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Heathern (1998)

Heathern (1998)

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3.81 of 5 Votes: 3
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0802135633 (ISBN13: 9780802135636)
grove press

About book Heathern (1998)

Jack Womack is one of those writers who truly deserve greater name recognition than he receives. Anyone who is a William Gibson fan boy should readily recognize his name, as they seem to pal around quite often. Womack even made a cameo appearance in the Gibson documentary film “No Maps for These Territories”. He was “the other handsome fellow with the charming Southern accent riding in the backseat”, although I believe that the end credits saddled him with the oh-so-boring “Himself”. ‘Heathern’ is the third entry in Womack’s 'Dryco' series. The story is set in NYC circa 1998. Society has become frayed and the Army is in town to enforce martial law. The multi-national conglomerate Dryco appears to be pulling the strings behind all of these events. Before you laugh about the 1998 setting, it should be noted that Womack often plays in the alternate history side of the pool. Johanna, Dryco executive and narrator, is sent to investigate inner-city teacher Lester McCaffrey. Rumor on the street is that McCaffrey has done a few miracles and may even be a modern incarnation of the big JC. Dryco big wigs see this as yet another opportunity to do what big corporations do best, namely assimilate and exploit. Johanna starts to question her corporate allegiance as her friendship with Lester takes root. Lester is waiting for the other shoe to drop, as he is well aware that even a corporately sponsored messiah is not immune to the occupational hazards of that job. As a side note, Lester has the most interesting interpretation of the creation myth ever. I wish Womack would have expanded on that a little further.Hmm…Jesus, socio-economic turmoil, corporate hijinks…and herein lies the rub as far as Womack’s popular appeal, in my opinion. He seems to have been marketed as a writer in the Sci-fi genre, but his stories are a little too vast for that sort of pigeon-holing. Womack uses elements of hard sci-fi, cyberpunk, and alternate history within his books, but possibly not enough to appeal to the readers who stick rigidly to their chosen genre. I’m saying this as a massive compliment, but unfortunately one enthusiastic tadpole does not make for a lucrative writing career. The man can turn a beautiful phrase, however, and I feel compelled to post some of my favorites (your mileage may vary).“His smile resembled an old incision, a caesarian scar.” “Forget? I tried. Though I’d housebroken compassion, I still wet the bed at night.” ““Guilty?” Thatcher repeated, as if learning the phonics of an unfamiliar word.” “Sometimes I found photos of myself that I couldn’t recall being taken, shots where my color was grayed by distance and time, and I looked no more than a child hired for an ephemeral event.” “The only Freud that I appreciate is schadenfreude.” "Hard copy memories so transmogrify with time: notes fade until the words written are not so unreadable as incomprehensible; letters of love undergo a reverse metamorphosis, dropping their brilliant wings within safely sealed cocoons and emerging, if broken into, as something to crawl over the skin at night; only photographs, as those in more primitive cultures believed, catch a shard of the soul of the one photographed, nonetheless memorable only to those who were there at the time."One of my few complaints about this book has to do with the cover art. My copy is an older paperback and the cover serves as an example of hideous, Sci-fi cheese. Whoever made that cover art decision deserves a severe beating for the lack of vision, or at very least a purple nurple and a wedgie. This cover is so bad that no one has ever even dared to post a picture of it on the Internet, at least according to Google.Curious? Aw hell, I’ll do it then (all thanks go to HP for the graininess)…, the trade paperback version that is currently available through Amazon appears to have much better cover art. If any of the above jabbering, cheerleading, pirouetting, or monkey shines have convinced you to give Jack Womack a try, here are some final words from the man himself. In an author’s note on the final page of the book, he suggests reading the series in order starting first with ‘Ambient’ and then ‘Terraplane’. I’ve still never read the manual for the microwave, thus my excuse for jumping in with a review of the third book in the series. Womack goes on to promise that the (at the time) still unwritten books in the series “…will as ever tell of people who should have known better, and the worlds they make for themselves.” That is about the best definition of good fiction that I have ever run across.

I wouldn't say Jack Womack is a great writer, but he is certainly an interesting one. There are certain technical weaknesses in the books of his which I've read so far, but at the same time these problems are not what I remember. And I do remember. Jack Womack novels stick with me. I remember them in much more detail than usual, and I'm not sure why. At the very least, the not knowing is interesting. While there is lots to like, it's the ending of this particular book that's the big payoff. If a more naturalistic iteration of Philip K. Dick sounds like something that appeals to you, I heartily recommend. --Also: if you've ever read *A Clockwork Orange* and liked it, I recommend Womack's *Random Acts of Senseless Violence* in the strongest possible terms. In fact, read that first.

Do You like book Heathern (1998)?

After the 5 bill-star romp of Random Acts of Senseless Violence, I was torqued to jump into my next Jack Womack book. Dop. Heathern is barely 3 bill-stars.I like Womack's writing style and the whole post-apoc setup. The ending is good. But Heathern is mostly flat. Of the three primary characters, two are pretty boring. There's Thatcher, the crazed CEO/ruler of the world and our narrator Joanna, who spends most of the book whining about Thatcher... over and over again. Lester joins the book halfway through and finally speeds things up a bit. Not a lot, but a bit.QOTD"How do you sell a messiah, Thatcher?" Bernard asked. "Above cost," said Thatcher, laughing. "In the fastest way."- HeathernA good (enough) read.On to the next DryCo adventure: Ambient.
—Bill Krieger

When I was about 15 or 16, I bought Quarantine II: Road Warrior for my 33 Mhz gaming beast PC [1], with box art hinting that I should not have been allowed to buy that game at that time:You play a taxi driver in a dystopian "Escape from L.A."-like future in which you can roast pedestrians with your taxi's in-built flame-thrower with impunity (again, not really suited for a 15 year old). This "dystopian future without morals or structure but with lots of blood" seems to have been a big thing in the 90s: see Judge Dredd, RoboCop, Rogue Trooper, (in fact, most of the 2000 AD characters), it's also an aspect in some older Gibson books.Womack's Dryco novels (and his I think unrelated but IMHO best "Random Acts Of Senseless Violence") are set in a very similar world - it's America of the not-so-distant future, society kind of works but has mostly collapsed, mega-corporations run the place more than politicians, and due to various reasons the law isn't exactly enforced, i.e., most of the characters are under threat of death and constantly kill themselves, without anybody blinking an eye. On most pages random bystanders die.The first one, Ambient, was a bit too much over the top for me (for example, "board room meetings" are matches to the death by a companies' champion against the other companies' champions, and the losing company has its CEO's head cut off while the companies' ownership is being transferred to the winner). This third one, Hearthen, is a bit less extreme because it acts as a bit of a prequel - it's set before Dryco became the company running the USA, with some events of the first book (such as the AI, or Ambient's "big bad guy") being nicely foreshadowed. Therefore, most events described aren't that extreme as in the first one (but the great Ambients don't feature as much as in the first one).The basic story is that Dryco is looking for a messiah so it can use him for their company PR, finds one who performs Jesus-like miracles and tries to hire him, he mostly goes along with it (without any real motivation except "my God(s) told me to"), there's a relatively believable "good" female main character, yet the story often just bungles around without really progressing. I guess it's good as a part of the series but doesn't work on its own, yet I liked the "less extreme"/"more quiet" aspects of it.[1] IT HAD A TURBO BUTTON to slow down to 16 Mhz (else Theme Park would run too fast)

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