Daily Illuminator

September 22, 2008: Won't Get Fueled Again

Back in the late Cretaceous, when I was growing up amidst the ferns and hadrosaurs, the very first TV show that ever ate my brain was The Man From U.N.C.L.E.I even collected the novels . . . I have them all except a couple of the rare juveniles and The Final Affair, which David McDaniel delivered to the publisher after the show's cancellation had been announced. Copies of the manuscript are apparently circulating fnord; sadly, I have never seen one. But, as usual, I digress.

As I recall, most of the novels started with some really horrible thing happening in an out-of-the-way place. It was always, of course, a plot by the sinister THRUSH, the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity. THRUSH typically tested its new superweapons and mass-murder techniques "covertly," e.g., by wiping out remote villages. However, U.N.C.L.E. always spotted the weird news items that started "Dozens Dead in Mysterious (whatever)," and would send Napoleon and Illya to blow stuff up and save the world. THRUSH employed a great number of evil geniuses guided (if not ultimately ruled) by the Ultimate Computer, but they apparently never figured out that U.N.C.L.E. read the newspapers.

All this sprang instantly to mind when I read about Nashville running out of gas. Clearly, someone is testing a technique to paralyze a whole city. Now that daytime radio has been supplemented by the Net, rumors can spread really fast. Just start a story that the supply of gas is about to run out, and wham, it will.

Worked pretty well, didn't it?

-- Steve Jackson


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