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Sci-fi writers join war on terror – USATODAY.com Here we go with the US government describing science fiction writers as crazed crackpots. Sheesh.

Looking to prevent the next terrorist attack, the Homeland Security Department is tapping into the wild imaginations of a group of self-described “deviant” thinkers: science-fiction writers.

“We spend our entire careers living in the future,” says author Arlan Andrews, one of a handful of writers the government brought to Washington this month to attend a Homeland Security conference on science and tech.
Those responsible for keeping the nation safe from devastating attacks realize that in addition to border agents, police and airport screeners, they “need people to think of crazy ideas,” Andrews says.

The writers make up a group called Sigma, which Andrews put together 15 years ago to advise government officials.

As George Morrow once pointed out to me: the science fictions writers tell good stories but their ability to predict the future is poor. They predicted flying cars and robots and never saw the computer and the way it emerged it began to appear in businesses in the 1960′s. Meanwhile, these people are hardly whack jobs who think in the sixth dimension. They’re writers who work for a living.

found by Roger Strukhof



  1. TheGlobalWarmer says:

    #20 – the one thing about JH that bugs me is his reversal on Evolution and endorsement of Intelligent Design. He even wove ID into the belief system of the Thuriens in the latest Giants novel, which was dissappointing. Excellent stories otherwise.

    What’s really dissapointing in SF is the schlock Hollywood gives us when there are so many books out there that could make great movies. With everything they spend on CGI and actor’s salaries, you can’t tell me the added cost of rights to a good book would break the bank.

    Real SF writers are some of our brightest and most forward thinking people. Getting them involved in any advisory capacity can only be a good thing.

  2. tallwookie says:

    #11 – I like that one – it seems almost plausible…

    I’m glad sci-fi authors are getting something good out of this so called “war on terror” Sci-fi writers have been influencing me for many years, and its about time they get some respect.

  3. BubbaRay says:

    #18, venom monger Jubal Hershaw as a primary role model.)

    Yes, he was always surrounded by babes :) Front!! And a “fair witness.” Anne, what color is that house? Jubal, on this side it appears to be painted white.

    Now that’s a fair witness.

  4. Angel H. Wong says:

    Sci-fi writers assembled and paid to work for the goverment… They might as well start selling snake oil ’cause nothing sucks more than a goverment sponsored writer than a religion invented by a cheap sci-fi writer who didn’t want to pay his taxes.

  5. TJGeezer says:

    Seems to me “skiffy” (thanks, VenomMonger) is still going strong. Thinking at this moment of Richard Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs novels, starting with Altered Carbon, as fine examples of gonzo writing and thinly disguised revolutionary lit. But there are many other first-rate SF writers practicing the trade, and the state of politics certainly invites the traditional SF role of satirizing current trends and puncturing holy delusions. Angel seems to feel government sponsorship will ruin a writer, but hell, maybe the writers will improve the government instead. Is it time for my meds yet?

  6. Lauren the Ghoti says:

    #17 – old cranky geek

    “Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Pohl (who I think still writes), Bradbury, Philip Dick, Sturgeon, Simak?”

    How could you forget John Brunner, Brian Aldiss, Philip José Farmer, Jack Vance and Eric Frank Russell?

  7. Angel H. Wong says:

    #26

    I miss ALL of them..

    The new crop of sci-fi writers are really lousy storytellers, not to mention many fantasy writers and their trilogies..

  8. BubbaRay says:

    #26, Lauren, I didn’t forget them. I just remember reading them later in life than the ones I mentioned. Brunner and Aldiss are favorites, as well as Vance. Farmer wrote many really good works, and unfortunately, I’m not very familiar with Russell. I think I’ve only read one book of his. Could you recommend a few? Thanks.

  9. BubbaRay says:

    Yay! I get the last post! (well, maybe). Global Warmer, Real SF writers are some of our brightest and most forward thinking people. Getting them involved in any advisory capacity can only be a good thing.

    Darned right. Imagination seems to somewhat lacking in the current (or some) past administrations. Hey, 1600 Penn., Ave,. beam me up Scotty, no intelligent life here.

  10. Bill says:

    Footfall, by Pournelle and Niven, is actually a story about how US authorities assemble a group of SF writers whose job it is to brainstorm ideas about repelling an Alien invasion of Earth

  11. Lauren the Ghoti says:

    #28 – BR

    Russell’s books are not easy to come by, as he is, like Vance and Dick, somewhat of an acquired taste, and has a small but devoted following. Be forewarned, if you’re not already aware, that he most emphatically was NOT a hard-SF practicioner; he was a keen observer of humanity and often a very droll satirist. Obviously some background can be found in the usual place, and I think that everyone should read The Great Explosion. If you enjoy it, you’ll enjoy any and all of his other work…

    #27 – Angel

    “The new crop of sci-fi writers are really lousy storytellers, not to mention many fantasy writers and their trilogies..”

    I agree. I’ve tried, but the current generation of SF just leaves me cold – I find it just like rock music since the 80s; anytime it seems any good, it turns out it’s because it rips off some past great. These people figure (rightly) that most of their audience has never read – or heard, as the case may be – the originals, so their thefts go unnoticed.

    I have yet to read a fantasist worth a shit since Zelazny and LeGuin and I’ve given up trying. I doubt that Amber and Earthsea will be surpassed anytime soon.

  12. BubbaRay says:

    #31, Lauren,

    Amber, wow, you just made my hair grow 8 inches in ten seconds.

  13. Pfkad says:

    Lauren, Angel: Try William Gibson.

  14. KVolk says:

    I like Glen Cook for a good story as well as Peter Hamilton if you enjoy space opera and for fantasy nothing beats Raymond Feist.

  15. Lauren the Ghoti says:

    #33 – Pfkad

    I’ve tried, more than once, but I get 20 or 30 pages in and I wonder what I’m doing there… but mainly, the people I know who like Gibson are the same ones who like Bukowski and Palahniuk, and I just don’t go there.