Stranger Than (Science) Fiction
June 1, 2007
The Department of Homeland Security has been consulting with a group of science fiction writers whose mandate is to think up bizarre scenarios for terrorist attacks and unexpected ideas for how to improve defense. The Bushies aren’t the first administration to do this: according to Greg Bear (the best writer in the bunch, for my money), the group has been around since the 1990s.
I’m sure the government has been tapping SF writers even longer than that — group members Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven even used the idea in their jointly authored novel Footfall, which has a gaggle of SF writers helping the government deal with an alien invasion. And as we all know, when the boy emperor wanted to talk about climate change and global warming, his first choice for a chat wasn’t those bothersome chrome domes who actually study the problem, it was pop sci-fi novelist Michael Crichton, who thinks the whole climate-change idea is a bunch of hooey cooked up by a left-wing cabal. At least the authors in this group can actually write.
Trouble is, I doubt any of them could cook up a scenario this extreme: A president gets a report dropped on his desk that warns that a major terrorist leader is determined to attack within the United States, and soon. Instead of paying heed to the report and harkening to reports of spiking terrorist chatter indicating that something very big is about to happen, this president chucks everything and heads off to his ranch for a vacation. Then, on the day of the attack, he sits in doe-eyed panic among a classroom full of young children and waits for a grownup to come in and tell him what to do. Afterwards, he uses it as a pretext to invade a country that posed no threat to us.
Naw, that idea’s too extreme even for this bunch. Which only goes to prove the old saying about the thing that’s stranger than fiction. Or, in this case, science fiction.