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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
“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.
If you like the story telling of movies like Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane, then this book is right up you alley.
You need to buy into the basic premise of the mashup and this style of storytelling to enjoy the book. Otherwise it is easy to feel the book is fragmented, fantastical and featureless. It is anything but.
The context is simple, people had access to the internet, social media, mobile phones and the like during the time of the American Revolution. Don’t ask how, or why, or even how could there be tech for the web but people still relying on horses and candles. Applying such practical thinking is counterproductive to enjoying the story.
The book exposes the plot through a series of short (2 - 6 page) stories organized and dated by the death order of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Each story talks about the signers final day, what is going on, what has happened since the last signer died etc. Ober exposes the major plot line of the story as background and context to these last days of the signers. It is a very unique approach to storytelling and again something you have to accept to enjoy the book.
This means that the main story, what people would normally think of as happening is never directly in each story. The signers remember, discuss, contemplate what has happened and therefore your infer the story from that perspective. This is how the book is like the Cloverfield movies, you never see the monster but you experience it indirectly through the individual characters experiences.
The story itself is pretty far fetched, there is an internet based virus (the Death) that kills people, there are offworld aliens, crystals that grow in people’s bodies and thousand arm (719) sea monstors. If the story was directly about that, then it would be so far fetched as to be imparactiable. However, tell the story indirectly and it becomes an interesting context for each of the signers on their last day,
THere is much to value in this book that warrants your time and reflection. Perhaps the greatest value is that the book offers a description and critique of what is going on in today’s internet culture, politics and social discourse. Bots, screamers, avatars, independent entities, virtual copies, etc all live in the different incarnations of the web in this book. The signer’s observations on how this works, the issues that creates and the realities represent a rather salient description and critique of today.
Taking us through the lives of each of the 56 signers is another value to this. I did go to the web to research more than one of them to learn more about them and their background. Limiting the book to the signers means that you do not hear from people like George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the like.
Overall a really refreshing and different read. Highly recommended if you can suspend belief in several areas and accept the way the story unfolds.