Sunday, May 31, 2015

Collapse, by Richard Stephenson

This novel takes place in the near future, 2027. There's been a terrible economic depression and an ISIS -like middle eastern force is trying to take over the world, beginning with Europe. The weather has run amok with extraordinary storms on the coast, and terrorists are spread across the nation.

Meanwhile, our heroes have their own problems. Beck is the world's richest man, has Asperger's, and pests in his mansion. Dupree is a former Navy Seal running from the law. Harris is a drug addicted police chief.

By the end of the book, these folks are teaming up to save the nation from a crummy political situation at home.

I mostly liked this book. The story's interesting, the characters pretty well developed. Expect for Harris' love affair which just feels wrong, totally contrived and unnecessary.

If I can pick up the next volume at a discount price on Kindle, I'm apt to read it.

Collapse (New America-Book One)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

No Fortunate Son, by Brad Taylor

Mr. Taylor works the genre of special operator / kill lots of people / work on the edge or flat outside of the law / good guys always win in the end novels.

In this one, heroes Pike and Jennifer save a diverse group of hostages from Irish terrorists masquerading as Arabs.

Entertaining fast read for a very rainy day.

No Fortunate Son: A Pike Logan Thriller

God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy, by Mike Huckabee

I didn't deliberately search the library's stacks for this book, and I didn't know much about Governor Huckabee when I picked it up. I vaguely recalled that he had a show on Fox News, which almost disqualified it (because I associate that network with a lot of shouting and anger and looseness with facts). But we're in our second continuous week of rain in Central Texas, and I decided to not be so picky.

Bottom line: I'm pleased that I read this book. I do not agree with all of the things that Huckabee does. But he is a good writer and the book was a fast and interesting read.

Huckabee divides the country into two camps.  He calls one bubble-ville, meaning the reality distortion field that surrounds the elite residents of Washington DC, New York, and Los Angeles. Huckabee views the wealthy and powerful liberal base of those cities as being out of touch not only with the rest of the nation but also with the average person in their own towns. The other is bubba-ville, meaning the rest of the county if that were defined by the Andy Griffith or Mayberry RFD television shows. In these places people are kind, friendly, religious, industrious, inventive. In Huckabee's view they seem (although he didn't explicitly say) white and Christian.

I'm not sure how realistic his view of the country is. Its pretty close to what I've seen in many parts of Texas, but there's also crime, poverty and despair in many parts of Texas as well. Things aren't black and white. But I don't believe reviewers should get bogged down in this: I suspect that Huckabee was primarily going for the contrast between the "big coastal city elitists" and "regular buys."

I certainly agree with every word he writes about politicians: he wants tight term limits on Congressmen and Senators and his contempt for our recent Congress matches that of most everyone I know. Similarly, I agree with most of what he writes about political correctness in speech, that more attention is paid to the meta-topic of the wording than is paid to the accuracy or efficacy of the message.  He does a great job articulating the silliness of the phrase "assault weapon" and pointing out that most folks who use the term disparagingly have no hunting experience.

It is weird to me that someone who is so eager to reduce the federal government's role in our daily lives, and so opposed to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is so eager to legislatively limit the rights of women to manage their own bodies and health. "I'll get the government out of your lives except into your most personal and difficult private health decisions."

On the other hand, he is opposed to sending the US military around the world to enforce our particular view of what is right -- a case where he's closer to President Obama's views than to say Senator McCain's.

So this book made a big impact on me. Huckabee doesn't seem likely to get the Republican nomination to run for the presidency. He's neither sufficiently radically right wing (think Paul Ryan), sufficiently willing to do whatever pollsters tell him to do (think Mitt Romney), sufficiently frighteningly insane enough (think Ted Cruz), or flat out wacky enough (think Sarah Palin) to excite the big money contributors. Pretty much the same reasons that John Huntsman failed -- he came across as sane, competent and willing to compromise with Democrats to do the right thing. But if Huckabee did get nominated, and he ended up as president, I'd be optimistic. And even though his political views are completely opposite to those of Secretary Clinton, he seems -- at least on paper -- far more honorable and trustworthy than she. And he sounds like he'd be a lot more fun to hang out with.

God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy