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French army 'turns to science fiction writers to imagine future threats'

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Franky Zapata flies on a Flyboard near the Eiffel Tower during the traditional Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris
Franky Zapata flies on a Flyboard near the Eiffel Tower during the traditional Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris -
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REUTERS/Charles Platiau
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France's army has turned to science fiction writers to imagine possible new threats in the future, according to a new report (in French).

The dossier talks of creating a "red team" of four or five writers to think up scenarios of disruption that military strategists may have missed.

"The work of this cell will be to construct valid strategic hypotheses that are likely to upset the capability plan," reads the report.

The report comes in the week that innovation was one of the main takeaways from Bastille Day military celebrations in Paris.

Sunday's parade saw an inventor piloting his jet-powered flyboard over crowds in the French capital, prompting praise from President Emmanuel Macron.

Science fiction's relationship with reality

"Is it possible to transmit a projectile up to the moon?... At what precise moment will the moon present herself in the most favourable projection to be reached by the projectile?"

These were the questions that the director of the Cambridge observatory directed to the president of the Baltimore Gun Club, a group of enthusiasts wishing to land a man on the moon.

The questions appeared in the fictitious world of novelist Jules Verne in his book "From the Earth to the Moon."

Vernes had imagined in 1865 a reality that was realised 104 years later, when Apollo 11 landed the first humans, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on our satellite.

Vernes wasn't the only one thinking ahead. Artists and writers have always been prescient thinkers.

George Orwell, in his book 1984, predicted a future of Big Brother and mass surveillance. Jonathan Swift, in Gulliver's Travels, predicted that Mars had two moons.