C. G. McGinn

Writer

Ramblings about Books and Writing

Filtering by Category: Books

Ravencry: Book 2 of the Raven's Mark by Ed McDonald

When I finally put all my ducks in a row, get published (self or otherwise), and get on the scene, my first order of business will be to befriend Ed McDonald and talk shop over pints of thick strong stouts, porters, and ales of the chest-hair growing variety. I get the sense that he’s a pretty cool guy. I’m following him on Instagram, so it’s a start. Maybe when this post goes live I will make mention of it on the “Insta”—something I should do more often anyway. Based on one of his more recent posts, I’m pretty sure we share a similar writing style—the difference being he has 2 books published with a 3rd coming out in June while I have a series of rough drafts ranging in degrees of roughness similar to grades of sandpaper. He obviously has the discipline in which I lack.

I enjoy his writing style and the 2nd book of the Raven’s Mark series, Ravencry maintains the hard and sharp edge introduced in his first book. The character of Ryhalt Galharrow is what you get when you take Ian McShane’s, Al Swearengen and throw him into a magic-fill, apocalyptic fantasy, where he is able to swear and murder his way through all matter of monster and conspiracy. Galharrow drinks profusely, swears excessively—if not poetically, and cares very little for how he presents himself to the nobility.

Two Ian McShane “Swegen” posts in a week. Time to re-watch Deadwood!

Two Ian McShane “Swegen” posts in a week. Time to re-watch Deadwood!

And yet somehow, he is a character with heart, who cares for others—not necessarily society as a whole but perhaps just those closest to him. And those people—few and meager as they may be, he does not want to see them eaten by what may crawl out from the Misery—a seemingly endless stretch of land plagued by magic, more radioactive than ethereal.

As for my second order of business: Revenge. Swift and brutal revenge. Or Creme Brulee.

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Revenge

A dish best served with caramelized sugar and a butane torch.

The Vicious Circuit: A Series by Robert Brockway

There should be a name for the genre of bizarre sci-fi, modern-fantasy, horror that the likes of David Wong, Robert Brockway and their ilk hilariously bestow upon this unsuspecting world. I like reading these books for a number or reasons, which I will list right now, in no particular order:

The main characters are hapless lay-about who don’t give many shits about anything, let alone the cosmic nightmares they have been thrown up against. They are often found stoned or drunk…or both.

The Dude abides.

The Dude abides.

However, said main characters are often assisted by a strong female counterpart who saves them from both monsters and their own stupidity on several hilarious occasions. These characters range from bookish to bad-ass.

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And now that you mention it, stories that involve cosmic nightmares and untold horrors of a Lovecraftian nature are often the tea in which I gingerly pour into my ornate and chipped cup.

Thanks Nick the Rat

Thanks Nick the Rat

The dialog is raw and real with a lot of cursing. Not the Shakespearen pros you’d get from an episode of Deadwood, but rather the, punch-in-the-face gutter-speak heard after a night of heavy drinking…in which the drink of choice is gasoline with a spritz of ginger.

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"Act averse to nasty language and partial to fruity tea."

~Al Swearengen

Where David Wong's books take place in, Undisclosed middle America, Brockway takes us into the often traveled streets of New York, London, and the far from glamorous L.A. scene. In Undisclosed, we suspend belief because, after all, this could all be some cruel aliens simulation in some unheard of town. But when the landmarks are found on our SnapInstaFace feeds when the monsters arrive is all the more unsettling.

Both writers also write for Cracked.com, which makes me wonder what the hell is in the drinking fountains over there. It's some pretty potent stuff! 

Keep writing these types of books and I'll keep reading them.

And now that I think about it, a Lovecraftian-themed show, staring Karen Gilliam, Jeff Bridges as The Dude, and Ian McShane would be something incredibly awesome. We’ll call this tale of horror, It Came from the Deep, or The Waking Gods, or The Big Lebowski 2. Co-Written by CGMcGinn, David Wong and Robert Brockway. I’d get top billing though. I wrote this post and found the pictures on the Inter-webs.

 

Columbine by Dave Cullen

There are some stories so unbelievable that the mind can’t help but try to understand them as fiction. Though written in the narrative form throughout most of its entirety, Columbine is anything but fiction. It was horrifically real. But even as the events and motives were carefully laid out by Dave Cullen in his book, you can’t help but feel a sense of surreal disbelief—a thought that even this couldn’t have happened. But it had. It was horrible. I have an idea of just how horrible because Cullen put me there, right in the middle of it—in the cafeteria, in the library, and inside the killers minds.

The story of Columbine can’t be talked about without addressing the myths surrounding the motive behind the attack. These myths were fueled and often created by the media and news outlets covering the tragedy. The biggest myth of all was that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were bullied and this was what had driven them to systematically plan, prepare and ultimately carry out a massacre that was intended to kill hundreds. In reality, they were not. There is no evidence of this in their journals or actions leading up to the attack. Both boys attended prom—with dates. They had active social calender’s, and they had friends.

Eric was a text-book psychopath who hated stupid people. He saw himself not only as the smartest man-boy in the room, but in the entire world.

Dylan was suicidal and looking for a reason to die.

Eric gave his friend Dylan a grandiose reason.

The fact that this myth is still believed in 2019 is staggering to me, but after a recent conversation with someone who adamantly argued that this was the root cause of the incident, left me shaking my head. It’s a convenient way of explaining an unbelievable event of actual horror—a way out for the mind to rationalize what its incapable of understanding.

I don’t think we’ll ever fully understand what happened on April 20th 1999 but Dave Cullen’s, Columbine brings us much closer than we would be if left to rely on the agenda-filtered lenses of the news media—cable or otherwise.

Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio

I’ve read a lot of great books lately and have done little to tell you about them. I’m going to start with the last book I finished and work my way backwards. By the time I get to Neil Gaiman’s, The Graveyard Book, I’ll probably sum it up with one line, two words: It’s good.

Empire of Silence might as well take place in the Warhammer 40K universe, if 40K had a sex drive, and passion beyond the whole ‘grim darkness of war’ bullshit.

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Empire of Silence has a libido. It’s grown a pair, yet remains grim and dark and veering on the brink of war. There’s depth to the characters, a heretic-seeking clergy, noble houses of every shape and color, palace intrigue, gladiatorial events, xenocide.

It’s science fiction that often feels like high fantasy.

Marlowe is an arrogant sheltered protagonist that ultimately finds humility from his experiences outside of palace life. Don’t get me wrong, he still maintains his prickish mannerisms, but he’s seen some shit—he becomes: dynamic.

It’s the first book in the series. The next book, according to the all-knowing Amazon isn’t due out until July, so you have some time. It’s a long read, but Samuel Roukin’s performance in the audio version is amazing, bitter, and yet—soothing, like a dry bottle of wine, or a kick in the teeth.

Who Owns the Future by Jaron Lanier

There are far too many, gee-wiz, oh wow, the Internet of Things fanatics writing about tech. Everything Silicon Valley comes up with isn’t great, but those who report on it would have you believe otherwise.

Adam Curry calls these folks, Tech-Horny’s.

I like nay-sayers in the tech industry—those who question the status quo. People like John C Dvorak, who was a columnist for PCMag for three decades, who ‘made the mistake’ of writing a column disparaging the 5G broadcast spectrum, and was unceremoniously fired. Read all about it here. And here is the damning article taken down from PCMag: WaybackMachine

This brings to mind a rather grim quote by the late Michael Crichton—spoken through the voice of the late Ian Malcolm:

Scientists are actually preoccupied with accomplishment. So they are focused on whether they can do something. They never stop to ask if they should do something.
— Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park
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Are there dinosaurs, in this dinosaur park?

Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park

5G might not be as bad as an island full of dinosaurs, but the scary reality is: we don’t know that for certain. We don’t know what the invisible waves of cellular signals are doing to our bodies, just as we don’t know what social media is doing to our minds. Its all just cool and awesome and shiny and new, and we think…great!

Jaron Lanier has been working in the Valley since the early 80’s. He currently works for Microsoft. He’s one of the smartest tech guys I have had the pleasure of reading and in his own, optimistic way, he too is a nay-sayer.

In Who Owns the Future he says, ‘nay’ to our current social media setup—where the few (Facebook, Google, Twitter) make money off of the many (us). He proposes a new system in which the many can make money by charging for the data they create.

In our present, data is free but we are subjected to advertisements and any information the big companies of Silicon Valley can glean from us is bought and sold, often without our full understanding or consent.

In Lanier’s idealistic future, we are in control of what we share, and we get paid for doing so. I’m paraphrasing. Lanier uses a lot of lofty language to get his point across and I will probably have to read this book two or three more times to truly capture the elusive spirit of it.

Where Dvorak is a cynic, Lanier is optimistic. However what they both have in common is that they actually question the status quo in the tech industry—a very rich conglomerate of corporations that can literally get someone fired for not being lockstep with the current narrative.

Sounds like the plot of a grim near-future novel, only all to real.

Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins

Confessions of an Economic Hitman is part of the Question Everything theme in my current Non-Fiction reading. This, along with The Day After Roswell shows that we are nothing when we live in a stagnant world where the Media (local and cable news, reality tv, social networks) spoon feeds us information. Question everything, especially what we perceive to be the truth.

It makes life spicy and sexy.

This was a book recommended to me by the No Agenda Show--an insightful podcast where they deconstruct the media.

If everything in Confessions is true, then we live in a cynical world where governments—specifically the US Government—can essentially buy power and influence across the globe and into the known universe. I’m not saying I buy every anecdote and account in this book, but the methods described for gaining influence and eventually blackmailing, are probably used today by companies like Halliburton and Bechtel. It’s entirely plausible.

I’m also very cynical.

I can’t say that I enjoyed this book. I didn’t hate it. It’s written like a confession—the author was in the game, had a change of heart, then got out and wrote about it. But despite all the horrible, life ruining stuff Perkins claimed to be responsible for, I never got the sense that he was ever on board with it. You have to be a true believer to ruin a country like Panama. I felt as if he were detached from the events, as if he were a spectator and not a participant. Moreover, there was never really a “Come to Jesus” moment which would prompt this so-called true believer to have a change of heart. The confession fell flat because he never seemed committed to the cause.

I don’t doubt that this sort of thing happens. I just don’t think it happened to Perkins.

Of course, all I have to go on it what is written in the book and what my gut tells me. The cynic say it happens everyday. But the book didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know.

The Day After Roswell by William J Birnes and Philip Corso

I'm the one in the family that scoffs at the idea of UFOs and life on other planets beyond this one. I know, right? The sci-fi writer who doesn't think aliens are a thing.

It's not that I don't think they're a thing. It's just that I'm not sold on the ideas presented to me about them thus far.

No, I don't think that aliens are really angels in disguise.

No, I don't think they're a higher evolved version of us.

Any of that New Age crap, is just that: New Age Crap.

It's a nice idea to turn something like aliens into the 'feel-good' trending self-help nonsense of the moment.

Otherwise I have no strong opinions on the matter.

The Day After Roswell brought me the closest to believing--in a Fox Mulder sort of way, in the existence of alien life.

This wasn't a death-bed confession, but shortly after its publishing, Retired Col. Corso did die of a heart attack. He was 83 at the time but the timing is something one might want to consider. Were he a younger man, it would be suggested he steer clear of hot tubs, small aircraft, and CIA looking thugs wielding a garrote.

Speaking of the CIA...

Even if all the stuff about aliens is bullshit, Corso paints a very interesting picture of the politics between the Military and the Intelligence Community. In summary, the CIA are pretty much the worst, and have been trying to skull-fuck the American people since the start of the Cold War--if not the beginning of time. Those aren't Col. Corso words. Those are mine, but I'm sure the spirit of my words would be echoed by the late Colonel.

Aliens aside, what I found the most intriguing was the detail that went into the technology discovered at the alleged crash site and what was done with it. Col. Corso was essentially in charge of going through the original Roswell reports on the tech--his, 'nut' file--and figuring out ways of getting the tech into the hands of tech companies, so that they might reverse engineer it. Fiber optics, lasers, the stealth bomber--all alien tech.

On a personal note, I've always been convinced that laser printers are not of this world. Google--or better yet, Bing! how a laser printer works. What goes on in that box is nothing short of black magic...or alien technology.

I'm not saying I believe in aliens. I'm not sure about Roswell either. But Corso, an 80+ year old man had nothing to gain writing a book of fiction. He didn't have enough years left to enjoy the money and died shortly after the book came out--either by natural causes or the CIA.

...Probably the CIA.

 

Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory

Spoonbenders is the story of a Greek-Irish family. The only difference between my own family and the one in the story is that my family does no possess any sort of telekinetic or psychic powers.

...that I know of.

The eldest daughter knows if a person is lying or telling the truth.

The eldest son can move objects with him mind.

The baby of the family is the worlds greatest psychic.

The grandson can astral project.

And the grandfather is a master of cards, slight of hand, and all things Penn and Teller.

Those were probably spoilers. It probably doesn't matter though. Where the story goes from there is quite unique. This is one of those, it could happen in real life but there are sci-fi elements at play sort of stories. It's sorta what Stephen Kings does with horror, only the stakes are much lower.

It takes place in 1995.

It was a good book to get into after a break from reading, and The Library at Mount Char

I'm re-reading The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch for the book club I'm hosting. It's a long book but there's still time to read it and join in the discussion. This Thursday. At 7PM. Southborough Library.

Then I'll be starting The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. That should keep me busy for a while. 45 Hours and 32 Minutes in fact. 

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

The Library at Mount Char falls into the Slipstream sub-genre of fiction with titles like, John Dies at the End by David Wong, and Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. The titles by Wong and Vonnegut are hilariously funny in their approach to the bizarre world they create. Wong's stories are ultra violent but easy to read because of the comedy. Vonnegut is more cerebral, making the reader think.

The Mount Char is ultra violent, not funny, and really makes you think. It was an amazing book that makes one squirm at times.

I will not spoil this book. Like the Matrix, you must experience it for yourself. And no, it doesn't end up being a computer controlled virtual reality in order to keep turn human slaves into batteries.

But I will say: you won't see where it goes until you get there. It's really a well crafted story. It's very different and many of the main characters are both awful and beautiful at the same time. And like any good book in this genre, there are several WTF moments. Just roll with it. Trust me, there's a solid pay-off. At least I thought so, and why the hell are you even here if you didn't at least care a little about what I thought? Go waste your time on Reddit, or the YouTubes.

I'm currently on leave from my full-time job due to my second child entering the world on Tuesday. I'm realizing that I've reached a very specific stage in life. I'm no longer the single guy, or the married guy with no kids. It took my first kid to turn 2, and my second to almost get here before realizing I'd reached this milestone. I'm not happy, but I'm also not unhappy. Sobering, would be the word for it. All of this hit me today. I'm sure I'll eventually make peace with these feelings. For now I'll just wait and see.

Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

Autonomous is what will happen when Big Pharma is allowed to run amuck, becoming the most powerful corporate entity in the known universe... Oh, wait a minute...

As a social commentary, it's a satire of the argument between drug companies who rack up the prices of much needed medicine, those who need these drugs but cannot afford it, and the black market that fills the void. In a future where even atoms are able to be replicated on 3D printers, the quality of said drugs from the underground, mirror their brand name counterparts.

This is but one of many stories that I'm currently reading set in a very bleak future that rings with the echos of Blade Runner, Neuromancer, and, more recently, Altered Carbon. Set in a world where the technology is old enough to be taken for granted, where both human and robot kind coexist, co-habitate, co-mingle, etc, etc, etc...

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock

A few weeks back, my editor posted a link to a blog looking for writers. It was a paying gig, which involved writing about reading. What discouraged me was that they specifically stated that they WERE NOT looking for book reviews. I guess that's what I do. I don't know. I think I give you enough to make a decision whether or not you should try out a book. I don't like getting in depth on the plot or development--sticking more to what struck me as unique. At first glance I guess this could be misinterpreted as a review.

Needless to say, I didn't apply for the job. Maybe I'm selling myself short. Who knows.

An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors is what happens when you give Alexandre Dumas tickets to a Steampunk convention, then lock him in a room and tell him he won't be let out until he writes a book about it. This is a steampunk, swashbuckling tale in the sky, with healthy doses of palace intrigue, magic, magical technology, and more twists in the plot than...something, something...M. Night Shyamalan.

Biography.com

Biography.com

Steampunk as a genre seems hard to get out into the mainstream. Masques and Mirrors certainly isn't pure steampunk, but there's enough of it in there to get one's cogs off...whatever that means. In fiction, I think it's best used when describing a certain aspect of the technology. When it's used too much--encompassing the plot, the dress of the characters, the way they talk, it breaks the story and turns into, well, a steampunk conversion. I guess the same could be said about any quirk of world-building, but right now, steampunk seems to be the lightning rod for such criticism. If there's a pun in there, it was only partially intended.

Blackwing: Raven's Mark by Ed McDonald

Blackwing is the first book in the Raven's Mark series by author, Ed McDonald. The book is artfully vulgar. What I mean by that is that McDonald's dialog is very good, and his characters--mostly mercenaries with a penchant for hard living and heavy drinking--speak as you'd expect them to. But there's an art form to their cursing. Watch a season of Deadwood and you'll know what I mean.

Part of what made Blackwing such an entertaining read was actor, Colin Mace, who lent his voice to the audio book. A grizzled 'merc' is one thing, but an English grizzled 'merc' is an angry, drunkard ride without breaks. It's like whenever Neil Gaiman reads something, if, in this case, Neil were on a three day bender and wielding a gnarled wooden cricket mallet.

The story itself is unique, different from other dark fantasy tales. Set in a post apocalyptic landscape brought on by a magical war, against an enemy of angry demi-gods, life is harsh, brutish and short for most.

The events in this first book are so earth shattering, that I wonder how the rest of the series will hold up over time. But for now, Blackwing is a very good debut in a series with a lot of promise.

Sea of Rust by Robert Cargill

The premise for Sea of Rust is the backstory/explanation that Morpheus gives Neo when he first asks about the Matrix. The long and short being: We went to war with AI of our own creation, they were faster, better, smarter than us, and royally kicks our sorry fleshy asses into near-extinction. Where Sea of Rust differs from The Matrix is that Sea of Rust goes all the way--the machines not only win the war, but they literally kill every single man, woman and child on the earth, leaving robot-kind in charge of the planet.

Let that sink in for a minute. Only we arrogant humans would assume that we'd be needed to power the machines--living a simulated life in a virtual world, hooked up as a giant battery. 

Sea of Rust is probably a great deal closer to a real life AI vs Humans scenario then anything currently out there in both books and movies.

And there are no punches being pulled here. There are moments in this book that were very hard to take. Movies will show scenes of able-bodied men being killed by antagonist or protagonist, and the audience will watch and accept this without disgust or resentment. We've grown so used to the James Bond henchman, that these faceless masses might as well be machines.

But have a robot kill a child, or a baby?

Sea of Rust pulls no punches.

In the midst of these rather squeamish scenes--necessary scenes in order to tell an effective story--I greatly enjoyed this book. The main character was truly a product created by man. Her calculating and cold outlook on life was the soul of a machine, and yet she experienced something of a moral conflict within herself as humans often do.

This is a story about AI where the robots do not feel boxy and soulless. This is AI with heart.

 

 

I Can't Make this Up by Kevin Hart

If there was ever a book best listened to, rather than read, it would be I Can't Make this Up: Life Lessons by comedian, Kevin Hart. Read by Kevin Hart, nay--performed by Kevin Hart.

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Thirteen-plus hours of stand-up with an honesty that Hart is known for. Well worth the price of admission, which in my case was one Audible credit.

I read this book over the summer after suffering a streak of bad books that aren't even worth mentioning here. So it was great to read something both lite and funny, from a man with so much optimism in the midst of what would appear to be a very difficult upbringing. This book can't help but feel good by proxy.

 

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove is not a book I'd normally be drawn to read. But I have two jobs in two different-enough geographical location--and when co-workers from both jobs start telling me that I have to read this book, then I listen. I shrug out of my set-in-stone ways, and I read the book.

A Man Called Ove is about a man set in his ways. He's pushing 60, he lives alone, and he's had just about enough of this crazy world and all it's do-nothing millennials, new-fangled technology and a disposable society that's forgotten how to fix something as simple as a bike. He's a man from a simpler time trying to find  his place in this strange new world.

I enjoyed the book. I enjoyed the reader. It reminded me of the movie, Up, only much more adult, and real--and lacking a talking dog and chubby Asian kid.

Resident Evil bundle on Steam.

Yes, it's happening.

Wait a minute. Hold on.

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It's actually the Capcom Publisher weekend on Steam. So there's more than just Resident Evil games. However, Resident Evil is the reason to play Capcom games. Everything else is just sorta, meh...Except for Bionic Commando.

I've been playing Resident Evil games off and on since 1998 when the first iteration of the game came out. Throughout high school and college I religiously followed the series--playing the hell out of RE1 and RE2. I played RE3 maybe once, along with Code Veronica.

Resident Evil 4 revitalized the series for me. It was funny, creepy and had somewhat of an open-world feel for a game that really wasn't open-world at all. I played through most or Resident Evil 5, but never finished it and I don't even know what happens in Resident Evil 6. RE 7 looks awful. I hear it's very scary. It probably is. But it doesn't look like a Resident Evil game to me. I guess like Ove, I'm a man set in my way. I like my Resident Evil games a certain way. Once you go changing it on me, I think it's strange and weird, and should get the hell off my lawn.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon was a book I first read in sixth or seventh grade.

That was back in the 90's. I looked something like this:

No, more like this:

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The book takes place in the in a pre-Rudy Giuliani New York City. Though it's aged well.

Flowers for Algernon is the story about Charlie Gordon, an intellectually disabled adult with an IQ below 70. He's chosen to be part of a surgical experiment that turns him into a genius. The book is written in the first person in a series of Progress Reports, beginning before the experiment. His pre-surgery reports are spelled phonetically and without punctuation. Sentences are short and simple. Post-surgery the reader literally sees Charlie learn how to spell, use punctuation both improperly--then correctly, and his thoughts and experiences become more and more complex.

This time around I listened to the audio version. I was curious to see, or rather, hear the difference. The reader did a great job, changing his voice from childlike to something more adult as Charlie's intelligence increased. However I did feel that a certain depth to the story was lost by not physically seeing his progression in spelling and sentence structure. I recommend that people read the book first, then listen to the audio version.

Flowers for Algernon, Brave New World, and 1984 are part of the holy trinity of classic science fiction that have had a lasting influence on me. I can remember very clearly where I was when I was reading these books. Flowers for Algernon--English class in 6th or 7th grade. 1984--Summertime, sometime before 9th Grade, on my screened-in porch. Brave New World--Freshmen English--I sat in the back of the classroom like all the 'cool kids'.

I've since re-read Brave New World and Flowers for Algernon and have discovered things that I'd either forgotten or missed the first time around, during those heady and awkward years that don't contrast as sharply as I'd care to admit to this thing called adulthood.

I'll probably read 1984 soon and finish up the trifecta. 

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn

Jim Jones was a socialist.

I never knew that. Until reading The Road to Jonestown, I thought he was a cult leader of the religious variety. He was that as well, but what made Jones different from how he'd been portrayed--at least to me--was that his beliefs came more from secular social justice than religious ideology. In a way this made him far more dangerous as he promoted very good things that both religious and secular progressives could get behind.

Desegregation is a good thing. Pressuring the landlord to fix the pipes for their black tenants is a good thing. Feeding people through church charity events, creating scholarship programs for those who would otherwise never go to college, and fostering positive change in poor communities are all good things.

History.com

History.com

Jones's ego and paranoia--caused by drug abuse--were his undoing, and unfortunately he took with him 909 men, women, and children--mostly children.

It would be easy to dismiss this as an inherent problem with socialism. But the real problem is extremism. Again, the social programs Jones was trying to promote were all good things. But ultimately we saw him, and many of those who believed in him dying, and murdering for an extremist ideology. Socialism to the extreme--impoverished communal living, hero-worship of a very flawed individual, and paranoid ideas of a corrupt government black-bagging and spying on the masses.

Extremism in all forms--religious fanaticism, terrorism, political activism in the form of violent protests ultimately lead down the same path, and certainly did not die was Jim Jones and Peoples Temple.

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple by Jeff Guinn is a fascinating read. It's scary, insightful and thought provoking,  standing as a warning in a time where polarizing ideologies seem to rule the day.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell is part of an ongoing mega novel by the author that was first brought to my attention with Cloud Atlas.

You may have seen or heard about Cloud Atlas from the movie version staring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Agent Smith, and directed by the Wachowski's. I've not seen the movie yet--though I plan to soon. I have read the book and it was not an easy read. I might have to read it again. It was very hard to follow.

Cloud Atlas deals with reincarnation and the traveling of a soul through time and people. The concept is easy enough to understand though I had a hard time seeing this in practice. Maybe after I watch the film and scour Wikipedia I'll be ready to take on the book again.

But this is about the Bone Clocks, which is a much easier read. The story is broken into six parts. Part One introduces us to the story's protagonist, Holly Sykes. The story advances from Sykes to different character perspectives who are loosely connected to her, each jumping forward in time, beginning in 1984 with Sykes, then to 1991, 2004, 2015, 2025, and finally ending in 2043 with a now 70 year old Holly Sykes.

The number of years covered in the the overall story is impressive and with each jump the reader is met with an entirely different set of rules as the culture and society has changed so dramatically. The POV characters are also vastly different from one another, making each new section a true story in and of itself.

The Bone Clocks is not part of a series, however, many, if not all of Mitchell's works are interconnected. I found the Bone Clocks the most accessible, so it may be a good starting point.