True Review
Current Issue Number 78 Vol.21   August 2011
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   

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Grift University

It’s truly amazing how things never, ever, change.

I just read the Robert A. Heinlein biography by William H. Patterson Jr. (TOR, August 2010, trade paperback June 2011, www.tor-forge.com). Segments of this very comprehensive Heinlein biography deal with Heinlein’s early career quest for political reform and activism. He recounts the same problems we are encountering now: the renegade depression and recession that occurred at turn of the century and again during the middle of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

It reminds me of Neo and the Matrix, from “The Matrix” film series in the early 2000s. Do you recall how Neo was merely one of a bunch of “fixes” to the system dating back to the beginning of Matrix time? And the same types of political parties (the Tea Party is nothing new) rise up, decades apart, perhaps centuries apart, to “correct” our now debilitating social and economic inequities. More Neos are a-comin’!

How long will this cycle continue? Will we be doing the same things in 2050? 2100? 2200?

What worries me is the “students” of the mess we are in. You know -- those who are studying finance in school, getting their MBAs, and who have witnessed, firsthand, the first-class financial murder in this country.

No crime. No punishment. Reckless endangerment of our fragile economy as a result of mortgage-backed securities and the credit bubble. Welcome To Grift University!

What they are learning is if you are clever enough, and disguise your operations well enough under the “for good of the American public” (as in “every American should own their own home” policy of the Clinton Administration in the ‘90s, etc.) you may literally get away with financial murder.

What happened will be an inspiration to those not inclined to “do the right thing.”

Cane murdered Abel. It was the first murder, and there had to be a precedent for punishment.

But for the financial crimes of our times, no precedent was established.

We need to establish the precedent and punish the people who exhibited reckless misbehavior. The ones who knowingly signed people without jobs (or with minimal ones) to houses they could never afford. Otherwise, like the Great Book, Cane could go after his parents and the rest of the community as easily.

In my review of RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT this issue by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner (Times/Henry Holt & Co., 2011, us.macmillan.com), I mention how RECKLESS compares to a book reviewed last issue, GRIFTOPIA, by Matt Taibbi (Spiegel and Grau, 2010, www.spiegelandgrau.com). While GRIFTOPIA painted a very emotional picture of greed and irresponsibility, RECKLESS accounts factually the financial crimes that were committed. GRIFTOPIA blames the bank, Goldman Sachs. RECKLESS just blames everybody in the financial industry – and names names.

Robert B. Reich, an author himself, reviewed RECKLESS in the May 29, 2011 edition of the New York Times Book Review. Reich quotes the authors:

“‘The failure to hold central figures accountable for their actions sets a dangerous precedent,’” the authors say. ‘A system where perpetrators of such a crime are allowed to slip quietly from the scene is just plain wrong.’” But the authors believe no real crime was committed – other than the good old Wall Street unparalleled greed.

Reich centers on the real problem: the authors hint at Washington “and the financial sector.” He writes that they have “become so tightly intertwined that public accountability has all but vanished. . . . The extraordinary wealth of America’s financial class also elicits boundless cooperation from politicians who depend on it for campaign contributions and from a fawning business press. . . . In this symbiotic world, conflicts of interest are easily hidden, appearances of conflicts taken for granted, and abuses of public trust for personal gain readily dismissed.”

Financial murder was committed. Nobody was punished. In fact, all of the perpetrators of these crimes are still wealthy and working as if no murders actually occurred.

All this crime, and no time?

Study on, kids. I can see a future time where you’ll be lickin’ your chops, waiting to cash in as your predecessors did with this carte blanche opportunity. Because I’m sure you’ll come up with a way to profit easily, taking your lessons from Glenn Frey and “Smuggler’s Blues”: “It’s the lure of easy money, it’s got a very strong appeal.”

Andrew M. Andrews

“The money power has grown so great that the issue of all issues is whether the corporations shall rule this country or the country shall again rule the corporations. [Corporate influence] reaches the Supreme Court, and the White House itself!”

-- Joseph Pulitzer, 1879

In This Issue

ZENDEGI Musings and Meditations Click on book cover for review. Robert A. Heinlein ECLIPSE 4

Crucified Dreams TIMECASTER BEST HORROR COVER Stories for The Nighttime Reckless Endangerment

April Realms of Fantasy Pulitzer Monticello - Sampler Irish Country Courtship The Source of Miracles

Next Time In True Review
Postmortal - cover

THE POSTMORTAL:

THE POSTMORTAL, by Drew Magary. Penguin Books (us.penguingroup.com), 2011, 369 pp., $15.00. ISBN 978-0-14-311982-1

THE POSTMORTAL is a strikingly dark story by a new novelist, but one in which we have experience in the SF field. Travel back in time to the year 1986 and read British science fiction writer Brian Stableford’s story, “And He Not Busy Being Born . . .” from Interzone 16 and collected in a Best of Interzone anthology that I reviewed quite some time ago. (The title is obviously a take on the Bob Dylan song.) The story was the beginning of many of Stableford’s “emortality” stories and novels, I remember the story because immortality was a given. In these tales, death was conquered. In “And He Not Busy Being Born . . .” people who were bored with living for hundreds of years decided to select their own death when life became too long and intolerable.

In THE POSTMORTAL, in 2019 inventor Graham Otto accidentally comes up with a cure for aging with an experiment involving fruit flies. Enter John Farrell, divorce lawyer, who is injected with the “cure” in his late twenties. He is perpetually “frozen” in time -- never aging. That means he can’t retire. That means everybody else not given the Cure will age around him. That means he could see his great-great-great grandkids. It also creates problems for overpopulation, obviously.

Some are against the Cure. Like the Greenies, troll-like hoodlums who maim those with the Cure with a tattoo of their birth date or worse. There are others who absorb a sort of humanism in the Church of Man. This is a world in which marriage is relegated to a 40-year cycle (how many hundreds of years could somebody actually stay married?) Eventually, John marries his high school sweetheart, Alison, but the happiness is disrupted. Earlier on, Farrell suggests to a best friend (Katy Johannson) to visit the Cure (now black marketed) through a doctor in a high-rise. But just before a terrorist bomb takes out the building and Katy is killed, Farrell witnesses a lithe, beautiful blonde near the site. He investigates later and discovers the woman’s name: Solara Beck. Is Solara responsible for the bombs that are killing hundreds of people as a result the Cure protests?

In years to come, as Farrell finds himself stumbling through a world increasingly on edge with a rebellious population (as China “nukes” its own rebel cities) and which leads to eventual nuclear war – as Farrell turns into an End Specialist, one who is licensed to kill those who have taken the Cure at an old age – what will become of humanity?

These are tall questions from a very grim, bleak tale of a very possible near future. This is a sober but engaging story and, in its own angst-ridden way, entertaining as pure speculative SF.

Andrew M. Andrews
Deed To Death - cover

DEED TO DEATH:

DEED TO DEATH, by D.B. Henson. Touchstone Books (www.simonandschuster.com), 2011, 278 pp., $14.00. ISBN 1-4516-4960-6

According to Touchstone, Henson self-published this as an eBook in April 2010, and was able, through word of mouth and sheer sensation, to sell 100,000 copies (anybody can be a self-promoter!). DEED TO DEATH is the tale of a real estate agent who is getting married to a successful man – a man with a dark past that she uncovers one scary moment at a time – is a timeless tale. We’ll see what other works that Henson has in store in the future.

Andrew M. Andrews
No Rest for The Dead - cover

NO REST FOR THE DEAD:

NO REST FOR THE DEAD, by various authors. Touchstone (www.simonandschuster.com), 2011, 254 pp., $24.99. ISBN 1-4516-0737-6

Twenty-six writers contributed to this shared-narrative “whodunit” featuring the murder of a famous curator and a detective who is convinced that the tried-and-executed murderer, the curator’s wife, is not the perpetrator. When is the last time 26 writers contributed to a shared narrative novel? Is this a first?

Andrew M. Andrews
Promises To Keep - cover

PROMISES TO KEEP:

PROMISES TO KEEP: A Jilly Coppercorn Novel, by Charles de Lint. Tachyon (www.tachyonpublications.com), 2007, 2011, 192 pp., $14.95. ISBN 978-1-61696-019-3

Newford, the city created and populated by Charles de Lint, is center stage. Jilly Coppercorn takes on a new life (escaping a past of bad behavior and homelessness). Jilly is visited by someone from her past that may capsize the cart – or maybe just provide new opportunities for Jilly that are hard to resist.

Andrew M. Andrews
Chaos Unleashed - cover

CHAOS UNLEASHED:

CHAOS UNLEASHED: Book Three of the Shamra Chronicles, by Barry Hoffman. Edge Books (www.ShamraChronicles.com), 2011, 369 pp., $12.99. ISBN 978-1-9342-6724-0

Dara must build an army to confront Chaos spreading across the land. This world is shared by both the living and the dead, and her mission is fraught with possibility and portents of disaster.

Andrew M. Andrews
Wildside Mystery Doubles - cover

WILDSIDE MYSTERY DOUBLES: DEADLY THINGS:

WILDSIDE MYSTERY DOUBLES: DEADLY THINGS: Mysterious Tales, by Darrell Schweitzer and THE JUDGMENT OF THE GODS and Other Verdicts of History, by Robert Reginald. The Borgo Press/Wildside Press LLC (www.wildsidebooks.com), 2011, 149 pp, and 123 pp., $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4344-1205-8

The doubles are back – just like the Ace doubles of long ago – at Wildside.

I enjoyed the Sherlockian tales (I didn’t know Darrell was such a fan of the genre), especially enjoying “The Adventure of the Hanoverian Vampires” (the “alternate historical vampire cat detective story,” and I wonder who else could be so adept at telling this tall tale other than Darrell?).

“Occam’s Razor,” “Occam’s Treasure,” and “Occam’s Measure” from Reginald are collected on the other side of the mystery double.

Andrew M. Andrews
All Men of Genius

ALL MEN OF GENIUS:

ALL MEN OF GENIUS, by Lev AC Rosen. TOR (www.tor-forge.com), 2011, 462 pp., $24.99. ISBN 978-0-7653-2794-9

Steampunk Victorian London is the setting for this tale, heavily influenced by both Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare. Tribulations abound for poor Violet Adams, who wants to enroll in a male-only college in London called Illyria. So what else does a smart girl do except take up the identity of her twin brother – and will she survive her precarious position long enough to succeed? What can a man do that a woman can’t?

Andrew M. Andrews
The Unincorporated Woman - cover

THE UNINCORPORATED WOMAN:

THE UNINCORPORATED WOMAN, by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin. TOR (www.tor-forge.com), 2011, 412 pp., $25.99. ISBN 978-0-7653-1904-3

Some Kollins’ fans believe there are so many political/economic echoes of the best works of Robert A. Heinlein in the “Unincorporated” series (THE UNINCORPORATED MAN and THE UNINCORPORATED WAR). Readers are the best judge of that. But the milieu is well worked out and may make a lot of us think of our own economic and political realities.

Andrew M. Andrews

Next Time In True Review

HAPPILY EVER AFTER, ed. by John Klima. Night Shade Books (www.nightshadebooks.com), 2011, 482 pp., $16.99.
click here to purchase

GATEWAYS, ed. by Elizabeth Anne Hull. TOR (www.tor-forge.com), 2011, 416 pp., $15.99. ISBN 978-0-7653-2663-8

CITY OF RUINS, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Pyr/Prometheus Books (www.pyrsf.com), 2011, 303 pp., $16.00. ISBN 978-1-61614-369-5

FUTURE MEDIA, ed. by Rick Wilber. Tachyon Publications (www.tachyonpublications.com), 2011, 431 pp., $16.95. ISBN 978-1-61696-020-9