To be perfectly honest, I don’t know if this qualifies as a Catholic book. Frankly, I would think it’s a pro-life novel, though the author insists that she just wants to start a conversation. You can see some of her thought processes in interviews with her, but that’s a link for another time.
With the blessing of the 55th President of the United States, the newly formed Office of Familial Equality promises to end all the nation’s problems including poverty and illness with the Family Protection Act. The only catch is all pregnancies must be registered and approved.
All eyes turn to the first person to break the law, Justin Winters, an electrician suddenly turned subject of national attention. Joining him in the escape are the women known only as Spring, Summer, and Fall as they work together to run from the bureaucracy and national spotlight that pursues them.
Once the secretary of the OFE learns Winters has tested positive for causing multiple unregistered pregnancies, he comes after him full force, as the future of the Act rests upon if and how Winters and the women are brought in. Their successful defiance would lead to more defectors, their capture providing an opportunity to make an example of them all.
With little more than the clothes on their backs, the four set off on a quest for freedom and to keep the identity of the mother a secret. Most of all, they are running from an ordinance in the law which threatens what they hold most dear.
Now, on with the review.
As I tell everyone I know, I can read practically any book with a political message, as long as they tell me a good story. I’ll even take save the whales, as long as it’s as well done as Star Trek IV. Ordinance 93 is much like that, only the message is different.
I would normally say that it’s a pro-life message, but not really. Miss Fabry even said in her introduction that she wanted a message that the “pro-choice” and the pro-life crowd could get together on: What happens when you take away the choice? At the end of the day, I think this is less about American politics and more about the People’s Republic of China, where the policies in this book already take place. There are some elements that look like they came out of Obamacare news stories, but those are minimal, and could have been written into the story as an afterthought for all I know. All in all, Fabry has created an interesting dystopia, but also a good spy thriller.
Much of the book is dedicated to exfiltration from this nightmare come true, and a chase, and it’s well done spycraft that’s not exactly John Le Carre, but as close as I’m going to see for a while. We have four strong character studies amongst our main characters, Justin Winter, and his three companions, codenamed Spring Fall and Summer (like I said, a good spy thriller — at least it wasn’t Tinker, Tailor, Soldier and Sailor), and there are elements of Clare Booth Luce to the way she handles the interpersonal interaction, well- written and realistic. Also, there are some great bits of witty narration that have some interesting turns of phrase that are almost on par with Raymond Chandler … though there are some times when she tries just a little too hard.
At the end of the day, this is less about the politics and more about the chase. And I think she has an interesting way of slipping a pro-life message in, no matter how she tries to frame the conversation.
Now, a little nitpicking. Considering the risks that our seasons quartet are taking, it would have been nice had the initial threat by the government been spelled out earlier in the book, instead of saved for the last 20%. There was almost too much implication at points about the dystopia. Sure, this works in a horror movie, like Jaws, but the shark should jump out and drag someone under every once in a while.
My major problem, however, is with the ending. First, I saw the twist coming, and I expected it. This may not be the case with everyone else. Second, the rest of the ending … sigh. It’s open-ended. Yes, there’s enough there for an interesting conclusion, you can build your own … and that’s exactly what Fabry lets you do. I can understand why she did this, and it’s telegraphed in the opening introduction: she’s trying to allow anyone at either side of the abortion issue to create their own ending. J. Michael Straczynski said that good fiction is supposed to ask questions and cause bar fights. I think that if we got a bunch of people who read this book in a bar, talking about the ending, you can cause a good bar fight. So, mission accomplished.
However, for a book that’s 99% solid fun, $4.99 is a good price. She told a good story; she gets final victory.
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Copyright 2015, John Konecsni