Thursday, December 4, 2014

7 Ways the Ugly Facts About Drones Are Hidden in Plain Site in UNMANNED

Drone Pilots: Recipe for disaster

The damage they do extends to the very people operating those drones

The "kill chain" includes a lot more than just uniformed military

They're the leading edge of the ubiquitous surveillance in American society.

Now someone's put it all together in a work of popular fiction.

Unmanned is a recent novel by Dan Fesperman, and it focuses on drones. When I first saw it, I thought, "Is this going to glorify what the U.S. government is doing with drones?" But from the first page, it was clear that (a) Fesperman knows what's really going on with drones; and (b) he's not afraid to lay it on the line.

The book opens with a drone strike that kills several children, and Fesperman zeroes right in on what it means for the drone pilot:

"Already he feels the moment taking root in a fallow corner of his imagination -- a seed of torment, a nascent preoccupation." (Unmanned, p. 4)

Unmanned by Dan Fesperman
And Unmanned takes off from there.

There were so many places in this book where I thought, "Holy mackerel - he knows about that? It's as if he was part of the same anti-drone movement that I've been so deeply involved in for the past several years!" 

And then I thought, "Is it possible that ordinary people reading this book will just 'blip' right over all of these facts? Will they think what this book is revealing is just science fiction?"

I think Unmanned is provides an extremely valuable opportunity for us -- if we can get lots of people reading and talking about this book, and if we can get people to take seriously what's described there -- to realize that it is fact, not fantasy.

A novel is a tremendous way to reach a mass audience.

It's time to encourage a base of fans for Unmanned. (And for the sequel to Unmanned. Oh yeah -- it's coming!) We need to use all the tools at our disposal -- blogs, wikis, Facebook, Twitter, and more -- to get people talking about the shocking facts that are right there in black and white in this highly readable book.

Here are a just few footnotes to kick the project off.  Please help build this conversation with further comments about Unmanned on this blog post and elsewhere!

(1) - p. "Creech Air Force Base, a bustling little place tucked against barren mountains, a mere forty miles from Vegas."

(2) - p. 57 and throughout - contractor IntelPro - a subtle reference to a hallowed tradition of surveillance and repression of dissent in the U.S.: COINTELPRO

(3) - p. "Because if you're not acting officially, then who needs a warrant? . . . read the PATRIOT act."

(4) - p. 164 "One of probably at least a hundred worldwide chapters of a bunch of tinkerers and geeks known as DIY Drones."

(5) - p. 174 "Right now the FAA is choosing six nationwide test sites."

(6) - p.190 " . . . the Global Hawk drone that crashed near Salisbury, Maryland, just a few months ago."

(7) - p. 234 "He set the drone on the coffee table, and they couldn't help but stare at it. Smaller than a butterfly, or even a hummingbird."


* Read Unmanned

* Add comments to this post and others to 
encourage discussion of Unmanned.

* Introduce Unmanned to a book club or 
activist group where you live.

Related posts

Hmmmm . . . it seems like the facts are right there in the open. Do people think they are exaggerated?  Or are they too wrapped up in the man-to-man intrigue (watch out Jack! he's coming up behind you!) to be troubled by the real "clear and present danger"?

(See THE UGLY FACTS IN "RED OCTOBER": And You Thought the Nuclear Threat Was Hush-Hush )

Re-reading George Orwell's 1984 recently made me see at least 15 ways 2013 is like the world he describes in the book . . . .

(See 2013 = 1984 ? )


Eventually, in large part due to Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, the United States was converted from a country in which a small number of people thought slavery needed to be ended into a country determined to act to end slavery. This literary work took the movement wide, and it took it deep.

Why is a novel an important tool for creative resistance?

(See Creative Resistance 101: Uncle Tom's Cabin )

A big Hollywood production of Ender's Game is scheduled for release on November 1. It's a perfect opportunity for us to ask: Are we happy seeing our schools turned into "Battle Schools"?

(See "Ender's Game" and the Militarization of Youth: Can We Talk About This? )