In a very recognizable dystopian near-future, a man confronts an unthinkable catastrophe.
In McCord's debut novel, the current events of the morning newspaper have been morphed and extended into a future that seems all too likely: devastation wrought on the American coastal range by massive hurricanes, violently divisive politicians, devastating new plagues and widening social stratification. McCord’s satire teeters hilariously on the border of the absurd, characterized in the person of Texas governor Lawrence Bowie (anointed by the Real American Party), an outsized parody of any number of recent American politicians. “Do facts matter?” he asks at one point. “Of course they don’t, especially when they contain seeds of moocher political agendas. Facts are for girly-men and do-gooders who care about such trivial distinctions.” The archnemesis of Bowie and the RAP is incumbent president Burt Octavian, an “illegitimate president who is a Black Muslim plant that suckled at the breasts of terrorists and has resurrected the Black Panther Party to kill law-abiding white patriots.” The book’s main character, television producer James Bravtart, is entangled in the escalating violence of this warped future in which political parties elevate Atlas Shrugged to a religion and TV networks reap riotous ratings with shows likeForeclosure Justice, The Real Homeless of Malibu Beach, and the show of the title,The Execution Channel, on which public executions are broadcast 24 hours a day. The book’s headlong farce bogs down in its third act when the Rand-ian musings tend to get too much stage time, but even this doesn’t much blunt the fierce intelligence behind the story. And The Execution Channel’s meteoric success (and the success of sister programs like Final Justice Live) brings the whole narrative back into focus and plays in the background of the book’s many thriller-style plotlines. And rollicking through the whole thing is Gov. Bowie, making outrageous quips to the press and constantly invoking the wisdom “Mama Bowie” handed down to him as a boy.
A pointed and very funny mockery of our current cynical age.
Jan. 10, 2014 -- Online review here.
Political Satire Fiction at its Best
Midwest Book Review
The Execution Channel: A Political Fable is political satire fiction at its best, and is designed to entertain (or piss off) just about every reader, no matter what his political beliefs. While all its characters are fictional creations, they are (with no pointing fingers) all too familiar to any who live in modern-day America with its ironies and inconsistencies.
Here in 2018 'Real America' there's motive on all sides. There's also a faith-based economy, elusive magical promises that never quite jive with reality, a future America that worships something called the 'Galtian Imperatives', and a new illusory founding father of all this farce and circumstance; one John Galt (a fictional figure from Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged', who doesn't believe in government and believes making money is mankind's highest goal), whose vision has not just captured but imprisoned America.
Over it all stands The Execution Channel, a popular TV show that features live executions in football stadiums, much as the ancient Romans enjoyed with their lion-based coliseum entertainment system.
In this new America led by Galtian ideals there are other characters who all represent self-interests and objectives, from a Texas militia leader who wants democracy by bullet to a billionaire's interest in politics as a platform for spreading his economic powers.
Now, all of this sounds frighteningly possible: where's the dark satire or humor in this?
For one thing, the dialogue and presentations are tongue-in-cheek even as they condemn many modern nuggets of this future world's actions:
“He’s an imposter. The career congressman may have a 100 percent Liberal Hater rating, but it’s a front of deceit meant to subvert the Galtian Imperatives,” Bowie said. Political analysts said the most devastating blow came when Bowie’s campaign discovered that Someret once had paid one percent of the health insurance premiums for the employees at his balloon-making factory."
For another, the scenarios are solidly rooted in today's politics … only this future world takes modern standards to the extremes of logic, justification, and irony:
“I think if they are lucky, there will be quick trials before the ruling local militia. Hopefully for their sake, such a procedure will lead to quick executions, probably one shot each in the head, and if proper procedures are followed, their families will be charged for the bullets and the legal accommodations. Luckily, the families won’t have to pay much for a burial because the militias practice market efficiency and most bodies these days are being dumped at sea for sharks to consume. This service is becoming quite the job-creating industry so it’s win-win for a lot of people. Did you know we learned that little trick of disposing the evidence from our good and efficiently ruthless friends in in Chile and Argentina? They became experts at disappearing bodies in the 1970s. More importantly, they knew how to make a point.”
With its quirky confrontations and dialogue, The Execution Channel succeeds in dancing between science fiction, political commentary, and social satire: and this is no easy dance. To create such satire, one must be politically astute beyond the usual reactionary stance - and author Michael McCord's background as an award-winning political commentator and journalist is just the ticket for taking these observations not just to their extremes, but injecting a sense of ironic humor into the mix.
The result is a hard-hitting yet accessible piece that toes the line between science fiction and political satire: a kind of dark comedy if you will, with its roots firmly centered in modern-day sentiments and trends. Readers seeking something different, challenging, and fun will welcome The Execution Channel's quirky presentation of an all-too-possible America where “Revolutions devour their own.”
Senior eBook Reviewer
Midwest Book Review
Read the online review here.