As you probably know, the TSA stepped up their airport security efforts last week. Travelers receive unwanted x-ray exposure, and those who reject the radiation, suffer violation of their privacy with intrusive full-body pat-downs. The good news is that we have not been attacked by a single 72-year-old grandmother or 7-year-old child since then. Good job TSA!
As a writer, things like this TSA nonsense offer me ample grist for my writing mill. I used the real life example of the TSA’s moronic logic in a situation for one of my main characters in the sequel to The Last Human War. In my story, an ancient alien myth predicts the birth of a transformational child, one who will merge the Tanarac race into the next evolutionary step. Simon’s newborn daughter contains DNA from both the human and Tanarac species. As the only mixed breed in existence, Tanarac authorities kidnap this special child for “her own protection”. Thank you TSA. Your mindless abuse of personal rights provided me with the perfect government role model for my story.
X-ray vision is no longer a myth. The TSA looks right through our clothes using x-ray scanners. I didn’t know we had that technology. Did you? I bought a pair of Superman x-ray glasses when I a boy. Got them for $1.00 and three Cheerios box tops. Alas, when I sneaked a peek at MaryBeth, they didn’t work. What other secret stuff is our government hiding? Laser beam weapons, Mach-3 stealth aircraft . . . how bout flying saucers? I remember when Dick Tracy had a telephone hidden in his wrist watch. Seems the “super” spy gadgets of the past are becoming real technology of today.
Science fiction stories fall into two categories. First, there are tales using known science or logical progressions about the future of current knowledge. For example, the speed of light is currently viewed as an impassable barrier limiting deep space travel to multi-generational journeys. A story built around this limitation allows the reader to enjoy a sci-fi tale without suspending reality. On the other hand, the second kind of sci-fi tale ignores limitations of present day scientific knowledge. It’s a trade off. The reader suspends reality while the author constructs a story without limit. Time travel allows complex stories with characters trapped in intriguing plots. Spacecraft capable of exceeding light-speed open the entire galaxy, or even the universe, for exploration.
My point is simple. Modern writers enjoy plot possibilities today that could not be imagined a century ago. From desktop computers to genetic engineering to airport x-ray vision, today's technology proves that fantasy can become reality. I might even book a short airline flight just to go see one of those x-ray vision machines in action. Hey, I have an idea . . . what if the airlines offered a copy of the x-ray vision to each passenger, say for a buck or two. I’ll bet a lot of people would buy a copy just out of curiosity. Of course, if I got selected for one of those pat-down searches, there’d be trouble. First guy who tried to reach down my pants would get decked. I am fascinated by the X-ray vision stuff, but, beyond that, John Tyner said it best . . . “Don’t touch my junk!”