Tag Archives: #Power

Vincent, Steve P.: State of Emergency (Jack Emery II) (2015)

State of Emergency, Momentum, 2015
Cover design: Xou Creative

Once again we enter the world of master-sleuth and journalist Jack Emery. Believe it or not, there are people out there who are against world peace. In and of itself that is not a problem. However, when that person has a powerful organization backing them up, the world is in danger. A prime real-life example is Dick Cheney and his connections with the weapons’ industry. Power-hunger seeps into the pores of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Administrator, Richard Hall, and his fanaticism drives USA towards another chasm.

The world needs people like Jack Emery, who, with the right motivation and co-conspirators, does not give up until a truth is found. And, that my friend, is something State of Emergency gives him.

The story starts off with Iranian computer scientist student, Dhaneshgahi, being kidnapped off MIT grounds. Already, we know that the target is in a heap of trouble, that the crime involves cracking and that the target is difficult.

The entire population of the US definitely qualifies as a difficult target, with the main perpetrator acting as “a friend in need”. Through his naughtiness, Richard Hall will, finally, experience the kind of USA he has longed to see. One that is much more controlled. A dusin apparent terrorist attacks have been pulled off. The National Security Council has no idea who is behind the attacks. Nor do they know how to defend against them. How do you defend against an enemy who has no name or known agenda? Richard Hall, through FEMA, suggests to the President that FEMA could use State Guards to protect vulnerable targets and ramp up general FEMA support. She tells him to make it happen. Finally, Hall has his foot inside the tower of power.

Richard Hall does well as a serial killer. He is driven by an inner mania to get his philosophy into life, cost what it may. According to him, the ends do justify the means. Cue crazy person laugh. Except in Richard Hall’s mind he is the only logical person around. And that may be correct. Where logic leads you depends on your starting point. His starting point is that control and punishment are the only tools through which the United States might return to greatness.

The system controlling the capacity and flow at the Hoover Dam is broken into, and “unprecedented flooding” follows. Jack Emery becomes curious. Curiosity in a journalist can be a dangerous thing if that journalist has freedom and connections to dig below surface facts. Saving the US in Foundation made Jack connections that got him into unusual places. Like the Hoover Dam after the break-in. The terrorists had not been able to cut the hard-wired security camera feeds. Jack and his buddy Joseph got to see the entire break-in and wondered about the team’s easy entry. From small mistakes the powerful may fall. And fall they do, all in usual Jack Emery style.

Break-ins, break-outs, invasions, battles, shortages, concentration camps, death on both sides, rebels, underground radios, explosions, moments of high tension and romantic entanglements all come together to form a fun and addictive State of Emergency. Definitely recommended.

—————————————————

Reviews:

Gaiman, Neil: The Ocean at the End of the Lane (2013)

Thank you, to my sister-in-law for giving me a copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

In December, right before I turned seven my family moved from Australia to Norway. One of my memories tied to that move is stepping outside the plane into the middle of Norwegian winter. Moving was not something I wanted, and winter did not help.

Soon I was driving slowly, bumpily, down a narrow lane with brambles and briar roses on each side, wherever the edge was not a stand of hazels or a wild hedgerow. It felt like I had driven back in time. That lane was how I remembered it, when nothing else was.

Memory can be triggered by scent, sound and sight. All of a sudden you find yourself re-visiting a time you had forgotten. Neurons spark neurons and whatever filing system you have going for you opens a memory file.

If you’d asked me an hour before, I would have said no, I did not remember the way. I do not even think I would have remembered Lettie Hempstock’s name. But standing in the hallway, it was all coming back to me. Memories were waiting at the edges of things, beckoning to me. Had you told me that I was seven again, I might have half believed you, for a moment.

As others have mentioned, we never discover what the name of the main character is. For the most part he is called “the boy”, and that is how I think of him. Neil Gaiman’s statement that the story is meant for adults fits my feeling while reading the book. There is enough terror (not violent) for a younger audience to enjoy it as well.

At seven years of age, children have little say in their lives. Moving to Norway was not my choice. Nor does the boy have much influence on his own life. There are a few episodes that illustrate this. To me, the episode with the cat stands out the most. Utter disregard of the possibility that the boy might be devastated shocked me. Yet, looking back at my own life, children were presumably fine with whatever the adults chose. In The Ocean at the End of the Lane, adults are judged more believable than the boy. So it is when I look around at the parts of the world I have encountered. My Asperger brain is completely baffled by this phenomenon. When the boy’s enemy states

“And what can you say to her that will make any difference? She backs up your father in everything, doesn’t she.”

I am reminded of many family situations that have crossed my life-path. No matter what one parent does or says, they have the backing of the other. Utterly incomprehensible.

Being without power to decide anything about their lives is something children come to semi-accept. At the same time there is a continuous battle between adults and children to have the ability to decide. We see some of that in The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The boy does not give in to the powers that be, although it might, at first, seem that way to the adults.

The Hempstock women became a safe haven for the boy. For me that is hilarious because some of the most dangerous episodes happen while together with one of them. But they sought to protect him and make his life safer by fighting for him with the means at their disposal. These means aren’t exactly regular ones.

I loved the Hempstock women. I want to be like the Hempstock women.

Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


The Ocean at the End of the Lane can be found at biblio.com


Adaptations:


Trivia:


Translations:

Jeter, K.W.: Madlands (1991/2012)

Madlands is in many ways similar to the underbelly of Los Angeles (and any city with major power players) of today. Identrope is the creator and most powerful person of this dystopian version of Los Angeles. K.W.’s version is considered cyberpunk, and that may be true. At least it would seem that way as the net of the city is explained in greater detail in a section of the story.

This explanatory section is the only downside of Madlands. During it Mr. Jeter fell from dystopia into teacher’s voice. The setting itself was a dream about a teacher/student situation, and preaching might be considered relevant in such an environment. But it felt out of place to me.

Strangely enough, and wonderfully fitting to the story of Madlands, the most powerful person in Los Angeles (downtown) today is supposed to be Tim Leiweke of the Anschutz Entertainment Group.

Entertainment is what Identrope does to boost his opinion of himself and to gather worshipers in a city you may enter but can not leave. It’s not that anyone tries to hold you back from leaving. What high Identrope exudes keeps you staying until the side-effects of his miasma of madness kills you.

We hear a lot about Identrope, but he makes few appearances. I suppose that is as it should be when part of his power lies in what he has to offer in the way of highs and entertainment. Our main character is Identrope’s deputy, Trayne.

Part of Madland’s appeal has been brought about by Trayne. It seems the US is a little low on entertainment. Trayne started a dancing group and for some reason that group made people want to listen to whatever invitations Identrope made on television and follow through on them by donating money and traveling to LA to be near their god.

Surreal is one sensation I felt while reading the story. Madlands also came through as a great piece on power. Clearly, the people who had power wanted more (even Trayne) and those who were without were disposable tools on the way there. One of those power structures happened to be the KKK. I have to admit that I was not aware of the influence the KKK had (and possibly) have in Southern California. Power is such a lure and few use it appropriately (for the best of as many as possible). I have trouble understanding why people hunger for more and more power. Madlands shows us a place where there are people who apparently never get enough of it.

Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


Madlands available for free at Amazon Kindle (per 01 Feb 2014)


Translation:


San Diego’s Ku Klux Klan 1920-1980

Spartacus Educational

The 1922 Ku Klux Klan Inglewood raid

Jordan, Robert and Sanderson, Brandon: A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time) (2013)

Cover artist Michael Whelan

Holy, freaking cow. Wow. Fabulastic.

First of all – the cover. Michael Whelan is the artist. When you go to this link you will get a look at how cover artists work and how little they actually get to work with. And still he manages to provide something that captures the dynamics of the novel.

My goodness, what an ending to a series I have loved. I do not think I was alone in worrying when Brandon had to finish the Wheel of Time series. My worries were laid to rest with his first installment: The Gathering Storm. A Memory of Light is amazing. No wonder Sanderson teaches creative writing.

What is it that makes A Memory of Light so good? As I have told you in my About page, I am terrible at analysing. Really, really bad. But there are aspects to the art of writing that I might have gotten a feel for.

A Memory of Light is tight. It’s not difficult to see that this novel must have been edited time and again to get that flowy feeling that I always go on about. There are very few mistakes and Brandon shows us that you can write a novel more than 900 pages long and still feel as though you could have read more.

The jump from character to character is flawless. Perrin‘s over-carefulness, Mat‘s playfulness, Egwene‘s “I know best” attitude and Rand’s “I must die” attitude are all incorporated into the writing without detracting from the plot.

Be prepared for fighting, lots and lots of fighting. We are, after all, at the ending of the world and the final battle. People die. People I have grown to care about. I hate that, because I really do love the quirky set of The Wheel of Time. But I see the necessity of it. I still hate it.

Once again we are exposed to friends who betray and friends who risk their lives for you. In a sense, that is what The Wheel of Time has been about for me. This group of four (five) characters from Two Rivers stays loyal to each other in spite of huge differences of opinion. Friendship, what a precious gift to bestow on each other.

I am going to say something I do not often say: Please read A Memory of Light. You’ll have to read the first 13 novels for it to make sense, but it will be worth it. That is how good I think A Memory of Light is.