Oline H. Cogdill

Gray Basnight, left, author of three novels, turned to fiction after almost three decades as a broadcast news writer, editor, producer, and reporter. His books and writing cross several genres.

He lives in New York with his wife, Lisa, and their golden retriever, Tinta.

His latest novel is Flight of the Fox (Down & Out Books), in which an innocent math professor runs for his life as teams of hit men try to prevent publication of their government’s dark history.

In this essay, he discusses some of the “fictional forecasting” he created as a writer of futuristic thrillers.

Sci-Fi/Not Sci-Fi
By Gray Basnight

One of the fun things about writing a story set in the future is that I get to predict stuff.

In my new novel, the run-for-your-life thriller Flight of the Fox, the principal technological forecast centers on drones. That doesn’t exactly make me Nostradamus, because drones are the here and now (duh!).

But what’s new in the story is their pervasive influence in our everyday lives, particularly where they provide backup support, and in some cases, totally replace police presence.

But my fictional forecasting it not limited to the coming of these unmanned aerial devices. As my university math professor flees down the East Coast while dodging mysterious drones and black-ops hit men, he encounters a number of other innovations that are probably under development right now.

And if they’re not, they should be.

Here’s a rundown of my effort to channel Jules Verne:

Lens-to-Lens Networking:
An enhancement where the single user of a cellphone video camera can dial in another user who can then remotely view the image being filmed on the camera at the scene. The problem is that the images are really fuzzy.

PC Packets:
Marketed as “Flexi Flats,” these are personal computers that are the same basic dimension as a paper towel. And they’re magnetic, so each one will adhere to the refrigerator. You can also roll it up and tuck it into your pocket when you go to the office, car, or airport. They conveniently come in packs of at least half a dozen. As for problems, web reviews will advise there are two: they’re very expensive, and each one has only a short lifespan. But hey, as with everything, Flexi Flats are new and the kinks still need to be worked out.

SCD, Stroke Counter Device:
This may already exist, or I may have invented it. I know that’s odd, but I’m uncertain. In any case, it’s a device that your boss puts on your PC to record every keystroke you type and save the data forever in a separate file.

GSP, Geo-Spatial Profiling:
A future technology that forecasts where a fugitive is hiding or running at any given moment based on individual personality, intelligence, physical health, lifestyle, etc. (You may be thinking at this point that the author of Flight of the Fox is a little paranoid. Well, yeah, I am.)

Navy acronym for Fighter Drone Program, a fictional team that designs, tests, and deploys aircraft that can do everything a fighter jet can do, but without a pilot. The X-47 fighter jet, however, is authentic. Looking like a true spaceship, it does play a role in my novel. It’s an actual unmanned fighter jet developed at a cost of $800 million dollars that successfully passed all remote landing tests on aircraft carriers. The X-47 has since been mothballed as too costly. FIDROPRO, however, continues, even if only in my fictional world.

A website used by my math professor Sam Teagarden to help him decode a mysterious file discovered in his inbox. Successful decryption of that file may alter knowledge of US history as we know it. That could make him a new American Prometheus. It could also get him killed.

I can’t actually say the website is fiction because I bought the domain rights. So, keep watching deepdecipher.com for more scintillating details.