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Book Reviews: Family + Midshipman's Hope

American Gothic: Family by W.T. Quick
This 1996 novel is a prequel to the short-lived TV show and shows us familiar characters in their younger days in 1972. This is a delightful tale of pulchritude and southern gothic. Lucas Buck and his father manipulate the rural poor and there are things about the Buck family that the residents of Trinity would rather not know.

The author gets the name of Caleb’s mother wrong but her life is sad, small and doomed even before Lucas starts his manipulations. Gail’s mother and a 16 year old Ben feature as does 20 year old Lucas. The who and more importantly the what of Lucas is strongly hinted at as are the eldritch abominations that lurk behind the Buck house.

This has father/son issues, manipulative friendships, twisted families, rednecks, an angry hippy and Lucas manipulates away. Everyone is vaguely disturbed by him but can’t resist him. This is a good unnerving town of a small town with a very grim secret. The author lifts the carpets of Trinity and they’re all infested with maggots.

Best Lines:
“You puke in my car, I’ll tear your head off and use your hair as a mop.”

“The Temple men tended to have a lousy life expectancy, but since they seldom bought life insurance, it wasn’t much of a concern.”

“She’s used trash.”

“She examined this gloomy thought as if it were a particulary repellent root, plucked from rotten soil,”

“I hate this town - there’s something sick here. Something rotten at its core.”

“It was, after all, Trinity, and corpses did have a way of turning up every now and then.”

~
Midshipman’s Hope by David Feintuch
This 1994 novel is the beginning of the seven volume (meant to be eight) ‘Seafort’ saga. It is 2194 and man (mostly men) travel to the stars under a religious theocracy run by a Eurocentric UN. Nicholas Seafort is a young officer on the UNS Hibernia. When the senior officers die in an accident, he becomes captain.

He must overcome malfunctions and mutiny as he completes the long trek to the distant colony of Hope Nation. This was an okay tale in the spirit of ‘Starship Troopers’. The disturbing society that produced Seaforth is frightening: religious fanaticism, discipline out of the Napoleonic era, child labour, a ruling elite and a deliberately uneducated and discarded feral underclass. Seafort can see no problems with his society even as he is riven with doubt and emo self loathing brought on by quasi abusive upbringing.

Best Lines:
“The Great Yahwehist Reunification after the Armies of Lord God repressed the Pentecostal heresy.”

“With the reforms of 2024, a lot of vices sort of disappeared. For example, women offering publicly to fornicate for money; you ever hear about that one?”
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