Author Tags: Fiction, War

Born in Toowoomba, Australia in 1941, Ian Slater worked for the Australian navy and for Australian intelligence before becoming a technician for oceanography studies in the Pacific. With a doctorate in political science he has published an acclaimed study of George Orwell, Orwell: The Road to Airstrip One (1985), and he has edited Pacific Affairs at the University of British Columbia, where he has also taught. His string of more than 20 prophetic novels about ecological and technological disasters, and military upheavals, began with Firespill (1977), which foresaw an oil tanker disaster on the west coast, followed by Sea Gold (1979), Air Glow Red (1981), Storm (1988), Deep Chill (1989), Forbidden Zone (1990) and Pilgrimage (1996). His political thriller MacArthur Must Die (1994) explores Korean politics.

Slater has also written a series predicting possible sources for World War III. The titles include WWW III (1990), WW III Rage of Battle (1990), WW III World of Flames (1991), WW III Arctic Front (1992), WW III Warshot (1992), Asian Front (1993), WW III Force of Arms (1994), WW III South China Sea (1996), WWW III Choke Point (2004) and WW III Payback (2005). Another series concerns possible scenarios for civil war in the United States. These titles include Showdown (1997), Battle Front (1998), Manhunt (1999), Force Ten (2000) and Knockout (Ballantine, 2001).

[LITHIS / BCBW 2005] "Fiction" "War"

Manhunt (Ballantine $9.99)

Under an iron fist, the militia movement in the U.S. has mushroomed in Ian Slater’s Manhunt (Ballantine $9.99). Provoked by a hostage crisis, in response the Feds have unleashed the Patton reincarnate: General Douglas Freeman. A new generation of automated weapons has been brought to the field, the skies split by artillery and the desert nights lit up by infrared. With Americans facing off against Americans, the fight for the USA has reached a turning point. Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, a new enemy prepares to tip the scales of battle—with the ultimate killing tool. Manhunt is the latest in the WWIII series by Ian Slater, author of Showdown and Battle Front. Formerly editor of Pacific Affairs, he balances military jargon with plausible, doomsday scenarios. Wake up and smell the future. 0-449-15046-1


Showdown: USA vs. Militia (Ballantine $6.99)

from [BCBW 1997]
Timothy McVeigh was not alone. The proliferation of radical, well-equipped right wing militias, particularly in the northwestern states, could lead to America's second Civil War according to futurist Ian Slater in Showdown: USA vs. Militia (Ballantine $6.99). With an explosive movie-like plot, he predicts that anti-government radicals will make the states of Washington, Montana, Oregon and Idaho into the American equivalent of Chechnia.

Orwell: The Road to Airstrip One
Press Release (2003)

"It is doubtful that any book provides a better foundation for a full
understanding of Orwell's unique and troubling vision."
- The Washington Post

"The best introduction I know of to the life and ideas of George Orwell,
[written] with insight, intelligence, and imagination."
- Peter Stansky, Stanford University

"Penetrating and illuminating - one of the few treatments of Orwell which is
at once completely informed and freshly intelligent."
- Robert Conquest, Hoover Institution


(Vancouver) - During the centenary of George Orwell's birth (b. 1903),
author Ian Slater is once again celebrated for his definitive biography of
the man who coined the terms "cold war," and "big brother." In its time,
"Orwell: The Road To Airstrip One" (McGill-Queen's University Press), was
heralded by critics as an "insightful" and "intelligent," capturing the
essence of a essayist and journalist better known outside of the United
Kingdom for his novels.

A quarter century ago, McLean's magazine pronounced Ian Slater's novel,
"Firespill," "the right book at the right time in the right place." The
same could now be said of the revised edition of Slater's "Orwell: The Road
to Airstrip One." The first edition garnered fullsome praise for its unusual
thematic approach in which Slater, a prolific novelist as well as an
academic, examines Orwell's self-criticism and the hidden and corrosive
dangers of state-and self-imposed censorship in a security-obsessed world.

Accolades for the book poured in from the Washington Post to the Times
Literary Supplement's "Perhaps it is because Ian Slater is a Canadian,
removed from what he is writing about by a continent.that he looks at
familiar material so freshly.with such zestful springiness that he often
sees things newly." In the American South, which Slater reveals Orwell
wanted to visit and write about, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution lauded
the book's "tight sense of development," arguing that Slater's experience as
a novelist is "a unique, and I think critical, bonus because it puts him in
a position to understand the creative writer's struggle and because he knows
how to make his book a fluid pleasure to read. In his disdain for convoluted
academic writing, Slater has written a book that is accessible and will have
broad appeal."

What makes Slater's book stand out from a plethora of other biographies is
how he makes a lively and convincing case that Orwell's "Nineteen
Eighty-Four" is as much a warning about a totalitarian state of mind as an
actual political state. As "The War On Terrorism" continues and governments
demand ever-increasing power over the individual in order to combat
terrorism, Slater's book clearly explains the insidious processes by which
we as individuals harbour the totalitarian mind during times of personal and
collective crises - how "he who fights monsters should be careful lest he
thereby become a monster." (Nietzsche).

Perhaps more than any other book on Orwell, "Orwell: The Road to Airstrip
One" is the book for our times, for as the Globe and Mail declared, "Slater
has provided a succinct yet thorough guide to the work of this dour and
incorruptible man. He has done his homework; he knows the canon and the
secondary material about Orwell inside out." In Slater's revised version,
his new preface contains a true story that Slater was part of and which is
at once so moving about the power of one good, brave man and the power of
literature to change events that it alone is worth the price of the book.

Orwell: The Road to Airstrip One (McGill-Queen’s)

Ian Slater’s Orwell: The Road to Airstrip One (McGill-Queen’s) has been reissued during Orwell’s centenary—and offers George Orwell’s inadvertent update of the Buddhist aphorism. ‘You become what you oppose.’ The author of Animal Farm and 1984 once wrote, “He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster.”

[BCBW Winter 2003]

Orwell: The Road to Airstrip One

In this age of Piffle vs. Horror, Eric Blair, aka George Orwell, remains a beacon for sanity. Ian Slater’s revised Orwell: The Road to Airstrip One (McGill-Queen’s $29.95) bristles with penetrating illuminations about Orwell and politics. “I have tried to show not only why Orwell matters now,” says Slater, “but why he will always matter.” In his diary Orwell wrote about working at the BBC for six months, imbibing the culture of lying. “Its atmosphere is something halfway between a girls’ school and a lunatic asylum… Nevertheless one rapidly becomes propaganda-minded and develops a cunning one did not previously have. “For example, I am regularly alleging in all my newsletters [broadcasts to India] that the Japanese are plotting to attack Russia. I don’t believe this to be so, but the calculation is: If the Japanese are plotting to attack Russia, we can say, ‘I told you so.’ “If the Russians attack first, we can, having built up the picture of a Japanese plot beforehand, pretend that it was the Japanese who started it. If no war breaks out after all, we can claim that it is because the Japanese are too frightened of Russia.” In tracing Orwell’s increasing political consciousness, Slater, a prolific novelist and past editor of Pacific Affairs at UBC, suggests Orwell clearly surrendered to what he later called the ‘dangerous proposition… that intellectual honesty is a form of antisocial selfishness.’ Slater continues: “The most dangerous implication of the proposition is that although most people may readily agree to short-term tactical lying in time of war, if the war (or war preparation) becomes permanent…then the short-term becomes the long-term. “Lying becomes the norm, and one cannot, even by an act of will, confine it just to military matters. Lying becomes a habit in all areas of life, especially in a totalitarian state in which control of the past by deception is deemed essential to protecting the myth of infallibility.” Read in the context of Iraqnophobia, Orwell: The Road to Airstrip One allows for some very disturbing comparisons to be made between the Big Brother society of the Soviet Union and the Big Brother society of America today. After the United Nations’ inspectors never found any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Colin Powell assured the United Nations, and the world, the U.S. had its own evidence that such weapons existed. We have since learned that no such evidence existed and the White House administration of George Bush II laid their plans to attack Iraq prior to 9/11. But the pretence of infallibility remains. 0-7735-2622-6

[BCBW Summer 2004]

WWIII: Choke Point (Ballantine/Random House $10)

from BCBW Summer 2004
Ian Slater’s latest thriller, WWIII: Choke Point (Ballantine/Random House $10), prophesizes a terrorist attack on the Canadian and U.S. Maritimes. “A Greyhound bus can cross Canada faster than one of our Sea King helicopters!” warns a political scientist. “If you can’t get the Pooh-Bahs moving, the next best thing is to alert the man and woman in the street.” A former Australian Joint Intelligence Bureau defense officer living in Vancouver, Slater has penned more than 20 military thrillers. 0-345-45377-8

Response to Ian Slater

I am a decorated U.S. war veteran, who, after volunteering for the army in 1942, fought in Europe as a member of the 12 63'd U.S. Engineer Combat Battalion. I wish to respond to Ian Slater's "Get a Grip" [Winter BCBW] in Lookout.

Ian Slater places people in pigeonholes based on their attitudes to the so-called war on terrorism." He describes glowingly the "generation who fought and died or our freedom" and he castigates the "intellectually lazy crowd" who "blame everything on the U.S." I have squirmed into both holes and I am not alone in performing such a feat.

Those of us whom he regards as "intellectually lazy" do not blame everything on America: What we are saying is that the U.S., as the world's sole superpower, must bear most-but not all-of the responsibility for the world's problems.

The U.S. government believes, and I agree, that Osama bin Laden is the one who is ultimately responsible for the terrorist attacks of September 11th. The real question is whether these attacks are sufficient reason to justify the U.S. bombing and killing of thousands of innocent Afghan civilians. Could not the United States lave found ways to capture bin Laden, without going to war? How is it that the CIA, despite its vast resources, has been unable to do what Israel did in apprehending Eichmann in Argentina and France did in arresting Carlos the Jackal in the Sudan?

Dr. Slater attributes the failure of the CIA to neglect of "human intelligence" under the stewardship of Stansfield Turner. This explanation is far too simplistic. Does not Dr. Slater know that the CIA had a close relationship for many years with Mr. bin Laden, whom he describes as "vermin"? Certainly any intellectually alert person would ask why would the CIA deal with such "vermin" in the first place? And does he know that the CIA had contact with bin Laden as late as July 2001?

In an article in The Guardian (London, November 1, 2001) Anthony Sampson, a respected author of several books on the oil and arms trade, reports that "two months before September 11 Osama bin Laden flew to Dubai for 10 days for treatment at the American hospital, where he was visited by the local CIA agent." Sampson's source of information was the conservative French newspaper, Le Figaro, which has close contact with French intelligence. According to Sampson:

Bin Laden is reported to have arrived in Dubai on July 4 from Quetta in Pakistan with his own personal doctor, nurse and four bodyguards, to be treated in the urology department. While there, he was visited by several members of his family and Saudi personalities, and
the CIA. The CIA chief [in Dubai] was seen in the lift, on his way to see bin Laden, and later, it is alleged, boasted to friends about his contact. Sampson's story, if true, raises questions about the willingness of the U.S. to capture bin Laden. So does a recent book, Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth, coauthored by Jean Charles Brisard, a French security expert and Guillaume Dasquie, a journalist. The book claims that John P. O'Neill, former director of anti-terrorism for the FBI's New York office, "complained bitterly last summer that the United States was unwilling to confront Saudi Arabia over Osama bin Laden and that oil ruled American foreign policy." He had been leading the FBI's investigation into the bombing of the destroyer Cole in Yemen in October 2000, but he had been barred in July from returning to Yemen by the U.S. ambassador there who accused him of harming relations between the U.S. and Yemen. Frustrated by this lack of cooperation, he left the FBI in August last year to become chief of security of the World Trade Center. He was killed in the Sept. 11 attack.

Another indication of the unwillingness to go after bin Laden was the decision by the United States to agree to the request of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington, to evacuate 24 members of Osama bin Laden's family, who were living in the U.S. They were driven or flown under FBI supervision to a secret assembly point in Texas and then to Washington from where they left the country on a private charter plane when airports reopened three days after the attacks. Why were not these people, some of whom may have had direct connections with Osama, detained and questioned, while at the same time the government was rounding up and detaining without any charge several thousand people from the Middle East, whose connections to bin Laden are unproven.

James Woosley, former director of the CIA, told the BBC late last year that the United States is not interested in finding bin Laden. He added that all the U.S. is interested in is "changing governments" in Afghanistan and other countries. And on Feb. 4, this year, the New York Times reported that in "a recent televised interview the president [Bush] said: 'Osama bin Laden is not my focus. My focus is terror at large.' If the U.S. captures bin Laden, they will have to put him on trial. Such a trial could arouse passions in the Muslim world. In addition, bin Laden may bring to light some interesting revelations about relationships between his family and that of former president Bush. The elder Bush is one of the chief representatives of the Carlyle Group, a $12 billion (US) equity fund, which invests heavily in military industries. Until very recently, the Carlyle Group had links to the bin Laden family. The Carlyle group has reaped large profits from the military procurement orders given by the U.S. government to companies in which it had investments. As an heir to his father's fortune, the president himself may have also benefited and may be subject to conflict of interest charges. It would not be in his interest to air this dirty linen. The alternative to putting bin Laden on trial is, using the mobster language of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Dr. Slater, to "kill him." But that would make him a martyr, something the U.S. would not want to happen.

Finally, bin Laden's capture would put strong international pressure on the U.S. to end the war. But the U.S. wants a permanent state of war in order to impose a Pax Americana on an unwilling world. Such a policy may ultimately bring about a nuclear disaster. This is what concerns "lazy intellectuals" like me.

Edward H. Shaffer, Vancouver

[BCBW Spring 2002]

Payback (Ballantine 2005)
Publicity Material

Old soldiers never die. They just come back for more.

Three terrorist missiles have struck three jetliners filled with innocent people. America knows this shock all too well. But unlike 9/11, the nation is already on a war footing. The White House and Pentagon are primed. All they need now is a target and someone bold–and expendable–enough to strike it.

That someone is retired Gen. Douglas Freeman, the infamous warrior who has proved his courage, made his enemies, and built his legend from body-strewn battlegrounds to the snake pits of Washington. Using a team of “retired” Special Forces operatives and a top-secret, still-unproven stealth attack craft, Freeman sets off to obliterate the source of the missiles, a weapons stockpile in North Korea. Some desktop warriors expect Freeman to fail–especially when an unexpected foe meets his team on the Sea of Japan. But Freeman won’t turn back even as his plan explodes in his face and the Pacific Rim roils over–because this old soldier can taste his ultimate reward. . . .

-- publicity release