Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fear in a book

It's not often that a book can scare me. It's not. Consider, I was reading Stephen King in the fourth grade.

I found his books mildly amusing.

Horror movies were a staple growing up. It's just not in me to be scared of the things most folks are. Oh, sure, I can be shocked or startled by sudden onslaught of sound and light, but scared? That's hard for me. I don't get that rush of adrenaline, that understated fear that I've felt in the past when I have been scared.

For the record, the last time I had felt that was when my first son was being born and the doctors discovered that he had had his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck three times.

Tonight, I finished a SF novel that scared me. It left me feeling paranoid and suffering under that intense fight-or-flight syndrome one gets when confronted by things that scare you.

Which book might that be?

Cory Doctorow's Little Brother.

This is a novel that combines technology with common, daily events, and then shove them out until you reach their ultimate conclusion. The fact that Big Brother is watching you. Using everything from wifi sniffing to Bayesian statistics, Mr. Doctorow spins a story about the DHS and its crackdown on the civil rights, all in the name of security, in the setting of San Fransisco.

What is sad, is that I can so see this happening.

Maybe it's because that I knew all the technology he discussed, and the small bits he created I could see how they are logical extensions of existing tech. Maybe it's because a large part of my job is sorting through datasets, and creating algorithms to help people do tasks. In fact one project I worked in the past on required that I track where every login came from, passing authentication information back and forth transparently to the user.

I must be afraid because I can see it happening today.

The closest I've ever come to this feeling before was after reading the novel Dark Rivers of the Heart (0-553-58289-5). That particular novel teaches much the same story, with a focus on how our Congress has taken a liking to writing laws which they are exempt from. For example the drug search and seizure laws, and of course the various perks they give themselves such as free tax filings (for more, see this fun Time article).

Regardless, read the book. Become scared with me.

And remember these two quotes:
Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
That was from the Declaration of Independence. This one is from Ben Franklin:
He who would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will lose both and deserve neither.

Labels: , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home