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End Time by G.A. Matiasz [$10.00, 320 pages, AK Press, P.O. Box 40682, San Francisco, CA 94140-0682] End Time, subtitled `notes on the apocalyse', rips off the 1990's mask of corporatist triumph and boils up a cauldron of 21st century rebellion. Set in 2007, this novel is scarily realistic, fast paced, and detailed in vision. Rebellion is rocking the world, from the former Soviet Union to southern Mexico (it is almost as if the author had advance knowledge of this winter's Zapatista rebellion) to the San Francisco Bay area. The central characters are anarcho-eco rebels who have come across enough fissionable material to make a small atomic weapon; their dilemma is how or whether to use it. Fortunately the characters are complexly drawn, rather than parodies of revolutionaries. The ongoing revolt is itself complex, uniting many varied groups of people demanding freedom from the U.S. government for a wide variety of reasons. The realistic scenes of rebellion in San Francisco and Oakland are doubtless amplifications of the large scale revolt (including a General Strike and the day-long closing of the Oakland- San Francisco bridge) that sprouted in those cities during the late Gulf War. I don't know of anything this chillingly real published since the debut of Gibson's Neuromancer. The two books are in some ways comparable, but Matiasz rejects most of the cyber aspect of cyberpunk and substitutes the personal and collective struggles of his punkish characters against the grim reality of the future. If Gibson preceeded Matiasz, it must be admitted that Matiasz has topped him. The future may encompass either, both, or neither, but rest assured it will be turbulent, not mellow. Buy END TIME from Amazon.com 7 Greeks translated by Guy Davenport [New Directions, 80 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10011; 242 page paperback; $16.95] This is a new translation of the complete remains of the works of Archilochos, Sappho, Alkman, Anakreon, Herakleitos, Diogenes, and Herondas. Most of these Greeks, baring language difficulties, would be a wonder to chat with in San Francisco's rich culture of the 90's, yet they lived from 2800 to 2200 years ago. Listen to Diogenes: "Before begging it is useful to practice on statues" or "Politicians are magnified butlers" or "Grammarians without any character at all lecture us on that of Odysseus." Interested in playing vampires? Hear Herakleitos: "And Dionysos, through whom they go into a trance and speak in tongues and for whom they beat the drum, do they realize that he is the same god as Hades, Lord of the Dead?" The infamous Egyptologist E. Wallis Budge (translator of The Egyptian Book of the Dead) bought the only surviving skits of Herondas from some Coptic tomb robbers; they would need scant alteration to be performed in a Castro Street cabaret. Imagine a male actor, alternately playing the parts of two matrons, discussing the existence and possibilities of obtaining the perfect dildo, and you have one of the skits, "A Private Talk Between Friends." You have doubtless heard of Sappho; this is a good opportunity to see the complete surviving works of this poetess from the Isle of Lesbos. One can only wish that all of her poetry had been preserved. "As once in Crete, A round dance of girls, In that antique time." Antique indeed! And you hardly have to have cappuccino in the morning to sympathize with Archilocos, poet and soldier of the 7th century B.C., and his noticing, even in that ancient time, "The highly polished minds of accomplished frauds." This book will require some patience, since much of it is fragmentary, but it is worth its weight in gold, to those of discerning mind. Buy 7 GREEKS from Amazon.com Selling Satan by Mike Hertenstein and Jon Trott. [Cornerstone Press Chicago. 476 p. Paperback. $15.95] Tens of millions of Americans, perhaps a majority of Americans, believe in Satan. Even people who don't believe in Satan often believe in Satanists, people who worship Satan. Secret covens of satanists are believed to exist everywhere in the United States, from the most remote rural areas to the highest circles of business and government. Naturally, being evil, these satanists sexually abuse and even kill children. Many fundamentalist Christians believe that satanist covens really exercise occult powers, conjure demons, and drink bloody toasts to Satan. Of course, the liberal news media (when they aren't broadcasting Rush) cover up for the satanists because they are controlled by satanists. Where did this belief come from? Did the Christian fundamentalist community create this folklore out of old superstitions and stories of Satan worship by a Heavy Metal band or two? No, much of the myth can be traced to a particular man: Mike Warnke. The authors, Mike Hertenstein and Jon Trott, are themselves fundamentalist Christians. But they believe that Jesus is the Truth, and therefore that lies should be exposed. Over time they came to suspect that Mike Warnke was a liar. This book is a fascinating account of their investigation into Warnke's fascinating life. Secular Americans, possibly even mainstream Christians, may never even have heard of Mike Warnke. Yet his books, recordings and videos are best sellers in the Christian subculture. He uses comedy as a vehicle, and for two decades has appeared not just in churches and civic centers across America, but on religious TV and radio shows like "Focus on the Family" and "The Seven Hundred Club" and even Oprah and Larry King. His book The Satan Seller, sold over 3 million copies and is the basis of modern Christian beliefs about contemporary Satanism. Warnke spoke from authority. He claimed to have joined a satan cult while in college in the late 1960's, lured by sex and drugs. His talent was spotted and, as he learned the dark secrets, he rose in the satanic hierarchy to the position of high priest, with thousands of followers at his command. Then þ thank the Lord þ he converted to Christianity. He spent twenty years fighting Satan, building up a multi-million dollar ministry. The book is the story not just of Mike Warnke, but of a careful investigation, a desire to know the truth. It won't surprise most non-Christians to find out that the entire satanist hysteria that rages in the U.S. today comes from a pathetic man's desire to be the center of attention: Mike Warnke made up his tale based on books he read. He never belonged to a satanist cult. If you want a look into the sickness of the human heart, there are few books that will serve better than this one. Selling Satan is the tale of how lies become realities for millions of cultists, and how a dedication to the truth can uncover even well-hidden lies; recommended. Buy SELLING SATAN from Amazon.com Cosmic Trigger, Volume III: My Life After Death by Robert Anton Wilson. [New Falcon Publications, 1739 East Broadway Road, Suite 1-277, Tempe, AZ 85282. 256 p. Paperback. $14.95] Yet another delving into the human mind and its takes upon reality by the living grand-master of intellectual provocation, Robert Anton Wilson. In this volume Wilson examines his own death, the art of forgery, the mass-execution of that cult in Switzerland, homosexuality (not his own!), certain feminists, fuzzy logic, Jesus's wife and the Priory of Sion, Philip K. Dick, testosterone, and numerous other topics. He seems to enjoy telling one story that makes him seem politically incorrect, and then following with another story that returns him to correctness, or vice-versa. The basic idea is to create conditions in which the reader can re-examine commonly held beliefs. Even when you think Wilson is full of shit, it makes for an interesting read. On the whole, however, there is a serious flaw in Wilson's own map of reality (as best I can see it from this book). While he constantly accuses others of mistaking maps of reality for reality itself, in the end he does the same, but on a larger scale. Apparently he believes that since everyone sees reality from a slightly different angle, and hence gets different results, that in fact reality is a subjective construct: it appears to be real because people are caught up in subjective reality tunnels. In simpler, more obvious terms, he states that if four people are sitting in a room, and a fifth chair sits in the room, since the four people see the chair from different angles, there is no chair there. But I'll bet if Wilson was in one of the chair and I picked up the empty one and threw it at him, he would duck. Or else experience purely illusionary body injury. As a work that points out the prejudices of human minds, from scientists to creationists, this book is highly recommended. If Wilson has cleared all the dust from his eyes and forgotten about the beam blocking his view, fine, it's still a good read. Or maybe he's only kidding about reality being totally subjective; it is hard to tell. Buy COSMIC TRIGGER from Amazon.com Proteus in the Underworld by Charles Sheffield [Baen, P.O. Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471, 304 page paperback, $5.99] Biofeedback, aided be machines, is taken to extremes in Charles Sheffield's surreal portrait of the future, Proteus in the World. People have adapted themselves to a whole series of new environments, from the deep ocean to the surface of Mars to the atmosphere of Jupiter, by altering their physical forms through biofeedback. Of course, people can also alter their faces and bodies to reflect the latest fashions, enhance their intelligence, or change themselves to look like other animals, if they wish. In fact, the ability to alter oneself with biofeedback has become the critical test for being considered human. With genetic manipulation run wild, it is easy to degenerate to the point where one can't have human children. The Biofeedback Police make sure that any newborn that can't do biofeedback is destroyed. And so far, that has worked: people, in whatever shape, act pretty human. But the book begins with a new problem: forms that can past the feedback test, but they become viciously murderous afterwards. So the aging biofeedback genius, Bey Wolf, teams up with the beautiful, talented young biofeedback police understudy, Sondra, to find our why these vicious human forms are coming into existence. The quest leads Sondra all over the Solar System in the best science fiction adventure style. Far better and more interesting than Jurassic Park, if you ask me. Sheffield's Transcendence was reviewed very positively in an earlier issue of The Stake; obviously he's someone whose new books deserve a close look. Buy PROTEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD from Amazon.com Bread & Hyacinths, the Rise and Fall of Utopian Los Angeles by Paul Greenstein, Nigey Lennon and Lionel Rolfe [California Classic Books, P.O. Box 29756, Los Angeles, CA 90029] To the victors belong the history books, but victory tends to be a short-term trend. Fascism was the victor in early Los Angeles, as in the rest of the United States of America, after a small group of business people led by Los Angeles Times owner Harrison Gray Otis managed to seize control of the city. But Otis and his piggy friends did not seize power without a fight. Honest working people tried to regain their freedom by creating labor unions, while middle-class people embraced the creed of electoral Socialism. Bread & Hyacinths largely follows the life of a particular socialist, Job Harriman, who migrated to Los Angeles, ran an almost-successful campaign to become mayor, and helped found the utopian community at Llano Del Rio. That community eventually was forced to move to Louisiana through a combination of its own internal failure and harassment by the government of California. But for a time it recalled the days of freedom past, when a group of people could work the land with their hands and eat the produce of their labor without having 4/5ths of it grabbed by various and sundry middlemen. Though the book is hardly inspiring, as it records a losing battle by those who love freedom, it is well- researched and illuminated a region and a time of history that is mostly ignored. Recommended to those with an interest in history or human struggle. Buy BREAD & HYACINTHS from Amazon.com Forever Man by Michael Greider [Pennycorner Press, P.O. Box 8, Gilman, CT. 336 page hardcover, $21.95] You've seen Highlander, Dracula, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which pretty much cover our standard concepts of physical human immortality. But suppose that immortals don't drink blood, descend from aliens, or fight each other for the quickening. What if they are pretty much like ordinary humans, except they do, somehow, live forever? That is the premise of Forever Man. The protagonist, Philip Gardiner, is not looking for immortals. He's just doing his job, setting up a data management system for an old-money, establishment, investment bankers. Within the bank is an odd man, exuding incompetence, who doesn't want the trust department computerized. So Mr. Gardiner goes around him, correlating data from two other departments in create a trust department database. In doing so he discovers 21 odd individuals. They all have inherited large sums of money from an aunt or uncle. And the pattern extends back in history. And otherwise there is very little data on these individuals. One ransacked apartment later we have a pretty good adventure going on, though it bogs down at times in unnecessary details of Gardiner's travels. Pretty soon the scene has changed to Brittany with its ancient stone circles similar to Stonehenge. And Philip is doing some pretty impressive detective work, tracking down the secret of immortality. On the whole Forever Man is one of the top novels published in 1995. It is well-written, informative and entertaining; top quality work. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, Vera's Chronicles, when it comes out. Buy FOREVER MAN from Amazon.com Christmas Blues, Behind the Holiday Mask, An Anthology edited by Leda Gatuskin, Michelle Miller, and Harry Willson [Amador Publishers, P.O.Box 12335, Albuquerque, NM 87195, 336 page paperback, $15.00] Christmas Blues is about the other facets of Christmas: the family problems, the materialism, religion from a non-religious point of view. It is neither for nor against Christmas, but rather shares a wide variety of author's experiences of it. My favorites were "The True Meaning of Grinchness," by Teresa Hubley; "Making a List and Checking It Twice" by Joseph A. Barda, and "What's a Noel, Anyway?" by Claude Tower. The first of these three favorites describes a not-so-unusual family centered around a mom who's the Queen of Giving. Hurray for the nuclear family. "Making a List..." is also about giving presents, but in this case the giver is so anal it's about as fun as accounting, which is what she does for a living. The best story, Tower's, is about spending Christmas in prison. It's a real eye-opener (I've been in prison more than enough, but never at Christmas time) about the human side of America's only growth industry. There are about 50 stories and poems in this book, so there's something for everyone. It just might make a good gift for that friend or family member who feels bad about being bummed out by the year's most joyous occasion. Buy CHRISTMAS BLUES from Amazon.com