A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in contemporary America by Michael Barkun
Like the title suggests, it’s not looking at any particular conspiracy as such, but rather at the overall American Extreme Fringe (not a reality show, at least, not yet) and how things fit together. How the Protocols of the Elders of Zion fit into weirdo UFO groups, and how UFOs fit into the anti-New World Order crowd. And how the Anti-Christ fits into everything. And there’s a chapter on post-9/11/01 thinking, as well.
Some material is covered a couple of times, as it fits into more than one chapter and Barkun sensibly doesn’t expect you to remember everything you read in the earlier chapters. A thin book, but fascinating.
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
To me, Urban Fantasy is stories that could be set in the real world. Oh, there’s magic, but it’s hiding behind the scenes, or around corners. The Good Folk are out there, but they’re not, say, agitating for civil rights. There is another type of fantasy set in “a” modern world, where the magic is right out in the open and the Folk (and, more often than them, the monsters, like vampires and werewolves) are openly a part of the world. I call these stories “2nd-world fantasies” (as distinct from “Otherworld Fantasies”, which are set in worlds that in no way resemble our own). So, for instance, most of Charles deLint’s work is Urban Fantasy, and so is The War for the Oaks. Laurel K. Hamilton, on the other hand, writes 2nd-world fantasies. Mercedes Lackey’s “Bedlam’s Bard” series is Urban Fantasy. Kim Harrison is 2nd-world Fantasy. And so on.
So this is, in fact, a 2nd-World Fantasy. The Good Folk are out of the closet, or at least, some of them are. Only the nice, photogenic ones. Vampires and Werewolves are still closeted, but the time is coming in which they will have to come out in the open. Our hero is Mercy Thompson, who is a mechanic specializing in German cars (she learned the business from a German Gremlin, now retired). She is also a skinwalker–a half-Native -American who changes at will into a coyote. Her mother had an affair with a native rodeo rider and, when Mercy began changing, sent her upstate to be fostered by the King of North America’s werewolves (state seems to be Washington).
The story begins when a homeless boy stops by her garage and asks for under-the-table work. She can tell by the smell of him that he’s a werewolf, and she knows he’s not one of the local pack. She knows that because the leader of the local pack has the house in back of hers, and they’re sorta friends. Then, a couple of nights later, she drops back by the shop to find the homeless boy (known to her as Mac) being threatened by strangers. With cages. And drugs. One of the strangers is a werewolf, and she kills him–by which she knows he hasn’t been trained by a pack, cause she shouldn’t be able to kill a werewolf. So she calls up Adam, the pack Alpha, and he comes over to deal with the boy (and the body). A couple of nights later she wakes up in the middle of the night to find a dead Mac on her doorstep, and Adam badly hurt in battle with some strange wolves. And Adam’s fifteen-year-old daughter missing.
Due to subliminal cues, Mercy is reluctant to call on Adam’s own pack to guard him while he is wounded, so she takes him to the one place she knows for certain is safe: the home of Bran, the king of the werewolves. This, however, means that she will have to deal with the emotional pain brought on by meeting her first love, Samuel, Bran’s son . . . .
In a lot of ways, this is the werewolf novel that Bitten should have been. I haven’t even touched on half of the plot complications thrown at what is really a thin book by modern standards. This one is highly recommended.