Armoured Doves: by Bernard Newman

In Newman's 1930 history's fault line is that of France and Germany; all wars are Franco-German, even if they turn global, and this simplification serves a narrative which leaves Britain and the US curiously absent. The Second World War is pushed back to the 1960s, when sufficient technical advances permit a group of rogue scientists to develop super-weapons which destroy war itself. The genius behind this innovation is subdued Hank Scorpio, Paul de Montigny, and his weapons which destroy weapons are much sought-after. But when representations from world powers take the form of family reunions it is clear that Newman has hit upon a truth uncovered by Thomas Hardy; that one coincidence is the province of an amateur and two coincidences that of a charlatan; but many coincidences co-joined, piled up into a colony, are dynastic; they are born pregnant and so are self-generating. Hence much of Armoured Doves is a family affair; missing fathers turn up as foreign ministers and presidents; wives are reformed spies. The conflicting loyalities which are subsequently thrown up are played out in the manner of soap, wherein domestic strife replaces attrition and war is an arrangement of seats at the dinner table. The endgame, in which a few European cities are sacrificed for the greater good, is eerily predictive of Fail Safe and the concept of mutually assured destruction.

But more to the point of Armoured Doves, just who was Bernard Newman? Despite being a prolific author, or perhaps because of it, his prescience smacks of an inside track. His novel Flying Saucer, issued a mere few months after the Roswell incident, suggests a Mockingbird style operation in publishing houses, given its proximity to the event. Ditto his wanderings across the globe at times of international peril - almost an on the spot fictioneer. The Blue Ants, which posits a Russo-Chinese war, was written and published while American involvement in Vietnam was at its height and at a time when tensions in South-East Asia threatened to consume the world. This all reminds me of Paul Linebarger aka Cordwainer Smith, whose US intelligence links monster his fey science fantasies.

Armoured Doves is billed as an anti-war novel, but it is of course nothing of the kind. It is rather a dossier compiled as fiction and assessing the emotional intelligence of scientists, and their dynastic possibilities.

No comments:

Post a Comment