Hi! I'm John Wilander. I write about struggles against powerful adversaries where hackers are the heroes.
I have a PhD in computer science and over ten years of industry experience in security and privacy engineering, currently in Silicon Valley, California.
Did you know that the oldest hack listed on Wikipedia is from 1903? It involves telegraphy and you can read the story in New Scientist. Makes you want to write about steampunk hackers.
Welcome to the world of hacker fiction!
My Introduction to Hacker Fiction
My personal love for computers and the mystery around hacking began with the movie WarGames and the movie’s hero “Lightman.” He is an example of an unintentional hacker – a person who out of curiosity starts to poke at computer systems and finds criminal plans afoot or triggers something dangerous. It made me feel like all kinds of adventures would await me as long as I mastered computers. I later saw the movie Sneakers which features professional hackers who break into systems for money which means they risk becoming agents of the wrong principal. Not long thereafter I saw the movie Hackers featuring a group of vigilante hackers – people who use hacking to fight oppression, lies, corruption, or government surveillance. Hackers can of course also be villains and in fiction they often hack broadcast networks to spread their doomsday message to the world.
About Hacker Fiction Net
Robberies, heists, espionage, and wars take place in cyberspace today. Law enforcement and national defense have to be in that dimension to do their jobs. The hacker — professional or vigilante, villain or hero — plays a key role in our society, and hacker fiction plays a key role in the fears and aspirations of our present, as well as in envisioning and forming our future. How long will it be until artificial intelligence gives us something akin to Precrime from Minority Report? The novella was published in 1956.
This website explores that space.
Hackers In Great Stories
Crime novels, war stories, and thrillers, can easily fit in those three hacker archetypes—unintentional, professional, and vigilate. The trick is to not make the computer part boring but still believable, like techno thrillers and hard science. We don’t see the years of training behind expert killers like John Wick or Lorraine Broughton in Atomic Blonde, so we don’t have to see hackers investigating a software bug for three weeks. Hacking can be an exciting part of fiction.
Reach Me On Email
Request an Interview
I’m happy to talk to you on your blog or podcast about my writing, what I read, movies I like, my background all the way from the 1980s home computing revolution to my PhD in computer science, and my thoughts on hacker fiction.
I avoid talking about my daytime job or the web standards work I do, simply because there’s no connection between those activities and my writing. Thanks for understanding that I want to keep those two careers apart.
I have a Mastodon account and a Twitter account where you can follow and chat with me.