people (one of them even bought my war-porn video-game tie-in, which mortifies me no end); but I tend to see them mainly at cons. I can only count one ex-army dude among my regular drinking buddies, and he’s long since moved on to another line of work.

    Hey, if you‘re a military type I’d be happy to buy the first round.

    Feel free to rip me to shreds in reply.

    Not at all. The only thing I’d really want to rip to shreds is your implication that I’m “left-wing”. But you’re hardly the first person to have done that.

  35. “…but maybe in light of the current discussion I should throw it up.”

    Be sure to lay down some newspaper first.

    (cue laugh track)

    — This out-of-context joke brought to you by the Committee to Hijack Insightful Discussions with Childish Humor—

  36. #one of them even bought my war-porn video-game tie-in, which mortifies me no end

    Well, as I always say: aim to please, shoot to kill. ;)

  37. Just a little bit of trivial b.s. that my mind has a tendency to absorb… Of all ethnic groups in the U.S., Native Americans have the highest per capita rate of enlistment in the military of all ethnic groups. It ties into the warrior mentality that is so important to that group. Pride, devotion, bravery, strength, honor, and wisdom are a few of the beliefs that are deeply embedded into this culture from birth. Therefore, the military just seems to be a good “fit” for that particular group. There’s no desire to get their asses killed. Just a desire to prove to themselves and their people that they are worthy of the natural gift that they are born with. Just saying…

  38. Peter, I apologise for calling you left-wing. It is an opinion most often expressed by those who would place themselves on the left, but that doesn’t make you a leftie.

    Instead I’m going to accuse you of something worse: you’re growing old :-) Young males will do all kinds of stupid things that seemingly defy any survival instinct, including fighting and killing. Whether it’s evo-psych or cultural conditioning, they’ll ignore the safer and more lucrative option in favour of something more exciting.

    Your own example of the Bush years is instructive: there was no conscription. Lowering the standard worked because the US military already had more volunteers than positions that needed filling. Even with people coming back dead or maimed, others wanted to sign up. Not all returning soldiers who’d done a tour re-enlisted, but quite a lot did.

    But hey, that’s the situation today. All your books seem to be what TVTropes would call a Crapsack Future, in which prospects for the military can be quite different. I’m not going to argue with your future setting, only the justifications that you use to get there.

    If you haven’t already done so, I recommend reading Martin van Creveld “The Transformation of War” for ideas.

    PS. Not military myself, just someone who’s met enough of that type to rethink some old assumptions.

  39. @ Hugh- There’s no doubt that Peter has his own ideas about the future aspects of war and soldiering. I am perfectly willing suspend my own preconceived notions and see how his vision plays out.

    However, since we are on the topic, I want to contribute a few other resources, both for Peter (if he chooses to engage in more research) and for the fine folks in this discussion.

    Generation Kill is a popular book and HBO miniseries that examines alot of what we’re talking about here. Some interesting stuff here around the soldiers and the reasons why they joined the military in the first place.

    Colby Buzzell is another name that you’ll want to Google. Buzzell is an Iraq War Vet who blogged about his time in the war while deployed. He wrote a book compiling these blog posts and other narratives called My War: Killing Time in Iraq

    For a brief taste of Colby Buzzell’s experiences, watch this brief, but powerful animation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLiRdw3kdPY

  40. @Hugh:

    Instead I’m going to accuse you of something worse: you’re growing old.

    Yeah, I can’t argue with you there. And point taken about the immortal bravado of youth. If it redeems me at all, Moore felt like “hot shit” back when he signed up. I just posted another interminable dialog piece to prove it.

    Not military myself, just someone who’s met enough of that type to rethink some old assumptions.

    No problem. I’ll buy the first round anyway.

    @ken:

    I loved Generation Kill (the series; haven’t read the book). And I would like to educate myself further on the subject (including that van Creveld book Hugh mentioned), but given that I’m already behind on the book any such research is going to have to wait until after I’m done. Or at least until after I submit the working draft.

    Really intriguing day-in-the-life clip from that Buzzell dude (not to mention fascinating style of animation). Gotta wonder, though; wasn’t he supposed to open that shoebox at some point?

    @Proudinjun:

    That’s an interesting fact. Bates, the soldier in Blindsight, was Native American, but I hadn’t realized the stats. Wonder if I can work it in somehow.

  41. I’m with Proudinjun and Hugh (I think) on this one…

    All the Maritime Canadian First Nation communities I worked in/with had Vietnam vets. The ones I met/heard about were guys who had crossed the border to join the American Marines. I heard this was because men in their family had “always” done it, but I couldn’t help thinking those particular people had gone south at that time because the Canadian forces was not involved in active service, so their generation might not get to fight if they joined up closer to home.

    I know Mohawk men and women from the Canadian side of the border are highly represented in both the Canadian and American forces.

    And I’m sure you know that Canadian military tradition is full of Scottish stuff as a direct result of the nature of the British Empire forces in the 19th/early 20th century? Scottish mercenaries fought British wars forever, but later (often) well-educuated Scots who were unable to secure employment/advance in the private sector/other branches of the British civil service could get somewhere in the British armed forces.

    For an entertaining look at how the armed forces can be a, complicated, opportunity for otherwise marginalized folks, I recommend John Sayles’ movie “Lone Star”… It’s not the theme, but there’s a lot of great incidental stuff in there and the movie is…just…so…awesome…

    The acid-cleaning of the dead guy’s metal badge is NOT conservator approved, just so you know….