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Do the trashy pulp novels of the world have anything to offer our best sellers, all their hyped up to be the Terrible Book Club, explores whether or not you really can judge a book by its cover or its ridiculous synopsis.
If you've ever seen a book and thought the reading this, we probably are.
Hello and welcome to Episode ninety two of The Terrible Book Club. I'm Chris and this is Paris. Hello.
This time we read Flashback by Dan Simmons at the request of our patron, Jay. Jay said that it's my humble request that you guys suffer through.
Flashback by Dan Simmons. He was one of my favorites back in the day and wrote some really fantastic books.
But going through his works, I started to pick up on some increasingly troubling xenophobic right wing sentiments in this dumpster fire of an ultra right circlejerk. All right. Well, that should tell you what you're in for right away, everyone but Paris.
Why don't you tell them what we do here?
Yeah, just in case this is your first time tuning in, what we do here at the book club is we read books that we assume will be bad based on their cover title summary or some combination of the three. And then sometimes, like today, we read a book that a patron has recommended. In general, though, we do the opposite of what most people do in a bookstore or if they're browsing through Amazon or some other online book retailer.
And usually this experiment results in a disappointing read.
But once in a while we end up liking the book for content warnings. Today, there are lots of people get ready, everyone.
Yeah, this is like a toxic waste dump of good morning. So, all right. We've got our usual barnyard language. You know, we swear we speak casually. In addition to that, though, today we have age and gender dynamics that might be troubling drug use, racism and specifically the racism. Today, the race stuff is really bad. Just be warned. There is direct and frequent usage of the N-word and several other racial descriptors considered by most to be extremely offensive.
We've got oh, guess who's back and and back to the party sexual assault.
I wish you wouldn't show up every single fucking time.
And we've also got violence and weapons. It's also impossible to discuss this book without also discussing politics. So please be aware of that and skip this one if you're not interested in hearing about anything political. Unfortunately, the way that this world is built, we can't not talk about it. And I know right now hearing political stuff might not be what anyone wants. So, you know, if that's that's not what you want here right now, you just just skip on ahead or skip on one of our other ones.
Wait a couple of weeks.
There's going to be another terrible book after this. Yeah. Oh, wait. But that one. Yeah. Yeah. Well I would, I would say maybe just go to our back catalogue.
Yeah. Get some stuff from then. All right.
The printed summary on this book is thus. Reeling from total economic, political and moral collapse, the United States some 20 years from now is a shadow of its former self. But 85 percent of the population doesn't care. They're addicted to flashback, a drug that allows its users to reexperience the best moments of their lives. After former detective Nick Bottoms wife died in a car accident, he began going under the flesh to be with her.
Now an addict, he's lost his job. He's estranged from his teenage son, and he makes his home in an overcrowded space carved out of an abandoned shopping mall. Nick may be a lost soul, but he's still a good cop. So when a top governmental adviser hires him to look into the five year old murder of his son, his investigation turns up more than he bargained for and more than his new boss wants him to know.
Soon, Nick becomes the one man who can change the course of a nation turning away from tomorrow to live in the past. A provocative novel set in a future that seems eerily possible. Flashback proves that Dan Simmons is one of the most exciting and versatile writers at work today. All right, that's the jacket summary we've heard of some of our characters here at this point, you've got main character, Nick Bottom. Yes, that's A Midsummer Night's Dream references.
This book lets you know many times.
Yes, you've got Val, his teenage son that lives in a different city from him. Nick lives in Denver. Val lives in Los Angeles with his grandfather, Leonard, who is Nick's father in law. So the father of Nick's dead wife, Dora Fox bottom all that.
And that's not a foreign name. I don't know what is pretty much is. I mean, can you feel it? You can feel the noir dripping off of this, the sci fi noir feel over here.
Your sense waves out, everyone. Yeah. Yeah. You can actually hear Peter Baker in the background while you're reading this.
Then you've got the Japanese federal adviser that hires Nick to look into the murder of his son. That adviser's name is Hiroshi Nakamura and his son is Kaiko Nakamura.
He is accompanied by his demotes Lieutenant Hideki Sato, who is forced to go along with Nick on his investigation of this seven year old murder of Kaido.
And it basically leads them off on with a list of witnesses like Danny and Delroy Brown.
I'm leaving a word out there, Derek, Dean and Don, cause I'm educative. And then there's a bunch of other people that get involved in this thing. But that's basically the cast of characters.
Yeah, I remember when Chris said he's there, said Delroy Brown, and left a word out. That's because Deleware is middle name in this book is the N-word. And we all know what that is. So I'm not going to say it. Yeah, we're not going to be saying the many, many slurs that pop up in this book. But you have to know that they're here.
Yeah, and I know. I know it's.
Can I also say can I just before we move on, that's not the only black character with that word in their name. Oh, yeah, you're right.
There's another one at something unrelated. It's not like part of some weird family. Yeah, it's needless.
Yeah. Well, we'll get into that in a bit, but I thought because there is just so much to unpack in this book between the world building the language and just the main story, I thought it would be helpful if we gave you a very basic barebones summary of all the things that happened so that you at least have some awareness of what we're talking about, because we are going to get in the weeds here. There's just too much to discuss.
This is a big, big ol meaty book. I'd like to send us those big old books.
Oh, man. Yeah. So thanks, Jay, for sending us this book that was literally quite, quite meaty. It was a 550 page like hardcover extra big slice. I don't know what size that is bigger than mass market paperback. And it also just has a lot of a lot of things we need to discuss.
So so this is this is kind of the base summary. All right, in flashback, it's somewhere between the year twenty twenty nine and twenty thirty nine, I think we're kind of it's very vague about it all. Yeah.
So so the book was written in two or was it was it published in 2009 or 2010. 11, 2011. OK, so book was published in 2011 and it says shit did I fuck that up. It's 20 years from now. Oh shit. OK, so I'm sorry.
So somewhere between twenty, thirty one and twenty, thirty nine. Yeah. That's where we are.
They never give an exact year, they give you some context clues. Just you know, it's in the 20s, 30s. So right now in the present time it's twenty twenty. So this is we're talking eleven to eighteen years in the future from like that. OK, so in this future America is a disjointed place where several states have seceded, including Texas, of course, because motherfucking Texas always got to secede.
The government is sort of beholden to this global caliphate. So in this alternate reality, I'm guessing that ISIS kind of grew in power and took over. They explained that the global caliphate now controls the Middle East, Europe. Canada, racism is at an all time high after the country was plunged into chaos with the expansion of social welfare programs.
So in the book, many times we are told that Medicare and Social Security, Social Security, because they were expanded, the country collapsed.
And again, we're just describing the world as it exists in the book. We are not going to comment on anything right now a little later. Will the country exist in a hyper violent state? So, for example, teachers carry guns to school.
Gangs are everywhere, bandits on the highways. You know, it's not guaranteed you're going to survive if you travel from one city to another.
Yeah, parts of roads are just totally gone and people just fall off them and die all the time. It's, you know, it's really bad.
Disgraced Detective Noir number three thousand four hundred and fifty six, Nick Bottom. He has abandoned his teenage son, Val, with his father in law, Leonard. So his wife, his dead wife, Dora's father, Dhara, died in a car accident with her boss several years prior. Both Nick and his son Val are addicted to flashback, the drug that allows you to relive your memories. That was actually in a flash gang and flash gangs or these things where a bunch of teenagers band together.
They do a horrible violent crime and then they take flash so they can continue to relive that crime over and over again and get off on it or whatever you're looking to relive.
You know, but a lot of flash gangs specifically are out to do that sort of thing. Yeah.
Nick is hired by Hiroshi Nakamura to solve his son Cargo's murder from several years prior. Nick previously worked on this case and could not solve it. And then his wife died and he left the force and kind of lost his shit again, like every disgraced detective noir story ever horror.
So he is then unwillingly paired with Hideki Sato at and Motors request. He checks they like they go in their investigation. They go and check out the crime scene, which is like this virtual reality version of the crime scene.
They go to the scene but overlay through like augmented reality or VR goggles, like the night of through all these security cam feeds that they had. Yeah.
Meanwhile, while Nick is like investigating witnesses with Sato about this Keigo murder, Vele gets into some shit with his flash gang and then he and Léonard kind of launched their own escape from L.A. franchise with some truckers.
They pay the leader of another movement to kind of get them out safely eventually.
OK, and these these are spoilers for the end. I don't think anyone really cares.
Yeah, we just yada, yada, over most of the book we did.
But again, we're just trying to give you some basic contract. So eventually Nick ends up figuring out that his wife, Dhara, was also investigating the murder at the same time he was because she worked for the district attorney's office. But obviously for confidentiality reasons, she couldn't share what she was working on with her own husband and couldn't tell him that she was also working on the same case he was working on. So that's kind of ridiculous. And she turns out her and her boss were actually murdered due to their involvement in investigating the murder of Kago.
Turns out Kago was actually killed by Satoh, along with Saito's own daughter, who was Cargo's girlfriend. Also, the Sotho could prove that he could be the ultimate shogan of Japan. Hold on.
So Nakamura could prove that he was willing to do anything to become the ultimate shogan. Oh, you're right, you're right. No, wait. Yes, that's definitely it was Satoh, No. Satoh is lieutenant. He's his own. Powerful family guy, I thought I thought this was all Satoh becoming.
The ultimate no in Nakamura tries to have, like, you know, basically the whole thing is Nakamura brings Nick in to do this investigation just to make sure he can record a video at the end of, like, his ultimate plan being laid out so he can broadcast it to the world and reveal that he is as ruthless as possible as a shogan could be because he's willing to execute his own son and secondarily has lieutenants loyal enough to murder their own family for him.
Sato, in the end, as you remember, was an undercover investigator for fucking Texas.
Oh, he was actually a Texas Ranger. Yes. No, we're not joking. The Texas Rangers come in as a day was like smocked at the end to save the day. And Satoh is a Texas Ranger. And Texas is like the promised land, by the way. So they seceded from the US. And that's like I don't know, it's like American heaven on earth now.
Right wing American heaven on earth. Yes. So at the end, I had to say this. At the end they're like, oh yeah, you can get, you know, that your grandpa's heart fixed up if you got the money to pay for it. We do it the good old fashioned way here in Texas.
We have to pay for your fucking expensive surgeries if you don't earned it.
So another important distinction or thing to know is that at the end, Nick finds out through Satoh that flashback was actually created by Japan, not by Israel, as is commonly believed or thought thought to be known, and that Japan is also developing flesh to which I call flesh to fuck you boogaloo, which is the the improve. Well, a version of Flash that is so immersive that you have to be put in like a suspended animation tank. No, you don't have to at all.
Oh, I thought I thought that was part of it.
You know, you don't have to at all. They can they can definitely sell it, like to just be done once in a while. But the VAT thing at the end is for people that want to be permanently placed. Right.
Right. Sorry. You're right. So there's so the idea is that it's so powerful that people will want to be in these that these flashbacks I'm coining that term flash that do not steal. So and then the very end, the penultimate chapter ends with. The book planting the idea in your mind that Nick was actually in a flashback the whole time and on Flash to the very end kind of leaves you to decide.
But given that the book is littered with very ham fisted references to A Midsummer Night's Dream, it was it was it was all a dream. And the end is it was all a dream.
Yeah. I'm so I that makes me kind of try to rethink some of how this is presented, maybe as I'm probably giving the author too much credit on this.
Maybe you could take that thing is like this is you know what I don't know. No, no, we got it. We finished.
OK, so that's what we're going to. Yeah, chill for a second. Yeah. So that's everyone. Take that in first. Those are all the main plot points. Obviously there's a lot of stuff like Crystal that we are divided over, but we just want you to understand the basic skeleton of the story.
Let's all take a breath, let's, you know, let's find your seatbelt, click that in, get comfortable and. Yeah, all right. So.
Hmm. Chris, would we like to start with language in writing? Sure. All right. So this is the language and writing section of our discussion.
We're going to have three distinct sections because there's too much shit to talk about today. Well, first up, the choice to italicize some things and not others, I mean, you have your common thoughts are italicize journal entries, our italicized.
Other languages that are being spoken that aren't English are italicized, but also sometimes. Accents, accented versions of English are also italicized.
Yeah, so. I do I was thinking just from a technical perspective, like if you're going to choose to italicize a part of your work, I would just rather it be consistent. So, for example, if you're going to italicize all of the internal dialogue, that's fine. But having internal dialogue, foreign language, diary entries and then other random shit, italicize, it's just kind of weird. I just wish there was another method to differentiate those.
But the real the real thing here is that I tell us ising the foreign language here, it definitely creates the sense of like all the ring and exoticism.
I realized that my notes, that erraticism exoticism is what I read and it's actually there's actually not too much eroticism in this.
Yeah. It's pretty light except for the one thing so and so you have this, it really again the Atlas ization of languages that are not English really creates the sense of othering and exoticism, especially when it's paired with such obvious racist words such as the N-word and other words to disparaging words to describe native folks, Japanese folks and others. It's also written by a white American man. And in reading this, I was thinking, well, the italicized words and the racist, very distinctly racist epithets certainly helped define how racialized everything is to these characters.
So I was trying to view it as well. If this is in service to a story that will ultimately have a better message, maybe I just have to sit tight and just think about this as worldbuilding. But, you know, there it obviously that's not what happens, this is this is there is no at least for us, in our opinion, there is no greater. Message here, because we don't agree with the extremely racist sentiments in the book and the other problem I have, the other technical problem I have with the Italicize nation is that there isn't always translation or context to help you understand what's said.
So I can rarely piece together what the Spanish, Russian or Japanese in this book even means. And I wanted to suggest that for contrast, there's a full disclosure, a friend of mine wrote.
This short story that I'll provide a link to in the notes, it's called Outside the KFC by Claudia Ward The Lion, and this is a story that's written in English that uses italics for Spanish very well as an English speaker myself. The context in the story helps you figure out what the words or phrases are, even if, say, you don't know exactly what kind of food something is reading it. You know, it's a food word also that this piece by where the Lion was written by a bilingual writer.
And it's ostensibly also about race in America, but it showcases the hardships of racism in a real and compassionate way that I feel is compelling and succeeds where, as Jay says, this alt right circlejerk fails. So, again, I'll put the link in the comments, but I just wanted to provide an example to illustrate my point that. That the utilisation of foreign language isn't necessarily bad, just the way that it's done in this book, in this context, doesn't work.
And Chris, I know you had some some things to say about the technical writing in Japanese.
So I'm not a Japanese speaker or reader or anything like that. But having read enough manga in my time and getting a vague look at sometimes when Japanese is Romanized into English lettering instead of kanji or hiragana katakana or whatever is being written in actual Japanese.
When I first saw some of the Japanese sentences written out in this book, the way they were written out was immediately very suspect to me.
The thing that set me off the most at one point was let me see if I could get this sentence up here, saying this is so interesting to me because I have no familiarity with any Asian languages at all and I wouldn't have noticed this stuff.
So, I mean, I have a extremely cursory passing, but but it's great because you have just that. And even that's enough for you to smell bullshit. So it's just interesting to me. And it's like one of the things I really enjoy about doing the show with you and having another person who even you know, even though we agree on all these really big points in the book, we have very different perspectives.
So anyway, so the one that set it off for me was in one sentence where he says Giesbert to chat, Gibert to track UConn, which I'm not a Japanese speaking, but it doesn't even sound like real Japanese syllables to me because the letter T there appears on its own and that would never happen in Japanese.
I know that for a fact that you would never just have one consonant hanging out on its own like that.
Well, and for and I mean, Chris, you've been to Japan and, you know, people who are fluent Japanese. So, yeah.
So I, I went to one of my friends who lives in Japan currently. She moved over there a while ago and as you know, has read romanization of Japanese. You're there as well as like regular Japanese.
I showed her the sentences and I was like, do you understand what's happening here? Does this strike you as weird as it did? And she actually had trouble understanding at all what was attempting to be communicated.
Period, end of story, because of how when you break up syllables like this in Japanese.
Another thing that I picked out that she agreed with was there's a line where someone says hi, shouldn't be got good.
Deputy Boso need Shimazu and she and Musu are two separate words when I know for a fact that I've seen Shimizu as one suffix to end a word before.
And if you take she away from something that kind of ruins the context of it, depending on what it's connected to.
So she could vaguely get the idea. And there was one line where she assumed they were saying, are you done with the Barbarian? Which did make sense for that scene, I would say.
But the way that Dan Simmons was romanticizing Japanese made no sense to someone who is somewhat fluent in a pretty fluent in Japanese, I would say, and has dealt with these things before.
And I also, even though I don't speak Russian, I swear to God, something struck me as weird about the Russian to my only the only thing again, I'm trying to give this guy too much credit is maybe it's a future language thing where some things got changed in the last 11 years, which doesn't it?
As much as they changed in the Japanese here, it should not have changed that much.
Yeah, language language doesn't change that quickly. It certainly changes over time drastically, but it takes much longer than than a decade.
And, you know, and the other thing I wanted to know is, you know, maybe this isn't a Dan Simmons problem. Maybe this is a pub editor publisher problem. Like, maybe he was like, oh, I want it to say this in Japanese. And then whoever they hired to do it at the publishing house just fucked it up. I mean, I don't want to place. Yeah, we have enough other blame to place on.
Sure, sure, but it's just indicative of the sort of blasé treatment of a lot of other cultures in this book, because, boy, is there not really any deep research into any cultures besides like surface level understanding of certain things, which I guess also going to do. I've never read a book where the.
Where the main character, like all of the characters you supposed to care about, are so deeply racist, it was really everything in this book.
Is it a racial comedy?
Yeah, it was really tough to read at first. I couldn't believe that this was such a like a mass marketed book for kind of everyday reading. I was really surprised that this wasn't more of a niche alt right conservative thing. It's very strange because this was published by What the fuck?
Hatchet book group.
Oh, I thought it was thought of someone else, but had just let me have a big publisher. So yeah, it really threw me for a loop. And at first I was like, well, Paris, you're just being too sensitive. You know, maybe they're just really trying to invest you in this world. And there's going to be like an arc, you know, where the character changes. And this is really just world necessary world setting, but it isn't.
Again, I mentioned this a little bit earlier and to to illustrate. Just how unabashed it is, I mean, Chris, I don't know that you'd feel comfortable reading an example, but there's there's a few passages where Nick is talking to Satoh and the book.
Really reinforces how Nick perceives Sato's accent.
Yeah, and I don't know if I can find one off the spot, but one the defending, there's a lot I definitely remember at least one where Sacha has written a speaking perfect English.
And I understand, you know, depending on how you want to do accents, you might not want to write in the specific accent you're doing all the time. But every so often after a line from Satoh, they'll tell zation basically of him mixing an R in an L. One example is, he says easily in a sentence. And after he says that, after the quote Mark, there's an italicized easily.
In there, and this is driven home at the start of the book especially, it happens more often towards the end, it stops happening because I guess you're supposed to assume and just continue this accent in your head.
Well, no, I think I think it's I think it stops because Nick slowly develops companionship with Satoh and more respect for him.
True. But he still has racist meltdown's towards the books. Totally. Totally. Yeah, there's very little development of his character, but sorry, continue. And I don't really have much more to add besides that one example there.
But it it happens very frequently up front to really remind you that Satoh has this accent where he messes up some English words in this specific way that is sort of, you know, commonly used as a way to give Japanese characters and accents in works of fiction and in the with the purpose of demeaning them.
Yes. So, again, I'm this book really made me grapple with, you know, the question of when is when, if ever, is it acceptable to have these really, really racist sentiments so baked into a book? And this is something we're going to come back to. I think we can hold off on really getting into that right now, because that's going to come later when we talk about the world building right now.
The second point in language, in writing the section I want to talk about is Shakespeare as a shoehorn for intellectual validity.
This person smart because they memorized a Shakespeare Paris. Yeah, that's all you have to do. If you want to be like a really smart guy, walk into any social situation and quote some Shakespeare lines.
Everyone knows automatically that you're so smart.
Like, let's say you're a trucker and you have a liberal, formerly liberal professor along for the ride. And he might have, like, prejudged you as, oh, he's just a hillbilly trucker type, just cause some Shakespeare at him. And automatically that person will think, oh, I should have given this person more credit for their education because they can quote A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Yeah, so Shakespeare, like this whole A Midsummer Night's Dream is a steady undercurrent in this work for again, for the purposes we explained earlier, where you kind of where you learn at the end that it's possible that it was all a dream. You know, Nick Bottoms. Bottoms, his last name is a character from from the play. But yeah, I just think it's a really lazy way to try to make your your book and characters in it seem elevated and intellectual, even though, as I'm sure all of you listeners know, Shakespeare is not.
No, Shakespeare was never intended to be material for the body.
And yeah, Shakespeare and this this kind of like. Disconnect happened has happened because of the evolution of language over a few hundred years, actually, if you want to talk about the evolution of language. I think, yeah, a lot a lot of people just perceive older versions of English as being. Maybe more more heightened and enlightened than they are because they just can't understand them and because I think I don't know, maybe I'm going a little far with this, but I think that.
The British and their accent is often used to is often equated with things that are fancy and enlightened and better, and that's just weird colonialism shit, but that is deeply ingrained in America.
So I don't know, maybe maybe in some ways this this is a realistic depiction of what would happen in 11 to 15 years if the country totally collapse and no one was able to read anymore, but still are still professors of literature from the former world.
It's not that far detached. And even they're quoting Shakespeare at each other like that's the top tier of intellectual ism.
When there's so many other, it's just basic why people get it. Yeah.
And if you want to actually seem smart, like, quote, something relevant to the topic, that is maybe something I haven't heard before, like a new idea, not just fucking the couple lines from A Midsummer Night's Dream, which most I'm not saying like, oh, most people know Shakespeare, therefore it's not smart.
I'm just say someone actually intellectual that has done a lot of literary research or poetic research might be able to dig deeper than Shakespeare.
Yeah, I think that's a great point. And again. The whole idea that just because you know of some piece of British literature, you can quote it by heart.
Oh, I just I just that whole idea of, like, memorization of European lit means that your intelligence is just such a broken idea. And it was just unfortunate to see it used again in a piece. Yeah, well, the last point I have is just for technical writing and story craft, this is actually a this is actually a good note. Yeah. So while I don't like that a Japanese man's eyes are described as obsidian marbles on one of the first pages, there is actually some passable writing happening in this book.
For example, around page 276, there's there's this some. Kind of like a. Is it a diptych, not a triptych, if it's if it's two panels to compare the comparing panels? It's a bioptic actually. A bioptic, yeah. So you have you have this this comparison happening where on one page Val is talking about wanting to be a trucker and how he's having this moment where he's like, wow, I can't believe I really want to be something like I'm actually thinking of my life beyond the next few days.
And Valse kind of having this revelation that he actually desires something and wants to live, you know, and he wants to be a trucker.
And truckers in this world, like we're saying, you know, with highway bandits and the hyper violence, truckers actually have to be like really crafty and they have to know a lot about geography.
And there's like this whole training program to become a trucker where you have to be an apprentice for a year, et, etc.. So Val is is thinking about this and then his passage ends and you turn the page. And almost immediately, Niks, we flipped Nick's perspective. And Nick starts is just independently without knowing Val is having this daydream about being a trucker. Nick starts thinking in his head about how awful truckers are and how he can't stand them and blah, blah, blah.
So I just thought that that was actually a good story craft and it was believable to have this this father and son having these totally disparate ideas.
And they're present in the presentation of that was actually good. Other things that I thought were good were like the use of radio as exposition I thought was pretty good.
Classic video game shit. Really. Yeah. I mean, but but so often we read terrible books and they can't even do that. So I. Yeah. You know, again, it's like, OK, the low the bar was meant as and again as awful and stupid and racist as these characters are. I do actually think that their inner monologues are really realistic, like I believe how racist and fucked up these people are, because the writing seems very real to me.
And mostly that's what like Val and Leonard, I think Nick has a lot of like action hero stuff going on, which is not less believable. But even with Nick, like the thing we were just talking about, where he hyper focuses on the mispronunciation of certain syllables or letters when a Japanese man is talking. I mean, to me, that's I feel like I'm paying for for my past complaints. I'm getting what I wished for because remember a couple of episodes ago when I was like, you know, I just this is such a such a what did I say?
I said, I'm sure you can find the audio and inserted here.
I said something I'm sure I know instantly about. You know, this is such a lazy, shallow depiction of a villain. Like I want to be in that villain's mind and now I'm paying for that in this book where I actually think that. Again, it's believable and especially in the world in which we now live in 2020 and August of 2020 when we're recording this. We're learning every day that people like this exist now, and so reading this right now is maybe a little more poignant that it would have been when it came out in 2011.
Oh, yeah. Oh, boy.
Yeah, reading. Reading. This has been. Right now has been kind of difficult, to be fair, I was having a really hard time with it when I first started reading it after like one hundred and fifty pages or so, I got into my TVC bad book Groove. But it was it was hard. It was hard to sit there and and read these epithets.
And again, it's like I got. I just I don't think it's right to say them, so I won't, but I'm sure you can guess what we're talking about. It's just so blatant. And to also. But just to see all this and feel like it's actually quite real, it's just I feel like this it's such a shame that some OK writing was wasted on this ultraright doomsday fairy tale that we're presented with. So I guess I understand where AJ is coming from.
Our patron who requested we read this because he said that he had read other books by Dan Simmons and that they were really good. So clearly this author is capable of crafting something of value.
But here, I don't know if these are ideas he always held or if he became extremely conservative and racist over time, I don't know. But yeah, it's a shame because I actually think that the the story craft is all right and the the basic mystery is actually fun for like a sci fi noir thriller thing.
Yeah. And I had a lot to say about this point myself, actually, because for such a long time as I was reading this book, I had a similar experience as you had maybe in the start where I thought maybe this is some kind of parable about how this extremely racialized thinking can lead to, you know, destructive impulses and ruin society, yadda, yadda, yadda. And I think maybe because I wanted to give it credit for being a decently well written or even above average, maybe, I would say, in terms of its mystery craft and how.
Well, maybe not that because I wouldn't say above, but this was fine. It was, you know, a scale of one to 10. It was, I don't know, a six and a half. Yeah. I mean, a lot of the big reveals are just some villains smoking a cigar and going like, well, did you think of this, Mr. Bottom?
But it was super entertaining and like a like a like a trying to think of, oh, if you've seen the new Judge Dredd. Sure. That's a great, I think, comparison of how maybe it's not the most. Intellectual, exciting, like intellectual and new idea, but it was engaging sometimes maybe you want to dystopian cyberpunk run of the mill mystery just to, you know, escape from the world a little bit, which certainly this one didn't do it time.
And just the way everything in the end comes together lets you know that that's not what was at that point was about, oh, there's going to be some kind of parable about how this kind of thinking leads to dangerous outcomes. Not at all what he set up at the end.
So I guess I had fun reading a lot of the Nick chapters when we didn't have, you know, the extremely racist drivel of worldbuilding Dep't all over this donut.
Yeah, well, all right.
Sounds like a perfectly fine donut dipped in dog shit and blood.
Oh, my God, that's a that's a good one, Chris. Yeah, so so what do we want to do? Do we want to jump to world building or do we want to talk about the main storyline in the characters?
I would say go into world building, make the most sense now, because that is you this is the problem.
There's a lot of parts of the budget that are good and cool, but then the rest of it is just suffused in racialized thinking. Yeah, so, for example, something I really liked about the worldbuilding was flashback, the drug, the titular drug. I thought I was like, this is a this is a really plausible drug to me. Like something you take that will allow you to relive memories to me in twenty. That seems like something that could totally exist, you know, in the near future.
And the family, not the way the flashback works in here till I guarantee you like memory reentry.
No, that's it's a little I guess it's a little different because they do describe it as kind of floating above your memory and also re feeling the same exact things you felt then. It's kind of it's a little detached, but to me it just seems like something that could be real in the next, I don't know, a few decades or something. All right. It doesn't seem totally outlandish because I feel like in so many in a lot of books where there's some fantasy drug, it's just so it's so hard to.
Comprehend how something like that could exist, whereas this I feel like, I don't know, probably good, it's it's cheap. And also the whole idea that eighty five percent of the population is addicted to it makes a ton of sense because the country is so fucked, right? Yeah, it's a fantastic storytelling device, actually. Yeah.
I was like, this is this is really cool. You know, I was like, OK, I'm actually into this part of it. And when I was first reading it, it kind of it starts off like we were saying, sort of like a predictable but still fun future noir story that maybe might be cool as like an anime or like I said, as made in the style of that new Judge Dredd film. If you haven't seen it, you should see it.
It's really good. Lena Headey is the main villain in it. If it's a little bit tips your hand, it's a little bit goes to the show crossed with The Turner Diaries.
OK, hang on. But then they introduce the main character's estranged son, and suddenly I've had to read a graphic rape scene by page 24. Yeah. And and that's when I actually had to put the book down.
And I texted my boyfriend and I was like, hey, I just had to read this. I need to talk to somebody about it real quick, you know, because I didn't want to talk to Chris because Chris didn't have the book yet.
So I was like, fuck, I'm so tired.
Yeah, I don't want to spoil that for me. Oh, well, you know, it's just we try not to talk about the books before we. Yeah.
Sit down to record. So I try to do my best not to not to do that.
So anyway, I was just like, hey. You know, I'm just so I don't know, I'm a little burnt out on reading sexual assault in books right now, I think.
Yeah, and. Again, this is another another part where I was like, oh, God, I'm totally paying for my request to be inside of a villain's mind, right? Like this is another section where I was like, fuck, this is kind of what I asked for. So I had to sit there and think about it. And I I did come to the conclusion that, like I said a few minutes ago. This book does do a good job of constructing these character character portraits and this awful dystopian version of America, even if I don't agree with it.
But but but again, one step further. When I'm faced with media like this, you know, when we're talking hyper violent sexual assaults, racist, you know, awful kind of almost antihuman human thinking.
I always think who does this serve and did it need to be written? And that's that's a question I'm going to leave for the end when we talk about if we can fix it. But yeah, that's kind of what I kept coming back to with this book whenever I stop to think about it. So, again, that's something we're going to come back to later. But I urge you to think about those those two questions.
Whenever you're confronted with something similar, you know, and other other things about this world, you know, I was like, oh, there's a woman president. And of course, Chris made a note that was like, who we never see.
And this and this whole book fails Bechdel test in such a massive fashion. Oh, yeah.
Women or women are just pawns in this book. They exist only to be things the most fleshed out.
Yeah, the most fleshed out. One is maybe Nick's ex partner.
Oh, sexy Lincoln, yeah, sexy President Lincoln. Yeah, yeah, you know what? Well, you know, let's just get that out of the way, because this is just a random note.
But we're going to be rapid firing a lot of little tidbits about the world at this point. Yeah.
So possibly one of the worst descriptions of. Of an attractive woman got where I'm sorry, I can't find it in the notes right now, I'm having a hard time finding it. Where did that go?
Oh, so possibly one of the weirdest descriptions of a woman of color I've ever read was on page 218 in this book. Chris, I don't know if you can scramble to find that while I explain a little bit.
So there's this idea. So Nick is thinking about contacting his old partner, who is this woman? And he's in his internal dialogue. He's thinking like, well, she isn't what I'd really consider attractive, but she kind of reminds me of President Lincoln.
So I want to fuck her, you know, and the way, of course, he describes her, I don't know, I like milk or coffee colored, you know, as as all shitty writers do when they're talking about here it is no color.
Although Nick had never once come on to Kate Lincoln, he'd always seen her as an attractive woman. Despite her size, rugged features and short wild hair, Nick had once told Dhara that he was able to imagine Qty being descended from Abraham Lincoln if the former president had made with a beautiful black woman with Katey's Cafer a lot complexion and Chickory bitter personality like President Lincoln. Despite the inevitable almost by second rate history writers desperately seeking a new angle, the most written about president in the U.S. history, Kayce Lincoln, preferred women in matters of romance.
So even right there, there was a little bit of like this, like all you liberal writers in the current era, writing about Abraham Lincoln possibly not being straight all the way like that diddly shit.
Right. And how is that even a thing? Is there is there like a queer Lincoln contingent like that? Hell yeah.
Really? Hell yeah. Oh, OK. Well, I didn't know that. Oh for sure.
Chris, wait. OK, somebody to support me in the direction of queer Lincoln lit the end of this episode of the Antiques Freaks. Yeah. But yeah. Describing her as having cafe au lait skin and. Yes.
And Chickory. Oh God. It's just hey did you know she's brown. Yeah we know. Thanks. Thanks. You could have done a better job of describing it. Sorry I'm just, I just got that passage. Made me laugh so hard. I just. Yeah.
You know she's really attractive in a link anyway when her name is Lincoln too. So maybe just because of the last name that's.
We can't think of any one.
I think so. I mean I don't know anyway. Glad we got that out of the way back to world building. Right, so we were talking about yeah, so so let's let's get a little more in detail about the world building. So we described it as, you know, hyper violent, very divided, like so divided that there's different I hate to even say this, but different races run different parts of L.A., like there's a whole section of L.A. run by the Reconquista movement, which I I think we're told that they are they're the leader is Mexican.
Is that correct? Yeah.
Yes. And the leader of the Reconquista is actually friends with Leonard. But Leonard doesn't know he's the leader of the Reconquista until right before the Reconquista is going to try to take L.A. And he's like, yeah, we've had some good times playing chess, white guy. You know what? If you give me a ton of money, I'll let you and your kid leave before the city is raised to the pennant race war.
I heard your son or your grandson there was perhaps involved in the raid. Yeah, we didn't talk about that. Yeah.
So that graphic rape scene that appears up front is Valse Flash gang, essentially assaulting a young Mexican woman who was like they even described her as neuro divergent, let's say.
Yeah, think of think of the worst the most common and shittiest way to say that. And they say that. And so, yeah.
So Leonard's friend gets wind of this and he's like, you know, Leonard, I if you I don't think vowels, that type of kid and vowel indeed is not he does not participate.
He just keeps watch, which somehow is painted as less bad, but he's still turned on by what's going on. But we'll talk about yeah, there's a question of valse queerness that we'll talk about and. Sure.
And so anyway, this particular reconquista asks Leonard, hey, do you want to get your you and your grandson out of the city? Now would be a great time to do it. And they do indeed take him up on his offer. Yeah.
So so, yeah, it's at the point where there's, again, different groups controlling different areas. And this whole thing with the global caliphate is kind of amorphous and I don't totally get it. It's sort of so. Well, you see Paris, the global caliphate, but also Japan. I don't know.
Well, you see, because Obama disarmed us of our nuclear weapons when the caliphate got hold of nuclear weapons and destroyed Isreal, the rest of the world's nations just bowed to them unquestioningly because they were worried about what the caliphate would do.
I figure if you're detonating a whole country, you'd probably get some reciprocal action at some point.
But no, it just seems like everyone gave up because they didn't have enough nukes to counter the the caliphate is because, you see, Obama was lenient on Iran. And literally this is the reason is like Obama was leaning on Iran, Muslims got nukes. Oh, no. Everything is run by the caliphate. It's pure Fox News talking point. Oh, yeah.
This whole book, you would think that this whole book was cobbled together from scraps of Fox News talking points on the newsroom floor, like someone just empty the Fox News waistband and just started taping shit together. That that's what the whole world it's pure fear porn about.
Yeah. Thanks, Obama. You bankrupted the economy by allowing people to have Medicare.
And Social Security was a complete misunderstanding of how Social Security is funded. It's like, oh, they bankrupted every all the tax things, all the revenue, because we were giving out too much in Social Security.
When Social Security is funded solely by the payroll tax on Social Security, it is completely separate from all other taxes.
Yeah, I know. And this is like a bizarre thing about this book is there's all these I, I actually forgot about this note, but it's relevant to worldbuilding.
But the author actually takes care to note actual historical events, you know, in the book. And I appreciated that even if he used them in a way that I didn't agree with. But then, yeah, he gets things like that wrong, like basic shit about how our how our government is.
It's it's the the root is always liberals so soft they let everything get out of hand and they didn't properly punish or put down people that stood up against America who used to be strong and now are not because. Thanks Obama. Yeah.
I mean he does actually talk about how the election and what does he say, Chris? I actually haven't. No, if you could read it, it's page three eighty. He's he's like it all. Like we were about we were like on the fence in 2008, 2012 pushed us over. And then I forget something like that. But there's a I made a note that it's on three eighty.
I can't say I do remember Julio said, Leonard, the election year of 2008, we were almost there. The election year of 2012, we were there. And in twenty sixteen we were beyond the tipping point and have never gone back.
So definitely I as the truck rally at its lowest gear to reach the summit of the pass, he's talking about making sure Democratic senators were being elected president. And boy, oh, boy, were you a little bit right. In some ways, Dad, it's hilarious how there's like mass unemployment issues and like, you know, mass gatherings aren't a thing anymore because Democrats when.
Yeah, when in reality, when you got your mega Republican in power and look what happens.
So it's it's been really interesting to read this book published in 2011 and 2020 and so on the nose about certain things that we're living through right now.
But it comes from the complete. Nothing about how this happens was correct in this book. But he got the things that did happen, correct?
Yeah. Like there's a point where he is like, yeah. Now most of the country's illiterate. And I was like, I don't know if we stick with this this trajectory in fifteen years. Yeah, that might be true.
There's even like lines about, oh, all the global warming people were wrong and now they're ashamed and embarrassed and rendered into the trash pit of history. Yes.
The glow there is literally a line that explains warming. Global warming isn't real because it still snows, which is a common another, like basic misunderstanding about climate change that is parroted by by the extreme right. I mean, it's just absurd.
Wind turbines are like, you know, left on used because I don't know why they killed the wind turbines, killed so many birds and shut them up for something.
It was like there was a line about like all the bird corpses at the base of the turbines.
And that was the point where I was really like, OK, OK, you motherfucker. You really just pulling every last bit of Fox News talking point about fucking anything.
And I'm like, the crazy thing about the whole, like, bird deaths due to wind turbines. It's just, again, one of those things that people gravely misunderstand, like do wind turbines kill some birds? Yeah. Do a bunch of other things. Kill way more birds. Yeah, like birds. Well, birds fly into things and die at a much higher like they fly into radio. Cell phone towers and buildings at a much higher rate than they fly for wind turbines, so it's just shit like that.
I mean, there's every last bit of Fox News juice squeezed out into this story.
God, I could the most rotten apple of the world building. It was so eerie to me how Trumpy this book was before the modern Trump era, right? Well, yes.
Trump isn't the he's just a symptom.
And as I know and that's what I was saying, I was like, I know I know that Trump didn't appear from a vacuum, but it's fucking gnarly to consider that all of these ideas were ideas were fed to him by, you know, Fox and other absurd pundits which culminated in what we have today. You know, because this book has this book even has a weird reverence for Putin. Yeah, it has.
You know, he's a tough guy on a T-shirt. Yeah, that fucking blew my mind.
Now, I'm wondering, I'm like at first I was like to read this book and I was like, well, Trump doesn't read it as long as it's that there's a there's a really cool idea about like gif t shirts and holly t shirt.
Speaking of worldbuilding, this is another point of the worldbuilding. That's good. Yeah. Chris, talk about the t shirts.
You can buy t shirts with moving images on them, even with A.I. is embedded in them that will speak and responds to you. So the leader of Valse Flash Gang is out at the market one day and he buys a Putin t shirt with a real talk and Putin real talk and Putin action on the T-shirt.
Just rub his belly. Yeah.
And he'll like cuss you out and stuff. And he's shirtless and he's like they even make it a point to say, oh, he's a real strong man on the shirt.
Yeah, it's nuts. I mean, I thought. But yeah. So that that blew my mind. This whole, like, jerking off to Putin thing being in this book. But yeah, I actually thought the idea of the AI shirts was really cool.
Like I think that there's another one of that's supposed to be over the top of Jeffrey Dahmer fucking a skull. And then he turns to ask you, hey, you want to join in?
And that had me on this road of like, imagine the death metal band t shirts. If you had could have giving gifts and eyes on death metal band shirts, man, they would go way more over the top stuff.
But then also there's like another good this is like good thing outweighed by really awful thing. So for example, when, when the kids are at this open air market buying the T-shirts and looking at guns, you learn that 9/11 is now a holiday, but not the way you think. Christiane described the 9/11 holiday.
Well, you see, because the caliphate has taken over most of culture, it is sort of the hegemonic force on Earth at this point. 9/11 day is a holy day of celebration because look what happens when you let the Islam take over everyone. All of a sudden we're celebrating America's darkest day again.
It's like all the all these white suburbanite fears.
I don't actually take suburbanite out of there.
It's all these white male fears of no longer being relevant, exploded to eleven and shoved in your faces. Oh, no, American America isn't relevant anymore. What a tragedy.
You forgot about 9/11 day, about how many, many, many Muslims celebrate 9/11 day by blowing themselves up. There's a lot of suicide bombings on 9/11 day.
I mean, there's suicide bombings all over the place, which is why you can't have gatherings anymore in this world. It's not a plague this time. It's so many suicide bombers willing to just strap themselves up and blow a bunch of people up, which again, is just a bigoted look and a shallow understanding of why people are we're doing this in the first place. It's not like the ice has had an unlimited supply of al had an unlimited supply of these people, you have to take particularly radicalized and hopeless people to be able to do that.
And I suppose that's the case in a world like this. But if the caliphate is the global power, why would those people be hopeless enough to do this?
Yeah, that's a great question. Yeah. And so and so basically, it's like America is on the verge of being taken over by either the caliphate, Japan or Mexico. I think that's kind of yeah.
We're at that, that generally anyone with a big enough army is about to maybe encroach on whatever they can take from the former United States.
Right. And those the Mexican contingent, like the Reconquista, is portrayed as too disorganized to actually get anything done, which is in itself a God. Yeah, Japan is seen as very strong because of their Bushido code.
Yes, because they have ninjas, literally. This is Steven Seagal fucking Chello white dude understanding again. Yeah.
And I don't really know much about about Japan or its history, but even I was wondering, you know, is this really how it worked?
Is this right? Because I didn't understand and I wasn't sure I could trust the descriptions in the book. There's like a hilariously there's there's this very liberal idea in the book of safe injection sites for flash for flash, though, because there are these places called Flash Caves where you can you can pay to go in and use Flash and have your stuff guarded. And I was like, am I seeing safe injection sites and a conservative book?
Sure. But there's still regarded as place degenerates.
Yeah, I know, but I was just, you know, I was just noticing some things. There's the Naropa Institute, which is where a bunch of rich people use Flash to try to relive their lives to achieve Nirvana, which is kind of sold as a. I don't know, it's almost like. It's almost Scientology ish, sure, in that it's you know, it's revealed in the text to be bullshit, probably costs millions of dollars, et cetera.
Yeah, I don't know.
There's also lines about like vandalism being the downfall of society, which, you know, in recent times we've had a lot of talks about vandalism recently and how maybe it's not the downfall of us. Yeah, there's also this. They who have destroyed everything and there's never you have Leonard bitching about liberals, but there's never. They never really define it, and there are these right wing radio screeds that kind of sum up a lot of it starting on page 318.
I don't know if you want to read any of it, but I think it might be helpful if you feel like it. Wow.
I'm looking that. Can I just say how I hate Leonard as a character so much just because his in every chapter you read by him is this liberal professor learned his lesson because he was too soft thinking and now he's changed his mind because everything went to shit. You see durned think thinking types.
I'm putting on too much of an affect there.
But like really it just feels like Leonard is the put upon liberal professor who had to learn the hard way about what's really right in this world.
Yeah. And there's even like at the end, you know, they're like, well, Leonard has this condition, but it's going to take three years for him to get a transplant. He'll be dead by from a year from now because, you know, the commie health care that we have, it doesn't actually work because you have to wait years to see a doctor.
And but here in Texas, where you pay for your your pay for your heart surgery. Boy, do we really keep the rabble out that way.
I mean, I'm not I'm not going to say that, you know, a single payer system won't have wait times, but they obviously are way exaggerated in this. And there are plenty of countries in the world that have single payer, you know, i.e. government health care, where that is not the case.
You're looking at you Iceland can get you Norway.
You know, it's anyway, I have that radio portion here and I want to actually give a preceding paragraph, which almost gave me some of that hope back again about this being some kind of parable about art.
Thinking that half dose to the sing-song revival preacher sounding right wing polemics being shouted out by the all night talk jockeys interrupted only by weird Call-In programs where the people calling in were crazier and more right wing than the radio announcers. No, we weren't always like this, friends, 30 years ago, 25 years ago, even, we were still a great nation, a united nation, 54 states, 50 stars on the flag. We chose decline, my friends.
We chose national bankruptcy and the bankruptcy of 47 states to keep the government's entitlement programs going. 73 percent of the population pays no taxes at all, my friends, but still expects cradle to grave health care, cradle to grave guaranteed employment with a minimum wage of four hundred and eighty dollars an hour, 30 hour work weeks. When anyone chooses to work in this great, lost, botched, ruined nation of ours and retirement age at 58 with full Social Security benefits.
Even though there are now 18 non-working retirees in this country, including the 11 million illegal immigrants who just received the most recent amnesty and citizenship. Yes, 18 non-working retirees. For every working American in this country that's forgotten what hard work really is. The voices droned on. Val have slept. Hey, hey, oh, God, can you can you break down each of those points? What do you mean break them down?
Oh, my God. Like Egypt. OK, so how much money do I get a month? Much.
One of the minimum wage was four hundred and eighty dollars an hour. Now there's like new bucks and old bucks in this book where old bucks are worthless.
It's like two hundred old dollars is worth something like two hundred fifty thousand new dollars.
Yeah. So four hundred eighty new dollars an hour actually isn't as much as it sounds. Yeah but anyway and oh my God.
30 hour work weeks and they lowered Social Security age. Oh my God. And sure. Yeah. You want to have some lines for certain programs to stay solvent, but Social Security is doing all right right now. And all this thing about how dare they, you know, protest for more rights or try to get, you know, better working conditions or something like that. It led to our downfall because people weren't willing to work themselves to the bone enough, which is the major problem with our current setup with everything is people are working near max productivity for the same number that they were getting 20 years ago.
The wages should have gone up much higher by that.
Oh, yeah. I mean, right now in America. Yeah, yeah, we're fucked. And also, I just think that it's really easy for people now to forget about labor struggles of the past. You know, when when we had to fight for children not to be employed, when we had to fight for. You know, 40 hour work weeks, four, four, five, six, eight weeks, even, not even five.
Yeah, there's the hard work that was put in for us as a better society.
And I mean, I again, I know that there are nuance points to all of this that we don't have the time to get into now. But in general, I think it's really easy for people now to forget all that stuff and to think that wanting more protections and more rights somehow makes you soft when in reality that's not how it works.
And I know it's easy to think that way because when I was a teenager, I thought that stuff.
I didn't understand that you shouldn't have to kill yourself working to succeed, you know, because it's a promise that's made to you in our society.
Right? If you work hard, you can get far and you can you can succeed, which there is mild merit.
It's not completely untrue. But at the same time, there are so many confounding factors that it's not that simple at all.
It's not a linear thing. No, not ever. And not everybody starts at the same point on the line graph. Right. Like, that's the other. Yeah, that's the other thing. And I think it's some anyway, I don't mean to get to to kind of in detail into the details.
Yeah. But maybe we should move on to further world building, road building stuff. Oh right. In this book the Jews seem to be the good minority. Yeah. Boy oh boy.
I'm sorry to even say that sentence, but that that sums it up. You know, they talk about the second Holocaust when the global caliphate blew up Israel and how another six million Jews died. And it definitely seems like they're not super favorable to the Jewish people. But then by the end, you find out that, like Leonard was Jewish, like his mom was Jewish. So Leonard's a little Jewish. And by the end, it's like, oh, he's embracing his Judaism or whatever.
And there's oh, man, Chris, we both we both harped on this line that said that that was it. Was it. Sorry. Was it saying that the global caliphate was practicing intolerance? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It said the global caliphate was practicing intolerance. Neither Christianity nor Judaism had practiced for six hundred years. Fucking. Why did you fuck you? Are you kidding me. I can't I don't really know anything about it.
I think he's stopping at the Crusades or something and assuming that from the Crusades onward, everything was chill with Christianity. No.
And again, I don't I don't know anything about Judaism, but I certainly don't. I don't know. I don't know.
I don't know anything about it being I mean, you could as intolerant as you look at some Orthodox sects in their treatment of women, which is one thing to think about here.
But but I think I think Christianity is just a fucking laughable sentence to put in here.
I mean, even if you are yourself Christian, I'm sure that you can recognize some some really bad things that other people claiming to be Christian have done in the very recent past.
Like yesterday, not six hundred years ago.
I think it's it's really kind of oh, that's a book crime right there.
That's a book crime. It's just such a I don't just just so blatantly false.
It was so everything is so suffused in this way of thought that I kept thinking, like, it's just so over the top. There has to be some sort of maybe lesson at the edge of how this line of thinking ends.
But it's totally not that I don't want to get to the ending right now, but.
Well, no, we're going to we're going to talk about the story and the characters in the next section, but. That's right. So remember, I was saying that the U.S. was kind of at a tipping point where it was about to be taken over by someone else. We discover through the story that there's a there was a witness that Nick goes to interview who's this really powerful, I don't know, drug czar, warlord guy called look Kiev. And he discovers that there's this big plan going on with a new Kiev is going to sell the Southwest out from under both the U.S. and the Reconquista on behalf of the new Shogun to the global caliphate.
Did you follow that? Yeah. So, look, I have is going to is take is basically taking control of the southwest of the U.S. and, you know, from from under their noses, from under the U.S. noses and and from the Reconquista because they're too disorganized. And he is going to take it on behalf of the new shogan of Japan and sell it to. The global califate. You see, because they're already used to being in the desert Paris.
So that's how they're going to settle the U.S. and colonize it. Oh, how the turns have tables. Yeah, I couldn't believe that when he was like, it's like, why the Southwest? Oh, that's right. It's the desert.
Fuck you. Fuck, right. I know it's again, everything is so shallow in terms of how deep it wants to go on thinking through the motivations of certain cultures, the Kalfin itself is literally a barbarous, murderous, horrid.
Oh, they have crossed.
We didn't talk about another part of the world building where Al Jazeera is is touted as an evil news channel, which is also something I remember from like weekly beheadings, you know, daily.
So there's a there's a whole channel that Al Jazeera runs. And again, Al Jazeera is just a fucking news organization. I actually I think I took particular offense to this because I've been I've been like reading and I Al Jazeera is like one of my news sources. So I have a policy where, like, I don't read one type of news or one news organization. I have, like CNN, Al Al-Jazeera, Fox, you get the crazy angle just because.
Yeah, I think I think it's, you know, The Washington Post, you have like you need an assortment, your take.
You need a diet of many sources.
Yeah. And I mean, as much as I don't I don't want to give any credence to Fox or like Breitbart or anything. I think it is useful to see that stuff so that you don't see that you understand what the fuck else is going on outside of your little bubble anyway. Actually, I'm actually I actually like Al Jazeera. So I was like, oh yeah, of course you're like all the one. The Daily Eggs is like a lot of the big cuota there.
Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Where are they getting all these people to be had.
And I don't know but yeah. Yeah.
So Al-Jazeera apparently runs continuous beheadings and stonings on TV and it's like a form of entertainment and Nic even admits that he watches it sometimes.
Yeah. So it's again presented as this barbarous honor killing thing. So remember that little tidbit for late. We all remember that.
Remember the barbarous the barbarous killings. I remember other little things about this society. Oh. Can you explain to me why why trains are not defensible or buses aren't? What the fuck was that point?
Buses aren't a thing anymore because you can suicide bomb them really easily, but not trains.
That doesn't make any sense. I guess if you assuming that trains have an airport style check in now. Well, they were.
Yeah, sorry. We're talking about in world inservice world building. I remembered something about the transportation that the book was talking about. And yeah, there's something about how buses are no longer a thing. It's only like personal vehicles and trains and flights.
Very, very, very expensive. Oh yes.
Yeah. Flights are only for the ultra rich or government. Yeah. I just didn't understand why trains were defensible.
But buses, I, you know, it's not given to you at all. But I have to assume that there is some kind of airport style check in for that which you could also do for buses. Yeah. So that made no sense to me. No. You can't also do it for buses. Yeah. And like the. Oh God. There are some other point too about shit about something that was. Something travel related. Now, I don't remember.
Let me see if it's in my notes, maybe like the ATV's, like the tanks that they have to travel across of the southwest U.S. in. Was it something about those things?
No, I'm sorry you can cut that because I don't remember what I was going to say. But yeah, I'm trying to remember some other some of world building stuff. How about the extremely lazy way to name future versions of things? For example, the expanded version of Medicare is Medicare, to which I have Medicare.
You see Medicare, much like the upgrade to flashback, the drug is just flashback to and then the perhaps the most creative one was Coke has turned into ultra coke, which is just fine with ultra coke.
Honestly, at least there was some effort put into that.
It's not just Coke to which I was half expecting at that point.
It's just really low usernames for future shit. Oh, what's the next video game is going to be?
Oh, it's video games too.
I don't know. I actually did think that the way that he there are some exchanges that Val has with his his gang friends and some of the slang that is created I think is actually fine. It's just fine to me. Yeah. So that was another point that was good.
There's a lot of sweets and cool shit which. All right. Yeah, fine. Yeah. That worked for me.
It's really just the specific names of things just being given a two at the end.
I'm surprised it wasn't the United States to America, America or America.
This that's what they're trying to make at the end.
All right. So those are all things about this world. This is the world we're in for this book. Now we're going to end. We're talking about the main storyline and the characters. So I know we gave you a brief overview at the beginning. So now we're going to get kind of into the details of of the story. And the characters, so first, I think we're talking about Nick. So Nick Bottom are detective, disgraced detective dad.
No, you know, five thousand four hundred and sixty eight or whatever.
He was three thousand four hundred fifty six Paris. Sorry that you're with me.
And the thing that I, I didn't understand about this book is that it felt like it was trying to make Nick cool and we were supposed to like him. But his insight, like his one liners are super lame and he's also a jerk, like he doesn't. It's and it's not the kind of disgraced noir detective where he's maybe a little jerky but has redeeming qualities like or he doesn't have any redeeming qualities or he's only an asshole to people who deserve it.
The first witness he interviews, Danny Ozz, a poet, mentions that he saw Nick's wife around the party where Kagle was murdered.
And Nick pulls a gun on him and demands more answers right there when he wasn't necessarily resisting telling him about it.
This witness has made me think of my dead wife. I should shoot him. That's kind of how that passage read. And that was what immediately made me think like, wow, why are why are we supposed to like this guy? I didn't understand that. I mean, there are other instances of him being a jerk.
I mean, you know, the way that he thinks of Satoh throughout most of the book, until Satoh saves his ass, he has a racist meltdown at the end where he's like, I don't care who takes over America. If it's those people, those people or those people, they're all slurs that he uses in his in his particular, like, internal monologue there.
And even that could have been some kind of moment of realization for him where he realizes, oh, what does it matter who is in control of these tapes?
As long as it's safe and I can do what I want, which in this case is to go into a cave and live with his wife and his memories forever.
But it's it's not even wrapped up in that way.
It's just he's upset that everything has gone to shit because everyone got too soft. Yeah, and he just like I said, he has these really lame one liners, which unfortunately I didn't take note of, but I don't think, oh, there's one where I don't know. I can't remember the context.
But I'm the trophy is something that he thinks that once he was in a room that looked like it had a bunch of glass cases that could have held trophies and he was like, oh, I'm the one that's captive. I am the trophy.
Yeah. Just really stupid. But sorry I didn't take notes on specific bad insults. He, you know, just the way that he talks about things, he even even when he's in the car driving with GPS and he's mad that the navigation system isn't working.
Well, he calls it mildly awkward. And just like, how are you supposed to relate to someone like that? There are other things I'm trying to think what else about Nick? But, yeah, he's he's really just not a very interesting character. He's like every other. Like I said, yes, detective noir guy. He does. Oh, no, my wife died. I'm going to I'm going to get drunk and use this drug and I have to quit my job or get fired and and give up on my kid and blah, blah.
It's like every story ever.
He does have his redemption arc of getting off the flash. Which only happens because he's so busy for nine days, yeah, that just kind of happens without any real effort on his part. So there's not even he does not even a real struggle. If he's so heavily addicted, he suffers no withdrawals.
Yeah, it's like if if there were no yeah, which makes you wonder why are so many people addicted to it if you can just quit it?
I mean, obviously, it's in the same way that people can get addicted to pornography, right. Where it's just something that they do that feels good and it kind of takes over their life without them realizing.
But at the same time, the reason it struck me as odd is because he doesn't have much struggle.
He wants to go back under the drug many times at the start, and then he just kind of gets too busy and forgets that he's into it.
Yeah, he does not he doesn't even really his turning point isn't even that notable, I can't even tell you what it was.
Besides, he just hadn't had so much shit to do that he didn't have access to it and therefore he doesn't need it any more at the end when he finally becomes a Texas Ranger because he has purpose now.
Yeah, so that was that was definitely a misfire, right, like that could have been something to make Nick a little more compelling, but then it's not it's just there's the nick doesn't have to work for it just given to him, which is the problem we've had with many books on. Another part of Nick's personality that I found really difficult was how he thinks of his wife, Dora. So he's obsessed with his wife, Dora, who is dead, you know, and that's why of course, that's why he uses Flash.
I mean, I think anyone can relate to the idea of losing your spouse in a horrific way and being. Very, very affected by that. So there's a lot of talk about him going back into his memories with Tara. And talking about her a lot in the text and there is a line where maybe one or two lines, there aren't many, but he mentions. There, her comparative youth to him and how she's much younger than him, and it seems like their age gap is perhaps longer than a decade, and I don't know why I got that.
I think just about a decade or a little over is. Yeah.
And and I and that made me kind of wonder because Nick's not old, you know, he's what, in his 40s. Yeah. Tops. And she died five or seven years ago and. Right, and and they were married before then, so I'm like, fuck, that's actually kind of creepy to think about.
Yeah, because Val would have to have been 10 or so, which honestly probably means that Nick was 30, dating a 20 year old, possibly a 19 year old.
Yeah, it's a little weird, but whatever, I guess, I guess whatever people are adults, but anyway but like in that age, you can make your own decisions.
Let's not get you kind to get that twisted.
But I was just thinking of more his hyper fixation on her comparative youth. And what I mean by that is he always calls her kiddo. And then there's one line where he calls her his child bride. And I lost it. I mean, he's trying to make a joke there and be sarcastic.
But the kid to me is actually worse. He wasn't making a joke with the child bride thing.
He's like ribbing her. He's like, oh, you're my young child bride.
No, I don't think so. I don't think he was even talking to her when he said that I that's how I remember her. I thought that was an inner monologue thing.
Oh, well. For me, it's actually the Kitto part that rubbed me worse, I would say, because he just uses that at her all the time. How do you not feel patronized?
I would never want my boyfriend to call me kiddo. Oh, that's so gross. So weird. So there's like that weirdness again, it's not often in the book, but it happened enough that I was like, I don't like this. And Chris, you brought something up earlier that I actually didn't think about how there's no there's no women like in any position of. There's never two women talking to each other. No.
Like Kate Kate Lincoln only exists to help Nick. Yeah. He's just a tool for him to get a nice car or ride out or some info every once in a while.
Yeah. And then Dhara of course is a memory now and all he does is, you know, think about her as his wife, that he liked to have sex with a whole lot, which you know, that's fine I guess.
But but you know, she doesn't have any agency.
She she was, you know, assistant to the DEA and also involved in the investigation.
But you don't find out much of, like, how she did her own digging or what she did.
She just has this info on an old phone of hers that Val still owns. And there's a whole decryption what's the password thing there?
And she just has a bunch of notes about what she found out.
So it's really just another info dump method where you don't get to know Dora and how dogged she was at finding this stuff out. It's just you get a little unveiling of what she knew towards the end of the book. Yeah.
So that was that was disappointing. You know, it's very it's very. Yeah, it's all about the whole about the white men.
So can you name any other female characters? Besides the one that got assaulted direct to Lincoln, well, she didn't have a name. Yeah, no, she did. It was Maria something.
Oh, she did. Oh, fuck. I'm sorry. I'm sorry about that. I forgot. Trying to think, oh, Cargo's girlfriend sure don't remember her name, but she also just exist to be murdered, so it doesn't really matter.
Yeah, again, the women are not the characters with any depth in this story.
No, I don't know. Yes, that was that was something else. Anyway, so I guess that's kind of my piece on Nick. I don't like him. I didn't find him compelling at all. Next we can talk about Leonard because I also didn't like him and did not find him compelling at all. Chris, you also really just like Leonard. I already talked about that.
He's basically just the stand in for and then the liberal professor was made and, you know, his point was ruined in front of the class when the Navy SEAL came in and told him about how the economy works. And then everyone stood up and clapped and the professor ran away crying. That is one story.
Yeah. I mean, and Leonard even says at one point. He doesn't say this directly, but he suggests that you're only a true intellectual if you've read something in its original language. When he's talking to Julio in the in the truck, or Julio is one of the many truckers that they encounter and I was like, that's interesting and also bullshit like, oh, I'm sorry, I'm supposed to know every language that anything has ever been published. And to be a true intellectual should be truly educated.
There's fuck off. There's something to be said about things getting lost in translation or misconstrued hundred percent.
But you can't be smart unless you only read things in their original language. Excuse me.
That's that was absurd. I remember that line in particular made me like intensified my hatred of Leonard by at least one more burning sun. A show of intelligence. No, it's bizarre. There's also a passage when he's like he's this this is the Leonard passages are often parts where we we start to learn that this world and these characters think that Jews are the the Jewish people are the acceptable minority, because Leonard talks about how he he is technically Jewish. And there's even a part where he says he felt very much the Jew this night when they were like escaping from L.A. And I just couldn't.
I was like, fuck, this is just such a shitty thing to do, like to say, oh, well, I'm escaping the city that's being attacked right now. So therefore, I'm going to equate myself to. Maybe some distant ancestors that escaped the Holocaust, it just felt that's not what you know. That's not all there is to Judaism is is like the persecution.
Oh, it's just I don't know if I have much more to say about Leonard, honestly, because his chapters are such piling on with that whole. And then I keep saying this over and over, because it's really just how I feel about it, and then the liberal professor learned his lesson. Yeah, it's a lot of that.
He also likes to think about his past ex-wives because he's had four wives at this point. And how. I don't know, it's just about how he's married women of different races and ages and how he's kind of a womanizer because he is the liberals that don't truly know how to have a proper family.
I think at one point there's an offhand mention of an open relationship of some kind.
I didn't catch that very in passing, I think, which is also looks down upon and sort of, you know, invalid way to have a relationship. Well, I'm not going to talk about that. Yeah, let's just say Chris and I don't agree on this one point, but. I also don't remember that appearing in the text at all, so there's no point, it's very offhand. Yeah, so yeah, Leonard also sucks, I guess is my point.
As Chris pointed out, he's just a vehicle to inject more conservative the validity of conservative points into the text. Lastly, we can talk about Val. I think Val is the only character that I felt was real and compelling at some points.
He has a good amount of substance.
And yeah, while I enjoyed the Nick chapters a little bit more for the mystery aspect, Val's characterization is much more interesting and a little detailed, I would say.
Yeah, and I just think that vowels, the depiction of Val as a troubled and confused teenager who's trying to appear tough and growing up in this awful version of America with, you know, his mom dying, his dad abandoning him with his grandfather just because his dad was too fucked up over the death of his mom, was addicted to a drug.
I mean, it seemed like I said, very realistic. I was as the book went on, I actually felt like Val had some potential to be a. A compelling character, and this is something we disagreed about, but since you have the book, you should actually go to page 25, the top of page 25, because I think that's where the scene occurs. So there is a very, very there's two light touches or three in the book that talk about Val possibly being gay or bisexual.
I think it more edges on on gay. And also the very beginning, right when we meet Nic, he is like pissing off a bridge with his friend and he sees a motorcycle gang driving below them. And he becomes aroused and notices that his friend is, too, and this is right after. And again, the motorcycle gang is full of big burly men, the techs points that out. And this is right after we're told that Val doesn't participate in the rape.
So to me, it's telling us that he is wrestling with his sexuality.
And then later on, there's another note about that at that paragraph, if you want me to read this one. Yeah.
If you if you feel comfortable doing that. Yes. The boys avidly watch the bikes recede.
The Harley's already narrowing the formation and jostling for position the huge hairy leader with his red tats injected with real blood leading it.
I forgot about that one. Oh, God. New real blood tests leading and accelerating away around the curve and as the roar of power and fuck you death defiance grew and echoed around them, Vall felt himself grow physically excited in a way he hadn't when the others had been banging poor handjob Maria.
So, oh, yeah, that's what they call oh.
So in that sentence, I think it's the fuck you death defiance that turns Vall on and it's the masculinity of the bikers that is a part of that, too.
I'm not a hundred percent sure of whether he's necessarily attracted to them in that way, but it's not out of the realm of possibility as an interpretation, especially since there's plenty of other lives. That other instance, I think, that you were about to talk about, we disagree here.
I think it's very obvious and direct that he is turned on by the men. But that's fine for us to disagree a little bit. And then later on, there is a part where he is with there with the truckers, him and Leonard and. He you know, I talked about a little bit earlier where Val really wants to be a trucker and he's thinking about it and he's asking one of the experienced truckers like what you would need to do. And Val immediately is like.
Oh, it's probably like his internal dialogue is like a monologue, it's like, oh, they're probably going it's going to be this bullshit where, you know, the guy is going to be gay and want to fuck me or something, blah, blah, blah. He's, like, mad about it. And then the guy he's talking to realizes that that's what he's concerned about. And he's like, oh, no, the guy that you'd be training with, he's not gay.
Oh. This brings us to another great point in this book. He's like, oh, don't worry, Henry. Big Horse versus the man Balal would be training with. Henry Big Horse isn't. Oh, no. He likes he likes young girls and young women. And I was like, oh, why does the only Native American character have to be a pedophile? And why is being a pedophile being better than being gay in this world?
Paris, you also kind of left out the last name of that character, Henry, because Henry Henry, Big Horse Begaye.
Oh, my God, I must be gay. Oh, no, Beghe. Oh, wow. Wow, I totally left that out of my nose.
Just really funny, which I think is Weeb. Why Val has that thought a little bit, too.
Oh, that's so stupid, isn't it? It is a system with how on the nose some things are this book.
And of course, the Native American character has to be named Henry Big Horse, right. But anyway, why is being a pedophile better than being gay? Can anyone? Because after he says that, everyone's like, oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, that's fine.
He's totally cool to ride with, but yeah. So let's get back into Val's character here. He's originally planning to kill Nick. He wants to get money, get money from Nick so he can get his fake ID to become a trucker apprentice and then just shoot Nick dead for having abandoned him for five years.
And eventually he does meet up with Nick and he raises the gun on him.
And Nick's like, you got to aim higher, kid, and take the safety off like, you know, grizzled noid dad would.
Yeah, and Val can't do it because really he's not a killer on the inside and therefore good. He's still stood watch for his rape gang friends, but still a heart of gold.
Yeah, I mean, he also took part in that he also murdered one of his friends we didn't talk about, but also that thing is marginally important. I mean, it's part of Bouse character in that he shoots dead the leader of his flatpicking.
They're trying to assassinate an extremely high ranking government official, a Japanese man, that is.
He was a moron. Yeah, it was a murder. It was.
So like Japanese officials are high up in the US government because Japan is they're the ones with the hard currency is what is said here.
I guess that was backed by a gold standard or. I don't know. I didn't I didn't catch that at all. Yeah, no, Japan is the one with the hard currency.
And that's why America's army is now essentially mercenaries for Japanese interests or really anyone's interests that's willing to give them money, but especially Japan. Oh, that's true.
Yeah. Our military is just mercenaries that are hired out, which which leaves America defenseless, which is like another point.
And this whole all fairy tale anyway, Vall murders his flash gang leader friend, quote unquote. And that weighs heavily on him through most of the book, remembering him, shooting his friend in the chest and the Putin t shirt in the face.
Yeah, in the Putin t shirt filling with blood and the Putin on the shirt being like a gangster. Not such a bitch after all.
Except except I don't actually know if that's what any of the evidence of it said, because there was definitely yeah.
There's definitely a Tuka in there with like the Putin.
I like nodding at him approvingly.
So I just took that is what that meant. Oh yeah. What is in there. So what is the. I don't know what that means. Fucking bitch.
Oh well. I'm dumb, is this the moral of the story? You know, I actually I'm too stupid to understand all the foreign languages, so it's my fault. Yeah, I'm not a real intellectual. I don't know Spanish, Japanese and Russian. So fuck me.
You don't even know fake gibberish. Oh, yeah.
And so Val has this kind of troubled. I don't know. I mean, I. I can see how a kid who is not actually bad ends up in a gang and being a bystander while someone gets raped.
Sure, it does happen. And again, I don't. I don't yeah, I don't I guess I'm not really sure what else to say, but I feel like that is a a realistic thing.
Yeah, valid is probably the best done character in this book, even though he doesn't really get a proper ending.
No, no. And now also. Yeah, I feel like if this book was. All from Val's perspective, it would be so much better because, Val, from what I remember, Val doesn't go on racist tirades.
He definitely when they're in the market, he calls the, oh, Arab people a name that I'm not sure if it's like necessarily an offensive thing or not.
So I'm not going to say it. Yeah, it is. Yeah, it is.
But he still has that. He does say the slurs. He does say the slurs. Hmm. That's true.
But again, if you're a kid growing up in exactly this. Yeah. So that is that's like way more believable to me and I think. Oh, God, I don't know, what are we doing here? Why are we trying to justify this fucking. All right, doomsday fairytale, fuck this racist piece of shit?
Look, I know honestly, in the end it comes down to that because I think at this point we can segway into how it ends and why I think that it renders the whole idea I had at the start about maybe it's some kind of like you shouldn't think this way.
It's purely so.
Anyway, in the end, Nick gets taken back to Hiroshi Nakamura to sort of reveal whether he has figured out who killed Kago.
And turns out it was Sato that did it because as we said in the beginning, Nakamura wants to prove that he's the most ruthless shogan.
His son was making a documentary about the origins of Flashback. Who am I to reveal? He was from Japan, so he had to put that down and he was willing to kill his own son and have his lieutenant kill his beloved daughter because of that. And so here's another thing.
Sato was painted as the sort of sad hero in a way, because he's the one that eventually because he's working for a murder in Texas at the same time to, you know, take Nakamura in for his heinous crimes of ruthlessness here, but his killing of his daughter and honor killing, which he says, yes, my daughter knew this was her fate and she had to accept it.
This is somehow good and fine. And Sato is like this, you know, tragic figure.
But meanwhile, the caliphate honor killings are different because. Reasons because Japan is a legitimate culture, I guess, to the because, right, because in Dan Simon's mind, yeah, Asia is higher.
They have the strong Bushido code. Right.
But isn't that like what the Sharia law that he's so fucking obsessed about making out to be a fearful thing that's going to take over everything that's still like suffused with all the same ideas.
I don't. I don't. Well, I don't know if I would jump to that conclusion because I don't know what Bush you I don't know that Bushido is steeped in.
It's different. Yeah, partially.
Maybe a little bit. But it's more secular than law. Yeah, sure. It Sharia is strictly theologically based. Yeah. From my understanding, again, I'm not an expert on these matters, but I don't think that they are directly comparable. But I, I agree with what you're saying, you know, wire wire. Yeah, like you're elevating it's still might is right in the end, right? Yeah, I know.
That's that's what got me about that, particularly about Satoh, who I thought if we're talking about side character for a second Satoh, it doesn't really have any depth, but he's fine, I guess, as a foil to Nick.
Yeah, that's fine.
I don't have much more to say about him or any of the Japanese people in this book because they're really just like they're not really ninjas and samurais. Yeah.
And which, again, I don't know enough about Japanese culture to really sit here and dissect that. Yeah, but it did feel a little icky to read because it feels I think that's all anyone ever focuses on what Japan is like, the warring states, period, and like it. No one thinks about anything else.
It's like I said, it's like that Steven Seagal understanding of Japanese culture.
Yeah. Um, I don't know. Yeah.
So what about the proper proper ending where it might have been a dream? Oh, I think it was.
I think it's all a dream. So we get it was too heavy handed with the Midsummer Night's Dream references. There's no way that's not the real ending.
We get a chapter and towards the end after we find out about these flashbacks and that's where people are taken, you know, and they have like their optic nerves removed and they're permanently put in years cut off.
And they're so in complete sensory deprivation so that they can be permanently under flash, too, and just fed an IV drip of nutrients for as long as they can have the financial backing to, I suppose.
And there's a chapter like a page or two where it's like Nick is in one of these vats and he can feel the sutures in his eyes.
And then the next chapter is him waking up from his, quote unquote, nightmare. And he's now a Texas Ranger for the Republic of Texas because Satoh, you know, he was knocked out by Satoh, who he thought was bringing him to be killed. But turns out Satoh was undercover for Omura and Texas and brought Nakamura to end. And now Nick gets to be part of the Texas Rangers and he takes a scalpel every morning and cuts himself a little bit to make sure that he can feel pain because there's no way flesh to would allow you to feel pain like that every morning.
Except I don't.
Yeah, why not. Why not have. Because then that just confirms your heaven of I'm a Texas Ranger and this is real. Yeah. So it would just make it seem that much more like you're telling me if you were under flash to you would never stub your toe.
You were never going to know? Yeah, especially when it was supposed to be its. Oh, God, I well, right.
When flushers was described as like the ultimate. Sorry, I emersion court, sorry my brain couldn't pick up the audio version, as it's described as the ultimate emersion to relive your your life over again, but with a fantasy improvement because you can't change what happens.
Yes, exactly. So I agree with you. I think I don't know. You're not going. I feel like it would be. A whole lot of red herrings to have all these Midsummer Night's Dream references excuse me. Only to have it not really be that. But I guess I mean, I guess I don't know, obviously, it leaves it up to your interpretation, which I appreciate. That's like I've said many times before, I like when books give you enough information to go either way and kind of let you choose your own ending.
And I think that part about the ending is fine.
I'm not even going to quibble with you about that. The issue that I have is the very end after Nick does his daily scalpel thing of himself. He has there's a couple last paragraphs where it's like this is how Nick knows that this is real life, because real life you have to endure pain to get better. It's not about instant gratification. It's about hard work. Getting you ahead.
Anything else is just flashback and.
Oh, and so it's just this big parable about how suffering builds character. Pain is good for you. And sure, I can totally get down with the idea of teaching a lesson about like instant gratification is not what you want to look for. Being, you know, building skills even or anything that you want to achieve in life takes hard, painful work sometimes.
And you have to be able to go through periods of pain to grow and develop.
But when it's used to justify not paying for health care, because then that takes away the dignity of the work you did to earn the basic health care, fuck off with that.
There's some suffering is needless and we don't have to have it that way.
I totally agree with your assessment here. Yeah.
So I don't know that I that anything. Yes. That my whole bow on this whole story is like if that's the point you're trying to make, even if he's under so baby. Oh his perfect. All right. Fantasy flash to world is a world where all this shitty pain happens because that's what that line of thinking leads you to.
So who cares if that's like an ironic point or not, because it's still a shitty point that's being made that broader societal suffering should happen so society can progress when I just don't think it has to be that way.
Sure. Again, the hard work is fine and some suffering has to happen in that work to develop. But there is some that is absolutely needless. You shouldn't have to fucking scrape for the chance to maybe be able to afford your cancer treatments.
I agree. Yeah, I know we've talked a lot about health care, but yeah, I think that's a big one and just. Yeah. That you have to. That for some reason, shelter and food that won't kill you is something that you have to fight tooth and nail for against the rest of the world is insanity.
To me, all the hard work can be in other areas like research and figuring out how to write a good story. Dan Simmons, which I guess you kind of do somewhat, but without this fucking racist drizzle all over everything.
Yeah, like you said, this this donut dipped in blood, shed blood. All right. All right. That brings us to. Can we fix it? And can we fix it? We know we are. Can we fix it? Song I should have done that by now I suppose. Maybe I'll have one for this one. All right, well, in my book, this always bring this is going to bring up that question that we asked at the start, can you have a completely racist world without it being a shit story or a shit book?
And I think the answer is yes, of course, because men in the High Castle is a fine example of why you took my example.
Well, I mean, it's a good thing, but damn it, there's more examples, but it's more random.
I know. Before you got to the notes. True. Fair enough. OK, this is mostly Paris's point, let's say.
Do you have any other examples then? Maybe. Shit, that was the only one I wrote down, but I had other ones anyway. You have two other ones, so use those as your own example. I'm sorry. Well, I had like Wolfenstein, which is a video game series that is honestly about shooting Nazis to death all the time. We're live in an extremely racist world. And then you have The Handmaid's Tale, which isn't necessarily racist all the way.
It's a little bit more steeped in sexism, but a big, extremely bigoted world used to tell a story with a good point.
I suppose for me, maybe it's I need. A distinct condemnation of that line of bigoted thinking for it to be good. Maybe that's what I need. I don't know, like. What is your take on this, I suppose? Yeah, I don't know, because because, again, I've often said. That I actually do enjoy books where you get into the mind of someone who's terrible, like, I think a good example of this is American Psycho.
I think you can find a book enjoyable, even if you don't. I agree with everything that the protagonist believes, but again, it's it's you need to have a character with more depth and nuance.
So with American Psycho, you can I mean, if you've never read the book or watch the film, sorry. There's a lot of that where you can. Like the consumerism and the and the need to be really good at your job and be sociable all the time, like there are things in there that you can see in yourself, whereas with this book. I couldn't identify with even one thing with any of the characters, so I think. Even if I mean, think about even the the TV show Dexter, right, like again, I guess if you haven't seen it, sorry, it's been around for years, but that's a show that follows a serial killer.
But we the audience develops.
And I didn't watch the whole thing. I've seen some of it.
But the audience develops compassion and roots for this man killing other people because he kills other serial killers. And and he. Even though he starts out kind of sociopathic and heartless, he learns to love, you know, so even when you're dealing with someone who is awful, there are some parts of them you can identify with and. Sorry, I know I'm just repeating myself, I was just trying to give another example, but I'm also trying to think of books, books rather than TV shows.
I mean, American Cycos one where I didn't necessarily agree with the character, but still. Let even go straight to good, you know, intricate books like the song Device and Fire series with plenty of shady characters that Jamie Jamie is a great example.
I am so invested in Jamie's story, even though I find him disgusting in some ways as he evolves, I find myself developing more and more sympathy and even empathy, sometimes depending on the situation. And that's that's compelling. Do you. And I think that's why. So so I guess to answer your question, no, I don't actually need condemnation of the bigotry within the text for it to be good. But I need to feel connected to the evil that sounds evil.
But, you know, I need to feel a something I need to have things in common with, well, with the protagonist.
Maybe if your wife died in a car accident, Paris, you find Nick more relatable. No, I wouldn't. But I do think that is a very difficult work to create. Like Facebook, where you have where you actually do have a person who is totally. Totally a piece of shit, maybe in a racist, fucked up, misogynist world that's still good for someone to someone who doesn't believe in any of that, that's really hard to do.
So, in a way, I feel like. It's nigh impossible, really. Yeah, but I do think I do think it can be done. Yes, most of the time I'd agree with you where yeah.
If you're going to have a setting like that, I would I would love it if the protagonist or if one of the main characters at least was against all of those things and that the way that you see it play out is bad for everyone.
Yeah, not even a condemnation, but a comeuppance even.
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
And sorry, you had you had another good point before I before I get into my stuff.
So this is just another like kind of how we can fix that thing. And this is maybe personal preference in a way, and it kind of makes sense and how everyone in this world thinks.
But I just have never been a fan where. You have all these disparate sorts of cultures really segregated. Obviously, there's probably some mixing of peoples within the different sectors of Los Angeles and the country. And of course, there you know, certain cultures are isolated for a while by nature of Japan was an island for so long and therefore there weren't a lot of foreign people coming in there for a while.
But if I just much prefer fiction where you see the intermingling in one geographic location, which would happen, especially in a metropolis like this, I don't think people would even in a situation like this where it's near apocalyptic, you would still have mixed, you know, neighborhoods.
I don't think people would enforce race barriers.
Well, and it's just I think it's very I think that's actually very believable because think about redlining in the US and. Sure. And just self segregation by white folks.
Yeah, I'm not saying it's like it's impossible. I'm just saying I prefer a sci fi fan. This isn't even like about what I think is good or right to write in a book is just what I prefer seeing.
Yeah. If I see it as I see it set in like a metropolis or an urban setting or somewhere where a bunch of people are at the same time, I just don't I prefer it when they're not super segregated like this is the case.
Right. So this is this area. Yeah, you're right though.
Fantasy. I think a lot of books have that problem where everything's very tribal, whereas this is the area, the real world is very different.
You can have like the area where there's mostly dwarves because that's where they originate. Fine. I'm not saying that's a problem, but if you have these big sprawling metropolis with a huge population, it's going to be more mixed, I think.
Yeah. And that's more fun to read, honestly, because then you see the interactions between those cultures better. Yeah, that's true. For me, can we fix it? I think this is salvageable if you want a grim kind of basic bitch sci fi noir, but it would need to be transplanted into a whole new world.
I wouldn't do not raise this point of, you know, needlessly here. I built up here. Oh, God, sorry.
I just we got to laugh sometimes. Is this is a tough one.
Yeah. So so it just so I mean that's basically.
That's what you talked about that. Yeah.
It's a good mystery but it's got that racism all over it just so it's hard.
It's hard for all the reasons we've already discussed. So I don't think I need to go into that. But that was my first point. My second point is returning to my two initial questions. Who does this serve? And did it need to be written? To me, this book only serves to plant and cultivate extreme right wing ideas, many of which are demonstrably false. So I don't think this actually serves anyone. And therefore, it didn't need to be written.
I'm sure there are plenty of other sci fi noir stories out there set in a racist world that aren't promoting these ideologies. And my example was the man in the high castle. All right. No, it's OK. And I'm sure there are others that I'm not thinking of right now. But and and to be clear, I'm not advocating for, like, government censorship, like, oh, this book should be banned. Like, I'm not saying that because that's legally it should be allowed to be written, right?
Yeah, legally. Yeah. Legally, I think I'm not down with censorship, but. But like.
This book doesn't it doesn't really serve to do anything, but I think peddle misinformation, which we already have a major problem with right now, and fear and fear, which again, I think we have a major problem with some of it's mostly fear of American whites not being in control.
And honestly, you know, I sat with this, you know, I I tried to do a fair amount of thinking about this one. And I and I thought to myself.
How would I feel if this were like a liberal left wing jerk off fantasy? You know, because we're both very left and liberal, I think that's obvious if you've ever listened to the show.
And I don't I don't think I would like that either, you know, because the way that this is written is just so heavy handed and you're you're told what to think throughout a lot of the book. And it's just it's this severe. It's like a doomsday fairytale. And I wouldn't like this even if it did cater to things that I felt were were better political opinions or the right way to feel about, you know, a manatee in general.
I just the way that it is all in there, the world building, I don't I wouldn't like that either.
Paris. Can I ask you something, though? Thinking about it now in the left wing version of this book, would the apocalyptic aftermath look much different?
No, like what would be different about it, it looks pretty. It would just be the blame, right?
It would the only thing that would be different is who gets blamed for it.
Yeah, and that's and that's exactly why I wouldn't like it, because it's it is the problem with things that are so that so demonize the other side is that it sows further division. And this isn't me saying we shouldn't hold people accountable or call people out for who they are and what they are. Somebody's racist. Fuck them.
But like. You do you don't change people's minds this way. I feel like by saying, oh, look, they're going to I don't know, they're going to bankrupt the country because of your social welfare programs.
And it's like it's like, thanks, Obama. We know we can point out why things are bad, but I don't think it's very helpful. Yeah. To to. This perspective isn't helpful for anyone, nor is, I guess, my point. Although I don't know, although I don't think that a a liberal left wing version of this would have.
These extreme racist overtones, so which I think is it would still have the more dangerous parts of it would still have very segregated areas, but probably enforced by ultra Nazis or something.
Yeah, that's that's true. But it wouldn't be it wouldn't be peddled as positive.
Yeah, that's the difference here is, is that that line of thinking is seen as the correct, realistic way to see things.
Yeah. In this and I think so. I think that even though I wouldn't like the left political version of this, it would probably be less harmful due to it would be the less racist condemning that stuff.
Yeah. Yeah. Fuck.
All right. Well, that's just something to chew on there, right? Yeah.
So anyway, I don't actually think that this book existing really serves anyone. So I do not recommend you read this unless you unless you really don't understand shitty racist. All right. People.
And then maybe do read it because then maybe you'll get a handle on kind of how they think, OK, I get five hundred and fifty pages and intense racism and rape and a rape scene is probably a lot to do for just that. Go read Free Republic Dotcom for five minutes.
You'll get the same thing. Yeah, go on. Go on conservative Twitter verse for a hot second. Yeah.
You'll be better. Easier. You be in and out of there quick. All right, well, wow, that's it, Paris. Well, gee, I hope this was worth it. Yeah, thanks.
Thank you, Jay, for for recommending today's book gave us a lot to think about. It was painful to read, but that's why we're here. So thank you for being a loyal patron. We really appreciate your support in addition to Jay. I'd also like to thank our other patrons.
So thank you to Jay, of course, Daury, Greg Will, Veronica de Lin, Senya Yaqoob, Bobby Black Cat, John Cena, Mayeux Cat Elliot, Curan Martin and our newest patron. Amy, thanks a lot for joining this crazy book, Circus. Amy, we we appreciate you being here with us through this.
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So many ways, many ways to talk to us. Many people sitting sitting with us through this episode. I know right now if you're listening to this. In twenty twenty, this is probably a tough one to get through, so thanks for hanging in there with us for this. Do we have any announcements? Chris, I don't think so. I don't I don't think not at this point. We've you know, we're almost filled up for our schedule for the rest of the year.
There's maybe a couple more slots.
And obviously some if patrons choose something, we'll drop some of our other slots that aren't patron choices for something that patrons have chosen.
We actually are next to or we have something. We have something else. And then the next two after that, our two patron recommendations.
Oh, are we getting to the antiques freaks choice? Yeah, we have a good one for us, guys. They picked one for us, so, you know, there's going to be some shit in there.
Yeah, D d picked their choice and then another of our patrons submitted their choice for the year. So we're going to do next one is going to be a kid's book, I'll say that much. And then after that we'll have two patrons choices episodes back to back and then just a couple more. And it's already the end of Season five.
Episode one hundred. Episode one hundred. Yeah. What will we do?
I actually don't know. Yeah, we'd be happy to just be frank with you right now. There are no plans tossed around. Some ideas here and there.
We'll try to do something special maybe. But we don't want to go to out of form either.
We don't want to just have a new book reading episode and just like listen to the classic TV. It's that time for that thing.
That time Paris did some math, which is all the times I didn't do math this time that I think. Sure. Oh, all right. Well, once again, thank you all for listening. And we'll see you in two weeks by Paris, Baycrest.