The Infowar: Author's Notes
I hope you enjoyed reading The Infowar as much as I enjoyed writing it. I would like to take a moment to mention some of my primary influences and ideas while writing this story. All the technologies pictured in this book are real, though applied in some unconventional ways. The primary influence for this setting came from an excellent homemade role-playing setting called InfoWar created by Anders Sandberg and Robert Ingdahl in 1997. The setting has strong techno-libertarian themes, and I had some of my characters in the novel mention "an obscure roleplaying setting" as an inspiration. In terms of the Sandberg and Ingdahl setting, the Network in the novel is compared to a "wannabe Concordat" with a lower tech level.
Other inspirations for this novel include a number of highly recommend books and computer games. The first is a book called Unrestricted Warfare by two Chinese People's Liberation Army colonels, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui. The book is about how asymmetric and fourth generation warfare can be used by a less powerful foe to defeat a more advanced, powerful one. The book advances the masterful work of classical military strategy, The Art of War by Sun Tzu. David Brin's nonfiction The Transparent Society provides an interesting solution to the "security vs. privacy debate:" let the watched turn the cameras on the watchers. The next is the computer game Deus Ex, about a nanotech-augmented soldier that fights terrorists with a plot that combines conspiracy theory, cyberpunk, and high literature. The series Splinter Cell, with its plot themes about terrorism, black ops, and information warfare, are an indirect inspiration for the portrayal of the NSA in the novel.
Many of the political movements and individuals are real ones. The American neoconservative movement is arguably the most dangerous movement to run American foreign policy since Woodrow Wilson got the USA involved in the First World War. The NSA is jokingly referred to as "No Such Agency" due to their secrecy. The British National Party and French National Front are infamous, neo-fascist parties in Europe. The People's Action Party is indeed the ruling power in Singapore. The Russian Mafia is one of the most powerful, diverse crime groups in the world today. Scarily enough, the Virginia Tech school shooting happened several weeks after the chapters about the fictional high school shooting were posted. While the novel's plot was planned over nine months beforehand, the timing of the events is indeed strange. The fictional "Greatwood High" shootings mentioned several times in the book were meant to serve as a mental placeholder for events.
Holy Cross Ministries, the Stormfront, the Prophet's Guard, and Gaia's Knights are all fictional agencies, but they are based firmly in reality. Gaia's Knights are an extrapolation of the current nastiness of ecoterrorist groups and individuals, from the Unabomber to the Earth Liberation Front. The Stormfront neo-Nazi group is named for a white-supremacist website. The Prophet's Guard is arguably the most fictional, since Sunni and Shiite extremists exist uneasily side by side, mainly kept in line by threats from above. Holy Cross Ministries is thankfully fictional, though many fundamentalist Christian agencies come close enough. Seraphim Securities, the security firm and private military contractor, is based on a real life agency, Blackwater. Seraphim Securities was fictional, but the idea of a religiously-motivated private army is not to be underestimated. Though the CEO of Blackwater is a conservative Christian, Blackwater does not require religious conversion as a job requirement. The political power of the fundamentalist Christian movement addressed in this novel is very real. The documentary Jesus Camp is one excellent source as to the long-term goals of this movement.
The Infowar was not meant to be simply another conspiracy or geopolitical thriller. It was meant to get readers thinking about where politicians could be heading, and what a group of citizens is capable of. Two documentaries I simply must recommend to people interested are BBC documentary The Power of Nightmares and Jesus Camp. The Power of Nightmares explores the parallel rises of the neocons and Islamic fundamentalists, and the fact both are essentially driven by warped ideals of "fascist utopias." A good book on the rise of private military contractor is the nonfiction Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army by Jeremy Scahill. In addition, the libertarian anti-interventionalist site AntiwarDOTcom and its webmaster, Justin Raimondo, were inspirations for the paleo-conservative and libertarian views of Joseph "Janus Thursday" Campbell. Various military technologies and notes on asymmetric warfare often appear at the military technology blog defensetechDOTorg. Feel free to follow these sources. After reading this novel and the sources I've cited, the real Infowar begins. To quote Robert Ingdahl: "But the real InfoWar did already begin with you reading this game."
Links of Interest:
Anders Sandberg's Blog: .se/andart/
David Brin's Blog: davidbrin. Tech: