Russell Madden

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FREEDOM, As If It Mattered
Russell Madden
Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.
Softcover, $24.95
Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.
Hardcover, $34.95

(Preview. Also available in a digital edition, $5.63.)







March 23, 2006



Repairman Job


Russell Madden

F. Paul Wilson. Harbingers. Gauntlet Press, 2006. $60.

While F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack certainly has enough jobs to occupy his time, there is another kind of "job" that is beginning to seem more apropos for this character. For anyone who has been following the recent RJ segments of the Adversary Cycle, "Job" with a capital "J," long-O, better describes this poor man's existence.

Over the course of this series, Jack has had one-damn-thing-after-another befall him and those closest to him. As a teenager, he lost his mother, killed on a highway by thugs tossing projectiles into traffic. In the last few books, in quick succession, he has lost his sister (whose funeral he could not even attend); his father (murdered in an airport massacre); and his brother (who vanished in RJ's place to satisfy the demands of a weird artifact).

Now an orphan and sans any close relatives, Jack has had to deal with threats to his fiancé, Gia, and her daughter, Vicky. As Harbingers begins, Gia is nearing delivery of Jack's own offspring, a pending event that has induced him to do what he vowed never to do: enter "normal" society with government-issued identification, tax obligations, and all the rest of the entangling tentacles of an ever-encroaching State.

Even this foray into "respectability," however, comes cloaked in typical RJ subterfuge. Through the intervention of his friend, Abe, proprietor of a most unusual sporting goods store, Jack is headed for Europe to return reborn as one "Mirko Abdic." This "fix-it" is necessary to forge the legal bonds with Gia, Vicky, and his coming baby that will "grant" him rights to care for any or all of them should the unthinkable happen to one of them.

With the Adversary and its malignant agent-on-Earth Rasalom maneuvering against the Ally for dominance over our small world, Jack's concern is anything but misplaced. Harbingers brings that point sharply home when Jack's reluctant agreement to help a patron of his favorite bar, Julio's, track down a missing fourteen-year-old niece leads RJ deeply into the meshes of the cosmic web that is deciding our world's fate.

Jack's run-ins with the mysterious Yeniceri and their black-eyed Oculus; his discovery of the true nature and purpose of the men who killed his father; his race to protect Gia and Vicky and his unborn child from an old danger; and his travels from the heat of Florida to the frigid waters of a Nantucket blizzard transform Harbingers into a hold-onto-your-hat adventure that keeps the reader turning in horrified fascination to learn what more could possibly happen to this man for whom there are "no more coincidences."

Harbingers clarifies as never before the operations of both the Adversary/Rasalom and the Ally. Jack knows that the Adversary thrives on chaos. Any reader who has read Nightworld will also recognize that before all is resolved, the Adversary will transform our planet more to its liking in its attempt to destroy what is precious to people. As Rasalom says, "The human mind is comforted by patterns, but I shall offer none." (p. 199)

But the shredding of reality contemplated by the Adversary makes the most random killings perpetrated by the Nazis seem as tightly logical as a mathematical proof. Give hope then destroy it. Repeat as necessary. That is a strategy designed to inflict maximum pain and disorientation. As the Nazis and Soviets realized, people can withstand the most incredible abuses...if they understand the rules and know what to expect. When anything goes, however, when the Law of Identity is revoked, the impossible stands on par with the routine, and the human mind is left impotent.

That fact is both a strength and a weakness in the Repairman Jack novels. On the positive side, the horror is heightened due to the very alienness and unpredictability engendered by the Adversary. Neither Jack nor the reader can rely upon experience to process what happens or to make plans to deal with what might happen to Jack and those closest to him.

On the negative side, however, is what could be called the "Superman Syndrome." The presence of beings who are next-to-omnipotent, who can violate virtually any law of physics at will create an atmosphere of frustration and, ultimately, a "why-bother?" attitude. Remember the story of Job in the Bible: God grants Satan near carte blanche in torturing Job. Satan can destroy all those whom Job loves; can obliterate his worldly possessions; can visit the worst physical afflictions on the hapless man who wants only to live his life. The only thing Satan cannot do is kill Job himself.

Compare this to what has and will happen to Repairman Jack: all he has lost, all he has suffered physically and emotionally, all he has endured to satisfy the whim of a supernatural being with incomprehensible goals of its own. Like Job, Jack will survive the torments he encounters in these books; Nightworld assures us of that. Like Job, Jack's excruciating agony is, in human terms, meaningless and pointless, just as the wrangling of the Adversary and the Ally over a "trivial" piece in their "game" has no intrinsic value.

For more of this article...

Short commentary on current events

Don't Get Me Started!


Russ Madden
This space will include my observations on various issues that don't warrant an entire essay or article.

** Don't forget to take The Freedom Quiz. (See Gold Standard Defenders list here.) **

1. Congress and the Prez pass the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act (*ack, ptuie!!*) permanent extension. They pretend to pass "safeguards" and most citizens pretend to believe them. What a crock. Don't forget that this monstrosity is an acronym: "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism," i.e., the U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act. Ri-i-i-g-g-h-t.... "Terrorism." As in hookers and drug users and anyone they damned well please. "Strengthening America." Ri-i-i-g-g-h-t.... As in gutting what little remained of the Fourth Amendment. As in expanding State power. As in turning citizens into compliant mice bowing and scraping for the "privilege" of flying or assembling in protest or living. "Appropriate tools." Ri-i-i-g-g-h-t.... As in forbidding those who are f*ck*d by the feds from even telling anyone they have been violated. As in warrantless search and seizures. As in turning the president into a dictator by claiming he can ignore -- at will -- any law he thinks "interferes" with his power grabs. Too many apologists claim wrongly that the prez's position as commander-in-chief gives him the authority to do anything and everything he wants to wage this (undeclaread and unconstitutional) "war," so there, nyah-nyah-nyah. These tin Nazis are the kind of slime who emerge whenever power becomes available to those so low in self-esteem and value that they only feel complete when running the lives of innocent others. I hope they all rot in hell.
2. Headed out to see "V for Vendetta" this afternoon. I never read the graphic novel that formed the basis for the film and have zero desire to wage any debate on the relative merits of the two. A film is not a book, not even a comic one. Different standards. I just hope the flick gives me a chance to experience -- for a little while, at least -- a place and time where the bastards get what they have coming.
3. I am currently compiling a collection of my work for publication. It's entitled (appropriately enough; see logo above) Freedom, As If It Mattered: A Hundred Essays, Two Short Stories, and a Screenplay. It will be about 750 pages, nearly a quarter of a million words long, and available for about $25. When it is ready to go, I'll post the table of contents here.
4. Every time I turn around, I see some idjit yammering on about "meth" and how horrible it is and how we have to turn our drug stores into informers, all to save people from themselves. Of course, these nimnulls never bother to show the "before" and "after" pics of alcoholics or rant about the horrible effects this drug has on children who use it or who suffer because their parents use it. No. Then they would either have to call for banning booze (again) or admit that mere horrific possible consequences from abuse of "X" does not justify prohibiting "X" or that it is entirely possible to use recreational drugs without abusing them. Sometimes I just want to shake these sanctimonious SOBs and tell them to butt the hell out of my freedom.
5. I'm eagerly awaiting the real arrival of spring here in Iowa. We've been teased a few times, but winter is ignoring the calendar and hanging on by its fingernails. I am definitely a warm weather person. Given the right circumstances, I would joyfully move somewhere south of here and never look back. At the very least, count me in as a wannabe Snowbird.
6. My favorite shows this seasons: Veronica Mars, 24, Lost, Prison Break, House, 2 1/2 Men, and Scrubs. And who says there's "nothing good on TV"? (Oh, regarding 24 and the gross violations of rights that occur on a regular basis there. Such in no way justifies similar abuses in the real world. We have an omniscient point of view in the show and know [most of the time, anyway] when someone is an actual bad guy. There is no such presumption in dealing with purported terrorists or criminals we must actually face everyday.)

Archive of previous short commentaries.

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Concerto of Deliverance


John Mills-Cockell

Seven Movements for Instruments & Voices.

 A musical adventure of discovery, remembrance, and arrival.

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Inspired by words from Ayn Rand.

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