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From the Library

June 10, 2019

I’ve only got a couple of books this week.

A Great State: Aftermath

This is the second book by Ms. Gallagher, in her A Great State series, titled The Aftermath. Same characters, trying to make it in a harsh environment, in a world turned harsher than they expected. Not going to lie, there’s a couple of bad guy characters this time that are pretty over-the-top, but considering part of it is set in Portland, Oregon, and PDX is full of over-the-top characters, even now, it’s not too bad.

Best part of the book is the ending. I don’t want to ruin it with a spoiler, but let’s just say, Ms. Gallagher gets it. Sometimes, the people you would least expect to do so, actually have the werewithal to go stone cold bad motherfucker when you get them pissed off or scared enough.

I’m really excited to see book three in this series, and I look forward to her future writing efforts. Definitely recommended, again!

Retroculture: Taking America Back by William S. Lind

I was pretty hesitant to read this. I’m obviously familiar with the author, due to his 4GW theories, many of which I find ridiculously shortsighted. I suspect, in many ways, Mr. Lind would consider me one of those undesirables from whom he’d like to see America taken back.

While much of the “Take America Back” belief system seems to be predicated on the idea of some sort of General American WASP culture, circa 1954, my people were never part of that culture, even though I’ve had European descended ancestors in this country since before it was a country. So, for a number of reasons, I suspected it just wasn’t going to be my thing.

I was pleasantly surprised. While I think some of the ideas Mr. Lind suggests for the future are–again—shortsighted, overall I was pleasantly surprised by the book. He agrees with me that a focus on local efforts to retain or regain your traditional cultural values is critical, and if some people find the best way for them to focus on that is dressing like it’s 1954—or 1854 for that matter—and listening to period music, and writing period music, who am I to judge them? Hell, I live in a house that would not really stand out (well, other than that metal roof) in much of 14th Century England, and have been known to walk around in a kilt. I’m not judging that.

A side benefit of it was his mention of the allure of classical music. I’ve long been a fan of classical music—at least since junior high band classes—and go through phases, every five or six years, where I forego all other music, in favor of classical pieces, for a number of weeks. His mention of it hastened by return to it this cycle. I’ve been enjoying a great deal of Tchaikovsy, Chopin, and Brahms lately, both at home and in the truck. My kids on the other hand, are not so enthused. To quote my oldest daughter, “Daddy, I like the music with words!” To their credit, after the first day, they quit whining and I actually caught her humming along with a piece the other day, so….


Retrotopia by John Michael Greer

Discussing Lind’s book reminded me of this one, that I read earlier this year. This approaches the same general subject, this time in fiction form, from basically the entire opposite direction. For readers that aren’t familiar with him, Mr. Greer is the former archdruid of one of the American Orders of Druids. He generally writes on the subject of Peak Oil, Imperial life cycles and declines—particularly our current one—and environmental issues related to both. He is also the editor/author and chief potentate of the now-defunct The Archdruid Reports blog, and the current Ecosophia blog. While I’m sure his environmental leanings will turn off some of my readers, even more likely to appall them are his books on magic and occultism, which are at least as educational and enlightening as his more mundane works. He takes a very logical, rational approach to the discussion of both the history and practice of magic and the occult in America (well, rational may be a subjective term in this case. If you’re a fundamentalist Protestant and believe “magic=Satanism,” you may not find it rational at all).

Retrotopia however has nothing at all to do with magic, in that sense. Instead, it is Greer’s version of a possible future in which these United States have Balkanized, but instead of going 1990s Yugoslavia, have mostly separated peacefully—with the normal bit of geopolitical militarism that arises between neighboring political states, of course. Retrotopia is set in the Upper Midwest, largely as I recall, in the old Rust Belt area of Ohio and Pennsylvania (shit, I think…Now I have to re-read it!). For a variety of reasons, including but not limited to, Mr. Lind’s longing for the nostalgia of the 1950s, that portion of the formerly united States, has returned to a smaller, slower, more relaxed way of living. It is Mr. Greer’s way of illustrating that the collapse—that is inevitable, really—can still result in an enjoyable lifestyle and culture, if more people would simply embrace the simpler pleasures, and deal with the situation like mature adults, instead of like the spoiled children too many “adult” Americans react like when told they cannot have anything their heart desires.

No, Samantha, you cannot have a goddamned unicorn, and it doesn’t matter how much money you make. They’re just not around anymore. I recommend it, but with the caveat about the above warnings. If you are the type of person who believes POTUS is going to fix all of our problems, and MAGA, because “deus vult!” you may not like this one too much. If that’s you, and you have any sort of heart condition, you may actually end up stroking out over parts of it.

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  1. LargeMarge permalink

    Would you consider linking your subjects? I believe your participation nets you “…a small commission…” while making no difference in purchase price to folks following the link through your website.

  2. J J permalink

    Just finished both of the “Great State” books. Excellent reads. Refreshing to see a woman’s perspective on the genre. Looking forward to the third book!

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