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Help Wanted!  No idea how to actualize your spy story?  Need a creative way kill off a character?  Searching for a conflict that will propel your fantasy novel.  This is the place for a friendly kick in the right direction, complete with "adoption" threads.
Posted: 3/11/2011 8:58 AM PST

Beruthiel
Why assume terrorism is a nation v. nation, or at least ethnicity v. ethnicity issue? There are many Americans who do not like America - or at least, do not like their government. :P Seriously, the home-grown terrorist is always more interesting, because they are much harder to spot Why not pick, for example, another group with an ecological axe to grind? I don't like the Hollywood tendency to pick Evil Ethnicity of the moment, then have them as the BaD Guys, with no more rationale than: "because they're Germans/Russians/Libyans/Moslems/Chechens/Russians...etc. etc." It's much more interesting to first identify your terrorist's grievance, & what they want to achjieve by their attack (usually blackmail, occasionally genocide) - THEN work out who would be fired up by that issue AND have the resources to carry it through....
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Posted: 6/22/2010 3:10 PM PDT

Tkain
What if your villian was, at its heart, just a single person with a personal vendetta. They start with an attack against a corporation that wronged them in some way, but things spread quickly out of control and go way beyond what was intended. Think of it as a person with enough knowledge and skill to create and distribute this but not enough to forsee the full impact of his/her actions. You could show the reader while still not revealing it to the main characters. Or go a step further and end with another person finding out and attempting to recreate what was done...
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Posted: 6/22/2010 10:06 AM PDT
Also, in response to the inquiry that a virus would be better - For the terrorists, yes. Viruses mutate faster than bacteria so it would be easier to take some little unimportant virus and make it deadly. This is why we need new flu vaccines every year - it mutates. This is also what happened with swine flu/H1N1. It mutated and became worse than other flues. Viruses are also very picky. They only attack one kind of cell in one kind of host (like flu only attacks lung cells, and human flu only attacks humans). Bacteria would work just as well. They would be easier to grow in large numbers. To grow bacteria, all you need is a petri dish and some food. For viruses, you need eggs and very specific conditions. I'll spare you all the details (you're welcome) but I think if a small organization were to go about this it would be easier to use bacteria. If I wanted to, I could grow bacteria in my kitchen. Viruses are difficult. I could also use fungi or protozoa. But again those would be hard to grow.
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Posted: 6/22/2010 9:59 AM PDT
The only thing with Anthrax is that it can't be spread person to person. So, yeah, some organization could sprinkle it on a city and make people sick, but it would stop there. I need something more epic for my idea, because if it's going to be a world wide issue it needs to be something that easily spreads from person to person (or animal to person). Anthrax is also easy to get - many wild animals have it in/on them, so anyone who knows how could find a wild animal and get Anthrax. The equipment needed costs about as much as a shiny new car. Any well funded terrorist group could change Anthrax into whatever they want. But this also applies to other diseases. Botulism is the most deadly toxin because it paralyzes muscles and can easily be added into the food supply. This is why I think it'd be a good terrorist starting point - one little food plant (peanuts, veggies, etc) supplies food products for the whole country. It could easily be brought into the country because, well, we can't check every single package. Botulism can kill you within a week if you do not receive treatment. If suddenly all of the hospitals in all of the major cities were crowded with botulism poisoned people, a lot of those people are going to die. If I were to stick with something airborne, I could also go with bubonic/pneumatic plague. We all know it sounds epic. Even if a vaccine were available, who would really go for that one? No one would be protected from it, and it would have the same effects as the previous plagues. I would like to stay away from smallpox and flu because those have been beat to death. If I'm going to write this, I want to shock people. No one is shocked that smallpox is deadly. Here is my main problem, though: I don't know who the villain should be. There are many countries who do not like America (that's where it would be set - sorry Europe) and who also have ways to naturally obtain the above diseases. I don't want to pinpoint one place or one group though. Would the story be as compelling if you never discovered who the villain was? If, at the end, the disease went away but you never discovered where it came from? Somehow I think that would be an interesting ending. The world gets sick, they all yell at each other and threaten to nuke everything, and then it just goes away. But I don't want readers to hate me. :P
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Posted: 6/19/2010 11:30 AM PDT
It's true that it's not a new subject, but I do think it has more potential than a lot of other ideas. Being a biology teacher and knowing a lot about this stuff makes you into a more potential writer too (be careful not to make it too hard to understand for laymen). As you probably know, anthrax was designed to be a biological weapon not so long ago (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthrax#Biological_warfare). If you investigate the way it was used, the motives, the reactions, etc, you can most certainly use those facts for your own story. It's also useful to come up with some inspiration. How is it being spread (by humans), how is it being fought? I know radiation can destroy spores of anthrax, but people might not want to eat radiated food, (or get radiated mail) cause they think it might be harmful. Good luck with your story, hope this helped. SC
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Posted: 6/8/2010 7:24 AM PDT
It is a bacteria. That was just the example given in the article I read, but I could use many others. I think the story would be more interesting with a small scale disease instead of something epic like smallpox. Something that people wouldn't suspect. The food idea is a good one. I also agree that the best way to make something like this a really interesting read is to involve countries fighting each other. Thanks for the ideas!
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Posted: 6/8/2010 6:21 AM PDT

Tkain
I could be mistaken but I was under the impression that botulism was a bacteria rather then a virus? This would make it far less effective as a weapon depending on how you plan on spreading it. That being said there have been a large number of bio-terrorism stories done and many with unique takes on the subject. I just watched a TV movie called Summit where a complicated story is built around the G20 summit that is to take place and a girl heading towards it with smallpox. She isn't a terrorist but the US government plays that she is to pass a bill on global anti-terrorism. Put simply your going to need a very unique story to make this fly. However I believe it can be done. I would suggest a small group takes the attack to the max by going after the worlds food supply. Infecting food products most commonly shipped world wide. This could trigger not just an international responce but also lots of international conflict as countries start to blame each other and threaten to go to war. This could be an attack against globalization.
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Posted: 6/8/2010 6:02 AM PDT
I was reading Scientific American last night and I came up with an idea. What I would like to know is 1) what you think of the idea, 2) if the idea has been done before, and 3) anything you care to add. If anyone takes this idea, I will find you. *evil stare* Anywho - I was reading an article about bioterrorism. The article suggested that terrorists don't necessarily have to use something like smallpox. Instead, they could use something like botulism. Botox (which actually stands for botulism toxin) is often bootlegged on the internet for people who don't want to pay the doctor's prices. If it is that easy to get, why couldn't it be bought/sold by a terrorist? I thought that would be an awesome idea for a techno-thriller type novel. I know quite a lot about microbiology (I am a biology teacher, and I'm thinking of getting a PhD in microbiology) so it would be easy for me to write. I already have a setting for the story. But, beyond that, I'm lost. Any ideas? (If you give me a good idea, and the book sells... who knows? Maybe you'll receive a cut... *winkwink*)
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