“The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun”: Q & A with Matt Bracken

As we mentioned last week, Matt Bracken has just published a new novel, The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun. The following interview with Mr. Bracken about the book was published earlier today at Western Rifle Shooters.

The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun: a historical novel set in the future

Q and A with author Matt Bracken

WRSA: What does the title of your new novel refer to?

Red sandstone cliffs are common to the coastal region of Morocco I’m writing about, and they feature in the story. All the Dan Kilmer novels are going to contain a geographical feature in their titles. So far I’ve used up “Cay” and “Cliffs”, so I don’t anticipate running out soon.

WRSA: I couldn’t find Cape Zerhoun or Port Zerhoun on any maps of Morocco.

It’s a composite of a few different locations, but is largely based on the historical pirate port of Salé from the corsair era but relocated a bit to the south. The name Zerhoun is taken from a holy mountain in Morocco which is a national pilgrimage site. I sprinkled some other non-random names into the novel, for example, anyone who considers secret dungeon complexes to be implausible in the modern era might want to look up Tazmamart, Morocco.

WRSA: “The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun” seems to run deeper than the typical post-SHTF dystopian action novel. There is actual character development, for example, which is rarely seen in the genre.

Thanks for noticing. Actually, the entire novel is an allegory for the defense of Western Civilization and European Christianity in the face of the one-two punch coming from today’s cultural-Marxist ruling elites and the always eager Islamic invaders. Three times in European history the continent was nearly overrun by Muslim armies, and three times the invasion was just barely turned back: at Tours, Lepanto and Vienna. Today, the situation is even more dire, because cultural-Marxist Quisling traitors have managed to switch off Europe’s natural defenses and open the gates to invasion, and have even permitted Islamic jihad beachheads to be established in every European city. I’m not optimistic about the eventual outcome of the coming European civil war, but I’m not ready to give up, which is why I wrote this novel. It’s my best shot in the counter-jihad.

In terms of the allegory, the nearly seventy girls kidnapped from a religious boarding academy in Ireland are a microcosm for the future of Western Civilization and European Christianity. Will what is left of European manhood rise to the challenge and send out a desperate rescue mission to bring the stolen girls home, or just shrug at the hopeless situation, and write them off? When you consider that Egypt, Syria, Turkey and many other nations were once staunchly Christian, I’ll admit the future does not look bright for Europe, given today’s circumstances. But I’m not a defeatist, and that’s why I wrote The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun.

In addition, I wrote it to remind British men of their nearly-forgotten military heritage, which is still kept alive in units like the Special Air Service. British men stood tall and faced down the Nazis when it looked like Britain would have to go it alone, even to fighting on the beaches, in the words of Winston Churchill. I hope some of that martial spirit is left in Britain. If not, eventual defeat and submission to Islam is inevitable.

WRSA: What’s the point of having the British SAS and the Irish Republican Army cooperating on the mission? That seems pretty far-fetched, even for a Matt Bracken novel.

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Matthew Bracken: The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun

Matt Bracken’s long-awaited new novel, The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun, is now available, both in a paperback edition

…and in a Kindle version:

Dymphna bought the Kindle version as soon as it came out, and has already finished reading it. She says the action is fast-paced, the story contains surprising plot twists, and the characters are well-developed. She also appreciated the rich historical detail.

You’ll be hearing more from her about Red Cliffs in due course.

In the meantime, our English correspondent Seneca III has supplied a historical preface for Gates of Vienna readers. As it happens, he worked with Mr. Bracken as a technical consultant on the British parts of the book, so in the essay below he outlines the history of the Moorish slavers in Europe, with special emphasis on the British Isles.

The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun, by Matthew Bracken – A Commentary

by Seneca III

Part I – As it was

During the dark winter months, driven by westerly gales, the deep, grey rollers of the North Atlantic descend upon the western coastlines of Ireland and Britain with a cold, inanimate ferocity. Yet each year, without fail, the seasons progress and winter slowly segues into spring and spring into summer, and with summer comes the sailing season.

And, for now at least, in the calm of these summers, protected by the maritime forces of the Irish Republic and Great Britain, craft of every type, large and small, make their way to and fro on business or for recreation whilst the towns and villages on the surrounding coastlines bustle with holidaymakers and visitors from far and wide, but other times have not always been so pleasant. From the 16th to 19th centuries the sailing season brought a horde of far less welcome visitors: Barbary Corsairs, the bearded, demented Slaves of Allah, who descended like a wolf on the fold to rape, plunder, kill, torture and enslave all in their path with an equally cold ferocity.

They came from the shores of Tripoli and Morocco…

…paralleling the coast of an Iberian Peninsula still recovering from the physical and psychological traumas of the seven-hundred-year Reconquista and the centuries-long depredations of the fratricidal Berber, Almohad, Almoravid and Umayyad Caliphates. Then, leaving astern the westernmost point of Europe, Carbo da Roca, they pressed on past La Coruña to steer either due north across the Bay of Biscay or to meander unopposed along the lee shore of the Atlantic seaboard of a still turbulent France, raiding and ravaging as they went, until their bows breasted the first gentle waves of the Celtic Sea.

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Mika Waltari’s “Dark Angel” (1952) — A Novel for Our Time

Thomas Bertonneau’s latest essay is a review of a book that was published more than sixty years ago and is not available in digital form.

Mika Waltari’s Dark Angel (1952) — A Novel for Our Time

by Thomas F. Bertonneau

Introduction. The name of the Finnish novelist Mika Waltari (1908 — 1979) reached the peak of its currency in the mid-1950s when many of his titles had transcended the isolation of their original language to come into print in English, French, German, Italian, and Swedish. One of these, The Egyptian (1945) had reached the big screen in 1954 in a lavish Hollywood production directed by Michael Curtiz, with a cast that included Edmund Purdom, Victor Mature, and Jean Simmons. Curtiz’s film adhered closely to Waltari’s story, which concerns the attempted religious reforms of the pharaoh Akenaten, which Waltari, the son of a Lutheran minister and a serious student both of theology and philosophy, regarded as an early instance of ideology. Basing his fiction on the best information available at the time, Waltari strove to show how, despite the sincere intention of the reformer, the reforms themselves so contradicted Egyptian tradition that they devastated the society. The novel operates intellectually at a high level. So does Curtiz’s cinematic version, which likely explains its poor box-office on release. The Hollywood connection nevertheless boosted Waltari’s foreign-language sales and meant that his books would remain in print into the 1960s. Today Waltari’s authorship is largely forgotten, along with those of his Scandinavian contemporaries such as Lars Gyllensten, Martin A. Hansen, Pär Lagerkvist, Harry Martinson, Tarje Vesaas, and Sigrid Undset. Anyone who has seen the film Barabbas (1961) with Anthony Quinn in the title role has, however, had contact with Lagerkvist, on whose novel director Richard Fleischer drew.

All of those writers might justly be characterized as Christian Existentialists, heavily influenced by Søren Kierkegaard, who saw their century, the Twentieth, as an era of extreme crisis at its basis spiritual, and who saw the ideologies — the rampant political cults — of their day as heretical false creeds that fomented zealous conflict. It is unsurprising that such a conviction should have taken hold in Scandinavia. Two of the Scandinavian nations, Denmark and Norway, had endured conquest and occupation by Germany in World War II. Sweden avoided that fate, but as Undset wrote in her account of escaping the German invasion of Norway, most Swedes expected disaster to strike at any time from 1940 until the end of hostilities, either from the Germans or from the Russians — or possibly from both, with the nation becoming a battleground. In Finland, which had only won its independence in 1918, first by rejecting Russian rule and then by defeating a Communist insurrection within its own borders, the sense of acute crisis realized itself in the Soviet attack in the winter of 1939-40, during which Waltari worked in Helsinki in the Finnish Government’s Information Bureau, and again in the subsequent Continuation War of 1941 through 1944. These events are the immediate background to Waltari’s composition of The Egyptian, and they are by no means irrelevant to Dark Angel, published seven years later.

I. Dark Angel is somewhat less ambitious philosophically than The Egyptian, but it is perhaps more relevant to the present moment in 2017 than its precursor-novel in Waltari’s oeuvre, concerning as it does the Fall of Constantinople, and with it the remnant of Eastern Christendom, to Sultan Mehmed II’s Ottoman Turkish Jihad in the summer of the year 1453. In Waltari’s novel, incidentally, Mehmed is called Mohammed after the Arabic pattern of his Turkified name. In Dark Angel, as in The Egyptian, Waltari makes use of allegory. The shrunken, dispirited Greek-speaking Christian empire of the East, as it confronts the seemingly inexorable westward encroachment of militant Islam, stands in for the postwar West, as it confronts a militant, expansionist Communist empire stretching from Moscow to Peking and beyond. The enemy without — Islam or Communism — fosters enemies within: Fellow travelers who despise their nation and its ways and pessimists who have given up hope to await the end in moods of hedonism and cynicism. Nevertheless, neither Dark Angel nor The Egyptian can be reduced to allegory. Dark Angel in particular commemorates one of those epochal events in Western history, and particularly in the history of the West’s 1400-year hostile entanglement with militant Islam, that has vanished down the memory hole, and whose re-conjuration political correctness resists.

As in The Egyptian, again in Dark Angel, Waltari heightens the immediacy of his storytelling through the use of the grammatical first person and through the repletion of the background with carefully researched historical detail. The Egyptian presents itself as the memoir, written in old age, of the physician Sinuhe, whose profession brings him into contact with Akenaten, and who therefore witnesses the events of Akenaten’s regime from close at hand. Dark Angel purports to be the diary of the mysterious Jean-Ange, Giovanni Angelo, John Angelos, or Ioannis Angelos, an apparent soldier of fortune of Greek ancestry who shows up in Constantinople a few weeks before the onset of the fateful siege. Like Sinuhe in The Egyptian, Angelos corresponds to the typical protagonist of the mid-Twentieth Century Existentialist novel: He is the deracinated man, part cynic, part skeptic, who has felt the tug of a redemptory Tradition and has resolved to root himself again, to the extent possible, in what he can identify as his ancestral ilk. His actions are by way of paying off a belatedly recognized debt; and they seek to affirm a patrimony as well as a more general cultural and religious kinship. Angelos functions additionally as a living Rorschach image for other characters, who, recognizing him as somehow familiar and rather haunting, project on him their own otherwise hidden thoughts and traits. An angel is a messenger — and in the stranger’s presence people experience the compulsion to deliver up their own messages, as though in confession, whether they mean to or not.

In Angelos, Waltari has conjured a pure fiction, but he draws most of his characters from the historical annals. One might read John Runciman’s classic study of The Fall of Constantinople (1965) alongside Dark Angel and encounter the same tragic personae. In Waltari’s novel, for example, Emperor Constantine XI Palaeologus is a character; so too is the Megadux or Admiral of the Fleet Lukas Notaras, with his daughter, the beautiful Anna, and his two sons. The ex-Keeper-of-the-Seal George Scholarius, now referring to himself as the monk Gennadius, takes a role in the tangled plot. The Genoese strategist Giovanni Longo Giustiniani, who brings his mercenary army to participate in the city’s defense, befriends Angelos, who becomes his lieutenant. On the Muslim side Waltari gives his readers Sultan Mohammed, in whose retinue Angelos has previously served, such that both the Greeks and Latins of Constantinople plausibly mistrust him. A minor character on the Constantinopolitan side, the German engineer John Grant, represents an emergent scientific and technical worldview that sees itself as entirely extra-moral. Waltari knows the layout of the Fifteenth-Century imperial capitol the way he knows the back of his hand. Runciman’s Fall with its maps makes itself useful as a Baedeker to the novel. It helps to know where the Blachernae Palace stands in relation to the Romanos Gate and other topographical details.

Waltari, establishing an atmosphere of tenseness from the beginning, makes it clear that Western — that is to say, Catholic-Orthodox — doctrinal factionalism contributed mightily to making the Byzantine rump-empire vulnerable to Ottoman aggression, despite the city’s formidable walls. So too did the cowardice of key parties among the Greeks and the Latins. The Palaeologus dynasty had in fact seen the writing on the wall since the reign of Manuel II, Constantine’s father. During his emperorship, Manuel undertook a grand tour of Europe as far as the court of Henry IV of England seeking European support for Eastern Christendom. Manuel also sent an ecclesiastical delegation to Ferrara in Italy to negotiate with Rome concerning doctrinal differences; after a few months the so-called Council moved to Florence, but it was disorganized in both places. As Runciman writes, “the detailed story of the Council makes arid reading,” but the conclusion, pressed for by Manuel’s eldest son John (who would reign as John VIII) against his father’s wishes, was a declaration of union that the ordinary constituents of Orthodoxy regarded as a betrayal. Nevertheless, in the hope that it would facilitate direct aid from the Catholic West should a crisis come, Constantine, on succeeding John, publicly upheld the declaration and permitted the filioque of the Latin Mass to be uttered during the liturgy in Hagia Sophia.

Dark Angel begins just as one such liturgy ends. In the characteristic Byzantine manner, participants in the Mass leave the church in strict hierarchical order. Standing outside Hagia Sophia, Angelos sees Constantine and his retinue emerge. He remarks of Notaras that “his glance was keen and scornful, but in his features I read the melancholy common to all members of ancient Greek families.” Angelos knows Notaras to be an opponent of union. He supposes that the Megadux, although obliged to attend the service, was “agitated and wrathful, as if unable to endure the deadly shame that had fallen on his Church and his people.” As the palace guard brings forward the retinue’s horses, Angelos hears shouts from the crowd: “Down with unlawful interpolations” and “down with papal rule.” Breaking away from the emperor, Notaras addresses the crowd. “Better the Turkish turban,” he shouts, “than the Papal miter!” The crowd repeats the slogan. Angelos compares the sentiment to the one voiced by another crowd centuries before: “Release unto us Barabbas!” Later, the crowd shouts after Constantine, “Apostata, Apostata!” Angelos, who attended the discussions in Florence fourteen years earlier, senses the spreading dementia in the city and knows that it spells doom.

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Excerpts From “The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun” by Matt Bracken

Below are extensive excerpts from Chapter 9 of The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun, by Matthew Bracken.

Matt says: “The Kindle version will go live on July 16; the paper books should be at Amazon sometime around the 20th.” For more (including the Amazon link for pre-ordering), see his website.

Chapter 9 of The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun

by Matthew Bracken

We had fair winds and nice weather the first few days out, giving us good daily mileage runs and an easy ride. None of Colonel Rainborow’s embarked team were seasick past the first day or two. Good weather also meant that the men living in the cargo hold could escape its confines and enjoy the fresh air and infinite horizons available on deck.

The galley dinette table was the one place down below where the men could relax in comfortable surroundings, so it was rarely left unoccupied. At any time of day or night men worked on jigsaw puzzles, played chess, read paperbacks, scribbled in journals, and fiddled with gadgets. But during the day, outside of mealtimes, priority was given to mission planning. I passed the dinette dozens of times a day on my way between my cabin and the galley or the pilothouse above. I never intentionally hovered around the team during their briefings and other mission preparations, and they didn’t go silent or cover up their maps and papers when I was near. The team just ignored Hung, with his limited English and apparent social self-isolation.

It was the same plan they’d pitched to me in Ireland. Rainborow believed that military trucks traveling in convoy under cover of darkness would make such an impressive showing of counterfeit Royal Moroccan Army military might that their unexpected appearance would cause any local gangs or militias to stand aside as they roared past. A covered truck might be transporting a squad or more of infantry, armed to the teeth and ready for battle the instant they spilled out of the back like angry hornets from a disturbed nest. Unless a suspicious adversary was ready to attack all three trucks with heavy weapons, simultaneously, he was not likely to pick a fight with what could be a combat-ready infantry platoon. If a late-night checkpoint guard had any remaining doubts, belt-fed machine guns mounted on each truck’s cab would help him decide to let the convoy pass unchallenged.

But instead of carrying Royal Moroccan Army soldiers, Rainborow’s trucks would be empty on their way in and full of rescued schoolgirls on their way out. It was a bold plan, depending upon pure bluff for its success. I thought the SAS motto about daring and winning was a flimsy foundation to build a mission on, but it was Rainborow and his team who were going ashore in Morocco, not me. Even so, I couldn’t help but admire their courage and wish them the best of luck.

Victor met with their two patrol medics at the dinette table to go over their medical gear and compare opinions about combat casualty procedures. He was glad to share his knowledge and experience, and was also interested to hear their ideas on treating combat trauma. An afternoon of seeing the table covered with tourniquets, bandages, hemostats, and the other tools of the combat medical trade reminded me of what I’d be losing when Victor left the boat. Without his past interventions, I would have been dead years before.

The crow’s nest high up the mainmast was occupied continuously from before dawn until after dusk. Sergeant Major Tolbert asked if it was all right if the team used the mast steps for practice, to maintain their climbing strength and keep their hands toughened. Of course I agreed, and it became a familiar sight to see them ascending, chatting with the lookout, and then shinnying down again.

Long ago, I’d mounted a pull-up bar between two lower wire mainmast shrouds where they are only about a meter apart. The bar, cut from a stout piece of aluminum tube, was lashed to the wires high enough above the deck that I have to hop up to grab it. I don’t use it as often as I used to, but it was in frequent use by the team. I hadn’t been formally briefed on the mission, but I knew that the final stage of the rescue meant climbing, and climbing required a particular type of strength that was highly perishable.

The amount of time the team dedicated to physical training indicated to me that they were professionals. They did calisthenics on deck in groups and singly. They did endless sit-ups and push-ups. The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war, as the saying goes. The team did a lot sweating, staying in shape for the cliffs of Cape Zerhoun. They were obviously very serious about the undertaking ahead of them.

Most of the Hajis I’d tangled with back in the day didn’t train at all. Instead, they took the path of trusting Allah to get them through every scrape. This blind trust even extended to Allah guiding the bullets they fired, eliminating the need for them to carefully aim their weapons. Some of the Marines called them skinnies; I think that expression was handed down from grunts who had served in Somalia. While not as thin as Somalis, the Iraqis I’d seen without a shirt or a man-dress on had not been impressive physical specimens.

Our Moroccan surfer, Kamal Abidar, was not cut from that skinny Arab mold. He had a substantial amount of chest and arm muscles on him. You won’t find a genuine longtime surfer without some serious arm and shoulder meat. Mixing it up with big waves on a frequent basis takes strength, stamina, and guts. Sometimes you can be held underwater for long periods after a wipeout, your body being thrashed like a rag doll in the mouth of a terrier. Kam had said that he was half French and half Berber. As far as I knew, he was the very first Berber of any sort I’d ever met.

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The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun

Matt Bracken is in the process of putting the finishing touches on his latest novel, The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun. It will be available for purchase shortly.

Matt says the book is “a historical novel set in the near future.” It tells the story of Muslim raiders who use a converted long-range fishing vessel to kidnap 67 Irish and English girls from a private Catholic school in southwestern Ireland. Ironically, the primary motive for sending the girls to the school was to keep them safe from greater dangers elsewhere. The action focuses on a small private group led by a retired SAS colonel who travel to Morocco to rescue the hostages.

An excerpt from the The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun was posted here last December.

Bastille Day in the Caliphate

Matt Bracken sends this excerpt from his next novel, which is close to completion.


A ten-day passage would give me a chance to compare notes with men who had actually been living through the strife, at least in the British Isles. During one of the first mornings of the voyage, I was in the cockpit with Colonel Rainborow, chatting over tea. I assumed that as an ex-SAS officer and the leader of a private military outfit, he would be as tuned in to current events as it was possible to be.

“So what’s really going on in Europe?” I asked him. “Ireland was as close as I’ve gotten in a few years, and I don’t know how to judge what I hear on the radio. It’s almost all propaganda or fantasy, as far as I can tell.”

“The radio? Yes, it mostly is. Hmmm…let’s see… I assume that you know about the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower?”

“Sure, of course: seven-ten was the French nine-eleven. That was two years ago, at the beginning of the French Civil War. They were both blown up at the same time, on July tenth.”

“Not quite the same time,” said the colonel. “The Louvre was first. A lorry delivered four tons of Semtex. A team of jihadis hijacked an art shipment and made the switch out in the countryside. Drove the lorry into an underground garage and straight up to the receiving dock. The blast killed a thousand tourists and cratered the place.”

“So the Louvre attack was a diversion.”

“Right. It pulled away all the security forces, and then the Eiffel Tower was attacked by terrorists. About twenty of them held a hundred tourists on the observation deck and threatened to kill them all and destroy the tower. After what had just happened at the Louvre, the French had no doubt of their sincerity. The terrorists burned the big French tricolor on top and raised a gigantic black flag of jihad. They declared the Eiffel Tower to be the minaret of the new grand mosque of Muslim Europe. Paris was the capital of the European Caliphate. It was a very sophisticated operation, blowing up the Louvre and then capturing the Eiffel Tower.

“They brought their own television and radio broadcasting equipment with them. Loudspeakers, generators, the lot. Then they made the usual demands: free all the Muslims held in European jails and remove all European forces from Muslim lands. And then on Bastille Day, when none of that had happened, they began pitching the hostages off the tower one by one, starting with an elderly Jew. Goes without saying they raped all the women and children. The Caliphate declared it a major victory for global Islam. The terrorists held out for a week, leading the call to prayer from on top of the tower, black flag and all. And after each call to prayer, another hostage was thrown down. Finally, after nine days, French commandos tried a helicopter assault behind a smoke screen. It was a bloodbath — the terrorists were ready for them. But the terrorists didn’t have enough Semtex to completely destroy the tower. They only had enough to demolish the top third of it. French sappers had dismantled the charges they’d planted lower on the legs.

“Attacking the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower were taken by the French as a declaration of war on France itself. After those twin disasters, nobody spoke of radical Islam anymore, just Islam. Islam was declared to be the enemy of France. The French passed new anti-Islam laws almost overnight. Loyalty oaths were demanded for all Muslims in France. The Sharia no-go zones had to be opened up for inspection and completely disarmed. Military-age Muslim men had to be registered, photographed, and fingerprinted. This was all refused out of hand, of course. Instead, the no-go zones were barricaded, and then the French had car bombs going off in front of schools and police stations. Oh, and rocket attacks, and random mortars. And snipers, of course, the snipers… That lasted until August, when the French Army went full-out medieval. The Muslim no-go Sharia zones were attacked and then destroyed, one after the other. Like I said, they went medieval.”


“I thought the French military was full of Muslims.”

“It was — before the loyalty oaths. The loyalty oaths were rejected in the Sharia zones, but they worked well enough in the military. Almost all of the Muslims in the French Army were thrown out. The ones who didn’t desert and run into the Sharia zones were put behind razor wire as a risk to French society. It surprised everybody how fast the French could build concentration camps when they put their minds to it. This led to even more car bombs and rocket attacks, until the French used heavy artillery on the no-go zones. Leveled them. Parts of Paris and the other French cities look like Stalingrad now, but at least they’re one hundred percent French again. Well, in the north, anyway.”

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Matt Bracken’s Story is on the Sidebar

I had to take “Piss Christ? Piss Koran!” off sticky, because Brexit is now the crucial story and needs to be featured. I’ve set up a graphic for PC-PK on the sidebar (just like the one at right) that has links to Matt Bracken’s story in three forms, Serial, plain HTML, and PDF.

Also: I will be out the rest of the afternoon and into the evening, so posting will be light until then.

Piss Christ? Piss Koran! — Part Four

This is the final installment of a story by Matthew Bracken, which has been serialized here in four parts.

Previously: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Update: All four parts of this story are now available as a single document, in two formats:

Piss Christ? Piss Koran!

Part Four: Resolution

by Matthew Bracken

“Your call, smart guy.” The phone connection made a click and the line went dead.

Mike wasn’t a kid. He knew that he wouldn’t live forever. He’d had enough brushes with death to understand that a healthy old age was not guaranteed in the contract. He’d been standing next to men who had stepped the wrong way, and fallen. He’d helped pull a man’s body off a concrete footer where he’d been impaled on an uncapped rebar stake. Just two stories down, and dead as a nail. Laughing and joking the minute before. A paragraph in the back of the paper, if that. There but by the grace of God.

Before he’d climbed the tower, Mike hadn’t planned out how the stunt would finish up. He figured that at the very least, he’d be arrested for trespassing. In fact, he didn’t even have a bottle of piss. It was apple juice, in case he spent the whole day up there and ran out of bottled water. He just wanted BCA News to be forced to publicly account for how casually they accepted Serrano’s Piss Christ as “art,” showing it on their website for years, when they were too cowardly to ever show a single peep of an unpixilated Mohammed cartoon. But finishing the morning by crawling down the twenty ladders, and hoping that some police officers would arrive to protect him from the gathering crowd of enraged Muslims?

No way. Not even if he had believed Vic Del Rio about the police escort, and he didn’t believe that lying weasel for a second. Not after Del Rio set him up for the mayor’s phone call, and the coordinated SWAT helicopter assault. Now there was only a single thin line of police barricades across the middle of 53rd Street, but there were no police officers standing behind it. Frank Salerno had said that the mayor wanted him dead. That, he believed. Some kind of a deal had been struck, but it wasn’t with him. It was between the mayor and the leaders of the local Muslim community.

So even if he wanted to go, to slip away quietly, the mob now unrolling their prayer rugs on 53rd — already angry enough to chew rebar and spit bullets — would see him coming before he was halfway down the twenty ladders. In their minds, he had already desecrated their Holy Koran by tearing up Sura 9:5, the Verse of the Sword.

So the die was cast. Well, nothing lasts forever. It had been a great life, and he’d had a wonderful wife. At least it was a gorgeous August morning in Midtown Manhattan, the rising sun casting beams and shadows down the length of 53rd. If this was his day to go, he thought he might as well make the best of it. He looked at his watch. It was 8:33, so he had just under a half hour. That is, if the mob was going to wait until after their morning prayers to stop the two blasphemies.

He picked up his iPhone to see what they were covering on BCA. A reporter was standing in front of a wave-pounded marina in Cabo San Lucas while Hurricane Eliza swept through. He selected his other television network preset buttons, and saw that none of them were covering the events around 6th Avenue and 53rd Street in Midtown Manhattan. Vic Del Rio had been right. The plug had been pulled on his stunt. He put the ear bud from his little Sony radio back in. On WNYR, he was surprised to hear Jerry Conroy’s voice, but it only took him a moment to understand that it was a pre-recorded “best of” show.

Meanwhile, beyond the puny little barricade just to the west of the crane, 53rd Street was rapidly filling up with devout Muslims who had heard the imam’s call to action. While he watched, he saw something glint in the sunlight. A man in a tan robe unrolled his prayer rug, revealing a sword, which he waved in circles over his head. Then the sword went against the pavement, his prayer rug concealing it.

Mike tried calling the WNYR studio office line again, but got a busy signal. He knew it would be useless to call the other radio and television stations on his list. But he also knew that there must still be cameras on him, even from across 53rd in the Grand Hotel. He found his spiral notebook and his Sharpie, and was considering which sticky-noted verse advocating the murder, plunder and rape of the infidels to tear out of the Koran next, when he heard an insistent rapping behind him. He looked around his poncho lean-to shanty toward the corner office of the bank building, and saw a crowd of people, at least half of them in police uniforms.

The woman from the other office was there again, holding another file folder message against the window. It read >call this number< followed by nine digits. He didn’t recognize the area code; it wasn’t from New York. It was hard to see around the shanty, so he unclipped the bungee cords from the corners, rolled it up, and put it away in his pack. With the BCA cameras a hundred yards across 6th Avenue turned off, it no longer made sense to hide from the eyewitnesses who were nearest to him, police or not.

He still had a zip-lock bag with unused prepaid flip phones, so he used a fresh one to call the number. It was picked up and answered on the second ring. He heard “Hello?” It was a woman this time.

“Do you know who this is?” asked Mike.

“Of course, silly, the whole world knows! I’m glad you called. The show must go on, right?” She had a hillbilly accent. Middle-aged and gravelly, like she was a smoker.

“How? BCA is back to showing the hurricane.”

“Oh, we don’t care about BCA. If you’ll take another caller, we’ll make sure it gets on the radio. And it’ll get on the internet too.”

“How?”

“To tell the truth, I don’t rightly know how. Somebody else is handling that side of it. But they seem pretty sure that they can keep you on the air, if you want to be. So, do you want to be?”

“Of course I do. That’s why I’m up here.”

“That’s the spirit, Mike! Well, I just got the high-sign, and they say we’re live on a Ko-rean radio station in Newark, New Jersey right now, if you can believe it. Ko-rean!”

“Korean? But that means —”

“Don’t worry, it’ll be in English today. We just put out the station information by text message. All the union guys in New York City are getting them as we speak, at least, that’s what I’m told. And it’s going on the internet, too, somehow. Audios and videos; it’s being filmed from every which way, that’s what I’m told. I don’t really understand how it all works, but they say that if that creepy mayor of yours takes that Ko-rean radio station off the air, they have more stations lined up right behind it. All right?”

“I guess so.” If it was over her head, it was way over Mike’s. But he could see that on the other side of the window walls of the corner office, several people were holding up smart phones, so for sure, he was on video.

The Southern lady said, “Now, you look for another number, and use another phone. You have a very special caller. Good luck, and God bless.”

“Wait a minute —” But the line had gone dead.

He looked back to the building. The woman with the file folder was showing another number. He chose a new flip phone, and called it. It rang once and was picked up.

“Is this Brooklyn Mike?” It was a girl’s voice, or a young lady’s, speaking in unaccented American English.

“Yes, it’s me, who is this?”

“For today, my name is Amina. Some people that I trust said that I can talk to you, and that everybody will hear my story.”

“They tell me the same thing, Amina, so go ahead, I guess.” Mike looked at his watch. Twenty minutes to nine. It wasn’t his plan at this point to take another caller, but really, what plan did he have left?

“Thank you. I wanted to do this for a long time. Mike, have you ever heard of a lady named Ayaan Hirsi Ali?”

“Sure, I know about her. She’s from Somalia, and she wrote a book called Infidel, and another book called Nomad.” Both had come highly recommended, and Mike had read them while he was doing his own research on Islam. They were amazingly insightful. Brilliant, really.

In a soft voice, the girl said, “Ayaan Hirsi Ali is from Somalia, as you said, and she escaped from Islam. So today, she has to live in hiding, because she is an apostate Muslim. Well, I too have escaped from Islam, and I too am in hiding, but I was born in America. I was born in America, and I’m in hiding!” Amina paused to catch her breath, and gather her thoughts. “I was only allowed to go to a normal American high school for two years, tenth and eleventh grades. I had to wear the hijab, and I was watched for every minute I was out of our house. And the hijab had to be tight around my face, and I had to wear long clothes, almost like a burka, so that just my hands and my face would show.”

She said, “Maybe you have heard that some Muslim girls like to dress that way, but what about the girls who hate it? What about them? When I unwrapped my hijab and wore it loose like a scarf, and my hair would show, I was beaten for it by my father at home. No matter where I went, I was spied on, even by my own brothers. If I was seen talking to regular American kids, not Muslims, just talking, like friends, I was beaten. I was never allowed to make any friends on my own, never. No sports, no drama club, just straight home. My father checked my phone every night, and he told me that if I ever had an American boyfriend, he would kill me. Kill me! And I believed him, because he already beat me all the time. But never on my face, so the marks wouldn’t show. I tried to find just a little freedom in my life, and he found every little piece, and smashed it flat. He thought I was becoming Americanized — that’s what he called it — but I was born in America! Why shouldn’t I be Americanized? I was an American, but I was a slave.

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Piss Christ? Piss Koran! — Part Three

This is the third installment of a story by Matthew Bracken, which is being serialized here in four parts.

Previously: Part 1, Part 2.

Piss Christ? Piss Koran!

Part Three: Crisis

by Matthew Bracken

As the two SWAT commandos slid down their ropes, the chopper lifted for a moment, and one of them was dragged against the crane’s guy wire. He was flicked from his descent line, but he managed to grab hold of the thick steel cable. The helicopter dropped again, its rotors nearly intersecting the cable, but it banked away, dipped its nose, shot forward and corkscrewed downward, the other commando swinging out below its belly on the carnival ride of his life.

The unlucky commando was hanging onto the guy wire halfway out to the end of the jib, his feet more than a yard above the top pipe. He was trying to swing a foot up onto the lower end of the slanting wire, but he was too weighted down with tactical gear. If he tried to go hand-over-hand down the greasy wire, he’d slip and risk bouncing off the crane and falling twenty stories. Instead, the best he could do was to hook an elbow over the wire, and lock his forearm with his other hand.

Mike was angry that the SWAT team had tried a sneak attack during the mayor’s phone call, but that didn’t change the fact that the officer hanging from the wire was facing the imminent threat of death. He left his secure platform at the end of the jib, and worked his way back toward the tower on the bank building side, his boots on the lower pipe, his bare ungloved hands on the top.

As he moved he yelled, “Hang on, buddy, I’m coming! Stop swinging, save your strength—just hang on!” The first helicopter had switched off its powerful strobe lights and its acoustic weapon, and followed Mike’s progress and the fate of their stranded SWAT team member from a hundred feet out.

In half a minute Mike was beneath the cop, the knobby soles of his black boots dangling more than a yard above the top pipe. The welded struts between the three main pipes were joined at sixty-degree angles, forming alternating triangles along the length of the cantilevered jib. Where two of the struts joined at the top pipe was where Mike could make his move. He blessed himself with a quick sign of the cross, crouched, and then sprang up and inward, getting one leg and then the other around the two diagonally opposed struts halfway up to the top pipe where they met.

He clenched both struts behind his knees, squeezing together with all of his lower body and leg strength while pulling himself up with his hands and arms, then got an elbow and a shoulder over the top pipe. With sheer determination he scissored his legs together and forced himself further up, until he could push one foot over the top pipe, and then work his chest and belly onto it, balancing himself there. He found a matching diagonal strut on the other side with his foot, and then he was at least fairly secure on top, panting and wheezing, but for the moment at no risk of falling. He hooked his ankles around the opposing struts, and pushed his chest away from the top pipe until he was sitting directly below the SWAT commando’s black boots.

Mike said, “Okay, buddy, we can do this, but don’t move. I’m going to grab your feet, okay? Don’t move. I’m going to grab your feet, but don’t move. All right?”

“All right.”

“You’ve got about four feet to the top pipe, okay? Don’t let go yet.”

“Don’t worry, I won’t. But I’m hurt, and I can’t stay up here all day.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll get her done. Hey, what’s your name?” The cop was facing back down the slanting wire toward the end of the crane, the toes of his boots toward Mike. Mike was facing the other way, toward the crane’s tower.

“Frank. My name is Frank.”

“Okay, Frank, we can do this. I have to get a good hold of your feet, but don’t let go yet. Not till I say. When I say, drop down to your hands, and then you’ll only have about three feet to go. You understand? You got that? You want to come down slow.”

“Yeah, I got it, Mike, but I got a hurt arm, so I don’t know how long I can hang on.”

So Frank the SWAT cop already knew his name. Frank wasn’t an Ironworker, but if he was an NYPD SWAT cop, a member of the elite Emergency Service Unit, Mike thought that he’d have to be a damned good all-around athlete. And if he wasn’t, well, then they were both probably going to fall to the street, and that would be that. Even if Frank did everything just right, they still might fall. Mike had never done this trick with another Ironworker; he was purely winging it, operating on adrenaline and instinct. “Okay Frank, I got your feet. Now, when I say, let go from your elbow, and hang by your hands, okay?” Mikes had hand around each of his boots, behind his ankles.

“Okay, but I can’t hang for long.”

“All right, let go from your elbow, and hang.”

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Piss Christ? Piss Koran! — Part One

The latest work of fiction by Matthew Bracken will appear here in several installments. Part One was published earlier today in a slightly different form at Western Rifle Shooters Association.

Piss Christ? Piss Koran!

Part One: Dark Till Dawn

by Matthew Bracken

Mike Dolan came out of the subway, hit the sidewalk and set out down the west side of 6th Avenue with a purposeful stride. Midtown Manhattan never truly sleeps, particularly just before a Monday morning, but compared to what it would be like in a couple of hours, it was geared way down. No tourists yet, mostly delivery trucks and vans. All lanes were northbound, because it was 6th Avenue.

Mike was showered and clean shaven, every item on him and in his possession carefully considered. The white hard hat on his head was the real deal. He wore a gray polo shirt with the embroidered black-and-yellow logo of a crane manufacturer above the pocket. Both items were gifts from old friends. The black cargo-pocket work pants over his Red Wing construction boots were practically new. An iPhone in an armored carrier was clipped to the black nylon rigger’s belt on his right hip. A silver tape measure was next to a small black flashlight on his left. On his back was a compact but heavy pack, also black. In his right hand he carried a small black tool bag, and he held a folding aluminum clipboard case in his left. On the F-Train over from Queens, another early riser had gestured toward Mike’s hard hat, and asked him if the strike was over. Mike just mumbled something about safety inspectors never getting a day off.

After a career spent pounding bolts hanging the high steel, it felt strange for him to be wearing a white hard hat for his trip into Manhattan. The white hard hat and the crane-logo polo shirt were just a disguise for his mission. Like his father before him, Mike was a union man, from the time he got out of the Army, until he’d retired a few years earlier. The New York Ironworkers Local Union 461 had carried him all the way through his family-raising years. Now, the kids were gone, and his wife had passed away.

Mike had always worn a scuffed-to-hell red hard hat with an American flag sticker on the front. Shiny white hard hats were for management pukes way down in the trailers, and for inspectors and reporters and a few other random assholes who would occasionally make an appearance at nose-bleed height. Well, maybe they weren’t all assholes. Some of them were pretty cool, like the construction company honcho who had given him the white hard hat right off his head on the job site parking lot, and offered Mike a salaried position with his big and growing company. That was a line Mike Dolan couldn’t cross—he’d be a union man until the day he died—but it was a welcome gesture. And now that white hard hat was on his head.

After walking a few city blocks south from the subway entrance, the black edge of the forty-story BCA building became visible across the avenue. The BCA building was one of Mike’s two targets, but it was not his destination. The black granite tower was the national headquarters of the BCA television network, including the studios of BCA World News. Another block down 6th, and Mike passed in front of another impressive skyscraper, the fifty-story Grand Hotel. Cabs were waiting under the portico; it was the usual scene remembered from a thousand pre-dawn trips into the city. Hustlers, pimps and low-lifes of every stripe, who were just ending their nights, passed worker bees trudging the other way toward their daily grinds.

While he was approaching 53rd Street, Mike looked around and counted at least four cameras. It didn’t matter. He knew he’d been on film from the time he’d gotten onto the subway. If his mission succeeded, his identity would probably be out anyway. The guy on the F-Train who had asked him about the strike would be giving TV interviews by the twelve o’clock news. So what? It wouldn’t change anything.

Mike’s destination was just across 53rd Street. The southwest corner of the intersection was the home of the forty-five story Bank of Europe building. The corner of the building was set far enough back from the street corner so that in normal times, there was enough space around its main street entrance for a plaza with a big statue, a fountain, and benches extending most of the way down 53rd. But not now. Now this extra space was blocked off from the public as a temporary construction site. Orange plastic barricades were set up along the 53rd Street side of the bank building, leaving only a narrow space near the curb for pedestrians. Just behind the line of orange barricades was a fence made of temporary chain-link sections covered with green fabric.

The barriers were there to keep people away from a tower crane that was being assembled on the 53rd street side of the bank building. Something big and heavy needed to be lifted 600 feet up to the roof, and the way they were going to get it up there was with a temporary crane. But the tower—and the horizontal hammerhead crane on top of it—were only halfway up the side of the bank building. The strike had stopped all Manhattan construction jobs last week. At this temporary work site, there would be no union members walking a picket line. The crane job was just shut down, and it would be forgotten until the dispute was settled, probably in a week or less.

After crossing 53rd, Mike turned right and walked along the line of orange barricades and fencing halfway to 7th Avenue, where they made a ninety-degree left turn and terminated against the side of the building. The dark fabric covering the fencing cast a shadow from the nearest street light across the plastic barricades. There was nobody in sight, so Mike casually swung his legs over the low barricade and went prone, disappearing in the gap between the orange plastic and the fencing. The fabric was just hanging loose at the bottom, easily pushed out of the way. Mike’s black tool bag was already unzipped. Heavy-duty wire cutters clipped the temporary joint where the galvanized pipes of the last two fence sections were sloppily wired together. He only needed to push their bottoms apart to slip through, and he was inside.

Behind the fencing there was little need for security, because there was nothing small or light enough for a thief to steal. Whatever had to be lifted to the roof would not arrive until the tower crane was fully assembled and ready, and it was only halfway up. The tower grew twelve feet at a time by pushing the top section up with the enormous hydraulic pumps in the jack-up climber unit up near the top, and then sticking in another tower section that had just been lifted up by the crane.

Most of the barricaded space along 53rd Street was taken up with the next half-dozen tower sections that would go up. Individually, they were giant yellow cubes made of four vertical load-bearing round pipes joined by a grid of horizontal and diagonal cross struts. Mike walked between these sections and the building, and went straight to the base of the tower. A steel hand ladder was welded to each section on the side nearest the building, which was twenty feet away. Crouching there the dark, Mike removed leather work gloves from his gym bag and put them on. The gym bag and his hinged aluminum clipboard went into his backpack, and when he slung it back on, this time he fastened the chest strap. His hard hat’s liner suspension was already tight enough for climbing.

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To Chaos and Beyond — Faye, on Fate and Futurism, Part 3

Below is the second part of Seneca III’s review of the writings of Guillaume Faye. Previously: Part 1, Part 2.

To Chaos and Beyond — Faye, on Fate and Futurism Part 3

by Seneca III

Forward

I have held off posting this concluding review of Faye’s trilogy for seven months. My reticence has been due to the fact that I felt that if I presented it too early, before events predicted by Faye occurred, and occurred closely within his predicted time frame, it would fall upon barren ground and be assigned to either or both of the categories ‘wishful thinking’ and ‘interesting fiction at best’.

It is also important to note that ‘Archeofuturism’ was first published, in French, in 1998, ‘Why we Fight’ in 2001 and ‘Convergence of Catastrophes’ in 2004. However I chose to present this series of reviews in a different order — Why we Fight, Convergence of Catastrophes and Archeofuturism — for two reasons: Firstly, ‘Why we Fight’ and ‘Convergence of Catastrophes’ both detail, elaborate and expand upon the underlying concepts of his general thesis (THE CLASH OF CIVILISATIONS, ETHNIC INVASION, CATASTROPHE THEORY, GIANT ECONOMIC CRISIS etc., etc.) as they are introduced and briefly explored in the first part of ‘Archeofuturism’, and it would be pointless to re-iterate them.

Secondly, the final quarter of ‘Archeofuturism’ is a 21,000 word novella in which a hypothetical functionary of the ‘Eurosiberian Federation’ describes a vacuum-tube train journey across the European Continent from Brest on the Atlantic coast to his hometown on the shores of the Bering Strait. He shares part of this journey with a young Indian woman visitor who asks why and how the breakdown of the old, Western European order began and progressed and eventually became the Federation, and it is here that Professor Faye’s uncanny prescience — or profound depth of scholarship, I know not which — surfaces, and it is that which I shall focus upon in Part 3.

In the novella the dates of certain seminal events proposed by the narrator (Oblomov) are variable only by a year, or two at most, from the dates of recent and current events, and this is telling because in reality they were predicted by Faye eighteen years ago and many have eventuated over the course of the last six months; others are so obviously on our near horizon or can easily be extrapolated from our present circumstance.

Consequently this final review is a series of loosely connected (and abridged) abstracts from those passages in the novella that describe the lead up to the Great Catastrophe and its aftermath, and then later detail the Functionary’s answers to the young woman’s questions. Those dates and descriptions therein which match, or closely match, recent and unfolding events are emboldened so that you the reader can more easily identify and compare them with the reality you find about you, and thus come to your own conclusions.

[N.B.: Interlocutions below and in square brackets are mine. S III.]

“Archeofuturism [the concept] is thus both archaic and futuristic, for it validates the primordiality of Homer’s epic values in the same breath that it advances the most daring of contemporary science…

…Faye’s Archeofuturism holds out an understanding of this world collapsing about us, imbuing European peoples with a strategy to think through the coming storms and get to the other side — to that post catastrophic age, where a new cycle of being awaits them, as they return to the spirit that lies not in the past per se, but in advance of what is to come.”

— Michael O’Meara, Saint Ignatius of Loyola Day, 2010.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF DIMITRI LEONIDOVITCH OBLOMOV

A Chronicle of Archeofuturist Times

Abstracts

Brest, 22 June 2073

The Brest-Moscow-Komsomolsk bullet train left at 8:17 AM. The Plenipotentiary Councillor of the Eurosiberian Federation, Dimitri Leonidovich Oblomov, was running late. He hadn’t slept much and had woken at the last minute with a furry tongue. The business meeting with the Ministry of the Navy of the autonomous state of Brittany had gone on until 2:00 AM, so long had it taken Dimitri to get those Celts — stubborn as mules — to reach an agreement…

…On the whole the planetrain journey from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific took three hours. Following the traumatic occurrence of the great Catastrophe of 2014-2016, the Renaissance of 2030 and the building of the Eurosiberian Federation, which was given the name of ‘Empire of the Two-Headed Eagle — for it marked the fusion between the [remnants of the] European Union and Russia with the Pact of Prague in 2038 — the revolutionary Federal Government had chosen to make a clean break from the ideas of the past in the field of transport, as in all other fields…

Brest-Berlin

The screen in front of Dimitri displayed the speed of the underground train: 1,670 kilometers per hour. On a simple map a luminous dot indicated its position: ten minutes away from Paris Montparnasse. Paris…A city that must have been magnificent in the Twentieth century, Dimitri thought. He had few memories of it. He was only ten in 2016 when his family had fled the city plagued by anarchy and hunger to return to Russia. Most of the monuments had been burnt and destroyed, and its museums and treasures pillaged during the civil war that had broken out before the Great Catastrophe…

Berlin-Warsaw-Kiev

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al-Gore Anniversary…+1

Today* is the day…No doubt you’ve had January 25, 2016 marked on your calendar this last decade, waiting for al-Gore’s shining prediction at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006, which actually began with one of his books in 1996. [I forget which one now, but I remember him saying we’d have to learn to get along without the internal combustion engine. And from then on he walked everywhere (small lie in aid of his larger truthiness)].

*[This post was started on the 25th, hours before the final bell. But somehow I kept writing and updating but Word Press closed abruptly, pinching my fingers…and zap! here we are at Anniversary +1. So we’ll make like al- and pretend. Don’t you wonder how he’s spending -spent – that auspicious day?]

Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” slide show was a real blockbuster back then in 2006; he was grabbing the world by the lapels to tell everyone time was running out. In ten years the droughts, floods, famines, etc., ad infinitum et nauseam, would be upon us. And all over us. The hole that was The World Trade Center would be under water.

He and his apocalypse were the humble stars of The Sundance Festival in 2006…

But what else are you gonna do when you get the presidency stolen right from under you by a dumb Texas cowboy – the all-hat-no-cattle George W. Bush, low-down election thief? You can’t stay crying in the boys’ bathroom forever.

Here’s how Al re-invented himself – though I will say this ecological alarmism had been a feature since his undergraduate days. But now he’d got a best-selling ecopocalypse on the book charts from that small germ of a worry dating back to Harvard.

So ten years after the first book, he’s a star at the Sundance Film Festival, as reported by The Washington Post, written in that special WaPo style found in its “Style” section (or maybe that’s changed since Mr Bezos purchased the paper):

Al Gore, Sundance’s Leading Man
By William Booth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 26, 2006

PARK CITY, Utah — Has ever a little indie film faced a greater hurdle? Imagine this sales pitch: Babe, it’s a movie about global warming. Starring Al Gore. Doing a slide show.

With charts.

About “soil evaporation.”

Improbable? Perhaps. So it’s all the more amazing that “An Inconvenient Truth” had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Tuesday night before an enthusiastic audience that gave the former vice president and his movie a big standing O.

Among the film’s lessons: Earth’s glaciers are melting, the polar bears are screwed[note to 2016: the polar bear population has increased considerably], each year sets new heat records. Al Gore sometimes flies coach. He also schleps his own bags.(that’s what I mean by WaPo’s too-precious “Style” section -D)

The morning after his debut as leading man, Gore pronounces this whole Sundance thing “a most excellent time.” He is wearing earth tones again. He seems jolly. He brought Tipper and the kids. He is attending parties and posing for pictures with his fans and enjoying macaroni and cheese at the Discovery Channel soiree. He’s palling around with Larry David of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” who says, “Al is a funny guy.” But he is also a very serious guy who believes humans may have only 10 years left to save the planet from turning into a total frying pan.

The core of the film is a one-man, ever-evolving multimedia slide show that Gore assembled himself. A little-known fact: Since his defeat by George W. Bush in 2000, Gore has traveled the globe with his bar graphs, staging event after event for small, invited audiences. Free of charge. And he’s presented one version or another of this slide show, by his own estimation, a thousand times.

The official Sundance Film Festival guide calls the documentary a “gripping story” with “a visually mesmerizing presentation” that is “activist cinema at its very best.”

In the film, Gore presents the latest evidence to demonstrate how the accumulation of carbon dioxide and other pollutants of the industrial age are increasing temperatures. In addition to timelines and bell curves and stuff about oxygen isotopes in Greenland ice cores, Gore includes several cartoons, one featuring a Mister Sunbeam trapped by the bullies known as Greenhouse Gases.

Gore argues — with scientific evidence projected on big screens at his back — that global warming may soon lead to catastrophic sea level rises, which could inundate cities such as New York (flooding the former site of the World Trade Center), producing scary nonlinear runaway spasms of extreme weather (bigger, badder hurricanes and typhoons), global pandemics and, depending on where you live, torrential rains or decade-long drought. It is not a pretty picture.

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The Alienork Way

The Alienork Way

A cautionary tale for civilized humans.

By Matthew Bracken

My name is Naku. This is the story of my people, who live on the great Island of Plenty. Our island is so vast, and the need for travel so small, and it being very difficult to cross the high mountain ridges, people most often live near where they are born. Food is easy to grow or to pick everywhere and at all times of the year, and there are plenty of fish to catch as well. But from time to time a traveler might visit, sometimes by boat, and sometimes by climbing over the sharp-topped mountains between the numberless valleys. As you may suppose, because of the difficulty of distant traveling, news from afar does not travel quickly on the Island of Plenty.

But I did hear a few years earlier about some new people from the outside, people who had landed on the other side of our island, in the place we call Far Plenty. These new people were said to be very strange, and not so pleasant. They did some unusual praying at night, possibly to the moon. They were called the Alanok people, if the tales were truly reported. It was said that they had come from a very terrible island, an island full of war and hunger and catastrophe, and that they needed to find a new home where they could live in peace.

Now, on the Island of Plenty, we have two very important rules or laws that we must all always obey. The First Law of Plenty is that anybody can believe anything that they want to believe, or not believe anything they don’t want to believe, and that is okay, because all ideas are equal on the Island of Plenty. The Second Law of Plenty is that if you give kindness and plenty to other people, they should always give kindness and plenty to you in return. After all, it is the Island of Plenty, and the bounty should be shared. Why not? There is plenty for all. These Laws came from our distant ancestors, who once suffered wars and hunger, until they learned the Two Laws. Then, the Island of Plenty also became the island of peace and contentment.

So it is understandable that when the Alanok people escaped from a terrible place and first came to Far Plenty, that they should be warmly welcomed. The Alanoks had severe needs, and the people of Far Plenty possessed a great bounty to share with them. But, according to the rare visitors to our valleys, the Alanoks were rather strange, and unpleasant, and did something odd at night when the moon had risen.

That was all I knew about them, until the day came when a man about my age, with a very weak and sickly wife and a young daughter, climbed down the steep cliffs and crawled into our village almost at the point of perishing. His name was Napok, which means Hawk in your tongue, and he had the most incredible tale to tell. He had lived all of his life on the other side of Middle Plenty, in a valley almost as distant as Far Plenty. Napok and his wife and daughter had been driven out of his valley by the Alienorks, as he called the Alanoks, barely escaping, most of his extended clan and family being wiped out.

This was a most alarming story. The Council of the Wise met at the Council Bluff by the sea to discuss the matter. Was Napok crazy-in-the-head insane? Was his presence here a danger to us? His tale was completely unbelievable. All of the tribes and clans of the Island of Plenty had learned to live in harmony many generations before. This was accepted and understood by everyone as the normal condition of all people.That the Alanok visitors to Far Plenty could be so dangerous and violently aggressive was simply implausible. Clearly, Napok must be insane. Perhaps climbing over all the steep ridges and down the even steeper cliffs for many weeks had driven him mad.

It was decided that Napok and his wife and daughter could live with us in the middle valley of Near Plenty, but only if he stopped his bizarre public rantings about the Alanoks, given that his speeches of warning to passers-by were extremely disturbing, and upset everybody, especially the children. This demand was put to Napok, and with some reluctance he agreed to our conditions — no more crazy talk about the Alanoks, or the Alienorks as he spoke their name. His family was given the hut that belonged to an old widow before she died. It turned out that Napok was quite good at making useful items from bark and vines, and soon we all had very nice foot coverings, that were especially useful for walking on shallow reefs and sharp rocks. Except for the occasional paranoid and conspiratorial whisper about the Alanoks, Napok was a fine addition to the people of Near Plenty. His wife was weak and frail, but his daughter, Nona, was pretty and popular with our young men. Some of them were courting her, hoping to be paired with her when she came of age, which would make Napok and his family a full part of the people of Near Plenty.

A few years after Napok joined us, another stranger, alone, climbed down the cliffs into the middle valley of Near Plenty. He was an old man with white hair and a white beard, but he was very fit and full of vigor for his age. His name was Amok, and he was the first person that I had ever met of the Alanoks, as I still called them until then. He said that he was an elder and a teacher of the Alienork people, pronouncing their name just as Napok had pronounced it. Alienork was a very strange word to our ears, and not easy for us to speak. It had no meaning in our tongue. Alienork only meant Alienork. The bearded elder corrected me until I spoke it to his satisfaction: ah-lee-en-ork, but said quickly. Amok didn’t look so different from my people on the Island of Plenty, and he was rather pleasant and seemed as intelligent as any. He had certainly learned the tongue of the Island of Plenty very well. He told me that The Alienork Way was the way of peace, and that we would surely live together in harmony on the Island of Plenty.

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