Friday, September 25, 2009

Creating a desert sounds like a stunningly good idea.

Long ago, the Mongols attacked the Middle East. Temujin, in particular, did a lot of damage when the residents at the time shaved the beards off of his ambassadors. He laid waste to an entire region, kidnapping artisans to build a city for him. Even after 1,500 years, the region still hasn't recovered. Many are familiar with the saying "He created a desert, and called it peace."

Including Tom Kratman. His novel, A Desert Called Peace raises a lot of ghosts--and a lot of questions.

The villians of the piece are familiar: radical, violent fundamentalist Muslims, and (in the shadows) the transnational progressivist movement. The kick-off incident was hauntingly familiar to those Americans who haven't forgotten why Islam is our enemy: violent radical fundamentalist rag-heads combined what happened to New York City with the Hindenburg.

Only, this time, some of the victims had someone with the money and know-how to avenge them. The main character, Patricio Carrera, who'd been living in a Panama-analogue for all of his married life, and whose wife and children (including one not yet born) and rich uncle were killed in the attack, had inherited the bulk of his own family's money, and had been formerly high up in the chain of command in his native country. And knew how to build an army.

Carrera chose to use his family money to build, equip, and train a small mercenary force to be used as a tool to help him gain his revenge--and damn, does he succeed.

I had a really hard time reading this book. It brought back a lot of memories of September 11, 2001, up to and including the sounds I could hear over the radio of those who chose to jump from the burning towers hitting the pavement. Carrera's wife chose to take her small children and jump, rather than be burned to death.

Suffice it to say, this book is not one I will re-read. Too hard.

However, along with the ghosts of September 11, this book raises a lot of questions. A lot of...suspicions.

The novel was set in the far future, on Earth's only colony world. It included flashbacks to our near future, many of which involved the transnational progressive movement tearing down society as it had worked up to that point. Indeed, Earth's own fleet and base on the colony world were run by the descendants of our modern movement.

And that's where the questions, the suspicion comes in.

The Earth forces decided that the United States-analogue country on the colony world was becoming too powerful, and would likely be a threat to their power and way of life on Earth, at some point in the future. So, they considered, and decided how they were going to nutralize that threat: they funneled money (and suggestions and building plans and security plans and flight plans) to violent radical rag-head terrorists. And, had it not been for Carrera simply not permitting the Earth ass-sucking media (who behave and believe the same way our American media does) to broadcast anything that he didn't approve, and not caring what they called him or implied about his techniques, the reprisal attacks to neutralize the threat would have faced the same difficulties and results as our own attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq--i.e., demonization of nation, intentions, and troops, and crippling ROEs being emplaced.

With all of the parallels, though, I have to admit that I did the nineteen God-damned hijackers on September 11, 2001, figure out how to hit us, where, and with what? How did they get the idea? How did they get the money?

And who was using the ignorant shits as puppets?


  1. I can understand it being too hard to reread. You _might_ want to look at volume two, Carnifex, which has been out in hardback for a couple of years and will be in paper next month.

    There are going to be a number more volumes to the series, two of which are already turned in and one of which, The Lotus Eaters, comes out in April.


    Tom K

  2. Thank you for replying. We actually do have Carnifex--my husband loves the series, and I do very much like the character--but I haven't had a chance to sit down with it. I teach English Composition (ironic, considering my political leanings), and chasing a crawling baby around. But it is next on my list.

    Take care,