Why OMAI?

I wrote Old Men and Infidels with the following observations:

1) In much of the developing world, the average age has fallen to the mid-twenties, not due to war, plague or famine but due to better food, better infant care and western intolerance to war,

2) Rather better known, is the fact that during the last 70 years, left expectancy has increased dramatically (e.g. Ghana from 46 to 71 years), due to reduced death from violence (in the USA down to about 0.3% of what it was mid-19th century), globalization (i.e. trade) and western affluence.

3) The world’s population is thus getting older and younger simultaneously.

OMAI is based on three items: aging, faith, and truth.

Aging is inexorable but not inevitable. A momentary hiccough in personal judgment or the world’s caprice and one is no longer aging but rotting. An increasing number of young Americans look at the continuum of aging and feel obliged to designate the other end of the distribution curve as an identifiable and demean-able sub-caste. These young disdain the elderly for possessing in abundance what they have in scarcity. They talk about what should be done while disdaining those that have already done. They ascribe greed to those who have demonstrated thrift and providence in their youth, even while lusting after that same wealth by means legal or otherwise, thus avoiding thrift and providence in their own youth. In any contentious argument, the supposedly irrefutable argument used when other arguments do not serve is: “You are old.”

Faith has refused to die on schedule. Faith, is a commodity that was supposed to have been interred a century ago, much to our grandparents’ surprise. Walter Lippman once said, “What most distinguishes the generation who have approached maturity since the debacle of idealism at the end of the (First World) War is not their rebellion against religion and the moral code of their parents but their disillusionment at their own rebellion.” Crystals, Ouija boards, ghosts, ancient aliens, bigfoot, natural healing, “holistic” medicine, organic food (although I can think of only one inorganic one), and “Change” all generate enthusiasms far outweighing any demonstrated good. We, as a society, have traded our belief in an omnipotent, omniscient, good God for Santeria, “Luck,” “vibrations,” and self-righteous, ambitious political euphemisms for fascism. Infidelity waxes universal.

Truth trumps faith. It matters little how sincere a believer in fallacies is. This should be good news to all the ardent atheists out there. If faith in anything (including the irrational belief that a limited creature may reason away an unlimited God, I suppose) then truth will win out, just the thing they hope for. For most of us, newly revealed truth merely grants us merely unease.

Any person or society could be located along these three intersecting axes of 1) age-youth, 2) faith and unbelief and 3) the truth or fallacy of their beliefs. In this country, already a midden of unbelief, much of what we take as true is not and the most faithful people are frequently those with the least reason. Lots to write about there.

OMAI is about two countries that went opposite ways in the age profile, one retires everyone at forty, and the other retires no one, despite their life expectancy of double our own. The Unity guarantees full employment, free healthcare, computerless surfing and recreational drugs at quite reasonable prices. It has conquered the rest of the country but has left it to the savages and strangely altered plants. The outlands have found a way to double life expectancy and managed, despite military catastrophe and continuing hostilities, to recolonize much of the scorched hinterland. I incubate these two societies for a few generations and then extract one 17-yr-old and middle-aged member (Malila Evanova Chiu) from the young society and drop her into the middle of the other to be captured by a hideous, and impossibly old (but middle-aged), seventy-six-year old Jesse Aaron Johnstone.

 

Exiles’ Escape–Kirkus Review

Please find below in its entirety the content of Kirkus Review on Exile Escape, being released this fall (yeah, I know. Schedules slip and slide)

Young warriors fight a repressive government in this dystopian vision of America.

Boutwell’s (Outland Exile, 2015) sequel, which begins immediately after the events of his debut, plunges readers back into the high-stakes fight between the Democratic Unity of America and the Restructured States of America, two nations that emerged following the collapse of the U.S. in 2051. Seventy-five years after the great war, tension between two countries is increasing. Seventeen-year-old Unity soldier Malila Chiu has faked her death and is on the run from commander Eustace Jourdaine, who’s engineering a coup that will put him in charge of the nation. At the same time, the Restructured States have sent Will Butler to spy on the Unity and gather secrets from The CORE, its vast computer network. Malila’s childhood friend Hecate Hester Jones is also fleeing the Unity, hoping to make it across the Scorch, a lawless borderland filled with sentient plants. Meanwhile, wizened warrior Jesse Johnstone is on his own mission for the Restructured States, even as he fends off assassination attempts. If all this sounds a little confusing, it is, at least at first. Readers would be wise to start with the series’ first installment, which introduces several key characters and their back stories. Perspectives and settings shift from chapter to chapter, similar to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, and, as in those books, it takes a while to see how everything fits together. But Boutwell is a masterful worldbuilder, packing his gripping tale full of rich, creative details that should thrill genre fans, from the shadowy, anonymous Solons, who rule the Unity, to a race of subterranean tunnel dwellers whose society is structured like a union with rituals involving the recitation of poetry (the novel is dense with literary references). The sci-fi trappings should draw readers in, but Boutwell’s sharp writing will keep them turning the page. When he describes a voice as “old and cracking as if taken out of a box just for this occasion,” he proves he can make even quieter moments come alive.

A vividly imagined sci-fi epic.

New Low Price

In preparation for the release of book Two, Exiles’ Escape, later this month (God willing and the creek don’t rise in Pensacola), the price of Outland Exile has been dropped to an all time low of $4.99, a savings of $16 from its original price and $11 off the Amazon price.

My attempt to get as many as possible into an OMAI frame of mind.

 

Scotsman’s Lament

While rustic, wrothy reckless Scots,
Reviewed from crags the glistening tarns,
Amid the gales and gusts of yore, 
You can believe their knees were sore.
The warmest hose, which have not trod,
Through bog or kyll to martial tune,
But else have kept to road and brig,
Still, lack a certain latitude–
And choose to venture not above
The Tropic of the Fatted Calf.
In liked-manner woolen twill
Of partied-colors, tartaned pleats,
Ere many trepidation, girt,
But dares not descend,
In fear lest it be called a Skirt!
Bereft of covering, to lurk,
This most of all neglected joints,
By Winters’ hard eternal work
The knee is reddened, roughed and rouged.
No doubt the Scots’ renown-ed scowl,
Of dour men, of mien and brow,
Is due to knees in part or whole
Which lack some lotion to console.

 

[written for Joseph H Boutwell in a gift of a kilt, his first]

Dec 2010