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Judgment Day

[Judgment Day] Judgment Day
by James F. David
Published by Forge, 2005
Amazon.com: hardcover
Amazon.ca: hardcover
Amazon.co.uk: hardcover
Reviewed by: Greg Slade

This book is marketed as an alternative to the series which begins with Left Behind. There are some similarities: there is a devil-worshipping figure gaining power and turning the world into a very nasty place, there is a persecuted Christian minority, and there is even a rapture (of sorts.) One of the heroes is a gun-toting survivalist who looks to David Koresh (leader of the Branch Davidians of Waco, Texas) as an inspiration, and the "bad guys" are the usual collection of stereotypes you'd expect to be portrayed as "bad guys" by a paranoid right-wing extremist: a newspaper editor (of a paper in San Francisco, no less, the unofficial capital of the gay subculture), a militant feminist (who is, of course, a lesbian), an "eco-terrorist", and a liberal congresswoman, not to mention the aforesaid devil-worshipper. (There is another "bad guy" who works for NASA. It may seem out of place for NASA to be numbered among the villains, but remember that this is a science fiction story. For reasons too numerous and complex to detail here, NASA has consistently failed to deliver on the dreams of space buffs, such as colonies in orbit, on the moon, and on Mars. It may be true that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but an enthusiast disappointed has to come close.)

However, as you get further into the book, you learn that the protagonists are just as stereotyped as the antagonists. Mark Shepherd, the leader of the oppressed Christian minority is portrayed as being just about as harmless as a man can be, and yet he gets mistreated to a greater extent than just about any other character, as if to lend credence to the assertion that "even paranoids have enemies." And, there is George Proctor, the aforementioned survivalist, who is just about the nicest gun nut and cold-blooded killer you could ever ask to meet. Despite the fact that Shepherd is a pacifist (well, mostly), he and Proctor seem to get along with one another just fine. In fact, the chosen people are remarkably homogeneous, in terms of both politics and skin colour. It's hard to get a grasp on their theology, because it's never really discussed in much detail. The only issues which are really spelled out are that God disapproves of sex outside of marriage and drug abuse, but doesn't seem to mind racial segregation (and even slavery), mass murder, or mass suicide. In fact, so many things about this book ring false that I can't rid my mind of the notion that it was not written by an extreme right-wing Christian, but by an unbeliever trying to appeal to extreme right-wing Christians. (On the other hand, maybe I'm the one who's paranoid.) (June, 2005)

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