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What it is and How to Write It
Full Mark Dankof Book Review
by Justin Oldham,
author of "Politics & Patriotism: The Fisk Conspiracy"
Dec. 9, 2004
Conspiracy Theory is a modern form of Speculative Fiction. It can trace its lineage back to the post World War Two Science Fiction, which was more politically conscious than its pre- war predecessors. In the 1950's, Science Fiction and Cold War spy fiction took parallel paths in development. At some point, they rubbed off on each other. The political awareness and technical savvy they shared allowed these two genres to feed off each other for the next three decades. In many respects, that symbiotic relationship still exists.
In the 1970's, Cold War Fiction came in to its own. Espionage and government- sponsored intrigues became accepted parts of spy fiction. Within that genre, skilled writers played on the reader's nationalist sympathies and fear of unsympathetic ideologies. For the first time, we see well-defined trends that result in well-defined writing formulas which routinely pit the story's heros and heroines against their own governments.
By the early 1990's, these scenarios and character types became an accepted part of Espionage Fiction. The element of governmental mistrust had become so common that it was often ridiculed by those who did not appreciate the genre. Real-world events such as the stand- offs at Ruby Ridge and Waco only served to increase the popularity of conspiracy-based fiction. By January of 2000, the modern Conspiracy Theory form of Speculative Fiction was well established and thriving.
I published my first novel, "Politics & Patriotism: The Fisk Conspiracy," on September 14 of 2004. This book is just one example of modern Conspiracy Theory that will make its mark on the 21st Century. I put everything I learned about the genre in to practice as I successfully wrote this book. Since publishing, I've been asked many times how I did it. I personally think that knowledge is useless if it isn't shared. With that in mind, I'd like to share with you how I did write my first novel in this very challenging genre.
I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science. I also hold a degree in History. Before you can write about a conspiracy, you have to understand it, and its place in world events. Even if you're just making it up, you still need to understand how your imaginary intrigue fits in to the world around you. Educating yourself about history and politics can go a long way towards making your dream a reality. Don't get bogged down in the small details of the period you're trying to understand. If your story takes place in the present day or near future (as mine does), you should concentrate on the essentials. Who, what, how, where, and when.
If your story takes place in the past, be aware that your audience is Here and Now. Don't drown them with period details that only mean something to you. Moderate your use of period dialogue. Don't give too much ink to the descriptions of cars and clothing if they aren't vital to the story. The same goes for firearms and military vehicles. You're not writing a history book that will be referenced for its value to anthropology. You're writing a story that you made up. Your chief duty in this regard is make the reader 'feel' like they're in the period you're talking about.
All conspiracies, no matter how diabolical, involve people. Bureaucrats are people, too. I know this from experience, 'cause I used to be one. Before you start writing, you should take some time to sketch out your major characters. When writing for the first time, you're never going to know exactly when minor characters will be needed, so don't concern yourself with them until you've gotten past this stage in your story development. In school, I hated outlines with a passion. Now, I won't start work without one. An outline can exist in your head, or on paper. Think about the characters before you write them. Who they are and what they are capable of matters. If you try to make this up as you go along, you'll get in trouble.
As you create them, you're going to find that some characters take on a life of their own. They may not be capable of the deeds you need them to perform. In other cases, they may turn out to be so despicable that you can't stand to write them. I had this problem half way through my novel. A few of my characters were so morally and ethically bankrupt that I just couldn't go on. I stopped writing for three weeks. It hurt me to think I'd created people who were that "bad," even though I knew they'd get their just punishments in the end. Knowing what your conspiracy is, when it takes place, and who its players are, is only half the battle.
The thing to remember about all conspiracies is this. They have a point. Somebody started them for a reason. Even those conspiracies launched by fictional bureaucrats in fiction governments have a goal in mind. The people sworn to stop your carefully written conspiracy may not know the reason for the covert connection when the story begins, but they should figure it out in time to do 'something' before the story ends. I began my novel with the "good guys" knowing what the conspiracy was, and what they had to do about it. This shortcut saved me a lot of pages and let me devote more ink to other things.
As you write, you may get lost in your own deceptions and misdirections. If your characters and agendas are well defined and understood in their proper contexts, you may find the story writes itself. Why? because you understand your characters and what they will do before they do it. As they move to investigate, coerce, cover up, or kill, you're inside their minds and still able to make the story go where you want it to. This means you reach the end, and it turns out the way you planned it. I reached the intended end of my story after three years of writing. I did get the ending I wanted, but only after much thought and re-consideration. As well as I knew my characters and my plot, the actual journey was more intense than anything I'd planned for.
This brings me to my last point and piece of advice. Conspiracy Theory scares the reader and makes them think. Opinions may vary, but the fact remains that your portrait of What Could Be will provoke a response. As you write, you'll be taking the same journey as your readers. Yours will be scarier and more intense than theirs, because you'll know more than they do from the start of the first word on the first page. If you find yourself scratching your head when its all over and done, wondering "what just happened," don't be afraid to re-write some or all of what you've done. If you don't know what your point is/was, neither will your readers. I re-wrote the first 10 chapters of my book 15 times before it 'felt' right. I re-wrote the ending of my novel 4 times before I felt like I'd made my very scary point.
Conspiracy Theory, as a genre, is about manipulation. Politics. Deceiving others to get what you want. The hidden agenda is perhaps the darkest and most unclean of human politics. Its just as complicated as the people who push for it, or against it. Telling your story can seem harder than actually hatching the conspiracy you're trying to write about. As the author, its your job to confront these things before anyone sees your work. Unless, of course, there's a conspiracy to keep you from writing that book in the first place.
The Fisk Conspiracy
For brief excerpt, click here.
Justin's book is very interestign to say the least. I dont know how he kept things straight in the book but looks like this man has taken a few lessons from Clancey.
By ALAN STANG
(New Novel by Alan Stang)
Dec. 3, 2004
(FOREWORD by CHARLESTON VOICE:
Many of you will not have heard of Alan Stang, but he's the best. I started reading his stuff in American Opinion and the Review of the News in the 1970s. Whether you get his book or not is up to you, but I highly suggest you go to his web site, and read from his archives, and listen to him on the radio. He's original. You won't be disappointed.)
After five years of labor-begun long before I ever heard of Mel Gibson's "Passion"-my new book is finally here. I call it simply, "He." It is my hymn to the greatest hero of all time, who is of course Jesus Christ. Over the centuries, the greatest painters, sculptors and composers have rendered their versions of His story. I am a novelist, and He is mine. I think I am safe in saying that you have never seen a treatment like this.
To see the front cover of "He", go to http://www.stangbooks.com. It would take up too much of your email space here. The back cover is below and will tell you something about it. The staggering review by Franklin Sanders, Editor & Publisher of Moneychanger, is just one of many like it. If you like what you see, please pass this message along to the people in your address book, and ask them to do the same. If you send it to your own people, it would not be spam.
As He was in the beginning, so Jesus is "controversial" now, as He promised He would be, and as the "Passion" proved. The atheists paradoxically attack Him with such fury because they know He is alive. So, I have elected to avoid the torment of begging their approval and shall distribute He myself. The book is $16, including S & H.
To order by credit card, please call the American Opinion Bookstore of North Hollywood, 1 (800) 470-8783.
To order by mail, send $16 to P.O. Box 580503, Houston, Texas, 77258. Thanks and many blessings.
Starting at one ear, she firmly drew the blade across his throat. It was like peeling a fruit, like chopping leeks, something she did every day. He was so surprised, he did not understand what she was doing and watched her while she did it. . . . She threw the knife away and straddled him. He tried to swing, to hit her, but because she was so close he could not. He bucked and reared, but could not shake her loose. Now, the blood was gushing from his throat. She held on in mortal terror, fingers in his robe, riding the behemoth, trying to keep him down, knowing that if she let him go, she would be dead. But how long could she do that? . . . The Unnameable would not help her. He never had. He certainly would not help a woman who had done what she had done, if He existed at all. If He existed at all, how could the Unnameable allow what she had suffered? . . .
Judea was aflame with hints of revolution. At any moment, the Messiah would arrive, the man the people had awaited for so long, sent by the Unnameable to liberate the nation from the Romans. The only thing the people did not know was his identity. Herod Antipas had beheaded one man. In distant Galilee, another had turned water into wine, but His disciples were ignorant bumpkins and smelled of fish.
I found the idea of Jesus uncertain of His calling, or ignorant of it, a fine illustration of His total humanity, which shocks our Sunday School ideas. I liked that very much, as well as the interplay with the disciples, and their stupidity and obtuseness. Very, very good. The further I got into the book the deeper it drew me in . . . . I found myself genuinely engaged, indeed, to tears.
Franklin Sanders, Editor & Publisher,
Listen to Alan Stang every weekday on the American Freedom Network, over KHNC Radio, Johnstown, Colorado, 1360 AM, 3-5 p.m. Mountain Time, or via computer streaming around the world. Go to http://www.stangbooks.com, click on network talk radio, then on americanewsnet. If you like what you hear, ask your local radio station to run the Sting of Stang. To read about Alan Stang's books, go to http://www.stangbooks.com.
Neocons "counterfeit conservatives" exposed - genuine traditionalists championed - America First will restore the Republic
Mark Dankof Book Review
Nov. 27, 2004
The New Great Game: Blood and Oil in Central Asia by Lutz Kleveman Mark Dankof commends Lutz Kleveman's The New Great Game: Blood and Oil in Central Asia as must reading. Kleveman's analysis of Central Asian and Caspian Sea littoral state politics demonstrates unequivocally that Bush's War on Terror is linked to oil and natural gas deposits--and strategically placed pipeline routes. The Byzantine alliances, ethnic conflicts, and Great Power machinations contain all the ingredients for long-term disaster for the United States, which may discover the limits of the American Empire in the expenditure of money-- and the blood of its sons and daughters--in following the failed policy of its British predecessor.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE GOVERNMENT BREAKS ITS OWN LAWS
by Andrew P. Napolitano
Published by Nelson Current
Nov. 11, 2004
Read the Amazon.com Editorial Review:
"In this alarming book, Judge Napolitano makes the solid case that there is a pernicious and ever-expanding pattern of government abuse in America’s criminal justice system, leading him to establish his general creed: “The government is not your friend.” As an attorney, a law professor, a commentator, a judge, and now a successful television personality, Judge Napolitano has studied the system inside and out, and his unique voice has resonance and relevance. Whether in the big, headliner criminal cases or in the thousands of small-town trials no one ever hears about (but should), the police, the prosecutors, the politicians, the judges, and the machinery of government are inexorably grinding away at the individual liberties guaranteed to all Americans by the Constitution. But in this sensational new book, Napolitano sets the record straight, speaking frankly from his own experiences and careful, thorough investigation and revealing how government agencies will often arrest without warrant, spy without legal authority, imprison without charge, and kill without cause."
Available from Amazon.Com thru this website for $17.81, a 34% discount
THE GREAT NEW GAME:
BLOOD AND OIL IN CENTRAL ASIA
by LUTZ KLEVEMAN
By MARK DANKOF
New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2003, 287 pp.
Full Mark Dankof Book Review
MORE SHOCKING GOVERNMENT COVER UP ON TERRORISM!
As interviewed by George Noory on the international live radio talk show "Coast To Coast AM" on Oct. 7, 2004, investigate reporter Peter Lance has compiled shocking evidence of terrorists' planning & plots, KNOWN BY OUR OWN GOVERNMENT, leading up to 9-11, & how it all could have been prevented.
COVER UP: WHAT THE GOVERNMENT
IS STILL HIDING ABOUT THE WAR ON TERROR
By Peter Lance
Hardcover, available for $17.65, a 32% discount, from Amazon.com thru this website
(Book Description from Amazon.com:)
"Ever since 9/11, investigative reporter Peter Lance has been leading the fight to expose the intelligence gaps that led to 9/11. Now, in the follow-up to his bestselling 1000 Years for Revenge, he returns with devastating new evidence that the government has been covering up its own counterterror failures since the mid-1990s -- and continues today.
"In Cover Up, Lance shows how the government chose again and again to sacrifice America's national security for personal motives and political convenience. In its first half, he unveils shattering new evidence that terror mastermind Ramzi Yousef ordered the bombing of TWA 800 from his prison cell in order to effect a mistrial in his own terror bombing case. Astonishingly, the FBI was alerted to Yousef's plans in advance by a prison informant who even passed along his detailed sketch of a bomb-trigger device -- a document seen here for the first time. And Lance reveals the shocking reason the Justice Department suddenly ruled the crash an accident despite overwhelming evidence of the bombing -- throwing away its best chance to penetrate the cell that was already planning 9/11.
"And the outrage doesn't stop there. In Part II, Lance offers an unofficial "minority report" on the 9/11 Commission, critiquing it as the incomplete, highly politicized "Warren Commission of our time." He explores potential conflicts of interest among its members, from the staff director who wrote a book with Condoleezza Rice, to the former Clinton deputy attorney general who participated in a critical meeting that upended the TWA probe. He exposes the report's false contention that the 9/11 plan was conceived in 1996, when the FBI had knowledge that the plot was in motion as early as 1994. And, in a heart-stopping, minute-by-minute chronicle of the attacks, he asks dozens of unanswered questions about the defense failures of that day -- from why fighter jets weren't scrambled for almost an hour after the hijackings, to why the president and several of his top military advisers remained virtually incommunicado for more than half an hour after it was clear that America was under attack.
"At a time when America feels no safer than ever, Cover Up will lend new eyes to readers who want the full story behind the 9/11 attacks -- and inspire us all to keep demanding the truth."
1000 YEARS FOR REVENGE:
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM AND THE FBI - THE UNTOLD STORY
By Peter Lance
Hardcover, available for $18.45, a 34% discount, from Amazon.com thru this website
(Book Description from Amazon.com:)
"For most Americans the true origin of the 9/11 attacks remains a mystery. But as the two jetliners hit the Twin Towers, three strangers knew exactly what had happened. FBI agent Nancy Floyd, FDNY fire marshal Ronnie Bucca, and Ramzi Yousef, the bomb-making terrorist an American judge once called "an apostle of evil," had been on a collision course for years—soldiers on opposing sides of a terror war raging since the late 1980s.
"Now, in 1000 Years for Revenge -- a groundbreaking investigative work that reads like an international thriller -- award-winning journalist Peter Lance reveals how the FBI missed dozens of opportunities to stop the attacks of September 11, dating back to 1989. Drawing on interviews with scores of central figures in the story, as well as hundreds of pages of declassified documents, Lance uncovers startling evidence of FBI negligence that even a joint congressional committee missed. Among his revelations:
- From the early 1990s, Osama bin Laden was running an active al Qaeda terror cell in New York City -- with blind sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman as its leader and Ramzi Yousef as its master bomb maker.
- The FBI had sufficient intelligence to capture Yousef before he built the first World Trade Center bomb in 1993. In 1995, they learned that he had already set the 9/11 suicide-hijacking plot in motion from Manila -- that he was planning "to return to the U.S. to attack the World Trade Center a second time." Yet each time the FBI missed the opportunity to stop him.
- FBI agent Nancy Floyd used a key informant to penetrate the cell of Sheikh Rahman -- only to have the operation sandbagged by her FBI supervisor.
- Most alarming, in 1992, a confidant of Sheikh Rahman removed the plans for the World Trade Center from FDNY headquarters. Ronnie Bucca brought the information to the FBI in 1999 but he was ignored.
"This is a story of heroes: Nancy Floyd, who tried to bring down the New York terror cell but paid for her efforts with damage to her career, and Ronnie Bucca, who tried to alert the FBI to the security threat to New York City from al Qaeda but paid for the agency's negligence with his life on 9/11. It is also a story of the power of evil: Lance offers a chilling chronicle of how one man -- the elusive mastermind Yousef -- managed to defeat the entire American security system in what Lance calls "the greatest failure of intelligence since the Trojan Horse."
"An unparalleled work of investigative reporting and masterful storytelling, 1000 Years for Revenge will change forever the way we look at the FBI and the war on terrorism in the twenty-first century."
THE TERROR TIMELINE:
YEAR BY YEAR, DAY BY DAY, MINUTE BY MINUTE:
A COMPREHENSIVE CHRONICLE OF THE ROAD TO 9/11 -- AND AMERICA'S RESPONSE
By Paul Thompson
Paperback, available for $13.97, a 30% discount, from Amazon.com thru this website
(Book Description from Amazon.com:)
"Paul Thompson's The Terror Timeline offers a complete and thorough history of the many roads that converged on 9/11, including the development of Islamic fundamentalism, the activities of bin Laden and al-Qaeda, and the failures of U.S. investigations and counterterrorism efforts. It traces the actions (and inactions) of every important figure in the war on terror, both before and after 9/11, bringing them together in a volume that offers a comprehensive and provocative look at this complex subject. Packed with little-known facts and disturbing questions, The Terror Timeline is the first complete reference guide to the events of 9/11 and the war on terror -- the definitive primer on the most momentous issue of our times."
Additional info is also available at: