You know what’s really tough? Writing scenes about computer hacking that are a, technically accurate and b, avoid the worst cliches. I’ve worked in tech for COUGH years, so as I plot out “Would I Lie to You,” I know I’m not going to do the fundamentally illiterate TV crap that used to get so widely mocked on Reddit. You know the cliches:
1. Fuzzy security camera footage “enhanced” to provide laser sharp results. I love the TV show “Arrow” (Stephen Amell ZOMG SO HAWT AND HE CAN ACT!) but it cracks me up sometimes. A second season episode had The Nerd taking grainy video camera footage and “enhancing” it to provide a crystal clear picture of a logo…as reflected in someone’s eyeball, so that The Hero knows where to go get all kung fu on their asses.
2. Just plain made up bullshit where The Nerd says, “I wrote that footage enhancement program in Visual Basic in thirty seconds”! In the movie “Independence Day,” it’s a really good thing that the space aliens use the same programming languages and communications protocols that we do, so we can write viruses to knock out their systems, and be able to go kung fu on their asses.
3. “The firewall is too strong…we’re gonna have to break into the building and access the servers directly!” With the usual “dramatic” countdown as The Nerd’s laptop screen says DOWNLOADING with the progress bar’s pace being (almost) outstripped by the pace of the security guards rushing to the scene. (Wherein The Hero gets all kung fu on their asses while The Nerd finishes downloading just in time – the digital equivalent of defusing the bomb with 2 seconds left.)
But that’s all because the hardest thing in the world is to transform a mundane task (typing, basically) into a form of visual excitement. One of the few convincing ways to do that is to simply…dismiss reality entirely, and go into the imaginary cyberrealms of “Neuromancer” or “The Matrix.” That way, you CAN create your own reality without being hampered by the realities of current technology.
Brad Predicts that in 20 years, more literature, movies and TV shows will end up in the dustbin of history, scorned and dismissed, because the majority of first worlders will be so technologically sophisticated that they will laugh at all the bullshit that now passes for “technothrilling,” and laugh as heartily as we do at the worst 1950s science fiction movies with rayguns and swamp monsters. I don’t want to end up on that list! I want my shit to be accurate about what’s possible today, anyway.
So what’s the plan, then, for creating an exciting scene that isn’t stooooopid? Well, let’s just say I’m reading this book right now 🙂