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The Holy Land

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The Holy Land

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The Holy Land
By Robert Zubrin
Polaris Books, Lakewood Colorado: 2003
ISBN: 0-9741443-0-4

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - October 23, 2003

The Central Galactic Empire used the cover of its war with the Western Galactic Empire to pursue their plan to eradicate the Minervans. They lost the war, and they failed in their efforts to murder all the Minervans. Failure is a relative term, a fact that was not lost on the handful of surviving Minervans. When the fighting died down, the Western Galactic Empire helped the Minervans return in their ancient homeland - Kennewick, Washington. Their resettlement was concluded peacefully. The Minervans paid the going price for the land they needed, and they willingly shared their advance technological knowledge with their new neighbors. Happy with the arrangement, the Kennewickians moved off to other cities looking forward to a happy and prosperous life. The government of the United States, however, had other plans in store for the Kennewickians...

Robert Zubrin's new book, The Holy Land begins like a conventional science fiction story. The President of the United States is confronted by the prospect that "...Kennewick, Washington, has been taken over by a bunch of space aliens." (Pg. 1.) Yet nothing is in this book is what it seems. Simply by substituting a few words, you can begin to see just how extraordinary this story really is. For example, take another look at the first paragraph of this review - with a few words changed:
Nazi Germany (The Central Galactic Empire) used the cover of its war with Western Allies (the Western Galactic Empire) to pursue their plan to eradicate the Jews (Minervans). They lost World War II (the war), and they failed in their efforts to murder all the Jews (Minervans). Failure is a relative term, a fact that was not lost on the handful of surviving Jews (Minervans). When the fighting died down, the Western Allies (Western Galactic Empire) helped the Jews (Minervans) resettle in their ancient homeland - Israel (Kennewick, Washington). Their resettlement was concluded peacefully. The Jews (Minervans) paid the going price for the land they needed, and they willingly shared their advance technological knowledge with their new neighbors. Happy with the arrangement, the Palestinians (Kennewickians) moved off to other cities looking forward to a happy and prosperous life. The Arab States (government of the United States), however, had other plans in store for the Palestinians (Kennewickians)...
Zubrin's The Holy Land is a marvelously crafted discourse on the long term viability of a two-state solution for the Israeli - Palestinian conflict. In the process he takes an objective look at how the 'conflict' was originally orchestrated. In addition, he shows how political expediencies and media biases have ensured the continuation of this bloody affair. Cloaked in the guise of a science fiction novel, this exercise in political satire is astute, persuasive, and very entertaining! He even pokes fun at the idiocy of not using profiling when trying to seek out a potential terrorist when screening passengers at airports (spaceports). In keeping with the genre, this story includes the requisite space battle, love interest, and technologically advanced tools.

The United States, at the point in time in which this story takes place, is ruled by a corrupt Christian government. To maintain power and distract the American citizenry from ongoing economic and political problems, the president and his councillors embark upon an energetic plan to paint the humanoid Minervans as the source of all evil. To this end the government provides financial and military support to Christian fundamentalist fanatics who want to rid Kennewick of its pagan residents. To exacerbate the situation the government forces the former residents of Kennewick into poorly run and under supplied refuge camps so that they can 'show' the universe just how horrible the situation is for the displaced residents. The fact that all of the Kennewickians could easily be absorbed into any city of their choice is totally ignored. Additionally, the refuge camps could be supplied and maintained as well as any American city, if the government had the will to do so. Worse, the government embarks upon a propaganda campaign to indoctrinate the American citizenry with the idea that the only way to rid this 'most Christian' country of the pagan invaders is to kill the Minervans. In the process they seek to turn the Western Galactic Empire against the Minervans, they make the hideous decision to use children to attack the Minervans. The government's hope is that the children will be killed or maimed during their attacks on the Minervans - hopefully before the watchful eye of the Galactic News Service. If in the process they happen to kill a Minervan or two, so much the better. This practice puts the Minervans in a no win situation. They can either allow themselves to be killed by their indoctrinated child martyrs, or they can protect themselves. One way they die, and the other way they are painted as monsters for causing harm to these youthful murders.

Zubrin illustrates the conflict that ensues, between the Minervans and the American terrorist, through the eyes of Sergeant Andrew Hamilton and his case officer, the Minervan Priestess 4th class, Aurora. Initially, Aurora treats Hamilton as a lab specimen as part of her ongoing study on humans. However, as the story progresses they discover that they have more in common than either one ever imagined and together, they hold the key to solving the conflict.

Hamilton was an Army Ranger who was captured during the first assaults upon the Minervans, when the government tried to wage a conventional war against the 'pagans'. Despite the American's superior numbers, they were easily defeated by the Minervans. It was after this defeat that the government embarked upon a terroristic war of attrition to displace the Minervans. When simply trying to kill the Minervans proves ineffectual, the Cosmic Christian Crusaders take their battle to the stars - perpetrating unimaginable acts of terrorism against the Weegees (the Western Galactic Empire) in a bid to convince them that it is in their best interest to stop supporting the Minervans. Through Hamilton and Aurora's interactions, Zubrin explains the ongoing conflict - and its possible solutions. He also shows the impact that the discovery of helicity (oil) in the United States (Middle East) has on the political and economic considerations of the Western Galactic Empire regarding how they deal with conflict and the Minervans.

Dr. Robert Zubrin is a well-known space and aerospace engineer who has written extensively on the suitability of Mars as potential site for human colonies and on the need for manned explorations to Mars. He is also the founder and current president of The Mars Society. The Holy Land is Zubrin's second foray into the world of fiction. Unlike his first fiction story, First Landing, which is a hard science fiction story about a manned flight to Mars, The Holy Land is more akin to a traditional space opera. As a space opera, it is an entertaining and fast-paced story about a young man who is captured by a beautiful alien woman. Forced to live among aliens, Hamilton is forced to rethink his attitudes concerning gender roles and his personal prejudices. However, The Holy Land is most profitably read for its scintillating social commentary on the Palestinian - Israeli conflict, and the ongoing war on terrorism. Whether you read this book as a simple work of fiction or as a discourse on current events, you will find that your time was well spent. Witty, dynamic, and compelling, The Holy Land is a must read for anyone seeking an entertaining and edifying diversion.


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