All is Fair in Love and War?
“The mutts are beginning to assemble. As they join together, they raise up again to stand easily on their back legs giving them an eerily human quality. Each has a thick coat, some with fur that is strength and sleek, others curly, and the colors vary from jet black to what I can only describe as blond. There’s something else about them, something that makes the hair rise up on the back of my neck, but I can’t put my finger on it…The green eyes glowering at me are unlike any dog of wolf, any canine I’ve ever seen. They are unmistakably human. And that revelation has barely registered when I notice the collar with the number 1 inlaid with jewels and the whole horrible thing hits me. The blonde hair, the green eyes, the number…it’s Glimmer…Their eyes are the least of my worries. What about their brains? Have they been given any of the real tributes memories? Have they been programmed to hate our faces particularly because we have survived and they were so callously murdered? And the ones we actually killed… do they believe they’re avenging their own deaths?”-The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games is the story of twenty-four children who are put into an arena to fight to the death. The human-mutts that they face are just the latest in a long line of horrors for them and a long lineage of literature that uses chimeras. However, after some of the readings we’ve done for this class, these strike me as more frightening than they did when I first read them….because these mutts are in the realm of possibility. We can genetically engineer hybrid animals already—geep (goats+sheep) and zonkey (donkey+zebra) have been created by the scientific community. We can grow human stem cells inside of other animals. Why not fully formed animal-human hybrids?
Katniss, the character whose thoughts make up the excerpt, describes the humanity in these animals and her horror at them. She wonders exactly how human that these animals are—only faces, or something more? Memory implants are not something that the realm of science has achieved, but seeing their faces on those animals is enough for her to question whether these hybrids have humanity inside and tear at her emotions.
Mutts like these open up new possibilities for warfare. Using the genes of the fallen on new soldiers, like in The Hunger Games, would be a whole new form of psychological warfare. Armies of hybrid animals could be created as attack forces. They could be given human brain stem cells to increase intelligence of these new soldiers. Or, they could be given the characteristics of the fiercest predators through vivisection or genetic engineering. The possibilities are endless. All the creatures that have ever haunted your nightmares could be brought to life and thrust into battle. Perhaps dragons will be made real after all.
One could argue that these tactics are not relevant due to the increasing usage of bombs and warfare from a distance. True, but there will always be bases, camps, and civilians to turn these horrors loose upon. But is this ethical? Is this something that countries would ever utilize? It’s hard to say. But they don’t have the adage ‘all is far in love and war’ for nothing.