The Gross National Debt

Friday, July 5, 2013

Flash by LE Modesitt - a book review

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LE Modesitt Jr.has cranked out a number of books. I've read several, but Flash is better than the others I've read.

Modesitt puts his book well into the future. Except for clones running around, a self-aware computer  and a far better use of TiVo than people manage today, this might as well be today.  There's a lot in this novel which reminds of RAH's work and I could be persuaded that it provided a tiny bit of inspiration for Jim Butcher's work with The Dresden Files.

The hero of the story is Jonat deVrai, the world's leading expert on the effectiveness of product placement in entertainment. What we know as commercials are so close to dead as makes no difference. Product Placement is what drives sales and just like today, companies want to know how well their campaign is doing.

The United States is no longer, having possibly gone through a world war and the world definitely gone through global warming. The US emerges beaten, battered, etc etc. What's left of the North American continent is now consolidated as is most of the rest of the world.

Giant corporations are taking over government. The hero deVrai is used as a pawn by several corps aiming to get their own biz-friendly candidates into office. When he catches the idea, he's suddenly a too-hot commodity and must be eliminated.

 I quite enjoyed this book on a number of levels, but was also left disappointed. In the words of one reviewer on Amazon,  "The problem - unusual for Modesitt - is that the world he builds up doesn't quite support the characters."

I am again reminded of Harry Dresden and Peter Parker, the Amazing SpiderMan. These two fictional characters have something in common which deVrai is lacking. Dresden and Parker are thrust, against their will, in situations they would massively prefer to avoid. But being there, they are going to do their best. Along the way, they get stomped, mashed, clobbered, rejected, dejected, insulted, vilified, and are treated worse than a doormat. They also suffer tremendous a repeated crisis of conscience.

They are Underdog! and we love them for it.

deVrai ain't. He gets whopped with a neural whip once, but it doesn't flatten him. It barely slows him down. deVrai charges into battle and stomps prit near everything in his path. He doesn't show remorse over the people he whacks. When his sister and brother in law are killed and he's given custody of a niece and nephew, it comes across as more of an annoyance than anything else.

What I do like about this book is - SPOILER ALERT - is how it ended. deVrai has killed all the major enemies but one. She's left alive, very much in charge and still has the capability to take deVrai out. At the same time, he's got enough dirt on her that if she does, she's also the next candidate for a total brain wipe.

The book ends with a VERY uneasy and an incredibly unstable truce. There is no resolution. The monster in the closet (very real) is still in the closet and for all the beatings it took, it's almost completely healed and ready to come charging back out. deVrai, having met the monster and fought to a truce, is ready to go again if needed, but in Round II, there's no way of telling who'll come out on top.

No resolution and it's clear there's no resolution. I like that enough to recommend this book because that at least is different.

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