I cut my teeth on Sci-Fi as a kid, starting with the old “Tom Swift” series of books and following those with the “Rick Brandt” series. (The Rick Brandt series served as the ‘inspiration’ for the Johnny Quest TV show.) By the time I was in third grade, I was reading Heinlein’s juveniles. I read “Starship Troopers” the summer between third and fourth grade, which would have made me nine years old. I missed all the not-so-subtle militaristic, pseudo-fascist politics of course, but the notion that you could fight in “Space Armor” was simply awesome. It was an image that stuck with me throughout my life.
When I first saw Imperial Storm troopers burst through the bulkhead in the opening sequence of “Star Wars” I believe I shouted “Starship Troopers!” out-loud in delight and surprise. I’m not very impressed with the modern riffs on Heinlein’s book though. Not enough ‘armor’ for my taste. Storm trooper armor came close to what I imagined Heinlein’s troopers were wearing. Though in my story, they’re polished like mirrors.
Shortly after reading “Starship Troopers” – I saw the episode of “Outer Limits” called “The Soldier” (1964). Written by Harlan Ellison, it was the germ of the idea utilized by James Cameron for his movie “The Terminator”. Of course, it was a little too similar, and Harlan carved out a nice check for infringement from Cameron’s profits.
Everything influences everything else of course. So it was with decades of exposure to sci-fi space opera that I tackled “Trenches”, back in the mid-nineties. I’d been jousting for a while, and studying up on medieval weaponry and tactics. I was also catching up on the history of WWI at the time. As it happens, my own grandfather was a veteran of the “Great War” – though he served in Russia, not the European theater.
Here then, is my attempt at the “Space Opera” genre of sci-fi . It’s heavily influenced by my WWI research, by Heinlein of course, and the great Harlan Ellison’s – “The Soldier”. I fancied having one of my artist friends work up an “Amazing Stories” type of cover, with a retro feel to illustrate it. But unfortunately, all my talented artist friends are too busy making real money to take on a small one-off project. So I’ll make do with some suggestive images of the theme.
I hope you enjoy “Trenches”.