Book Review #19

Paradox Bound

Paradox Bound

It is no paradox that I like to read stories about paradoxes. Oh, wait – I already published that, here.

Are you folks ready for some social and political commentary and satire?? Well, seat belt in. Here we go.

The book – Paradox Bound

The author – Peter Clines

The review – IN THE BEGINNING, was the United States of America. The founding fathers had a dream, a dream of what they had created, a dream of what it could be, a dream of what they wanted it to be. They wanted their dream to be real, solid, physical. Being (mostly) good Christians, they prayed to the Egyptian god Ptah.

Ptah’s father was an older, greater god. Ptah was a carpenter. He died, and came back to life after three days. Maybe they never noticed the difference – or the similarities. Ptah created a real, physical dream for them. It was stored in a safe place…. then one day, the dream was gone – Lost? Stolen? Went to North Korea with some crazy basketball player and forgot to come back?

Most Americans didn’t notice, or didn’t care, but there were many who did care, and they became the Searchers. 48 men had been created with no faces, only plastic Halloween masks. The faceless men’s mission had been to protect the Dream, but when it disappeared, they only protected their own existence. Their greatest strength was “Certainty.” They knew everything around them. They mined the almost 250 years of records of the entire United States. They hunted down and killed any Searcher who might re-establish the old status quo. These faceless bookkeepers were The Bureaucrats.

Is any of this roman a clé beginning to feel familiar? As a Canadian, it took me a few chapters.

Since this entire story is about the United States, there is no “Time” Travel, only about 250 years of History Travel. Like the Back To The Future movies, a vehicle is required. No speed is needed, only the ability to navigate the slick spaces on the roads and trails of America, to slide from one period or era, to another. Travel up-time beyond 2036 is impossible. If The Dream is not recovered and re-installed by then, American history will unravel, and the world will exist without all the wonderful things it has created.

Older vehicles were preferred, because they were stronger, and simpler, able to be repaired with a hammer, pliers and some string, if they broke down. Horse and wagons were mentioned, but usually early 20th century technology was chosen. The author mentions an Indian motorcycle, and apparently John Henry was a real person, riding the rails in a train he assembled himself.

The writer seems to love classic automobiles. He has different characters riding around in a 1929 Ford Model A Business Coupe, a 1940 Cadillac Sixty Special in factory Oxblood Maroon, a 1953 Hudson Hornet, a 1958 Edsel Corsair, a 1961 Ford Fairlane, a 1967 Chevrolet Impala, a 1969 Ford Mustang, a 1970 Dodge Lancer, a 1975 Dodge Dart Sport, and a 1978 Chrysler Newport. Without specific dates, he also mentions ‘tail-finned‘ Cadillacs, which would be from about 1953 to 1960.

Tailfin Cadillac

Since Ptah’s spell only covers the USA, all vehicles must be “American steel.” As an ex-autoworker, I know of American workers, assembling cars in the U.S. with parts produced in Canada, made from German or Pakistani steel. I guess when they cross the border, and get paid for with greenbacks; they become “American.”

Our hero and heroine are the ones driving the ’29 Model A. The author doesn’t know as much about old cars as he lets on. At one point, they make a run for the car. She whips open the passenger door, and “slides across the rumble seat.” I had a mental image of Starsky (or was it Hutch?) sliding across a smooth hood. You don’t do that with a rumble seat! There’s a large, protruding, steel T-handle that could ruin your whole weekend.

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There’s the T-Handle that you wouldn’t”t want to slide across.

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This car had the ‘rumble seat’ removed, so that the space could be used as a small trunk.

After a few more pages, he began to use the terms ‘bench seat’ and ‘rumble seat’ interchangeably. (Click above) A rumble seat is exterior to the small, enclosed passenger compartment of a coupe. It’s like a small trunk, set on the sloping rear deck, that opens to an exposed, upholstered, double seat.

It must be confusing for the History Travelers, to have the paradox of speaking to a person that they have never met, yet who has known them for years of their time-line – to speak to someone they’ve watched die – to observe the same occurrence from two – or three – different perspectives – and get it.

The ultimate paradox was that, since the Searchers had been trying to find the American Dream through 250 years of history, chronologically, the Dream hid itself, in 1963, so that they could all achieve their dream of locating it. It was never really ‘lost.’

the-fold

I liked Cline’s The Fold novel last year, about parallel time-lines. Despite its ‘Made In America’ plot line, I really liked this one too. I rate it two cheeseburgers. I’d give it three, but I’m trying to lose some weight again (still). 🌯 Tell me what you’re reading.

Flash Fiction #186

Conversation Thread

PHOTO PROMPT© Sandra Crook

FEELIN’ CREATIVE GROOVY

Bob didn’t object to Canada finally legalizing marijuana. Many of his friends had indulged in weed without legal approval for years. He didn’t, and couldn’t understand some of their justifications. “It improves your creative abilities, man.”

Once, he’d thought that his dreams contained epic ideas. A counsellor had taught him how to wake and write them down. The next morning’s notes had read

FREEM DOESN’T CLAVITZ
PROBLY SHOULD QUEES

His friends’ 4:20 “creative” sessions reminded him of those attempts. Eight stoners, loudly holding forth on 13 subjects, all at once! 😯 There wasn’t a single coherent conversational thread to be grasped.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

***

Click on the title to hear Harper’s Bizarre tell you how groovy it was, back in the Hippie days.

Friday Fictioneers

7 Of 9’s 4th Of 30 Challenge

Another Challenge

Star Trek

That title’s a vague, old, Star Trek, Voyager reference, and it’s still not the fourth, it’s merely number four, on a thirty-day list that I’m chaotically crashing through.

  1. What you wear to bed

This list creator is seriously disturbed.  You could be, too.  There is not enough vodka or qualified psychiatrists in the world, to erase the mental picture of me, rolling out of the old fart sack.  For a while, I dated only blind women.

When I first got married, I slept in the nude, because – you know – sex could break out.  My wife informed me that, when it came to sex, I was self-sufficient, so I took the problem in hand.  Sex did occur a couple of times, and soon we had a couple of kids in the house, one of them female.  I couldn’t go looking for my BVDs in the dark when one of them had a bad dream, or go wandering down the hall with my dangly bits….uh, dangling.

I took to going to bed in my undershorts, and continued for decades.  Never know when you’ll have to run outside to escape a fire.  The house is 72/73 F, summer and winter, although we have an electric mattress warmer to keep us cozy in the winter.

When my doctor confirmed the diagnosis of an enlarged prostate, she prescribed a medication that will shrink it, and keep it shrunk.  Without any explanation, she asked me if I wanted Cialis.  That’s like offering a dog a driver’s licence.  Erectile dysfunction didn’t seem to be the problem, so I said no.

After doing some research, I discovered that drugs like Viagra and Cialis were originally developed to increase blood flow.  When test subjects were asked if they experienced any side-effects, many of the men replied, ’Uh, yeah.  I don’t roll out of bed anymore.’ and a lucrative secondary market was discovered.

The maintenance dose of Cialis that I was offered is supposed to increase blood flow, to help the medication work, so I quickly said, yes.  As I neared 70, my normal low blood pressure and slow heart rate were no longer enough to keep my feet warm enough to sleep at night, even with the Cialis.  Perhaps at my next doctor’s appointment, I’ll ask for a higher dosage level.

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The wife made me a hand-knit, custom-fit pair of socks, which I wear to bed over my regular socks, and sleep comfortably.  They, and my bikini briefs, are enough to allow me out on my back deck, when the new puppies start rowdying in the morning, ‘cause no-one lives behind me, to see what I wear to bed.  😉

The Dance

Fellow-blogger, AFrankAngle, usually publishes organized, well-researched posts.  Some time ago, he made a brief foray into writing fiction.  Being, among other things, a ballroom dancer, he wrote a short piece about a perhaps-reluctant couple engaging in an Arnold Schwarzenegger, True Lies-type Tango.

Another blogger picked it up, and modified it.  He changed plain text to fancy script, formatted it like blank verse, photo-shopped it onto pictures of pretty shells, and returned to Frank a piece of art worthy of framing.  Click here if you’d like a look.

Impressed with the reactions to his repost, Frank has decided to use it once again.  After the line, “The music ends.” he removed his final two lines, and has put it up for download, with the challenge to anyone interested, to write an alternative ending in 75 words or less.  Below is my version.  Click on his blog name above, to read more, or to try yourself.

afashortstorychallenge

The music starts – its tempo and rhythms define the dance. He approaches her table, and extends an inviting hand. She accepts. They take to the floor. He offers a hand and a frame. Again, she accepts, but looks away while in hold as if to say, “I’ll dance – but I’m not interested.”

They move to the music’s sharp, fiery rhythms that are intertwined with sensuality. Their eyes continue gazing in opposite directions to avoid a visual connection – yet, their bodies touch.

They dance – they move – sometimes slow – sometimes fast – but always sharp and to rhythm.

He rolls her out – they flick in unison. He tugs to rolls her back into his arms. She shrugs him off by returning to hold with her head turned away. Their steps continue.

He steps back – a lunge – a corté. She steps forward and raises her leg against his, and slowly moves it downward as a caress. He notices – she’s got his attention. As he returns her to upright, their eyes connect through a glimpse – yet each looks away.

The pace seeming hastens. The musical beat remains steady. Their moves remain sharp. Their eyes are starting to communicate to the other through glances.

She leans her body into him and her head is no longer facing away. They lock their eyes for the first time, and her eyes and face speak to him when. She places her head on his chest.

The normally sharp fans are now slow and smooth – yet still to the music’s rhythm. As she turns, his right hand slides naturally along her sleek frame. He notices the curvature of her hips. His head is not as high as he looks toward her with hopes of connecting again.

To him, her face displays desire. Her eyes are closed, but only she knows why. They are now in another place. To him, they are in the midst of passion. To her, she is the seductress who has succumbed to his fantasy.

He responds to the music’s fire with 8 fast steps down the floor. He rolls out as before, but on her return, she is close – and her right hand slowly caresses his face. The music ends.

She raises her goddess face to his.  Her limpid brown eyes catch and hold his.  He stares into an eternity of joy.  Slowly, her carmine, rosebud mouth opens, and….

BEEP – BEEP – BEEP – BEEP

Frank??  Frank?!!

Wake up!  You’re dreaming.

Turn that alarm off!  It’s time to get up and go to work.    😳

#480