Smile… You’re Busted!

In the Hammer of God, a critical clue in the murder of a leading scientist is provided by a close examination of a street camera video.  Even two years ago the editorial discussion was, “Is that two convenient?” I mean a video camera just happened to catch the moment? Is anyone going to believe that?

Well welcome to “It’s Only Fiction ‘Til It Happens!” Love it or hate it, today, there are more cameras everywhere than ever before.  Miniaturization, Wi-fi and Blue Tooth pretty much brings available retail technology into the realm of ‘Mission Impossible’ and ‘James Bond’.  You can literally just place a camera with a sticky back anywhere and remotely view, record or analyze it, over the Internet!  Radio Shack availability of what, 30 years ago, was top-secret spy craft; devices that would have entirely changed the Cold War.  This week the Israelis were accused of using camera-toting Vultures to spy on Syria!

There was an execution style killing in broad daylight on Broadway in New York.  A very similar “broad daylight” circumstance to the murder in Hammer of God.  And here again, the police have multiple videos to help them solve the case.

So in this case “Big Brother” watching is a good thing.  The question is, how much, how far, how invasive could it, should it go?  That is a question for society and ethicist to wrangle with.

For a writer, it’s a godsend.  Imagine the possibilities.  Surveillance cameras, ATM camera’s, red light cams, bus cams, train station cams, street cams, border drones, traffic drones, police drones, every smart phone, and tourist camera.  All to be used as foils, blinds, misdirection or proof in modern storylines.

Or maybe not so modern, in one of my screenplays, Smile… You’re Dead!, during an autopsy a New York coroner quotes from an British novel published in the 1800’s,

“The click of the camera-shutter would lead to the snap of the hangman’s trap – was how I believe it was stated in the novel Jack the Ripper.”

Lets hope that in the case of yesterday’s cold, deliberate, lunchtime execution “the flicker of the video camera leads to the snap of the electric chair’s switch!”

BS (BlogScript): It won’t because in New York State it could only lead to life without the possibility of parole. But I think it’s a snappier quote with the ‘electric chair’ –

Benghazi and Impotence

I received many E-mails the night of September 11th and Wednesday morning, most from fans and readers, but a few from friends as well. They all pretty much echoed the same theme… Did you see where they kidnapped an ambassador, just like in your book?

Even though this blog is called “It’s only fiction ‘til it happens,” I hate when something as God awful as this happens. I have been lucky enough to know a few ambassadors and my thoughts immediately went to them and their families.

When I wrote The Hammer of God, I thought that the taking of ambassador would be the high level type of offense that would serve as a prelude for my President Mitchell to send in Special Forces… Those forces then stumble across a dastardly plot to kill millions of Americans and so my plot had its inciting incident.

The last ambassador to be attacked was back in the late 70’s. In the early hours of the morning of September 12th, the grim reality was very soon revealed when the kidnapping became murder. We found out that our Ambassador was brutalized and killed along with 3 other Americans. I only wish it were fiction.

The threat matrix against which my stories are set is often deemed exaggerated or indeed a work of fiction. Then something as horrible as this happens to real people, real Americans and it makes me feel angry and impotent. The angry part of me wants to fly to Libya find the bastards that did this and deliver swift justice. Then the reality of my civilian impotence sets in and I realize that the closest I’ll get to avenge this act and assuage my anger is this keyboard and the creation of another cautionary tale wrapped up as fiction for people to read and sense the threats – between the lines.

To my friends and readers; although in Hammer, it is the American Ambassador to Egypt that is kidnapped, the reality of this real act of war, which played out in Libya this week, does not follow my storyline.

I extend my deepest sympathies to the families of those slaughtered. They were dedicated professionals, who in the end, were representatives of diplomacy. Diplomacy being the last step before hostilities, these radical fools may have just killed, along with the Ambassador and his staff, their best chance, to avoid being ‘terminated with extreme prejudice’, and talk their way out of this. At least I hope that’s the way this story ends.

In The Hammer of God, Bill said to Janice upon learning the news that an ambassador was kidnapped, “…This is just a guess, but I’d say there’s a Delta Force or SEAL strike team warming up the coffee right about now…” I hope that bit of ‘Fiction’, happens.