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Doctor Benjamin Franklin's Dream America: A Novel of the Digital Revolution Paperback – January 2, 2018
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Praise for Doctor Benjamin Franklin’s Dream America
“An elaborate reimagination of history . . . wildly imaginative.”―Publishers Weekly
“One of the most bizarre novels I’ve ever read, and one of the most original. . . . brings together history, technology, and dream logic; the end result is something wholly familiar and utterly unsettling, a trip into the past that simultaneously rewires the future.”―Vol.1 Brooklyn, reviewed by Tobias Carroll
“This debut alternate history offers an intriguing look at our country’s founding through the lens of technology. The twists will keep readers engrossed to the end.” ―Library Journal
“Perhaps the best recommendation anyone can make for the book is this: in the tradition of the best science fiction writing, Ober’s work forces the reader to think. . . . It also begs the audience to dwell upon the future course of an experiment in democracy of which they are very much a part―if they choose.”―Jim Higgins, American Book Review
“Damien Ober gives us a new kind of fictional history here, one that is as fanciful and exuberant as a Garcia-Marquez novel.”―T.C. Boyle, author of The Harder They Come and Road to Wellville
“Not sure if I read a book or had a manic episode while watching the History Channel, but either way, it was incredible and I feel absolutely amazing.”―Ben Loory, author of Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day
“Doctor Benjamin Franklin's Dream America is as original as they come―an audacious, exuberantly imaginative novel about freedom and technology and the sacrifices each take from the other. Damien Ober is a writer to be reckoned with.”―Scott O’Connor, author of Half World and Untouchable
“American writers working on such a grand canvas are as scarce as hen's teeth. For sheer mischief, erudition and inventiveness Doctor Benjamin Franklin's Dream America sits quite comfortably on the shelf alongside David Foster Wallace, William Vollmann, Thomas Pynchon, the Barthelme brothers . . . all the terrible children of Swift and Stearne. It makes me laugh. It makes me sympathetic to people I despise, even though I still despise them. While many of the characters would cry sedition, I like to think Dr. Franklin is somewhere having a chuckle.”―Robert Olmstead, author of Coal Black Hors e
“Doctor Benjamin Franklin's Dream America is a new kind of literary SF. It takes aspects of two historical moments, centuries apart, and overlays them, energizing history and making us question our notions of what America is. Add to that aliens, sea monsters, and we have a quirky, funny, but ultimately sobering nightmare.”―Brian Evenson, author of the Dead Space series
“Ober's mix of heady ideas and gorgeous prose make this a uniquely compelling debut. Doctor Benjamin Franklin's Dream America is nothing less than an alternate history of the birth of the United States that hints at our coming demise.”―Jim Ruland, author of Forest of Fortune
“Strangely moving and hugely compelling. . . . Doctor Benjamin Franklin’s Dream America shattered my thinking as to what a novel can be and do.”―Jim Ruland, author of Forest of Fortune
“A brilliant, wackadoo novel about our founding fathers and the internet, with some aliens and witches and a vampiric sea monster thrown in for good measure. Ambitious, strange, death-stamped, and hilarious―-this is the kind of book that makes you realize how rare it is to read something entirely new and unique.”―Stephanie Cha, author of Dead Soon Enough
“Ober has mapped the modern superstitious US onto the nation’s beginnings complete with vituperative two-party system controlled by plutocrats (now corporations), history replaced by acceptable mythos (sometimes dependent on choice of party), and with modern communications systems providing impossible forms of social networking in which people live without having to experience reality first hand.”―Jim Chaffee, The Drill Press
“Doctor Benjamin Franklin’s Dream America is no political tract or history lesson or moralist dystopia or media analysis; or, rather, it is all of these and more – it is fiction writing at its best. And what remains after the excitement of the storyline and the provocation of the thinking have subsided, is the simple poignancy of the fifty-six death-scenes, all the more moving for their simplicity and matter-of-factness.”―David Vichnar, Equus Press
About the Author
Damien Lincoln Ober is a novelist and screenwriter. His work has appeared in The Rumpus, NOON, B O D Y Literature, The Baltimore City Paper, VLAK, and port.man.teau. He was a co-winner of the Sherwood Anderson Award, was nominated for a 2012 Pushcart Prize and his screenplay Randle is Benign was selected for the 2013 Black List. Doctor Benjamin Franklin's Dream America is his debut novel.
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by Damien Lincoln Ober (Author)
Author Damien Lincoln Ober is a brilliant writer. He has combined history and modern technology to create an alternative history. The plot centers around the men that signed the Declaration of Independence. Perhaps the author is showing readers where we are headed, the future of humanity. Author Damien Lincoln Ober takes on issues we prefer to ignore: freedom of speech, privacy issues, Big Brother, Constitutional law, and identity. (Digital identity can be very different than real life identity.) In this alternative reality our Founding Fathers cell phones, internet and computers. Think about it today’s technology in the hands of the Founding Fathers.
The setting is 1700 the American Colonies. The Colonist want their own government; they want free from the oppression of England and they were willing to fight for it. John Morton has uploaded The Declaration of Independence. Morton finishes with his last stroke on his laptop just moments before “The Death” takes him. A sickness called, “The Death” is killing anyone that accesses the internet. 75% of Americans are dead. No one knows for sure how the disease is spreading but they suspect it is through the Internet. The Continental Army is gone. The British see the opportunity and they seize control of New York and Philadelphia. The rebels scatter. George Washington returns to fight the British at Yorktown. America wins its independence; but at what price. The country is all but destroyed. The internet isn’t usable. The colonies aren’t sure they can go on. The Founding Fathers create a new operating system, one that ensures American affluence. Thomas Jefferson is very unhappy with the new operating system; he considers it a betrayal. Jefferson forms a government to oppose Washington’s Federalist government. In steps Doctor Benjamin Franklin. He develops a new government that returns power to the people.
Doctor Benjamin Franklin’s Dream America is fascinating. After people abandon the internet a new “internet” is created, Newnet. Franklin develops social media called Doctor Benjamin Franklin’s Dream America which is later shortened to The Dream. American’s are so enthralled with it they spend all their time in The Dream and ignoring reality. Although this is alternative history the people still ride horses, use bloodletting as medical treatment. and sail in ships but they never leave home without their smart phone.
I would classify this book as historical fiction, alternative history and steam punk. I’ve always enjoyed history from this era. It was fascinating reading about the great men that signed the Declaration of Independence. The author seems to have captured them perfectly. Ober even manages to throw in a bit of humor, that’s hard to do when there are 56 death scenes. Yes 56 death scenes and each one different.
My review cannot possibly do justice to this book. I have tried to only touch on the surface of this book There is so much more that I do not want to give away. Please read this book. It will make you think and ask questions.
I am not so much a fan of this era. My love for American history starts after the Civil War. I would have given this five stars if it weren't for the introduction of flying saucers, sea monsters and vampires. At least sea monsters were a "reality" in the 18th century, when ocean currents and storms swallowed ships and their occupants.
But flying saucers and the vampire millipus? This is what almost has me downgrade this book to three stars. I chose this book because it was listed as science fiction/alternative history but the genre is a combination of the two and fantasy.
The chapters are short and are based on the chronological deaths of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. The Epilogue is the death of the last survivor, Charles Carroll, who died in 1832 as also the oldest of all the signers. That's 55 years between the first and the last signer, from American Revolution and the War of 1812 to the idolization of Andrew Jackson.
The one error I caught was the year of death for Thomas Lynch (Jr.). He died in 1779 from drowning at sea after a shipwreck (Benjamin Franklin mentions this, and he died in 1790) but in this book he dies in 1795 while at sea and gets swallowed by a giant sea monster.
The book is written in five parts. The first part is the best, but subsequent parts get a tad too absurdist for me. What I see here is the author's attempt to show how dependent we have become on the internet today. He's trying to juxtapose the internet back in the late 18th century to see how the Founding Fathers and signers of the Declaration of Independence would have taken all this online, wifi, Twitter, and internet thing. Turns out, they wouldn't have been any better! Between the hacking of the opponent's sites (Federalists versus Anti-Federalists), the creation of the Cloud (Part II) and the creation of the Central Programmer that tells you the date you will die, there are references to The Death, the Dream, Off Worlders.
Most Americans do not know who all the signers of the Declaration of Independence were. Many died in their late 40s and 50s. I actually looked up each signer and learned a thing or two about their lives. Yes, Richard Stockton was taken prisoner by the British and tortured. Yes, Caeser Rodney had skin cancer in the face that forced him to wear a scarf over most of his face to hide his disfigurement. But did Benjamin Franklin die in a tub? If there's anything educational about this book that is based on historical figures, it's that the reader is forced to go back online and read up on each signer. There's nothing wrong with learning more about our own history. We just have to make sure we don't get swallowed up in the Cloud and get infected with a deadly virus.
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