War remains a part of human life, so we should have no expectation that in the next 38 years, war becomes anathema and peace breaks out. War plays an interesting part in Perceval. I wanted to explore the civilian experience of war, survival instincts, good and bad behavior on the home front, and living with deprivation. America is technically at war at the moment, but our lives are deprived of night time bombing attacks, food rationing, loss of homes, shortages of goods and services, artillery attacks and roaming soldiers with guns. The only everyday sign of the war is returning troops and troops shipping out, covered on the news, and the hardships of their families while they are gone. We have not known the ravages of a war in our own country for 150 years.
Civil war again grips America in 2048 in the Perceval series. Minnesota, where Evan Quinn grew up and lived, is a border state between the Westerners to the west and the government forces to the east. Partisan fighters in border states work with the Westerners to use terrorism to attack the government while government forces bomb them using unmanned drones. It’s a “David and Goliath” fight, but the Westerners have hung on and formed their own government after seceding from the eastern half of the country. The war allows the government to oppress the civilian population through surveillance and police control. Evan, although well aware of the partisans because of his father, distances himself from the conflict, focuses on his music. But he cannot escape war.
Would it be more plausible for a major world war to be conventional or one fought through cyberspace? We are actually not so far away from cyberwar. Each day, computers in other countries attack computers in this country. We have firewalls, often multiple, to protect our data, much like the walls of a castle or fortress. The attacks so far have been to steal information or to control computers for spammers or scammers. Would a cyberwar make for good reading, or a conventional war? And what would the civilian experience look like?
Another war figures prominently in the Perceval series. So far, I’ve chosen to make it conventional with few futuristic flourishes (no laser weapons), but conventional weapons are just as devastating to a civilian population as unconventional. As I’ve thought about cyber vs. real war, I’ve realized that I, as a writer, personally believe in a real war but not in a cyberwar. The latter remains outside my experience and I’m not computer-savvy enough to be able to imagine what it would be like. Another factor has nagged at me often, i.e. not one of the combatants would want to lose the internet and all its capabilities, especially during a war. That should make them all vulnerable, but oddly not to each other but to people who want to control the internet by hacking into everyone else’s computers.
That triggers a thought about conventional vs. cyber war. What if a conventional war could be stopped by a cyberwar? The two adversaries must join together to stop the attack on the internet and their computers. They need their banking infrastructure, commerce, and cultural infrastructure on the internet. A cyberwar attacks these things, not actual territory, people or governments, although governments have staked out their own internet territories. With computers running physical infrastructure, power, transportation, and information, destruction of these could impact the civilian population as well as the government.
Originally, I envisioned the civil war in America to be a guerilla war. The other war in the series would be much larger, involve a good portion of the globe, and nuclear as well as conventional weapons. People would die. The sound of a drone flying overhead would terrify people. I wanted the destruction to include the physical world: land, buildings, roads, people. For my purposes, I’m not yet convinced that a cyberwar could adequately do the job. However, it could be a part of the conventional war, or something that complicates the war in a way that might bring the adversaries to the negotiating table faster.
The important aspect is this: how the war or cyberwar affects Evan Quinn’s life and the lives of the people he knows, meets and works with. I can make a conventional war a total sensual experience for him, but not a cyberwar. However, a cyberwar would affect his bookings, his financial business, his contact with other musicians. I’m open to other thoughts, ideas, suggestions…..