Sunshine Patriots

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Press: Hats Off Books (February 24, 2004)
Publication Date:2004-2
Author Name:Campbell, Bill


Rebellion erupts on the "paradise" planet of Elysia, plunging the colony into chaos. 
In response, the all-powerful United Earth dispatches its elite corps of cyborg soldiers, led by Aaron "The Berber" Barber.
For a hero celebrated galaxy-wide for his acts of bravery against alien hordes, a ragtag group of colonized miners with antiquated weapons should be no challenge.
But Barber and his soldiers are unprepaed to meet the most dangerous enemy yet--humans just like them.
And on Elysia, the soldiers discover dangers that neither United Earth nor the Elysians themselves could have foreseen.
The secrets Barber and his soldiers uncover lead them to question the true meaning of freedom in a world where nothing is what it seems.

About the Author

Bill Campbell is the author the novels Koontown Killing Kaper and My Booty Novel as well as the essay collection, Pop Culture: Politics, Puns, and “Poohbutt” from a Liberal Stay-at-Home Dad. 
He lives in Washington, DC.


Literature & Fiction,African American,Science Fiction & Fantasy,Science Fiction,United States

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  •     Sunshine Patriots by Bill Campbell Did you follow the Iraq war with less enthusiasm than Fox News had for our video-game-like weapons? But we have to protect our soldiers, too, right? Where is this world going? In Bill Campbell's 23rd century, Earth has been United under a high-military-tech, global consumerism democracy. No surprise there. Unfortunately they still need a standing army to handle 'problems' both stateside and on extraplanetary colonies. The 21st century reader will immediately wonder who will man this army, given that the U.S. Army is currently unilaterally extending enlistment terms, the National Guard is an increasingly hard sell, and a draft is political suicide. In a vivid, well imagined scenario, Campbell comes up with a more plausibleversion of Swift's Modest Proposal : Giuliani style sweeps of the world's slums (think Rio, Calcutta, Soweto- the poor will always be with us) grab up adolescents under 15 , male and female. The army, relying on both their childish capacity for cruelty and their human instinct for survival then gives them weapons and drops them into battle. Oh, they're free to leave after that initial, enforced enlistment, IF they're not in too deep to the PX , and isn't everybody? Especially now that it also sells recreational drugs and charges for medical care. Another problem: 23rd century prosthetic weapons to replace those blown-off limbs, not to mention a Brain2 implant to convert self defense to the autonomic nervous system (a real must-have if you want to survive to retire) aren't really well-suited to civilian life. The new career army. The rest of the world doesn't quite get it, nobody THEY know is in the military. And army ads don't feature recruiting: in those vivid holos with enemies breaking down YOUR DOOR, the bemedaled sergeant doesn't ask you to fight to defend your home: just vote for the current administration. And the media doesn't lie- they just can't know what's going on. When 'wars' are over in hours, it's all a reporter can do to land, report what commanding officers have told them amid sounds of explosions and fly home. The officers aren't actually there, that's why the current United Earth Hero promoted in those government holos is a sergeant: nobody of higher rank actually sets foot on the battlefield. All this is told or alluded to in only a few pages. And that's the surprise. Campbell, instead of making his deprived, uneducated -with one quasi-comic exception- grunts into fodder (perhaps mourned in the usual way by a world-weary General), gives THEM the story, told from the viewpoints of half a dozen, including the 'holo hero' sergeant. And while that's the strength of the book, it's also a hurdle for the reader. No glossary is needed: the slang may look daunting, but it's all in the adjectives and you either get it after a while or realize it's no more meaningful than today's f- and n- words. I had to read the book twice because the first time through I didn't pick up on the structure, and failed to realize that we had continuing alternating stories. (It doesn't help that characters are variously referred to by first, last and nicknames , a minor quibble with a first-time author who sometimes forgets his readers aren't as intimate with the characters as he is).The second time had a complexity - and logic- that the seemingly chaotic first run-through lacked. But at 200 pages, that's not too arduous: think of it as two books for the price of one. Oh, and Campbell is no nihilist. However literally you take the path of the story (one cover blurb calls it 'Rastafarian Science Fiction') he clearly believes survival isn't the only instinct.

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