A Review of “Alternative Truths,” a Guest Blog by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough is a Nebula winning science fiction/fantasy writer and editor  She recently read and reviewed Alternative Truths, the political satire anthology from B Cubed Press, and was kind enough to give me permission to reprint her review as a guest blog.

E. A. Scarborough

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

In The Wind Between the Worlds, Robert Ford, an RAF radio operator unfortunate enough to be helping the Tibetan government set up radio links between the settlements when the Chinese invaded described his treatment as a prisoner. His captors softened him up with sleep deprivation and starvation, and with sessions of yelling at him that what he believed was lies and what he thought was wrong was true. They kept repeating the lies they wanted him to believe, substituting them for any real news until he was confused about what was true and what was not. By the end of his stay, following his “confession,” he was convinced that his enemies were his friends and vice versa. He said that it took him years after his release to sort out his own concept of reality. Everything he was told was counter to his own opinions and experience, but isolated and bombarded by his captor’s “alternative truths,” he was forced to accept their version of reality.

More recently, June Weinstock, woman from Fairbanks, Alaska, in Guatemala on an archaeological expedition, was waiting for a bus when a mob of villagers attacked her, beating and stabbing her until rescuers told them she was dead. The government had been spreading the story that American tourists were kidnapping Guatemalan kids and cutting them up for their organs. When one of the villagers couldn’t find her child, people set upon Ms. Weinstock, who later died from her injuries. The child was later found rehearsing for an Easter pageant. The disinformation that led to the death of the woman was a Guatemalan “alternative truth.”

“Alternative truths” can have truly deadly consequences, and although the stories in the anthology of the same name are fiction and don’t pretend to be otherwise, they illustrate 24 reasons why it’s not a good way to run a country. The current administration should leave the story-telling to the professionals.
POTUS’s rambling oratory style is so well portrayed by Adam-Troy Castro in “Q&A” and Jim Wright’s “President Trump, Gettysburg, Nov. 19, 1863” mimic POTUS’S rambling oratory style that I almost couldn’t laugh for cringing.

My favorites were the more allegorical tales. Diana Hauer’s “The Trumperor and the Nightingale” gives a Trump/Midas twist to the Chinese fairytale about a real versus a fake songbird. The story is kind to “the royal family” but not as forgiving of the advisors and is one of very few in the book with a happy ending.

Louise Marley’s “Relics, a Fable” is a poignant tale of what life might be like for the old and poor in the shadow of the humongous wall that is supposed to keep Mexicans from immigrating to the US.

“Patti 309” by K.G. Anderson is also about older people, but the once-affluent and even celebrities in their–er–golden years, when age and ill-health have deprived them of not only their money, but also much of their identities.

“Melanoma Americana” is a thrilling uniquely Capitalist tale of where the money goes when big business meets medicine.

I particularly enjoyed the British humor in Parliament’s take on an a familiar-sounding American head of state in Susan Murrie Macdonald’s “As Prophesied of Old.”

I also found “Letters from the Heartland” by Janka Hobbs to have a more home-grown gallows humor.

Joel Ewy’s “about_the_change.wav” is a love story. It reminded me of a couple I know who almost split up over the election, though it has a bit of a Stepford Wives meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers twist to it. “Frozen” is also a love story, kind of, but this one doesn’t have any cute reindeer or princesses in it.

Particularly chilling were three stories about ordinary citizens caught up in the changes that come to pass when alternative truths become real. “Raid at 817 Maple Street” by Ken Staley, “Good Citizens” by Paula Hammond, “We’re Still Here,” by Rebecca McFarland Kyle and “The History Book” by Voss Foster show the horrific consequences of innocent behavior when monitored by a well-armed witch hunt in a time when paranoia substitutes for imagination and alternative truths trump (pardon the pun) reality.

“Altered to Truth” by the anthology’s co-editor (with Bob Brown) Irene Radford, “Alt Right for the President’s End” by Gregg Chamberlain, “Rage Against the Donald” by Bruno Lombardi, “It’s All Your Fault” by Daniel M. Kimmel, “Monkey Cage Rules” by Larry Hodges, “Duck, Donald: A Trump Exorcism” by Marleen S. Barr, and “Pinwheel Party” by Victor D. Phillips all feature different takes on what happens when the Wicked Witch of the West is also in charge of the West Wing.

“Walks Home Alone at Night” by Wondra Vanian is unfortunately non-futuristic, since it seems to be occurring right now.  The kind of mentality that threatens the protagonist in this story happens too often, particularly to minorities upon whom certain people currently in the Cabinet and Congress have declared “open season.”

In this versatile anthology, there’s even a story the NRA could love–a good old-fashioned-though-modern shoot-’em-up Western called “The Last Ranger (ANPS-1, CE 2053)” by Blaze Ward. An iron-jawed legendary hero, a young man earning his spurs, overwhelming odds, headin’ ’em off at the pass, and lots of things exploding!

This book doesn’t cure any of the evils that people do, but it does provide a feast of food for thought.

If this sounds like something you’d like to read and review, please do. It’s available at Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Altern…/dp/B0718YNJ97/ref=sr_1_1… Please share!

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Mahalo to Elizabeth Ann Scarborough for her kind words on my story, our book, and her permission to reprint this book review on my blog. And merci beaucoup to the 70 readers who have reviewed Alternative Truths on Amazon thus far.

 

Summer Solstice Music Festival

June 17, 2017, the Celtic Society of West Tennessee and the Jackson Area Music Society are presenting the Summer Solstice Music Festival in Parkers Crossroads, TN.  The music festival will go from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm in the city park in Parkers Crossroads (roughly a mile north of the McDonald’s).

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There will be a wide variety of music:  blues, bluegrass, gospel, rock, Celtic, and folk.  The park has a very nice playground where the youngsters can burn off some energy. There will be vendors:  Michelle Autry selling Limelight by Alcone makeup and skin care, Linda Piper with Perfectly Posh, Natalie’s Kitchen, Highland Heather Travel (my husband) answering your vacation planning questions, and me, selling R is for Renaissance Faire and Alternative Truths.  One of the food vendors will be selling Irn Bru, a Scottish soda pop which is frankly something of an acquired taste, but one of my husband’s favorite beverages.  There will also be arts and crafts, t-shirts, and CDs for sale.

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Schedule of Events (not carved in stone — something always gets changed or delayed)

Start Time 11 AM

11:00 AM Bobby Rainey 1

11:25 AM Bobby Rainey 2

11:55 AM Leather & Lace

12:30 PM Scott Myatt/Steve Short

1:20 PM Chase Antwine

1:55 PM Blair and Madison

2:45 PM Mike Needham

3:20 PM Bobby & Sue Bates

3:55 PM Hatchie Bottom Boys

4:45 PM Derrick Brantley

5:20 PM The Go-Tos

6:25 PM Dagger

7:25 PM Kat Deliriouz

7:45 PM Jupiter Stone

8:45 PM Kat Deliriouz

9:05 PM Damaged Soul Revival

10:00 PM Show End

So head down Hwy. 40, turn north at Exit 108, and come to the Summer Solstice Music Festival in historic Parkers Crossroads, TN.

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Susan Murrie Macdonald with R IS FOR RENAISSANCE FAIRE.

Hero of the First Amendment: John Quincy Adams

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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John Quincy Adams is the sort of fellow who winds up as a Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit question:  Who was the sixth president of the United States?  Who was the first son of a president to become president himself?  Who was the first president to serve in the House of Representatives after leaving the White House?  He was also a hero of the First Amendment, specifically, the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

“In 1836, Adams focused his long-standing anti-slavery sentiment on defeating a gag-rule instituted by Southerners to stifle debate.”

“In 1836 southern Congressmen passed a “gag rule” providing that the House automatically table petitions against slavery. Adams tirelessly fought the rule for eight years until finally he obtained its repeal.”

John Quincy Adams was an adamant abolitionist, and is remembered for representing the slaves aboard the Amistad in court.  He is also remembered for arguing for the right of all Americans to petition the government, as provided for in the First Amendment.  Southern congressmen managed to get a rule based banning all petitions and resolutions on slavery.  John Quincy Adams considered this unconstitutional, and wasted no time saying so.

“I hold the resolution to be a direct violation of the Constitution of the United States.”

It took eight years of rhetoric and effort before Adams was able to achieve a partial victory.  Congress agreed to drop the gag rule, but declared the right to petition the government belonged only to free, white Americans.  Black slaves — who needed the right to petition more than their white brethren — were denied that right.

John Quincy Adams was one of the most brilliant diplomats who ever served the United States of America.  He was at his best when he was Secretary of State to President Monroe:

  1. He negotiated with Britain to peacefully determine our northern border with Canada.
  2. He negotiated with Spain, allowing the USA to acquire Florida.
  3. He was the principal architect of the Monroe Doctrine.

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[1843 daguerreotype of John Quincy Adams, by Philip Haas]

John Quincy Adams was born July 11, 1767 in the Massachusetts colony, to John and Abigail Adams.  He went overseas with his father on John Adams’ diplomatic missions, learning his trade before he finished his schooling.  He was educated at Leiden University in the Netherlands and at Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  After beginning his law career, he served overseas as minister to the Netherlands, Portugal, and Prussia.  He married Louisa Johnson in 1797 in London.  He returned to the US, where he served briefly in the Massachusetts State Senate and then was elected to the United States Senate.  He taught logic at Brown University and rhetoric and oratory at Harvard. He left education when he was appointed ambassador to Russia.  He left the tsar’s court to negotiate the Treaty of Ghent, which officially ended the War of 1812, and then took the position his father had once had, as US ambassador to England.

From 1817 to 1825 he served as Secretary of State.  In 1824 he was elected president in a close and contentious election, and served in the White House from 1825 to 1829.  After finishing his presidency, he attempted to retire from public life, but failed.  By 1830 he was elected to the House of Representatives, although some felt it was beneath the dignity of a former president to take a lower ranked position in the government.  He spent the next seventeen years in the House of Representatives, speaking for the rights of all Americans and the importance of the Constitution.  He suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and collapsed on the floor of the House in 1848.  He died two days later, on February 23, 1848.  A first term congressman, Representative Abraham Lincoln of Illinois, was assigned to the committee in charge of funeral arrangements.  Lincoln, like Adams, opposed both slavery and the Mexican-American War.

John Quincy Adams and his wife Louisa had four children, three of whom predeceased them.

Read the Constitution.  Read American history.  Know your rights as an American citizen.