Thursday, April 16, 2009

Forgotten Friday books: Agents of Chaos

Agents of Chaos by Norman Spinrad

Once upon a time, according to Kevin Smith I was easily led, as a reader and sometimes poster on the WEF, a forum for the British writer Warren Ellis, or as he is know around my house, Old Man Ellis. I spent most of 9-11 on the WEF hearing reports of the events in NYC, London and LA in real time as the terror attack unfolded, I also met my good buddy Tim the Telstar Man on the WEF. The WEF is gone now, and a lot of us have moved on, I am still buddies with Tim, and I am still a fan of much of the music, comics and books that I first heard about on the WEF including todays selection the Norman Spinrad book Agents of Chaos.

At the time the only Agents of Chaos I knew of was the fading metallic cassette tape (it might have just been a plain white cassette with blue printing, but my brain wants it to have been a metallic) that was billed as Dave Brock and His Agents of Chaos. Brock was a founding member of the UK band Hawkwind, a weird spacerock group that helped provide the blue print for; proto-punk rock, progressive metal and electronic rock to come. 

Now I don't know if Brock took his later solo groups name from Spinrad, but consider that they were both playing in the space opera sandbox of ideas, it's more than possible. Depending on the source the book was published in either 1967 or 1970, the copy that I have says MCMLXVII,MCMLXX. It's a short book about a space empire that covers the milky way Galaxy, where a Hegemonic Councilor rules absolutely, a Democratic League fight for their right to be contrary, and in the shadows lurk the Agents of Chaos, a group that secretly acts to cause chaos for and against both of the sides in the fight for power, keeping both off balance while working for their own secret goals. It's a quick read, and more important than the events of the book are the ideas that it examines, for me the chief one is that it's a losers game to simply pick a side, and not stand on your own, seeing that both sides have good and bad points. This concept is more and more important to me as the I walk though today's world, where it seems that if you even criticize one side it's assumed that you are a supporter of the other.... this to me is a hold over from the culture war of the 1960s that the baby doomers seem to have an impossible time letting go of, and by proxy force the rest of us to live with...... ok ok ok, enough politics. I read this book once, I need to read it again, I keep finding myself recommending it to others that I am trying to encourage to break out of the old left and right, republican and democrat point of view. 

Of course I couldn't find a cover image of the copy of the book that I own currently... so here are a couple.