There are some military units that are known the world over and just the mention of their name evokes respect and fear, and the US Marine Corps is one of these. So iconic is the USMC that they have captured the name "marine" itself and dominated its definition since the First World War despite not being the oldest Marine corps in the world. That honor goes to the Spanish Navy Marines, founded in 1537. With the nexus of ideas, history, iconography surrounding these marine units, they have become a popular source for inspiration for science fiction space infantry units with the name marine itself being used countless times with varying degrees of accuracy. I thought it was high time to discuss Marine units and cover the relationship between science fiction and the Marines. There will be some bleed over with the previous FWS blogpost on Space Marines
The Meaning of the name "marine"
The Roles and Responsibilities of Modern Marine Units
The classical definition of the name “marine” is: from the
sea and it perfectly sums up the native environment of Marine units. The
English word comes from Latin word “marinus” and was used by the English and
the Dutch to define and separate these naval soldiers from the infantry. While the word marine perfectly sums up the
nature of these units in a single word, other languages are not as lucky as
seen in other global marine units like the French Troupes de marine
and Argentina Infantería
Some of these international Marine units are historically named
and have had a role into the creation of the US Marines. Many other
international Marine units have taken inspiration from the US Marines, further the
name. Science fiction has borrowed the
term “marine” since 1932 and continues to be the standard issued term for
starship-based troops that secure and hold exo-planetary real estate and it
makes some sense due to the relationship
between wet navies and space fleets. On
the unequalled Atomic Rockets website, it has been suggested by creator Tyge
Sjostrand that the term space marine should be retired in favor of “Espatiers”.
Given their historical role of being infantry forces assigned to naval ships, Marine units were more of a “force-in-readiness” than their army brethren due to quicker deployment to hotspots and closer logistical ship via their home vessel. Due to this naval foundation, this sets up Marine units to be an amphibious-based force that mounts maritime operations on the open water, beaches, onboard ships, islands, and even into land (as the mission/logistics dictates). In addition to warfighting, Marines also serve as security onboard ship, at embassies, and other distant installations. This ability to fight with minimum support from established bases and far from home is hallmark of the other primary warfare type that Marine units engage it that creates national power projection: expeditionary warfare.
Within their warfighting roles, we can see a more offensive mindset born out of assault beaches and boarding ships with less combined arms support than the big army. This forges the more aggressive mindset and creating unique unit attitude and culture. During wartime, Marine units classically assault and secure beachheads and inland objects up to around 50 miles via various landing crafts and aircraft. One of the more unique roles of the US Marine Corps has been as embassy security staff for all US embassies the world over.
Along with performing average security and ceremonial duties, the embassy Marines were also tasked with securing the diplomatic staff and complex until the embassy staff can be evacuated, often by Expeditionary Marine units, when the situation is dire. In this era of operations being conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan, US Marine units have been used as QRF for Special Operations Units, in asymmetric warfare, COIN operations, and even urban assault as seen in operations in Fallujah. These operations have been seen current in the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan along with Tagalog Insurgency (1899-1902).
What Makes Marines Unique over the Infantry?
In some ways, this answer is either simple or complex, not to mention a loaded question to boot. The fundamental different between the army infantry and the Marines is in their service branch patron and operational environment. The infantry is part of the army and conducts its mission on land with an objective to take and control territory in a combined arms approach in normally massive numbers. In greater number than the size of the combat infantry is the support system. Marines are mostly part of the navy with aquatic environments being their area of operations with duties falling under that, like the taking of beaches, boarding ships, and performing security with a goal of flexibility with less support than the infantry.
This leads to massive interior cultural difference, recruiting, and jobs. When I interviewed some co workers that were former Marines, they often spoke of the brotherhood of the Marines, the history, and legacy of the Corps that lead them to enlist and endure boot camp. In most cases, the Marines are much smaller an organization than the infantry with fewer jobs/roles and are an expeditionary force. Then there is the equipment. Often, Marine are equipped with gear suited to their specialized amphibious mission, this even extends to international Marine units that are basic an infantry force. In the US Marines, which is a combined arms force, they use equipment and weaponry not used by the rest of the US Armed Forces.
For example: the LAV-25 wheeled light armored vehicle, the AAV-P7/A1 assault amphibious vehicle, and (until 2015) the full-sized M16A4. This rare, current production full-sized M16 assault rifle made by FN was fitted with some of the features of the iconic M4 assault carbine like integrated rail system on the forearm and the removal of the carrying handle for a "flat top" mounting point for various scopes. In keeping with the USMC tradition, it was not fitted with a full-automatic fire option, but burst-only (like the M16A2) and was fitted with a heavier barrel as well.
classified as Special Operations?
The Relationship between the Navy and the Marines
This is a difficult question due to the wide variation of
Marine units around the world and misconceptions held by the general public. In
the United States, the Marine Corps has been viewed as an institution devoted
to create heartbreakers and lifetakers that are respected and feared the world
over. Some often confuse that the USMC is a Special Operations unit, which it
is not, but does contain Special Operations units within its fold like MARSOC,
Raiders, and RECON. What we conceive of as “special forces” is a Post-WWII
evolvement of specialized mission units, but there is a piece of the SOF ideals
implanted into Marine DNA. Unlike the big army infantry units that are more
specialized, like the cavalry or raiders, the US Marines were a global more
elite force that often responded to crisis in far off places with a minimum of
logistical support and aggression making it a flexible force of quick response
that was unlike the laborious process of moving the army to the battlefield,
Along with the US
Marines were other overseas elite specialized skill forces that were some of
the building blocks of future Special Operations units: the French Foreign
Legion, the British Royal Marines, and various scout/raider units like the
Lovat Scouts of the Boer War. While the US Marines are perhaps the most famous
Marine in the world, they are by no means the only one and some of these global
Marine forces are indeed classified Special Operations units by their home countries, like the Royal
Marine Commandos of the UK, the French Marines Commandos, the German Naval
Special Deployment Force, and the South Korean Marines.
In some of the
international Marine units, like the Italian Marines, does have an elite unit
within the ranks of the Marine forces that recruits from the ranks of the Marines. Once
again, this muddies the waters; especially when considering international units
that are similar to the US Navy SEALs, but are actually Marine SOF units that
recruit from Marines but the SEALs do not.
Another layer of confusion is that US Marines are often used in
specialized roles and serve as Quick Reaction Forces (QRF) for in-field Special Operations units much like the US
The majority of global Marine units are under the branch of the Navy and historically, the naval service was the genesis point of the seagoing infantry as we’ve seen with the British Royal Marines and the Spanish Marines. Few Marine units are completely separate from the Navy or are a combined arms force. Given that most Marine units are based around amphibious operation and expeditionary warfare makes the navy a natural host for the Marines. While the US Marines do possess a combined arms force, they are only semi-autonomous of the department of the Navy. This leads to some rivalry, good natured joking, and shared missions.
One of my coworkers, who is a former Marine, at the hospital is married to a Navy Corpsman, and for the purpose of this article, I interviewed him on unique role of the Corpsman: a bridge between the USN and the USMC. During my interview, I was told to make it crystal clear that USN Corpsman are NOT medics and there are two different types of Corpsman in the Navy: hospital (“blueside”) and Fleet Marine Force (“greenside”). It is the “Devil Docs” that are the ones in service with in-field US Marine units and are allowed to wear Marine digital camo. This bridge between the Navy and the Marines is important to both branches and these Naval medical personnel become ambassadors for the Navy among the Marines. These Devil Docs become part of the Marine brethren and earn the respect of the Marines through healing and shooting. This respect and bond is deep enough that Corpsman opinions/orders are given weight. During my interview he told me of having to pull rank on a higher ranking Marine officer for not following hydration orders and being given respect in bars by Marines. These Greenside Corpsman speak to the true bond and working relationship between the US Marines and the US Navy more than just the Navy being a transport service for the Corps.
Some Examples of Global Marine Corps
The Royal Marine Commandos of the United Kingdom
The Royal Marines are one of the oldest Marine organizations in the world and are another template Marine unit that formed the US Marines. Formed in 1664 as originally "the maritime regiment of foot", the Royal Marines of today are a rapid-response specialized amphibious expeditionary force of over 7,000. In their more recent history, the Royal Marines have adopted the title "commando" into their name and it seems that training warrants it. Recruits into this rough unit can be men or women and the training is 32 weeks with officers in for 60 weeks. When finished, there are a number of posts and jobs open to them, including the Special Boat Service. As for equipment, the Royal Marines used the more unloved L85A2 assault rifle and the Glock pistol along with the classic and badass Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife. As this article goes to press, the MoD is proposing cutting 1,000 Royal Marines to save money and Prince Harry has taken over from the Duke of Edinburgh as the ceremonial head of the Royal Marines as the "Captain General".
The Royal Bahamian Special Marine Commandos
The defense force of the Commonwealth of Bahamas is tasked with protecting over 700 islands and thousands of miles of ocean real estate. This makes the Royal Bahamas Defense Force a maritime force completely. There is neither army nor air force, just a naval force. Within this navy is the Special Marine Commandos that operate as an light amphibious infantry force that trains with American and British military units. While the foundations of the Special Marine Commandos of the RBDF where British in origin, they have recently adopted more US Marine Corps dress and weaponry, with digital camo BDUs and the Colt M4 assault carbine. While numbers vary, the Royal Bahamian Marines seem to be comprised of around 150 to 500, depending on the source. Part of this low number is due to the hardship of the training, the small size required, and budgetary limitations. Some of the Marine Commandos have worked alongside the Police Department.
The Spanish Navy Marines
While many believe that the US Marine Corps is the oldest in the world, that title actually belongs to the Marines of the Spanish Navy which was established in 1537 and continues onward to this day. Given its long history and the vast changes in Spain over the course of four hundred years, the Spanish Marines have changed and were nearly disbanded in 1931 and only saved by the Spanish Civil War. This elite amphibious infantry force of 4600 is designed for mission along the lines of the US Marines, in being a force-in-readiness for quick deployment to global hotspots. Given its long history, the most former member of the Spanish Navy Marines was Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes. While many of the global marine forces are just a highly trained infantry force, the Spanish Marines are a combined arms unit with specialized artillery, vehicles, and other equipment.
The French Marines
While there are a number of military organizations that have Marine units, they mostly have one, but France has three Marine units: Fusiliers Marins
, the Commandos Marine, and the Troupes de marine
. The French navy has their “Marine Riflemen” in the Fusiliers Marins
unit that this is the unit the elite Commando Marines are drawn from and was established in 1627. The job of the Fusiliers Marins
is to guard over French Naval installations, operate onboard naval vessels, and preform amphibious naval warfare operations.
After serve in the Fusiliers Marins
, these naval infantrymen can apply their skills to entering into the Special Operation Commando Marines, which are similar to British Royal Navy Special Boat Service and this unit was formed during World War II. Known as one of the most elite naval SOF units of NATO, 82% will drop out of Commando training for a unit of 721 marines. These elite naval commandos are tasked with all manner of missions that are familiar to most elite SOF units and the Commando Marines have recently seen action in Afghanistan. In 2011 French war film, Force Speciales,
featured fictional members of the Commando Marines.
Formed in 1622, the Troupes de marine
is organization that has undergone a change due to the end of France’s colonial rule and unlike other marine units, the Troupes de marine
is part not part of the navy, but the army. This branch of the French Army is tasked with missions overseas and soldiers of Troupes de marine will serve the majority of their time overseas, mostly Africa, than in France. The unit does contain some armored units, artillery, and even Airborne troops.
There Were Confederate Marines during the Civil War?
The history of the United States Marine Corps is rather blank during the American Civil War (1861-1865) and was during some research that I dug up the fact that Confederate States of America (CSA) had indeed their own mirror of the Union Marine Corps, the Confederate Marine Corps. In existence from 1861 through 1865, the CSA Marines was authorized to rise 1,026 men, but only could maintain a force of 539 with some of their ranks being comprised of USMC that flocked to the CSA banner bring experience to the new CSA Marines. Headquartered at Richmond, Virginia and founded in Montgomery, Alabama, the CSA Marine Corps was similar in mission to the US Marines and the Royal Marines.
During the Civil War, both the Union and Confederate Marine Corps were not as active as one might believe due to it being a massive conflict. The Confederate Marines first went into combat during the March of 1862 Battle of Hampton Roads on board the ironclad CSS Virginia
. Throughout the war, the CSA Marines were involved in various duties on-shore and onboard ship, including capturing Union warships and even evacuating Confederate troops. At the last battle of the war, Sayler’s Creek in Virginia, there were Confederate Marines. After the South surrendered in 1865, the CSA Marines was ended and is little known today. One of the enduring mysteries of the CSA Marines is their uniform. Many of the official records of the CSA Marines were destroyed and it is believe that their official uniform came from British sources with some debate on the actually look, design, and fashion elements of the uniform; but was based around the Royal Marine uniform of the time.
The Real-World "Colonial Marines" of the 19th Century
The name “colonial marines” is today tied to the iconic 1986 ALIENS
film, but to my surprise, there actually was “Corps of Colonial Marines” formed in 1814. During the War of 1812, African Americans held in bondage had a choice: remind in chains or join the British military for liberation. Proclamations were issued and found their way into the slave population. Within four weeks, over 100 runaway slaves made to British line, ready to serve in exchange for their freedom. This newly formed fighting force offered serve advantages for the British: locate knowledge of the geography, strike fear into the hearts of slave-owning Americans, and just generally piss off Americans.
On May 18th, 1814, The Crops of the Colonial Marines was formed and were trained on Tangier Island. There were two types of service in the Colonial Marines: combat and or military laborers to construct Fort Albion on Tangier Island. Within two weeks of formation, the Colonial Marines would see combat in a raid on the Pungoteague Creek. The role of the Colonial Marines was to local scouts and raiders for which they received praise. The very idea of runaway slaves returning in the service of the British and armed was more than an insult, it was a nightmare coming true, only fueling Southern fears of a wider slave insurrection, as seen in Haiti. About 500-700 former slaves served in the Colonial Marine combat arm and their status became an issue. When the war ended, the Treaty of Ghent provided for the return of American property and former slaves fit under that title. To settle this matter, $1.2 million was paid to the Americans. It is estimated that the British had 3,500 former slaves in their service. Some were captured in battle and returned to a life of slavery as with the 1816 raid on a fort in Florida and other were allowed to settle in British colony of Trinidad after the Corps of the Colonial Marines was decommissioned from their post-war base in Bermuda. Francis Scott Keys actually wrote a unused line in the "Star Spangled Banner"railed against the former slaves that joined up with British as Colonial Marines.
And the Award for the Best Name Marine unit is the Finnish Coastal Jaegers!
Without a doubt, the best naval amphibious infantry unit is the Finnish Navy Coastal Jaegers. This special unit of the Finnish Navy that is devoted to counter-attacking any hostile enemy force operating in the Finnish archipelago via guerrilla tactics and using their intimate knowledge of the land. One of the badges of honor for continuing the grudging training that can last 5 or 11 months, is the green beret complete golden sea eagle. Their weapon of choice is the an special variant of the AK clone, the 7.62x39mm Valmet Rk 62 and they used a specialized landing craft, the Jehn
My Opinion on the Sci-Fi Usage of the term “Marine”
There are some that really detest the usage of the term “marine” for space-based fleet troopers and given its complete saturation in the realm of science fiction, it is easy to believe that I hate the term being used as well…but I don’t (when it is used correctly). Matching space fleets to bluewater navies is a foundational concept in sci-fi and their marines being the template for space marines is also foundational and it works well. It also perfectly sums up the roles and responsibilities of these starship troopers. The real issue with using the term is it is a trope and can be used in the wrong manner by creators along with the term being overused to the point of being nearly worthless similar to the German Mark in 1920’s. I just wished science fiction creators would say away from putting the terms “space” or “colonial” in front of marine...seriously it has been done.
The Science Fiction "Marine"
The majority of science fiction creators heavily borrow from the United States Marine Corps to frame their own fictional space marine corps along with also borrowing from other sci-fi space marine corps, like James Cameron’s Colonial Marine Corps from ALIENS. This forms a foundation of most space marines, but not all. Often these space marine of sci-fi are tough ship-based warfighter that uses rough language, head-on assault tactics, elements of USMC culture/terminology.
This covers the “marine” portion of these astro bulldogs, and then they add in dropping from space to fight on-planet via all manner of methods, the donning of powered armor, advanced futuristic weaponry of all types, futuristic equipment, and some sort of military futurespeak slang. After these common tropes, god (or the space marine) is the details. This description covers most commonly seen space marine units in sci-fi, but it can vary wildly from the Colonial Marines of BSG
, to the Doomguy Space Marine, to the superhuman Space Marines of 40K
, all the way to US Astro Marines of STARCOM
From a Creator's POV: Sean-Michael Argo
During the extensive writing period for this blogpost, I reached out to a fellow creator in the genre of military science fiction: author Sean-Michael Argo, who pens the excellent Necrosapce
series of books that feature an far-future space marine organization.
-Why did you chose the term "marines" for your space-based naval infantry force?
To me the 'space marine' is such a classic genre fixture, something integral to military science fiction, like smugglers, bounty hunters, alien invaders, and galactic empires. There is something special about, as your question put it, a naval infantry force. The idea of armor-clad warriors who are hurled into battle on a man-to-man level set to the backdrop of these vast conflicts between titanic spaceships and mega-civilizations, it is rather engaging, and speaks to me artistically. I want to tell stories about individuals doing their part, which is small in the grand scale, but on a personal level it is their greatest moment. From a plot perspective, having a naval based infantry force be the protagonist group allows me to change the setting at will, giving me much more flexibility in telling the story.
-Did you borrow any real-world Marine element for your space marines?
My work in military science fiction, which thus far has focused on 'space marines' in both my Necrospace and Extinction Fleet series, is intentionally based on what I'll call a "Vietnam Era" style of conflict. That war was such an interesting and tragic tapestry of military technology, politics, and tactics. My parents and uncle were deeply affected by that war, and I was born only a couple of years after it ended, so I grew up on stories of that conflict. The war's insane blend of high end military technology, like machine guns and helicopters, being placed into what amounts to close quarters battle scenarios (in the confines of thick jungle) is a rich resource for the fiction writer. This was a war fought at the squad and platoon level, unlike the more large scale (though equally bitter) conflicts like WWI and WWII, and that also lends itself to the fiction writer's ability to paint characters as individuals instead of paper targets surrounding a single protagonist. I am heavily influenced by films like Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, and Platoon for this very reason. While those aren't always about marines, they capture the vibe, and to me there is nothing more iconic and influential in my own work than a United States Marine serving in Vietnam.
However, as a civilian there is only so much I can do as far as capturing the real-life sentiments and experiences of combat veterans in general, and US Marine culture in general. I work often as a defense contractor, and based on my interactions with veterans of wars in the Middle East I do my best to balance the dynamic fun of science fiction with the grit and hardship that will resonate with the men and women who have served. Many of my fans are veterans, and so I take care to strike that balance between realism and fun, though there are plenty of times where I either 'get it wrong' or have to sacrifice realism for the narrative. As such, I try not to make any claims as an author about the authenticity of my work, and so intentionally avoid drawing any specific correlations in my stories to real-life US Marines.
-What does the term "marine" mean to you?
I tend to go with the standard definition of the marine as a naval soldier, and I intentionally differentiate within my stories between marines and other kinds of warriors. In Necrospace I have the 'salvage marines' who are a naval infantry force that moves through the universe as scrap hunters. They often face soldiers from other rival corporations, like the Helion battle troopers, who are specifically not marines, and not referred to as such. I do the same in Extinction Fleet, where I have the Einherjar space marines who fight the hungry alien swarms, though they are aided at times by planetary defense troopers. Generally I use the word trooper, soldier, and security staffer to differentiate. A marine serves out of a ship, and is a member of a fundamentally mobile force.
-Why do you think there are so many space marines in sci-fi?
I think that is a combination of culture and commerce. On the culture side, the United States Marine is our epitome of 'badass soldier' and so referring to a group of characters as 'marines' instead of 'soldiers' confers some extra weight to the kind of military exploits we can expect from those characters. It is a way to make it clear to the reader, from the outset, that these characters are above average. Calling a character a marine establishes credibility for that character's level of badass. On the commercial side, perhaps as a result of the cultural side, the term 'space marine' is more effective when it comes to marketing and metadata. Amazon has a category of Military Science Fiction called "Space Marine" instead of "Space Soldiers" and that is a pretty clear indicator of how powerful those two words (space and marine) really are. That is a big part of why for my Extinction Fleet series I incorporated those words into the titles of all 3 books in the trilogy. When a potential reader sees the titles "Space Marine Ajax" and "Space Marine Loki" and "Space Marine Apocalypse" they know right away that these stories are going to be about a highly badass naval infantry force of the future. I would like to add, however, that using 'space marine' as a metadata keyword or even as part of your book or series title, locks you into a bargain with your readers, so you had better deliver!
Why the Adeptus Astartes from Warhammer 40,000 are NOT "Space Marines"!
Without a doubt, one of the most (in) famous, celebrated, and prophetic space marines in all of science fiction is the Adeptus Astartes of the grimdark universe of Warhammer 40,000
. These genetically modified fanatically human warriors are many things in the 40K
universe, but are they really “space marines”? Warhammer 40,000
has been part of my life since the 1980’s, and I’ve played more games of Space Hulk
than I care to know, but calling the Adeptus Astartes “space marines” has always troubled me because they are not marines in any form via the lens of the real world Marines or in sci-fi Marines.
There are many space marine corps in science fiction that exist across all media types that often conform to some of the traditional roles of real-world marine units along with incorporating hallmarks of the Marines. But, that does not apply to the 40K
vision of off-world marine units. Simply put, the Adeptus Astartes have nearly nothing in common with contemporary or historic marine units. Hell, these fanatical genetically engineered warrior-monks do not even work with the Imperial Fleet to give them a lift to the battlefield, they have their own warships for that. Added to this separation of the Adeptus Astartes from the other Imperium of Man military units is that the Space Marine chapters have their worlds and supernatural daddies...and some more based on European Knights than Leathernecks. Why this may seem harmless to call the ambassadors of plastic crack "space marines" if it was not for Games Workshop squatting on the name "space marine" with their team of caffeinated law assault team claiming that Games Workshop has rights on the name "space marine" and suing to protect that claim. Of course, the ironic twist is that their Space Marines are not actually space marines. Hell, there are 40K
inspirited games and books that do a much better job naming their heavily armored and armed warriors than just slapping the "space marine" name on it and calling it good...just keep the name Adeptus Astartes is just fine.
The Curious Case of the Stafleet Marines from Star Trek
FWS discusses the universe of Star Trek in nearly every article presented here and it is often both the canonized and uncanonized sources due to my extensive history with the franchise. I was a Trekkie during the heyday of the Trek
RPG and tabletop game published under license by Chicago-based FASA and this colored by view of the Trek
universe and Starfleet ships. Mentioned throughout the FASA technical manuals and gaming books is the “Starfleet Marines”, and it would make logical sense to most of us that an organization like Starfleet would possess a planetary combat unit. While there have been hints of Starfleet combat personnel, as seen in Star Trek V, VI
, and DS9
; it is was firmly rejected by creator Gene Roddenberry. He believed that Starfleet would use their security personnel for any kind of duty that fall to the Marines. This prevented any canon Starfleet Marine Corps from being developed and this “militarization” of Trek
led to the removal of the license by Paramount from FASA in 1989 suddenly. Thus, ruling the FASA Star Trek
games complete ruled uncanon and DOA. Paramount was concerned about confusion of the FASA TNG gaming materials to the TV series, the upcoming publication of an ground based Trek combat game (similar in concept to the later Babylon 5 GROPOS
), and Operation: ARMAGGEDON; which had the Federation invade the Klingons and Romulans.
Where does this leave the concept of Federation Marines? Dead in the water and it is real shame for us old school fans of classic Trek
gaming. One of the rumored sources of a possible canon Starfleet Marine Corps came from the “Operation RETRIEVE” briefing given by Colonel West to the Federation President in Star Trek VI
. It was believed that when the briefing documents seen on-screen was mention of Marines being used to recover Kirk and McCoy. However, this is simply not true based on close inspection of the screen used props.
The unpublished FASA “Starfleet Marines (FASA Number 2016)” and “Starfleet Ground Forces Manual (FASA Number 2009)” would detailed this new dimension of tabletop Trek
gaming with Starfleet Marines and Klingon Imperial Marines engaging in combat at the platoon and company level with supporting vehicles.We can thank noted Sci-Fi illustrator and former US Army Lieutenant David R. Deitrick for the genesis of the Starfleet Marines as we know them in the FASA Trek
universe. He came up with the idea of Federation ground forces after seeing the armored security officers in the first Trek
movie from 1979. He proposed the idea of the Starfleet Marines incorporation into the FASA Trek
RPG games to the founder of FASA Jordon Weisman, who approved. It was mentioned in 1985 FASA catalogs as “coming soon” and it remain that way until FASA lost the Trek
license around 1989.
While some of the art has been floating around, the unpublished gaming material has never come to light, nor any prototype miniatures. If the game had been allowed to be born, it is likely that the Gorn and Romulans would have been added. The only hint we have of the standard issue battle armor for Starfleet Marines comes for David R. Ditrick’s art for FASA’s Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home
Sourcebook showing an Terran in “Marine Uniform”. These Starfleet Marines were continued onward to the TNG 24th century with two important pieces of their equipment: Marine battle armor and battle phaser Mark IV seen in the pages of the FASA TNG officer’s manual.
There is another gaming company that is currently producing licensed Star Trek
games right here in Texas…Amarillo, Texas to be specific. Originally Task Force Games, Amarillo Designs Bureau has contracts with Franz Joseph Designs and Paramount to published Trek
centered tabletop war simulation games that began in 1979 with Starfleet Battles
and continues on to this very day. With their license only covering the original series and could not involve known characters or anything currently being creating after first Trek
film, this game company forged their own Trek
reality, called "Star Trek Universe". The Captain’s Module Starfleet Marines rulebook was added for the Starfleet Battles gaming system in 1995 and revised in 2007. In 2011, Amarillo Designs Bureau would create a ground combat game set in the Star Trek Universe
reality called Starfleet Marines that currently includes two modules with all manner of familiar ground combat weapons, vehicles, and items that seem to waging combat in the 26th century.
Science Fiction and the Marines
Peppered throughout the lexicon of Science Fiction are certain terms that are used across all media types in such volume and frequency due to their utility and power. Such terms are “laser”, “blaster”, “mother ship”, “warp drive”, and “space marine”. These terms have found themselves in common usages by the general public and are allow for a common ground that allows creators to use these terms and for the audience to instantly have access and a frame of reference. When creators use the term “space marine”, they are accessing both the sci-fi terminology and the public perception of the real-world Marines. But why has the term “space marine” gained such traction in science fiction as a generalized term for space-based warfighters? There is several answers to that I believe. The first use of the term in sci-fi dates back to November of 1932 with the short story by Bob Olson “Captain Brink of the Space Marines” published in Amazing Stories. This magazine lacked a space marine on the cover, which was rectified in the December 1936 sequel Bob Olson penned short story “Space Marines and the Slavers”, which may be the earliest artistic depiction of the sci-fi space marine. Throughout the 1930’s and the 1940’s, the term gained exposure due to its usage in E.E. Doc Smith’s foundational works along Robert Heinlein.
The relationship between sci-fi and space marines expanded greatly in the 1970’s and 1980’s due to the explosion of interest in science fiction after the release of Star Wars. We would space marines used across all media types, especially in the gaming and literature circles. It would be two works released in 1986 and 1987 that serve as the common frame for space marines of reference for many us fans and creators: ALIENS and Warhammer 40,000. The Colonial Marines of James Cameron’s ALIENS and the heavily armed and armored fanatic warriors of the 41st millennium by Games Workshop are now the most widely accepted archetypes/examples of the space marines that generated a new generation of sci-fi space marines.
Part of this new generation of space marines is the Doomguy Space Marine, the USMC from Space: Above and Beyond, UNSC Marines from HALO, and the USMC from Heritage Trilogy. It is highly likely that the appearance of space marines in science fiction will continue for the foreseeable future. While it may seem that the label of "space marine" is applied to the majority of space-based foot soldiers that are attached to the space fleet, the top three Military SF books (Starship Troopers
, The Forever War
, and Old Man's War
) do not use the term "marine" for their future star soldiers. In fact, the CDF Drill Instructor in Old Man's War
goes out of his way to insult the US Marines!
While the tradition of using the name lead to its further usage, why use the term “marine” anyways for our astronaut-soldiers? Many sci-fi creators and even the general public generalize outer space has something akin to the oceans of Terra. After all, many of the warships seen in science fiction are stylized naval warships that look more at home in World War II than deep space. With there being space fleets/space navies, there is natural connection to using marines for this setting. After all, with the history, tradition, and image of the US Marines; it is easy to see them being a capable space infantry force ready to kick ass in outer space. Since the end of the American Civil War, the US Marine Corps has had one hell of a PR/recruitment c campaign that has encouraged many a young man and woman to join up throughout the years. It helps the case of using the US Marines and other global Marine units as the template for a space infantry force due to their maritime nature, being a “force in readiness”, and often being the first military units to crisis prior to the creation of Special Operations and Airborne units. It also helps that the US Marines have an extensive combat history, hard training, and are widely known around the world.
Examples of Marines in Sci-Fi
The Marines from Battle:Los Angeles (2011)
One of the more interesting live-action military science fiction films of this new century was 2011’s Battle: Los Angeles
. Billed as a more realistic take on the familiar alien invasion scenario that has been popular in sci-fi since the 1898 release of War of the Worlds, the on-the-ground brutal urban combat of the film is conducted by characters from 1st Platoon, Echo Company, of the 2nd Battalion 5th Marines under the direction of newly minted NCO and veteran Marine officer played by Aaron Eckhart The Marines featured on-screen were to be current to the film’s release date of 2011 in terms of training, tactics, culture, and gear; making this modern-devil-dogs-vs-aliens kind of situation. The aliens themselves were portrayed as more military.
With the primary characters being Marines, the actors were put through a training conducted by Marines and advised by military advisers during filming. Overall, the film and actors do a good job shooting how possible the US Marines would response to an alien invasion of California. I have a real soft spot for the film and I think it is a strong military SF film with only a few flaws that has sadly been seemingly forgotten about, especially since the release of Tom Cruise's Edge of Tomorrow
FanTac Space Marines Wargame (1977) and FGU Space Marines (1980)
While one of the most famous "space marine" wargames is Warhammer 40k
, but it is predated by nearly a decade by another miniature-based space marine wargame designed by A. Mark Ratner based on rules collated from D&D
and Metamorphosis Alpha
and art from David C. Sutherland III. Original published in 1977 under the label of "FanTac Games" by A. Mark Ratner with 25mm miniatures produced by Stan Johansen. The game was republished in 1980 under a deal between Ratner and Fantasy Games Unlimited with some alterations in the borrowed D&D
rules, but with Sutherland art. The setting is in the 22nd century and is a ground combat based gaming system that had a fleshed out universe of governments, enemies, and technologies to fill the wargamers heart. This game directly influenced FGU's Space Opera
with some elements borrowed. Due to the lack of material on the interwebs, I reached out to FGU and Scott Bizar of FGU was good enjoy to indulge me in answering some questions.
.The Space Marines Wargame was an early user of the much-used and much-love sci-fi term, but much of the actual game setting has been lost to time. Who were the Space Marines of the game, who were their enemies, who did they work for?
The term "Space Marines" was not a much-loved term when we did these rules. The term is used to refer to military units transported by StarShip to reach combat zones beyond their original planetary bases, either invading enemy held planets or supporting the defense of planets from invasion. By definition, the term "marine" refers to "naval infantry" who serve aboard ships or on land and trained in landing operations. Each StarNation or interplanetary civilization has its own version of these types of military units and, like modern marines, each has its own armored and air-capable components.
. How successful was the game during those heady early days of the RPG/wargaming market?
Space Marines was extremely successful when compared to other miniatures rules, though sales did not rival the best selling role-playing games. The rules were the rules chosen for national tournaments in the UK, where such tournaments were very popular. In the USA, it should be noted, that miniatures games were more for social gatherings and tournaments were less popular. This is also reflected in one of the major differences between sets of American and British rules as British rules were a bit more vague and assumed that a referee would be present for miniatures battles, while American rules assumed that players would look up a specific rule and not rely on a referee as all club members present would want to be participating in the miniatures battle.
3. Why do you think the creator of the game, A. Mark Ratner, decided to name the game "space marines"?
I believe that this question in answered by the reply to question number one, especially as no other game had used this term and it seemed to make the subject/topic of the game self-explanatory.
4. How did Space Marines influence Space Opera?
Space Marines provided the major human StarNations and alien races for Space Opera. The Space Opera universe is seen as several centuries after the setting of Space Marines and the Space Opera sourcebook "Ground & Air Equipment" updates the military equipment of Space Marines to the tech level of the Space Opera universe, plus allowing players to create combat situations between military forces of differing technological levels.
5. What is the Current Status of Space Marines?
We are currently working on re-typesetting Space Marines to be re-released in our current book format (8" x 10" thicker books as opposed to our original 8 1/2" x 11" books).
The United States Colonial Marine Corps from the ALIENS Universe
One of the most influential space marine organizations in all of fiction is the Colonial Marines seen in 1986's ALIENS
. While information on the Colonial Marines is limited in the actually film, there was an ALIENS
RPG and the 1996 ALIENS: Colonial Marines Technical Manual
by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood that gave us what we know about the USCMC today. The information we have is from around 2179, when the events of ALIENS
takes place. At the time of the mission to investigate the downed transmitter at the Hadley's Hope colonial site on LV-426, the United States Colonial Marine Corps was winding down from its MARINE 70 program to alter the CMC into leaner, meaner, and more flexible organization that could serve the interests of the US and her colonies across the colonial network. The Colonial Marines were formed in National Security Act of 2101 to be the United States interstellar force-in-readiness constructed on the amphibious US Marines, but designed to be a non-linear assault force that could mount various types of operations on the variety of exo-environments of America's off-world holdings. While there is indeed direct combat operations, as seen on Tientsin Campaign and the events on Linna 349, but the majority of Colonial Marines are used on police actions, colonial reinforcement, and suppression of hostile lifeforms (bug hunts).
Adding to this, the majority of Colonial Marines (58% of the total 165,000 and this does not include CMC Androids) are in support roles and those in operations, but both are under the direction of the US Space Command and work closely with the US Aerospace Force (USASF). The US Space Command has the USCMC in five division, four active with one in reserve, that are based in the Sol system and four other of the major colonial exo-solar systems.
These CMC divisions are assigned operational territories and this allows for the Colonial Marines to be first responders to any deep space emergency. While the heart of the Colonial Marines is their riflemen armed with an M41a1 pulse rifle, the Marines of 22nd century are a combined arms force with tactical transports, tanks, APCs, artillery, and Special Operations. What limits the Colonial Marines heavier elements is starlift capability of the USASF ships to transport the Marines and their gear to the off-world battlefield, this limits their response to any interstellar crisis or threat.
Another threat that posed from interior forces is the mega-corporations directing and even outright using the CMC for their own purposes. When James Cameron developed the idea of these space marines, he invented and crafted one of the most influential examples of space marines in all of fiction. He and his production staff went to work constructing the look and world of these Colonial Marines. To accomplish this, Cameron required all of the actors read the immortal classic Starship Troopers
and be instructed by former British military personnel in an "actor's boot camp" held in England, which Michael Behin did not attend due to not being hired yet. As for the look and feel of these space marines, Cameron mined the Vietnam War-era while the property makers developed some unqiue futuristic gear.
The UNSC Marine Corps from the HALO Universe
Next to the warships of the United Nations Space Command Navy, the UNSC Marine Corps is one of the most visible branches of the UNSC Defense Force and were a major force in the Insurrection and the Covenant War. Founded around the 2160s when the UNSC was founded from the United States Marines. Much their forefathers, the US Marines, the UNSC Marines hosted specialized units within their ranks that recruited from the UNSCMC pool: the ODSTs and Force RECON. Even Black Projects, like ORION and SPARTAN-IV recruited from the ranks of the UNSC Marine, along with some other ONI paramilitary units. Much like the USMC, the UNSMC is a combined arms force with Marine operators manning Pelican tactical transports, armored vehicles, assault ships, light military vehicles, and aerial support vehicles.
However, unlike many other space marine organizations in science fiction, the UNSC Marines operate within an armed force that also contains an Army. It is believed that the UNSC Army occupies the colonial worlds of the UNSC and defends them and launches major planetary invasions, while the UNSCMC is an expeditionary force associated with the Navy and their interstellar scope of operations. During the outer colony insurrection, the UNSC Marines were heavily involved in suppression operations and putting down riots. However, their finest and bloodiest hour arrived when the alien collective, known as the Covenant showed up in 2525. For decades, the UNSC Marines waged a losing war to prevent the aliens from glassing worlds and finding Reach and Earth at great cost. At the apex of the war, there were millions in marine battle armor and millions more left on interplanetary battlefields.
The Colonial Marine Corps from the Battlestar Galactica Universe
Back when the original Battlestar Galactica
premiered in 1978, the idea of space marines were less visible in sci-fi and the Colonial Warriors of the 12 Colonies of Man Military performed all manner of combat duties, including ground assault. When the show and universe was rebooted by the Sci-Fi Channel in 2003, we saw the inclusion of a Colonial Military naval infantry force: the Colonial Marines. Tasked with providing security onboard Colonial warships, close protection, VBSS operations, planetary combat operations, training for Fleet personnel, and counter-boarding operations; the Colonial Marines work very closely with the Colonial Fleet.
After the Fall of the 12 Colonies, the Galactica
had about 30 Marines onboard with none sniper trained. To fill in the gaps of the onboard Marine force, Colonial pilots and other military personnel were pulled to help the Colonial Marines out. Their numbers increases greatly after the Pegasus
joined the fleet, the Marines numbered around 300.
Over the course of the show, that number dropped
due to Cylon activity, the events on New Caprica, accidents, and internal fleet conflicts. During Gaeta Mutiny, the Marines were divided among themselves due to conflicting loyalties to the various factions. Many died during this, reducing the number of trained Marines in the entire universe by nearly half. By the time of the Battle of the Colony and the discovery of the second Earth, it is likely that the number of Colonial Marines was no more than a few dozen if that. These Marines were armed with mostly real-world weapons, like the 5.7mm FN FiveSeven pistol, the PDW FN P90, and the Beretta CX4 9mm pistol carbine. Now, let us discuss what kinda of pisses me off about the Marines of the rebooted BSG
. They are more less paper tigers and pawns of the various factions fighting in the fleet during the journey to Earth and beyond.
They seemingly die quickly in dire combat situations But their costuming really irritates me. The overall look is based around the Blackhawk Down
DELTA Force Operators and the real-life uniform of the SAS assault team that stormed the Iranian embassy in 1980 (Operation: NIMROD) and a generalized SWAT loadout. The production team used the Giro sport helmet, Paulson brand tactical goggles, various tactical vests, and various small arms to round the "tactical operator"look. Overall, the effect is lame and looks like a Airsoft/Paintball milsim rig-up "ninja kit" than a major TV show costume. It just is such a trope loadout that just seems lame and barely throughout that is deep contrast to the rest of the costuming that appears in the shows.
The ISA Marines from the Killzone Universe
Seen throughout the KILLZONE
gaming universe is the Interstellar Strategic Alliance, the military organization of the United Colonial Nations that is pitted against the Halghan Empire in the 23rd century for control of prime colonial exo-real estate. The main offensive arm of the ISA us the Navy, which has as a spacegoing infantry force-in-readiness: the ISA Marine Corps. Working alongside the Navy, the Shadow Marshals, and the Legionaries. When it came time for full deployment of the Marines, the Navy cruisers transported over 5,000 marines per ship during the ExtraSolar Wars, which informs us of the numbers of ISA Marine Corps at the time of the Halghan invasion.
The bloody invasion of Halghan and the use of the Red Dust nuclear device caused heavy losses among the ISA Marines, but the Marines achieved their objective of creating a beachhead on the homeworld. When it comes to equipment, the ISA Marines use the standard M82 assault rifle (with and without the grenade launcher), a number of spacelift armored vehicles, tactical transports, heavy anti-armor weapons. Their personal gear is based on current issue gear and a Pro-Tec like Skater helmet. Much of the ISA Marine gear and equipment was used by the on-planet Rapid Reaction Force, which were seen in great number in the original 2004 PS2 game, who often confused for regular ISA Marines due to their role as colonial defense. This confusion between the Marines and the RRF included one of the main characters of the 2004 game Cpt. Jan Templar was not a marine, but a RRF trooper, as many falsely believed. Like many Military SF Marine units, the ISA Marines are heavily based on the US Marine Corps with the ranking system based on the US Army.
The United States Astro Marine Corps from STARCOM: The US Space Force
One of the most interesting military science fiction toylines of the 1980's was STARCOM: The US Space Force
by Coleco that had an accompanying short-lived Saturday morning cartoon consisting of just 13 episodes that ran from December of 1987 in the States to promote the toyline. In the show, the future United States has developed and fielded an in-space military force known as STARCOM. STARCOM was comprised of several service branches that were devoted to off-world combat in all manner of exo-environments. For planetary "ground" operations STARCOM founded the "Astro Marine Corps". Much the Terran based USMC, the Astro Marines work very closely with the rest of STARCOM and are tasked with infantry combat operations along with vehicle combat operations on various environments across the Sol System, including Luna, Venus, and Mars. Much of the Astro Marines manpower and equip was based on Mars and training was done at Ft. Bragg Annex on the Moon (which is an US Army base on Earth...)
Unlike the terrestrial US Marines, the Astro Marines possessed no close-air units, but like its Terran brethren, the Astro Marines were wholly depend on Starwing for their starlift capability and operated out of installations managed by Starbase Command. The cartoon and toyline mirrored one another with all of the ground vehicles and their crew members under the Astro Marines along with seemingly all of the infantry forces. These off-world Marines would carry a number of futuristic small arms including: rapid fire lasers, portable rail guns, masers, particle beam rifles, and EMP. In the cartoon, the primary Astro Marines character was Colonel Paul "Crowbar" Corbin and he reflected some standard Marine Corps tropes. This was one of the most interesting Space Marine Corps seen in science fiction due to its more realistic portrayal of the actual conditions of outer space (to a point, being a kids show), being a well defined and developed toyline, and had a fantastic Space Marine symbol that is one of the betters ones in all of military science fiction. It is a pity that more epsiodes were not made nor was the toyline allowed to continue where we could have been maybe more Astro Marines. Watch for an Military Sci-Fi Toys
blogpost entry on STARCOM
in the near future!
The EarthForce Marines from the Babylon 5 Universe
One of the lesser known fictional space marine units is from the Babylon 5
universe, specifically the EarthForce Marines (EFM). Why is it unknown despite the popularity of B5
? The EarthForce Marines were better known as the GROPOS, which is a general term from the EarthForce ground forces. This generalized term can refer to the EarthForce Army, their armored units, tac-air, and even the Marines. This muddied the waters despite the EF Marines appearing onscreen on two amazing B5
“combat” episodes: “GROPOS” (2x10) and “Severed Dreams (3x10)”. Given the budget limitations of the show, these Marines were given a very basic military uniform that consisted of a plastic trainer PASGT (Kevlar) helmet in OD along with tactical rigging and OD uniform that could be an often used flight jumpsuit.
For the actors in the episode “GROPOS” , a specialized form of the standard EarthForce uniform was designed in Olive Drab and a bluish inlay color. Some of these have popped up for sale for around $100 due to the volume that were produced for “GROPOS”. There is little hard information for the EFM and even the B5
RPG does not include much either. Much like many of the present day Marine units, the EFM operates with the EarthForce fleet and preforms many similar battlefield responsibilities. During the attempted Earthforce seizure of the B5
station, the Clark-government fleet taskforce launched Invader class boarding pods in a boarding action. Given the massive size of the B5
O’Neil cylinder station, there is only a single boarding pod seen on-screen during the battle, which is about 18 Marines in total to beachhead a station with hundreds of security personnel and more than five miles of ground to cover. Foolish, given that the EF taskforce that stormed the Akdor fortress at Matok was in 25,000 in number.
The USMC of 2063 from Space: Above and Beyond
In 1995, we fans of military science fiction were given a gift by the FOX Network: Space: Above and Beyond
. This one season show was connected to the wildly successful X-Files
and the later Millennium
by the way of using the same actors, mood, tone, production staff, and possibly happening in the same universe. Set in 2063/2064 and centered around the 58th USMC Space Aviator squadron during the bloody, but brief Chig War. The majority of Earth military units portrayed in the show were either US Navy or US Marines, with some Army and international units thrown in. The American Marines of the futuristic space operational corps is the same USMC we know and love today with their role as an amphibious assault force being altered to operating in the final frontier with their historic partners, the US Navy.
The Marines of 2063/2064 are still upholding the longheld tradition of “every riflemen, using the standard issue M590 and the K-Bar, but riding into battle from space warships to the planetary environment via the ISSCV/APC tactical transport. In place of the F-35 and F/A-18 is the endo/exo attack jet fighter SA-47 “Hammerhead” that serves the role as the standard space fighter of the US Marines and US Navy. The quarter-of-a-million devil dogs in service during the war are trained to fight on all interplanetary exo-environments via various equipment, including combat-rated OD environmental suits fitted with rebreather packs and enclosed helmets.
The show liberally mined common USMC tropes, adding doses of popular Marine Corps films, like Full Metal Jacket
, to favor these space marines. Overall, the cast and crew attempt to pay respect and love to the Marine Corps despite the errors and using highly trained space attack pilots as gorundpounders (a common MSF trope). There was nothing like SAAB
then or even now, and represents one of the best Military Sci-Fi shows of all time. Since its release, SAAB
as become a resource and inspiration for Military SF creators (including myself), along with the Marine Corps of 2063/2064 being a prototype for other space marines, like HALO
’s UNSC Marine Corps. This show as been a huge influence on me personally and I think it is the best Military SF show ever despite its flaws.
The Various Space Marine Corps from the Space Cruiser Yamato/Starblazers Universe
During the original series of Space Cruiser Yamato
and its American redub, Starblazers
, the good crew of the Yamato
were without a space-based infantry force. But, in episode six of the second Space Cruiser Yamato
TV series, The White Comet Empire, were is introduced to the EDF space infantry force based on the 11th planet (Brumus) that goes by five names throughout the various incarnations of Yamato
: The Space Marines, the Space Calvary, Space Commandos, the Cosmo Marines, and Space Cavaliers. What mainly unites the various planetary ground force units seen in the Yamato
works is that they are light, high trained infantry force that is reliant on the Starforce to provide close-air support, transportation, and even provide armed ground vehicle. They are also led by Sgt. Hajime Saito or Sgt. Know in the American dub.
The Japanese character is named for an late Edo period Samurai that was involved with the Shinsengumi police force. In their first appearance in 1978’s OVA Farewell to the Space Battleship Yamato
. This was expanded into a full-length TV series and the end was altered. Here, they are known as “the Space Calvary” or in some sources, “the Space Cavaliers”.
I was far too young to remember what they were called when I first watched The White Comet Empire
series, but when I bought the Farewell to Space Battleship Yamato on the Voyager Entertainment VHS in 1994, Sgt. Know’s OD dressed men where called “the Space Calvary”. However, in Voyager Entertainment the Starblazers Fleet Battle System Technical Manual
, they are called “the EDF Space Marines”. And this is how they are generally referred to as in most English language sources and discussions. In the 2010 live-action Japanese film, Saito and his ground combat force is brought into the base storyline of the Quest to Iscandar, much like the reboot Space Battleship Yamato 2199
did, but are called “space commandos” in most English translations. In the most recent Yamato
animation works, 2199
, Saito and his fighters are now under the United Nations are called “Cosmo Marines”. So, what gives? Why all of the names? Part of this is due to the translations, the various incarnations across different staff, alternation of the concept of these space warfighters, and poor writing/quality control. When the sci-fi space marines are discussed online, these space warfighters are often missed or completely forgotten about…why? My best guess is that due to the airing of Starblazers
in the late 1970’s, which was early on in the anime importation to the west, making it more forgotten, especially without prior VHS releases until the late 1980’.
When the VHS tapes were being released, they retailed for $14 per tape which included two episodes. This made it extremely expensive for fans of Starblazers/Yamato
to rewatch their beloved series. To replace these tapes, we fans either rented them or bought the various Yamato
books that were released by various sources and in various languages. My first knowledge that the Argo/Yamato
carried space marines came from the Comico Comic Company Starblazers
mini-series in 1987, when the history of Yamato
was summed up. It also did not help that the older Starblazers
was eclipsed by works like ROBOTECH in the 1980’s. It wasn’t until I bought the Farewell
OVA VHS tape that I learned about Sgt. Knox and most of the hard data I have on these space marines from the Starblazers Fleet Battle System technical manual.
The Various Space Marines of the DOOM Universe
One of the most famous video games of all time is DOOM
and it is a touchstone for generations of gamers, a symbol of computer and video game history…and it did this without much of a central character or backstory. In the original 1993 game, you are a Space Marine (Doomguy) that is there to kick demon ass and chew bubblegum with barely a backstory delivered in text. This green-armor wearing shotgun-welding leatherneck is barely seen in the game itself and the cover art is our best visual of our embodied hero until DOOM 3
in 2005…well sort of. The popularity of DOOM
spawned a giveaway convention comic book by Marvel in 1996 and four novels released from 1995-1996. While comic is batshit insane, the books expanded Doomguy and his limited backstory. These books are often panned and I could never get through them. According to official sources, the Doomguy is a member of the USMC during an Earthside war. Due to actions he committed on Earth, Doomguy was shipped to Mars to be security for the UAC operations there. When the transmission signal goes down on Phobos, Doomguy and his USMC buddies are sent in. This story and the involvement of Marines was inspirited by the USCMC from ALIENS
It was not until 2005’s much expanded DOOM 3
that the Doomguy (called Kane in the novelization) was designed to be a full character that we actually saw and interacted with the inhabitants of Mars City in 2145 with more than just his fists and weapons. These Marines are members of the UN Space Marine Corps and serve as security for the massive UAC mission on Mars and are under the command of Master Sergeant Thomas Kelly. There are other Marines appear in the game that are not just zombified enemies.
For the expansion pack for DOOM 3, the Resurrection of Evil
, has you inhabit a UNMC combat engineer sent to investigate signals coming from Mars in 2146.This was the last real attempt by studio to define the world and story of DOOM
, because in 2016’s re-re-reboot of DOOM
was a more violent, stripped down experience that was about the gore and heavy metal. While there was a single-player plot and story, it was retained the major points of the very first game. What is different is the Doomguy space marine himself. He is now an ancient warrior known as the “Doom Slayer” and is not an employee of the UAC or as some sort of futuristic marine. What is odd to me after research this and thinking about the role of the Doomguy in sci-fi space marine lore is that there is not much there in terms of content. It is more the name and iconography than an actually laying out of a space marine organization. For more than a decade, the DOOM
games were more about the insane first-person fantic combat than a story. It would not be until DOOM 3
in 2005 that the Doomguy would be fleshed out in a video game and not some tie-in book or comic.
The "Space Marines" from Moonraker (1979)
Many of the original Bond films were based on the novels by Ian Fleming and 1979’s Moonraker
was not immune to that trend. However, only a few elements were mined from the 1955 novel of the same name, and this movie was designed to capitalize on the popularity of science fiction laid down by Star Wars
. The central plot revolved around the evil attempts by a man made Drax who was bent on wiping out humanity via orbital bio-weapons and then repopulating the Earth with his new chosen people.
Instead of his people sheltering underground or in a sealed complex like in the Rainbow Six
novel, Drax had constructed a massive cloaked space station complete with US Space Shuttles. In the climax, Bond and Dr. Goodhead switch off the cloak and a platoon of specially trained US Marines deploy via the cargo bay of a US Space Shuttle Orbiter. These space marines are equipped with a sci-fi version of the real-world NASA MMU and armed with a laser blaster. Drax security henchmen complete with their backpack and laser guns are sent out to intercept them. This causes a much mocked laser battle dual. The Marines overcome the henchmen and storm the space station with a resulting laser battle. While lasers were nothing new in Bond films, this film featured the Drax security forces and the US Marine space platoon using the same handheld laser DE weapon while fighting in zero-gee. This prop was based around a plastic Uzi submachine gun toy that was given a sci-fi covering and painted white.
The Coastal Defender Stormtroopers from Star Wars: Rogue One
One of the iconic elements of Star Wars
is the white-armored Stormtroopers, and rarely has there been any alteration to that color palette. In 2016, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
was released and there was a new trooper on the block: the shoretrooper! Decked out in a khaki-colored armor that was very tactical and featured an amazing helmet design. This was the only figure I bought due to the overall design...it is pity that they make no real-world sense and are wasted in a film was lackluster. The coastal defender stormtroopers of the Galactic Empire were a specialized unit of the Stormtrooper Special Operations Force and one of the smallest units in that vast organization of the Empire.
Assigned to coastal Imperial installations, like Scarif, these troopers had specialized armor and equipment to counter the tropical conditions that was patterned after the Scout Stormtroopers. With their specialized training and experience, these "shoretroopers" have been used for a few rare amphibious assaults across the galaxy, one being on the Mon Calamari homeworld. Some have connected the Shoretroopers to the 41st Stormtrooper Legion that donned specialized Clonetrooper armor at the Battle of the Kashyyyk during the Clone Wars. Due to their operational environment, some have called the Shoretroopers, the Imperial "Marines", despite the Imperial Navy possessing a Marine unit already. I added them to this list due to their similar environmental battlefield to real-world Marines.
Next Time on FWS...
We will be exploring and explaining the forgotten nature of another 10 military science fiction video games in volume II of the seven part series. The majority of these Military SF games will come from the heady days of the SEGA Genesis/Megadrive and Sony PlayStation.
Another good post. BTW: I've written about Marines, driving combat armour, going through alien portals to other worlds here:ReplyDelete
Catch you on the bounce.
Thanks and Stay Frosty!ReplyDelete
One webcomic has a interesting example of Marines. The 6-Commando takes place in a alternate timeline similar to C&C Red Alert with elements of Red Dawn (The Soviet Union includes most of Europe) Canada has their own Royal Canadian Marine Corp and shows a them in action once during a trippy flash back of the fall of Singapore.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.ReplyDelete
Excellent article! I will disagree on the 40K Astartes not being Marines. In a general sense (starship based, orbital assaults, boarding actions, small elite units with a keen sense of brotherhood) I feel they qualify for the title.ReplyDelete
40K Astartes seem to be a chop suey of military cultures. I always though they seemed to be modeled more after Templar Knights (warrior monks in armor)with some Starship Trooper and Sadauker trappings then hammered into their own identity over the years.Delete
Another good, good post as always.ReplyDelete
Although not as visible as the USAF in Stargate, it should be noted that the Marines were active at the SGC and even had a few teams made up entirely of Marine. Col Reynolds was a notable Marine character and it made sense that the USAF would bring in more groundies given their usual aerial focus.ReplyDelete
There were also Navy pers on their bigger ships too, one of the directors states in a audio commentary that the USAF brought in navy experts to help them run their ships.
The one thing about Battle: Los Angeles that I have never seen in any other sci-fi military movie is the aliens pulling their wounded out of the line of fire during a firefight. Those touches made the aliens more realistic.ReplyDelete