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The People's Police: A Novel Hardcover – February 7, 2017
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Praise for The People's Police
"A voice of thunder...No one could ever call Mr. Spinrad moderate, but over the decades he has shown himself a hard guy to argue with. And devastatingly funny as well." ―The Wall Street Journal
“Spinrad keeps the action swift and raises some provocative issues of police-community relations along the way.” ―Chicago Tribune
“When it comes to raw, on-the-edge science fiction, Norman Spinrad’s The People’s Police is the real thing!” ―Amazing Stories
“An incisive satire that conveys the special circumstances of New Orleans in today’s America, with a clever twist of voodoo magic and humor.” ―Booklist
"With a sympathetic eye for all human foibles and aspirations, Spinrad, employing the same sharp satiric scalpel used by Tom Wolfe at his best, delivers parables and parodies of our uncivil civic sphere." ―Locus
“The People's Police is bound to rub some readers the wrong way as well. Then again, it wouldn't be a good satire if it didn't.”―Rob Weber, Val's Random Comments
“Don’t expect conventional Science Fiction but if you want to read a slice of life, this is a good example to try.”―SF Crowsnest
“Spinrad is a philosophic game changer.”―Pick of the Literate
“This is vintage Spinrad, wild and wacky.”―Robert McGrath
“Two hundred years ago the Marquis de Sade imagined a new kind of utopia, in which liberty, equality, and fraternity had been achieved through sexual and moral mayhem. Norman Spinrad has updated Sade's vision (minus the sadism) . . . The People's Police is a big, Fat-Tuesday carnival of a book.” ―Paul Park, author of All Those Vanished Engines
“Norman Spinrad takes on Louisiana politics, bare-knuckle persuasion, and some Big Easy voodoo in The People’s Police. This is a terrific take on a near-future New Orleans where the political climate is as warmed as the weather as the working class takes on the political elite.” ―Rick Wilber author of Alien Morning
Praise for Norman Spinrad
“Norman Spinrad, like his characters, takes great risks; the rewards for readers willing to meet him halfway are commensurate.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“Norman Spinrad, one of the sacred heroes of my coming-of-age as a writer, has never quit redefining his role as dissident and sage―he’s that most miraculous of creatures, a utopianist’s dystopianist.” ―Jonathan Lethem, New York Times bestselling author
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Top Customer Reviews
I was attracted to The People’s Police by the setting, New Orleans, the characters – Martin Luther Martin (a NOLA cop), MaryLou Boudreau, aka Mama Legba (a tv star who did not believe in her powers, but became a true voodoo queen) and a brothel owner J. B. Lafitte. Well although I had high hopes for the story line and characters, this was not my cup of tea. Too much of the book was mired in politics and things that really did not interest me. I read that the author, Norman Spinrad, is a science fiction writer by trade and thought that might help a bit. It did not for me. Now I am not saying this is not a well written book, nor that it is not interesting. I am only saying it was not for me. The book is told in first person of each character and that did make reading it interesting to hear the voice of each one. I am sure others that enjoy this type of novel will find it well developed and entertaining.
One of the main characters Martin Luther Martin had me with hoping the story would progress in a different direction. He grew up in the gang invested Alligator Swamp that has now been devoid of police protection. He grabs at all the chances he is given to move up the ladder of command by speaking his mind and pulling others in as well. Wanting to make a better life for his wife, he does things that really push him to the limits. Everything starts when he is given papers to evict himself from his own house. Now that is just too much. This eviction and those of so many others in NOLA is the catalyst that starts a firestorm that encompasses a savvy brothel owner and also the voodoo queen who is rode hard by the loas that speak through her.
The political atmosphere is so charged and over the top, in your face it was just way too much for me. And if you do not like politics smacking you in the face, you will not like this one. It is very well written and is full of well-developed and quirky characters. Still there is no getting past the cynical messages that are blatantly forced down the throat of the reader. I was wrong in my impression of what this book was about after reading the synopsis. It does not come close to describing what is going on throughout this read. Now that said, I am sure there are tons of readers that quite enjoy novels strife with angst, political unrest, corruption, and the like. If you do, you will love this book. If you also enjoy some serious voodoo hoodoo, this is the perfect book.
The effects of Hurricane Katrina and 2008’s economic recession not hard enough on New Orleans, in 2020 another recession hits: the Great Deflation. Once again due to overeager money lenders delivering loans that buyers cannot repay, the Big Easy finds itself in a poor way as the value of the dollar plummets. Criminal activity is on the uptake as tourism—the main source of income for the city—is on the down. Enter Luke Martin, a swamp rat who pulled himself up by the bootstraps hard enough to get a high school diploma and an invitation to police academy. He is given the task of establishing a new precinct on the edge of the Alligator—New Orleans least lustrous side—and does so with gusto. Around this time a woman named Marylou becomes inhabited by a loa and starts her own daytime tv show, Mama Legba and her Supernatural Krewe—the show’s popularity only increasing by the day. And among the city’s elite stands, J.B. Lafitte, a hometown entrepreneur with his hands in a lot of pies, including local prostitution, souvenir shops, and gambling houses. But he also has the interest of the city at heart, so when election time comes, and the northern half of Louisiana confirms its extremely conservative candidate for governor, Lafitte cooks up his own local candidate—a very liberal one, to say the least. With a little help from Martin’s newly formed police group, as well as Mamma Legba herself, things might be looking up for the Big Easy, that is, if the National Guard doesn’t get called in…
A more irreverent version of James Morrow or John Brunner, Spinrad paints a satirically absurd picture of the US and Louisiana in The People’s Police. Written in superb Naw’leans vernacular, the goal of the novel is the message rather than realistic representation. Everything exaggerated, it remains a picture with more than one stroke of truth. Greed in the financial sector, the virtualization of money, and political games that do not have the average citizen in mind are aspects of the American system requiring closer critique. (It is up to the reader to decide whether Spinrad’s ultra-liberal agenda—No victim, no crime!—is also a stroke of truth.) Thus, for as wacky as it may seem, and for as wild as the tangents fly, the novel generates discussion around some key issues pertinent to today’s political discussion. Sometimes it takes a clown to draw attention to foibles.
In the end, as Val’s Random Comments calmly notes in their review, “The People’s Police is a very politically charged novel.” Charged indeed, its politics are located on a horizon with satire on one end and Mardi Gras gumbo on the other, the novel is effective social commentary in delicious local favor, and what gaps Spinrad leaves regarding relevancy, he makes up for with dynamic prose, a fast-paced story, and an eye to the current political climate. Compared to the young guns on the market today, the overwhelming majority of which write popcorn sf, Spinrad proves the old guard has what it takes to make science fiction a pertinent literature. (For an interesting companion novel, see Bruce Sterling’s Distraction.)