I hang out with a lot of political writers. Then again, most if not all writers still to be political, to some degree or another. And the most common form of political writing lately is the distopia, or perhaps dystopia, depending on who’s writing it. And dear God, I am sick of them.
Granted, there have been some solid ones. There was Daniella Bova’s Tears Of Paradox (Storms Of Transformation Series Book 1), which honestly looked something like it was out of Walker Percy than anything else. There’s Ordinance 93, that was mostly an action thriller with heavy espionage elements than a distopia. There’s every John Ringo novel, which looks like he’s destroying the world at one point or another.
But for everyone one of those, there are easily ten that don’t make the cut. Or drive me to tears. Or drive me insane. I don’t even finish them, because I can’t. Honestly, it’s either the despair, or the writing, and the occasional “Why am I not doing something fun, like having a root canal?”
And then a friend of mine, Marina Fontaine, wanted me to look at Chasing Freedom.
Finally, at long last, something fun.
And this one is a distopia that’s easy to digest, easy to read, and simply enjoyable.
Our main characters are Julie and Randy, and we follow them from being teenagers rebelling against a Politically Correct system gone amuck, via blogs and rallies, and watch them blossom into resistance fighters against a totalitarian system.
What’s that you say? Sounds like a variation on Red Dawn? Sounds like a TEA partier’s worse nightmare? Must be written by some redneck in flyover country?
Oops, sorry, no. Marina lived under the USSR. She’s been there, done that, got the t-shirt. You want a tyranical nightmare, she can build one. However, this isn’t Tolstoy (who was a moron). You will not want to read this one with a bottle of vodka.
Chasing Freedom is different from all the other distopias for a number of reasons. The tone is lighter and hopeful. It’s also filled with creative ideas about how to circumvent a dictatorship. For example, Amish country becomes a safe haven for people fleeing the nightmare that is the urban environment (like New Jersey). Also, this is a distopia that operates on the level of a Tom Clancy novel, following various and sundry people at multiple levels of the resistance and the political hierarchy — from the schlub in the street, to the grunts running the black sites, to smugglers getting people to Canada.
Despite having all of these characters at all of these levels, they’re easy to keep track of. They have histories, they have easily traced relationships, and they all connect to each other.
Another difference is that this is not outlandish. This is not a delusion. Much of the tyrannical elements are visible from here. You can see these coming. And when you see the ones at the start of the novel, the ones to follow are easier still to see.
And the best difference? This is one book. Sure, there could be more novels, but this is basically it, one novel, one story — a history of a resistance, encapsulated in a few hundred pages. I honestly can’t name you one person who’s done that.
Just do yourself a favor, and buy the book already.
Declan Finn is a Dragon Award nominated author. His “Catholic Vampire romance novels” can be found on his personal website. As well as all the other strange things he does.