Monday, November 11, 2013

Domestic Enemies: The Reconquista by Matt Bracken

If you haven't read the first book in the Enemies trilogy by Bracken, you probably shouldn't read any further; big spoilers follow.

After a disastrous attempt to capture rogue Agent Robert Bullard and take down his renegade BATF team, Ranya and former Green Beret Phil Carson flee on Brad's sailboat to the Caribbean. Brad was shot during the raid, and bled to death on the Zodiac during the escape, and Ranya carries his child. Deciding she doesn't want her son born outside of the United States, she returns, but despite Presidential assurances of amnesty for her crimes, she is arrested, jailed, her son taken away from her, and sentenced to three years in a forced labor camp in the Midwest, which stretches into six years.

When the warden of the camp singles Ranya out for special favors in return for, you know, "special favors", Ranya goes along with the program long enough to spend time alone with the warden in her quarters, kills her, and escapes wearing the warden's uniform and driving her pickup truck. She makes her way southwest from there, having found out that her son was adopted by a married pair of FBI agents in Albuquerqe, New Mexico.

Speculative fiction can be defined as the sort of story that arises when we look at a particular trend or technology, and extrapolate, "what if?" from there. In this novel, there are two new factors which Bracken uses to form his alternate time stream - the effects of unrestricted immigration amnesty and loss of control of the southern border by the federal government, and the rapid devaluation of the U.S. dollar, as it is replaced sequentially by new dollars, then blue dollars, which buy less goods at every stage. Private ownership of gold is once again outlawed, and only outlaws will own gold.

In New Mexico, the situation has gotten very strange, indeed. The new immigrants from down south have decided to enforce the old land grant treaties of the 1800s, and to confiscate the ranches and homes of the gringos to distribute to the more deserving people who have recently arrived. Various semi-official armies have arisen to enforce these land grabs, and Ranya is captured by these revolutionaries, and feigns enthusiasm for the cause, joining the Zetas, led by Colonel Ramos. As one might expect from her history, Ramos takes a more than professional interest in her, taking her under his wing, so to speak. Her expertise with all things having to do with guns comes in handy when she is asked to train his troops in marksmanship and maintenance, and she plays along with the revolution until she finds an opportunity to escape and recover her son from his adoptive family.

Aside from the whole evading the crazed militia hunting for her thing, there's another wrinkle in her kidnapping plot. Her son's new parents are divorced, the wife has been granted full custody, and is moving to San Diego with her lesbian lover, who is transferring to the Homeland Security office there, run by...Director Robert Bullard. Her adventures turn out to be exciting and interesting, keeping me up way past my bedtime to finish the book. Lots of food for thought, in this purely "speculative" book.

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