Monday, 30 June 2008

'Presience or eerie coincidence?'

'AS THE THIRD ANNIVERSARY of the London bombings approaches, the author Stephen Leather is among those with cause to reflect on the uncomfortable relationship between the real world and fiction - particularly when the plot of a thriller becomes horribly true.

In February 2005, five months before the 7/7 suicide attacks on the London Tube, Leather's thriller Soft Target detailed a plot by four British-born Muslims to explode bombs on the Underground.

As in real life, one of them went off above ground, albeit at the entrance to a Tube station rather than on a bus. His hero, an ex-SAS man called Dan Shepherd, has more luck preventing loss of life than did the real-life security services.

“It was uncanny really,” Leather says. “I had been been speaking to a lot of anti-terror people and the emergency services and they all said the same thing: their worst nightmare would be suicide bombers on the Underground.

“Then five months later it happens. I'm watching TV and there are the same people I'd been talking to, saying how they'd had to deal with it.”

The detail in Leather's book even had echoes of the subsequent shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell station: “My hero, Shepherd, has to shoot one of the bombers, even though he's coming at him from behind and can't see any indication that he's carrying a bomb, but there's this voice in his ear telling him that's the man. And he shoots him, and keeps on shooting him, putting bullets into his head until he stops moving. Because that's what the men at the Met told me they would have to do to deal with a suicide bomber.”

...Perhaps it is when terrorists appear to ape exact techniques that first appeared in fictional form that the phenomenon is most worrying. In his 1999 novel, Remembrance Day Henry Porter had his villain fix murderous cenotaph explosives to a mobile phone so that all that was required to detonate them was a simple call.

The Daily Mail trumpeted: “You can't go wrong with this plot”. It was a line the paper signally failed to repeat in March 2004, when bombs triggered by mobile phones exploded on crowded commuter trains in central Madrid, killing 191 people and wounding nearly 2,000 more.

There must have been a moment, somewhere between the first passenger jet crashing into the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, and the instant a few hours later when a third airliner smashed into the Pentagon, when Tom Clancy put his hand to his mouth and thought: “Oh my God, what have I done?” It had been all of six years since he had brought his series of novels featuring the CIA man Jack Ryan to a blockbuster climax with a crazed anti-American Japanese airline pilot crashing his 747 into the Capitol, killing the US President and half of Congress.'


Atlantean Times said...

There is a nelson demille novel were his agent is staring out at the towers from another skyscraper.
he does not remark or planes or explosives bt he does say...

"I wonder how much longer those 2 towers will remain standing"

in a clear implication that they will be destroyed by terrorists....

interesting that he thought the terrorists would actually be capable of knocking them down a feat never before acomplished..

Newspaceman said...

You are selling that book too Gav ?