Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Bush Derangement Syndrome in Science Fiction
I’ve still been reading some science fiction, but now that I’ve read through our library’s collection of what books look interesting to me in the genre, I think I’m coming to the end.
Maybe some of my mainstream favorite authors will have written a couple of books each in the last year or two that I’ve been reading mostly science fiction, and will rescue me.
What I wanted to talk about was something that always annoys me with reading, no matter who the author is that does it.
An analogy: Watch any Sylvester Stallone movie and you WILL see some prominent-to-the-point-of-annoying product placement. Watch “Demolition Man” and “Cop Land” and you will see and hear Marlboro ads built into the movie.
In books, the equivalent of this is when an author uses specific names of real people in a derogatory way in a work of fiction.
I recently finished reading "Coyote Frontier" by Allen Steele. It's set about 30-40 years after the landing of escapees from earth first land on the distant planet called Coyote.
The reason they took a space ship and slept cryogenically for over 200 years while traveling to Coyote is because in the mid-21st century, America is taken over completely by the religious conservatives and create an authoritarian state hostile to "dissident intellectuals."
In the book, Johnson Space Center outside of Houston has been re-named the George W. Bush Space Center, with people having forgotten it was once named something else. Those evil, Constitution-killing conservatives have just taken control and changed EVERYTHING.
Also, under this future, evil fictional totalitarian regime, the Kennedy Space Center is re-named after Newt Gingrich.
There is a "reeducation camp" in rural Georgia, that is called Camp Buchanan, after Pat Buchanan.
Then later in the book, a woman on Coyote who is middle-aged, and thinking back to her youth on earth, recalls having been sent to a place for teens who were going astray from the government's official doctrine, and this camp is Camp Schafly, after famous conservative woman Phyllis Schlafly. Mr. Steele didn't even spell the name right in his book.
The book was decently written, very readable, and an interesting story, but the references to this fictional future totalitarian America and pointing out people like that, were so obviously the author's opinions that he couldn't resist putting in the book that I almost didn't finish reading it.
Allen Steele has received various awards in the science fiction genre for his novels, so I was wanting to try reading some, looking forward to a potential author to watch for in the future, but I finished the book feeling that it was worth reading, but that the jabs at the "vast right wing conspiracy" stood out like a hard shadow against a white wall.
Naming the author's most hated conservatives in the text of a fictional novel brought the reader (me, at least) to the conclusion that he wanted to preach instead of writing a story.
He never got to preaching his viewpoint in other places, which allowed me to finish the book.
It just annoys me when a fiction writer adds his own personal viewpoint to a book in such a way as to make sure you know this is the author talking to you, and that it definitely wasn't one of the books characters talking to you.
The book cover says that Mr. Steele is a journalism graduate, and a former reporter, so it definitely fit with the way most of today's journalists lean in their politics, but it almost ruined the book for me in the way it jerked me from being in a character's head, then suddenly in the author's opinionated head for a minute because he couldn't resist an egotistical jab at the political right, and then suddenly back into the character's head.
I would expect such things from a beginning writer, not one with numerous award-winning published novels.
Bush derangement syndrome is rampant, and in some ways it's funny to watch otherwise sane adults turn insane over their hatred of President Bush, but it's another level of the syndrome altogether to allow it to make it all the way to publication in a fiction novel.
I know next to nothing about Mr. Steele, but he's definitely got Bush Derangement Syndrome.
Funny thing is, I personally think that a totalitarian state coming about in America is much more likely to happen under liberal control of the government. Just look at the unearned adoration given to Barack Obama in this presidential campaign. The man is given a pass on so many questionable areas of his past, while his complicit media take apart the life of Joe the plumber. Barack Obama is the epitome of the "empty suit," and he's not allowed to be confronted or asked difficult, penetrating questions.
We now know more about some poor schmuck who dared to point out Obama's socialist agenda of huge redistribution of wealth, than we know about the man who could very well be our next president. Obama's followers are much more likely to willingly submit to a heavy-handed government.
OK. I'm climbing off the soap box now.