The Boulder Boys, The Beginning
by Kirk Relford
Publisher:Mullen & McCotter (March 22, 2012)
In an election year full of vitriol, at a time in American history when very basic concerns about our future are surfacing in communities across the country, when support for the “powers that be” is at an all-time low, this book is a thought-provoking look at what would happen if the frustrations we've seen expressed by the Tea Party, the Occupy Movement, and other activists were to finally boil over.
“And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."
While some activists today blithely pull out this quotation at every opportunity, few really take the time to run the scenarios that would occur should that resistance really come to pass. Kirk Relford, on the other hand, has clearly been thinking about this for some time.
In this near-future (only 7 years away in 2019) science fiction, or future history, depending on how you want to look at it, America is in serious trouble.
Both the left and right have won some major political battles, and the elites have obtained most of their goals. The left gets universal health care (completely overwhelmed with new patients, but unable to care for them all because of the economy), new laws ban animals as a food source, protect public lands by keeping people out of them, restrict growth by measuring carbon footprint, and push for ever stronger environmental protection to “save the planet.” The right, kowtowing to globalist capitalism, gets every advantage, to the point where
”Some people said the US wasn't even a nation anymore anyway, it was a legal institution that provided a framework for the new owners of citizen loyalty to work within the modern corporation...; their branding dominated most institutions, our clothing, and certainly, all of our entertainment or leisure activity.”
The military industrial complex wins big time as wars erupt with Mexico and Pakistan, even though the cost causes the economy to go into a tailspin. Entrenched government interests win as well, gaining more and more power over everyday life in the name of safety.
“The number of persons now receiving income and stipend checks from the federal state or local government exceeded by almost two to one those earning their living in the private sector ... One freedom after another had disappeared under the burden of cost, carbon footprint, or simply the arrogance of a massive government nanny bureaucracy with nothing better to do. ... The country had become so consumed with eliminating risk that it had eliminated freedom.”
These are simple extensions of the concerns that we are hearing all around us, assuming, as authors often do, that things will keep going in roughly the same direction unless something unexpected crops up to change them, Relford shows us where this could lead if we don't watch ourselves.
In “The Boulder Boys, The Beginning,” things begin to tip into the twilight zone after 70 year old Michael Douglas Lancaster is charged with multiple murders. His history in Boulder is a difficult one, as a blue collar kid struggling to find a place in a community of elitists who look down their nose at him, surviving an abusive father, bearing scars from a tour in Vietnam, and a family history full of secrets. Yet, he's an ex-cop, by all accounts an exemplary citizen, who worked hard all his life in government service and never been arrested. How could this happen?
For those familiar with Boulder, Relford's descriptions are well-drawn, and many of the landmarks and haunts of the locals are mentioned in the story, as are many of the characterizations (and stereotypes) associated with Boulder's “25 square miles surrounded by reality.” Boulderites are not likely to be pleased with the depiction, and it will be interesting to see their reaction to this book.
In “The Boulder Boys,” seven high-profile citizens are all killed (and Lancaster admits he “might have done it”) execution style with a bullet to the head, with one oddity. All had apparently been given loaded weapons with which to defend themselves. Lancaster also tells the police it was “only the beginning,” whatever that means, getting the attention of the news media, digging hard for more information, when cities all over the country started reporting similar executions, all by older citizens, all of whom surrendered themselves to the law without a struggle.
The main character, Lancaster's grandson, Michael Joseph Lancaster, is working on the case with a psychologist, hoping to get “Papa” to explain what happened and why, with little success. The character of the grandfather is very clearly drawn, and both his, and his family's history, which goes back to the days of the Civil War, is revealed in stories and flashbacks, letting the reader see what kind of man could possibly resort to killing in this methodical, sociopathic way. Before the puzzle can be solved, however, “Papa” is whisked away as a terrorist, because the social order is unraveling all around the country, and the government is running scared. The victims list is an odd one, from crooked elected officials to high level crime kingpins with good lawyers, pornographers, cheats of every variety, and in each case, the killer surrenders, willing to pay for the crimes. Soon riots erupt in the streets and media “talking heads” find themselves as war correspondents in their own country, where everyone is asked to pick a side, much as they were in the first Civil War.
What is unfolding is the vision of the United State's Second Revolution, an uprising not exactly like, but not so terribly different from the “Arab Spring” where the people decide they've had enough of corruption and authoritarianism and push back. The reader is put into a world where nothing is as it has been, and it's hard to tell exactly when everything changed (but it all started in Boulder). Some kind of organization with a very low profile is taking control, but who are they and what do they want? The left and right take up arms against one another, each claiming to be the only alternative to chaos, and the extreme elements in both parties, who once only had to worry about the opposition finding their scandalous secrets and slinging mud, now fear for their very lives, and hole up in secure compounds with high fences, while their supporters take to the streets.
This is the first book of three, hence “The Beginning” in the title. A lot of thought went into this book, and I'm anxious to see the sequels. How do we get out of the mess we've gotten ourselves into? Can a new government be set up to work once the people have taken up arms against their neighbors? How can it happen? What has to change? Is it too late?
In addition to being an excellent example of scenario running, looking to human nature to see how the world might unfold when folks are finally fed up to their eyeballs, “The Boulder Boys” is, at it's core, a cautionary tale. When both the left and the right push hard for opposing agendas to be fulfilled, when party trumps the constitution, and all sides claim to be patriots, the people are left in the middle, and eventually push comes to shove, shove comes to violence in the streets, violence in the streets comes to armed conflict, and then all hell breaks loose. For those avid partisans out there, be careful what you wish for, you may get it.