1956 AUSA Story Is Inspiration for Mad Scientist Contest

1956 AUSA Story Is Inspiration for Mad Scientist Contest

Photo by: ARMY magazine

A 60-year-old ARMY magazine article is serving as the inspiration for a science fiction writing contest sponsored by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s “Mad Scientist Initiative,” which wants imaginative submissions that focus on what soldiering and warfare might look and feel like in the 2030s and 2040s.

The Mad Scientist team points to a fanciful cover story, “Soldier of the Futurarmy,” from the November 1956 issue of the Association of the U.S. Army’s monthly magazine. The article, written and illustrated by then-Lt. Col. Robert B. Rigg, envisions warfare and gear in the 1970s and has a decidedly “Buck Rogers” fashion sense, featuring gladiator-style headgear, pseudo-codpiece armor, a couple of chest pockets for “cigarettes or personal items,” and much more.

“This Futurarmy soldier of the 1970s will be the best protected individual since knights wore steel armor,” wrote Rigg, whose biographical blurb notes that he served as a U.S. Army observer with Soviet forces in World War II and later with Chinese nationalist forces during their civil war with the communists. He was also involved in the atomic bomb tests on the Pacific island of Eniwetok in 1951, wrote similar articles for other publications, and also wrote several books. Rigg, who retired from the Army as a colonel, died in 1986.

In a similar—if not quite so fanciful—vein, TRADOC’s Mad Scientist Initiative is “looking for ideas that are unorthodox and outside of what the Army is already considering about the future … of warfare and technology,” command officials say.

TRADOC officials list 10 subject areas as potential launch pads for submissions, including “autonomous systems,” “synthetic biology,” mobile and cloud computing,” “climate change” and “anti-access/area denial.” However, entries “are not limited to or bound” by these areas, officials stress.

Feb. 15 is the deadline for submissions. More information on the new initiative, including instructions on how to enter, can be found at: https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/mad-scientist/p/science_fiction_writing_contest/

The 1956 ARMY article, "Soldier of the Futurarmy," can be found here: https://www.ausa.org/publications/soldier-futurarmy