Apr. 29th, 2010

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Under the Dome Under the Dome by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In the sleepy Maine town of Chester's Mill, folk are simply getting on with their lives on a typical late Fall day. One person is making his way out of town - Dale 'Barbie' Barbara, Iraq veteran and lately short order cook at the local diner until he got on the wrong side of a gang of good ol' boys. Unfortunately for him the gang included the son of the town's second selectman, car dealer and de facto head honcho 'Big Jim' Rennie - exactly the sort of fellow that you don't want as an enemy. Barbie is nearly at the town line when quietly and without fuss the town is cut off, surrounded by an invisible dome that will allow nothing to pass.

The immediate consequences include a crashed plane, and several car accidents as vehicles hit the barrier and come to grief. The longer term effects are far more serious, as Big Jim sees his chance to seize control of the town. He establishes his own private police force and sets about settling scores and making sure that none of his dirty little secrets will come to light - and there are plenty of secrets to be hidden in Chester's Mill.

No one writes about life in small town America with the same eye for detail and authenticity as Stephen King. He deftly weaves this story with a large cast of characters, and plots the brutally swift collapse of civilised behaviour in the isolated town. There are allusions to the events of 9/11 and hurricane Katrina, as well as the Stanford prison experiment, and when things go bad, they go bad very quickly in ways that are all too believable. The environmental consequences are charted too, as resources start to run out and pollution chokes the air.

Definitely one of King's better books of recent years, as well as one of the longest, and the audiobook is superbly narrated.

View all my reviews >>

Red Tide

Apr. 29th, 2010 07:24 pm
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What I would like, just for once, is for a politician to stand up and say that immigration is a good thing.

We've had thousands of years of people coming to this country, bringing fresh ideas and enriching our culture (and occasionally raping and pillaging, but you take the rough with the smooth). If somebody has the gumption to travel halfway round the world and then knuckle down to working then fair play to them. I am proud to live in a country that is regarded as being free and fair, and it makes me sick to think that we are deporting people back to barbarous regimes where their lives are in danger in order to meet some mythical quota of 'acceptable' immigration.

I am angry with Gordon Brown though. He should have been honest yesterday, rather than glad handing the Rochdale pensioner and then letting his true feelings slip later. Somebody once said that a gaffe is when a politician accidentally says something true, but this is a monumental blunder and an open goal for the Murdoch press.

For years the mainstream parties have followed the tabloid line by using coded rhetoric about 'hard working families' who are 'worried' by 'mass immigration' and 'opening the floodgates', and Brown has followed suit to grub a few extra votes. In doing so, he has given himself a huge hostage to fortune, that he could so easily have avoided.

Thinking back to 1997, I remember the sense of optimism that the sleaze, incompetence and arrogance of the Thatcher and Major years was at last on the way out and that things would get better. Since then, we have had futile and bloody wars, petty corruption, economic meltdown and the biggest erosion of civil liberties that I can ever remember. Brown has nosedived the Labour Party into the ground and Cameron is a slick frontman for the usual suspects who have been biding their time for the last thirteen years.

Can Clegg make a difference? I sincerely hope so ...


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