"You may indeed be victorious in war, Winston, but only one of us shall live on as a YouTube video phenomenon. The greater glory is mine!"
As always tends to happen when the anniversary rolls round, 'revisionist' commentators like to start spouting opinions about how the war was avoidable, how it was a disaster for the West because it empowered the expansion of the Soviet Union (which was clearly inevitable anyway) and so on. Pat Buchanan and Peter Hitchens are the latest armchair politicians trying to suggest that Hitler was actually telling the truth in 1939 when he said all he wanted was Danzig and the Polish Corridor, and if he'd gotten that the war would never happened, the USSR wouldn't have rolled halfway across the continent, the British Empire would never have collapsed (when even in 1939 it was clearly doomed) and (especially ludicrously) even the Holocaust would never have taken place. Since Hitler was a compulsive liar and a sociopath, I am sceptical about taking his word for anything, especially when his true ambitions of expanding Germany to the east and eliminating the Slavs and Jews are clearly set out in Mein Kampf (a book clearly neither of the aforementioned journalists have read). War was inevitable, maybe not when and where it happened, but certainly with Hitler in power and with Germany resentful of the terms of the ending of WWI, it was always going to happen. Fortunately for us, it happened in a way and at time that led to Nazi Germany's defeat.
The war's impact on speculative fiction (trying to tie in the anniversary and the point of the blog ;-) ) was colossal. Many of our formative writers fought in the war. Arthur C. Clarke was working on radar technology for the RAF, whilst Isaac Asimov worked as a civilian contractor for the Philadelphia Naval Air Experimental Station (alongside Robert Heinlein and L. Sprague de Camp). J.G. Ballard grew up as a prisoner of war in a Japanese internment camp near Singapore, whilst Brian Aldiss fought in Burma as part of the Royal Signals regiment. J.R.R. Tolkien was too old to fight, but his lighter workload (the result of Oxford University's normal curriculum being suspended for the duration of hostilities) allowed him to complete the bulk of The Lord of the Rings by the end of the conflict. Jack Vance penned several of the stories in The Dying Earth to alleviate boredom whilst sailing back and forth across the Pacific as a member of the US Merchant Marine.
The conflict has played a significant role in the content of spec fic as well. Christopher Priest's astonishing The Separation is set during the war, and famously the Earth-bound portions of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia also take place during the conflict. Refighting the war with a different outcome is a favourite past-time of alternate history writers : Harry Turtledove's Worldwar saga is set in a world invaded by a powerful alien race in 1942, whilst John Birmingham's recent Axis of Time trilogy has a 21st Century naval battle-group accidentally transported to the Battle of Midway, radically altering the outcome of events. Robert Harris' Fatherland and Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle are the standard-bearers for alt history, although they do take rather different viewpoints (Harris' vision of a victorious Germany fighting an insurgency in Russia and locked in a cold war with the US being more grimly persuasive than Dick's rather fanciful notion of a Japanese-occupied North America).
As the anniversary proceeds, it will be interesting to see what other pieces of spec fic about the conflict I can find.