Books reviewed by Bill Meyers in The Stake

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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

7 Greeks translated by Guy Davenport [New Directions, 80
Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10011; 242 page paperback;
     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
     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
     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
     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

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.

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.

Proteus in the Underworld by Charles Sheffield [Baen,
P.O. Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471, 304 page paperback,
     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
     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

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.

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
     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.

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