Gerry B's Book Reviews

Moral Authority, by Jacob Z. Flores

My nomination for the most outstanding debut novel of the year!

This is a re—release (May 22, 2013). It is not yet available on Amazon, but copies can be obtained through Wilde City Press.

moral authority - coverStory blurb: In the year 2050, America has changed. Profoundly. Homosexuality is a crime, cursing in public is a punishable offense, and lifestyle legislation keeps American citizens on a prescribed moral path. The country lives in a Moral Age, all thanks to The Moral Authority, the nation’s fourth branch of government, which has held dominion for the past thirty-five years. Yet the Moral Age comes at a price. Americans either live like mindless cattle or in fear. Told from three points of view, Mark, the brash young hero, who finds true love in the most desolate of places; Isaac, the renegade, who searches for redemption, and Samuel the dictatorial megalomaniac intent on maintaining his power, Moral Authority exposes what happens to a nation that continues to restrict, instead of broadening, civil rights.

About the author: Jacob Z. Flores lives with Bruce, his partner of eight years, and their three children, Pilar, Ainsley, and Carson in Victoria, Texas. Jacob is also a Professor of English at Victoria College.

*Available in paperback from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

***

Review by Gerry Burnie

“Moral Authority” [Wilde City Press, May 22, 2013] is author Jacob Z. Flores’ debut novel, and what a debut it is! Flores has conceived a dystopian plot every bit as prophetic and sinister as George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” except that in this case the unforgiving focus is on homosexuality as the ‘thought crime’ and homosexuals as the prescribed enemies of ‘the common good’. Therefore, my hat goes off to him for having tackled (successfully in my opinion) a demanding literary challenge of this complexity so early in his career.

The story centres on Mark Bryon, a quite average graduate student who in ordinary circumstances wouldn’t attract any undue attention apart from being young and attractive. However these are not “ordinary” times when every move, both public and private, is subject to scrutiny by those who have voluntarily subjected themselves to a morally-incorrupt, corrupt state: i.e. “The Moral Authority.” Therefore, there is a very Orwellian tone throughout, including a ‘Big Brother’ in the person of Samuel Pleasant, ‘Newspeak,” and the subjugation of free thought.

There are also the usual twin pillars that form the basis of most fascist regimes, e.g. a simplistic reason for being, and a perceived enemy—both within and without. For example:

According to Randy Gonzales, over the past thirty-five years the United States managed to save itself from moral corruption because of the newest branch of our nation’s government. Since its inception by President Sarah Palin in 2014 and the constitutional amendment she and the Republican majority helped pass the following year, the moral downslide the country experienced then had not only been halted but come about at least 180 degrees. Gone were the days of media violence and pornography. All illegal drugs and associated crimes had been virtually eliminated. Murder, rape, gang violence, thefts, domestic crimes, prostitution, and even vandalism accounted for less than 10% of the overall crime rate in the entire nation. As a result, communities within the United States enjoyed a golden age. 14

And the perceive enemy:

Constitutional amendments and which all had their origins from within the Moral Authority, freed this country from such unhealthy lifestyle choices that caused many health and societal problems, such as homosexuality, obesity, smoking, alcoholism, and even profanity. To commemorate the thirty-fifth anniversary, the Supreme High Chancellor of the Moral Authority, Samuel Pleasant, planned to address the nation the following week. Speculations already abounded that Supreme High Chancellor Pleasant intended to unveil further social legislation to better streamline this nation’s morality. This came about due to recent attacks against moral law instigated by a group of domestic terrorists calling themselves the Human Rights Campaign.  15 [Emphasis mine].

The story then builds on this theme, and as it progresses the plot gets darker and darker in very much the same fashion as totalitarian states rule by edict and the point of a gun. However, at no time does the author push any of this over the top so that credibility is strained. Even in the latter parts of the story when the Moral Authority’s “K3s” are at their cruelest (i.e KKK, the equivalent of the Nazi’s SS elite guard), the reader is never caused to doubt that it could happen.

Along the way, however, the author does make some cogent observations in the context of the narrative, i.e.

According to Mark’s research, the number of Americans cited with violations of the moral code of respect had risen in many major U.S. cities. The manpower and resources alone used to enforce such petty violations could be better redirected to rehabilitating offenders who committed more egregious crimes in the nation, 33

which is a point that applies beyond this fiction to real life. I might add, as well, that the hidden cost of every law—large or small—that is made and enforced is a diminution of our civil liberties. I think this is the message to be gained from this story.

On the other hand, I think I could be tempted to accept a law that restricted unruly children in restaurants, i.e.

The mother and father looked exhausted, and he could see why. Their two preschool aged boys were in the middle of a pretend sword fight with their chopsticks as stand in swords. Obviously, there were no moral officers here as the parents would certainly be in violation of the code of respect concerning the appropriate behavior of children in public. 35 [Emphasis mine].

Altogether this is an engrossing story from beginning to end, a real page-turner and superbly written. I nominate Moral Authority by Jacob Z. Flores as the most outstanding debut novel of the year. Five Stars.

News

Visitor count to Gerry B’s Book Reviews: 50,605

***

If you would like to learn more about any of my books, or to order copies, click on the specific cover below. Two Irish Lads and Nor All Thy Tears are available in both Kindle and Nook formats. Publisher’s price, $4.95.

      

Thanks for dropping by. Your continuing interest is greatly appreciated.

 

September 4, 2011 - Posted by | Fantasy, Fiction, Gay fiction, Gay Literature, Gay romance, Homoerotic

5 Comments »

  1. I have no argument that a Big Brother type of government is possible. The question is how closely can so many people be monitored? Unless there are some new technologies involved and/or everyone has an embedded computer chip directly connected to some monitoring station, everyday control over an individual’s every action at the level the author suggests is simply impossible. For me, that just happens to be a plot killer.

    But even if we disagree, I enjoy your reviews.

    Comment by Catana | September 5, 2011 | Reply

    • Point taken, and I sure do appreciate your interest. Please keep your thoughts coming. Regards, Gerry B.

      Comment by Gerry B. | September 5, 2011 | Reply

  2. It sounded interesting enough to look it up on Amazon, but the sample was disappointing. It starts off with an unnecessary and not particularly informative prologue, and the writing, overall, is somewhat amateurish. I love science fiction, and projections of the present into the future, but the idea that a country of over 300 millions citizens can be so minutely monitored is one of those unrealistic plots that new writers seem to love.

    It’s a worthy goal to try to show where our present loses of freedom can lead, but going over the top to make a point won’t convince (or impress) anyone who’s aware of the complexity of our political system and what it takes to bring about even the most minor changes. At some point, science fiction can become mere fantasy, which is fine, if that’s you enjoy reading.

    Comment by Catana | September 5, 2011 | Reply

    • Thank you for taking the time to share your cogent thoughts. As to whether the ‘Big Brother’ premise is feasible is a matter open to debate, but I can offer a couple of parallels in history, i.e. Communism and Naziism. Moreover, a form of mind control goes on every day in every commercial aired–particularly those directed toward kids. As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.

      Comment by Gerry B. | September 5, 2011 | Reply

  3. […] Review of Moral Authority Review by Gerry Burnie (please click the link to see the full article on Gerry’s book review […]

    Pingback by A Review of Moral Authority by Gerry Burnie | September 4, 2011 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: