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When was the Golden Age of Science Fiction? The late 1930s
to the 1950s, when science fiction became widely popular and
many classic science fiction stories were published. The joke
answer is that the Golden age of Science Fiction is 14, the
age when many readers first become science fiction fans. I
know I read my first scifi when I was 13 or 14 so maybe they
Lately scifi fandom, in which I include not just the fans
but writers, podcasters and publishers, want to catch the
next generation of fans and have been pushing Young Adult
Science Fiction, scifi for kids in their teens and maybe early
twenties. Im not immune to this campaign so Ive
been reading some of it myself. First, I got Scott Westerfelds
trilogy. It was light but okay. Then I got Twilight,
the first of Meyer's books about a clumsy girl and the vampire
who loves her.
My first impression of the book was that it was BIG.
It was a thick book. Once I opened it I realized it was big
inside. Big font. Big line spacing. It reminded me that what
publishers are basically selling is a paper product. The more
paper they sell, the thicker the book, the more they can charge.
The actual arrangement of ink on the page is usually the cheapest
part of their product. Twilight
is a big book. It might be classified as Young Adult
Speculative Fiction but it was great as Old People
Going Blind Fiction as well. As an old person going blind
I found the font and the line spacing made it a lot easier
for me to read than the tiny fonts in real books. I didnt
have to put on my special adjustable glasses and put it down
a lot because my eyes were freaking. BIG FONTS. It was easy
It was a little slow to start. I didnt really find
the girl, Bella, interesting. She seemed rather ordinary.
Theres a vagueness to her that reminds me of superhero
comic books. They leave the faces of the superheroes sketchy
so the reader can imagine themselves in that role. In the
same way Bella is vague so the reader can imagine herself
as Bella. Its not even clear if Bella is particularly
pretty (except to Edward) but when the vampires appear, going
to high school to give themselves a paper trail and a backstory
that will allow them to live among humans, there are pages
devoted to their beauty. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful vampires.
Beautiful and irresistible so their prey cannot resist them.
But this family of vampires is vegetarian. They dont
eat people but Bellas vampire Edward can barely restrain
himself from taking her. The descriptions of the teen vampires
are very much how girls, how I, viewed many boys when I was
that age. They did seem just as beautiful to me as Edward
seems to Bella. I used to sit in class and covertly watch
them. Edwards hard flesh mirrors the hardness of young
male flesh as hormones turn teenaged boys, almost overnight,
into something different, something alien. I hit my teenaged
brother a couple of times (he deserved it) and it was like
hitting a log. I hurt my hands more than I hurt him. And teenaged
boys, beautiful as many are, are often monsters. So the entire
metaphor of vampire = teenaged boy = monster = object-of-desire
Like Shakespeare has multiple layers and can be read for
the plots, for the characterizations, for the sex and violence,
for the dirty jokes, for the philosophy, for the language,
as simple as it is, has several layers. Meyer doesnt
have, say, Tanith
Lees genius for the English language but
the entire Bella/Edward relationship is a metaphor for the
relationship between teenaged girls and boys as they fight
their instinct to have sex, sex that might destroy them. Maybe
its not like that today with birth control and abortion
but when I grew up the struggle between guys and girls was
to not have sex. The girl was supposed to be in charge of
that but the better guys shared the responsibility, fought
against their desire to have sex and maybe ruin the life of
the girl who gave in. In the same way Edward fights against
giving into his instincts and taking Bella, consuming her.
As much as he is driven he fights against his desire. He also
fights against her desire to become like him, to become a
vampire, to let him lead her into damnation. He believes that
he lost his soul when he was transformed and he doesnt
want to be the weapon that deprives Bella of her own soul.
The whole thing is a metaphor for sex, at least sex as seen
by a Mormon housewife, which was what Meyer was 5 years ago.
Meyer has linked various works to each book in the series.
and Prejudice to Twilight.
and Juliet to New
Heights to Eclipse.
Midsummer Night's Dream to Breaking
Dawn. This adds another layer to each of the
stories. In Twilight
Edward, at first, seems cold and withdrawn, like Mr. Darcy,
but that is because, like Mr. Darcy, he is trying to control
and conceal his growing desire for an unsuitable girl. I'm
gonna pass over New
Moon because I
think telling the Romeo and Juliet elements in it would be
too spoilery. In Eclipse,
there are two guys in love with the same girl, in a relationship
very much like Cathy, Heathcliff, and Edgar Linton in Wuthering
Heights. And in the final book, Breaking
Dawn, first you have two men magically in love
with the same girl then two immortal families struggling over
a magical child like in A
Midsummer Night's Dream. All of the connections
are pretty weak but it adds a nice additional layer to the
books and that lets you run the similarities and differences
over in your mind.
The Twilight Saga, like Austens novels, the
Bronte sisters works and even Romeo
and Juliet, are pretty much girl books, the
text version of chick flicks. Meyer is writing about love
and romance at its most melodramatic extreme. I dont
know that a male could tolerate them. Well, unless he got
off on the idea of being the superhero protecting an accident-prone,
trouble-magnet girlfriend or secretly hanging out in her bedroom,
watching her as she sleeps.(Edward takes stalking to a whole
other level.) Like Austens novels, the Twilight
novels, especially the first one, have a strong Cinderella
element. Most of Austens heroines are ordinary girls,
usually without much money, who get the best, richest, most
good-looking guy in the novel. Like Cinderella they get the
prince. Just so Twilight
is the story of how Bella, the ordinary girl, gets the superhero
So there are at least three layers to the Twilight Saga.
That makes the series better and gives the reader an additional
layer despite how preposterous the story is.
Of course, I loved all four books, though I am kinda disgusted
with myself for it. Teenaged love, the vampire and the virgin.
God, how ridiculous is that? Yet as soon as I finish one of
Meyer's books I start rereading the parts I like best then
reread the whole thing. After six days Im almost through
my third reading of Breaking
Dawn. I dont know why her books ring
my bells. They make me feel kinda manipulated but still I
find them addictive.
This summer Meyer also released the scifi book Host
which I recommend. It is pretty straight forward scifi about
an alien parasite living in the brain of a human and being
changed by it. The parasite finds herself loving the people
that her host loved and driven to be with them. In a sense
it's a rewrite of I Married a Monster From Outer Space
but without the sex. No sex before marriage in books by Mormon
housewives! Ive already read it three times too. I try
to blame that on the nice big font!
Well, at least its over. It will be a while before
Meyer can get another book out and until then I can pretend
I have better taste than this. Though Im not embarrassed
about liking Host.
That one was okay.
© Alllie 2008
Distribution: This article is copyrighted by Alllie, but
permission is granted for reprint in print, email, or web
media so long as this link is attached, http://newsgarden.org/chatters/homepages/alllie/alllieblog/
Furies by Richard
Spoiler Warning: I discuss most of the important plot
points so stop now if you want to be surprised.
In his third Takeshi Kovacs novel, Richard K. Morgan brings
Kovacs back to his home planet, Harlan's world, a world ruled
by an hereditary plutocracy. Centuries before this plutocracy
was almost deposed in a revolution led by a woman calling
herself Quellcrist Fallconer. After Quell's death they granted
many concessions in order to quell that revolution. Our own
plutocracy did something similar with the New Deal and Great
Society programs, programs used to placate the American public
and forestall a communist revolution. No longer afraid of
such a revolution the plutocracy sees no reason they should
allow those programs to continue. So too the first families
of Harlan's world are taking it all back, driving the population
into greater and greater poverty, just as Quell warned. (This
enemy you cannot kill. You can only drive it back damaged
to the depths and teach your children to watch the waves for
Kovacs lives in a universe where an individual's personality
and experiences are continually downloaded into a "stack"
which is sort of a hard drive implanted at birth . When a
person in this universe dies his stack can be removed, implanted
into a new sleeve (body) and then he/she will live again.
Kovacs is a former "envoy" turned criminal, criminal
being one of the few careers open to an ex-envoy. While making
an illegal living Kovacs is also on a quest for personal vengeance
against the religious sect that tortured his ex-girlfriend
to death and dropped her and her daughter's stacks into the
ocean so that neither could be resurrected.
In all the Takeshi Kovacs novels the subtext is revolution,
at least for me, and the principal character is writer/poet/revolutionary
Quellcrist Falconer. Her words are peppered through each book
even though she never appears, not until Woken
Escaping from a sticky situation embeds Kovacs with a group
of mercenary soldiers cleaning up self-evolving machines left
over from Quell's revolution centuries before. The command
hardware implanted in the brain of one of these soldiers seems
to have been contaminated with a different personality and
this personality seems to be Quell's. At least maybe.
When I finished Woken
Furies I found myself dissatisfied. Like all
of Morgan's books it's a good read. The universe and characters
he describes are well developed and interesting. His portraits
of the physical environment are amazing but in the end it
was like expecting a meal of heart-killing fried chicken and
then getting some low-fat gourmet chicken breast. Good but
not what I had a taste for.
I wanted Quellcrist Falconer. That was what I had a taste
for. From the previous Kovacs books, I had developed certain
ideas about Quell. I thought she would be like the whirlwind,
sweeping everything from her path. I expected her to be like
Lady Dewinter in The
Three Musketeers, except political. Remember
when they changed De Winter's guards merely because she'd
spoken to them and thus might have persuaded them to help
her. I expected Quell to be like that. A force of nature.
Castro a la Rospierre. But this Quell could not even convince
Kovacs of the rightness of her cause and Kovacs wanted to
be convinced, wanted to believe.
In the end I decided this resurrected Quell was only a sketch
of Quell, not the real thing, not the full personality.
I did like Morgan's idea of a revolutionary force that blends
back into the population to live their lives, then, when the
conditions are right, ripe, when revolution is possible, like
the plant Quellcrist, they emerge and grow within weeks.
I was also disappointed at the ending. We were given a Quell
who could win a revolution not because the people supported
it but because she had gotten control of the lethal orbital
defense systems left by a previous alien race. Sort of Deus
ex machine. Not a revolution. A coup. Revolutions grow from
the people. Coups are forced on them. This revolution, if
it succeeded, would have been a technological success, not
a human one.
That is what I thought the first time I read Woken
Then I thought about it off and on for a year. Then I read
it again. This time I decided the book wasn't about Quellcrist
Fallconer even though I wanted it to be. I wanted it to be
about Quellcrist telling us how to wage a successful revolution
against a hereditary plutocracy. But just because I wanted
it to be about that didn't mean it was. Woken
Furies doesn't tell us that secret except in
the sense of the Quellcrist weed, that a revolutionary must
blend into the population but, when conditions are right,
emerge and fight again.
Perhaps Quell wasn't the whirlwind. Maybe no successful revolutionary
is. In Peter A. DeCaro's Rhetoric
of Revolt: Ho Chi Minh's Discourse for Revolution,
Ho seems a gentle man who worked for his country's freedom
for decades, for his whole life. Like Tom Paine, the person
who made the American Revolution, Ho was primarily a poet
and writer trying to inspire his countrymen to support the
struggle for freedom. He also seemed to be a man who impressed
everyone with his goodness, sort of like Nelson Mandela. So
the Vietnamese revolution, when it came in 1945, was successful
with barely a shot fired. Then, like the American Revolution,
there was a fight for independence, but the revolution part,
that was all but nonviolent. Maybe Quell was supposed to be
like that. Maybe her iconic status was due not to the force
of her personality but the result of a lifetime of work. That
Furies is not about Quell. Not even about Revolution.
Furies is really about is Kovacs and about
his having been an Envoy. Envoys are what John Perkins called
"jackals" in his book, Confessions
of an Economic Hitman. When progressive movements
arise, when leaders try to work for their people, when they
won't be bribed or blackmailed, when they will not allow the
global plutocracy to rape their country, the jackals are sent
in. Jackals are covert ops/CIA/intelligence operatives, sent
in to assassinate, to organize riots, coups, civil wars, to
stop progressive movements, progressive revolutions, to stop
anything that would take power and wealth from the local and
global plutocracy. The plutocracy uses envoys to pummel the
population into submission so the greedy can take their resource
wealth and exploit their labor. That was what Kovacs did when
he was an "envoy."
Now I understand why I was dissatisfied the first time I
Furies. I wanted something from it, something
Richard Morgan didn't or couldn't provide: The secret of how
to make a successful revolution against a cruel, exploitive,
entrenched plutocracy. That is what Quell did. Or nearly did.
How did she motivate people to support a struggle to end their
own subjugation? Apparently Morgan doesn't know the answer
to that question. Or doesn't say.
But that was my fault because in the end Woken
Furies isn't about Quell or revolution. It's
about Takeshi Kovacs, the ex-Envoy/covert-ops/jackal trying
to get justice even if he has to make it himself, make
This brings me to a hope, a fantasy, that some of America's
jackals, the people who really know what is going on, what
orders the plutocracy gives, that one or more of these people
might become disgusted with what they have done, been ordered
to do, and begin to fight against their masters, might testify
before Congress or work more covertly against the plutocracy.
Is that possible?
We live in hope. Or make it ourselves.
Quotes from Woken
"Everything the Quellists squeezed out of the original
Harlan regime, those guys have been chipping away at ever
since it happened." [like the GOP is chipping away
at the New Deal and Great Society programs.]
This enemy you cannot kill. You can only drive it back
damaged to the depths and teach your children to watch the
waves for its return. [Quell's warning about the return
of the predatory plutocracy]
The Occasional Revolution, in which she argues that
modern revolutionaries must when deprived of nourishment
by oppressive forces blow away across the land like Quellcrist
dust, ubiquitous and traceless but bearing within them the
power of revolutionary regeneration where and whenever fresh
nourishment may arise. Quellcrist Falconer
Quellcrist, also Qualgrist, native Harlan's World amphibious
remarkable only for its unusual lifecycle. If
and when stranded in waterless conditions for long periods
of time, the plant's pods dry out to a black powder which
can be carried by the wind over hundreds of kilometres.
The remainder of the plant dies and decays, but the Quellcrist
powder, upon coming into contact with water once more, reconstitutes
into microfronds from which a whole plant may grow in a
matter of weeks.
the Quellcrist powder that Konrad Harlan's self-described
harrowing storm of justice had blown far and wide in the
aftermath of the Quellist defeat now spouted new resistance
in a dozen different places.
The Quellist meanwhile slipped away, disappeared, abandoned
the struggle and got on with living their lives as Nadia
Makita [Quellcrist's original name] had always argued
they should be prepared to do...And twenty-five years later,
back they came, careers built, families formed, children
raised, back to fight again, not so much aged but seasoned,
wiser, tougher, stronger and fed at the core by the whisper
that persisted at the heart of each individual uprising
that Quellcrist Falconer herself was back.
Kovacs to a female believer in New Revelation: "..I'm
calling you a gutless betrayer of your sex. I can see your
husband's angle, he's a man, he's got everything to gain
from this crapshit. But you? You've thrown away centuries
of political struggle and scientific advance so you can
sit in the dark and mutter your superstitions of unworth
to yourself. You'll let your life, the most precious thing
you have, be stolen from you hour by hour and day by day
as long as you can eke out the existence your males will
let you have. And then, when you finally die, and I hope
it's soon, sister, I really do, then at the last you'll
spite your own potential and shirk the final power we've
won for ourselves to come back and try again. You'll do
all of this because of your fucking faith, and if that child
in your belly is female, then you'll condemn her to the
same fucking thing" [This is how I feel about any
woman who adopts Islam or even Christian fundamentalism.]
There is thought and there is action. Do not confuse
the two. When the time comes to act, your thought must already
be complete. There will be no room for it when the action
he'd seen them all prove their ability to adopt
Quell's maxim and get on with living a full life when armed
struggle was inappropriate.
Rage at injustice is a forest fire - it jumps all divides,
even those between generations.
Classic poverty dynamic, people clutch at anything.
And if the choice is religion or revolution, the government's
quite happy to stand back and let the priests get on with
"You think this war ever stopped? You think just
because we clawed some concessions from them three hundred
years ago, these people ever stopped looking for ways to
fuck us back into
poverty again. This isn't an enemy
that goes away."
"The oligarchs aren't an outside factor
cancer, if you want to switch analogies. They are programmed
to feed off the rest of the body at no matter what cost
to the system in general, and to kill off anything that
competes. That's why you have to take them down first."
"Yeah, I think I've head this speech. Smash the ruling
class and then everything'll be fine, right."
"No, but it's a necessary first step."
"It'll be so good," said Andrea, "To
have someone again who knows what to do." [this
is why I don't think this is Quell. This sketch of Quell
doesn't know what to do.]
An Envoy to Kovacs: "You remember the drill: minimize
local disruption, maintain a seamless authority front with
the protectorate, hang onto data for future leverage."
"And that's what we're supposed to accept as a
model of governance, is it? Corrupt oligarchic overlordship
backed up with overwhelming military force?"
Richard K. Morgan
Richard Morgan's Market Forces is a combination of John
of an Economic Hitman and a demolition derby. It
is set in a future where there are still highways but little gas
so only a few corporate masters still drive and they participate
in Road Warrior duels to resolve corporate rivalries. Two candidates
for a job, decide it on the road. Come back with blood on your wheels
or don't come back at all.
I didn't like it as well as Morgan's two previous books, Altered
Carbon and Broken
Angels, mostly because, in the end, I didn't find
any redeeming value in his major characters. Chris Faulkner is a
killer, killer on the road and in the office. The fact that he has
some liberal tendencies doesn't make up for his willingness to kill
bad guys and rivals in the most brutal ways possible. True, the
people he kills need killing. But so does he. He's one of them.
"So. I earn a fortune. 'S not like the fucking army,
you know. I get well paid for murdering people."
Chris Faulker is a specialist in conflict investments, i.e., making
money off wars, revolutions, conflicts, by selling the participants
toys of war and repression and then manipulating outcomes so the
side that will yield the most profit wins.
"Fuel and ammunition, medical supplies, helicopter gunships,
countersubversion trainers, interrogation technology. All at knockdown
prices, and for more than twenty years it's all paid off big time.
Quiescent population, low-wages economy, export-oriented. Standard
It wasn't rocket science, after all. Slash public health and
education spending, open to foreign capital flows, dynamite local
blockages in the legal and labor sectors. Lie about the results,
and get the local military to crush inconvenient protest. A trained
ape could do it. You could get the paper qualifications by distance
learning inside ten weeks. Then all it took was a suit and a driver's
Yes, this is the world of the future. Except this is a standard
manipulation in the present, the "structural readjustment"
insisted on by the IMF so leaders can be lent big money, thus allowing
control of a country by deliberately putting it into massive debt.
of an Economic Hitman explains how it works today.
Sickening today and sickening tomorrow.
The book is saved only by Morgan's ability to write. His action
scenes are riveting. His violence is pornographic. As is the sex.
But what Chris Faulker does for a living is too close to contemporary
reality. Only the road warrior stuff is science fiction.
(No heroes, no hope)
Angels by Richard K. Morgan
Spoiler Warning: Not much. I only reveal the setup
Broken Angels is Richard Morgan's second book and like his
first, Altered Carbon,
features super-soldier Takeshi Kovacs. In Broken Angels we
find Kovacs 30 years on from Altered Carbon, now a hired
mercenary fighting to defeat a war of rebellion on a foreign planet.
There are alien artifacts, nanobots, corporate culture, sex, and
lots of fighting. We see more of how immortality is something only
a lucky (or very unlucky) few get to enjoy. Broken Angels
was better than Altered Carbon in many ways. It was sharp,
no wasted text, everything in service to the story. It had a sense
of suspense that kept me turning the pages. I had to know what would
happen next. Broken Angels is a very exciting work but in
the end not as satisfying as Altered Carbon because there
was less substance. Broken Angels was really only about soldiers
fighting, killing and dying. Paid soldiers, bred to fight, bred
to viciousness and loyalty. Broken Angels had no underlying
sense of hope, something Altered Carbon had once the quotes
from Quellcrist Falconer showed up. While Broken Angels had
more Quell quotes, there was no longer a sense that they came from
a brilliant leader fighting against a universal corporatism, from
a leader pointing the way out. Broken Angels didn't show
the corporations and the plutocracy as more than a minor and distant
enemy and the rebel Kemp was painted as just as evil as those he
was fighting. There seemed to be no real enemy except human nature.
Everyone was evil. As humans fight to claim, sell and exploit alien
artifacts even the long dead aliens are found to have been mired
But still, it was a good book. I enjoyed reading it and I intend
to keep reading anything Richard Morgan writes.
But I want
hope. Even from a scifi novel set 500 years in
the future. I want a story that shows a way someone; anyone, can
beat these bastards down and free us from them.
That's the thing about capitalism. It's a system without hope.
It's law of the jungle. There's no utopia at the end of the rainbow.
Just more struggle and competition till the day you lose and die.
Even if you allow yourself to be exploited the most you get is a
temporary safety but once you are no longer useful to your masters,
you will be cast aside, allowed to die or even be killed. You have
no value beyond your value to the greedy goals of some corporate
structure or some rich individual or to the plutocracy in general.
We are fodder to them. We are their prey.
The nilism of capitalism is why capitalists ally themselves with
Christianity, Christianity with its perfect passivity, with its
turn-the-other-cheek, with its when-a-man-takes-your-cloak-give-him-your-coat-too.
Christianity with its promise of rewards only after you are dead.
Thus the herd is steered into an ideology that keeps them weak and
helpless, that keeps them from fighting against exploitation, and
that keeps them mired in the hope of an illusionary afterlife. Opiate
of the masses. Pie in the sky by and by. The afterlife: when the
rich will burn for their evil and the poor be rewarded for their
suffering. Which pretty much leaves the rich and powerful to pillage
unopposed in this life.
There has to be some way out of this trap.
Even in a science fiction story. The quotes from Quellcrist Falconer
in Altered Carbon gave some hope. Not so much in Broken
A preoccupation with the next world pretty clearly signals
an inability to cope credibly with this on
In any agenda, political or otherwise, there is a cost to
be borne. Always ask what it is, and who will be paying. If you
don't, then the agenda makers will pick up the perfume of your
silence like swamp panthers on the scent of blood, and the next
thing you know, the person expected to bear the cost will be you.
And you may not have what it takes to pay
Quellcrist Fallconer, Things I Should Have Learned by Now,
The essential evil of massed humanity
I thought that was what religion was. Simplification for the
hard of thinking
[the relation of the corporate Protectorate to the new colonies]-
The skeletal grip of a corpse's hand around an egg trying to
I have no excuses, least of all for God. Like all tyrants,
he is not worthy of the spit you would waste on negotiations.
The deal we have is infinitely simpler--I don't call him to account,
and he extends me the same courtesy
You're going to be involved, you might as well have the big
(not enough Quell and not enough hope)
Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
Spoiler Warning: Not much. I only reveal the opening.
Acknowledgement: To Jala & KathH for their beta help.
Altered Carbon is a murder mystery with a hard-boiled detective
in the mode of Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade or Lew Archer, but it's
a murder mystery set 500 years in the future. Murder, real death,
is a hard trick in the 25th century because at birth everyone has
a "stack" implanted in their brain. A stack seems to be
something like a hard drive. An individual's very consciousness
is stored in his stack along with his memories, his beliefs, and
his personality. I'm not quite sure what a brain implanted with
a stack does on its own. At any rate, when a person dies, his stack
is removed, and, if he has the money or insurance or the people
who love him do, he can be put into another body, called a sleeve.Unless
he is Catholic a person only really dies when his stack is destroyed.
The Catholic Church has forbidden its believers from being resurrected
in this fashion. As a result, for most people there is no "real
death," although without a new body they might end up permanently
The very rich get around the danger of stack destruction by backing
up their stacks like you would back up a hard drive on your computer.
Thus, if their stacks are destroyed they might lose a day of their
memories, but that would be all. They also grow clones so they can
be placed into a new body of their choosing. The very old, very
rich are called meths, short for Methuselah.
One of these meths, Laurens Bancroft, has his head blown off and
his stack vaporized. It would have been real death except that he
had a backup and is alive again in a new body, just missing a day
or two of his memories. The police say "suicide." Bancroft
refuses to accept that he killed himself and leases a criminal named
Takeshi Kovacs to investigate his death. Kovacs had been an "envoy"
which seems to be some kind of supersoldier/space marine, but he
had left that life behind and turned to crime as a less harmful
pursuit. His envoy training gave him an increased ability to assimilate
information and an enhanced awareness of patterns so he was hired
by Bancroft to find out who killed him.
The futuristic world Morgan draws for us is fascinating in and
of itself, but there's also a raft of interesting characters in
addition to Kovacs. Halfway through the book it got even more interesting,
at least to me, because a political subtext became apparent. Kovacs
was from a planet called Harlan's World which had been a police
state until a rebellion led by a woman named Quellcrist Falconer,
a rebellion against the rich and powerful. The book begins to quote
Quellcrist and I could see that even 500 years from now our true
enemy is still a rich and powerful elite. They use people like us
impersonally, but as Quell says, we should take it personally:
The personal, as everyone's so fucking
fond of saying, is political. So if some idiot politician, some
power player, tries to execute policies that harm you or those
you care about, take it personally. Get angry. The Machinery of
Justice will not serve you here - it is slow and cold, and it
is theirs. Only the little people suffer at the hands of Justice;
the creatures of power slide out from under with a wink and a
grin. If you want justice, you will have to claw it from them.
Make it personal. Do as much damage as you can. Get your message
across. That way you stand a far better chance of being taken
seriously next time. Of being considered dangerous. And make no
mistake about this: being taken seriously, being considered dangerous,
marks the difference - the only difference in their eyes- between
players and little people. Players they will make deals with.
Little people they liquidate. And time and again they cream your
liquidation, your displacement, your torture and brutal execution
with the ultimate insult that it's just business, it's politics,
it's the way of the world, it's a tough life, and that it's nothing
personal. Well, fuck them. Make it personal.
Quellcrist Falconer, Things You Should Have Learned by Now. Volume
This quote comes right before Kovacs takes something very personally.
The book begins to quote Quellcrist and as the story took on this
new demension I went from interested to fascinated.
Is it a wolf I hear,
Howling his lonely communion
With the unpiloted stars,
Or merely the self-importance and servitude
In the bark of a dog?
How many millennia did it take,
Twisting and torturing
The pride from the one
To make a tool,
And how do we measure the distance from spirit to spirit?
And who do we find to blame?
Quellcrist Falconer, Poems and Other Prevarications
Since I think the human race is being turned into dogs worshipping
the rich masters who kick them, I found that poem very telling.
What Quell said about lackeys: Kill them along the way, but
count your bullets, for there are more worthy targets.
There are some arenas so corrupt that the only clean acts possible
are nihilistic. Quell
When they ask how I died. Tell them: Still Angry. Quell
More and more I began to wish this book was about Quellcrist Falconer.
But what was most telling is a statement by an old, rich and powerful
"Human life has no value. Haven't you learned that yet,
Takeshi, with all you've seen? It has no value, intrinsic to itself.
Machines cost money to build. Raw materials cost money to extract.
But people? You can always get some more people. They reproduce
like cancer cells, whether you want them to or not. They are abundant,
Takeshi. Why should they be valuable? Do you know that it cost
us less to recruit and use up a real snuff whore than it does
to set up and run a virtual equivalent format? Real human flesh
is cheaper than a machine. It's the axiomatic truth of our times."
Yes, that is what the rich think. That human life, our human lives,
have no value. And we have no Quell to help us fight them.
(not enough Quell)
I sent author Richard K. Morgan the following email:
just finished Altered Carbon and ordered Broken Angels
and Market Forces. I will order Woken
Furies as soon as it comes out.
I wanted to say that the character I found most interesting was
the one that doesn't appear in Altered Carbon, Quellcrist
Falconer. I've saved every quote from her and am passing them
Quell I really want to read about.
I hope you will write a book on her someday soon.
and got the following response:
she's fascinating, isn't she. (And therefore exceedingly hard
to write well about) Never fear, you've got a lot more quotes
coming in Broken Angels, and a major surprise treat in
POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE:
Harry Potter comes of age
In this, the darkest of the Potter series, we find Harry Potter
shedding the last vestiges of innocence and naiveté as he
comes to terms with the costs of the battle he has chosen.
Peopled with the muggles and wizards and witches and elves we have
come to know, Rowling comforts us with the familiar while setting
out a winding path that leads to unexpected surprises that sometimes
make us gasp. The characters we have known as evil are revealed
to be a bit less so, the characters we have considered good are
revealed as flawed and the characters we thought infallible turn
out to be, well, humanlike. Rowling's genius lies as much in making
the ordinary seem extraordinary as it does in making the extraordinary
Harry learns about love, mystery, honor, revenge, anger and limits
in this, the next to last of the Potter saga, if we are to believe
J.K. Rowling. I am deliberately not revealing details of the story;
I would not be that cruel to those who have not as yet enjoyed the
suspenseful and satisfying experience of reading this.
Rowling is poised to take her place among those few writers who
have made each book of a series a jewel
forming a chain with
no weak links. Tolkien, Herbert and very few others make up this
group. J.K. Rowling is well positioned to take her place among these
greats. I am sure that the final battle between Harry and He Who
Must Not Be Named will cement her place alongside these giants,
in addition to being the final adornment in the unique niche of
greatness she has already carved out for herself.
Fountain at the Center of the World by Robert Newman
Reviewed by Alllie
This is one of those books that before you
are a few pages in, you know it's gonna be great. By the time I
had read 20 pages I was going online and recommending it. It's one
of those books you start reading and you can hardly put it down
till you finish. It's very Dickensonian, in the very best sense,
making real the lives of the poor, the global poor, as well as the
WTO rich. It follows the lives of two brothers, Chano, a poor Mexican
activist, and Evan, adopted by a rich British family, one of the
World Trade Organization's movers and shakers. There's a Prince
and the Pauper touch as well when the poor brother replaces the
rich to speak to those in power, who, of course, hear only what
they want to hear. There's also the story of Chano seeking his lost
son Daniel who always seems to be flittering just out of his reach.
I believe, as humans, that we like our lessons wrapped in stories,
that stories makes it easier for us to learn and to understand.
The story of Chano and Evan and Daniel is wrapped around a lesson
about globalization, about the World Trade Organization, NAFTA and
the Mexican maquiladora plants near the border, plants that pollute
the environment and poison their workers - because they can. The
human stories make the global economic stories easier to understand.
It's also wrapped around the Seattle protests against the WTO, making
them mythic in an almost John Reed way. It makes you wanna be there,
well, except for the beating and shooting and gassing
The Fountain at the Center of the World
is a book about global issues but also about personal issues and
how the two intersect. That's something that's left out of books
these days. People in most books seem to live in a vacuum, unaffected
by global issues while, in reality, all are affected. The Fountain
at the Center of the World shows us how we are affected, shows
us in the stories of the dying Evan, the despairing Chano and the
lost Daniel. Despite Evan's wealth, his intelligence, his support
for and his knowledge about the system, he is isolated even in his
death. Chano and Daniel are surrounded by friends and allies who
help them survive and escape as they try to make the world a better
place. As does this book.
Well worth the read!!
X-President by by Philip Baruth
This was a good book, a page turner set 60
years in the future when America is on the losing end of what are
called the Tobacco Wars, wars that have their origins in two of
Bill Clinton's minor actions while he was president, the expansion
of NATO and the Anti-Tobacco Accords. The protagonist is Sal, the
official biographer of the 109- year old Bill Clinton. Sal, along
with three covert ops, is sent back in time to change the past and
thus the future. She is drafted and forced to go because she knows
more about Bill Clinton than anyone else in the world. Changing
the past involves kidnapping the 16 year old Bill Clinton in 1963
and taking him to 1995 to convince his future self to avoid certain
actions. It's a little scifi with the paradoxes of time travel but
mostly it's a book for political junkies with much mention of the
players and the scandals from the last dozen years. It's so well
researched and written and includes so many facts that when it includes
fictitious events I found myself assuming they were real. (There
was no Anti-Tobacco accord propelling American Tobacco companies
into foreign markets.)
The book is not really friendly to Bill Clinton,
though not totally unfriendly either. It sees his flaws and his
gifts. Despite it being such a political book I couldn't tell what
side the author was on politically. I did learn two little conspiracy
facts or fictions: 1) that Kurt Muse, who sounds like a CIA asset,
was the real reason for the invasion of Panama and 2) that Timothy
McVeigh had met both George Bush and General Schwarzkopf (couldn't
find anything on that so it might not be true). It also uses the
team's visit with the young Bill Clinton (aka, yBC) as the reason
for Clinton's lifelong conviction that he was supposed to be president.
Anyway, it was a fun book to read and can be enjoyed by both Clinton's
supporters and detractors.
One thumb down for not treating Bill Clinton better.
I got the following email from author Philip Baruth
just read your review on my new novel, THE X PRESIDENT.
I was glad that you liked it, but sorry that you thought
it didn't treat Clinton sympathetically . . . many reviewers
have come down on me (very hard) for being a "die-hard
Clinton loyalist" . . . so I guess if you saw it the other
way, I must be somewhere in the middle . . .
any event, I appreciate the time you took, and how gentle
you were with my work. I've bookmarked your site, and will
check in from time to time for other titles . . .
Secret War : FDR and World War II Espionage
Reviewed by CowTippa
This book by Joseph E. Persico (with forward
by Colin Powell) is an interesting read in
light of all of the political shifting going on these days. I learned
a lot about the
early days of the modern US intelligence services, more about J.
Edgar Hoover's early
career, and also about the prominent intelligence roles given to
rich and influential
friends of the president such as Vincent Astor who spied on things
from his yacht. The
book gives a lot of insight into the communications between all
of the different
countries at many different levels, from diplomacy to the military
to intelligence. It
has some interesting analysis of the question of what FDR really
knew about Pearl Harbor
before it happened, about the firebombing of Tokyo and of course
about the development of
the atomic bomb. Check it out if you like history. Persico is also
the coauthor of
General Colin Powell's autobiography, My American Journey.
Pub Date: November 2001
official site at Random House:
- One thumb down for pulling punches a bit