Short stories are often long on meaning, particularly in science fiction.
Case in point is Arthur C. Clarke’s Superiority. The 1951 story “does not predict technologies that we recognize today, but elegantly describes a number of disturbingly familiar military technical failure modes. Such insights are especially helpful when thinking about new endeavors like the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Initiative, which will include both a new long-range research and development planning program and an offset strategy,” writes Ben FitzGerald, the director of the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.
The relevance of this more than 60-year old work is a reminder that our relationship with technology has grand truths, even if the story was put to paper at the dawn of the Jet Age. The allure of advances in military technology, especially game-changing leaps, can be too much to resist — even at the price of ultimate defeat against a less sophisticated adversary. Clarke’s tale carries just as much caution today as it did during the Cold War’s early years.