Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Science-fiction author Charles Stross has a problem. He's trying to write near-future SF, and all his neat ideas for what the near future might be like keep on showing up in the newspapers:

I am left thinking the following thought-stream: IBM has a secret island headquarters hideaway inside a computer game. Truth stranger than fiction? Must write faster, the clowns are gaining ...

And, reading the news, I have a similar problem. In a truly worst-case scenario for what might come of Dubya's administration, back a few years ago, one might have imagined suspension of the Great Writ of Habeas Corpus --- in effect, the principle that law enforcement agencies can be accountable for even acknowledging that they have detained someone and saying where and why they are detained, a principle of our legal tradition dating back to Magna Carta --- might be given up as a response to some new, real crisis, the fabled "next attack" after Sept. 11, 2001. But to imagine that it would be given up without such provocation, as part of an election year ploy? The other day, I heard someone call it science fiction. I demurred. That crowd, I explained, requires their plots to make sense.


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