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Monday, May 30, 2011

Frank Herbert clearly foresaw our day

More than any other science fiction author, Frank Herbert has the most prescient understanding of what advanced technology means to the modern body politic. Be it his jihadist denizens of Dune, whose monopoly on the space-travel spice melange made them enemies to the rest of planetary civilization (analogous to today's oil dependency on the Middle East), or his "Tactful Saboteur" Jorj X. McKie, responsible for putting a check in the swing of a too-efficient/too-stupid government, Frank nailed our dilemma today. To us, the third-world whack job is a terrorist. To that terrorist, we're the evil empire. There'll be no happy endings here as long as we try to legitimize our right to his oil (ie; melange spice).

Below is a 1980 photo of Frank with me in Massachusetts , just after I'd had my head handed to me in a Washington State congressional race (I won Frank's district, though) and needed to find work at Data General, where I helped Tom West roll out the MV/8000.
I'd like to have introduced Frank to Tracy Kidder, whose Soul of a New Machine made Tom famous and earned Kidder a Pulitzer. After all, a great deal of my fun in life is putting interesting people together and then becoming a "fly on the wall" during their high-bandwidth conversations. Alas, Frank's schedule was too tight for Kidder. I did manage to give three autographed copies of Frank's non-fiction computer book Without Me You're Nothing to Tom West and his team. 

So on this Memorial Day 2011, as I sit here weighing less and in far better shape than I was 31 years ago, it's only appropriate I remember departed friends and acknowledge their contribution to my world view. Just like Tom West (who died on May 19th), I suspect Frank has found definitive answers to the philosophical questions that occupied us in our many late-night conversations.

I lift a protein/banana/blueberry shake to you, Frank. Let's see if I can't motivate some cyber privateers to provide venal politicians with plausible deniability while my hearty swashbucklers save the world from cyber thieves and rogue governments.

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Implementation suggestions for THE MORGAN DOCTRINE are most welcome. What are the "Got'chas!"? What questions would some future Cyber Privateering Czar have to answer about this in a Senate confirmation hearing?