You know what the problem with real life is?

It's not that things don't end neatly, or that good people are not always rewarded for virtue. It's not that it puts a lot of demands on your time so that you can't write.

It's that it makes you look unimaginative.

Case in point: I started Trang a year or two after the September 11th attacks, and a lot of the choices made in that book were in response to what, to me, were some pretty stupid decisions being made in the aftermath of the attacks. For example, Trang's first name is Philippe, and he is part French, because at the time the Bush administration was encouraging people to demonstrate their patriotism by going to French restaurants and being rude to the wait staff. (I'm sure that one had Osama bin Laden quaking in his boots.) In the book, nuclear weapons, which had long been banned, are utilized again in response to the perceived alien threat. This was a reflection of my surprise and disappointment that people would resort to World War I-era methods, like renaming food, to further demonize a particular ethnicity (sauerkraut/"liberty cabbage"; French fries/"freedom fries").

But one thing in the book that wasn't in response to the Bush administration's policies was having people be tortured at Guantánamo. At the time, it didn't even occur to me that the United States would actually go ahead and adopt a policy of torture. It did, however occur to me that things like torture tend to happen places where no one is really in charge, and Guantánamo was a place where normal laws did not apply (and would really not apply if the U.S. lost interest in keeping a base there).

Where I saw a base of action for a fictional villain, George W. Bush saw opportunity.

Of course, by the time Trang came out, everyone knew that people were being tortured in Guantánamo, so now I look like I crib all my ideas from the nightly news.

More recently, I came up with an explanation of something in my book that is based on the Standard Model of physics. So of course, they promptly discover the Higgs boson! And it's splashed over every news site!

Ugh--there are going to be dozens, if not hundreds, of science-fiction novels that revolve around bosons released in the next few years, aren't there? It's going to be the new singularity.

Thanks a lot, real life!