SDP View Club

Good and Evil

This month, we have two very different books and two rabbit holes. While Evelyn explores the other side of death with popular author Dean Koontz, Sahar is tackling civic responsibility and pondering the fate of our nation.

Evelyn Infante

Because it was written by Dean Koontz, and because the title intrigued me, I purchased his latest novel, After Death without reading reviews. When I finished the book, I read many reviews, mostly written by long-time Koontz fans who compared Koontz’s past work with his latest book and found it wanting. I have to say, I found more bad reviews than good ones. I agree with some of the points made, particularly regarding the ending of the book. I have read a couple of Koontz’s books in the past and recall enjoying them, which is why I purchased After Death without consulting any reviews. Nevertheless, I cannot wholeheartedly agree or disagree with those bad reviews. I did enjoy the story even though it may not have been Koontz’s best work to date, according to his avid fans.

The story centers around Michael Mace who wakes up in a makeshift morgue after a disastrous event in the research lab where he works as head of security and discovers every one of his colleagues, including his best friend, is dead. Mace is the only survivor and is now possessed with the power to surf the internet just by thinking about where he wants to go. With this power, he can create new identities, access money, find people, unlock doors, and do countless other tasks one might do sitting at a keyboard, except he does it all by evading security measures through the power of his mind. He has the ability to manipulate objects, make phone calls, and even cause phones to overheat. In other words, he can operate anything that relies on the internet.

Since Mace erased his identity, the people responsible for the failed lab experiment cannot find him. They send Durand Calaphas, a ruthless killer, to track him down. Meanwhile, as Calaphas is relentlessly pursuing him, Mace is doing his best to keep his late friend’s girlfriend, Nina, and her son, John safe from the child’s criminal father. On multiple occasions, Mace has to intervene remotely when mother and son are being chased by the gangster’s cronies. I was thoroughly engrossed by the exciting cat-and-mouse pursuit between Mace and Calaphas, as well as the gangsters’ chase of Nina and her son. The suspense intensifies when Mace barely rescues Nina and John, but just when they think they are safe, the killer catches up to the group and like a rabid dog, brings them within a hair’s breadth of losing their fight.

Koontz has created a tale around the Singularity theory, which suggests that humanity will ultimately merge with machine-computer technology, giving them increased intelligence and immortality. However, in this story, Mace, while possessing exceptional abilities, remains vulnerable to physical harm. He is, after all, made up of flesh and bones. And unlike a computer, he is capable of making decisions between good and evil.

After Death may or may not be Dean Koontz’s finest work, but I enjoyed reading it and recommend it.

Sahar Abdulaziz

The January 6th Report, the Select Committee to Investigate the election denial and assault on the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.

“On January 6, 2021, insurgents stormed the U.S. Capitol, an act of domestic terror without parallel in American history, designed to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. In a resolution six months later, the House of Representatives called it “one of the darkest days of our democracy,” and established a special committee to investigate how and why the attack happened.

Celadon Books, in collaboration with The New Yorker, presents the committee’s final report, the definitive account of January 6th and what led up to it, based on more than a year of investigation by nine members of Congress and committee staff, with a preface by David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and an epilogue by Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, a member of the committee.”

Admittedly, this wasn’t my usual pick of reads, but one I took on as my civic responsibility. I purchased this book because I am fearful that our ‘great experiment’ —the United States of America—is under siege and incredibly close to the end. Full disclosure: I had watched as much of The January 6th Committee hearings as I could stomach, glued to my seat—sickened and disgusted at the mayhem, death, and destruction affected by domestic terrorism. However, Life’s disruptions made attending every session in full impossible, and I missed more than intended. Unlike live TV, a book documenting every word from that event could sit on my lap and let me understand the intensity of information at my own pace. Needless to say (or is it?), since so many people, almost half this nation as of this writing, have embraced a mind-bending denial about what had factually occurred on that day, happy to become a nation led by a modern-day autocrat.

I should add that the extensive information presented in this book was thoroughly sourced, researched, and supported by evidence. Nonetheless, the reading led me down a rabbit hole that got deeper and more complicated with each turned page.

Bottom line and takeaway: We [The citizens of the United States} are in serious trouble.

This is not hyperbole, nor do I take pleasure from sharing this sentiment. In truth, it pains me. Not because I ever thought we, The United States, were a blameless entity, historically unsoiled and virtuous. Nothing could be further from the truth. But because we, the citizens of this country, have not learned from past transgressions and evil buffoonery to dislodge centuries of hate and bigotry. Because we [The US] have not, once and for all, banished and imprisoned those parlaying partisanship power who commit unthinkable debauchery and crimes against its citizenry in the name of patriotism.

Is democracy in trouble? Yes, and it is a trouble that half the nation concocted in support of a mutinous madness that promises implosion, revenge, and despotism.

Did I enjoy this book? No. It was painful to read in detail the unfettered reality of what happened on that day. Not the news version, talking heads version, or lying politicians’ version, but the unpolluted facts’ version as it unfolded in real-time. Upon reviewing the 700-page report, I soon realized that the first footnotes provided only scratched the surface of the evidence and testimony presented. With Ibuprofen at the ready, I buckled in for the long haul.

Was the book well organized, researched, exacting, and assembled? Yes. Extremely. But it was not an easy read, preciously because it was the exposé of horrible, xenophobic people committing horrific acts based on unjustifiable, unsupported, unsubstantiated, and blatant lies. Worse, they were led into acts of insurrection [and treason] by the collective nose hairs of a sociopathic, narcissistic liar who, frankly, can become this flailing nation’s Commander-in-Chief again, despite his having been indicted on numerous crimes: 34 felony counts in connection with hush money payments to a porn star. Forty felony counts for hoarding classified documents and impeding efforts to retrieve them. In Washington, D.C., the former President faces four felony counts for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. In the state of Georgia, he faces 13 felony counts for his election interference in that state. Bizarrely, this laundry list of corruption is not close to the end.

Would I recommend it to others? Without a doubt—no matter your political leanings. In fact, every American household should have received a free copy of this record, including those who support book banning under the false conviction that banning will somehow suppress or avert the truth.

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” —John Adams, American Founding Father

Is our country in trouble? A resounding YES, but through a relentless, boundless, and brave uncovering of facts combined with thorough and precise disclosure in the search for truth, it is a trouble that can be averted.

Further Suggestions for Rabbit Hole Readers:

  • Prequel: Rachel Maddow
  • Blowback: Miles Taylor
  • The Divider: Peter Baker, Susan Glasser
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