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Stephen W. Potts

Five Books About Surviving Surveillance

Having grown up during the Cold War, I was introduced in high school to all the classic twentieth century dystopian novels (Brave New World, 1984, Fahrenheit 451). We were taught that the surveillance state was the norm of our totalitarian enemies, or a threat to our own future if we let down our guard. Coming of age during the rebellious Sixties and entering college at the explosive end of the decade, I became politically engaged and concerned about the many ways that we all face manipulation, surveillance, and control—whether by governmental agencies (the bugaboos of the time were the FBI and CIA) or through advertising, political propaganda, and mass media. I have been a science fiction fan for as long as I could read, and at the dawn of the computer era, when the room-filling mainframe predominated, the genre worried about HAL and Colossus, machines that sleeplessly watched and gathered power over us. One of my favorite movies of the late Sixties was The President’s Analyst, a satirical spy thriller in which the universal watchman (spoiler) is the phone company.

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Series: Five Books About…