Thursday, January 27, 2022

Colony


Colony, by Ben Bova
July, 1978  Pocket Books

As a science fiction-reading kid in the ‘80s, I knew Ben Bova’s name but never read any of his books; he was one of those wildly prolific authors and I had no idea where to start. Also it was my impression he was a “hard science” author, ie of the type who went more for technical minutiae than the world-building escapism I usually want from sci-fi. But then last year I came across this book on the clearance shelf of a Half Price Books store; the typically-awesome Boris Valejo cover grabbed my attention, and the back cover (below) only strengthened the hold. 

Indeed, here was sci-fi just as I love it: from the ‘70s, set in a future that is now in the past, filled with the space-faring, mind-expanding optimism of the era. I then checked the first-page preview, which proclaimed the novel “A bold, sweeping saga of one man against the world,” with the hero referred to as an “Adonis.” I thumbed through the book: thick as a doorstop, 470 pages of small, dense print. My quick appraisal was that it was along the lines of John Brunner’s Stand On Zanzibar, only with more of a “bestselling fiction” approach than an “experimental” one. In fact, I very much got the impression that what I had in my hands was what I had been long seeking: a science fiction novel told in that ‘70s “blockbuster” style I so love, with all the requisite sex and drugs the era demanded. And the suckers only wanted two bucks for it! This was another of those Cindy On Fire moments; I was on the way to the checkout line within two minutes of discovering the book. 

As usual though it took me a while to get around to actually reading it; despite my initial excitement I put the book aside and took almost a year to start it. But when on page 14 I came to a part where a British beauty with a “full, ripe kind of figure” was about to work herself over with a vibrator, on her first night on a massive space colony orbiting the Earth, I knew I’d found the “sci-fi meets trashy ‘70s popular fiction” novel I’d been seeking for years. Now to be clear, the vibrator in question was really a bathroom fixture that used “sonic vibrations” for cleaning, water conservation being important to the space colony, but why split hairs. I barrelled on through the novel and soon realized that it didn’t just capture that groovy ‘70s sci-fi vibe I so love (complete with jumpsuits and “contoured chairs” and all those other swank details), but that it was a great novel to boot, and that Ben Bova had clearly put his heart and soul into it. This was one of those instances like Boy Wonder, where I read the novel and couldn’t understand why it wasn’t a bestseller in its day, why it was consigned to oblivion. 

My only conclusion is that Colony was a paperback original, and this hampered its success. I personally prefer PBOs to hardcovers, but at the same I was puzzled why there was only a PBO for Colony. Bova has always seemed to me a “hardcover author,” and indeed it seems that the vast majority of his novels were published first in that format before getting paperback editions. And yet Colony was not. I can only assume that this was due to the energy crisis of the time; per Michael Newton in How To Write Action-Adventure Novels, publishers were very affected by the energy crisis, cancelling entire series and re-jiggering their publication schedules. I’m guessing, with absolutely no basis, that Colony would’ve come out in hardcover otherwise. And the hell of it is, without that hardcover edition and the ensuing industry coverage, Colony appears to have slipped through the cracks. Because as it turns out, Colony was one of the best books I’ve read in years, and certainly gave me everything I hoped for. 

That first page didn’t lie; this is indeed a sweeping saga, encompassing a huge cast of characters and occurring over several months of the “future year” of 2008. Now one thing the back cover didn’t mention, and which I only learned later, was that Colony was a sort-of sequel to an earlier Boval novel, Millennium (1976). Which itself was a sequel to Bova’s later Kinsman (1983, but comprised of short stories originally published in the ‘70s). I have not read either of those books, but at no point in Colony did I feel like I was missing out on anything. It appears that those two novels are more connected to each other than Colony is connected to either of them: Colony merely occurs in the same “world” as Millennium and Kinsman, with the only recurring characters being very minor ones in Colony. I wouldn’t even say that reading those two books would enrich the experience of reading Colony, as neither book is mentioned, and the only recurring bit here comes from Millennium, in that there’s a colony on the moon that’s now its own independent nation, and also that there’s a World Government that unites all the nations on the Earth. 

So yes, Colony takes place in a year that’s now 14 years past, but in no way does that detract from the reading experience. And besides, I’m not one who judges a sci-fi novel by what it got “right” or not. But to be clear, Colony is of a piece with other sci-fi novels of its day in that it is optimistic about the future of space exploration; wildly optimistic, in fact. I personally think it’s so cool that an author could publish a novel in 1978 that took place a mere thirty years in the future and fill it with moon colonies, space stations, orbiting colonies, and routine travel to and from all these places. Thirty years! But then, it only took ten years to get to the moon during the Space Race, so no doubt it only seemed logical at the time that expanded space travel would follow just as quickly. 

I’ve always looked at science fiction more as a reflection of the era in which it was written, and in that area too Colony is very ‘70s. Not just in its “bestselling fiction” approach, but also in the topics it focuses on. Overpopulation is a big one, as is weather control. But the space colony stuff is in-line with the speculations of the time. Many years ago I was really into the books of Robert Anton Wilson, and through him I learned about the “SMIILE” concept of Timothy Leary as well as the space colonies envisioned by Gerard O’Neil. In the mid to late ‘70s, it seemed to be commonly accepted among such visionairies that man would soon begin leaving the planet, to live in space. Leary’s stuff (for a project he never completed) in particular was about expanding consciousness as the next step on the path to outer space life. Back then the goal was leaving the Earth. Today it’s saving the Earth. 

So Bova, like a true sci-fi visionary of his day, projects a future that is really just the 1970s with a greatly expanded space program and a world government. The sentiments of the characters who live in this world are much more “1970s” than any people who lived in the actual 2008, and in this regard Colony is similar to another “future 70s” work, The Savage Report. But this isn’t a complaint. I much prefer these futures that didn’t happen to the one we actually got. I mean, if only the real 2008 had a space station where zero-g sex was one of the favorite activities of vacationers, not to mention an orbiting space colony filled with women in form-fitting jumpsuits. And Bova does get some stuff correct – he predicts video teleconferencing, which has become standard now in the era of Covid. Also the internet and quick digital transfers of money factor into the book, and are treated as commonly as such things are today. 

But Bova’s biggest miss is that in his projected future the left-leaning World Government is at odds with the multinational corporations. While the World Government wants global unification, a socialist utopia of equity in which world peace and harmony is maintained at the expense of independence, the multinationals want to practice pure capitalism, the poor and the planet itself be damned. This is pure Ayn Rand, of course, but how could Bova or Rand or any of the sci-fi visionaries of the day have predicted that in the real future the billionaires would be aligned with a leftist new world order? In the era of “get woke, go broke,” corporations no longer make a secret of their ideology. Even charity organizations have gone down the self-destructive path of wokeism. 

But this “World Government vs the multinationals” setup comprises the central plot of Colony. Certainly in Bova’s day it made sense; it would be easy to imagine the cigar-chomping billionaires of the 1970s united against the capital-diminishing aims of a socialist World Government. This though is just another indication of what I like about sci-fi; it takes contemporary reality and exposits on what the ensuing world might be like in a few years, decades, or centuries. And as mentioned Bova’s big concern is the growing population, per Stand On Zanzibar and so many other books of the era. Bova has the global population at near 8 billion in his 2008, which is pretty much where we are now. However he also has the black population of the US (or what was formerly the US) at 80%, just a tad off from the 13% of the actual 2008. 

I mention race because one of the many subplots Bova works into Colony is a race war, one that goes hand-in-hand with the people’s movement that is united against the World Government. That 80% figure is actually delivered by one of the black terrorists, a hulking mass of muscle named Leo who was once a pro footballer, but who now has carved out his own Escape From New York-esque fiefdom in Manhattan. Sadly, one of Bova’s biggest successes on the prediction front is that he envisions a 9/11 sort of attack on New York, late in the novel, but this one is carried out by an army of black terrorists who declare war on the “white asses.” One curious tidbit Bova introduces – one that would certainly trigger sensitive readers of today – is that the darker one’s skin is, the higher his authority is in the black resistance; Leo, we’re informed, regularly takes drugs to ensure his skin stays as dark as possible. He is in fact the only character who indulges in that ‘70s sci-fi mainstay: weird drugs. But Leo’s are some sort of super-steroids that affect his metabolism and keep him in hulking shape; without them, as we eventually learn, he’ll literally fall apart. 

But this too is more of a indication of Bova’s own time than our own; this 2008 is still run by men, however we are told that the US representative for the former US in the World Government is a black man, and obviously the World Government reps from the various former countries are not all white. But there are no women in positions of power, something that occurs to the otherwise-progressive head of the World Government, the 80-something year old De Paolo. One of the few characters returning from Millennium (which took place 9 years before this novel), De Paolo heads up the World Government from the HQ in Messina, Sicily(!), a loyal “Ethiopian” at his side. This bit, of the ancient leader of the world who confides solely in his Ethiopian aide, so mirrors the relationship of Premiere Vassily (the ancient ruler of his world) and Rahallah (Vassily’s Ethiopian aide) in the Doomsday Warrior series that I don’t think it could be a coincidence; I think Ryder Syvertsen certainly read Colony

So this is the world of Colony: The World Government controls the planet, while the independent nation of Selene is built beneath the surface of the moon (its formation chronicled in Millennium). Meanwhile there is Space Station Alpha, which acts as a waystation between the Earth and the moon, and most notably there is also Island One, a massive orbiting colony in which ten thousand people live. Bova clearly seems to be aligned with the World Government; his world is the one we seem to be lurching toward, in which gas-guzzling cars and other pollutants have been replaced, and all energy on the Earth is derived from solar energy beamed down by Island One. The colony is essential to the planet’s survival, but only the rich and the elite live up there in a green wonderland of open spaces with spectacular cosmic views from various massive windows; this much dismays the poor, starving people eking out a miserable existence on the overpopulated Earth. 

Things are becoming increasingly bad on Earth, with mass starvation and suffering and a huge disparity between the poor and the super-rich CEOs of the multinationals. Meanwhile the People’s Revolutionary Underground (PRU) is fighting against the World Government all across the globe; there’s also “El Liberator,” a Castro-esque revolutionary who is causing lots of trouble in Argentina. Curiously, all these revolutionary movements appear to be socialist, as is the World Government itself; I mean, socialists versus socialists – everyone’s a loser. Another interesting thing is that in Bova’s 2008 the Middle East has not been consumed by radical fundamentalism, and in fact Baghdad is what amounts to a tourist trap, where reps from the World Government work to recreate the wonders of the ancient world. The main terrorists of the PRU we meet in Colony are from the Middle East, however…and they’re a helluva lot less violent than the ones we got in reality. Several times Hamoud, or “Tiger,” the leader of the Iraqi section of the PRU, states that “suicide missions are stupid” and he and his fellow terrorists go out of their way not to get themselves killed…as well as not to kill any of their victims. 

Befitting the bestseller fiction approach, one man will be able to fix all the world’s problems: David Abrams, that “Adonis” mentioned on the first-page preview. David is a rather special character; apparently in his early to mid 20s, a good-looking blond-haired guy with a lean muscular build and etc. He is also the first “test tube baby,” grown and born on Island One, outside the legal domain of the Earth. This means that the Island One scientists, free to chase their every whim, made David a sort of super-being. He’s impervious to most all diseases, with an immune system that can quickly shake off viruses that would kill ordinary people. He’s also incredibly quick thinking and proficient at most forms of self-defense. In a bit that predicts cyberpunk, he also has a computer link wired into him, so that by tapping a molar with his tongue he can access computers and retrieve data which is “whispered” to him via “the microscopic receiver implanted behind his ear.” What I most appreciated though is that Bova shows us all this instead of just telling us about it; David’s gifts are demonstrated through his actions and quick thoughts, and Bova doesn’t beat us over the head reminding us that he was designed to be gifted. 

David Adams (note the Biblical connotations of the name) is the central character of Colony, and he’s a very memorable one. His origin is a bit of a mystery; his father is unknown, and his mother, one of the designers of Island One, died before David was born, and thus the fetus was removed and kept alive, those scientists going to work on all their genetic improvements. David has spent his entire life on Island One, and the crux of the novel concerns his learning of the plight of the Earth, and how Island One is central to the planet’s survival. I kept wondering why Bova titled the novel “Colony” instead of “Island One,” as the latter name is used much more often in the text. It is a massive space colony of the type envisioned by Gerard O’Neil in The High Frontier (1977), two “cylinders” that could easily hold at least a million people. But, as roving young British reporter Evelyn Hall soon learns, the second cylinder is completely empty: a flora-rich paradise that goes on as far as the eye can see, while people are running out of room down on Earth. 

The multinationals own Island One, though, in particular the few men who make up the Board. Chief among them is T. Hunter Garrison, Texas-based codger and all around old-fashioned billionaire type, of the kind seen in the trashy paperbacks of the day. Completely without conscience, devoted to money and power; Garrison is in his way one of the villains of the piece, particularly given how he is the main architect of the race war. As the novel progresses, we see that the Board intends to forment total civil war on the planet, secretly backing the PRU and other rebels in their war against the World Government. And while the planet is in flames, the Board will ride it out in that empty cylinder on Island One – which, of course, has been designed for them alone. Another of the board members is Sheihk Al-Hashimi of Iraq, who also secretly funds the PRU. 

What Al-Hashimi does not know (but the reader soon does) is that his beautiful daughter Bahjat is actually the infamous PRU leader Scheherazade. In fact, Bahjat is the true ruler of the Middle Eastern wing of the PRU, as Hamoud is devoted to her and does what she says, even though he pretends he alone is in power. Again though, we must not view Bahjat with modern eyes: she is not the suicidal and radical Islamic terrorist of the ISIS type. But then, neither is Hamoud and the others, though we are often told how “cruel” Hamoud is. These people rarely kill in their objectives, and Bahjat and Hamoud will carry out a few strikes in the course of Colony, either knocking out or merely holding their victims captive. In this regard they are much more comparable to the terrorists of Bova’s era than to the ones of today. The PRU indeed is presented as having a noble purpose; Bova is properly unbiased in his narrative, so that, when focusing on each group, he does not make them come off as good or bad. Even Garrison is given a bit of a heroic nature, late in the novel. Only Hamoud is presented as being truly evil, but again for the most part we are only told of this. 

This is a big novel, a sweeping epic, and like any epic there are many, many memorable sequences in it. What I really appreciated was how Bova had this large canvas of seemingly-unrelated characters, and then gradually brought them together. Being the star of the piece, David is usually the person who meets them, often in inventive ways. His meeting of Bahjat, for example – which we know is bound to happen given the first-page preview – is cleverly carried out in unexpected fashion. Through Beverly (whom David, per the trash fiction approach, beds early in the book) David learns of the dire plight of the Earth, and vows to get down there. However Dr. Cyrus Cobb, elderly founder and now head honcho of Island One (my assumption was he was based on Dr. Gerard O’Neil), refuses to let David go. After all, Cobb explains, David is technically owned by the Board of Directors. Cobb is another memorable character in a novel stuffed with them, a visionary in line with O’Neill and Leary and those other ‘70s visionaries, and he’s raised David as the son he never had. 

But as mentioned our hero is made of sterner stuff than common men, thus David concocts a scheme to get off Island One. This is a great sequence, involving David constructing a “womb” for himself to be placed on the hull of one of the ferries that go to the moon, with David in a self-induced sleep to conserve oxygen and heat. (The self-induced sleep is very ‘70s in vibe, involving a theta-level program David downloads via his comptuer linkup.) Bova doesn’t spend much time on the moon, but this part might be meaningful for those who read Millennium, at least in that we see how the colony of Selene has fared in the near-decade since that book. But ultimately David’s only on the moon for a few pages. There’s a sequence here that I found reminiscent of one in Moon Zero Two, where David commandeers a buggy and drives it solo across the harsh terrain, his oxygen levels running dangerously low. From the moon David heads to Space Station Alpha, where he awaits the next shuttle to Earth. Bova wonderfully caters to those ‘70s excesses when we are told – regretably without any detail – about the “zero-g orgy rooms” where David, off-friggin’ page, dallies with “several willing partners.” That’s right, folks: our virile hero does a bit of zero-g orgying and the author leaves it all off-page. 

Anyway, David excitedly boards the shuttle for Earth, and before entering the atmosphere the craft is hijacked – by Bahjat’s PRU cell. The way Bova combined these two plot threads really impressed me, and there are more instances throughout the novel. Bahjat’s people use a “knockout spray” on their victims, and in fact this is how Bahjat meets David. The PRU diverts the Shuttle to Argentina, where Bahjat hopes to win the confidence of El Liberator. Things will not go as she hopes for, though. We know, again per the first page, that David and Bahjat are destined for one another, but Bova also skillfully plays this out through the text, developing a very believable connection between the two. When meeting each other, both are in love with someone else: Bahjat still pining over a guy whose loss has set her on the terrorist path, and David here on Earth looking for Evelyn (who was most mysteriously spirited away from Island One; David is certain Cobb got rid of her). Instead David and Bahjat find each other, and this is almost a novel in itself. First David, who discovers that here on Earth he cannot access any computer linkups, abducts Bahjat so as to escape the PRU, and soon the two are stuck together in a cross-continent escape as they try to make their way to America, both of them on the run for separate reasons. 

A minor character nearly steals the novel here; David and Bahjat manage to get money from the PRU and pay for an illicit flight into Peru, as part of their escape plan to get into the US. The pilot of the small turbo-prop is a paunched, gray-haired local who gabs on about his days smuggling heroin in the ‘90s and how he’s been flying since he was a kid. He’s only in the book for a few pages but he’s the most colorful personality we meet. But then like any truly great novel, Colony has many such instances and characters that get stuck in your mind. Like The Right Stuff, this is a book I’d read in the morning while my kid was playing (the benefits of working from home!), and it took me so long to read that I almost felt as if I was experiencing something instead of just reading a book. I mean if you haven’t picked it up by now, I really enjoyed the novel. 

I especially dug how Bova gave us a piece of ‘70s blockbuster fiction with sci-fi trimmings; there are a lot of groovy details in the novel, with even the décor sounding at times like the swank interiors of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s UFO or Space: 1999. David Adams’s place on Island One is a literal space age bachelor’s pad, complete with a waterbed and “thick carpeting of reddish gold.” And in true ‘70s bestseller form, there’s a bit of sex in Colony. Nothing too egregious or explicit, but it’s certainly not tame in that regard. Befitting a ‘70s protagonist, David Abrams scores with both of the main female characters: Evelyn and Bahjat. Interestingly, so too does Hamoud, the villain. This is a curious subtext Bova leaves for the reader to notice, but in many ways Hamoud is presented as David’s dark reflection, and this is just another component of that. These sex scenes are usually over and done with in a few sentences, and Bova doesn’t much exploit the women. In other trashy touches there’s a part where T. Hunter Garrison dallies in a pool with a pair of Japanese girls who have been trained in underwater talents – talents which they also demonstrate for Garrison’s busty redheaded assistant-slash-bodyguard. The only “dirty” bit is the off-hand mention of Evelyn’s “anal” adventures with Hamoud. Good grief! 

While David proves to be instrumental not only in the solving of the novel’s central crisis but also the future of humanity itself, it’s to Bova’s credit that he gives full subplots for the majority of his characters, with storylines that pan out regardless of whether they’ve encountered David or not. What I mean to say is that these characters come off as very realized, with their own goals and plans. Colony features a large cast of characters, and Bova is for the most part pretty good in that he focuses on these characters individually, either via chapter breaks or white spaces. But at times he is guilty of terrible POV-hopping, by which I mean he’ll switch perspectives without warning the reader via a line or chapter break. Here is the worst example in the novel; note that this paragraph is part of a long sequence from the perspective of black terrorist Leo, but abruptly switches perspective to David – who Leo doesn’t even know yet at this point of the book! – without proper warning: 


Ironically Bova published a book titled The Craft Of Writing Fiction That Sells in 1994, in which he prided himself on how he handled perspective changes in Colony, even using similar excerpts as an example of how to do it! I was like, dude – no, it’s not! Give the reader a little white space or something before you switch perspective! But this is a minor quibble, and might not even bother most readers. I read Gary Provost’s Make Your Words Work (1990) a little over twenty years ago, and have never been able to ignore POV-hopping since. Otherwise Bova very skillfully juggles this large cast, and does such a good job of it that at no point was a I confused as to who was who. And the way he brought so many of them together really appealed to me. I’ve always been a fan of that sort of tesseract approach in fiction, where multiple storylines and characters converge in unexpected ways, and Colony featured a lot of that. 

The saga takes place over a few months, and David Adams certainly grows as a character, from the naïve young man on Island One to a visionary who orchestrates mankind’s next step in the stars. This journey encompasses so many memorable incidents, Bahjat at David’s side for many of them. There’s a great part where they get to Manhattan just as Leo and his soldiers start their war on “the white asses,” and Bahjat and David head underground to bypass the savagery above, navigating through rat-filled tunnels with a failing flashlight. Bova develops a sort of “enemies in love” setup; first David is Bahjat’s prisoner on the shuttle, and then he takes her prisoner when he escapes the PRU in Argentina. After this they become unlikely allies, Bahjat using her PRU contacts to fund their long travel by land up into the US, but once they get into PRU-controlled New York David is once again Bahjat’s prisoner. Not that this stops them, finally, from a bit of good lovin’, Bova delivering the long-awaited sequence more from a romantic perspective than a sleazy one. 

The various plot threads eventually tie around Island One, and Bova plays out the finale there. He brings the place to life; in particular I liked the bizarre aspect that, when looking up at the “sky,” you can actually see more houses and communities “above” you. This gives Evelyn the expected vertigo on her first night in Island One. David however is used to it, having grown up here, but there’s another nice character moment where, on his first night on the Earth later in the novel, he sits outside all night to watch the sun rise. Bova fills the novel with memorable sequences and touches. He also brings his various locales to life without the “hard science” technical detail I feared; Selene, Space Station Alpha, the World Government headquarters in Messina: all these places are captured with just a few effective sentences of word painting. And again I liked how we saw David’s superhuman makeup in action, rather than it being exposited to us; this superhuman makeup factors into David’s plot in the finale in a way that was very interesting in our Covid era. 

In fact, Bova strives for a sentimental finale along the lines of what Harold Robbins would regularly dole out for his characters, no matter how depraved they may be; even T. Hunter Garrison, who orchestrates a veritable holocaust in the US, is given a heroic makeover in the climax. I won’t spoil anything, but one issue I had with Colony was that there was little comeuppance for most of the villains in the finale. For example, Bahjat’s PRU cel manages to stop Island One’s solar energy from reaching the Earth, and we learn that over seven thousand people die as a result – areas that are in the midst of heavy snowstorms and such have no access to power, and many die. (On second thought these PRU terrorists are as bad as the real thing…) But the “love triumphs over all” finale Bova delivers undermines this atrocity. James Nicoll, in his review of Colony, scoffs not at this, but that Bahjat “becomes David’s reward at the end of the book, like a slave girl awarded to a victorious warrior.” He overlooks that Bahjat deserves much worse, given that she’s killed over seven thousand people. Modern reviewers are so hung up on identity politics that they ignore actual story elements.

This is indicative of the sea change that has occurred in Western society over just a few decades, and is another thing neither Bova nor any other sci-fi writer of his day could have predicted. And this is not intended as a slight against Nicoll, who is clearly knowledgeable about sci-fi. But his review title, “Soaked in 1970s-style sexism like a hopeful swinger reeking of Hai Karate,” is the epitome of what I’m talking about, as it gives a dismissive impression of a worthy book. (And also, you shouldn’t be surprised to know, his description sounds exactly like the type of novel I’d like to read!) Clearly readers of the actual era would not have seen things through the nauseating “woke” filter of today. I’ve only found one contemporary review of Colony: download Science Fiction Review #28 from November 1978, go to page 28, and there you will find a review of Colony by none other than Orson Scott Card. He raves about the novel and his only real complaint isn’t about the race or “women without agency” stuff, but that Bahjat falls in love after one night in the sack (with the man who sets her on the path to PRU activism). Card also sees that Bova was clearly going for the “science fiction meets bestseller” approach, and pointedly brings up Niven and Pournelle’s Lucifer’s Hammer, of the year before, as comparison. That book certainly did better than Colony, which seems to have been forgotten, so I’m curious if Bova attempted this blockbuster fiction approach in any further novels. 

The Stand On Zanzibar similarities I noticed when I first spotted Colony in the bookstore is that periodically the text is broken up with communiques, journal entries, or “tapes for an unauthorized biography” of Cyrus Cobb. This is Bova’s way of opening up his world while also advancing the narrative, but at the same time it occurred to me that it was another interesting comparison between Bova’s 2008 and the future we actually got. Because, despite the overbearing World Government, those news communiques are true, in that they reflect the actual “truth” of what is happening in the narrative. In other words, if there is rioting in Argentina or whatever, or people have been abucted on Island One, the communiques state that. What I mean to say is, there is no fake news in Colony, and it’s another indication of how Bova’s world is less complicated than ours.

As I mentioned above, Bova’s 2008 is basically the world we are lurching toward. In his projected future the carbon footprint has mostly been erased, with people driving electric bikes and etc. And all nations are united in a World Government which solely gets its power from solar energy. Bova, despite not playing sides in his fictional world, does clearly seem to think this is the way to go, yet he doesn’t seem to grasp that his novel makes the case that countries should not unite, and that it would be dangerous to put all your energy eggs in one basket, so to speak. I mean, those seven thousand who die when the Island One solar energy is stopped. Did the people in those countries no longer have access to gas-powered furnaces or the like? It seems ridiculous, but again it also seems like an indication of where we are going. Just over a year ago the United States was energy independent, gas was cheap and empty shelves at the grocery store wasn’t even a concern. Now, after a few policy changes by a new administration, gas prices have skyrocketed and global starvation looms on the horizon…all due to policies that are driven by a climate change agenda. Bova doesn’t dwell on the birth pangs his world would have gone through to become a solar energy-dependent new world order, but certainly we now in the present are going through something very similar to those birth pangs. 

This is a novel that took me on a journey, and it was the pure escapism that I wanted. And yet it clearly made me speculate about things in our own world, and I can think of no further indication of what makes for a great novel. Well, I can think of one other thing: I didn’t want Colony to end. I’m sure I will read it again someday. I’m also wondering if any of Bova’s other novels are along the same lines. Maybe someday I will read Kinsman or Millennium; Bova combined the two in 1988 as The Kinsman Saga, rewriting a portion of each novel so that they would flow more smoothly together as one story. But I’d more than likely read the originals, for fear that the ’88 edition might remove the swanky ‘70s details I demand. However so far as this sequence goes, Colony was the last novel; curiously though in 1985 Bova published Privateers, which concerns the mining of asteroids in our solar system. This is exactly what David Adams plans to do in the climax of Colony, however Privateers does not occur in the same world as Kinsman, Milennium, or Colony, featuring as it does a Soviet Union that’s still running in the early 21st century. 

So in conclusion I give Colony my highest recommendation, not just as a sci-fi novel but as a novel, and if any of you can suggest any other “sci-fi meets popular fiction” novels from the era I’d greatly appreciate it. Per above Orson Scott Card specifically compared Colony to Lucifer’s Hammer, but that one sounds like a post-nuke pulp with its apocalyptic setting – I’m looking for something more like mini-skirts on Mars or the like, with that “full ‘70s flavor” in space. Something that Colony delivers in spades. And finally here’s the back cover (the cover portrait of Bahjat is repeated on the spine of the book, by the way, and this was what initially captured my eye on the bookshelf when I first discovered the book):

25 comments:

Matthew said...

Bova was a staunch environmentalist though it seems a lot of his other views were conservative. I've read a few of his stories in various SF magazines over the years and while he was not my favorite writer he was usually solid.

Poul Anderson's No Truce With Kings argues against humans uniting. It actually argues a large federal government in the US for that matter. Anderson plays fair with the other side (not everyone on the other side is inherently evil) but it comes down on the side of an almost feudal society. It's in various collections. (It may not have as much sex and violence as you like though. Anderson is usually chase.)

John B. said...

First Bova novel I ever read when I was nine years old was "The Star Conquerors," which still holds up well. One thing I noticed on second reading many years later was that the star-spanning alien galactic empire which is threatening the Earth is conquered, not by a miraculous new weapon but by the research of an ANTHROPOLOGIST.

Johny Malone said...

Great review. I will no longer dodge Bova. Bahjat reminds me of the terrorist girl in The Pirate by Harold Robbins --an inspiration?

Unknown said...

(Zwolf again)

There's a lot to unpack so I'm not even going to try tackling much, but, sorry, some stuff mentioned here really needs a fact-check it. Like I told ya, if you inject this stuff, you're gonna get called on it. I don't care about political biases, but I get irked if they're based on hogwash. I know I'll probably get piled on for doing it 'cuz I'm a bad guest and most people with more-centrist views have already gone, but, eh.

First: "how could Bova or Rand or any of the sci-fi visionaries of the day have predicted that in the real future the billionaires would be aligned with a leftist new world order?"

You're kidding me, right? :D I know you're biased, but this has got to be a joke. Lordy lord. :D First, the guy y'all elected has been THE standard-bearer and symbol for billionaires for years. Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers run pretty much all the political-televangelism that passes for your "news sources." Most of the right's policies (which actually slowed the economy down slightly while increasing MY lower-income's taxes) were tax cuts for the rich. Granted, there are a few guys like Bill Gates who may seem more "liberal," just because, for some screwed-up reason, starting any program that helps less-advantaged people is seen as "left wing" now, but they're not the ones setting up a billionaire-friendly government. The left are the ones trying to TAX the billionaires. I mean, billionaires saying, "Let's take over the government... and then tax ourselves!" seems like it'd be a weird plan for billionaires to take, no? I'm not sure how "billionaires are a leftist cabal" makes any sense. Not there is much of any real "left" in the United States for them to allign with to begin with.

(continued...)

Unknown said...

"In the era of “get woke, go broke,” corporations no longer make a secret of their ideology. Even charity organizations have gone down the self-destructive path of wokeism."

Corporations are just trying to work in the free market, which is now more socially aware. Most people don't like racism, sexism, etc. anymore, and women and minorities and gay folks are getting more money and power than they once had, so, if businesses want customers, they adjust to cater to them more. Businesses are always going to do what makes them more money; they don't really care about "woke" anything, they just see how demographics and attitudes are changing and don't want to get left behind. Maybe they overdo it now and then, but overcompensation happens sometimes when there's a steering change. It's not a threat of "woke"-ism, it's just change with the times. And raging against change is always a losing proposition. Hell, I think it was better when we didn't have an internet and e-books and too-easy-self-publishing, but good luck to me on that one, it's not going back.


But I get it, some "woke" folks can be obnoxious and never-happy-with-anything, the over-reachers bug my Democrat friends almost as much as my Republican ones, and I argue with them myself. But I'm not sure why acknowledging truths about a society's flaws is "destructive." To fix a problem you have to look at its causes, otherwise you're wasting your time and will never repair anything. And ignoring the problem means just continuing to suffer its effects. That's true for a society as much as it is for, say, plumbing or furniture.

Take a second and think about *why* you hate "wokeness" so much. Is it really the goals themselves, or just that some of the people trying to achieve can be admittedly overbearing and obnoxious, or is it just "hating wokeness is what the tribe I've chosen is doing now so I'll do it too"? I think you're getting pushed into a reactionary extreme for the wrong reason, just because somebody else wants you there. Take a minute and think about what goals of "wokeness" are you really against? Equality of the races? Women's rights? Gay rights? Trying to lessen income inequality? What? I admit a lot of extreme lefties can be a pain in the ass in their approach, but forget about those assholes: are the goals themselves really bad? I don't think so. Baby 'n' bathwater.


(continued...)

Unknown said...

Now...

"Just over a year ago the United States was energy independent, gas was cheap"

Gas was cheap because the country was in a lockdown and so demand was next to nothing. That's basic economics. People were working from home, schooling remotely, there were no movies or restaurants to go to, vacationing wasn't much fun because of restrictions, etc., so they weren't using much gas. When the vaccine came about, the country freed up a bit and demand went up, and, thus, prices went up. And Russia and OPEC cut down production and haven't increased it back up to meet demand. Gas prices are far more due to circumstance than anyone's policy.

Also... the United States was not truly "energy independent." Whatever source you're getting that from is misleading you. For one thing, it'd be strategic suicide if we were. The United States has around enough crude in the ground to meet five years worth of its demand if we went independent. That's it. We'd be insane to stop importing, because once we use up what we've got we'll be sitting ducks for any country who wanted to go to war with us. Saving what we have is protecting us. We're never going to be really "energy independent" -- it wouldn't even be wise, unless we moved away from fossil fuels, which I don't think will fully happen for a lonnnng time. Here's a guy who can explain that better than I can in this space: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AvORj6UiNc



And, no, shortages are not "all due to policies that are driven by a climate change agenda." For one thing, almost none of that's actually been implemented. The "Green New Deal" hasn't been passed. You realize it's crazy to blame things on legislation that isn't in action, right? Results follow actions that have been taken. If the action hasn't been taken, then you can be sure that whatever you're seeing aren't "results." Second, much of that deals with increasing solar, wind, etc. That's free energy that will lessen demand on all other kinds, thereby causing prices to *drop,* not increase. It'll also create a lot of new industries to replace ones that are dying. The coal industry's not dying due to politics, and it's been declining for a long time. Politics are, if anything, keeping it on life support. Once again, this guy can explain that more clearly than I can: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oa9cODx1BVI

Here's a Forbes article (which is critical of Biden) that'll straighten some more things out: https://www.forbes.com/sites/rrapier/2021/11/14/is-the-us-energy-independent/?sh=7e65201f1387

"empty shelves at the grocery store wasn’t even a concern."

BULLSHIT. Sorry, can't be any more polite than that, but that's just false. You're either misleading or you're getting misled. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/fact-check-photos-of-bare-fully-stocked-grocery-store-shelves-shared-online-to-support-false-claim/ar-AAPLFqS There are still supply chain issues, absolutely, but the only time I've seen "empty shelves" was under Trump, during the lockdown. Do you not remember the toilet paper shortages, and how impossible it was to buy bread, etc.? We still have shortages of some things, yes -- we're still in a pandemic -- but it's NOTHING like it was. To say "empty shelves weren't a concern" when people were damn near killing each other over toilet paper and you could hardly get bread or chicken for months is revisionist history.

As for "global starvation looming on the horizon," the fact that inflation and shortages are GLOBAL pretty much proves that this isn't due to polices, but a situation the world's dealing with. I know it's fun to chant "let's go Brandon" or whatever, go ahead, but don't let tribal fun get in the way of honesty.

Anyway, other than that, good review as usual. :)

Johny Malone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Johny Malone said...

"Assigned agent" Zwolf writes more and more, he should include graphs or flowcharts, so maybe he can be understood...

Lucio Fulci said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Excellent review! Welcome to the wonderful world of Ben Bova novels. If I was forced to choose just one SF author to read I would pick Bova. Since you enjoyed Colony, I highly recommend that you check out his Grand Tour series of books: https://www.goodreads.com/series/51185-the-grand-tour

Joe Kenney said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone!

Matthew, I'm not surprised to hear that about Bova. But then, what passed for a liberal in 1978 was a lot different than today. I mean, check out this campaign ad for Bill Clinton's re-election in 1996. And he was considered a liberal! Could you imagine any liberal politician doing an ad like that today? Anyway, I see that Bova did a non-fiction book in the early '80s on his thoughts about space exploration, so I might check that out -- I love old futurism books. Thanks for the suggestion on Poul Anderson.

John B, thanks for the note on the other Bova story. He is an author I definitely intend to read more of.

Johny Malone, thanks a lot for your comments, and great to hear from you. That's a great point on The Pirate! Now that I think of it, Pocket published "Colony," and it also published the paperback editions of Harold Robbins's novels. Maybe "Colony" was written per Pocket Books specs, to cater to what their readers demanded?

Unknown, thanks also for the note on the Grand Tour series! I think I might check out Kinsman and/or Millennium first, just because they take place in the same world as Colony. But otherwise I'll be happy to read any of Bova's other novels, as I loved this one.

Lucio, looks like you removed your comment – I’m sorry if I upset you as well, but it appears that my comment on “leftist new world order” is what rankled you. I think this was poor wording on my part, because I was using that phrase in connection with the World Government in the novel, not with the real world. Wait, now I sound like one of Brandon’s handlers when they’re trying to explain what “he really meant to say!” Seriously though, “new world order” has been coming out of the mouths of some left-leaning politicans lately. I think most recently one of the Covid tyrants in Australia or New Zealand used the phrase when announcing her latest round of dictates But anyway I’m glad to hear that you did enjoy my blog at least at one time – I’m a big fan of your movies, for whatever it’s worth!

Zwolf...I'll have to reply to you separately!

Joe Kenney said...

Zwolf, as I said before you are welcome to share your counter-arguments. I doubt at this point we’ll be able to change each other’s minds on this, though. I didn’t come to my sentiments in a vacuum, and as I mentioned before I used to get my news from MSN, obediently vote D, etc. I like to think that the people who visit this blog are at least on the same wavelength as me, so if I can see the shitty state the country has gotten to, I figure others can as well. But your doubling down on “everything’s just fine” leads me to conclude that your irrational hatred of Trump has clouded your senses – and, no doubt, will forever prevent you from admitting that you made a mistake when you voted for Brandon. The acid test for that is to ask yourself whether the Afghanistan debacle would’ve happened on Trump’s watch. (There’s only one honest answer to that question.) The other acid test is for you to pretend it was Trump who has done or said half the stuff Brandon has – I mean, what if Trump had told corporations to keep mandating vaccinations, even though the Supreme Court had blocked him? That plays right into the “Trump’s a tyrant” angle, doesn’t it? What if it had been Trump who’d told Russia it was just fine to do a “minor incursion” into the Ukraine? I mean isn’t that Russian collusion? Or wait, did Brandon say that? Or is that not what he “really meant?” And if it is what he meant, he said it because reasons, right? You all will twist yourselves into pretzels to explain away your boy’s actions and words. But then to paraphrase Rick James, TDS is a helluva drug.

You know the funny thing is, in my first draft of the review I had a lot of links and additional material to flesh out my points, but decided to remove the more inflammatory content before posting! Now I’m kicking myself because I should’ve just left it in, mostly because it was links regarding the very points you have questioned. Speaking of which I’m going to assume you did not read the links in my review. But that’s cool, I understand – like David Mamet said, in order to be a liberal you have to pretend not to know a lot of things, and if you go to some of those sites you can no longer have that luxury. I mentioned Robert Anton Wilson in the review, and in one of his books he suggested to spend a week or two looking into the mindset of a group you disagreed with. Given that RAW was a card-carrying left-winger, his suggestion of course was to read republican stuff for a few weeks, to see how the other side thinks. So I put the same proposition to you – check out The Conservative Treehouse and/or the Ace Of Spades HQ a few times a week and see what you think. Neither are Qanon or whatever type of stuff…actual news stories, not right-wing conspiracy theories. But then again a year ago it was a right-wing conspiracy theory that the unvaxxed would be rounded up into camps…

Joe Kenney said...

I don’t want to turn the thread into a long argument between the two of us, so let me just cover a few of your arguments. For one, your defense of wokeism inadvertently explains why so many people hate it – you basically imply that I’m a racist/sexist/etc because I’m against it. No, Zwolf, I have no problem with any of the things wokeism endorses, but if I’m not mistaken we already had all those things before we had the malaise of wokeness. The obnoxious overbearing attitude of its purveyors is just the icing on the cake. The more troubling aspect is the outright racism of wokeism, as well as the cancel culture/wrongthink aspects of it. I’m going to assume you don’t have a corporate job, or if you do, you don’t have one where you’ve had to attend training on “pronouns.” Or, worse yet, you don’t have one that segregates its white employees for critical race training, in which case they can only “graduate” the course if they admit to having done something racist in their life. Oh wait, none of that’s happened, right? I mean Brandon and Chris Wallace at the first election debate last year said CRT was just “sensitivity training.” And CRT isn’t in schools, right? I mean, that’s what MSN/CNN/whatever said. My point on corporations above wasn’t about their marketing – I was sending out marketing emails to gay males/gay females at Match.com 16 years ago, and it was no big deal. What I was referring to was the public face the corps put out, the training they put their employees through. The CEO of a major company recently sent out an email to all employees on how to make the world more “equitable.” Equity is the new edict of the left, and it runs so counter to the foundational principles of the US that it would be ridiculous…that is, if so many people didn’t champion it. Oh wait, I forgot – the US is a racist country founded by systemic racists.

Woke is how everyone in the world knows the name George Floyd, but how hardly anyone knows the name Jackson Sparks, the 8 year-old boy who was among the six people that were killed when a black man (one whose social media was filled with George Floyd invective) intentionally drove a car into a crowd of white Christmas paraders in Wisconsin. That innocent little boy’s name has not been enshrined like a convicted criminal’s was, because his murder did not align with the woke narrative. (Nor did the story itself…in which the CAR was constantly blamed for the attacks, not the man behind the wheel.) But otherwise you’re right – everything’s hunky-dory with the country right now, and I’m just an alt-right conspiracy theorist.

Woke is when high schoolers in Loudoun County, VA are allowed to use the restroom of the gender they “identify with,” and then when a 14 year-old boy rapes a girl in the girl’s restroom not only is the crime hidden, but the boy is transferred to another school…where he carries out the same crime. And then when the father of the first girl goes to a PTA meeting to fight the policies that allowed this outrage to happen, he is the one who is arrested. Of course the Brandon administration goes one step further, and has now designated aggrieved parents who go to PTA meetings as domestic threats…but yeah, Trump was totally the tyrant. I’m so glad that monster is out of office. Just imagine how much worse things could be!

Woke is when JK Rowling can be cancelled from her own franchise due to “transphobic” tweets, and no one has the courage to stand up for her because they too are afraid of being cancelled. If I’m not mistaken, this culture of fear over “wrongthink” was one of the main reasons the communist party was able to stay in power in the USSR for so long: no one believed in the party, but no one was brave enough to speak out against it. And yet here that culture of fear comes to the West, and people welcome it with open arms.

Joe Kenney said...

And not only do you imply I’m a racist/sexist/homophobe/whatever, you also accuse me of watching Fox News! Dude, what did I ever do to you? I cut my cable 5 years ago, which was one of the smartest things I ever did. I didn’t watch Fox even then, though. And Fox is the epitome of the crass marketing I mentioned above – they saw a space for right-leaning news and filled it. But in 2016 their alignment was clearly displayed, culminating of course in their calling of Arizona for Brandon mere minutes after the polls closed, which seemed to be the signal for other networks to do the same. If Fox is Republican, it is strictly of the RINO sort. Sure, Trump always referred to them in a positive light, but Trump’s actually been left behind by his own movement now. In retrospect, I see that Trump achieved the worst fears of the Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself): he awoke a sleeping giant. There is an entire movement out there, and regardless of your comments in an earlier post, it isn’t just a bunch of white redneck racists. This movement is growing and growing and it is fired up about the direction the country is going in. Brandon’s tanking numbers, even in the polls of his media allies, clearly indicate this. Of course, it’s nothing a few rigged voting machines couldn’t fix, but still. Trump was the catalyst, and his own movement has left him behind on some issues – the dude was even booed at one of his own rallies the other month. When was the last time you heard of something like that happening? (He was supporting the vax, which his base is mostly against – time will tell if they are right on that score, though.)

But really this goes beyond “Republican” and “Democrat.” It’s to the point now where it’s “freedom” vs “tyranny.” Spoiler alert: you are not on the side of freedom. The fact that you think you are speaks volumes about the current state of the US. Cancel culture, wokeism, racial grievances, the cancelling of any dissenting opinions – none of these things have anything to do with freedom. But heck, I know I’m arguing from a losing position. As a buddy of mine who shares my sentiments recently said, “One day we’ll all be Democrats.”

But otherwise, thanks for your comment! I do enjoy hearing from you, as always. And I was proud of myself (even though it’s a sin…or used to be) that I kept my linkage related to the content of the novel, so I’m sorry that I still set you off.

Teutonic Terror said...

I'm a longtime lurker to your page, Joe, and what has finally moved me to comment is your standing up to a bully, who demands conformity to an official position.

Great job! (P.S. I detest Trump as much as I detest the Woke.)

It says a lot about a movement that seeks to impose its values by hanging people's career prospects over their heads. "Adapting to change" indeed!

Zwolf said...

(Zwolf again)

First and most importantly, if it seemed like I was implying you were racist/sexist, then I sincerely apologize. What I was trying to do there is get you to examine what you’ve been led to oppose, because I think you AREN’T racist or sexist and so I don’t get what’s so upsetting about it… beyond the aforementioned obnoxiousness of some of the SJW’s. Since I assume you DON’T hate the goals of it, I was trying to get you to take a look at why you DO see it as such an evil. Hence the “baby/bathwater” statement. It seems that was misunderstood which means I must have stated it badly, and you have my apology.

Also, I just see someone thinks I’m “bullying.” That certainly wasn’t my intent, so if that’s how I came across, my apologies to you and all present. I’m not demanding conformity to any “official position” – I’m just providing feedback and correcting some info I don’t see as factual. That may be contentious material and I can be blunt, but it’s not meant to be bullying. If it comes across that way, sorry.

And, no, I don’t think all Repubs are “rednecks” – not sure where THAT idea came from! That one wasn’t from me! Dude, I *am* a redneck! :D So are a lot of my left-leaning friends (many of them much farther left than me). We’ve all got guns, most have trucks, we farm and live in the boonies… we just don’t like Republicans because we live in a state being wrecked by their policies. Hell, I linked you to videos by that Beau guy. Did you listen to him? That dude’s a redneck. He’s also a former military contractor, self-defense trainer, and has done extensive firearms training. He’d be a weird guy to link to if I was insulting “rednecks.” I’ll also mention Trae Crowder and Corey Forrester. Trust me, I know “redneck” and conservative aren’t synonymous.

Also, I DO look at sites like the ones you mentioned. I probably read them more than I read any “lefty” sites… which is WHY I oppose them. Places like Conservative Treehouse make money off of feeding people bullshit that they want to hear, to create and support a story that they want to believe. They aren’t “informing” you, they’re reinforcing confirmation bias, propping up illusory correlation, and engaging in an exercise in attitude polarization. That’s what keeps people coming back! It’s a product that’s packaged for you. You’re not getting facts, you’re getting a story where one side are the good guys who do no wrong and the other side are wicked villains. When it’s not outright lies, then it’s filtered and cherry-picked to fit the confirmation bias. It always amuses me when people reject “mainstream media” – which has to appeal to the widest audience possible – and then thinks they’re getting “informed” by small websites (be they right or left) that are dependent upon a narrow audience to survive. You really gonna put your trust in someone who HAS to have an agenda in order to make their money, and have to keep posting crazier stuff to stand out among the imitators? You already slammed FOX News for not being “narrow” enough in scope, so you’re going to trust some place like Ace of Spades instead? You’re not looking for news – you’re looking to have the-thing-you-want-to-believe propped up by monetized disinfo. Read them if you enjoy them but be aware of what’s going on. Thinking Conservative Treehouse is a “news source” is like thinking the WWE’s a sport.


(continued)

Zwolf said...

Again, I live in Mississippi. The idea that I’m not a Republican because I don’t know what the Republican view is is pretty crazy! :) The Republican view has been rammed down my throat every day for my entire life. I have Republican operatives in my family – connections to the Pickerings, Haley Barbour… hell, the only reason my cousin’s not in prison is because Trent Lott took a payoff from his daddy to erase armed robbery off his record. I went to school at one of the “academies” the Conservative Citizens Councils set up so white kids wouldn’t have to go to school with black kids after integration. I’m WELL versed in conservative thought, dude. It may comfort you to think “he just hasn’t heard the information I have and that’s why he disagrees,” but I assure you most firmly that is NOT the case. I don’t only hear it, I *study* it, because if you don’t know what the other side is really thinking, you can’t effectively oppose them. And I’m also cautious of getting caught up in any confirmation-bias of my own. I question EVERYTHING, whether it’s something I’d LIKE to believe or not. I don’t trust every bit of “good news” from the left, either. So do not think I disagree with you because I don’t know what you’ve read. I’ve read it – I’ve just rejected it because it doesn’t pass the truth test. There is a lucrative cottage industry in this country for propaganda that props up people’s Dunning-Kruger effect and it’s important to recognize it for what it is, no matter what side you’re on. You’re telling me stuff about Robert Anton Wilson but I see no evidence that you’re taking your own advice. Go watch a bunch of that Beau dude. And don’t just listen to him -- fact check him, see if he’s right or wrong.

For instance, using “the unvaccinated being put in camps” as evidence that you’re NOT believing in right-wing conspiracies is pretty funny, considering that’s not happening. Were you reading this or something? https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2021/07/22/fact-check-claim-unvaccinated-being-sent-camps-satire/8026285002/ Jeez, dude. The unvaccinated are being inconvenienced a bit, which is fine by me because I’ve already lost over half a dozen people to the disease so I’m a little out of patience with the flat-earther children who believe every silly thing from “it’s gonna give you lizard DNA so they can take your guns away because the 2nd amendment doesn’t apply to lizard-people” to “spoons are going to stick to me”… but they aren’t being “rounded up.”

You have plenty of Repubs scared to stand up to Trump inciting an insurrection because they’ll get primaried… if not shot by some lunatic that Trump’s stirred up. They’re scared of their own base now because it’s become so unhinged. Mitch McConnell changes his story every day. So, yeah, tell me more about “wrongthink.”

Yeah, my job’s mentioned pronouns. So what? Common courtesy says call people what they want to be called. It’s not difficult. All my life I’ve been putting up with waiting patiently while Christians pray before meals and meetings, etc., and none of that is anything I’m into, either, but we all do little things out of respect for other people’s deals. People are using their freedoms, even if they aren’t in ways that I’d use ‘em, so if calling someone a pronoun or sitting quietly while they talk to some dude they think lives in the sky, it’s no biggie, it’s not hurting me and it helps them get through their day. No, America’s not a racist country, but to deny there are still inequalities is crazy, and to hide from historical facts is weak. It doesn’t make you racist to admit that your granddaddy probably was (mine definitely was), and that his day still has repercussions on this one. And we’ll never fix problems by denying that they exist.

(continued)

Zwolf said...

Yeah, an asshole did plow through a parade – yes, that was on all the news, “mainstream” included. It got packaged for you that he was “attacking white people” but the scumbag was running from cops. Do you REALLY figure he knew the racial makeup of the crowd beforehand, or that it was an all-white parade? Hail-Mary assumptions like that are not good evidence for claiming NOT to be a conspiracy theorist. Depraved indifference, yeah. Targeting a race? That’s a hell of a reach.

I don’t think “everything’s just fine” – never said anything of the kind -- but I do think one side’s a lot worse than the other. I didn’t make a mistake voting for Biden when the alternative was Trump. There’s plenty to criticize about Biden, I knew that going in, but given the choice I had, well, in the immortal words of Mickey Spillane, “it was easy.”

Trump did and said a LOT more heinous shit than Biden has, despite Biden’s infamous gaffe-prone-ness. You just don’t see it because you’ve got a blinder on your Trump-flaws eye and a microscope on your Biden-flaws eye. Again, confirmation bias. You’re comforting yourself thinking I think Trump’s bad just out of some irrational hatred, rather than facts.

I don’t excuse Biden his mistakes, which are many. But Trump set up the Afghanistan situation and wanted to pull out even earlier. It was going to be a huge mess regardless of who was in office because the Afghans just gave up; they aren’t a country, they’re a collection of warring tribes, and they had no interest in unifying once the U.S. troops were gone. It’s tragic, but it was inevitable. Trump announced withdrawal plans even earlier and telegraphed everything, made peace deals with the Taliban and left the Afghan government out of them, which delegitimized the government in the eyes of the country’s people, released 5000 Taliban prisoners, and said Biden should have done it even sooner. So thinking he’d have done better is wishful thinking based on a diet of one-sided and dishonest “information.”

(one more!)

Zwolf said...

As for “freedom vs. tyranny,” I’m going to stay on the side that DIDN’T pull a coup attempt. Trying to overthrow the will of the American people by storming the Capitol and trying to kill elected officials to stop the results of a free and fair election from taking effect is one hell of a way to show me you’re on the side of “freedom.” I’m going to stay on the side that’s trying to make it EASIER for people to vote, instead of the side that’s trying to make it easier to overturn election results they don’t like, gerrymandering like hell, etc. And I’ll stay on the side that isn’t trying to ban over 800 books, including Maus, which is an insane thing to not want people to read – it’s a GREAT and important book. And I’ll stay on the side that isn’t trying to overturn Rowe Vs. Wade so women will have less control over their lives. I’ll stay on the side that’s not trying to break down the separation of church and state to institute a totalitarian theocracy. And I know it ain’t all of y’all, but I’ll stay on the side that the dudes waving swastikas hate, rather than the one they’re excited about. So, yeah, sorry, dude, I hear your dissenting opinions loud and clear, ironically enough, but I’m remaining with the opposition. I’m not saying Dems are great champions of freedom, but, again, I live in Mississippi – I know firsthand and from long experience that Republicans AREN’T. So no sale.

If you want to turn your blog into something resembling everybody’s crazy uncle’s forwarded e-mails instead of a place where we come to AVOID that kind of thing, then you can. I’ll still call out bad ideas if I see enough things that aren’t true and have the patience and time on my hands, because the “wavelength” we’re on is action series pulp fiction, not politics, and reminding you of that might be helpful. But we’ve dealt in the same literature, we run in the same circles and have a lot of the same contacts and I assure you that what you’re doing is turning a lot of people off. Only your real friends will tell you when your face is dirty, and I like ya, so, I said something. Not trying to stop ya, but rest assured that I’m not the only one… just the only one rude enough to say something.

But, carry on as you wish. I’ll keep reading and trying to ignore what interjections I can and enjoying most of what you do. But ask yourself, at least, if anything in this new trip you’re on is improving your life in any way… or is it just making you more obsessed, angry, and alienating old friends? Maybe you’re happier… but it doesn’t come across that way. A lot of the joy here’s been replaced by links to distracting outrage.

And I’ll leave it at that. Hope there's no misunderstanding, sorry there was before. Last word’s yours if you want it.

Teutonic Terror said...

Joe, please keep up the great work on your blog. It's a necessary voice, because there are those who have defined "proper literature" to mean certain kinds of authors - William Faulkner, Margaret Atwood, Oprah's Picks, etc. Those with other literary preferences have few resources to turn to besides your blog.

Sadly, just as there are those who have taken upon themselves to define proper literature, there are those defining "common courtesy" and how one ought to be arriving at one's convictions. Those people are everywhere, and verbose.

Can there be any doubt as to why your blog on escapist, even "mindless", literature is needed today?

Unknown said...

(Zwolf again)

Just as an aside, I agree totally with my fellow Accept fan on the well-chosen books for the blog, and the need for reviews of 'em. I think you know that's ONE thing we never disagreed on at all.

As far as being verbose, eh, that's another thing we've never disagreed on. And more power to us. ;)

Have a good week. :)

Steve Carroll said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Carroll said...

Great review. Well done, as always, Joe. Keep it up. It's your page. You owe no one any explanations or rebuttal, though you did so in stand-up fashion.

Joe Kenney said...

Teutonic Terror, thanks a lot for the comment, sorry for the delay in response. Thanks for the kind words on the blog, and for the support! Detesting wokeism is more important than liking Trump, that's for sure. As you mention, careers are being destroyed...but this depends on which side you're on. Whoopi Goldberg for example only gets a slap on the wrist (two weeks PAID suspension) for her comments on the Holocaust, whereas Gina Carano is straight-up fired for her comments on the Holocaust. It's depressing to see what is happening in the US today, but polls like this one seem to indicate that people are just done with it. This is what I was referring to above: it's a poll by the admin's media allies (ABC), so you know it has oversampled that portion of the population...but as the numbers indicate, even they are sick of it.

Thanks again for commenting, and I do hope I'm not coming off as some reactionary conservative nutjob. If anything I consider myself an independent. I've been watching those space race documentaries, and damn, just imagine a candidate like JFK today. Hell, even that 1996 Bill Clinton ad I posted above got my interest. A Democrat who is for border security and is against crime?! Actually I like to think my sentiments are driven more by common sense than by politics. Any movement that demands such obedience to "right-think" cannot be good.

Zwolf, you know I think you are great, but we'll once again just have to agree to disagree. But in a way you are the living proof of what I'm saying -- you claim the Wisconsin driver was merely running away from the cops. And yet we know his social media was filled with calls for violence against white people. Of course the mainstream media did not report on this. How could they? It conflicts with their narrative -- which, by the same token, is why they had no trouble at all with making Kyle Rittenhouse's victims posthumously non-white. But it's not just the media. A Muslim man recently took a synagogue hostage in Colleyville, Texas, explicity calling for the release of a terrorist, and the FBI's initial statement was that his intent was "unclear."

This perverted thought strain has infiltrated every area of the US, but surveys like the one above make me think there might be hope. Also I suspect you still have not checked out The Conservative Treehouse, as it is news; it is not conspiracy speculation, but actual news stories from around the world. Stories the mainstream media will not touch. Through that site I knew of the shady origins of the "Steele dossier" while the media was still talking about "Russian collusion." Not that they've apologized for intentionally spreading disinfo.

And I'm sorry, but the Brandon admin is racist, more so than Trump's could ever have been accused of -- they are literally throttling Covid treatments based on ethnicity, with priority given to non-whites. Look it up. Of course, I'm sure you'll have some "reasons" to explain it. Just as you would've immediately frothed at the mouth if the Trump admin was doing the exact same thing for the exact same reasons.

Steve, thanks a lot for your comment and support as well! You are right, I really shouldn't get into rebuttals or etc, but if I can make other people aware of these things I think it's worth it. But I will try to refrain from inflammatory topics in future. Wait, I've said that before...

In closing, I hope at least some of you check out Ben Bova's "Colony," which was a damn great novel!

Tyger of Pan Tang said...

Hi Joe,

1) Yes, coming off as a wacky, out-of-touch uncle can be counterproductive, so it's important to marshal facts, which you've done effectively here with the recent Texas and Wisconsin tragedies.

Furthermore, it's also important to resist not only the wacky Uncle, but also the annoying "Aunt Karen", who has nothing to offer but correct people's diction and complain about behaviour she dislikes.

2) I bought Colony onto my Kindle because of your review, and I look forward to reading it.