The Agony of the Gods review

What would you do if you had the power to create a world of your own?   In Tom Wolosz’s The Agony of the Gods, he explores what humanity would rise, or sink to, because of this ability.  We get to see worlds sprung from the imaginations of these god’s that are as varied and deprived as the people who created them.  But even with the power of a god, the owners of these worlds are being murdered.

Two unlikely protagonists, called enforcers, are tasked to solve the murders, but they are given very few resources to attempt to complete this task.  As they go from world to world investigating the murders, each plays a cat and mouse game with the killer, and each other.  But as the depravity of the gods becomes more and more evident, the book’s back cover sums it up. Are the protagonists hunting down a monster or a hero?

Wolosz has developed very well rounded characters that make you think.  You invest in both of the main characters, but there are times where you need to take sides, and you don’t always side with the same character.  That takes a deft hand.  One of my favorite book series where the author did the same thing for me was C. S. Friedman’s Coldfire Trilogy.  There, like here, no one is totally good or totally evil.  The shades of grey give the characters a life and depth that makes them come alive.  When the final confrontation comes the answer is obvious, but unless you were paying attention you wouldn’t have guessed till then end.

This is NOT popcorn fiction.  You will have to pay attention to the prose, not just scan for the next juicy moment.  Luckily, Wolosz makes this easy.  The only times I had to put the novel down were when the gods showed how truly contemptable they are.  Yet even as you think this is one step too far, you realize it really isn’t, and you could see it being a true possibility.  This makes the book a dark read, but a fun one that trips along the worst of humanity, while still allowing a beacon of hope here and there.

To sum this up, I highly recommend The Agony of the Gods.  It is a complex read that is very rewarding.  I look forward to reading the sequel and seeing how much farther Wolosz can push the boundaries of the universe with his copy of the Machine that he keeps locked up in his desk drawer.  I just hope one day I can find the key and let myself in.

The Foolish Prophet Strikes Back

Time moves on.  Ages pass.  The earth makes yet another trip around the sun.  The Foolish Prophet has been resting on his laurels.  They are very fine laurels, but sometimes I must get off them to let them breathe, otherwise the chafe.  No one wants to be chafed by laurels.  It leaves a nasty rash and I have run out of cream.  This is a bad thing for me, but a good thing for you.  No, it doesn’t mean you have more cream than me.  Okay, it does mean that, but that was not my point.

What was my point?  Simply put, things repeat.  I say it again.  Simply put, things repeat.  (Thank you, I will be here for the rest of the week.)  I look at where the world is today, and where it was when I left you last time, and I see little has changed.  The world still needs to get its head out of its collective ass and start to address problems we are facing as humanity.  This is where the Foolish Prophet comes in.  I propose solutions that are so big that they are foolish.  Actually the solutions I propose might really work, but I doubt people will take them seriously, and I am okay with that.  Sometimes an idea, no matter how crazy, is something that can inspire someone to have a good, no I mean great, no I mean ABSOLUTELY REMARKABLE I CAN’T BELIEVE WE DIDN’T DO THIS BEFORE I AM SUCH AN IDIOT idea.  And with that in mind, I bring you the first of these ideas.  Oh, and none of this is knew.  Like I said before, I proposed many of these years before.  Like I said, simply put, things repeat.  Since they didn’t catch on then I will give them to you again.  It’s just like insert your favorite gift giving holiday that doesn’t include deer testicles.  Okay, maybe even those.

Great Idea Number #1

Competition is supposed to bring out the best of a person, allowing them to show the world what they are made of.  I am pretty sure the answer to that question is lots of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, with some other pieces thrown in like sugar and spice and worms depending on whom we are talking about.  So if competition is that good, then why not apply it to a critical vocation, something that effects every aspect of our life, or so they want us to believe.  No, I am not talking about movie stars.  I am talking of the other vocation that depends on popularity, politicians.

Now I am not advocating that politicians should compete in Olympic style sports to get elected.  That would be strictly a spectacle, and probably not a grand one at that.  The Foolish Prophet always strives not for spectacle, but results, and so this Great Idea will pack results like a road warrior packs a suitcase.  What we need is a way to reform the political system so only qualified people are elected to office, not just ones who are popular or able to spend the most.  How do you do that you wonder?  Read on and be awakened.

Currently we have, in America, politicians raising money by asking those with money to give it to them.  The giver might give the money because they believe that the politician deserves the job, or it might be that by giving the money the giver sees this as a way to gain access to the political process.  This given money is then spent by the politician to attempt to become more popular than their opponent. There have been attempts to limit this asking for money by doing public financing.  The government gives the politician money to spend in the popularity contest.  While this makes the giver’s motive irrelevant, but it is just an option.  Most politicians pass the option of public funding up like the tofu platter at Big Mike’s Steakhouse.  They can raise far more money than that provided through public financing.  My goal is to lure competent politicians to take the public funding, and make it highly unlikely that someone would pass this offer up.

The Great Idea is to make politicians play a Jeopardy style game.  The topics would be selected from areas the politician would be expected to write or vote on.  Sample topics could be ‘Woman’s Reproductive Systems’, ‘Middle Eastern Policy’, and ‘He Should Have Kept It in His Pants’ (HSHKIHP for short.)  There are many benefits for such a system.  The first is a politician would have to honestly give the question, not the talking point they wanted to push.  The Foolish Prophet hates when someone is asked about something difficult like, ‘How would they defend Taiwan from an invasion from China?’ and they answer with how that would be a difficult decision, then the politician would then go on about the impact on the budget, and then how they are against hiking taxes to pay for pink mittens to be handed out to the homeless.   It gets infuriating.   You cannot answer with double speak on a game show, or you lose the points.  Also you will look like a third grader playing the game with Watson the Jeopardy super computer and master of the universe.

The second benefit is that we the people would know if the politician had half a brain in their head.  As of today I am not sure many of them know what they are voting on over half the time.  If a politician ran the category of ‘Evolution, Truth or Dare’ I might feel better that they could weigh in intelligently on legislation about evolution.  If they couldn’t even find their buzzer on ‘Free Trade Agreements’ then I don’t want to hear them taking up precious time trying to defend their position on free trade with the Martians, even if they use say red is the new black.

The third benefit is that it would replace the debating system that focuses on mostly the main two parties (most boring parties I have ever been to by the way, but I digress) and allow the fringes to submit their candidates into a chance to win.  I would love to see Jimmy McMillan from the Rent is Too Damn High Party (Watch him on YouTube.  He is very focused.) have a chance to go toe to toe with Hillary Clinton and Jerry McGuire.  Oops, I meant Tom Cruise, oops, nope, Ted Cruz.  Eh, the Foolish Prophet can’t be right all the time, or was I?  This opening up of the political process would be a shot in the arm for this tired republic, all hail Watson.

Why would a politician participate in a game where humiliation is just around the corner and they can raise as much money as they can convince people to give it to them?  Simple.  The person who wins the competition gets public funds matching the funding their competitor has.  That’s right.  You’re competition can keep raising money, going to fund raisers, working the crowd, but you can just campaign.  They work hard for their money, but you just have to campaign as an equal amount goes into your account.  That is the brilliant equalizer for someone who is smart enough to make it through the Jeopardy gauntlet.  We then have a chance of having competent legislators who are not beholden to those few that gave them money, but to the masses who bought and paid for them in full.

Who Invited Apathy? (a 100 word story)

I call for misery, but it does not come.  It leaves me in a state of malaise, a state for which I do not have a passport to.  You would think that depression, insignificance, or any of their ilk would be at ones beck and call.  They are not invited to most places.  They are the uncool kids who find out where the part was from a friend of a friend and crash it.  I invited them.  I even brought the alcohol and drugs, all they could use, and yet here I am all alone with apathy.  I’m effed up!