12 December 2010

Day 260: PushBack

PushBack by Alfred Wellnitz.  ISBN: 9781450234320. 

This blog post has been waiting for me all day.  I just don't want to write it.  But this is a Librarian's Life in Books and, because I read it, it gets a spot on the blog.  Damn you project, sometimes you are no good for me.

The nature of this book requires that I give a brief summary before I start going off on a tangent.  So here we go.  In 2033, the world goes to hell in a hand basket because the US dollar crashes (we are not told why) and hyperinflation occurs ($50/gallon of gas).  Eventually the United States divides itself into smaller nations, the main focus of this book being the southern states (mostly Alabama and Georgia) which are now known as the Federated States and are supported by the Russians as part of their bid to expand their energy empire.  The Federated States are basically run by neo-Nazis who institute an Ultimate Solution to wipe out black people, they hate Mexicans and what not too...but apparently they are not as much of a problem...even though they were earlier in the book.

Possibly the scariest tactic used by the Federated States was when John Renner was on a plane with a woman, whom he of course later had sex with.  She confessed to being an unwilling spy for the Federated States.  Apparently they track the movements of their citizens and if their travel plans coincide with suspected terrorists they are given missions to gather information.  The woman Renner met up with either confessed in order to get more information or because she didn't believe in the Federated States's agenda.

Either way this is a mostly effective means of gaining information and controlling a population's movements all while scaring the shit out of them.  If you want to travel you have to be prepared to accept these assignments, if you don't accept the assignment, they will kill you or your family, or at the very least confiscate your property and kick you out of the country.  These made-up people are batshit, they will do that.  But just think, you wouldn't even need a special spy program if you used this method.  If you terrorize your own country people you can get them to do almost anything for you.  Sure, a few may defect, leave the country, mess with the data, but these are the people you would end up killing anyway because they won't get in line, so no real loss there!

Really, this was an ingenious and terrifying idea on Wellnitz's part.  I sort of wish he had run with it a little more instead of only letting it play for a few measly pages.  Maybe I'll have to borrow and alter it for my own use, just to have fun with it and see how it plays out.  I'm giving myself chills over here. I really hope there aren't any countries actually doing this, even on a voluntary basis.  It's just too damned sneaky and I don't think I'd trust any country that asked civilians to spy without training and proper compensation.

*Note: Won free copy as part of Goodreads giveaway.

 My review can be found on Goodreads.

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