World War One in Fantastic Fiction: “The Deaths of Jeremiah Colverson”

“The Deaths of Jeremiah Colverson”, George Wilhite, 2015.

This story shows a token use of World War One. It does not use images from the war as a short hand to evoke horror, a technique I suspect was used less and less as those who lived through the war died off.

Here the war is just another variation on a common experience. Specifically, the story deals with an American soldier killed in his country’s civil war, the first of its civil wars it turns out.

But, unlike his fallen comrades, he will not join Death and “refuses to learn the dance and follow him to the River Styx”. Jeremiah pleads he is a failure, there is still more he can do for his fellow soldiers, more heroics to perform.

Death describes what happens next:

You felt like a failure. You begged me for more time. Jeremiah’s time is up, I told you. But I’ll see what I can do.”

Death arranges a new identity for Jeremiah. A soldier in World War I on the German front lines, John Carter, is taken to the Underworld prematurely, his soul replaced by Jeremiah’s. This process is repeated two more times— Jack Corelli, World War II, and Joshua Campbell, Vietnam.

That is the sole mention of World War One in the story, merely one link in a series of repeating events. Other American wars could have been substituted and the narrative remain unchanged.

The hero, incidentally, finally accepts his death — in the Fourth Civil War of the United States of America.

World War One Content

  • Living Memory: No.
  • On-Stage War: Yes.
  • Belligerent Area: Yes.
  • Home Front: No.
  • Veteran: No.

More World War One in Fantastic Fiction.

Advertisements

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s