Friday, July 20, 2007

The Martinet by Brad Barber (C)

The MartinetThe Martinet takes place in a dystopic future America, offering a vision that is somewhat clichéd and reminiscent of 80s movies like Robocop, thought a bit more fascist--

On the TV, music began playing. Ash recognized the song as the national anthem. The title was "Through Fire, We Prevailed". The black and dark red flag fluttered on the screen. Large columns of soldiers marched through the streets of New York City in a parade. It was nothing more than an army-recruiting attempt.

The story beings with Ash, a Martinet, being reassigned after a failed mission to provide discipline in a school. Once there, he decides to inquire about the fate of Caitlin's brother, who is at a gulag. I have a problem with Ash simply doing what the girl asks, a choice on his part that is unbelievable given the world in which he exists. It is unclear why he decides to help Caitlin. I mean, let's be realistic, if we can: life is tough, much more so in the world created by the author; it is very hard to get a stranger in the position of authority to do you a favor in present day America; it would be that much harder to get Ash, an enforcer for a Fascist regime, to do a favor for this girl, who is, after all, a member of a lover class.

A lot more development is required here of Ash's character, and of Caitlin's. There should be, too, conflict between them: she wants him to investigate, why should he even listen to her request? Sex? Okay, that seems like a motivation, or at least a beginning of one. And how does she approach him? She seems to have a kind of attitude that is inconsistent, perhaps delusional, in a world where people are sent to gulags. Without careful development of their characters, paying attention to the context that the world that they live in creates, the story loses credibility and authenticity because the characters and their world and their actions that the characters make do not seem to be organic.

Another unbelievable moment comes when Ash decides to share what he has seen at the gulag with Caitlin. Again, why would he do this? As a result of what he sees at the gulag, he becomes disillusioned and ends up becoming a fugitive or the run with Caitlin, heading over to the other side of America that lies beyond The Wall.

The Martinet is a nice creative effort from a promising writer.

You can find The Martinet on Lulu.


Anonymous said...

This review stinks

Henry Martin said...

Ah, once again we have an opinionated "anonymous". Since I have nothing to do with this blog, other than being an occasional reader, it is not my place to say anything. However, I feel I should address these increasingly frequent appearances of "anonymous" on several blogs I read. Everyone has the right to have their opinion, nonetheless, such opinion should have, unless you wanted to come across as a joke, some reason behind it. So, dear "anonymous", why do you feel this review stinks? There are times when I disagree with reviewers, but a review is nothing but the reviewer's opinion, which he or she has every right to have. Furthermore, a reviewer substantiates his or her opinion in the review. PODler, although I often have view that differ from his, is doing service to the writing community by reviewing books often overlooked by more traditional reviewers, thus giving chance to unknown or lesser-known authors. We all have the right to disagree, but please, don't hide behind "anonymous".

Brad Barber said...

Hey, just saw the review.

I have to say I disagree with it. Why does Ash do what Caitlin said? Could it be her audacity? Sheer curiosity?

If you did read the story, Ash is an alcholic. Remember he drank himself to sleep several times before he met Caitlin. I wrote the character of Ash showing some signs of clinical depression.

But, the review is up, nothing I type can change what you wrote. The impression I get is that you didn't read the entire story.

"Another unbelievable moment comes when Ash decides to share what he has seen at the gulag with Caitlin. Again, why would he do this?"

He followed up on her request. Her brother also requested that his materials in the gulag be returned to her and the rest of the family.

I tried.
Thanks anyway,
Brad Barber