reviewing 12 Monkeys, 24, American Crime, Big Little Lies, Black Sails, Bloodline, Bosch, Colony, Designated Survivor, Fauda, Game of Thrones, Homeland, House of Cards, Humans, Peaky Blinders, Outlander, Ray Donovan, Stranger Things, The: Affair, Americans, Girlfriend Experience, Man in the High Castle, Missing, OA, Walking Dead; Travelers, Vikings, Westworld +movies, music, politics
George Santayana had irrational faith in reason - I have irrational faith in TV.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
The Consciousness Plague: nice long sample
The Consciousness Plague "more nearly reaches the heights of Isaac Asimov's classic sf mysteries than those of most other genre hands who attempt them manage to do these days." - Booklist
"Phil! Good to see
you!"Jack Dugan, one of the brass
I usually worked with – recently promoted to the Commissioner's right-hand man down
at One Police Plaza – extended his hand.He pulled it back, to contain a wracking cough.
"You look terrible,
Jack.What are you taking for
coughed again, then extended his hand again.
I took it and made a mental
note to wash my hands as soon as I left the meeting.
"I guess I should get
some antibiotics for this," Jack continued."But I hate to use the stuff – they say
so much of it is around that bacteria are building up resistance."
I sat down in the available
chair across from his desk."Never
knew you were so public-minded about that, Jack."
He gave me a pained smile."Antibiotics upset my digestion.I'd rather have the cough."He cleared his throat like a bulldozer moving
antibiotics are like dumb cops, aren't they," I said."They come on the scene and club
everyone over the head – the good-guy germs in your system that help you digest
your food, as well as the bad guys that make you sick."
Jack laughed, then
coughed.His eyes teared.Finally he took a deep breath, and let it out
slowly."Let me tell you why I
asked you down here."
I nodded encouragement.
"You know, you and I
have had some differences over the years about your penchant for bizarre cases–"
Yeah, tell me about it, I
thought.He'd removed me from cases at
least half-a-dozen times.
"–and, even though I've
been a skeptic, I was talking to the Commissioner the other day, and he of
course thinks that our city has to be prepared for anything and everything
these days.There's no telling what the
next threat to public safety might be.So, he'd like you to head up a taskforce – you know, just to be there,
with some possible plans in the waiting, if something really strange crops up.That’s your specialty."He cleared his throat, then went into a
coughing spasm.He pulled a bottle of water
out of his desk and guzzled half of it down."So, what do you think?" he finally managed to say.
Jenna sipped a glass of plum
wine and smiled at me that evening."I know, you hate committees," she said.
I leaned back on the sofa in
our living room."I've always accomplished
more as a lone wolf," I replied."I've seen loads of these taskforces come and go.Usually all they do is
Waste time and eat up
"But you told Dugan
you'd think about it," Jenna said.
"Yeah.I suppose it could be good to finally have some
people working under me.And some
resources.That would be an improvement
on having to always go the Department
on bended knee."
"You think there's some
threat we don't know about that makes them want to do this right now?"
I scowled."They wouldn't recognize something
bizarre if it smiled in their faces – they'd say it was a hoax, and do their
best to bury the evidence."
Jenna coughed. "Well,
this damned cold or pseudo-flu or whatever it is certainly seems to be getting
out of hand.My sister told me everyone
in San Francisco has it."
"Let's hope she didn't
give it to you over the phone."
I gently rubbed her hand.
I called Dugan two days
later to accept the offer.
"He's home sick with
that bug," his secretary, Sheila,told
me."Both he and the Commissioner," she added. "Got them both.Looks like the Department will be run
by the secretaries for the
next few days!"She chuckled.
"No different than
usual," I responded in kind.
Now she laughed out
loud."Shhh, Dr. D'Amato.Don't you give away our secret now!"
"It's safe with me,
I was down in Chinatown a
few days later on a boring case.But it
wasn't a total loss – I used the opportunity to replenish my supply of green
tea and persimmons.
The woman at the fruit stand
– hardly more than a girl, with a very sweet face – was coughing her head off.
That reminded me to put in
another call to Dugan.
Sheila's voice crackled through my phone."He came back, fit as a fiddle, just this morning."
The sun was close to setting
on this crisp March afternoon, and I was finished with my business in
Chinatown, so I decided to hail a cab and go over to Dugan's office.It could be useful for me to see the
expression on his face when I accepted his offer – see if there was any true
The traffic was worse than
usual. I counted two water mains broken
and gushing and a pothole that looked as if it might have been made by the
asteroid that took out the dinosaurs.Sheila
was gone when I finally arrived. But Jack was still in his office.
"So I see you're
feeling better," I said, and took Jack's extended hand.
"I feel like a million
bucks now," Jack said."How
you'd know ... oh, I guess Sheila told you I was sick?"
"I tell ya, this was a
nasty one. I tried to fight it on my own as best I could – I hate taking
antibiotics and those new flu meds – but it got to the point where I was up all
night coughing.The Commissioner was
pretty sick too – he picked it up from me, I picked it up from him, who knows –
but his doctor told him about some new antibiotic or something 95% guaranteed
not to upset the stomach.That stuff
wreaks havoc on my digestion, you know–"
"So, anyway."Dugan gestured to the available chair."Have a seat, Phil.What brings you to this exalted office?"
"Well, I've decided to
accept your offer," I replied.
"My offer?" Dugan
"Yeah, you know, what
you told me last week, about the taskforce."
Dugan looked at me as if I
was putting him on, or confusing him with someone else. "I haven't the vaguest idea what you're