Saturday, 6 May 2017

Spying/Scouting Skills And Surveillance Systems

See Spying.

How does a spy or scout move through a territory unobserved by anyone else while successfully observing and reporting back on all human movements in that area? Presumably Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry possesses such skills to be used if he is down on a planetary surface without any access to high tech surveillance equipment? No doubt Anderson's canon includes accounts of scouts? The Time Patrol deploys minute spying gadgets: self-directing, full-sensory-input-collecting recorders operating on the molecular level.

When SM Stirling's Rudi Mackenzie recommends his twin half-sisters as scouts, he demonstrates their skills and surprises his colleague by suddenly asking the sisters to emerge from their nearby unlikely hiding places. When an SAS type in a Frederick Forsyth novel suspected that a dead letter drop had been compromised, he hid and watched it, all senses alert, for eight hours, a day's work. Only then was he certain that enemy troops were not also watching the drop from concealment. But how could he always be sure of finding, in any terrain, somewhere to conceal himself while retaining his ability to observe his total surroundings? It beats me.

13 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I can think of several examples from Anderson's works of Dominic Flandry scouting, spying, disguising himself, etc. In A CIRCUS OF HELLS his assigned task was to use an interstellar scout boat to sweep thru an assigned part of the frontier near Irumclaw for signs of suspicious activity. In THE PLAGUE OF MASTERS, Flandry disguised himself as a professional teller of tales as part of the Spanish Prisoner scam he pulled on Sumu the Fat. So Flandry was capable of using both high and low tech for his spying.

    As for your last comment, I agree it is not likely to always be possible for even the most wary and skilled intelligence to always find a place where he could observe his surroundings. But a real spy could probably surprise both of us by demonstrating seemingly implausible ways of concealing himself.

    Seam

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  2. Paul:
    I read a comic in which the main character, a cat burglar, rendezvoused with a British agent on a mountain. She didn't trust the agent, so she arrived at the meeting place the night before and scouted it to make sure he didn't have any kind of treachery set up. After she mentioned that, his SAS backups who'd been hiding there since TWO nights before stood up with leveled rifles.

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    Replies
    1. Kaor, DAVID!

      Ha, ha!!! Amusing! And I'm sure truly professional and THOROUGH UK/US intelligence/Special Forces agents do precisely that.

      Sean

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    2. Paul:
      "Maggie the Cat," a character created by Mike Grell in his *John Sable, Freelance* series. When she wasn't being a burglar, she was Lady Margaret Graemalcyn — Cuban/English by birth, married into the title and so-appropriate family name, widowed.

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    3. Davd,
      Not Catwoman but conceptually close. Loved Grell's GREEN ARROW.
      Paul.

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    4. Paul:
      Mmmm, yes, *The Longbow Hunters*. Oliver Queen replaces the trick arrows with simple broadheads, and puts one into a wall between a punk's legs — just below the 'family jewels.' "Stay ... or the next one will be an inch higher!"

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    5. Kaor, DAVID!

      But why would a presumably well of woman like Lady Graemalcyn WANT to be a burglar? For the thrill of it?

      Sean

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    6. Sean:
      I mentioned she was widowed. What I didn't spell out was that her husband, killed in a car crash, "died destitute because he squandered his money on fast cars ... and expensive jewels for tramps..." (Her words, from the comic that introduced her. Yeah, hubby was cheating on her — no accounting for taste.)

      So — no, she wasn't well off, although she put up a good front on social occasions. If I recall correctly without digging that comic out of storage, when the British agent got in touch to recruit her for a mission, she'd finally finished paying off all the inherited debts.

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    7. Excellent Grell characterization.

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    8. Paul:
      Imagine what might have been if Mike Grell had worked with PA to adapt Flandry, van Rijn, or Time Patrol stories to graphic novel format....

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    9. Kaor, DAVID!

      Even allowing for Lady Margaret's late husband being an irresponsible wastrel, I can't say I would approve of her robbing other persons. However humiliating, going thru a court managed bankruptcy would have been better.

      Hmmm, I like idea of a really good graphics artist/writer working with PA to adapt the Flandry, van Rijn, or Time Patrol stories in graphic novel format.

      I do have the illustrated Ace Books edition of A STONE IN HEAVEN. The book is so profusely illustrated that it comes close to being a graphic novel.

      Sean

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