Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Rockabilly Limbo

Rockabilly Limbo
by William W. Johnstone
1996 Zebra

A quick recap - ex-cop Cole Younger and friends investigated a haunted roadhouse which got dropped from the story in favor of a child snuff porn ring which got abandoned for Satan causing non-Christians to go on a murder spree and a contagious zombie plague.

The following year, the murder sprees begin again, this time worldwide.  We're promised the Devil template (people who don't shower sodomize and murder each other) on a global scale.  And, thanks to his meticulous plotting, Johnstone is a writer who always follows through with his premise.

The end of most Devil books happens in the first couple chapters.  Cole and gang defend their home against waves of Satanists and zombies.  Across the country, terrorists of various stripes attack government facilities, while previously normal citizens gang up and murder each other.  So we're told, not so much shown.

Cole and company gather up supplies and head to the hills.  I hope you didn't think this sequel to a horror novel was going to be a horror novel.  Because it isn't.  It's a survivalist/post-apocalyptic novel.  Johnstone makes a half-hearted effort to cling to his original premise by having a disembodied voice play old rock music, which will certainly be relevant to the story and be fully explained by the end.

Unwashed Satanists fight far-right religious zealots and not-quite-as-far-right militias who have carved out Arkansas and Tennessee.  Cole has a rough plan to head to the Rocky Mountains, but mostly just drives through various checkpoints because I loved reading that so much in the Ashes books.

Cole's gang picks up some journalists to have someone to pick on for a while.  When asked what Cole has against journalists, he finally explains:  Journalists are liberals and therefore against assisted suicide, but a rancher he knew would shoot coyotes and wolves, and people eat meat.  Crystal clear political philosophy there - a John Locke for our generation.

I hope you didn't think this would be a survivalist/post-apocalyptic novel, because things settle down pretty quickly.  No, this is all a soapbox for Johnstone to proclaim his Tri-State philosophy.  That's right, America finds its way back to stability by embracing the ideas expressed by the fictional character of Ben Raines in the Ashes series, which in this alternate reality had the same effect that Ayn Rand did on the Tea Party.  I don't know which is worse.

That philosophy is that some people are bad.  Those people should be killed.  Then you just have good people left.  Government should stay out of people's lives, except for when it executes half the population for the slightest rule infraction.  This is not genocide, since you're murdering millions across various demographics evenly.  Still more coherent than Objectivism.

But what about Satan and ghost voices and the whole Rockabilly thing.  We're just told that it's not really Satan causing all the violence, it's aliens.  But we're constantly reassured that aliens have the same God and Satan as Earth, so Satan could still have something to do with something.  The voice is maybe an alien voice, or maybe Satan, or maybe an alien Satan.  That would have been interesting, so it doesn't happen.

Either way, the voice says that they're not controlling anybody anymore, and the violence in the world is just people being violent.  Which is a good thing, because people can finally murder all the bad people without the liberal government getting in the way.  And murder the bad people's families.

As we lurch to a close, Johnstone toys with the idea of there being a conclusion or a plot or something before throwing in the aliens.  Jumpsuited humanoids straight out of Plan 9 From Outer Space tell the President that there are other bad aliens causing all the violence and they made them stop.  Everyone suddenly stops fighting and doesn't remember the previous year, so I guess it wasn't Satan or bad people being bad people after all, just aliens.

The aliens let us know that they believe in the same God and that they don't have anything to do with the haunted roadhouses from the last book.  The country is broken into militias, the IRS is abolished, the FBI is not allowed to investigate innocent people, the end.

The end to Johnstone's rapidly declining horror writing career, and the end of this increasingly burdensome chore of a project.  You've let me down, America, so I'm hopping the pond and moving on to a real writer.  Goodbye Johnstone 26, hello Guy N. Smith 10,000,000.

Click here if you hate yourself enough to read this on Kindle from Amazon

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