Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dean Koontz. About two years ago, I stumbled across a book by Dean Koontz -- it wasn't really that great, but I enjoyed reading it -- it was fun -- and there were some great lines. Then I picked up another, then another. About the same time, fellow blogger Peter Sean Bradley also stumbled into Koontz - specifically the "Odd Thomas" series. I confess that I haven't started this series yet, although I do have several of these books on my shelf.

Recently I read the first two books from the Moonlight Bay trilogy, Fear Nothing and Seize the Night. Alas, the third of the triolgy, Ride the Storm is not out and has no plans for being finished. Basically, the series is your typical end-of-the-world, genie-out-of-the-bottle dystopian epic about a black government weapons project gone awry. Oh yeah, the main character is a surfer from California. Cool.

Of course, what I love is how the Christian world-view permeates the fiction of Koontz. This does not mean everyone is moral and has G-rated English. One of the main characters of Seize the Night shacks up with his girl. And yet the vision is so right.

Consider these two passages, from Fear Nothing [warning - link contains mondo spoilers]. By way of background, the protagonist has XP, a genetic disorder which prevents him from being in any kind of light with UV waves. He has a friend, Manuel who has been tempted greatly because of his love for his son, Toby, who has Downs syndrome, but is also an idiot savant when it comes to glass blowing.

Because I was not expected to survive to adulthood, my parents raised me to play, to have fun, to indulge my sense of wonder, to live as much as possible without worry and without fear, to live in the moment with little concern for the future: in short, to trust in God and to believe that I, like everyone, am here for a purpose; to be as grateful for my limitations as for my talents and blessings, because both are part of a design beyond my comprehension. They recognized the need for me to learn self-discipline, of course, and respect for others. But, in fact, those things come naturally when You truly believe that your life has a spiritual dimension and that You are a carefully designed element in the mysterious mosaic of life. Although there had appeared to be little chance that I would outlive both parents, Mom and Dad prepared for this eventuality when I was first diagnosed: They purchased a large
second-to-die life-insurance policy, which would now provide handsomely for me even if I never earned another cent from my books and articles.

Born for play and fun and wonder, destined never to have to hold a job, destined never to be burdened by the responsibilities that weigh down most people, I could give up my writing and become such a total surf bum that Bobby Halloway, by comparison, would appear to be a compulsive workaholic with no more capacity for fun than a cabbage. Furthermore, I could embrace absolute slackerhood with no guilt whatsoever, with no qualms or doubts, because I was raised to be what all humanity might have been if we hadn't violated the terms of the lease and been evicted
from Eden.

and then this:

"In spite of all that he didn't have, he was always happy," I said of Toby. "He found a purpose, fulfillment. Now what if they can take him far enough that he's dissatisfied with what he is . . . but then they can't take him all the way to normal?"

"They will," Manuel said with a measure of conviction for which there could be no justification. "They will."

"The same people who've created this nightmare?"

"It's not got only a dark side."

I thought of the pitiful wails of the visitor in the rectory attic, the melancholy quality of its changeling voice, the terrible yearning in its desperate attempts to convey meaning in a caterwaul. I thought of Orson on that summer night, despairing under the stars.

"God help You, Toby," I said, because he was my friend, too. "God bless You."

"God had His chance," Manuel said. "From now on, we'll make our own luck."
According to Mr. Bradley, today is the release date for the newest Odd Thomas book.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"...under a condition that his name not be used..."

A photocopy of a Washington Post article from the early 1980's:

click on picture for larger image.
Question 1: Senator Obama, in an interview with CNN, you cited Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and David Souter as examples of the kinds of justices you would appoint to the high court. In two cases today, your ideal justices split, with Breyer being in the majority and Souter/Ginsburg being in the dissent.

In the first case, two of your ideal justices would have set free a man who to offered to exchange photographs of adult men sexually molesting his 4-year-old daughter for other pictures of child pornography. [Opinion.] In the second case, your ideal justices would have given a career criminal who was illegally using a firearm a much lighter sentence than what the majority determined the law required. Given that both Justices Roberts and Alito, whom you voted against, were in the majority with Justice Breyer, can you tell American whether you would persist in nominating judges like Souter and Ginsburg?

Oh, and in a third case today, Justice Stephen Breyer dissented from a Supreme Court opinion which overturned the 9th Circuit which had set aside the conviction of a terrorist who conspired to detonate explosives at Los Angeles International Airport during the millennium holiday travel period.

During the Alito confirmation hearings you opposed him because you believed he was "contrary to core American values." In other words, he was wrong to punish a child abuser, a convict possessing illegal weapons and a terrorist?

Senator Obama, what values are you talking about?