Military Black Ops in Sci-fi and Horror by Toby Tate


Written by Toby Tate

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m former military, or a leftover from my childhood desire to be a spy, but most of my favorite books are thrillers that involve some kind of secret government agency. James Rollins has the Sigma Force, Clive Cussler has NUMA (okay, it’s not a government agency, but it does actually exist, which makes it even cooler), Jonathan Maberry has the Department of Military Services (DMS), Tom Clancy had the CIA and on and on.

I’m not sure how far back this trend goes, but I have read sci-fi books from the 1950s that featured Men in Black doing their best to silence UFO witnesses. The very idea of secret government entities seems to induce visions of strangers dragging family members away in the night, never to be seen again.

I love to use the CIA in my own stories, mainly because everyone has heard of the CIA and know they exist. But most people don’t really know what they do. That gives me a lot of leeway, because I can make my characters do things that most people wouldn’t be able to do, like say, assassinate someone and not only get away with it, but get paid for it. Nobody is going to read that and say, “Hey, they wouldn’t do that!” Because members of the CIA can neither confirm nor deny the reality of such actions.

Sure, there are a lot of books out there about the CIA, and I’ve probably read them all, but former CIA members are pretty hard to get information from. I’ve tried. I don’t know if they thought I was there from the agency to check up on them or what, but they are definitely a paranoid bunch. And then there are the black helicopters that fly over my house, but that’s a different blog post.

Getting info on weapons is fairly easy. They don’t mind talking about that. The web is full of details on every weapon imaginable, which is actually rather alarming. But specifics about operations are another thing.

For my novel LILITH, I used the CIA as well as a sub-group of the CIA called the Special Operations Group, or SOG, which is part of the Special Activities Division or―you guessed it―SAD. The SOG does clandestine military operations, everything from collecting intelligence in hostile countries to toppling regimes. These are the people we all have nightmares about, the ones with the black helicopters. The government recruits these guys from the Navy SEALs, Delta Force, the Green Berets, all the most elite military units. Luckily, they’re not allowed (supposedly) to operate in the U.S. I used the same group (SOG) for my upcoming book, PRIMORDIAL, part 2 of the Lilitu Trilogy.

For part 3, THE CAIN PROPHECY, I’m using a group of civilian contractors, which are pretty much the civilian versions of the SOG. These guys are all former military and all badasses, with the latest in high-tech weaponry and tactics. In a nutshell, my stories pit ancient mythology against modern technology, and what could be more fun than that?

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