In light of probably inevitable and considerable rewrites on Against Gravity, I found this on Wired, which might turn out useful for pumping up some of the future details on the military scenes - smarter soldiers, about wired-up uniforms that link the soldiers into a network of robot vehicles, constantly updated info and satellites. This would be particularly interesting in view of the military technology the hero of Against Gravity carries around inside him, which is meant to be a step up from this, towards the end of the 21st Century.
Also this, about the technology used in Gulf II: Rambo's Revenge - from this page in Wired.
"The prime example, he says, is a portal called the Warfighting Web. Launched just nine months ago, it lets military personnel access key data - battle plans, intelligence reports, maps, online chats, radio transcripts, photos, and video. Caddell sketches out a typical scenario: A Special Forces unit in northern Iraq attacks an Iraqi irregular unit. The firefight is recorded with digital video, which is uploaded to GCCS via secure satellite. JOC intelligence officers fire up the Warfighting Web, click through to "Latest Intelligence," watch the fight, write a summary, and post follow-up orders to the unit. The soldiers either download the orders directly or receive them by radio from the nearest Tactical Operations Center, the most forward command post on the network."
Not sure how accurate this is, it smells a bit of rant/polemic, but gives a scary idea of what the Russian Mafia are about. They aren't in Against Gravity, but they will be in Real World Kills.
Another link, to the BBC this time, about the Russian mafia, giving just the simple potted history I needed.
Another link, detailing the scale of their operations. And another, about the way it affects the media in Russia, the kind of thing that would make a nice detail in RWK. What about the idea of a cable-style channel devoted entirely to organised crime activities? Bet you it already exists ... "Crime is so much a part of life in today's Russia that the television channels carry special daily bulletins devoted to gangland killings, drug seizures and robberies, perhaps because the sheer volume of coverage would swamp the main news programmes. ...
... Broadcast twice a day, at 8am and just after midnight, the 15-minute programme 'Highway Patrol' trawls around Moscow with police units, filming corpses in pools of blood, drug stashes and fleeing prostitutes.
Reporters frequently interrogate suspects for the camera only hours after arrest. Captive interviewees reply to questions such as why they killed or how they became drugs couriers.
The programme sometimes completely crosses the bounds of decency, displaying, for instance, close-up footage of a suicide-by-hanging."
All good stuff.
Brilliant!! From that last link, a quote "One Russian gang tried to sell their new-found Colombian friends a Soviet-era submarine which would have enabled them to smuggle drugs into the United States easier." God, I have to use that somewhere.
"Embalming in Russia used to be the preserve of revolutionary leaders, but it has now become the must-have of the Mafia chieftains and wealthy new Russians who hold sway. " Which might make for a nice scene, if I want some Mafia types having a meeting over the embalmed corpse of one of their leaders.
Norrath, the setting for the online game Everquest, has been found to be the 77th richest country in the world, sandwiched between Russia and Bulgaria. This also towards the main drive of RWK.
From the same article on the BBC: "Many computer games designers predict that as computer processing powers improve virtual economies will play a bigger part in the real world stakes." Bloody hell. Maybe I'd better write RWK real quickly before it actually becomes true ...
Also towards RWK, this would make for a nice detail type of thing, except of course Playstations won't be around in the time RWK isset, or at least not in their current incarnation: "Scientists at the US National Center for Supercomputing Applications, (NCSA) have linked together 70 PlayStation 2s to find out how good they are at crunching numbers." Very good, apparently.
I've been wondering when someone would get around to doing this: "a multimedia, digital record of everywhere you go and everything you see, hear, read, say and touch ... known as LifeLog, a project by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, the agency that helped build the internet ... a tool to capture "one person's experience in and interactions with the world" through a camera, microphone and sensors worn by the user. Everything from heartbeats to travel to internet chatting would be recorded."
Now, the article suggests the obvious Big Brother applications: bad news for people living in a dictatorship, yes, but a golden opportunity for a future generation of reality tv programmers. Also has real potential for creating genuine art, depending on who's hooked up. Also consider the espionage potential of such technology, if you could find a way to hide it on a person without their becoming aware of it. Definitely has potential for RWK.
Now this is the kind of info I need for RWK: "There are five covert ways to acquire the fissile material for a nuclear weapon, two involving highly enriched uranium (HEU), two that use plutonium and one that could use either ... one can buy a research reactor and then divert its highly enriched fuel. When the Israelis bombed Osiraq, they missed 12 kilograms (about 27 pounds) of its fuel, which is enough to make a single weapon ... according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which inspects this suitcase-sized material twice a year, it could actually be readied for weapons use in one to three weeks (assuming the rest of the bomb is ready)."