The Story Behind the Story: Monster Earth’s “Peace With Honor”

As I noted yesterday, the Monster Earth anthology featuring “Peace With Honor” is now out (Kindle version here). And so here’s the tale of how I came to set my tail of gigantic monstrosities in Vietnam in the early seventies.
For a long time now, I’ve been thinking about how things might have changed if John F. Kennedy hadn’t died in 1963. Particularly how they might have changed in Vietnam.
There’s a school of thought that JFK would have pulled out of ‘nam if he’d made it to a second term (it’s the rationale for his assassination in Executive Action and JFK, for instance). The counter argument is that Kennedy was a tough-minded Cold Warrior who would never have backed off from a confrontation with the “Reds.” I’m inclined to suspect the latter, but Kennedy’s alt.history second term is, obviously a tabula rasa so I won’t rule out the former.
My own thinking is that for the purposes of fiction, a middle course is most interesting (and reasonably plausible). JFK doesn’t withdraw from Vietnam, but he doesn’t commit American troops the way Johnson did. South Vietnam gets military aid, weapons, special forces and “military advisers” but no more. Vietnam never becomes anything but one of countless brushfire battlefields of the Cold War era, no more significant than, say, Guatemala (where we supported a genocidal government for years).
The result: No anti-war movement. No massive protests, no draft-dodging (probably no end to the draft either), no “Vietnam syndrome” resulting from losing a war to guerillas in black pajamas. The sixties will still be turbulent—black power, feminism, Stonewall—but it’s not going to boil at the temperature it did in our timeline.
Which explains a lot about the route I went when xx invited me to participate in Monster Earth. By the time I started working up pitches, it turned out the 1970s were the only decade open (which nixed my 1940s idea for the Black Dragon Society trying to steal or destroy America’s monster). I considered a few 1970s options, but the one that really grabbed me was a variation on my JFK scenario: Johnson doesn’t commit troops to Vietnam (for reasons explained in the story) so it remains an inconsequential, unimportant war .. until Vietnam comes up with a monster of its own. Suddenly, things are very different …
This post continues on Mechanoid Press’s blog (I’ll make a post-specific link once it’s up).

10 Comments

Filed under Short Stories, Story behind the story, Writing

10 responses to “The Story Behind the Story: Monster Earth’s “Peace With Honor”

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