Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Agenda 21: Baby-Eating Demons

Agenda 21, pp. 202-204

Emmeline opens the door to the Village, and is immediately greeted by the terrifying sound of...gossip.

"So she's here tonight?" one said. She talked through her nose in a high, whiny voice.

"Sure enough," said another, and the light bounced up and down.

"And you met her?"

"Didn't exactly meet her. Joanhad her come in. For an interview." She said interview like it was something to make fun of.

Yeah, and did you see the shoes she was wearing? As if.

This high school drama trash talk goes on for awhile longer. It's clearly meant to be creepy - to give the impression that Emma isn't safe here - but again, surly is not scary.

And then it takes a turn from silly to...well, remember the pregnant woman from earlier?

"One was born today. That's what I heard from Human Health Services."

"And? Was it viable?"...

..."No. Crooked foot. Turned way in at the ankle. Too bad. A boy. Took him straight to Re-Cy."

Execution of the disabled. Harriet Parke went there.

*sigh* I predict that this one runs long.

Remember that Slate piece about this book that I linked to a while back? I'd like to quote from Sarah Cypher, who wrote it (emphasis added):

If the book had been published under Ms. Parke’s name alone, it would remain an entertaining dystopian novel. The writing is capable, the story compelling, and most of its values are to be respected — family, localness, and a good education in history (Beck, and his publishing house, ought to take note of that, by the way).

Here's the problem with that: "Family is to be valued" is not a central theme of this book. "Liberals hate families" is a central theme of this book. The "family values" content is always delivered in an accusatory sense, as part of an Us-vs-Them mentality. We value family, they value power.

And infanticide. Support sustainability initiatives? Then you must also either support systematic murder of the disabled or - most generous reading possible - be gullible and weak-willed enough that you could be talked into thinking it's okay. That's what Harriet Parke is saying here.

As a novel, Agenda 21 is cold vomit. The dialogue is stilted and terse. The characters are one-dimensional. The setting is dull and poorly planned, with inconsistencies and retcons throughout. It's full of long, repetitious expository sequences at the cost of action or genuine drama. There's simply no defending this thing from a literary perspective. At the same time, the overall plot is so absurd and nonsensical that it can't be taken seriously as a cautionary tale. Nothing in this world would work the way it's described; it wouldn't even fail to work in the way it's described.

This is officially the point where I quit trying to stay neutral on the politics, because that's all we're going to have from here on out. Really, we can only consider Agenda 21 for what it is - and what is that, exactly? I'll let Glenn Beck's afterword note lay that one out:

[Parke] realizes that many people don't want to read a long story in a newspaper or watch a two-hour documentary about a topic like Agenda 21 - but they might read a novel...

...If your eyes are now open to the reality of Agenda 21, then I ask that you please pass this story on to a friend - maybe even someone who would otherwise never read about some obscure UN program. Don't tell them about this Afterword. Don't even tell them that Agenda 21 is a real initiative. Let them go through the discovery process themselves.

It's propaganda. This book - like so many others in recent years - was not written for love of the craft or out of a desire to tell a story, but out of a wish to push the author's politics. With a book like this, there's simply no point in trying to separate the message from the narrative. They were unified from the beginning.

Look, I'm not naive. Literature - especially of this type - is inevitably influenced by the author's personal beliefs. The pre-apocalyptic chapters of The Fabulist feature any number of recent hot-button issues, including electronic surveillance, police militarization, and government-private dealmaking. Obviously this is informed by my own beliefs, I'd be lying if I said otherwise. However, these elements are just the backdrop for the story I wanted to tell. The cameras and biometric trackers, the corporate spies, the trigger-happy cops - these are all meant to show that Something Is Wrong, and I never wrote the story with the intention of tricking someone into a "discovery process."

Hell, I'd argue that The Fabulist has the theme of "family is to be valued" and what's more, I got it across without suggesting that people with whom I disagree are baby-killing monsters. But I don't have any famous friends to tell their fans to buy copies, so I have to resort to shameless plugs - like this one.

Next time: Something poorly written and offensive, no doubt.

No comments:

Post a Comment