back to article France seeks science-fiction writers to help futureproof its military against science-fact

The French army has said it is looking to recruit four or five sci-fi writers and futurologists to staff a "Red Team" that predicts future threats and how to disrupt or defend against them. The unit will be run by the l'Agence Innovation Défense and DGRIS – the defence strategic unit. It will be expected to "propose scenarios …

  1. vir

    Here

    Just watch a few seasons of Black Mirror. I take payment in Perigord truffles, bordeaux, or foie gras.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sadly, Ian M Banks passed and if he was alive we'd prefer to have him at the MoD but somehow I don't think that would have fitted with his ideals or the MoD's given the Culture's whole ethos.

  3. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    Well fr. gov has strongly denied the move in somewhat overly-precise terms "we can assure that science-fiction stories are not going to influence defense policies", or someting to that effect.

    So we can safely assume that they already have prospects, or even signed contracts.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    looking to recruit four or five sci-fi writers and futurologists

    1. must be a native French national

    2. must have published at least 5 novels in French, min. 100,000 copies sold

    3. must agree to give recommendations as per recommendations received

    4. we're French, no funny foreign ideas, please!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: looking to recruit four or five sci-fi writers and futurologists

      >4. we're French, no funny foreign ideas, please!

      Allo, my name is René Artois and I write science fiction in my spare time while running a small cafe.

    2. Chris King

      Re: looking to recruit four or five sci-fi writers and futurologists

      So they're looking for a French-speaking national with five or more popular titles published in France under their belt.

      Doesn't that limit the field somewhat ? The rest of the planet has some outstanding speculative sci-fi writers to choose from.

      "Think like a local, be defeated by outsiders ?"

      1. Grikath

        Re: looking to recruit four or five sci-fi writers and futurologists

        "Doesn't that limit the field somewhat ?"

        I'd think it would completely eradicate it. Either that, or there are actually 5 french-native speculative fiction writers in France, successfully writing/publishing bestsellers for the french market, and they've just announced who they are to the connaisseurs.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: looking to recruit four or five sci-fi writers and futurologists

        Monsieur Verne? Sounds French to me...

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: looking to recruit four or five sci-fi writers and futurologists

          Sure. Boulle too. But I think they're looking for living novelists.

          Wikipedia and other sites list a good number of French SF authors, though it looks like relatively few have been translated into English. I only recognized a few names.

  5. ivan5

    Macron clutching at straws again I see. I write SF in my spare time and there is no way I would associated with such a project.

    Now to upset people, I think they are looking in the wrong place, they should be looking at climatologists with their unvalidated computer models of the future being the best SF so far.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      If that's the best SF you can come up with then don't give up the day job.

  6. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Also War Writers won't have a lot of War Stories to write

    The Network Science Division of the US Army Research Laboratory, told the Conference on Applied Machine Learning for Information Security last year that inside two decades, humans will be "just one species of intelligent beings" on the battlefield - robots, sensors, smart weapons, autonomous vehicles, and wearable things being the others.

    In that case it won't morally matter in the slightest if such machines are eliminated or dismembered on the battlefield; it will be just a cost-adjusting exercise for accountants with the country with the biggest bill losing.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Also War Writers won't have a lot of War Stories to write

      and wearable things

      I was just following orders. Orders from my pants.

  7. AceRimmer1980
    WTF?

    Science Fiction?

    You couldn't make it up.

  8. sbt Silver badge
    Trollface

    A trade delegation of angry Hungarian winemakers arrives...

    ... and is mistaken for an advance detachment of invading Bavarians. France surrenders quickly.

    1. Chris King

      Re: A trade delegation of angry Hungarian winemakers arrives...

      "France surrenders quickly"

      Obligatory Dr Who quote, keeping on the subject of sci-fi:

      "Glory to <Insert Name Here>" - the anthem of Tivoli, the most-invaded planet in the galaxy.

      1. sbt Silver badge

        Re: A trade delegation of angry Hungarian winemakers arrives...

        That sounds like Adams. Or Brockman's snowclone: "I, for one, welcome our new <insert name here> overlords."

        1. Chris King

          Re: A trade delegation of angry Hungarian winemakers arrives...

          Yes, this paticular one's from Who.

    2. Wade Burchette Silver badge

      Re: A trade delegation of angry Hungarian winemakers arrives...

      Bonjour! You cheese eating surrender monkeys.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A trade delegation of angry Hungarian winemakers arrives...

      I see you have never read an account of the Battle of Verdun in WW1.

      (I think you mean Brandenburgers, btw. The Bavarians were actually not that enthusiastic about WW1, and at that time the Bavarian army still had a degree of autonomy. )

  9. Nick Kew Bronze badge
    Alien

    Open Source it

    Let's see.

    Can't imagine wargaming for the military will do much to stimulate the best imaginations. As soon as you think "threat to France", are you not limiting that creativity? If they want to harness sci-fi, a trawl of published work surely makes more sense.

    If you're an established sci-fi writer, where's the incentive to taint a reputation?

    If you're a wannabe or up-and-coming sci-fi writer, maybe you could use the money. If your principles allow it, and you don't worry about being tainted by association.

    How about a D&D model? Recruit Dungeon Masters, then open up play to the public and let stories grow. No, wait, who the **** is going to want to play that?

    Aha! How about some creative thinking. Turn the D&D into a novel form of literary award: decent annual prizes and award ceremonies for the best stories within the framework of a MUD where a primary goal is to attackresist a sinister state (and don't tell 'em who's behind it - find or invent some rich patron of the arts). That could motivate some real creativity!

  10. TheProf Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Wouldn't bother

    Going by all the crap 'predictions' made in most 'science' fiction the French will soon be preparing to defend themselves from aliens who are here to steal French water, women, brains, gold and cattle intestines.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Wouldn't bother

      I was thinking that too. We remember the correct predictions from SF because they came true. We tend to forget about the 99% that didn't come true or are extremely unlikely.

  11. Mage Silver badge
    Alien

    Futurologists & SF writers?

    I've read SF for 50 years and I write it. I've also read a lot of nonsense by Futurologists and watched Horizon, Tomorrow's World etc up to 1982.

    They are wasting their money. Cheaper to have one person generally expert at science, technology and maths who isn't gullible, paid to read books, journals and browse the internet.

    Of course it could be PR. The US has form on this in 1950s.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    History has shown...

    that whenever a government starts to lose the support of it's citizens, a good way to rally the citizens back into cohesion is with a new threat of Fear, Uncertainty and Death ®

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: History has shown...

      Yes, I realize that the last word should be "Doubt" but missed my 10 min. edit window.

      (But Death works just as well for frightening the plebs)

      1. DCFusor Silver badge

        Re: History has shown...

        It's more accurate anyway, or at least HL Mencken would agree with it.

        And this isn't something said yesterday.

        The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

        Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/h_l_mencken_101109

        Back in the day, before anywhere near as much PC baloney existed...(in a couple of senses) the saying

        was "Fear, uncertainty, and deception" in regards to Microsoft, which entity it was originally coined for. After all, doubt ~- uncertainty. The change was kind of...one of those things like wikipedia edits or a stealthy re-write of history.

  13. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Wasn't this one of the sub-plots...

    ...in Nivens & Pournelles Footfall?

  14. Sanguma Bronze badge

    French Space Farce

    I believe that Derek of New Zealand's own Astro-Investigation and Defense Service would be delighted to share the defense of the Earth against the threat of another attempt by that famous interstellar fast food chain Crumb's Crunchy Delights to harvest human flesh for the interstellar fast food market - if he could be found. He's been gone for over thirty years - last seen in the vicinity of Kaihoro near Wellington - and people have started to worry his chain saw will have run out of gas by now and he may himself have been harvested ... meanwhile, Chuck Chunder of the Australian Space Patrol has put in a request for retirement now that the French are proposing their own Space Patrol, complete with Space Cadets and all.

    1. Long John Brass
      Terminator

      Re: French Space Farce

      Thats in rather bad taste :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: French Space Farce

        If it isn't in bad taste, it's failed as a farce.

        1. Long John Brass

          Re: French Space Farce

          You are probably aware; But just in case...

          https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092610/

    2. GrumpyKiwi

      Re: French Space Farce

      Have a +1 for the Astro-Investigation and Defence Service reference.

      "He could be Ministry of Works"

      "Nah, he's moving too fast"

      Back when Peter Jackson was good.

  15. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    For Proprietary Immaculate Provisioning via OHMS

    Where does one send scripts to follow for sourcing with future content?

    An accurate address surely suffices ....... and would certainly be probably well exercised by All Manner of Strange Beings :-) ...... Almighty Alienations.

    Can you Imagine the Honey Pot Traps Freely Available for AI Beta Field Testing to XSSXXXX Levels of Passionate Remote Engagement with Virtual Immersions in that Most Particular and Designedly Peculiar Program ....... for Projects ProgramMING Mined IntelAIgent Networking Games.

    When such is So Relatively Easy, it can't be Too Real for Online Hyper Main Streaming? Live SMARTR AI via Global IT with Stay Healthy and Stealthy Media Connections.

    Methinks for slow humans to listen and follow, AI and IT are beautifully tasked with the simple reporting of the heavenly practical help freely available virtually anywhere and everywhere.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For Proprietary Immaculate Provisioning via OHMS

      Alors, répéter cela en francais et peut-etre nous vous respondons.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: For Proprietary Immaculate Provisioning via OHMS

        Alors, répéter cela en francais et peut-etre nous vous respondons. .... Benson's Cycle

        Okay, Benson's Cycle. No sooner said than done ..... courtesy of Google Translate. :-)

        Pour un approvisionnement immaculé exclusif via OHMS

        Où envoie-t-on les scripts à suivre pour rechercher du contenu futur?

        Une adresse exacte suffit sûrement ....... et serait certainement bien exercée par tous les moyens d'êtres étranges :-) ...... aliénations tout-puissant.

        Pouvez-vous imaginer les pièges à miel librement disponibles pour les essais sur le terrain bêta d'IA selon les niveaux XSSXXXX d'engagement à distance passionné avec les immersions virtuelles dans le programme le plus particulier et le plus spécifiquement conçu ... pour les projets ProgramMING Jeux de mise en réseau IntelAIgent minés.

        Quand cela est si relativement facile, cela ne peut pas être trop réel pour le streaming hyper principal en ligne? Live SMARTR AI via Global IT avec Stay Media et Stealthy Media Connections.

        Il me semble que les humains lents doivent écouter et suivre, l’intelligence artificielle et les technologies de l’information sont magnifiquement chargées du simple rapport de l’aide pratique divin disponible gratuitement pratiquement partout.

        1. My-Handle Silver badge

          Re: For Proprietary Immaculate Provisioning via OHMS

          Strangely, that doesn't seem to have lost any clarity in translation.

  16. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Threats?

    "Well now, Launcelot, Galahad, and I wait until nightfall and then leap out of the rabbit and take the French by surprise, not only by surprise but totally unarmed!"

  17. Mike 137 Silver badge

    " to brainstorm possible future terrorist attacks"

    It's worth noting that when originally coined "brainstorm" meant temporary insanity - "'a succession of sudden and severe paroxysms of cerebral disturbance' (Dorland 1901)" [OED supplement 1933].

    "Dorland" refers to the American Illustrated Medical Dictionary

  18. Toni the terrible

    Why Not Chinese Writers

    That person who wrote "DARK FOREST" .....

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