Sunday, August 5, 2018

Recently Read

The Fractal Man by J. Neil Schulman

I like Schulman's previous novels. Alongside Night, The Rainbow Cadenza, and Escape From Heaven were all fine novels with The Rainbow Candenza leading the pack. If I see copies of these novels in a used bookstore I always buy them so I can give them to friends. I always look forward to a new novel by Schulman. The Fractal Man just doesn't do it for be. The story is thin, depends too much on cameos by real people or their fractals, and it seems like mostly fragments of bare bones ideas he's had for stories jammed together into ...whatever. Yeah, I'm disappointed and can't recommend it. So if you want to read a good Schulman novel, read The Rainbow Candenza and hope for better next time.


J. Neil Schulman said...

Tell me that for a gun advocate such as yourself this excerpt from Chapter 20 of The Fractal Man doesn't justify the Amazon Kindle price of $0.99:

“A little less conversation, a little more action please.”
I was back in Vegas with Simon, in my own timeline.
On October 1, 2017, a man known to the news media as Stephen Paddock -- using a room in the Mandalay Bay Hotel as his sniper’s nest -- opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on the Las Vegas Strip. When Paddock ceased fire 58 people were dead and another 851 were wounded or injured.
Despite investigation by all levels of law enforcement no motive for the attack was found. That is to say, the reason for the attack satisfied no one’s political agenda so no investigation was prepared to solve it.
Simon and I knew Stephen Paddock’s real name, what paraverse he hailed from, and that he was a pay-for-play hit man who’d been used at one time or another by just about every statist faction, and we knew who had hired him for this job, and why.
If you ever heard the phrase “Vegas Strong” you want to know the why of it more than anything else.
The Free State Project worried about one thing more than anything else when they contemplated the invasion of a world. That was the capacity of the locals to offer effective resistance.
Stephen Paddock was hired by the Free State Project – before Simon’s boffins ended their reign of terror – to advance the cause of “gun control” by an act of terrorism using common civilian long guns and thereby reduce the capacity of the most technologically equipped civilians in that timeline – Americans -- to resist invasion.
The F-Staters might well have overpowered the armed forces of the United States. They had the technology. But their occupation would not long have survived Americans equipped with rifles, shotguns, handguns, Ham radios, off-road and sports-utility vehicles, and all sorts of nasty chemicals stored under the average American’s kitchen sink.
Unlike Anthroterra before occupation taught them otherwise, Americans would not have flown away like birds if attacked.
We also knew that Paddock had escaped the Mandalay Bay alive, and where his new safe house likely was.
Simon and I are not assassins. Paddock was going to Coventry. That was, if he didn’t leave me no choice but to kill him.
This was my own world, my own timeline. I would shed no tears if Stephen was planted six feet under a paddock right here. He had the bad judgment to take the wrong job.
Because I came from this world and Simon from a world virtually no different, we blended. This Las Vegas, Nevada was a city both of us knew well.
For all intents and purposes we had unlimited money. It’s amazing how fanning a stack of crisp hundred dollar bills can get anyone to talk. That included pit bosses at casinos Paddock had played at, and people he had generously tipped to get way too many bags up to the 32nd floor without asking questions, and all levels of law enforcement from local to federal who otherwise would have been reticent to share forensic reports and case files.
The big difference between a casino worker and an FBI agent is that the FBI agent is a lot more expensive.
Every morsel that Simon and I picked up was relayed back to both my analytical team at IntellSec and Simon’s boffins. In a bit over three weeks we’d narrowed down Paddock’s hideaway to three locations.
Then we brought in our own version of SWAT for the takedown.
Nothing as crude as battering rams when we could focus a microgate into a room where he was watching old reruns of Murder She Wrote.
We literally caught him with his pants down, sitting on the crapper.
But the man was a skilled operative with professional paranoia up the wazoo. He wouldn’t take a dump without an Uzi on his lap.
He did everything but shout, "Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?" before I double tapped him with an AR-15, which I brought with me for sentimental reasons.
I am so sorry that the Las Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock, never made it to Coventry.

kahr40 said...

Admittedly, $0.99 is a helluva price and the book is well worth it. It's still not your best work. You have done and can do better.

kahr40 said...

Oh, and, wow, neat.