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Friday, October 18, 2013

31 Days of Horror: Day 18 --Guest Post by Bill Stephens

After a week of my posts, reviews and comments, we are back to more suggestions by my library colleagues who sent me posts on their favorite scary books.

Today I welcome former student, former intern, and now colleague Bill Stephens to the blog.  He would like to share a favorite scary book in the form of an open letter to the author of said book.

Take it away Bill....


In Praise of Orson Scott Card's Empire: A Very Scary Guy's Very Scary Book

Dear Mr. Card,

To celebrate this coming Halloween, some of us library types are expounding upon books we deem to be rather scary all throughout this month commonly known as Rocktober. When presented with the opportunity for my own little write up, I immediately thought of sharing some thoughts on your novel Empire, perhaps the most willies-inducing piece of literature I've yet to read. But first a brief plot synopsis to get everyone up to speed:

Major Reuben "Rube" Malich and Captain Bartholomew "Cole" Coleman are Special Forces veterans working for the Pentagon where Rube creates scenarios involved in how terrorists may someday attack the country. Horrifically, a daring plan Rube has concocted involving the Potomac, underwater divers, and rocket launchers has fallen into the wrong hands and is used to assassinate the President (ever the second-fiddle, the Vice President is crushed by a dump truck). While Rube and Cole are fortuitously in position to nearly thwart the attack, a suspicious public eye is immediately cast upon the military.
With the Executive Office out of the way, New York City falls under siege and is conquered by deadly and giant mechanized robots programmed to kill anyone in uniform, such as police, firemen, and the military (no mention is given regarding the fate of Manhattan's legion of doormen). This uprising is the action of the Progressive Restoration, an army of leftist radicals led by super-villain Aldo Verus (a cartoonish and thinly veiled portrayal of George Soros, who must be very proud). While relentlessly pursued by rebel mechs and hovercycles (kick-ass!!), our heroes call up some old Army buddies and attempt to put things right. While Rube is betrayed by his secretly leftist-radical secretary by way of a bullet to the eye, Cole & Co. are eventually able to corral Verus and quell the rebellion, opening the Presidential door for the brilliant, yet mysterious, super-historian Averell Torrent. (Phew!)

Now, I understand that me being an atheistic, borderline commie and you being a hard-line Mormon militarist leaves little common ground for us politically, socially, and theologically. That's fine. You know--diff'rent strokes and all that. And you are free to call upon whatever artistic and literary tools you feel are necessary for your portrayal of the Left: parody, satire, agitprop, hyperbole, jingoistic hate-mongering....it's all good! Let me explain what terrified me so about Empire and the brain that produced it.

In the afterward to your book you lament the state of our polarized nation and how tough it is for a Regular Joe centrist/moderate such as yourself to be heard over the red and blue din. In the same afterward you chastise the media for being unabashedly slanted to the left. You accuse "progressive" academia of a conspiracy to suppress and censor opposing views and blackballing those who would espouse them. 

In the novel, in a chapter entitled "Fair and Balanced", your heroes turn to Fox News (O'Reilly, specifically) to plea to the nation for sanity as it is the only outlet that would give voice to a military man. Your leftist villains, spouting slogans even the lowliest Soviet propaganda writer would deem clunky, exhibit a fanaticism that would make the Shining Path jealous while simultaneously acting so stoned and thick, you'd think there was a hacky sack-sized tumor in each of their pinko brains. And I won't even mention your views on homosexuality, marriage, and the Joseph Smith-inspired fatwah you declared on President Obama or anyone else who might try making the case for gay civil rights (Oops, I guess I just did. Sorry.)

While admittedly the product of shoddy 1970's parenting, I was at least able to learn at quite a young age that just because you say something, doesn't make it true. You are not a moderate. You are not a centrist. You are not a voice of reason. You are not unbiased. You are not mainstream. You are not a regular or normal guy. You are not persecuted. You have no claim to tolerance from those who criticize your wacky and hateful views. 

And yet, I am grateful for you, your writing career, and the bizarre things that come from both your pen and mouth. You are endlessly entertaining, truly the Mayor of Crazytown, and you completely scare the shit out of me. Happy Halloween!!!

Your pal,


Bill Stephens is an Adult Services Librarian at the Bensenville (IL) Community Library, and has recently been certified by Dominican University as worthy for bona fide membership in the Librarian Sisterhood. His duties at BCPL include everything and anything that needs to get done.

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