I’m back this month with another look at how real news stories parallel some of the scenarios I’ve created in my novels. I’ve had a good run over the last couple of years. Releasing Lethal Agent, a book about a coronavirus, just a few months before a global pandemic takes the top spot, but 2021 was rich with interesting comparisons, too.
In 2019, I spent a terrifying year researching Total Power. There are a surprising number of disturbing articles out there about the state of our power grid and how easily it could fail. The worst part, though, was discovering that chaos would ensue after just a few days without electricity. Stretch that into weeks or months and we’d have a serious body count.
I took some flak from people who claimed I was being overly dramatic for the sake of creating an exciting story. After the early 2021 Texas power outage, articles like this one made it clear that the state had been on the thin edge. Interestingly, a number of my critics emailed me to apologize.
A ransomware attack was the weapon of choice for Total Power’s villain when he took down the US grid. Apparently, he wasn’t the only one who wanted to exploit this security weakness. Last spring, a hacker successfully shut down a pipeline in the US that delivers 45% of the fuel to the East Coast. Energy and electricity companies are increasingly reliant on computer networks and that makes them more and more vulnerable to cyberattacks.
In fall 2021 it was revealed that security agencies had discovered a drone that was attempting to disrupt operations by creating a short circuit at a power substation in Pennsylvania. Fortunately, the drone crashed onto a neighboring building before it could complete its mission. At the time this article was written, its operator had yet to be found. It’s the first known instance of an unmanned aircraft attempting to damage US electrical infrastructure.
Experts warn that attacks to our grid likely won’t let up and America is simply not moving quickly enough to protect it. This realization was the most frustrating part of my research. We know what the threat is and how to defend against it, but the political will is lacking.
Enemy Of The State
On September 11, 2021, upon executive order by the president, the FBI released the first of what it expected would be several classified documents related to the suspected Saudi support of the al-Qaeda hijackers.
The 9/11 Commission reported in 2004 that it had found no evidence of Saudi support. Since then, some commission members have admitted that there wasn’t an exhaustive investigation of all of the evidence.
So, the question remains: Were Saudi officials involved in 9/11 and did the American government cover it up? Enemy of the State was born from that possibility. Let’s hope we eventually find out.
Missed Part 1 of this year’s predictions? You can find it here.