From Here to Eternal Damnation: The War after Armageddon by Ralph Peters
posted at 12:25 pm on October 31, 2009 by CK MacLeod
As the principal action of Ralph Peters’ new novel commences, religious war is consuming the world. Realizing a scenario that Peters was already discussing a few years ago in response to Mark Steyn’s controversial demographic theories, the Europeans have reverted to their old racist and genocidal ways, forcibly expelling a Muslim population associated with escalating terrorism. To make matters worse, US humanitarian intervention has been frustrated by Jihadi resistance, and in a way that in America has encouraged a Christian fundamentalist movement whose charismatic leader had already been calling for a crusade – even before the Islamists nuked downtown Los Angeles and the Las Vegas Strip, and Iran hit Israel.
The story follows the first military campaign launched in the wake of these events, and mainly consists of combat amidst converging stratagems in the contaminated environs of Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem. It becomes clear that the only people standing in the way of a global war of annihilation and the end of American democracy are in fact the soldiers and officers of the old US armed forces, originally assigned merely to support the new US Christian forces. Since Peters is, it seems, determined to tell a cautionary tale rather than an entertaining or inspiring one, the good guys, represented by assorted front-line grunts and especially by a crusty old school general, must fail, and fail they do – comprehensively.
That’s not a spoiler: We know from the first few pages that the conniving Christianists direct from left-world central casting, at the head of their own “Military Order of Brothers in Christ,” are going to triumph, to all our woe. The only questions the narrative leaves open are secondary ones: How miserably and explosively the catastrophe will unfold , whether some at least symbolic seeds of hope happen to be planted along the way, and, incidentally, what the rest of the world is doing with itself while the flower of America’s youth and the flower of Islam’s are busy annihilating each other and countless innocents .
Peters has retained the skills he’s honed over the course of writing 23 previous books, including an ability to render character and combat economically and vividly, but I won’t pretend the results held my interest long enough to prevent me from starting to skim – a fact that may have to do with why I missed any explanation, I’m guessing a religious one, of what happened to all the women in American uniform. (This is a nearly 100% all-boy novel.) Eventually, I found myself skipping all the way to the obscenely violent final massacres and dreary epilogue – during which latter, while looking back from twilight years on the main storyline and subsequent horrors, our narrator finally reveals his own decisive role in the unhappy events, and helpfully informs us that “killing a billion people was difficult” (italics in the original).
Revealed as a traitor to his own highest values and aspirations, he lives in a world defined by faith but utterly unredeemable – in a word, hopeless. I can’t help but wonder whether, at bottom, Peters sees our own world, and his own place within it, any differently.
cross-posted at Zombie Contentions