The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Lost In (Divided) America

Posted on | June 26, 2013 | 24 Comments

— by Wombat-socho

It is 2040, and both New York and Washington are radioactive ruins. Chicago and Detroit have been reduced to rubble and abandoned; Pittsburgh and Phoenix are infested with deadly plague. In the new capitol of Seattle, alcohol is outlawed, and as the call to evening prayers sounds throughout the city, veiled women hurry through the streets. Along the border with the Old South, wary soldiers stand on guard for the Islamic Republic of America. This is the background for Robert Ferrigno’s Prayers for the Assassin, which perhaps due to Ferrigno’s history as a mystery writer apparently isn’t considered SF. Prayers For The Assassin paints an unpleasant picture of an America split by religious civil war after decades of Islamic penetration of the entertainment industry; on both sides of the line, Catholics are second-class citizens and Jews a hunted group of pariahs, widely blamed for the destruction of New York and DC along with the irradiation of Mecca. Our protagonist is Rakkim Epps, a former member of the elite Fedayeen and adopted son of Redbeard, chief of the Islamic Republic’s security service; having retired from his career as a “shadow warrior”, Epps now runs a semi-legal bar in Seattle’s lawless “Zone”, but he finds himself sucked back into the deadly politics of the Republic when his adoptive father summons him to find his missing sister Sarah before the reactionary Black Robes do. It seems Sarah isn’t satisfied with the popular history of the New York and Washington bombings, and may have come across evidence that the Jews were framed. Having already written one controversial history of the revolution and the cultural changes responsible for it -along with the will of Allah, of course- it’s very possible the Black Robes would be just as happy to find Sarah dead. The Black Robes and Rakkim aren’t the only ones looking for Sarah, though; the true perpetrator of the bombings is also looking for her, and he too has set a former Fedayeen on Sarah’s trail. This is an exciting novel and a depressing one; there is plenty of action involving all sides of the hunt, but at the same time, the slow decline of America into a third-world nation under the thumb of the mullahs is exceptionally depressing, all the more so since the history of the book has plenty of events “ripped from today’s headlines,” as they used to say.

Things only get worse in the sequels. Sins of the Assassin gives us a look at the Bible Belt as Rakkim returns there on a mission to find out what a Southern warlord known as The Colonel is seeking under a Tennessee mountain. Unfortunately for Rakkim, he’s got a very unlikely partner and an extremely deadly opponent; fortunately, Rakkim is very good at what he does, and his partner has some unexpected talents. Like the first novel, there’s plenty of action, but the decay of the Southern states is very much on display, and the weakness of both successor nations is evident as both Canada and a Mexico reborn as the Aztlan Empire have begun to nibble away at the borders of both. The final novel in the trilogy, Heart of the Assassin verges on the apocalyptic as the man actually responsible for the New York and Washington bombings sets a number of plots in motion to bring together the Islamic Republic and the Bible Belt under his own hand, even as Rakkim’s sister Sarah (now an adviser to the Islamic Republic’s President) plans the same thing to stave off the further collapse of both nations. As for Rakkim, he is sent to Washington on what may be his most lethal mission: to find a holy relic supposedly hidden in a DC bunker that will bring America together. This last novel could have easily been bloated into a thousand-page doorstop of a technothriller, with detailed descriptions of the border fighting in Texas, Arizona and California, but Ferrigno keeps it tightly focused.

So that’s what I’ve been reading this past week.


24 Responses to “Lost In (Divided) America”

  1. MrEvilMatt
    June 26th, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

    Lost In (Divided) America: ā€“ by Wombat-socho It is 2040, and both New York and Washington are radioactive ruin…

  2. jwbrown1969
    June 26th, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

    Lost In (Divided) America: ā€“ by Wombat-socho It is 2040, and both New York and Washington are radioactive ruin…

  3. Lockestep1776
    June 26th, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

    Lost In (Divided) America: ā€“ by Wombat-socho It is 2040, and both New York and Washington are radioactive ruin…

  4. PATR2014
    June 26th, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

    RT @smitty_one_each: TOM Lost In (Divided) America #TCOT

  5. joej2020usa
    June 26th, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

    Lost In (Divided) America

  6. miller_gwen
    June 26th, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

    RT @joej2020usa: Lost In (Divided) America

  7. RickyChriStudio
    June 26th, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

    RT @joej2020usa: Lost In (Divided) America

  8. Kevin Trainor Jr.
    June 26th, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

    Kevin Trainor Jr. liked this on Facebook.

  9. Rich Vail
    June 26th, 2013 @ 6:33 pm

    I’ll take a pass. Now if he’d set it in the UK, where there is a real possibility of this happening in real life…with Wales, Cornwall and the Highlands of Scotland as independent, it would be interesting.

  10. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    June 26th, 2013 @ 6:49 pm

    Is dope still legal in Seattle? And what about microbrews?

  11. Bob Belvedere
    June 26th, 2013 @ 7:33 pm

    I hear that all three are quite good. Thanks, Fair Wombat.

  12. Alauda
    June 26th, 2013 @ 8:25 pm

    That sounds like elf testicle. I’ll stick with Lucius Shepard and Michael Marshall Smith this summer, thank you very much.

  13. Wombat_socho
    June 26th, 2013 @ 10:11 pm

    Khat okay, pot not so much. And no beer for you, kufr!

  14. Wombat_socho
    June 26th, 2013 @ 10:12 pm

    Just the kind of commenter we’re not looking for. I don’t even want to know how you know what elf balls taste like.

  15. Wombat_socho
    June 26th, 2013 @ 10:14 pm

    You’re missing a good trilogy, but it’s your call. No reason you can’t write your own version set in the UK; probably sell pretty well.

  16. Alauda
    June 26th, 2013 @ 10:26 pm

    It probably would, but why should anybody a British version of Prayers for the Assassin instead of Fairyland or Life During Wartime or Only Forward?

  17. Alauda
    June 26th, 2013 @ 10:27 pm

    *why should anybody read

  18. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    June 26th, 2013 @ 11:51 pm

    The khat, pot and beer? Why not some kava and mushrooms too?

  19. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    June 26th, 2013 @ 11:52 pm

    Hey, stop the H8. His right to tea bag elf testicles in a sanctioned relationship has been affirmed by five Supreme Court justices.

  20. Wombat_socho
    June 27th, 2013 @ 12:25 am

    Maybe so, but he ain’t doing it here.

  21. Wombat_socho
    June 27th, 2013 @ 12:27 am

    Take it up with the mullahs. I just read the books, I don’t bother parsing the irrelevant fine details of the background.

  22. Alauda
    June 27th, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

    But why should anybody read it? There are such better things out there.

  23. Eric Ashley
    July 3rd, 2013 @ 2:56 am

    I did read Prayers, but stopped there. It was… not quite to my taste for a variety of minor reasons. Maybe I should give this another look.

  24. Eric Ashley
    July 3rd, 2013 @ 3:01 am

    And you can get ‘Caliphate’ by Tom Kratman on the Kindle for the low, low price of absolutely nothing.

    As to your idea for Rich, what about a sorta Turtledovian idea of an alternate reality England. Djinn and dragons, the White Council led by Merlin, and a magical explanation for jizya (public humiliation is a transfer of mana to the magician one humiliates oneself before).