One of my favorite aspects of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts are Snoopy’s attempts at novel-writing and his classic opening sentence:
It was a dark and stormy night…
This was, of course, immediately followed by some comically ingenious sentence which made it immediately obvious that Snoopy, although quite creative (and talented! how many dogs do you know who can use a typewriter?) would probably never realize his dream of being a published beagle.
Well, Snoopy, you shouldn’t give up, because bizarre story settings actually do get published! Popular mystery author Michael Connelly not only convinced a publisher that he could write a mystery novel set in a data center (about a killer who actually works in a data center), but convinced enough people to read it that it’s now ranked #3 on the New York Times’ Best Seller list (at least as of June 18th, 2009).
Cloud Computing/Data Center blog Data Center Knowledge has an interesting interview with Connelly on his use of some of the most mysterious and unusual settings to ever grace a novel:
Data Center Knowedge: What led you to choose a colocation center as the workplace for Wesley Carver?
Michael Connelly: [My researcher] sent me a link to a video tour of a colocation center. I was impressed by all the security and hardware, how the center was located underground and how it was protected from forces of nature as well as electronic intrusion. It was a fortress and these sort of things always interest me because it always comes down to people, who you have inside the fortress is the most important thing.
Interestingly enough (although I haven’t read it yet), the novel relies on a few real-life technical features in many data centers including cutting edge fire suppression systems, VESDA smoke detection systems, and man traps. Very impressive, considering how few people know what goes on in data centers (which is a shame as data centers are a driving force in the web/computing space, and are massive contributors to jobs in under-developed areas and local energy concerns).
To the uninitiated who don’t realize how bizarre and amazing data centers can be, check out this video of a data center in Stockholm built in what looks like a supervillain’s fortified hideout. As it was built in the Cold War, it is even said to be able to withstand a direct nuclear assault!
Now, can we make the next James Bond movie in a Google data center?