"Last Battlefield," 47 years later, StarTrek.com, January 10, 2016
Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights, Star Trek
The Cleve Cartmill affair, source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadline_(science_fiction_story)
I admit I had heard of this before, but I didn't know the government gave it his name. It figures because Cleve was clever (see what I did there?) amid the Second World War and the secret Manhattan Project, led by Robert J. Oppenheimer and now a popular movie from Christopher Nolan. Cleve honestly thought the story was crap, but I can see why the FBI got so excited. Fiction writers are storytellers, and storytellers recognize patterns in human nature and the logical outcomes of scientific research. Instead of the devices that leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki ("Little Boy" and "Fat Man"), we very well could have had Philip K. Dick's predicted "Heisenberg Device" ("The Man in the High Castle," 1962, also a fascinating alternative history series on Amazon Prime).
I found a fascinating Internet archive photocopy of the magazine. I can smell the pages of it: https://archive.org/details/astoundingsciencefiction1944marchdeadlineatombombstory/page/n1/mode/2up?view=theater.
The Amazon description (even though they don't have a copy in print):
WHY DID THE FBI WANT "DEADLINE" CENSORED? Hugo and Nebula Award winner Robert Silverberg says, "Deadline's publication caus[ed] the FBI to investigate Cartmill, Astounding Science Fiction, John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and L. Sprague de Camp." Author Cleve Cartmill, editor John W. Campbell, publishers Street & Smith, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and L. Sprague de Camp were only some of those who came under government investigation after security officials learned of the contents of what was to become science fiction's most controversial brainchild? Why? You will discover the startling answers in Jean Marie Stine's amazing introduction to this first-ever collection of Golden Age author Cartmill's work. Included in this mammoth volume are four complete novellas: The Too-close to Reality for the Government, "Deadline," the noirish outer space mystery, "Some Day We'll Find You," the intellectual thriller of an attempted revolution against a future theocracy; "With Flaming Swords," and the thought-provoking story of a man whose desire to be a normal, patriotic citizen inadvertently lead to his society's "Overthrow." But, be warned: Cartmill questioned authority and traditional explanations and told his stories to inspire readers to see and question the shortcomings of their society. So, if you are completely comfortable with your government, society, and life and never want to doubt what you're told, put down this book immediately and do not read any further. Cleve Cartmill (1908-1964) was a reporter, radio operator and inventor. He is most famous for "Deadline," the Murchison And Co., Space Salvagers series, and his short novels for the legendary Unknown magazine. This book's editor, Jean Marie Stine, is a well-known science fiction author and anthologist. During the late 1960s, she served as a personal assistant to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and in the 1970s, she wrote the classic The Prisoner: A Day in the Life, based on Patrick McGoohan's cult television series.
One of my favorite and most powerful Trek episodes I saw as a youth was "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield." Recall the 60s weren't just "make love, not war": there was a lot of both. Vietnam overseas, protests of the war, and Civil Rights/Voting Rights marches at home. Suspicions that any deviance from the John Birch Society's authoritarian "norm" was judged subversive; communists, therefore, were necessarily purged and crushed from existence. Judging from the airing date, its first showing came nine months after the sad assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.
It also aired during the climate of the Cold War, a period many seemingly LONG to get back to (that madness), where the nuclear "plan" was called MAD: mutually assured destruction. We still possess that insane power, essentially holding humanity hostage, guns to our heads.
Gene Roddenberry put an interracial, international crew together: Nyota Uhura (literally: "Freedom Star" in Kiswahili); Hikaru Sulu (for the Sulu sea, meant to represent all of Asia, but of fictional Japanese origin); Pavel Andreievich Chekov (a RUSKIE for crying out loud!). In this fictional treatment, Bele and Lokai "stood their ground" until the end. As I've commented before, Roddenberry developed his own eschatology, y. Yet, it is positive and relevant that we might survive our own hubris, essentially stemming from old tribal conflicts and current contemporary displays of breathtaking stupidity and arrogance.
This episode was a stark warning of the inevitable consequences of NOT...
"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" is the fifteenth episode of the third season of the original science fiction television show Star Trek. It was first broadcast on January 10, 1969, and repeated on August 12, 1969. It was written by Oliver Crawford, based on a story by Gene L. Coon (writing under his pen name "Lee Cronin") and directed by Jud Taylor. The script evolved from an outline by Barry Trivers for a possible first-season episode called "A Portrait in Black and White." The script was accepted for the third season following budget cuts. The episode guest-stars Lou Antonio and Frank Gorshin, best known for his role as The Riddler in the Batman live-action television series. Contrary to popular rumors and articles, Gorshin was not Emmy nominated for this role.
In this episode, the Enterprise picks up two survivors of a war-torn planet who are still committed to destroying each other aboard the ship.
Once the Ariannus mission is completed, Bele takes control of the Enterprise again, but this time, he deactivates the auto-destruct in the process and sends the ship to Cheron. Once there, the two aliens find the planet's population completely wiped out by a global war fueled by insane racial hatred. Lokai and Bele stare silently at the destruction on the monitor and realize they are the only ones left of their race (or, as they see it, their "races").
Instead of calling a truce, the two beings begin to blame each other for the destruction of the planet, and a brawl ensues. As the two aliens fight, their innate powers radiate, cloaking them with an energy aura that threatens to damage the ship. With no other choice, Kirk sadly allows the two aliens to chase each other down to their obliterated world to decide their own fates, consumed by their now self-perpetuating mutual hate. Forlorn, Lt. Uhura asks if their hate is all they ever had. Kirk ruefully says no...but it is all they have left.
Let That Be Your Last Battlefield: Script
Bele and Lokai. Black on one side and white on the other. Mirror images of each other. Cain and Abel. Brahman and Dalit. German and Jewish. Catholic and Protestant. Hutu and Tutsi. Ukrainian and Russian. Ishmael and Isaac, imago alterius. Of the same genome and lands, on the same PLANET, yet hating one another for the most superficial, if you want to call it this, "reasoning." Which was the more excellent sacrifice? Who is the Abrahamic son of blessing? Though I invoke Biblical struggles, the current crisis started almost with the birth of the modern nation of Israel and the displacement of Palestinians after the Second World War. Vox gives a nice primer on the history. All conflict boils down to a struggle over resources: oil, minerals, rare earth, jewels, water, holy ground, and the faux hierarchies the few use to justify the grand theft of resources from the many.
Let's be clear: Hamas is a terrorist organization, as the Russian Federation is a terrorist state. Both are not invested in world order (a "Boogie Man" term) because disorder is their only superpower. A coalition between Israel and Saudi Arabia is as disastrous to Hamas as Ukraine is on the border of Russia: they are, ironically, the "threat of a good example" (Noam Chomsky). How do you justify the destruction of a nation when two monotheistic governments cooperate? How do you justify a dictatorship when there is a democracy on your border, that Russians have relatives there, and many have intermarried? "Superpower" is a documentary filmed by the actor Sean Penn at the beginning of the conflict. If you saw Putin's expression the one time he and Volodymyr Zelinsky were on stage together, and Zelinsky defied Putin's version of events, I don't need to study Russian to see when a dictator is incensed. These wars are personal. He and Hamas are Bele.
A planet or a nation in the Near East. The pattern is recognizable, as is its conclusion.
* * * * *
"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom."
"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."
"The choice is not between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence."
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., BrainyQuote.com
Tao produces one
One produces two
Two produce three
Three produce myriad things
Myriad things, backed by yin and embracing yang
Achieve harmony by integrating their energy
What the people dislike
Are alone, bereft, and unworthy
But the rulers call themselves these terms
So, with all things
Appear to take loss but benefit
Or receive benefits but lose
What the ancients taught
I will also teach
The violent one cannot have a natural death
I will use this as the principle of all teachings
(Tao te Ching verse 42, translation by Derek Lin, 2006)