Monday, April 30, 2012

Madmen at the Tombs - Ilow Martin Roque

2012; 378 pages.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Catholic Polemic.  Overall Rating : 3*/10.

    Jia Chen is going to Montreal.  Ostensibly, she will be working with the brilliant scientist, Dr. Lanning Balcourt.  But in truth, she is a spy for the Chinese government.  Ah, such intrigue!  It's a pity that her cover's been blown before she even sets foot in Canada.

What's To Like...
    The story takes place in 2165 AD, and Ilow Martin Roque does a nice job of creating a believable world set 1½ centuries in the future.  Most of the changes are technological.  Which, when you think about it, is also true of the present compared to 150 years in the past.  Global travel is faster, and there are some nifty techno-geeky gadgets for one's daily life.

   There are also sociological differences.  China now sits at the top of the economic, politicial, cultural, and technological pyramids, which is a pleasant change of pace.  The US doesn't even make it into the book.  The story opens in Hangzhou and Shanghai, China; which just happen to be the only two cities that I've visited there.  How kewl is that?!

    The storyline has a promising start.  There's a neat bit of brain surgery at 22% (Kindle).  Alas, just when you expect Madmen at the Tombs to kick it up a notch, it degenerates into a piece of Roman Catholic evangelism, and it's all downhill from there.

Kewlest New Word...
Encomium : a speech or piece of writing that bestows high praise on something or someone.

Kindle Details...
   I bought Madmen At The Tombs for $2.99 at Amazon.  It is also available in paperback for $15.33.  Amazon Prime members can read it for free, but frankly Amazon Prime seems like a royal rip-off to me.

When a necessary evil has lost its necessity, what are you left with?   (47%)
    MatT is in dire need of a good editor.   There is too much telling, and not enough showing.  There are run-on sentences and overly-descriptive paragraphs that serve no purpose.  There's too little action, and some of what is there seems unconnected to the storyline.  Even the boffo ending is diluted somewhat by Jia being unconscious when the shooting starts.  I've forgotten too much of my Mandarin to critique those passages, but the French ones are atrocious.  "Je n'est c'est pas"??  Ouch.

    All this is fixable.  What isn't is the motif of the book - Catholic doctrinism disguised as Science Fantasy.  We learn that abortion clinics promote Satanism, the evil ones use sex and drugs to further their nefarious plans, Science is a false god, cloning will herald in Armageddon, the Pope can speak and do no wrong, and China unfairly imposes their will on the local Catholic churches.  The only thing missing is the Sun revolving around the Earth.

    People who are tired of the Vatican always getting portrayed badly in books and movies (I'm thinking Angels and Demons here) might enjoy Madmen at the Tombs.  Everyone else, especially those looking for science fiction or action-adventure, should give it a pass.  3 Stars.

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