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Literature / The Enemy Papers

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Enemy Mine by Barry B. Longyear was published as a novella in IASFM, September, 1979. It won the Hugo and Nebula awards in the novella category in 1980.

Then there was the movie.

Later published in The Enemy Papers along with sequels The Tomorrow Testament and The Last Enemy, as well as some bonus material related to the setting.

The main plot is driven by implications of a big war between Humans and Dracs, its consequences and the true cause behind it.

This series provides examples of:

  • Bilingual Backfire: A trio of Dracs on the way back to their homeworld don't expect the human protagonist to be able to understand them. He lets the most annoying of them know with a few choice words in Drac that they picked entirely the wrong human to insult.
  • Cycle of Revenge: The Tomorrow Testament, and particularly The Last Enemy, wrestle with this problem. How to stop a war which is counterproductive for both Humans and Dracs, but whose populations will still fight because of this?
  • Dead Man Switch: Through an almost- Irrevocable Order. When cornering people more forward-looking than even Dracs, it's good to have a Deadman Fleet Command. "Blow me up and your planet will be blown up".
  • Death World: Amadeen. Once it was just one more boring mining colony, but no more — a courtesy of War Is Hell trope.
  • Enemy Mine: Not the Trope Namer, but helped popularize it.
  • Irrevocable Order: If the station where peace negotiations are conducted will be blown up, this will also take out the only officer capable of stopping the fleet sent to bomb the guilty party's homeworld. Joanne Nicole isn't nice.
  • Let Me at Him!: Following the Bilingual Backfire incident listed above, the other two Dracs have to physically restrain the target of the insult.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: A number of characters, but principally Davidge.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: The difference between humans and Drac (save the very fact that the latter are hermaphrodite lizards) is not so great and more cultural than biological in nature. Much the same for other aliens.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: A "solution" of the Amadeen problem.
  • Self-Sacrifice Scheme: Part of Davidge's solution in The Last Enemy.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: There's a whole species who has the "Let's You and Him Fight" approach ingrained in their culture. They're not warlike, but quite dangerous.
  • Sword of Damocles: The whole point of the Navi Di, although they do have to establish that they're fully willing and capable of using the power they have.
  • War Is Hell: The first book is mostly about two stranded pilots, but second and third deals with it more closely.
  • Xanatos Gambit: One of the main messages of Talman (Drac "Bible") is "look what your true goal is, then start looking for the ways to reach it" note . Realpolitik is just one pattern in a tapestry for them. No wonder that in this society the renowned teachers of Talma are given a wide berth, the way Asskicking Leads to Leadership works in more primitive cultures. They lead powerful clans, and even when one is disgraced and sent to Penal Colony, the convoying soldier doesn't want to contradict him. But then, it turned out that even Dracs were duped and used by other schemers.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: Human pilots are taught to insult one of the most revered Drac philosophers to taunt cold-blooded enemy pilots into more rash actions. Drac pilots are taught that Mickey Mouse was a renowned human philosopher, so they answer accordingly. It's not hard to guess which one incapacitates better.