Tuesday, May 04, 2010

New Sideline for Science Fiction Writers

One of the key ways a science fiction writer comes up with story ideas is to ask his- or herself the What if? question.

It's simple really -- you look at some situation, and it sparks a line of thought.

Consider, oh, say, the recent unpleasantness at Toyota, involving sticking gas pedals.

What if somebody did that on purpose? Who would do that? Why?

Follow the money, and presto, you have a story.

Or consider this: The current President of the U.S. has a great deal of power, not least among it the ability to appoint Supreme Court justices. Those folks are on the bench for life. An appointment can reverberate for decades, change the tone of American law.

What if three of the current conservative justices decided to retire? What if they did so for reasons that weren't the usual ones? Presto, a liberal court ...

Nasty, huh?

Which brings us to British Petroleum.

It's obvious that BP needs some science fiction writers in its employ, and apparently has needed some for at least a while. Obvious. Because apparently nobody in the company ever had the what-if notion that, in hindsight seems, oh, I dunno, incredibly overlooked:

What if one of these big ole deep wells blows out and we get a monster leak?

Nobody ever came up with a Plan B apparently, because it didn't occur to them they'd ever need one?

Come to think of it, the U.S. Government could use a few science fiction writers on its payroll. I can, off the top of my head, come up with a raft of things they should be thinking about and from what I can tell, aren't.

Heads up, government and industry. You need our help.


Thomas said...

"What if three of the current conservative justices decided to retire? What if they did so for reasons that weren't the usual ones?"

Julia Roberts: Everyone I've told about the brief is DEAD!

Steve Perry said...

Good to know somebody is paying attention ...

evmick said...

Regarding the BP Well. As all wells it has a Blow Out Protector. That gadget weighs on the order of a hundred thousand pounds and is triply redundant.

According to reports from major oil field honcho's regarding said BOP, "something is not right"....and then they quit talking.

The chain of events was unusual to say the least. Supposedly those "running the well" normally have some warning when things are about to go bad. This one apparantly gave NO warning. People died before they could initiate "procedures".

No one WANTS to say that the well was sabatoged...but it sure looks like it could have been.

Preventing someone from blowing stuff up (and incidentally killing a large number if not everyone, on board) is harder than preventing naturally ocuring oopsies.

And yeah..."what if" as well as Murphy need to be considered.

Daniel Keys Moran said...

A few years back -- 2002 or thereabouts -- I was part of an air force think tank thing with a bunch of other SF writers, David Drake & John Ringo & etc. So they did it at least once.

Steve Perry said...

Ah, so it's your fault, eh, Dan? You and Ringo and Drake. Might have known ...

Reginald Thomas Jr. said...

Whatever happened to John Ringo's blog site?

Ian SADLER said...

Conspiracy theories abound!


Ed said...

I think "they" wouldn't tell the masses if it wasn't an accident - don't want to scare the taxpayers anymore with the terrorist word. ooooooooooh. How much would they have to pay out for more inspection/security/better equipment/training/more employees? Always easier to look back. But instead of SciFi writers I bet they pay big bucks for cost/benefit accessors. Profit - you got a love it - when it works.

Daniel Keys Moran said...

"Ah, so it's your fault, eh, Dan?"

Total Information Awareness might have been. It's not what I suggested, but it's what I suggested minus being pointed at the domestic population.

Dan Gambiera said...

Forget science fiction writers. The government should just stop giving waivers from laws to the companies that pull this crap. BP and Transocean both got waivers from environmental and safety laws covering this project. They didn't have to file the normally-required contingency plans for a blowout. They didn't have to conform to the National Environmental Policy Act. And since our laws are pitifully weak compared to Brazil and Norway they didn't have to install the acoustically-activated emergency cutoff valve which is specifically designed to contain just this sort of disaster.

You don't need to turn over rocks looking for goblins when there's a fucking grizzly bear standing on the path in front of you.