The Washington Post

Naval analyst on why some join the Navy: ‘Starfleet Command wasn’t hiring’


View Photo Gallery: Some of the world’s greatest inventions have science fiction to thank for their easy-adoption and popularity among consumers.

In an interview with Foreign Policy’s Michael Peck, naval analyst and former U.S. Naval War College research professor Chris Weuve offers up some interesting observations on space warfare and how it is influenced (and not) by the real thing.

The entire interview with Weuve, an avid sci-fi fan, is well worth a read. But it caught my eye when Peck turned the tables and asked Weuve whether science fiction has influenced the way navies conduct warfare:

This is a question that I occasionally think about. Many people point to the development of the shipboard Combat Information Center in World War II as being inspired by E.E. Doc Smith's Lensman novels from the 1940s. Smith realized that with hundreds of ships over huge expanses, the mere act of coordinating them was problematic. I think there is a synergistic effect. I also know a number of naval officers who have admitted to me that the reason they joined the Navy was because Starfleet Command wasn't hiring.

Another interesting exchange: when Weuve was asked which TV shows give the most accurate depiction of space warfare and which ones get it wrong. “Battlestar Galactica” comes out on top, while the “Star Wars” films are, according to Weuve, “probably the worst.” Why? Most notably, Star Wars creator George Lucas designed the space craft, such as the X-Wing, and the combat scenes based on World War II.

Read the full Q & A on Foreign Policy.

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Emi Kolawole is the editor-in-residence at Stanford University's d.school, where she works on media experimentation and design.

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