Trump on Foreign Policy

…And other matters.

First off, respect to The Donald just for having the stones to appear on InfoWars. A lot of sheeple will dismiss him as unfit for public office for that alone.

I’m thankful to Alex Jones for making this available, as it addresses a couple of my concerns about Trump. The Donald intends to dismantle Obamacare post haste, according to his own words. That’s nearly the opposite of what I was led to believe.

He also explains his previous relationship with the Clintons. As someone with tunnel-vision tendencies myself, it does make some sense: he was doing the best he could for his business at that time, and wasn’t paying much attention to politics (this was confirmed by Roger Stone). That would partly explain why Trump’s clothing line (for instance) used offshore labor, too.

I’ll make it personal. When I shop for something, I try to find American-made items, and am willing to pay more if necessary. Such products are nearly impossible to find anymore, so I’ll buy stuff made in Taiwan, Japan, Germany, etc., to avoid sending my money to Red China or Vietnam. But even that’s proving to be difficult. So when there is no other choice, I buy Red Chinese slave labor goods.

I get pissed at American companies that export their production overseas, but really, they’re making the same choice as businesses that I’m making as a consumer. It’s not realistic for me to expect them to go bankrupt when taxes, regulations, union wages and our suicidal trade policies have made it impossible to compete employing American labor.

Trump wants to quit weakening US defense, and quit provoking Russia.
Trump wants to quit weakening US defense, and quit provoking Russia.

I was afraid Trump was dodging Jones’ question about whether he would pull a Ross Perot; but he finally did answer it toward the end.

I am a little less suspicious of The Donald now. There are still red flags here and there, like his desire for more domestic surveillance. Hey, if it targets our enemies rather than law-abiding citizens, great. But I haven’t heard him articulate it that way yet.

If Trump is for real, then the traitor elite hasn’t even begun to go after him yet. They have been engineering the demise of the American republic for too long, and are on the verge of striking the death blow. The public at large is too ignorant and apathetic to stop them. In fact, at least half the population living in the USA have been dancing to whatever tune the puppet masters fiddle. If Donald Trump follows through on even a fraction of his promises, it is going to set their agenda back significantly, if not wreck crucial aspects of it.

They can’t let that happen.

If The Donald is for real, he desperately needs prayers of protection from those who serve the highest authority in the universe.

The Latest Wonder Woman

Character reboots are commonplace these days. In a pop culture spectrum so bankrupt of creativity that the only movies produced anymore are remakes, sequels, adaptations (often of old TV shows that weren’t so good to begin with), thinly-disguised ripoffs of other movies (the Fast & Furious franchise started with a Point Break knockoff set in a fantasy streetracing scene; Avatar was Dances With Wolves in outer space, etc.) or an attempted fusion of previous successful movies; and the bulk of TV programming is some sort of lame “reality show” because the industry lacks the imagination to conceive anything more interesting, re-forming an established character in one’s own image is lauded as some sort of seminal breakthrough. Seems like comic book characters (one of the ores constantly mined by Hollywood) are revamped, and their histories revised, every 3-5 years.

The Social Justice League of America celebrates diversity. The blond-haired Aquaman just wasn't inclusive enough.
The Social Justice League of America celebrates diversity. The blond-haired Aquaman just wasn’t inclusive enough.

Wonder Woman is a character whose essence needs no revamping to fit the current Narrative being rammed down our throats incessantly. She fit that Narrative from her very debut in the 1940s. She was probably the very first Amazon Superninja to appear in American pop culture, and from the very beginning was intended to be a social conditioning propaganda tool. But despite all this, her inclusion in Dawn of Justice doesn’t bother me much.

Wonder Woman has been a member of DC’s superteam the Justice League going way back; and was a founding member of the “Justice Society of America” before that. She was good-to-go for the leftist pop-culture svengalis already, so they didn’t have to feminize an established male character or otherwise ruin the work of earlier creators.


Perhaps it is fitting that an exotic beauty was cast to play the Amazon. After all, she comes from “Paradise Island,” an all-female society closed off from the rest of the world since ancient times. So it’s appropriate that her accent sounds different from ours, and that she doesn’t look like a WASP. (However, it appears that DC/Hollywood also intends to ethnicize the Flash and Aquaman, which is getting annoying.)

Do you imagine it's an accident that the female is shown on point when physical combat is imminent; or that the males are merely guarding her flanks?
Do you imagine it’s an accident that the female is shown on point when physical combat is imminent; or that the males are merely guarding her flanks?

At some point after I quit reading comics, I guess Wonder Woman took to carrying a Bronze Age sword and shield, in addition to her golden lasso. This only makes sense, if she’s going to be fighting gargantuan baddies like Doomsday. What doesn’t make sense is that her ancient bronze shield can withstand a Kryptonian’s heat vision without a scratch, when heat vision slices through every other form of matter except other Kryptonians. Because vagina, I guess.

WWLindaCarterAnother development is that her red, white and blue colors have been replaced by some muddy red-brown metal flake scheme. This also makes sense. First of all, those colors represent oppression (college girls being forced to pay for their own birth control, for instance). Remember: WW was never an American in the first place. And all the big screen superheroes wear costumes with drab color schemes. Even Superman, who has never needed camouflage or to avoid attracting attention, wears a costume that looks like it’s gone a few months without being washed.

Might be hard to see here, but the dude just to the right of her looks a lot like a Native American. Explain THAT one.

I don’t know if this ties in with comic book revisionism, or is original to this screenplay, but Wonder Woman is apparently a WWI veteran now. Bruce Wayne/Batman finds an old photograph from 1918 that shows her with an odd assortment of guerillas (in Belgium, if memory serves).

Diana Prince looks even better in the red dress when Bruce Wayne first meets her…but I couldn’t find an image of that.

Maybe the most interesting thing about Wonder Woman in this movie is how Gal Gadot’s performance fits into a red pill socio-sexual understanding. Gadot is far more attractive as Diana Prince than as the Amazon heroine. Upon reflection, it’s obvious why: she is very feminine when incognito in the secret identity, as opposed to her super-identity as an extremely masculine brawler with tits.

“I just don’t understand why I can’t get dates!”

Only fetishists, white knights and sexual deviants find such a gender-bent individual even remotely attractive; no matter how much skin she shows or how well she fills out a skimpy costume.

Batman Vs. Superman is a Mixed-Bag Epic

And I do mean “epic” in the classic sense. The Lex Luthor character (more on him later) can’t stop reminding us that Superman is a god; that he must battle against man; and Lex makes repeated references to Greek mythology that must have also been on the minds of Siegel and Schuster when they dreamed up their “super-man” some 80 years ago.

By the end of the movie, the last son of Krypton does prove himself to be a Messiah figure of sorts…again.

Mythology was certainly on Frank Miller’s mind some 30 years ago when he set about changing the Batman mythos forever. Big-screen Batman adaptations have paid homage to The Dark Knight Returns since 1989. But none more than this one. The showdown between the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader was ripped almost directly from Miller’s mini-series. Both the catalyst and the result were different, and the Batman was determined to win this time (rather than intentionally taking a dive and faking his own death as in Miller’s yarn).

Retro Batman costume on the left; powered armor on the right which he wore to battle Superman in this movie and in Dark Knight Returns.
Retro Batman costume on the left; powered armor on the right which he wore to battle Superman in this movie and in Dark Knight Returns.

Also, having been something of a superhero afficionado up until the time of Dark Knight Returns, I am pretty confident that Miller was the first one to overtly depict Superman as an earth-bound god.

Dawn of Justice is a symphony of spectacular destruction with a lot going for it. First of all, as desperate as they must be to duplicate the success of their rival, DC did not cut-and-paste the Marvel Studios formula and insert their own characters. I was a little worried that a Justice League flick might be a thinly-veiled Avengers clone (and the next one might very well prove to be), so kudos to DC for telling their own story about their three all-time most stalwart characters.

Second, although there were smatterings of action along the way, the director opted for a slow, tense build toward the epic finale. It reminds me somewhat of how Akira Kurosawa paced some of my favorite samurai films, driving viewers to the edge of their seats, begging for an explosive, violent extravaganza to settle the conflict. (And boy, this movie delivers, with the stunning visuals and rip-snorting special effects comic book fans want in a film adaptation, but were simply not possible technologically until relatively recently.)

galgadotMy reaction to the casting leans positive. Superman/Clark Kent was portrayed well–it’s a darker, edgier Superman than the historical model, but the actor pulls it off adequately. His physical movements do seem a bit stiff, however. The actress who plays Wonder Woman/Diana Prince also did quite well, though she is such exquisite eye candy that her acting is something of an afterthought to a red-blooded heterosexual male. I have a lot to say about her (the character, more than the actress) that I’ll probably reserve for a seperate post. And the hot topic ever since casting was first announced, of course, is Batman/Bruce Wayne. It’s really not as bad as some might fear. I would have preferred someone other than Michael Keaton in 1989; and I would have preferred someone other than Ben Affleck in 2016. However, Affleck did OK. He was much less situationally aware (especially during fight scenes) than the Batman of comic book canon…but really, all the screen versions of the character have been.

I already mentioned that the tension builds quite nicely to the climax; but the plot is not without its weaknesses. The whole thing seems like a forced contrivance if you examine it too closely. And the flashbacks/dreams/visions were a touch overdone–with the Batman, particularly. Superman does undertake a successful vision quest in the midst of the film, which I would have appreciated more, had I not already been overexposed to the unnecessary (and at one point, confusing) visions/nightmares/flashbacks of Bruce Wayne.batmanvssuperman

There were some impediments to the suspension of disbelief. For instance: if nuclear weapons work differently in this alternate universe (where masked vigilantes and “meta-humans” exist) than they do in our universe, then that should really be established beforehand.

Every director wants to put his/her “own stamp” on the material s/he’s adapting, and this movie was no exception. This is unfortunate with regards to two characters in particular.

ALFRED: Certainly the character has evolved. Again, the first and biggest step may have been in Miller’s mini-series when he revealed that the Wayne’s butler was a “combat medic” who apparently was a Wayne household staple all Bruce’s life, instead of coming on the scene after the war on crime began and discovering Bruce’s nocturnal activities later. The Gotham TV show took it another step by making Alfred a former British Commando who teaches young Bruce how to fight. And this movie picks up from there, basically turning Alfred into Batman’s command center, and at times the brains of the operation. Yawn. Maybe the transformation of Alfred into Jarvis will be completed in the next character reboot and he’ll simply be an artificial intelligence in the Batcomputer with a British accent. Neither comic book writers nor Hollywood directors ever tire of fixing what’s not broken.

MARK ZUCKERBERG I mean LEX LUTHOR: I’m not sure if the actor was trying to channel Heath Ledger’s Joker performance or Jim Carey’s abysmal Riddler interpretation. Whatever he was going for, it was lame. Luthor has historically been an evil genius, and that is how the character works best. Some left-wing “visionary” in the 1980s turned him into an evil capitalist caraciture from Karl Marx’s dystopian fantasies, and over time the criminal genius aspect of the character has been forgotten. With this movie the next step has been forced in his devolution, so that now he is an evil capitalist LUNATIC with an abusive father, tortured childhood, blah blah blah. Certainly there are supervillains which this cliche fits. Lex Luthor is not one of them.

Oh yeah: there’s also another bad choice in this category.

SOME SENATOR WITH A WEIRD VOICE: A character made necessary only by an unnecessary subplot that was tacked on and is redundant of the Batman’s motive for opposing Superman. She’s a Democrat who is the opposite of any real-life Democrat (she’s concerned about individual rights, Constitutional limitations on power, etc.) but exactly the image Democrats attempt to portray to the gullible electorate. And the masquerade usually succeeds, with the abettment of the press, academia and pop culture (including/especially Hollywood).

There’s a lot more I could say about Dawn of Justice, but this should be enough information for you to decide whether it’s worth the time and ticket price. Wonder Woman will get her own post.

The Puppies are Coming! A Preview of the 2016 Hugo Awards

It’s almost that time again, folks: the next battle in the Hugo Wars (a subset of the culture war at large).

What started as a joke by Larry Correia criticizing the Cultural Marxist Cabal that hijacked sci-fi/fantasy publishing, fandom, and the Hugo Awards in particular, has blossomed into a revolution on one front of pop culture.

SJWs can’t make up their hive mind whether the Narrative should paint the puppies as pathetic ankle-biters of laughable significance, or beastly Hun savages assaulting the Ramparts of Progress, threatening the very existence of humanity. Usually they’ll make both arguments in the same screed.

Last year it was more difficult to laugh off the Puppies, since pink SF/F was mostly supplanted by non-SJW nominations in the 2015 Hugos. Pinkshirts reacted predictably with the nuclear “no award” option, since they would rather nobody win a Hugo than see one awarded to a book that doesn’t conform to The Narrative.

The latest Virtual Pulp video has just gone live on Hank Brown’s Youtube page. It should help you put the whole controversy in perspective.

All This and Civil War Too (Part Two)

Here’s the continuation of our discussion of Homeland: Falling Down, and the trends which inspired it.


HENRY BROWN: So, whether faced with our own military or with modern-day Hessians under globalist command (assuming the 3 percenters have prepped adequately enough to avoid being simply starved to death) with no support from a foreign ally and probably without popular support, how viable do you consider a guerilla resistance effort to be?

R.A. MATHIS: You mention in False Flag that no insurgency has ever won without foreign intervention and popular support, which I thought was a very good point. The two things America has to counter that are the 2nd Amendment and the 2008 election of the best gun salesman the country has ever seen. We have over 300 million citizens and about as many firearms in this country. We are also buying up ammo as fast as it can be produced (at least what is left over after DHS gets their share). Combine that with hundreds of thousands of highly trained combat veterans scattered to every part of the country, and the odds don’t look so long.

(HENRY BROWN: What a coincidence that veterans, patriots and gun owners top the list of potential “domestic terrorists” the government is most worried about, eh?)

R.A. MATHIS: This alludes to the working title of book three, “Every Blade of Grass.”

HENRY BROWN: How appropriate–that very quote (whoever said it) was just going through my mind as your words sunk in.

R.A. MATHIS: I think the success of a resistance would vary by region. Rural areas would be virtual no-go zones for regime forces. Some urban areas may just welcome them like the Vichy French.
It seems to me that the biggest problem for the resistance would be the lack of electricity. If the regime restored power to each region as it was brought into compliance, it could make for effective deadly propaganda against the resistance. It’s the old “freedom vs security” dilemma on steroids. I’m not sure which way the populace would go in that case, especially in winter.

HENRY BROWN: Very good point. Most people  take electricity for granted. Few of us have any concept of what a struggle life will be without it. And that’s even without somebody intentionally trying to kill you.

R.A. MATHIS: How would you go about establishing a resistance? Could it succeed?

HENRY BROWN: That endeavor would be a kettle of quandries stuffed full of dillemmas and wrapped in Catch-22s. What I would encourage is a cellular structure perhaps similar to the French Underground or other successful resistance movements. But if it is successful, at some point it would have to take the offensive. And that would require somewhat centralized leadership–anathema to the principles hopefully held by those who constitute such a movement. That would require very rare leadership–willing to step down and surrender the reins of power when victory was secured–as George Washington did.

Could it succeed? Yes. But it would be an uphill struggle from start to finish, with no room for mistakes at the strategic level. At a tactical level I like its chances a little better, partly because of the points you made.

In Falling Down, Cole’s father, Hank, is an honest cop. In my experience that’s a rare, dying breed. But now and then I come across memes regarding certain sheriffs who have gone on record stating they will not comply with unconstitutional orders from the Feds, including civilian disarmament. As with the military, I’m skeptical that many who wear the badge will honor their oaths at crunch time. How do you see it?

R.A. MATHIS: Again, I think this may be regional. I believe small town sheriffs would be more likely to resist the regime as they personally know most of the people they would be asked to arrest, kill, etc. The impersonal nature of bigger cities allows collaborators to see numbers rather than real people. Like Stalin said, “The death of one man is a tragedy…”
Of course, there would be exceptions on both sides of the spectrum. And we must always remember that power not only corrupts, it draws the corrupt.

That last sentence ran through my mind as I read the McMillan scenes in False Flag. You mention window tint citations a few times in regard to this trooper. Was this character and situation inspired by actual events?

HENRY BROWN: Actually, yes. I made friends with a state trooper a few years back. Unlikely, but true. Stories he shared fit with things I’ve heard from other cops and ex-cops. Basically, somebody with a badge can make your life hell now for any reason at all. Window tinting was one of the specific excuses he used to harrass people and help eat out our substance. And that BS fits thematically so well, because the Surveillance State just HATES it when something impedes their invasion of our privacy.

In Homeland: Falling Down, Cole strikes me as a character who’s just an honest soldier who wants to do his duty and avoids politics like the Plague. First of all, is this an accurate assessment?

R.A. MATHIS: Yes. Like most people, he just wants to be left alone. But also like most people, politics affects him in huge ways, whether he likes it or not.

HENRY BROWN: Like the saying goes: You may not be interested in politics, but politics sure has a keen interest in you.

R.A. MATHIS: I found your character Adiur rather fascinating. His connection to Greeley, the secret government training program, the other members of his unit with equally unusual qualities and names. Can you go into detail about this character and your inspiration for him?

HENRY BROWN: This goes back to my research on the occult and mind control, again. There are documented cases of this kind of thing, including superhuman strength, drastic voice changes, change in spoken language, and being oblivious to pain. There’s other bizarre stuff like “remote viewing” and “automatic writing,” too, but I don’t know much about those phenomena yet. Anyway, molestation as a child is pretty common in these “sleeper agents” and sex acts are incorporated into the occultic rituals for adults, too. This is where Greely comes in.

It’s all pretty horrific stuff, which is why I left it behind closed doors, and only implied “vanilla” sex, at that.

Is Cole based to any degree on some particular individual?

R.A. MATHIS: He is the personification of the dilemma faced by our troops in such a time. Hank is the same, but for civilian authorities.

I’ll ask you the same thing about Greeley and Adiur.

HENRY BROWN: Greely and Handel are amalgam characters, based on different people I’ve known and met. I’ve never been involved in drugs or the occult, but I’ve rubbed elbows with others who were. Niether of these characters are what they seem to be on the surface. Greely appears to be the sultry cougar-type “strong independent woman.” She’s the object-of-every-schoolboy’s fantasy. But deep inside she’s a sick tool who is about as independent as a marionette.

Handel’s facade is perhaps just Joe Blow Normal Dude. He’s handsome, clean, in his prime, average intelligence, a “good person” on paper…but there’s more to him than superficial observation would ever indicate. He’s been horribly abused since childhood and doesn’t even know it. He’s fractured. At the risk of spoilers, he has been conditioned to surrender his will and his body over to be used as a vehicle by Adiur–a malicious personality given access to Handel when his psyche was fractured.

I don’t know for sure that anyone I’ve ever met was a bona fide MPD. But I’ve known some guys who were blank slates like Handel, susceptible to that sort of conditioning in my opinion. Such a person has a hole in their soul, and nature abhors a vacuum.

When you first introduced Eduardo in Falling Down, I couldn’t help thinking of Geraldo Rivera. But as the story progressed, I shelved the connection. You really drew a 3-dimensional character in him. He’s a disingenuous self-promoting media whore on the one hand, but he proves to have streaks of decency as well. Congrats on that, BTW. What were your thoughts when you conceived the character, and did he wind up like you first envisioned him?

R.A. MATHIS: He actually was inspired partly by Rivera, especially after I saw how Geraldo behaved on Celebrity Apprentice (not a good look for him). He represents exactly what you stated: the self-serving, headline-grabbing media. He doesn’t care if his reporting is biased or disingenuous. The next step in his career is all that matter to him. He’s not an ideologue, but he will toe the line and support ‘the narrative’ his superiors provide to get ahead. He is a tool (in more ways than one).
It’s interesting that you ask if he is winding up as I first imagined him. I like the question because it implies Eduardo has a life of his own and makes his own choices. As a writer, that’s when I know I’’m onto something…. When I stop directing the characters and let them do their thing, writing down what I observe. That’s when it’s most fun. I don’t know what Eduardo will do or how he will turn out. How will he react when he discovers the true nature of the regime? I don’t know. He is a bit of a wild card.

HENRY BROWN:  Definitely onto something. He lives, breathes, sweats and stinks. Seriously: kudos. Very well-drawn character.

Will the presidential candidate from the prologue appear again in subsequent books?

R.A. MATHIS: The candidate, Martha Jefferson, will have a big roll down the road. And that road is gonna be a rough one.
The assassin’s “little green book” will be a factor going forward.

HENRY BROWN: How many books do you think the Homeland series will last?

Right now I.m thinking at least three, maybe four. It really depends on where the characters take the story…and sales (You’re laughing–I’m not laughing).

HENRY BROWN: Not laughing, really. Just smiling. But think of it as a smile of solidarity.

Is there anything you’d like to share about Executive Order?

R.A. MATHIS: Yes. President Tophet is just getting started. If you thought things are bad now, just wait.

Can you give a hint as to what is in store for the next Retreads book?

HENRY BROWN: I haven’t woven it all together completely yet in the cobweb of my mind, but there’s got to be a showdown between Adiur and Tommy Scarred Wolf. Also between McCallum and either Rennenkampf or Cannonball. The latter would be more dramatic. An EMP. Grid down. Starvation. Dissident extraction. Internment camps. The clergy response team. Jihadi terror cells completely unleashed. Texas secedes. Rocco and his crew take in some refugees. Clashes with occupation forces. And, oh yeah: World War Three. That’s a few off the top of my head.

Changing gears a bit, where did the idea for Ghosts of Babylon come from?

R.A. MATHIS: A few months before deploying to Iraq, I found a picture of my grandfather taken in Germany during WW2. With the photo was a note written on the tissue paper issued to GIs to write home with in those days. He had just learned of Germany’’s surrender and was looking forward to coming home and not sleeping in a foxhole anymore.

I wished I had more. More of his experiences. More of his thoughts and feelings. More of him.
So I kept a journal during my Iraq deployment so my family would have more than a picture and a note decades from then. When I finally got back home, I started writing, using the journal as the basis for a memoir. It was partly self-therapy and partly out of a desire to pass my experiences down to my children while they were still fresh on my mind.
It eventually morphed into a novel. I still don’t know why. Maybe there were things I needed to say that could only be said through fiction. In any case, it eventually turned into Ghosts of Babylon.

We all begin writing for different reasons. I once read that no one writes because they are happy. What inspired you to start writing?

HENRY BROWN: First of all, that is a cool story unto itself. Thanks for sharing that.

As for me and writing, I’ve always had an active imagination, for one. Also, from a very young age, no matter how much I liked a story (either on film or on paper) I saw room for improvement. “It would have been even better if this was changed, that was tweaked, if so-and-so would have said/done such and such…” At least that motivated me in my first creative efforts.

I kind of did that with real stuff throughout my life, too. “Hey, what just happened would make an intense scene in such-and-such type of story.” Or, “Oh wow–check that out! I’d love to be able to capture what I’m seeing/feeling right now and reproduce it.”

There have been times when I really should have been completely focused on reality and my part of whatever task was at hand, but part of my mind was already busy plagiarizing the situation. Somebody once called me “a cultural scavenger.”  I still have mixed emotions about that remark. Maybe he meant it as a compliment, but it still seems a bit insulting. Nevertheless, there must be some truth to it, since I’m constantly compelled to weave fragments of life experiences together into stories (which are much more exciting than real life).

In fact, that’s still at work today, in yarns like False Flag. All these trends are converging toward a perfect storm that promises a bleak future and an end to life as we know it…so why not insert some guys like the Retreads, who won’t take it lying down, no matter the odds. Islands of integrity in a world of treachery. They’ve got the skills and wits to bring smoke on some scumbags in the process. And most important, they’re compelled to try to make a difference.

You strike me as a voracious reader. I sure used to be. When I was on active duty, when possible, I always had a paperback stashed in my cargo pocket or rucksack, for the inevitable “wait” phase of the old hurry-up-and-wait S.O.P. Did you keep a book stashed in your tank?

R.A. MATHIS: I read a little of everything. I especially enjoy sci-fi, fantasy, history, philosophy, and even a little horror. Unfortunately, working and writing leave far less time for reading than I would like. I read as much as I can, but am frustratingly slow at it. I often supplement reading with audio books and YouTube.
I usually had a book handy in the Army, but never got to read it on the tank as I was the platoon leader and barely found time to eat and sleep during operations. But I read constantly during after-operation downtime. Like you, there were also the times waiting on the tarmac for a flight, leaning on my rucksack, stealing a few pages here and there.

HENRY BROWN: Oh yeah, I got a lot of reading done sitting around Green Ramp in my lower enlisted days.

R.A. MATHIS: What do you enjoy reading most?

HENRY BROWN: Excepting horror and philosophy, the same ones you listed, plus classic pulp; westerns; war (fiction and non); military history; and various & sundry fare from the blogosphere in the “neomasculine” genre.

Have you/do you read SHTF or TEOTWAWKI fiction from other authors? If so, which do you recommend? (Some authors I recently discovered, who have written some enjoyable books, are “Joe Nobody” and Mark Goodwin. I’m curious about “A. American” and some others, but haven’t taken a chance on them yet.)

R.A. MATHIS: Oddly enough, I haven’t read many other SHTF works other than False Flag (which I thoroughly enjoyed) and a bit of James Wesley Rawles first book, Patriots. I want to keep Homeland original as possible, so I’m avoiding similar works right now. I do plan to read them once I’m a little further into the Homeland series.

HENRY BROWN: Interesting. It seems that it’s paying off–Falling Down did not seem derivative or imitative of any other SHTF works I’ve read. And thanks for that!
I read Patriots as well, and have considered trying more of Rawles’ fiction…but haven’t, yet.

R.A. MATHIS: Which authors do you recommend I start with?

HENRY BROWN: Me, of course. But seriously, you might want to try “Joe Nobody“–he blends prepping info into his narratives fairly well. The protagonist in the ones I read was easy to root for. The action was believable. Overall a good read.

R.A. MATHIS: Thank you again for having me, Hank. Your questions were enjoyable and thought provoking. I truly enjoyed them.

HENRY BROWN: Hey, same here. We should do this again some time.

All This and Civil War Two

What began as an interview with R.A. Mathis about Homeland: Falling Down turned into quite a discussion about America teetering on the precipice of oblivion. Here is Part One:


HENRY BROWN: First of all, thanks for agreeing to do the interview.

R.A. MATHIS: Thank you for having me, Hank.

HENRY BROWN: After reading Ghosts of Babylon, I guess I assumed you might follow up with something similar, or possibly move on to more mainstream literature. What made you decide to spin a SHTF yarn?

R.A. MATHIS: I wrote Ghosts of Babylon because I had to. It began as an effort to mentally sort out my Iraq experience. The Homeland series is the same.
The seed was formed from the occasional news story of another general being fired for questionable reasons, a new executive order being announced, or the IRS being used as a weapon. That seed took root as these stories began to appear with alarming regularity. I thought it was just me being a bit paranoid, so put it aside and kept my mouth shut. But then I noticed others voicing the same concerns, both on the street and even in the popular media.
The last straw dropped when a guy came to our house to work on the air conditioner. We struck up a conversation as he worked. He told me that he was mortally afraid of the government. That’s when I began to realize how widespread the concern really was. (As a side note, I believe this sentiment is a contributor to the current election cycle’s rebellion against all things establishment.)

(HENRY BROWN: I would have to agree. And on the one hand it’s about time. But on the other…it seems to me that the pent-up outrage, now that it’s finally loose, is proving to be misdirected in many quarters.)

R.A. MATHIS: Homeland is an attempt to test the thesis, to mentally sort it out as a kind of mental experiment. Unfortunately, the thesis is proving all too plausible.

On a similar note, I noticed your Retreads series has gone from pulpy men’s adventure to a more serious SHTF genre. Why the shift?

HENRY BROWN: I’m not sure I can answer that in a way that makes sense to others, but I’ll try. Some of the times I’ve been happiest in life were when I had my head stuck in the sand–either voluntarily or unintentionally. That applies to the writing partition of my life, too. My whole experiment in men’s fiction was partly an effort to relive the fun and the rush of adventure lived vicariously through characters in some of the novels I read as a kid and young man. Better yet: to pass that experience along to new readers. Such was my ambition. (And yet, I couldn’t go Full Ostrich all the way–in Hell & Gone you can already see the government attitude–through the goons in their alphabet soup agencies–that certain law-abiding Americans are more dangerous than actual terrorists. In Tier Zero I sort of laid the ground work for False Flag by introducing some ugly little secrets of black ops, and how, if Washington doesn’t have a convenient one to exploit, our would-be rulers are willing to manufacture a crisis as an excuse for the next power grab in their agenda.) But I got to the point where I just couldn’t swallow the blue pill anymore.

I see the world around me drowning in deception. People who recognize this must not let the truth be buried. We have to shout it from the rooftops as best we can, despite the odds. If those sound like the words of a maniac, well, so be it.

I guess I should mention that I’ve had it in mind to write apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic fiction for a long time–but something a little less heavy, like the Last Ranger series or Doomsday Warrior before it (only without the mutants, the Zen philsophy and the weird psychodelic acid trip scenes). However, taking stock of the situation facing us in America, people need to wake up; not be somnambulized into maintaining their complacency.

The Retreads were established characters, who I and some readers really liked. If I could choose anybody to guard my flanks when facing Armageddon, it would be guys like them. After all, they were staring down the barrel of WWIII from their very debut, and handled it pretty well. At the same time, I knew that pulling out all the stops politically would piss off some readers who liked the previous books. Oh well. Life is too short and freedom is too precious to lose sleep over whether I offended somebody or not. I get offended constantly in books and movies. Suck it up and drive on.

Aren’t you sorry you asked that question, now?

When you introduced the DHS involvement with the regular army in Falling Down, it made perfect sense and I wondered why it hadn’t been done before (my own excuse is that I haven’t yet depicted conventional national military forces). After all, the Red Army had its political officers–military commisars or whatever, feared by all the regular soldiers. Same with the Soviet Navy. The Wermacht was, to an extent, gripped by terror due to the SS and Gestapo. Compared to me, your active duty experience is very up-to-date. Did you witness anything first-hand that confirmed for you this scenario will play out in a SHTF scenario?

R.A. MATHIS: You are exactly right about the Soviet commissars being the basis for the DHS “advisors” assigned to active units in the book. In fact, an important parameter of my “thought experiment” mentioned above is that there must be historical precedence for the events in the book, especially in the actions taken by the government. Knowing that the new regime would be suspicious, or even hostile, toward the military, commissars assigned to keep the troops in line would be a top priority. If you put yourself in the regime’s shoes, the DHS seemed like a perfect fit.
My first-hand military experience ended in 2006, before our current President took office. At that time, the political correctness machine was already in full swing, but I never experienced blatant meddling by civilian agents. That being said, the amount and pace of social engineering forced upon our men and women in uniform since then is both staggering and alarming.

There is something I found interesting as I read False Flag. The occult ceremonies woven into the plot and connected with the tier-zero units and other operatives. Can you go into more detail about their purpose to the regime and why you included them in the story? Also, are these ceremonies simply mind control, or are they really colluding with unseen forces?

HENRY BROWN: Well, now you’ve done it. If people didn’t believe me to be a tinfoil hat whack-job already…

This angle came entirely from my research, which encompassed everything from MK Ultra and Monarch to “satanic ritual abuse.” I followed the leads where they led and was astonished to discover how interconnected it all is. It all sounds crazy on the surface–some of it as if inspired by a B-horror movie or bad sci-fi. And don’t get me wrong–there are a lot of cockamamie wive’s tales out there. Unfortunately, much of it is mixed up with things that happen to be true. I could go on at great length on this subject, but will try to pare it down to just a couple aspects.

One of the first bombshells to land on me was that multiple personality disorder (MPD) can be artificially created in people. And I’m understating the fact here, because some who have studied it much more than I have will tell you that EVERY case of MPD was manufactured by high level experts in cognitive sciences; and furthermore, that they do so with a common denominator of ulterior motives, and with government funding.

Some of those same folks will tell you that there absolutely are unseen forces at work. Certain spiritual beings are always looking for a body to occupy, and when a personality is split, they are given entry. This is stuff I don’t really want to believe. I’ve never been obsessed with UFOs, vampires, werewolves or witchcraft. I don’t watch “ghost hunter” shows or think zombies (as depicted in pop culture recently) are very credible. In most of the churches I’ve ever attended, great pains were made to downplay the supernatural in the Bible, and remove the paranormal/supernatural from the Christian worldview. Frankly, that tendency rubbed off on me, so I’ve never taken that stuff seriously most of my life. That is beginning to change. I’m at the point now that I do see a spiritual/occultic aspect to the postwar mind control efforts. But not many rational people can swallow that–which I certainly understand. What I tried to do was write that subplot in an ambiguous enough manner that the reader can take it whichever way they are most comfortable with–either just advanced brain-screwing built on the discoveries of the Nazi mind control pioneers with occultic trappings to make the victims believe they’re tapping into some ancient spiritual power; or human scientists carrying out the brain-screwing at the behest of the unseen beings they serve (knowingly or unknowingly). The bottom line for most readers, perhaps, is that it’s fiction. There are plenty of theories even more far out than this in other books or movies, and people suspend their disbelief for the sake of entertainment. Frankly, I’d love to be proven wrong about a lot of stuff I’ve said both on this blog and in my books.

As to what purpose our domestic enemies would have for such individuals…when you take stock of what they are doing and still intend to do, sleeper agents they can activate like flipping a switch can come in very handy. Especially in false flags. The cream of the crop could be held in reserve for really big jobs–high profile assassinations, for instance; while the unstable sleepers can be used as cannon fodder in the school-shooting-of-the-week. One investigator has discovered that many of the MPD cases are part of a “super soldier” program, which makes sense when you consider that the mind control endeavors in North America took over where the Nazi scientists left off. Pretty scary, if true.

You mentioned how the purge of the  US high command partly inspired you to write Falling Down. In my own SHTF book, that purge of field grade officers (which began in earnest about 2009) also plays a part. First off, I’m curious how the average Joe in the ranks feels about this today, as well as the junior grade officers. Secondly, you wrote it in such a way as to suggest that Colonel Lee bugged out before being nabbed by the DHS. Are we going to see him again in future installments?

R.A. MATHIS: On the purge subject: Like the old saying goes, you can’t fool the troops. I still have friends in uniform. They see the attack dogs ejected while the lapdogs are promoted. It has an adverse effect on morale across the width and breadth of the active force.
Yes, we will see more of Colonel Lee. Good catch on that one.

HENRY BROWN: Considering those purges, among other things, what is your general gut feeling about whether the regular military will hesitate to make war on American citizens?

R.A. MATHIS: That is why I included Cole in the book. I needed to see the situation through the eyes of a soldier. I don’t think they will obey that type of order, the outstanding conduct of our troops in the Middle East (with very few exceptions) over the last 13 years will testify to that. But what if extreme coercion is applied?  In Homeland, all military families are brought on base when it hits the fan. This allows the soldiers to focus on their jobs, knowing that their wives and children are protected and cared for. However, this move also gives the regime leverage. If a soldier refuses to commit atrocities, his family may be forfeit. That kind of pressure is enough to make good men do very bad things. I do not envy our troops in such a situation. The same tactic can be used on just about anybody. This was a key tool of the totalitarian regimes in the last century. I don’t see why future regimes would stop using it.

HENRY BROWN: I don’t envy them either. In fact, rarely does a day go by anymore that I don’t find myself opining that I couldn’t be a part of what the military has become. It is no place for a patriot, or even for a good soldier anymore.

R.A. MATHIS: What are your thoughts on the likelihood of the American military making war on its own citizens?

HENRY BROWN: No offense, but in my experience officers often have a perspective on situations and shared experience that is rosier than the grunts see it. I’ve been on the enlisted side and could write quite a hatchet-job on the rank-and-file, even back in my day and even in an elite unit.

It boils down to this: kids growing up in the USA have no appreciation for how good we’ve had it here. They not only take our freedom and rights for granted, they are conditioned to have contempt for America. Very few of them resist that conditioning. Those people grow up and join the armed forces and, big surprise, the motivation is rarely patriotism. It’s for college money and job training. And that’s how the recruiting commercials pitch it. They throw bait out for mercenaries and that’s what they get.  (But perhaps many did join in the months/years after 9/11 for a more altruistic motive).

Career soldiers would just as easily fight for any cause and as part of any army. That’s the impression I got of the average G.I.

All officers have some generic pretense of honor, but when the rubber meets the road, most officers and NCOs are serving their career ambitions, not their country. Some are better than others, but those who rise to the top are nothing more than uniformed politicians.

Baron Von Steuben gave us quite the compliment when he illustrated the uniqueness of the American soldier (unlike any other soldier who receives an order and automatically complies, Americans had to have confidence in the motive behind the order before they would comply). This is definitely no longer the case.

All of this was bad enough when I wore the uniform; I’m sure it’s much worse now. Thank God there are exceptions. But what few good soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen remain are either being purged, or forced out by the increasingly hostile environment the military is being transformed into. So yes: I’m afraid most will fire on American civilians, and with little hesitation–especially with the added head games they are sure to get immediately prior. I would love to be proven wrong, but won’t hold my breath.

So, whether faced with our own military or with modern-day Hessians under globalist command (assuming the 3 percenters have prepped adequately enough to avoid being simply starved to death) with no support from a foreign ally and probably without popular support, how viable do you consider a guerilla resistance effort to be?

R.A. MATHIS: You mention in False Flag that no insurgency has ever won without foreign intervention and popular support, which I thought was a very good point. The two things America has to counter that are the 2nd Amendment and the 2008 election of the best gun salesman the country has ever seen. We have over 300 million citizens and about as many firearms in this country. We are also buying up ammo as fast as it can be produced (at least what is left over after DHS gets their share). Combine that with hundreds of thousands of highly trained combat veterans scattered to every part of the country, and the odds don’t look so long.

(HENRY BROWN: What a coincidence that veterans, patriots and gun owners top the list of potential “domestic terrorists” the government is most worried about, eh?)

R.A. MATHIS: This alludes to the working title of Book Three, “Every Blade of Grass.”

HENRY BROWN: How appropriate–that very quote (whoever said it) was just going through my mind as your words sunk in.

R.A. MATHIS: I think the success of a resistance would vary by region. Rural areas would be virtual no-go zones for regime forces. Some urban areas may just welcome them like the Vichy French.
It seems to me that the biggest problem for the resistance would be the lack of electricity. If the regime restored power to each region as it was brought into compliance, it could make for effective deadly propaganda against the resistance. It’s the old “freedom vs security” dilemma on steroids. I’m not sure which way the populace would go in that case, especially in winter.

 That’s about the halfway mark. Look for the rest of the discussion next time. – Hank

When it Hits the Fan (Falling Down Excerpt)

Here’s an excerpt from R.A. Mathis’ excelent SHTF novel, Homeland: Falling Down. – Hank


After what seemed like a hundred miles, they finally reached the hospital. The ground outside was littered with patients. Doctors and nurses rushed from one victim to the other, trying to conduct triage as best they could. Walking wounded crowded the emergency entrance, blocking the door. Cole had seen this before in Syrian refugee camps. Whether the staff knew it or not, that’s what this place was turning into. He couldn’t believe this was the same city he visited two nights before.
Lieutenant Young ordered the vehicles to form a perimeter around the entrance to clear the way for medical personnel. The crowd wasn’t happy about it, but relented. Young went in to find the administrator. Cole helped his passenger from the Humvee “You’re safe now.”
The woman sobbed. “They just pulled me from my car. I don’t know why. They tried to rape me. I was trying to get to my son’s school. He’s in the first grade. I never should have let him go this morning.”
“Some of our guys are going to schools. Tell Private Hicks which one your son goes to and we’ll try to get you to him.” He gave her an MRE and a bottle of water, wishing he could do more.
Cole noticed a nurse kneeling over an old man who was lying in the grass. Her blonde hair was pulled into a neat pony tail that fell gracefully over her shoulder as she treated a gash on the man’s forehead.
Cole grabbed a first aid pack from the back of his Humvee and walked over to her. He squatted next to the pretty nurse and handed her the sterile bandage. “This will help.”
“Thanks.” She examined the man’s head and asked Cole, “You have any water?”
“One sec.” Cole ran to his vehicle and brought back some bottled waters.
“Thanks again.” The nurse opened a bottle and washed out her patient’s wound, applied a spray-on antiseptic, and bound it with the dressing Cole gave her.
The old man took her hand. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” She gave him another water. “Drink this. You’ll be fine. Just rest a while and call if you need me.”
“You’re an angel,” the old man said.
The man took the words right out of Cole’s mouth as he watched her brush a lock of hair from her deep blue eyes.
She held a hand out to Cole. “I’m Amber.”
He took it, hypnotized by the young nurse’s striking gaze. “I’m…Cole.” He regained his senses and looked at the multitude waiting for care. “You’ve got your hands full.”
“It’s getting worse every hour. We’re already low on bandages and antibiotics. I don’t know how long we can keep this up.”
“I’m here to help.”
“Be careful what you offer. I’ll put you to work.”
“Sounds good to me.”
Someone yelled, “Help! Somebody help! Please! My little girl!”
Cole saw a man carrying his daughter. She was pale and limp, her limbs dangling as he staggered through the crowd. Both were covered in blood.
Cole ran to them and took the child into his arms as Amber asked, “What happened to her?”
The father responded, “Car accident. Truck came out of nowhere.”
Cole sprinted to the ER, holding the girl tightly. A doctor blocked him and said, “You can’t take her in there. We don’t have any more room.”
Sergeant Crowe walked up and grabbed the doctor by the collar. “Make room.”
The doctor wilted under the sergeant’s cold stare and iron grip. “I’ll squeeze her in someplace. Follow me.”
Crowe took the child from Cole. Her eyes opened slightly and looked up at the crotchety sergeant. He said, “I gotcha, sweetheart. You’re gonna be okay.” He snapped at the doctor. “What the hell are you waitin’ for?”
The doctor trotted into the hospital with Crowe and the girl close on his heels.
Amber was true to her word. She worked Cole and his men relentlessly. He lost count of how many people they treated as the hours passed. For every one they helped, three more arrived in need of aid. By dusk, almost every inch of ground around the hospital was covered with wounded waiting for help.
Streetlights came to life as Amber went back to the E.R. for more supplies, but returned empty handed. Her warm breath puffed in the chilled night air as she told Cole, “They’re out of everything. Do you have any more supplies?”
“No. What little we had ran out hours ago.” He surveyed the mass of humanity sprawled across the grounds. “The temperature is dropping fast. If we don’t figure something out, most of these people will freeze to death by morning.”
Crowe grabbed an MRE and a bottled water from his vehicle and yelled, “Hicks!”
“Yes, Sergeant!”
“Take these to the little girl we brought in a few hours ago then report back to me with her status.”
“How do I find her, Sergeant?”
“Just tell ‘em she’s the one I brought in. They’ll know who you’re talkin’ about. Her name is Becky. Tell her Sarge says hi.”
“Will do, Sergeant.” Hicks sprinted into the hospital.
Cole jested, “I always thought you had a heart in there somewhere.”
Crowe saw Cole staring at him with a grin. “What the hell are you smilin’ at?”
Cole tried to straighten his face. “Nothing, Sergeant.”
“Then wipe off that shit eatin’ grin.”
“Yes, Sergeant!”
Smoke from the smoldering city burned Cole’s nostrils. The cold night bit at him through his Gor-Tex jacket. He gazed at the poor souls shivering on the hospital grounds, wondering how many would be alive come morning. The chatter and beeps of the Humvee radios filled his ears, making him feel detached from his surroundings. The audio didn’t match the visual.
He looked at the blood smeared across his uniform. A little girl’s blood. American blood. This wasn’t supposed to happen here. This happened in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and a hundred other places like them. But not here.
Amber asked, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah.” Cole lied. “I’m good.”
Sergeant Crowe walked up to them and said, “These people are gonna freeze if we don’t do something. Gimme a hand. I got an idea.”
Cole, Amber, and several soldiers from the platoon helped Sergeant Crowe gather empty metal drums from inside the hospital and filled them with anything flammable.
Crowe told them, “We’ll set these on the ground and keep ‘em burnin’ all night. Gather the wounded around them close as you can. Should keep hypothermia from settin’ in. A nice warm burn barrel saved my ass on many a cold night.”
As the men set out the barrels, Crowe said to Cole in a low voice. “It’s time to think tactically. Prepare to defend this position.” He pointed to spots on the edge of the hospital grounds. I want fighting positions dug there, there, and there. You know the drill. Get moving.”
Amber ran up to Cole. “What’s going on?”
“We may have to defend this position.” Cole pointed to the hospital. “This place is full of drugs, food, and a bunch of other things people will need. If they’re desperate enough, they won’t think twice about killing us to get in.”
Amber shudder as gunshots crackled a few streets away.
Cole looked into her frightened eyes. “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”
Private Hicks reported back. “Where’s Sergeant Crowe?”
“He’s over there.”
The soldier ran over to Crowe. “I found Becky.”
“How is she?”
“She didn’t make it, Sergeant. The docs said there was nothing they could do.”
Crowe stared at Hicks, his jaw grinding.
Hicks added, “Her dad said to thank you.”
“You take it from here,” Crow said to Cole, “I’ll check on the L.T……. Ain’t seen him in a while.” The platoon sergeant suddenly seemed old and tired.
Crowe turned and walked back to the hospital, kicking a trashcan over with a curse. Cole saw him wipe his eyes before going in.
The glow of fires in the city silhouetted the buildings nearby, casting ghostly shadows across Cole’s gaunt face as the last rays of sunlight disappeared. He looked at the sick and wounded civilians huddled around the fire barrels. The points of warmth shone brightly in the darkness. It looked as if the stars had fallen to Earth. Cole never believed in astrology, but he could easily read the ominous portents of these flickering terrestrial constellations.
Shouts echoed in the twilight from the edge of the clearing.
“Help!” a woman shouted.
“Hey!” More yelling. A man this time. “Dammit!”
Pop! Pop! Then screams. People running. Stampeding.
“C’mon!” Cole and his men rushed toward the disturbance, weapons at the ready.
A fire barrel went over. Flame danced across the frosty ground.
“Freeze!” Hank shouted as he ran at the front of his troopers.
A thug held a woman by the hair, her body shielding his, a gun to her head.
At their feet lay a well-dressed man bleeding from several bullet wounds to the chest.
“Back off or the bitch gets it!” the gunman yelled.
Sergeant Crowe arrived next to Cole.
“Take it easy,” he said to the gunman. “Put the gun down.”
“You first, soldier boy.”
“I’ll give you anything you want. Just don’t hurt me,” the woman sobbed.
“You can’t win this one. So put it down. Now!” Crowe ordered.
“Please, don’t let him hurt me,” the woman begged.
“Screw you!” The gunman whipped his pistol about and shot the sergeant.
Crowe staggered backward. Cole’s men returned fire as one. The shooter and the sergeant both hit the ground.


Stay tuned for a discussion between me and the author about America’s fate in the near future, and how it might play out. – Hank

Falling Down: Homeland # 1

As frightening, depressing and infuriating as it can be, these days I spend more time reading about impending catastrophe than about any other subject.

When somebody I know produces such work, there’s a good chance they will get to buck the line and their book will go to the top of my TBR pile. I read R.A. Matthis‘ first novel, Ghosts of Babylon, a couple years ago and it deserves the five-star Amazon reviews it received. When I found out he was kicking off a TEOTWAWKI series… well, his new book went to the front of the queue.

The novel follows three principle characters through the final stage of America’s fundamental transformation–Eduardo, the news media personality; Hank, the small town sheriff (with a name like that you just know he’s a stand-up guy…ahem); and Cole, Hank’s son and an E-6 in the Army recently returned from a deployment to Syria.

For the awakened, the strongest subcurrents in the novel are familiar: economic collapse; the encroaching police state (as represented by the Department of Fatherland Homeland Security); utter and complete politicization of the Armed Forces, to be used against the American people, and purging of those who would honor their oath of office. But Mathis’ storytelling is so understated, I can almost imagine the typical normalcy-biased coincidence theorist reading it without being offended. Where I used a sledgehammer in False FLag, Mathis uses a small, quiet whisper (relatively speaking).

The cast is rendered expertly, and this is especially obvious with Eduardo. He’s got all the gray areas and “complexities” you could hope for in a three-dimensional character. The plot, pacing and dialog are also strong. Mathis is really firing on all cylinders here. The occasional typo snuck by the editor (as with seemingly every book these days–mine included), but not enough to pull the reader out of his immersion in this near-future dystopia.

It’s hard not to slip into cliches when describing this book, like “page-turner” and “couldn’t put it down.” I had family visiting, plus work and assorted other obligations, and didn’t think I could get much more than a chapter or two read in a 12-day period.

I was stunned to found myself finished with the entire  book in two days. I still don’t know how I found so much time. (Getting this review ready for posting took longer, as it turned out.) But it’s that good, and I want more.

Mathis blogs over at The Assembly Area. You can also find him on Facebook or his Amazon page.

The Warrior Poets

I’m pleased to turn over the reins today to a fellow author and soldier. Enjoy this guest post from R. A. Mathis.

– Hank


The author and the soldier live in very different worlds, but sometimes those worlds collide. On rare occasions, pen and sword are both wielded deftly by the same hand.

Many veterans record their wartime recollections in straight forward narratives and memoirs, but few filter their experiences through the lens of fiction. Of these, only a miniscule fraction is ever published. This is especially true of our most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. A quick search on Amazon or the local bookstore will produce an avalanche of veteran-authored non-fiction about any conflict you care to name with a pitifully small sampling of novels penned by vets. But this small band includes some literary giants such as Hemingway, Vonnegut, and Tolkien to name a few. Torch in one hand, quill in the other, these brave souls explore the cavernous depths of human nature, illuminating its flaws, virtues, and fears. They peer into the places we try to keep hidden and pull out the ugly truths that plague us as individuals and society as a whole.

I imagine many of them turn to fiction for the same reason I did. The sights, sounds, smells, stress, and emotions of combat are a lot for the mind to take in…too much, actually. Eventually, you have to switch off your humanity for the sake of your sanity. Emotion is removed from your thought process because it has to be. The shredded body of a kid killed by an insurgent’s IED isn’t somebody’s child. It’s just a thing. You think, that’s a shame. But in the back of your mind, you know it was a six-year-old boy – what was left of him. You still hear the child’s mother wailing when you’re lying in your bunk or manning an observation post in the quite of the night. You still don’t sleep. Your stomach still stays in knots. Your loved ones still hear it in your voice when you call home. You try to stuff it all in the deepest corner of your head you can find. You tell yourself, “Just get through it. You can think about it later.”

Eventually, if you’re lucky enough to make it home, you do think about it…a lot. There were questions, doubts, and guilt. Did I make the right decisions? Did I take the right actions? What should I have done differently? Could I have saved a fellow soldier? Why did I make it home? Why didn’t he?

I turned to writing as a form of self-therapy to help work through what was going on in my head. Memoirs are invaluable historical documents and may even aid their writers in venting some of the emotional steam imparted by the pressure cooker of war, but they rarely delve into the deeper, darker places of the soul. Fiction does. I was soon writing for hours a night. It was as if a dam had burst and everything I’d stuffed away in those remote emotional nooks came spilling out all at once through my fingers and onto the keyboard. Eventually, a novel began to take form. The first draft was pretty rough. The final still isn’t Shakespeare, but it’s honest.

War, like all evil, changes everything it touches. All soldiers know that going in. At least they should. All they can do is try to make it a change for the better. My own writing is a product of this ongoing challenge.

Endeavoring to join the ranks of those warrior poets who successfully picked up the pen after laying down the sword, I present my own feeble effort. It’s an attempt to convey the grit, heartbreak, uncertainty, humor, brutality, camaraderie, despair, exhilaration, deprivation, and terror that is war. My predecessors have set the bar high and it’s frustrating as hell trying to reach it. But like them, I’m a soldier. And like a good soldier, I’ll press on.

From his Amazon Page:

A jack-of-all-trades and master of some, R.A. Mathis has worn many hats as a husband, father, student, teacher, soldier, and then some. However, he has always been a writer. After graduating from the University of Tennessee with a BS in mathematics, he served nine years in the army as an armored cavalry officer, rising to the rank of captain and holding a secret-level clearance. During that time, he served a yearlong combat tour in Iraq. He has since earned an MBA and transitioned to the field of finance. Rob currently lives in Tennessee with his wife and family.

Paper Clip, High Jump, and Nazis in Antarctica

Those are what my co-guest, Bruno De Marqes, talked about on the Speculative Fiction Cantina podcast.

Fate plays some interesting jokes. I was there to talk about my books, especially False Flag . I fully expected to rock the boat broaching some of the conspiritorial subjects FF deals with. (Truth be told, there wasn’t time to go into much detail anyway.) Bruno was there to talk about his book, Futureman. I couldn’t believe my ears when he mentioned researching Operation High Jump and Operation Paper Clip.

So here’s a guy in Portugul who chased down the same crazy historical facts-that-sound-like-pulp-fiction I had. The between-the-lines background for one sub-plot in False Flag is MK Ultra and Project Monarch. All of the above were related to Paper Clip.

It doesn’t sound as crazy coming from a foreigner, for some reason.

Anyway, the subjects were only mentioned in summary. Most of the interview focuses on other aspects of us/our fiction.