My new book, The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, is starting a bit of a stir because the world it depicts is so possibly an extension of our world. Like the real world.
What makes a book political? I don't preach anywhere in it. I thought I'd share an entry from my own blog about The Angel and how the book came into being and what we need to do. This is my election year offering.
Sandy Nathan MA
former Economic Analyst, Santa Clara County, CA
My new fantasy, The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, takes place on the eve of nuclear Armageddon near the end of the 22nd century. The setting is a dark world, in which a ruined United States barely survives on a ruined planet, which is soon to become really ruined. Early readers have commented on how believable my imaginary world is. For instance, award-wining author Todd A. Fonseca said, "It is world not that many heartbeats away from our own, making the premise chilling."
I did not intend to write a political book. At the end of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, I write about the book's inception. My brother died unexpectedly and tragically a couple of years ago. Two months after he died, I had a transcendent dream in which the character of the Angel emerged. In the days following my dream, the plot and characters of The Angel came to me. The book's themes have particular and personal meaning to my brother and me. Essentially, my grief wrote The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy.
But what about the world of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy? It seems about as political as you can get. Yes, it is. The book hinges on a fictitious second Russian Revolution which occurs in 2097. The president of Russia proclaims himself Tsar, establishes a totalitarian monarchy, and almost takes over the world. Russia becomes the planet's major power, with the United States sinking to a third rate entity. (Please note that I picked Russia out of a hat. Could be any big power.) is this possible? Beats me, I write fiction.
However, historical precedent does exist. The stock market crash of 1929 destroyed the financial markets of that era, ushering in the Great Depression of the 1930s. Desperate economic conditions in Germany supported the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi party. An aggressive totalitarian state arose from an economic disaster and created world war.
In The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, the second Russian revolution of 2097 occurs because the world economy never pulls out of the economic slump we're in: the slump created by the financial meltdown of 2008. The Great Recession we're floundering through becomes the Really Big Depression. The world economy spirals downward, creating the desperate conditions that allowed Hitler to rise to power and resulting in my book's Second Russian Revolution. The worldwide police state in The Angel is fueled by inept political and economic leadership, intellectual laziness and lack of integrity in the people and politicians, fault finding, blaming others, and a massive preference for force over reason.
The whole planet wimps out and lets the bad guys have control.
Some people may find this similar to our current situation. It could be. When I was writing The Angel, not all of me was consumed by grief for my brother. A bunch of things that have been happening to our world and society were rattling around in my subconscious. We're in a really bad situation economically. The Great Recession that we're in is the worst economic meltdown since the Depression of the 1930s. We've had the mega collapse of our banking system. Our housing industry is shot. Foreclosures are through the roof (though put "on hold" at this writing). The economy has not responded to monetary policy––i.e., the interest rate cruises around zero and businesses aren't investing. Corporations are cash rich, but not spending. Fiscal policy (the correct response when monetary policy fails, and which is also currently known as the stimulus program) hasn't produced the increased economic growth we've wanted. Jobs have not increased to the level needed to reduce unemployment. Our citizens face downsizing, layoffs, outsourcing and who knows what else. We make bankruptcy for individuals harder and more punitive, while corporations are bailed out.
What bothers me most about our current economic and political situation? If you watch the news or any political debate, you'll see a blame game. "He did it." "No she did it." We live as though our current crisis doesn't have serioius, long term consequences for the well-being of everyone in this country and the world. What is the solution?
WE NEED TO ACT LIKE GROWN UPS.
That's my prescription for the economic/social/personal/moral issues before us. We need to get that we have a problem and work to solve it. We need to realize deeply and fully that COMPLICATED PROBLEMS DO NOT HAVE SIMPLE SOLUTIONS. We will not get any solution unless we work together. We need to understand that any politician purporting to solve our nation's problems with solutions that sound like they came off BUMPER STICKERS is not a horse to bet on. We also need to really take in the fact that PROBLEMS THAT HAVE DEVELOPED OVER DECADES AND MANY PRESIDENTIAL REGIMES CANNOT BE SOLVED IN TWO YEARS. We need to grow up, stop whining, and get to work, treating each other with respect.
As I reflected on these issues, I realized that large groups of people may be incapable of setting their differences aside, recognizing that other points of view may be valid, and solving problems in an effective and nonjudgmental way. Whining and finger pointing, creating "us" vs. "them," indulging in hatred and hierarchical thinking may be endemic to humanity. I'm talking both politcal parties, "both sides of the aisle."
Individuals may become enlightened, developed, and effective people, but maybe the masses just ain't gonna get it.
What does this leave? The world of The Angel & the Brown eyed Boy. There's a final solution there, one that we may be cruising toward full speed ahead. Check it out.
Is The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy political? No more than life.
It's actually a story or personal reconciliation at earth's end. And it's a love story.
Causes Sandy Nathan Supports
Habitat for Humanity; Prasad