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The Wrath of Khong: Science Fiction, Future Analogies, and Early Military Space Policy


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This paper investigates the role that science fiction had on the early development of military space policy. It examines three science fiction motifs: the concept of space as a frontier, the fear of nuclear apocalypse, and the central theme of human spaceflight. Using Yuen Foong Khong's Analogical Explanation Framework, this paper contends that science fiction of the pulp era assisted policymakers in defining the nature of the situation, providing prescriptions for policy, evaluating moral rightness, and in two of the cases, warning about the dangers of other options. Conversely, this paper assesses that unlike historical analogies, the future analogies or motifs of science fiction did not help to evaluate the stakes or predict the chances of success of a given policy decision. This paper is a timely reminder that when science fiction is used correctly, it is often a helpful tool in investigating and analyzing imaginary future war scenarios. As the next era of space exploration develops, and the US military stands up the Space Force and renews its focus on the protect and defend mission, science fiction provides a pathway for the investigation of new policy alternatives.



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