Reader question : What’s up with the torture in High & Hard?

FourCharactersAll the talk about the CIA torture report reminded me of that story you had here about the spy torturing the woman in the tree. I didn’t see that scene any more, but I saw you were answering questions about the story and global warming. Is it also about the torture during the war on terror? Did you take that scene out?

Angie K (a reader)

This is turning into a Q&A about H&H. [See previous question on whether it falls in the climate-dystopian “cli-fi” genre.]

Marshal Voight isn’t exactly a spy, but the first novel of High & Hard does culminate in a torture scene. But, there are already hints about where the story is going in Voight’s speech before the Conclave.

This aspect of High & Hard wasn’t really intended as a commentary on 21st century torture so much as a nod to the harsh realities of 17th and 18th century warfare. Fantasy has a bad habit of glamorizing archaic modes of conflict, particularly by attributing the brutal aspects to the “bad guys.” By mashing up classic high fantasy with gritty hard fantasy, in part I wanted to show what happens when the “good guys” are also brutal.

I guess that this same stripping away of the glamor could be seen in the Senate’s torture report. But whether High & Hard serves as a commentary on 21st century warfare is for readers to decide.

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