Clark Goble writes in regarding the creative dream team effort and has a few points o’ constructive criticism. I include his note in its entirety below, along with my comments / responses interspersed:
Regarding your list of authors for your think tank. I’d take a couple of exceptions with it. First the claim that some of them are good authors. While they may have interesting plots and ideas many are *horrible* authors. Take Dean Ing. He may be a creative, smart guy, but a good novelist? Come on. His prose is so stilted that it makes High School fiction look like Shakespeare. Of course you didn’t pick these fellows for their prose, but it does make me wonder if a few “James Bond” like scenarios that seem cool is behind your list.
Can’t vouch for Ing myself, so I won’t try — and recall that I’m not putting any filters on the process here, just collecting the list of suggestions from the masses. I would agree that literary merit isn’t a precondition for being a good candidate for our list here — but having a creative mind is.
I mean if you are going to do this sort of thing, at least pick a novelist who has some experience in the field. Take, for instance Dick Marcinko who actually formed one of the top Navy Seal teams, has experience in hands on counter-terrorism, and has lots of books with very creative terrorist attacks on the US. Plus he has a helper-writer so his prose, while expletive-ridden, is at least entertaining and not at all stilted. About the only downside with him is that he screwed up the hostage rescue of the Iranian hostages back under Carter. But I’m not sure you can necessarily blame him for that.
Don’t know Marcinko, but he sounds ok — sort of. The military background is good, but frankly, the government has access to plenty of people with Navy Seal experience. If they want to know what a Navy-trained counterterrism expert thinks is going to happen, I’m sure they’ve got plenty of them. What I’m trying to do here is get the folks who have different perspectives that you won’t find in traditional military or government circles and get their minds applied to the problem.
Jerry Pournelle I’ll actually go along with. Ing, I’m more leery about as I think he is too much into the “techno-thriller” sort without the pragmatism that Pournelle has. A lot of the other science fiction authors I’m dubious about for similar reasons. I think you should have perhaps one or two, but beyond that and you’re biasing you panel too much. Get some “keep it simple” low tech guys in there. Novelists are fine and dandy, but probably I’d throw in a few criminals. They know how to think in non-standard ways but also are aware of a lot of low-tech “holes” that even novelists don’t know about.
I’m all for criminals. For the team, I mean. Clark’s point is a classic one and is well taken — to catch a thief, and all that.
For that matter, if you want someone good, throw in the guy who runs Slash-dot. (www.slashdot.com) His “blog” is the most popular among techies. He moderates all the comments, and believe me there is nothing like geeks with too much time on their hands to hash things down to their core and find the holes. Plus he reads and edits all these sorts of stories that points out weaknesses in computer *and* dumbassed weaknesses in policy.
So for my ideal panel you have one sci-fi author, Pournell. Marchinko who has the experience, thinks nasty, and already has experience launching attacks on US soil. (He broke into air force one and placed smoke bombs in it) “Cowboy Neal” from slash-dot to represent the “too much intelligence and not enough challenges” anarchistic hacker community. Then some criminal used to breaking security. (Although Marcinko may have plenty of experience there) Perhaps one other person – preferably a mideast expert with experience in Islam. Keep it small. Any bigger and it’ll become unweldly.
I like the Slashdot suggestion. Despite being a self-described geek, I am not actually a Slashdot junkie (head hangs in shame). But I’ll send a note their way and see what they think of the idea.
Thanks for the comments Clark, and keep them coming all…