From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Randym Thoughts: Is Our Nation Safe from Terrorists Trolls?

On behalf of fantasy writers everywhere, can I just say how offended I am that the Department of Homeland Security is ignoring us?

That’s right, you heard me correctly. I actually complained about being ignored by the Department of Homeland Security.

Why?

Because, they, and other government agencies, have been bringing in “hard” science fiction writers to help them imagine “what if” scenarios and solutions for terrorist attacks and disasters.

The SIGMA group, in fact, was started years ago by Arlan Andrews specifically to advise government officials, and includes Jerry Pournelle, Greg Bear, Sage Walker and Larry Niven.

Okay, yeah, a smart bunch, granted. Heck, most members have at least one technical doctorate degree. So don’t get me wrong, I’m glad at least that these government agencies have good taste in sci-fi authors.

After all, if the government were to listen to most sci-fi television writers, then in the case of terrorist attack they’d either activate the nuclear self-destruct device, or attempt to reverse the polarity or shield harmonics of whatever thingymajiggy the terrorists use. Roll end credits.

But while we may be ready in actuality for the Andromeda Strain (as seen in the recently released mini-series), I’m pretty certain our government is completely unprepared for, say, attack by evil fairies.

That is because most truly hard-core science fiction writers would never publicly admit belief in magic or magical creatures, and certainly not advise the government on their dangers. They sadly repress such beliefs, only letting them out in furtive 3am posts to questionable fantasy websites under the anonymity of online aliases, constantly afraid their spouse or children will walk in on them and catch them in the lie of their double life.

You know who you are.

But I digress.

Luckily, I’ve never had to be asked for advice in order to happily give it. So DHS, if you are reading this (and I know you are, since Skynet has alerted you to this article), here’s some free advice for ya.

Do Not Negotiate With Terra-ists

Kudos on creating the whole “alien” mythology around the Roswell goblin invasion.

For some reason, it’s so much easier for folks to believe those squat gray little creatures were from space than to believe they were a small horde of foul subterranean creatures. Understandable in the 1940’s and ’50’s, when people thought Amazon women might live on the moon — but it’s a bit surprising today, in spite of your clever propaganda films like the forthcoming X-Files flick.

Yeah, I’ll bet you want us to believe.

I mean, surely you’ve had some writers from the “Mundane Science Fiction” movement tell you all the obstacles to intergalactic travel?

But I happen to know for a fact that the Roswell grays were summoned forth from the bowels of a magical realm by Mrs. Beatrice Beauregard of 25038 Wilshire Lane, Roswell, New Mexico, who in a fit of drinking and black magic (never a good mix) conjured them to rid her of her deadbeat husband, Ed.

Now, I hear there are factions pushing for us to release the goblin prisoners from Area 51 and negotiate a friendly trade agreement with their world under the premise that capitalism will transform them into friends (and now that we’re nearing our saturation point for Walmarts, McDonalds and Starbucks in Earth’s own third-world countries). But I really must advise against it.

Unlike in our world, where “evil” is the guy we sold arms to last year but will buy oil from next year (when gas reaches $7 a gallon, and oil execs become the official fourth branch of government), in fantasy realms evil is frequently, well, evil. It cannot be negotiated with, unless by negotiate you mean complete submission and enslavement of the human race.

Role-Playing Recruitment Techniques

WotC (codename “Wizards of the Coast”) just recently released their version 4.0 Dungeons & Dragons rules (and thus, of course, an entirely new set of books).

It is a poorly kept secret that “WotC” is really a front for the UN’s “World Organization for Trans-reality Combat,” and that their buyout of TSR and subsequent, repeated revisions to the D&D game rules is all a means of finding and recruiting a legion of experts on battling monsters and mages — just in case real mages and monsters invade. You know, kind of a Last Starfighter deal.

But it would be nice if the US government had its own similar program.

Might I suggest co-opting Shadowrun? Given its futuristic urban setting, you will have the advantage of easily incorporating all your cyber-samurais and hacker strike-teams (as suggested by the sci-fi writers) with the magical attack and defense squads you should begin to form based on advice from fantasy writers.

Also, while we’re discussing recruitment, be sure to search the White House (translation: king’s castle) kitchen and cleaning staff for a neglected orphan child (preferably with a foster-sibling in the military) — pretty much guaranteed that he or she will turn out to be a hero of critical importance in the coming magic wars.

Creating Supersoldiers that Don’t Suck (or Bite)

I’m sure the sci-fi writers have given you all sorts of nifty ideas for creating supersoldiers.

Cybernetic enhancements. Wetware. Genetic manipulation. Prozac. Fine suggestions, and it looks like you’ve adopted at least two of ’em.

But just know that such preparations will barely be adequate to prepare human men and women to battle, say, rabid dwarves.

Oh yeah, and those real life “Iron Man” exoskeletons that the sci-fi guys told you to build? Well, just make sure they have flame-throwers to take out the frost demons, ice elementals, and, of course, the abominable snowmen.

But most importantly, please halt your attempts to enhance soldiers by using the blood from captured werewolves and vampires. Seriously. That will only end in pain and disaster for everyone involved. Much like watching Full Eclipse.

Expand Port Security to include Portal Security

No, I’m not talking about wormholes or inter-dimensional gateways — the science fiction guys already prepped you on those. I’m talking portals to magical lands and alternate histories.

I know you probably don’t consider portals much of a danger. The Pentagon has doubtless given a low threat assessment to a bunch of guys running around with swords and bows. And the covert arm of the DEA (a secretive group indeed) has probably classified fairy dust as non-lethal and non-addictive.

But trust me, you haven’t seen the real evil in these realms. Throwing a cheap padlock on the wardrobe or a blanket over the mirror ain’t gonna stop the real monsters if they decide to come through the portal inside it.

On the Other Hand

Not that such preparations will do much good, I suppose. I mean, you should see how things fall apart around here if it snows an inch — and winter happens every year. I’d hate to see state and local officials attempt to implement an official “Snow Giant Attack” disaster plan.

Your surest protection is to be prepared to defend your own self and family against magical menaces. For example, the “Zombie Survival Guide” would be extremely handy in case of Necromancer invasion.

There are also those who would argue that our government isn’t doing such a great or ethical job using the technology it already has (though I’d never say so on an open phone line), and sci-fi authors like the SIGMA group should think carefully about how their suggested solutions might actually be used.

Still, while it is true our government has always had a fondness for fiction writers (with titles like “press secretary,” “speech writer,” and “administration fixer of scientific papers on global warming,”), I’m just glad the government is willing to listen to writers of quality speculative fiction as well.

Because, after all, spec-fic writers are the smartest people on Earth — and in 73 of the 97 magical realms Earth links to.

Randall Scott Henderson plans to write speculative fiction until the day he dies — actually, a little longer than that, if everything works out according to his diabolical plans. His short stories have appeared in Alienskin Magazine, The Harrow, and From the Asylum. But more importantly, he has won the prestigious “Blog for a Beer” Fantasy Friday award twice (to date). You can follow his musings on the speculative fiction universe at his blog, QuantuMAge University where a version of this piece first appeared.

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