Wednesday, December 08, 2010 4:28:13 PM

Our first Posse Interview is with ANDREW LIPTAK. He is a self-proclaimed "geek" (more on that in the interview), military historian, Stormtrooper and many other things. His blog covers his "thoughts on Science Fiction, History, and the world around [him]," often in a fascinating way. He is also a regular contributor to SFSignal. You can follow him on Twitter as well. This interview was conducted over emails.

7 - What's the last military movie you got excited about? (Not necessarily SF?)
Hm, not many, because I'm not really into war films. The last one that I was excited for was the HBO series, The Pacific, but that was a bit of a letdown, compared to what they did with Band of Brothers a couple of years ago. I am looking forward to Battle: Los Angeles, about Marines going up against an alien invasion in LA. It's been billed as Black Hawk Down meets Independence Day. It should be a fun thing to watch, if anything.

a) I'm surprised you're not into war films! Is it just because when it comes to film your preferred "genre" just isn't the thing you study heavily?
Well, it's more that I haven't gotten around to seeing a wide variety of the films in the field. There's a lot of classics that I need to see, have been told to see, but it's a matter of having the compulsion, opportunity and energy to all intersect at the right time. I love historical dramas - John Adams from HBO was excellent, as was Band of Brothers, and I'm slowly getting into Mad Men.

8 - What do you think is lacking in military movies? (Not necessarily SF?)
I'm not really sure: I'm not well versed in the genre. I hated Saving Private Ryan because it became a jingoistic, and stereotypical story on war. The action was good, but not the story. Band of Brothers was a much better example of what should be out there.

9 - Is there any particular era of Military History that you're geeked out about than others?
The modern 20th Century, encompassing The 1st World War, Spanish Civil War and the 2nd World War, with the rise of fascist and communist powers and modern warfare, and the transition between that style of warfare and the battles of the Cold War. The ideological battle that has been fought connects a lot of these events, and it's alarming at how much warfare has changed over the past hundred years, not only technologically, but ideologically, and the motivations for fighting.

The fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 has changed things drastically, and I'm fascinated by the ongoing conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. This style of warfare is very different from what we're used to over the past century, (again, in motivations and ideology, not necessarily when it comes to the technology and tactics) and the West has been unable to adapt to the changes and change adaptations accordingly. This shift towards counterinsurgency-style fighting is one that is very interesting, because it encompasses a lot of elements that we don't usually think about on the battlefield.

a) What are your thoughts on military video games? The genre there is obviously very big. How do you see those involved game campaigns affecting modern culture as a whole and our view on warfare? I saw a video online about the RollingStone reporter who embedded with troops in Iraq, and how much of the soldiers there were weaned on video games and thus interacted with the real war through that lens. Obviously they were disillusioned very quickly.
There's a fun story with that. As machines have taken a greater impact on the battlefield, the designers designed the controls to be very similar to that of a PlayStation controller. I'm not particularly big into video games (although I do love the Halo games). I think that it's scary at how realistic some games are, where the U.S. Army's used them for training. I suspect that it depends on the use and objective of the games, but they can be a useful tool, or one that hinders training. ▪▪

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