Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fool's Republic, by Gordon W. Dale: Pretty Effing Adequate

Readable. That's the first thing I'll say about Gordon W. Dale's Fool's Republic: readable. I'm not sure it's much more than that, but there you have it. 

Fool's Republic is the story of Simon Wyley (get it!?), a misunderstood genius who can't (or won't) fit into modern social standards who's on a quest of revenge against the government (read: stand in for modern life) for the death of his daughter, an active duty soldier who willingly put her life in harm's way. That's right, he wants revenge on the system that his daughter chose to join. Yes, it's a bit of a stretch, but Mr. Dale manages to sell me on this motivation, though that might have been because we're left in the dark about it for most of the book. 

I've read other reviews that call this a political thriller, but frankly, it's apolitical: it's set in a nondescript facility, with nondescript characters, in a unspecified country (presumably it's the US or Canada), and a character who's being held on charges that are literally not described. It doesn't fall on any side, and though the character himself was shaped by the 60's, his depth and intelligence lead him to an apolitical life as a short order cook. He's only moved to action when his daughter dies... in a manner of her own choosing. And, in the end, his quest is less about revenge and almost about making a point: "I'm Simon Wyley faceless government, and I matter! I'm sad!" Though, perhaps that's what many of us feel in this age.

The only character with any depth is Wiley, who sometimes comes off as a tool to show the reader just how smart Gordon W. Dale is. Everyone else is someone in Wyley's way or someone to use to get his way, except, of course, his daughter, who is dead.

Some of the plot was also a bit convenient (piano playing as the vehicle into the government's highest echelons?), but was done well.

I know I sound like I'm bashing the book, which I guess I am, but the real story is that even with all of the points above, Gordon W. Dale manages to write an enjoyable, readable book. I didn't find all that much depth in the premise or the ending (there was no great epiphany on torture or police states or government power; those were just obstacle's in Wyley's path), but I was never frustrated by the characters or the plot. And as far as modern literature goes, that's saying something. 3.33 out of 5 stars.

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