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Tag Archives: Allegory

One of the reasons why fiction is such a powerful tool for education and learning is that it can draw on real life events and circumstances and apply them to new worlds and times and events. Teaching the lessons of history in the stories of wars against other planets and through the eyes of a boxer winning over a crowd. But the allegory is one of the most risky things to try, ridiculed by authors, because people often confuse the general, with the specific.

For an allegory to be effective I believe it needs to stick to general lessons. Of the moral principles behind the actions and not the specific actions themselves. After all, especially with science fiction or today’s military technology, or in comparing mutants to certain groups, the risk is always that there is some fundamental difference between what you are trying to portray, and the actual event itself.

Spoilers for Star Trek Into Darkness to follow.

In Star Trek Into Darkness Kirk has to go hunt down Khan. He has to do so behind enemy lines, inside Klingon space, an action that will surely cause a war, an action which leads him to fire on the Klingon Home world to try to take out this one man.

Without a trial, without bringing him in first, without going through the proper jurisdiction procedures of what they believed at the time to be an Earth citizen. Without even trying to play nice. So, in essence a targeted assassination… from space.

This brings to mind the current drone programs, and our own battles with jurisprudence and our principles. Whether it is right or wrong for us to be killing Americans without charge. Specific, easy to understand principles. Though all the explosions and death a lesson worthy of any science fiction.

But yet some people chose to compare it to… the Iraq War. Which granted is all apart of our current problems but its the specific event that is triggering the debate, and the larger ‘war on terror’.

But specifically it just does not fit.

Iraq, while powerful militarily, was a small nation with limited resources and was by no means a ‘super power’. They didn’t have the technology, the professionalism, or the soldiers to put up much of a fight against the Federation of Planets… erm I mean Coalition of the Willing.

While the Klingon Empire is the Military super power in the Star Trek universe. They have the technology, they have the ships, they have the manpower, and they are an empire, so they are anything but small. It implies just the opposite. They have been on the Galactic Stage for centuries.

While Humanity at this point is relative new comers. Not military strong in the least. The comparison does not hold up to scrutiny.

So this is my advice, when writing, when making an allegory, you can use a specific event for inspiration. But in the long run use general cases and principles to set things up.