A Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy

No, not the Orbit Christmas Party (although . . . ); we’re talking about virtual worlds such as World of Warcraft and Second Life, which seem to be being invaded by a new wave of cyber-crooks. There have been two stories floating about teh Intarwebs recently, involving criminal action in Second Life. Why do we care? Apart from a deeply held concern for our fellow beings, obviously? Because Orbit author Charles Stross anticipated them both. Who says SF can’t predict the future?

In an amazing case of (second) life imitating art, this story circulated a little over a week ago, outlining the theft of $3.2 million Linden Dollars from Second Life. This is scarily close to the central theme of Charlie’s forthcoming Halting State. We don’t publish Halting State until January 2008, but remember Charlie wrote it last year, so it still counts as prophecy! And as if that wasn’t enough Nostradamus-like gazing through the veil of time, we just spotted this on the website of The Australian newspaper. Again, Mr Stross was there first. The advent of virtual terrorism was outlined in this article Charlie wrote for online gaming site Guildcafé last March.

At the risk of taking liberties with Oscar Wilde’s famous wit: to predict one future event can be seen as fortunate, to predict two begins to look like cleverness.

So, if you want to know what the future might look like, read Charles Stross. He can’t do the lottery numbers (we checked) but there are few better authorities on emergent technology and how it might affect our lives.