In The Topeka School, Lerner uses the fractured narrative technique that he has used in his other novels, Leaving the Atocha Station and 10:04. His use of his own life experiences as a foundation for meditations on the intersections between fiction and fact is a technique that I’ve had to grow accustomed to, and the ways that he uses it to track cultural narrative threads feels more useful the deeper I get into his prose.
That depth might also be because he’s getting better at connecting the fiction he produces with larger cultural issues outside himself, connections that are very apparent in this novel. This novel doesn’t ever feel self-indulgent (and that’s a critique I’m too quick to attach to a text), and the social implications are part of the reason why.
- The Topeka School actually exists, and formed a key part of Lerner’s childhood. The contrast between it – a center developed to help people recover from trauma and better understand themselves – could be played off in contrast to a Topeka that has bred the Westboro Baptist Church.
- Lerner’s novel does not simply work the binary – thoughtful development of who we are = good, grifters posing as bomb-throwing religious fundamentalists = bad – though. He layers the two world-view together, showing how they combine to encompass all aspects of a specific cultural moment, and uses several points of view to illuminate how these worlds intersect.
- The threads that this novel plucks speak clearly to some of our current cultural issues. In particular, the narrator who is a champion debater plays the debate game in the traditional way – in-depth knowledge of a subject used to produce compelling arguments while also crushing counter-arguments posed by the opposing side.
- The new style is called The Spread (I’m guessing that Lerner adds the capitalization, if indeed this is a term in the debate world). In it, the debater spews as many arguments as they can, adopting a beats-per-minute approach in the hope that the opponent simply cannot address all the arguments proposed in the time allotted, thus losing by technicality.
- Of course, this style aligns horribly efficiently with the way that argument works on social media, an argumentative style that I often see on Twitter – ‘research’ becomes finding a video by who-knows-who that supports your point, creating a hit-and-skip-off-the-surface style that keeps always adding new, barely-related points to a discussion rather than pursuing one specific train of thought until a satisfactory conclusion can be arrived at.
- Yep, it’s the opposite of Platonic, which may or may not be the point. It’s clearly effective in a sense – expertise becomes completely devalued, and the idea of research-by-google gains value that is completely out of proportion to what that ‘research’ provides in addressing real problems.
- Lerner makes clear what’s at stake by this shift to The Spread in his last narrative view, one in which a young couple participates in an anti-ICE protest in Brooklyn, and he finishes the novel with the narrator telling us how perhaps the only way to combat The Spread is with our bodies.
Lerner’s work is both subtle and not, sophisticated and graceful while being sledgehammer clear. I still have not read his poetry – so many poets to read, some of whom I should probably talk about on here – but his novels manage to be thoughtful, intellectual, and page-turning, with characters that even though (or perhaps because?) they are very close to life are ones that I care about. The fractured narrative – holding up a mirror so closely to reality that the reflection itself is distorting – allows me as a reader to see my own experiences and how they are distorted in ways that have impacts far beyond the fun house.
The Dark Defiles completes Morgan’s A Land for Heroes fantasy series. It continues his earlier themes of the hero as outcast/outsider/Other, and fittingly it wraps up in a not-at-all-wrapped-up way.
- I think that the way this ends shows just how difficult what Morgan’s trying to do actually is. We don’t get resolutions, of any sort really, with both Ringil and Archeth not taking the path expected (in any sort of way). In fact, I’m not really sure *how* it ended…Gil walking down to meet a thousand angry dwenda seems certain to lead to his death, and Archeth wandering into a completely changed capital without taking charge somehow seem almost like betrayals of the rules of fantasy (which I’m guessing is part of Morgan’s point).
- I’m assuming that we can read Gil in a couple of ways – he either goes to replace the Source (the creepy crossroads dude) or he finally controls his own fate, although there are other possibilities.
- I’m still unclear about Archeth’s ending. I’m guessing she can be read as an anti-hero of sorts, because she refuses to take on the mantle of emperor that is offered her (especially by the machines created by her own race), but that seems a cop-out in ways that I don’t want to accuse Morgan of perpetrating.
- The presence of both gods and aliens shows Morgan’s interest in the role that origin stories have in fantasy. Using the gods and the grey places is an easy approach – this is where we come from, duh – but bringing in the alien race adds another dimension. We suddenly aren’t sure of any of these origins – I found myself wondering if the gods were aliens too…
- Ringil’s rejection of the world around him, one that despises him for his sexual identity, lends an interesting twist to the standard fantasy plot. I always wonder about the hero’s motivation (a curiosity completely satiated by the Adjunct in the MBOTF), and in this it’s pretty clear. Morgan spends a lot of time inside characters’ heads, and the payoff is that the anger and hatred that Gil feels (and his empathy with other oppressed people) is believable.
Morgan’s series was worth the read. Granting agency to LGBTQ characters is good – attributing realistic motives to them, and not making them into synecdoches of sweetness and light, is even better. There are other stories to tell in this world, and I hope that Morgan will do just that.
Kameron Hurley’s ability to create incredibly imaginative worlds is unmistakable. The Worldbreaker saga – of which The Mirror Empire is the first book – challenges the generic expectations of fantasy on multiple levels, and plays well with other current innovators in the genre, using its intensely-drawn world to invoke and challenge all kinds of ways that we usually think of fantasy. Like her science fiction novels, I found myself unable to put this down, mostly because I was so caught up in trying to understand this world.
- Clearly one of Hurley’s big concerns is gender. She inserts these concerns into the novel in a pretty subtle way – one of the cultures that inhabits this world, the Dhai, are gender-fluid and have evolved a culture that values gender fluidity. Their interactions with other very cis-gendered cultures point out the differences, the benefits and costs, that this cultural evolution elicits.
- Another component of this emphasis on gender is the intentionality of consent in Dhai culture. When we are in Dhai characters’ heads we often hear their inner monologue about being touched, as they steel themselves for what in their culture would be unasked-for (and thus impermissible) violations of their personal space.
- Hurley portrays these differences without an obtrusive narrator or some sort of in-text, obvious discussion. Instead, she’s far too subtle an author for that approach, and we get these types of insights only occasionally, often after characters have been introduced and interacted.
- Her use of relatively standard scifi tropes in fantasy also lends to both the intensity of the novel and its difficulty. There are aliens and time travel – neither of which happen in the canonical texts – and catastrophic world events over which the humanoids in the novel have no control.
- In this sense, TME violates the generic expectation that characters are ultimately responsible for their fates, even if their part to play is a small one (shout-out to Sam Gamgee). In fantasy, if things go awry it’s often the fault of the gods, a supernatural force disrupting human society, and the presence of an absolute moral hierarchy based on northern European concepts of good and evil.
- Instead, Hurley borrows from science fiction, and the resulting disruption is fascinating.
- Another character who breaks generic expectations is Lillia. She’s a child who can at times feel like someone who is too passive, but that passivity only occurs in the context of tons of other series in which children somehow become worldbreakers on their own. I’m guessing that her passivity will change as we progress, but I appreciate the care and time that Hurley takes to show Lillia’s development.
- The obvious contrast in my mind is ASOIAF, with its children taking on powers that portend what feel like unearned development. Martin is probably alluding to the power of necessity, but in particular John Snow’s ascension to the head of the Night’s Watch felt rushed to me.
There’s an element of trust between author and reader here that can be disconcerting but also promises huge rewards for those willing to soldier through. Hell, there’s a wiki in case you can’t stand to wait (I’m not too proud to admit that I’ve used it). In lots of ways Hurley holds off on big reveals (I’m expecting lots of those as we continue), and that trust shows as much faith in her audience as it does reliance on her audience’s patience. I’m looking forward to being trusted in the next segment.
Martha Wells’s Murderbot Diaries is a ridiculously fun read, and Rogue Protocol was no different (the Goodreads entry is here). I’m getting caught up on the series (I have Exit Strategy left to go, and I reviewed Artificial Condition here ), and I’m gradually realizing that what felt upon first read to be a sort of lightweight series about rogue cybernetic units is actually a far deeper critique of current society and our direction as we keep looking towards the stars than I realized. The observations that Wells makes about robots and sentience extend into critiques of corporate power and the constant conflict between (in the words of a Drive-by Truckers song) “the ones who have so much make the ones who don’t go mad” as we travel into the universe are a very direct extrapolation of what our future could look like.
- Murderbot itself is an interesting creation. In some ways it feels like it was created by the engineer at the end of Gibson’s “Gernsback Continuum,” the one who had a diet pill-induced hallucination about a perfect scifi future that demonstrated the fascist direction of lots of early scifi. He watches endless hours of bad soap operas and daytime teevee to purge himself of that dream, and Murderbot’s love of all that ridiculous media seems to be in direct conversation with Gibson.
- The gradual development of what we might think of as a conscience at first annoyed me – it felt a bit like wish fulfillment on Wells’s part. After thinking about it though I can see how what Wells might be doing is trying to reimagine how a cyborg – given very clear protocols, as are all AIs and, in this world, SecUnits – can work around the deeply-ingrained coding that they are given.
- Maybe this is an example of what Andrew Feenberg calls margins of maneuverability…
- The evolution of AI in this world is especially interesting, as Wells posits a world in which more than one robot starts to think for itself. In each novel we are getting another robot or two who has jumped their coding in some fundamental way, and while they may be aided by Murderbot they are also coming to conclusions that are far different than we might otherwise suspect.
- Seeing AIs move towards becoming more humane (or human in ways that feature dignity and inherent worth rather than murder) reminds me of Isaac Asimov’s story about the election of a robot president, a far different direction than the murderous AIs that we usually see…
- I keep wanting to use they/them pronouns for Murderbot. I can’t remember if Wells comments on this…
As we continue to imagine our collective future, and wonder about how we fit into the grand schemes of the galaxy, my hope is that more AIs and cybernetic units will take the Murderbot path and try to take a different path than that taken by us biological humans.
I came to Morgan’s work through his Altered Carbon series, which I enjoyed when I watched the Netflix series. They do interesting work with class and ethnicity, and I was intrigued by the ways that Morgan continues that work in the A Land Fit for Heroes trilogy.
The Steel Remains is the first of these, and, uh, whoa…he covers a lot of ground, and even adds sexual identification to the fantasy conversation. This novel felt like a worthy successor to Delany’s Tales from Neveryon series, and I have immediately plunged into the rest of the trilogy.
- His work with race will take far more room than I have in a blog post, but I will sketch out my thoughts quickly…
- Unlike Tolkien, and most subsequent fantasy, he doesn’t create a racial hierarchy running from orc to human to elf. As many folks have talked about, Tolkien often associates characteristics with racial identity, asking his characters conform to racial lines.
- Of course there are counter-examples (and I’ll leave those out so this post doesn’t jump its boundaries), but Tolkien’s world is very medieval western Europe.
- Morgan associates characteristics in this racially-determined way as well, but he leaves us a lot of hints that those components of racial identity actually belong to culture rather than race.
- There are legions of examples, but the fact that the immortal race of humanoids called the Kiriath are master engineers (and black, and don’t fight with axes) stems from their culture rather than from any imbued racial characteristics.
- In fact, the “racial” attributes of various characters are usually anything but…
- Morgan also doesn’t assume that elves – essentially idealized humans – or orcs – sub-idealized humans, often dark-skinned – reside at the top of a hierarchy in which they present as the best humans can be (in a very English, western-European sense).
- His races aren’t even all that separate – I’m only partly into the second novel, but our hero seems to be trans-racial in some ways, capable of becoming a dwenda (a race capable of bending the laws of space and time), which in some ways functions as an ur-race.
- We are not even sure that the dwenda aren’t just mutated or evolved humans (I’m not using evolved as a value judgment here, instead hopefully using it more scientifically as a way to talk about adapting to an environment).
- And the dwenda are definitely *not* good – no spoilers, but they do some pretty horrific stuff…
- He also is not shy about the sexual identity of a couple of the novel’s protagonists. He hasn’t quite jumped into the non-binary realm, but not only is his male protagonist proudly gay, he is also trans-race in his sexual identity.
- Morgan also spends more time than I was comfortable with investigating the culture’s attitudes towards the cis-gendered gay male’s reception in his culture. He has folks direct a lot of casual homophobia at him, and goes beyond that by having Gil’s first true love executed horribly for the crime of being both gay and lower class.
As I noted in the beginning of this, I have a lot more to think about in this series. Fortunately, I still have two books to go.
Jami Attenberg’s All This Could Be Yours investigates the life of a crooked real estate developer, who as we are told many times is a bad man. I think the novel functions as an investigation because her narrator functions like a detective, most closely focused on those closest to Victor (the real estate developer/father/adulterer/extortionist/cheat) while gathering snippets from other people who have been connected to him, even if those connections are peripheral at best.
- The gradual reveal that this investigation functions as worked – I did not see it coming at all, and it was just as crushing as it should have been. I found myself saying nonononononononono to the character who screws up, only to watch her still make that mistake.
- I rarely comment on cover art, but holy cow it’s good on this one, as the photo of a storage unit door, in brilliant orange, is the sole image, and works as a beautiful cipher for Victor’s lack of positive impact on his world.
- I admit to feeling a bit of triumph in a non-objective reader way about the way that Victor is treated after he dies. Even the grave digger (who ordinarily gives all the folks he buries, ones who had no family to claim them, some at least minimal type of respect) hurries through burying him in order to avoid an oncoming storm.
- Attenberg relies on several tropes in ways that might feel simplistic, but the insight her narrator provides us on her characters made them seem less obtrusive.
- I wonder again if that’s a function of the slow reveal. If we had simply been introduced to the grandma-who-sacrifices-to-save-the-two-children or the husband-just-like-my-father early on, I’m not sure their gradual disintegration would have been as impactful.
- There’s also a couple of subtle critiques of masculinity, real estate developers, and a couple of side swipes at Trump in this. The type of business person that Victor is – one who doesn’t bother with the idea that business is healthy competition but constantly works to tilt the playing field his direction – matches our President, despite the beliefs of his adoring cult.
- It’s also I think a particularly masculine view of how to do business, one that I was lucky enough to not see but that still leaves its stench.
- The other critique is that this type of mindset filters its way into men’s personal lives (although the cause-and-effect is far more complicated), thus allowing Victor to commit crimes against his wife as well.
- And the strategies that the various women in his life have to deal still lets us understand that they have to have strategies to deal with him – he forces the action, and they have to respond.
- There are snippets from several folks, times when the narrator tells us what they’re thinking: a bartender, the aforementioned grave digger, the doctor who knows the autopsy, a cab driver, and so on. The negligible impact that Victor’s presence has on these people struck me – while he thought he was a master of the universe, in fact, Attenberg’s narrator seems to be saying, he actually plays a very small part int he functioning of the universe.
This review shows why I look forward to reading more of Attenberg’s prose – I talk far more about Victor than his actual presence in the novel would seem to dictate. The casual way her narrator functions, telling us the back story almost as we become ready for it, made sense to me, and mimicked a type of social realism that neatly characterizes the way that I think many of us live our lives in late capitalism, in a sort of daze of self-importance and perceived agency that probably doesn’t actually exist. In a time of late capitalism, Victor is the triumphant model, having affairs with much younger women and snorting cocaine at age 73, even while those around him try to understand his impact on their lives.
I have been in awe of Louise Erdrich’s fiction since I read The Plague of Doves. Future Home of the Living God confirms in my mind that she’s one of the greatest novelists in the United States. She of course doesn’t need my approval, but the variety of voices she brings to the task of novel writing is astounding, and helps us I think better understand who we are as our society grows increasingly diverse.
- This novel starts in an almost slapstick fashion, with our narrator energetically and sort of chaotically seeking out her “real” mom. It quickly changes tone, as the environment starts to go more quickly into collapse and evolution starts running backwards. As the cool kids say, shit gets real.
- Cedar (the narrator) might want to find out her roots, but as the novel reveals those roots are more complicated than she has imagined, and the reservation is not some sort of pristine Dances with Wolves prelapsarian wilderness but is instead as multicultural as the rest of the country.
- Hell, several of the tribe members have converted to Catholicism (albeit in a very interesting way, complete with a vengeful saint who feels as much product of the material world as more typical Catholic saint). Like much of the rest of the United States in this novel they are becoming increasingly fundamentalist as the world falls apart.
- Double hell, her step-father is a version of Proust, only way better.
- Their definition of fundamentalism, however, is pretty different, and definitely not totalitarian.
- The ways in which clearly no one fully understands what’s going on with the world is a smart feature. Too often dystopian novels try to explain to us what happened, setting up a sort of narrator-explaining vibe that makes the novel feel more like a rant and less like an exercise in building a world of hellish consequences.
- The movement back and forth between Minneapolis and the reservation in North Dakota also neatly sets up a whole bunch of unexpected turns. This definitely was not a sort of Thunderheart, run-to-the-reservation-for-safety scenario. Despite the fact that they are more fully developed as humans than the rest of the nation, the members of the Ojibwe nation can no better protect the pregnant protagonist than can her erstwhile boyfriend (who admittedly is tortured to reveal her location).
- The fact that so much of the background in this novel is set by rumor is a beautiful thing. The assumption that dystopia means complete oppression, with romantic midnight runs through barbed wire and lots of neo-Nazi punching, seems a tad overdone, and Erdrich does not fall into that trap.
- Erdrich always lots of heartbreaking vignettes to her novels, and in this one the scene that made me gasp described a bunch of tribe members as they saw what they realized might be their last snowfall. It wasn’t their last snowfall because they were dying – it was the last snowfall to ever be recorded in North Dakota. Yikes.
More Erdrich novels please…
Nell Zink’s Doxology is a longitudinal study of punk rockers from lower Manhattan in the 80s who manage to coax out fairly middle class lives while trying to be true to the indie ethic that dominated that scene. I spent some time in memory lane while reading this one, but it is far more Franzenian social realism than it is High Fidelity or Bright Lights Big City.
- Pam and Daniel are an idealized couple, but even my awareness of that didn’t make them less likable. They mesh in interesting and fun ways, and they share a world view without either one crushing the vision (and emotional freedom) of the other.
- Zink’s command of dialogue, especially between these two, led to some very funny exchanges of the sort that show the sort of mutual respect and understanding that I hope everyone finds in their relationships (whatever shape those take).
- Joe is fascinating – he’s this child of nature who treads lightly through the world until he mysteriously becomes a mega-star, until a girlfriend (who loves him in her own sort of selfish way) shoots him with heroin one time and watches him die out of sheer incompetence.
- That girlfriend then becomes a professional grieving rock star widow, and while I think we’re supposed to hate her even Zink’s narrator can’t do that…
- Speaking of the narrator, this one is wise and funny and an astute observer of the indie music scene. Jes’ sayin’.
- Pam’s relationship with her parents is interesting, as she essentially runs away and doesn’t contact them for years until she and Daniel decide they need to get Flora out of New York after 9/11. Flora then moves in with her grandparents and becomes a child of two cities, New York and Manhattan, and knits the two families back together even while she goes her own way.
- This novel is definitely centered on something that’s not very punk rock – child-rearing. My guess is that that centering device, along with the title, speaks to the not-very-monolithic nature of the indie music movement, just as Joe’s becoming a star in EDM (rather than as a punk or post-punk musician) is another perspective on the branches that grew from that scene…
- My reference to Franzen is not an accident. I guess that Franzen was one of Zink’s early adopters, and his advocacy helped get her published.
- This novel felt Franzenian in its longitudinal study approach, but what felt different was the competence of the characters, and their abilities to dig themselves out of holes in ways that Franzen’s characters never seem able to do.
I think Doxology is pretty brilliant, and I enjoyed the recreation of the music scene in lower Manhattan at a time when some pretty amazing bands were playing there. The narrative move to post-9/11 New York lent some gravity to the novel in a way that helped it leap from a self-indulgent reminiscence of the underground-yet-sorta-privileged music scene to the weirdness that resulted from an attack on our own soil. Even for people who knew the damage our benevolent and not-so-benevolent imperialism has done (and continues to do), 9/11 caused us to rethink our own attitudes, and to reconsider our place in the world.
I’m pretty certain that we’ve taken the wrong lessons from it, but that’s a post for another day.
I’m familiar with Drew Magary’s work from Kissing Suzy Kolber and Deadspin, both of which are gone*. Magary’s writing is beautifully brutal, taking on power by calling things what they are (see the footnote for more on that). That type of writing is why I picked up The Postmortal, and while the novel is different (a bit less manic, a lot less funny, a lot more thought-out), it runs on that same sort of desperate, wow-we-are-so-screwing-this-all-up energy, a power that feels absolutely spot-on at this cultural moment.
- This novel focuses on what happens when, once again, we simply introduce a technology without considering its consequences. In this case we get the cure for aging, and our government actually tries to hold back on it, but the beginning of violent agitations for and against as well as doctors who make a lot of money by providing the cure on the black market leads elected officials to throw up their hands and say go for it…
- Even this protagonist, someone who is at best morally compromised as a lawyer and then end specialist, can’t keep going forever…and it feels like the only folks who do are religious fanatics and zealots or completely amoral, narcissistic bastards…not exactly the kind of future where the arc of morality and social justice bends ever-forward…
- It’s interesting how some of the sharpest critiques of technology have come from folks who have used the Intertoobz to write about sports. They have done so in ways that we could never have imagined previously, and reached audiences that are far larger and smarter than any sportswriter could have hoped for.
- Young , woke white guys like Spencer Hall, Will Leitch, and Magary (esp. with his “Why Your Team Sucks” feature on Deadspin) were far more prescient than many of us in understanding the exact effects that these same intertoobz, augmented by social media and all the other crap, would have on us as a culture.
- I’m sort of obsessed with ghosts right now (especially of the narrative variety), and they appear late in this novel. After the bombs start dropping, a person trying to escape tells the narrator, John Farrell, as he has to do his end specialist duty on a bunch of folks who couldn’t afford the sheep flu robocure (called Skeleton Key)…
‘I know why they’re sick. I know why the world got sick. Do you know?’ I didn’t answer her. She didn’t need my approval to go on. ‘It’s the ghosts who did this. I hear them. I feel them cozy up to me when I’m asleep on the ground. The ghosts aren’t happy with us. They saw us grab more life than they got, and they raged. They howled and they shook their chains, and they swore they’d get back at us for being on the right side of history. It’s the ghosts who have made this world sick. You don’t shortchange the dead. There’s a whole lot more of them than there are of us, and there always will be. You watch. They’ll claim us all.’
- Ghosts, and the ways we write them into our culture as hungry for experiences that they can never have, carry all kinds of weight, and Magary’s use of them here – as a fever dream seen by someone who sees the end of the world directly in front of them – posits a future that simply can’t handle all that ectoplasm.
By the end I was reading furiously and had to slow myself down. One of the reasons that I read is to see what really smart people are thinking about huge social problems, and Magary’s novel does exactly that…
Black Leopard Red Wolf is the second novel I’ve read by Marlon James, and in it he crosses genres into fantasy, a land that I often think of as being inhabited by the sorts of true believers who resent those not approved by the Tolkien groupies. That’s not so true, as writers like Samuel R. Delany and Stephen Donaldson attacked the generic boundaries early in its incarnation as popular fiction, and BLRW continues the exploration that those two began.
- It took me longer than I expected to get into this novel. I’ve been excited to read it since I finished A Brief History of Seven Killings, but the sort of casual way that James introduces us to his characters felt haphazard, and the various plot threads felt way too spread apart.
- By the end, for what it’s worth, I couldn’t put it down.
- The narrative point of view is fairly amazing. We spend much of the novel inside Black Wolf’s head, a pretty unusual point-of-view from a fantasy novel perspective. At times he becomes so embroiled in his own rage and lust for revenge (his mantra is “fuck the gods”, if you are curious about his motivations) that he acts in ways that we could consider not all that heroic, especially if your definition of heroism includes piety.
- Curiously, James never apologizes for Tracker’s bloody ways, even in the ways that the novel ends. He doesn’t magically transform (although his motivations for revenge, the vampire killing a bunch of children whom the Tracker was a father-figure too, feel pretty primal and in some ways justified) into some sort of redemptive figure.
- In fact, Tracker does not even get the kill (you knew the evil folks were gonna die, right?).
- Black Wolf is a tracker (and he’s known in the novel as Tracker, not Black Wolf, in case Black Panther fans get too worked up), an archetype that does not constitute any previous fantasy hero’s identity as far as I can recall. For instance, Aragorn was often called the best tracker of his age, but that characteristic simply helped us understand how different he was from previous kings, establishing his worthiness.
- The general ways that James uses archetypes from African mythology is fascinating and really cool, and I am working on another project that attempts to map these figures onto to the deeply nordic base of most fantasy fiction.
- The setting is also intense – deep forests, ancient cities, sort of standard in interesting ways.
- I will need to figure out the boy who would have been king at some other time. Suffice it to say that patrilineage, matrilineage, and the increasingly chaotic nature of government by nobility is a backdrop to what is coming next.
- The novel also sets the next stage, with the appearance of the inhuman white scientists, and the god-killer figure warning Tracker that an entirely different threat is coming, soon. The threat looks suspiciously like colonialism.
I am looking forward to the rest of the series…