Truth in fiction

Good fiction, good science fiction in particular, explores truth. In the case of good science fiction it often explores an uncomfortable truth by taking a concept and building upon it an extreme example of where that truth might lead. Really good science fiction does so while remaining anchored in that first uncomfortable truth. While the best does so in such a way that it never outwardly states that truth but lets you come to it through the story. Which is, let me just say, a really neat trick… Because that way you explore an uncomfortable truth and let your audience perceive it without ever preaching to them. Instead it simply says…

“Here is a truth I think we as a society need to consider, think on it a moment if you will…”

There are many examples of this truth telling, Margret Atwood ‘The Handmaidens Tale’ for example, C G Hatton’s Kheris Burning for another. Two very different books telling very different stories, but both based on central uncomfortable truths. And while it is possible to read either of these and ‘just enjoy the story’ it is difficult to come away from Atwood’s novel without considering the question of female rights in a world dominated by rich white men, or from Hatton’s Kheris without thinking of its parallels with war orphans living on the streets in places like Iraq and Syria. And lets not get started on Orwell’s 1984, which it’s easy to forget was originally science fiction in a time it increasingly reads more like a documentary…

Uncomfortable truths have always been a starting point for the best in science fiction. Even when it was all ray-guns and tight fitting velour, there were truths hidden behind the stories. The scripts for the original Star Trek series, for example, explored many an uncomfortable truth, in a time when racial tensions in the US were at there… were much like they are right now in fact… It had episodes on racism like the one set on a planet where everyone was both black and white, but oppressed half the population based on which side of your face was black, which displayed the uncomfortable truth of the simple insanity of racism… Science fiction and exploring truth go hand in hand, which brings me to ‘The Augmented Man’ a novel by Joseph Carrabis.

Set in the relatively near future in a USA that has been through and come out the other side of a conflict over control of the South American Coca fields, ‘The Augmented Man’ of the title is Nicholas Trailer, the last remaining member of a special forces unit which took the special forces and black ops to a logical extreme, starts with him resurfacing in the states some ten years after the end of the war, and follows his former CO, his own personal Doctor Frankenstein, Captain Donaldson, trying to break through the walls he built turning Nick into one of the monsters the US needed to win their war.

This is where the truth lays upon which this novel is built because for generations old white men have fought their wars using young men already broken by the system. This was as true in Vietnam as it was in Iraq and Afghanistan. Simply put if young men have better choices they don’t join the army. It why the most successful recruiting stations are in South Central or the Bronx rather than Malibu and Manhattan. It’s why judges offer prison or the army as a choice to young offenders. If your already damage by the system then your disposable fodder for its wars. Take that to the extreme and the more damaged the more abused the better. All the easier to mold your pet monster if you can use the physiological trauma that is already there.

Donaldson took this all a step or three further, seeking candidates scared by childhood abuse and trauma and then changing their biology to match an already scared mental state. It worked, if anything it worked too well, because the powers that be determined that once they had done their job ‘The Augmented Men’ were surplus to requirements, ordering Donaldson to betray them, which is why Nick is the only one left. In this there is another of those grains of truth, politicians will always praise veterans when they are looking for votes, but it never ceases to astound me just how much those in powers want the Vets to suffer the after effects of war in silence and to be conveniently forgotten about till the next election cycle… The more inconvenient the veteran, well having purpose made monsters to win a war is one thing, letting them back on the streets that could be problematic… Think ‘First Blood’ the original Rambo movie (and easily the only one worth watching as it has something important to say.) but if Rambo was more physiologically scared and had been genetically altered till he was a stealthy version of the hulk…

And of course, once you invent the government an atomic bomb, they will get someone to make a better one…

There is a lot to unpack in this novel, there is a lot of psychology and intelligence behind it. The complex relationship between a monster and his maker. The torrid reality of Nicks early life that made him the perfect candidate. The politics behind everything. The man inside the monster desperately seeking a way to come back to the humanity he left behind. A master class in how to create a super solider from a physiological frame work damaged in the right ways to start with. The wiliness of the elite to use the monsters the failures in the system create, then dispose of them afterwards…

There is a lot uncomfortable truth in here, which is why it works so well. Its a cracking read, that will also make you think, like all good science fiction…

 

This entry was posted in amreading, book reviews, books, fiction, goodreads, indie, indie novels, indie writers, novels, opinion, pointless things of wonderfulness, politics, reads, rights, sci-fi, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Truth in fiction

  1. Mark, many thanks for your review. Truly appreciated. I’ll be pointing to this from my blog soon. – Joseph

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Mark Hayes’ “Truth in fiction” – Joseph Carrabis, Author Blog

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