The Wolf and the Hare, while freshly updated, was originally written in the days of the Cold War, which is why it reflects such a strong “us-versus-them” point of view. Another aspect of the story is indicated by the title. For anyone unfamiliar with either Latin or Astronomy, the constellation “Lepus” is the rabbit (or hare), while “Lupis” is the wolf. Now, I’ve always been a big fan of the original Twilight Zone, so the TZ-style twist in the story would have fit right in with the original TV series.
The alien enemy is looking to destroy an Earth military outpost. Having gathered intelligence from a recently-captured Earth vessel, they’re struggling to translate and interpret the strange language and references of the humans. Confused by two similar-seeming locations on the captured star map, they pick the wrong target. If they’d gotten it right, the battle would have been a cake walk. As it was, they got a nasty surprise.
The problem with space battles, as has been mentioned elsewhere many times, is that space is absolutely huge. Trying to locate a single planetary needle in an enormous galactic haystack isn’t easy. Now imagine trying to find an enemy fleet — or even a single enemy ship — in all that vastness, and you get some idea how difficult it is to wage an interstellar war. This isn’t Star Trek, friend. It’s not even Babylon 5. It’s all about Intelligence gathering. Before you can attack the enemy, you first need to find him. But even if you do manage to capture a few scraps of data from somewhere, interpretation is your next challenge. They’re called “aliens” for a reason. With little or no knowledge of their culture or their history, how can you hope to understand that scrap of data in the first place? Logically speaking, peace would be far easier to wage than war. But then again, human beings have never been known for their logic. Which begs the question: why would these aliens be so much like us in that respect?
Ah, therein lies the tale, and a secret that only the mysterious Mrs. Smith knows for sure. Her story continues in the Army of the Cross series, which resumes in a little while.
(c) 2015 Thomas F. Brown, All Rights Reserved.
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