Sunday, April 30, 2017

Remember Bowling Green: The Adventures of Frederick Douglass, Time Traveler review

Remember, Remember, the 10th of March
The Day of Ronald Trump's start
I see a reason, that time-traveling treason
Should make his campaign stop

    Okay, I'm not exactly a poet but, fortunately, Frederick Douglass is. This is basically a political polemic inspired by the arrival of a certain controversial figure in the White House. However, if you don't mind heavy-handed political satire then I recommend this book in the same category that I recommend the Illuminatus Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. Just without the sex, which admittedly means the Illuminatus Trilogy wins in any contest. Despite this, it does feel like a really oft-kilter episode of Doctor Who and I can't say I disagree with the message being the Left-leaning trust-fund baby anarchist that I am.

    The premise begins when a masked shooter massacres sports fans in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This ia a reference to the infamous fake news cited by Kellyanne Conway to justify the ban on Muslim immigrants to the United States in February 2017. While I suspect that event will be just one political gaffe in a long series of them, it was enough to spark the imagination of the authors. The Bowling Green Massacre turns out to be a false flag operation by caricature Roland Krump and his media baron Scanlon in order to buy up all of the city's property then gentrify it under the population's nose.

    As evil plans go, it's mostly noticeable by the fact it asks us to believe anyone would want to buy Bowling Green since I've been there and know that's only slightly more believable than the Illuminati. *makes the sign of the Golden Temple that only the true followers of the Pyramid can perceive* However, Frederick Douglass is friends with H.G. Wells and has a time machine. Foreseeing that Krump will eventually destroy the world, he resolves himself to eliminate the politician before his plan can go off.

    I also mean eliminate as, unlike the Doctor, Frederick Douglass has no problem straight up murdering Krump or his equally scummy relatives across the timeline. Unfortunately, unlike the Doctor, Frederick is actually quite bad at murder. He manages to screw up a number of his attempts to alter history despite his otherwise capable self and it's up to a group of Bowling Green residents to undermine Krump's over-the-top evil in the present. Ultimately, it all comes down to a single rally which has the potential to propel Krump to the highest office in the...well, county! Can our heroes stop him!? Well, they have Frederick Douglass and a time machine so if they can't then they really don't deserve to win.

    I really enjoyed the supporting cast in this one and they could have carried the novel even without the space and time bending poet from the past. I also thought it was a nice fake-out to have one of the protagonists named Hannity and have him NOT turn out to be evil given the thinness of the caricatures. I also felt the most intelligent piece of satire in the book is that Krump's plans mostly succeed because they're so monumentally obvious and over-the-top crazy that no one is able to object before he's done. Much like his real-life counterpart.

    The only real objection I have to the book is it feels the need to be more obvious with its caricature than it needs to be. There's a lot of references to President Drumpf, his candidacy, and plans which feel less clever than they needed to be. I think we all got who Krump was supposed to be from the beginning so we didn't need tiny hands or "Make America Awesome" to remind us. Also, real-estate scams are things Trump did in real life so it would have been nice to discover he was at the head of an alien invasion or was actually a human-suit for a colony of sentient spiders or something suitably over-the-top.

    In conclusion, I very much enjoyed Remember Bowling Green and I hope people will check out this book. Obviously, some people will probably be offended by the politics but we've got plenty of right-leaning fiction out there too and this is just a bit of fun either way. If David Weber can have welfare lead to French Revolution Nazism in Space (see Honor Harrington) then the left can have this.


1 comment:

  1. From your description the author probably knows who Frederick Douglass is but never read anything he actually wrote. Douglass while certainly an abolitionist, and a classical liberal, was against violence and condemned John Brown's actions regarding the violent emancipation of slaves. Not surprising since he was a follower of Lysander Spooner, who was the proto American minarchist.