Six months before Islamists crashed planes into the World Trade Centers, Chris Cater's group of itinerant conspiracy theorists prevented a similar attack by terrorists in episode 1 of The Lone Gunman, Carter's X-Files spin off.
Science Fiction authors have predicted, or envisioned, a number of things that have since become reality. Arthur Clark for instance envisioned communication satellites in geo-synchronous orbit back in 1945. Robert Heinlan imagined cellphones, remote-controlled robot arms, microwave ovens and water beds.
Some SciFi authors have even been included on government advisory panels.
Beginning in the 1980s, Greg Bear served on the Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy, chaired by Jerry Pournelle. “Here, I learned for the first time that writers (including my father-in-law, Poul Anderson), astronauts, military officers, scientists, engineers, and government managers could get together and lay out proposals for policy, designed to be clear, concise, and practical—and to be directly presented to the President of the United States. It was an extraordinary learning experience.”
Later, Bear was asked to join another advisory group by fellow SciFi author Arlan Andrews
In the late nineties, Bear was also asked to become part of the Sigma Group, formed by Arlan Andrews and Doug Beason. “I was on a book tour in Washington D.C. when I received a message at my hotel to call the White House. It was Arlan Andrews—just prior to cleaning out his desk for the arrival of the Clinton administration—and within a few months, a select group—including my friends Gregory Benford, David Brin, Charles Sheffield, Stan Schmidt, and Vernor Vinge—met with managers, advisors, scientists, and computer designers at Sandia National Labs, to help map possible threat scenarios in the near future.”
The Sigma Group has also been has to advise Homeland Security during the Bush Administration
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 technology.
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. The last time the group gathered was in the late 1990s, when members met with government scientists to discuss what a post-nuclear age might look like, says group member Greg Bear. He has written 30 sci-fi books, including the best seller Darwin's Radio.
Now, the Homeland Security Department is calling on the group to help with the government's latest top mission of combating terrorism....
Bear says the writers offer powerful imaginations that can conjure up not only possible methods of attack, but also ideas about how governments and individuals will respond and what kinds of high-tech tools could prevent attacks.
The group's motto is "Science Fiction in the National Interest." To join the group, Andrews says, you have to have at least one technical doctorate degree.
"We're well-qualified nuts," says Jerry Pournelle, co-author of the best sellers Footfall and Lucifer's Hammer and dozens of other books.
Pournelle and others say that science-fiction writers have spent their lives studying the kinds of technologies and scenarios Homeland Security officials have been tackling since the department began operating in 2003....
So are discussions between the writers. During a coffee break at the conference, Walker, Bear and Andrews started talking about the government's bomb-sniffing dogs. Within minutes, they had conjured up a doggie brain-scanning skullcap that could tell agents what kind of explosive material a dog had picked up.
The 9/11 Commission called the 2001 terrorist attacks a result of the government's "failure of imagination." For this group, Walker says, there's no such thing as an "unthinkable scenario."
Islamists are not rich with people with active imaginations: Get too imaginative and you get the sword.
Perhaps this is an edge we can exploit. If nothing else, I like their motivation
"To save civilization," Ringworld author Larry Niven says. "We do it in fiction. Why wouldn't we want to do it in fact?"