After completing the novel Sedition and writing the review below, I want to emphasize that (IMO) this is a highly recommended five-star Amazon read I label a Political Horror Thriller. At 615 pages, it created havoc with my reading schedule. It was scary enough that I woke up in the middle of the night to continue reading. I will post most of my comments on Amazon, but this paragraph and the final two rant paragraphs below will appear only on my blog. This book affected me more than anything I read last year (2018). I don’t want to make a comparison to this year because it is only February.
Sedition by Phil M. Williams is a political horror thriller. Any writer who attempts to write a political thriller in the turbulent times we are expressing probably must work hard to keep up. What could be more chaotic, unpredictable and absurd than things we see on the daily news? Williams presents us with a novel that is a thinly disguised parody of “real” life. Representative John Bradley, a main character has one chapter devoted to him titled “John and the Art of the Deal.” John is, of course, an ambitious politician with visions of the White House in mind. He just wants to stay in Washington D. C. and help “drain the swamp.” Are any memory bells ringing yet?
This is a very scary novel that presents horrible possibilities for a future of the USA with such convincing certainty that readers will not be creating remote bunkers as Main Character George does but might be applying for (Swiss) citizenship as does the family of Kate, a wildly successful YouTube entrepreneur. Three central themes guide the novel. The first is that the economic system of the USA is inherently doomed to failure. An economic system based on increasing debt that is paid by printed money of decreasing value creates a bubble that will inevitably burst. Secondly, there is a ruling elite that encourages increasing debt and who profit from it by ever increasing corrupt means that eventually lead to curtailing civil liberties. This leads to a dictatorship ruled by a total use of state power to include the military. Finally, through social media, the “masses” are manipulated to the point they contribute to their own demise. Readers will inevitably be led to a comparison made to the manipulation of the German “masses” in the past.
This could have been written as a straightforward political rant, but Williams decided to use fiction supported by a lot of non-fiction to produce a very scary warning of a possible future. It is a future centered on the USA, but chaos is, expectedly, worldwide. It is just that the USA comes out as the biggest loser and is forced to accept the responsibility for its own loss. The non-fiction support is presented by Main Character George. He just wants to get through the day by delivering motorcycles, his self-created cottage industry. Everything he does is self-created. He built his own house in a remote area. He grows his own food. With no friends (by choice) he is an autodidact who reads a lot and fills “blank” time by listening to podcasts and NPR. (This is getting too close to home already). He might have lived his life as an avowed Anarchist, affecting no one in society, except for the accident by which he saved Congressman Bradley’s life. During a motorcycle delivery, George saw a man with a concealed weapon preparing to assassinate John and, acting on instinct, tackled the assassin. The Congressman survived, the assassin didn’t, and George got shot by responding police. This propelled George into public interest through the efforts of Kate, an entrepreneur who looked for opportunities to make money through her YouTube channel. Getting an interview with George would be a coup for Kate and spike her channel’s ratings through the ceiling.
George resists all efforts at publicity but is dragged bit by bit into the public eye as he explains his belief in Anarchy as the only way to restore true civil liberties. George is a total pacifistic anarchist; he rejects violence. This is not true of other factions believing in anarchy; the movement is not monolithic. This is where the bulk of the non-fiction comes in. Podcasts will present the basis of his beliefs. As George listens, readers will find lengthy tracts on economic theories of the past. What worked, what didn’t, and why didn’t they? George has an almost superpower he doesn’t want, the inability to forget anything he has ever heard or read. He would be a winner at any Trivial Pursuit game. Not only does he remember content, he remembers sources, dates, and even times. This will be handy as Julie, Kate, and Max drag George into making public appearances. It is not a shy nature that drives George’s reluctance to appear in public; he suffers from stage fright that causes him to vomit at every attempt to speak publicly.
As George presents his well-supported views in both private and, eventually, public venues, many readers will be tempted to further check George’s sources. Author Williams tries to keep these sections interesting (they are) and not clunky (sometimes they are) as some of these parts remind me of the writings of Ayn Rand. Although I am an Ayn Rand fan, she (and Williams) sometimes beat the reader over the head repeatedly with the same point. This is the only weakness I found in the book. We know the themes, they are well supported, but we don’t need several repetitions of the same support anecdotes.
Very serious non-fiction material is embedded in a fictional setting that involves romantic relationships, betrayals, redemptions (or not), a rigged election, and very scary portrayals of what happens when government power is highjacked by unscrupulous, self-centered, individuals focused on immediate gratification, to include sex. (Interlude while we make comparisons to present day situations). Sexual language is kept to the minimum necessary but feel free to skip over a prison scene; one that is brutal.
Don’t fail to read the very well written Author’s Note. That is followed by approximately thirty Kindle pages listing resources the author used in support of the non-fiction facts embedded in this fictional political horror show. If you look at the Bibliography you might be tempted to read the articles and books mentioned. If you begin to think everything is hopeless, look at the Author’s note again about his comparison of present times to those of the American Revolution.
Despite Ayn Rand(esque) occasional clunkiness, I give this novel five Amazon stars and highly recommend it as a modern-day political horror novel. Is there a genre for this? Somehow, I managed to purchase this book for free on Amazon, so it was not a giveaway or an author request. It is now on sale for USD 8.99 or available as a free read through Kindle Unlimited.
I don’t say this about many novels: I would have paid the full purchase price of USD 8.99.
MY RANT: I am a member of the Baby Boomer generation. You may remember us for Woodstock and a few other great parties. But we also stopped a war and brought down some highly placed government officials, like a POTUS and a VPOTUS. We were not monolithic. I served in the Army and the government but still celebrated the departure of some of our criminals as a criminal war ended. One of our members got away and even today suffers from the effects of PTSD as a survivor of bone spurs. But in the main, we did something. We got things wrong and while doing that we made a few adjustments along the way and got some things right.
To the Millennials: What have you done except complain? No protests except for not getting your share of handouts. The best among you have gotten older, some have entered politics to continue not protesting and not doing anything except to complain that the government doesn’t seem to be working. Dedicated to staying in power and reaping whatever benefits can be had (were you paid during the government shutdown?) some Millennials have floated to the top and still cower before our Bone Spur Victim in Chief. That person has only uttered one true statement in more than two years, and he had to look for inspiration from others to do it. “The Buck Stops With Everyone.” (Nudge, nudge) that is your cue, Millennials. Get with it!