by Stephan Michael Loy
In the mid-twenty-first century, the United States goes through a fundamental change. White people are now only the largest minority in America. Will they surrender power to the coalition that follows, or fight “to keep what’s theirs”? So begins a terrible, violent game of chess played for the heart and soul of a nation.
Stephan Michael Loy, who brought you the socially controversial epics of Last Days and Times and Shining Star, now presents a stone-hard parable of the American Dream gone nightmare.
Conqueror's Realm is a deft warning that there can be no justice unless justice is for all.
THE SHORT OF IT:
In the mid-twenty-first century, a high-level conspiracy brews to suborn the American democracy to a modern apartheid. White people have long mastered the republic but have now shrunk to only the nation’s largest minority. Some, supported by racist extremist groups and the funds of conservative billionaires, decide that white people made America, white people have ruled America, and now white people will not have America wrested from their grasp. All that stands between them and the at-long-last promise of true equanimity is a renegade faction of the Fourth Estate, a team of journalists who believe that justice cannot be had unless justice is for all.
THE LONG OF IT:
America in the year 2056. Still no flying cars, still no personal jetpacks. The iconic phenomenon of the age is, instead, demographics. For 400 years, white people have dominated the political, economic and cultural landscape of the united States. They have always had the numbers and thus the power to control the nation’s resources, and therefore its direction. Now, white people have decreased their numbers to the point where they are only the largest minority in America. The republic stands at the frontier of that imagined dream of our forefathers, the age in which one man really has one vote, and that vote is powerful.
Stephen Tallman is the producer of a media news empire, See It Now. He is also a war hero. In the Sino-American War of fifteen years earlier, Steve launched a nuclear strike against his enemies that ended the war but killed millions. Though he knows intellectually that he did the right thing, the act wounded the Native American spirit that dominates his multi-ethnic heritage.
Now Steve discovers a high-level plot to impose a modern apartheid on the United States. Disguised as a move to bring greater equality to representative government, the EOG bill before Congress will ensure that white people maintain political control of the country despite their loss of a population majority. The plot to pass EOG is backed by some of the highest, most strategically placed public servants, by conservative millionaires, and by a shadow network of racist hate groups. Worse, since EOG actually would raise the level of representation of some minorities, even groups such as the Congressional Black Caucus work toward passing the bill.
Steve sees the bill for what it is and shoulders all his media power toward informing a passive electorate of its dangers. But Steve, haunted by the last time he used great power to effect great results, chooses a careful, circumspect path toward enlightening the American people. Will hesitation give his new enemies room to maneuver, a chance to silence or even destroy him? Which will serve Steve best, the technology and ethics of his adopted secular Fourth Estate, or the heart of his native spiritualism.
Whatever the outcome, one thing is clear: this is a conflict between faith and fear. Steve’s faith is a bulwark against the fear-driven acts of a dying incumbency. But, does Steve hold faith in journalism and the People’s Right to Know, or in his personal capacity to avoid stains to his living soul? He is as unsure of his footing as a man on shifting sands. This doubt alone could mean his downfall, and with him, the American experiment.
Stephan Michael Loy, who brought you the socially controversial epics of Last Days and Times and Shining Star, now presents a stone-hard parable of the American Dream gone nightmare. Conqueror's Realm is a deft warning that there can be no justice if justice is not for all.
The executive producer of See It Now, a news magazine show based on the original show hosted by Edward R. Murrow in the 1950s. This See It Now broadcasts over the Net to TV, phone, and computers all over the world. Steve has built his lucrative news niche on satcam, a revolutionary recording and broadcasting device that makes it possible for journalists to report from anywhere at any time without the need of cumbersome support infrastructures. Steve is also a war hero, responsible for ending the Sino-American War of 2041 just before American forces were expected to collapse. That war left him handicapped in a bizarre, top secret way that deeply affects every thought and decision in his life. Now he engages in another, more subtle war, one against political forces that refuse to show themselves except by proxy and through violence.
Ethnically complex, Steve does not concern himself overmuch with the American obsession with race and class until his latest adventure thrusts him forcibly into the middle of a conspiracy to subvert American freedoms under a new and incidious form of apartheid. How does a man more black than white, more Native American than black, react to a plot to marginalize most of him forever?
Executive Pilot-inCommand of Steve's small fleet of vertolifter and heavy lift aircraft. Wherever See It Now needs to be, she ensures they can get there, and quickly. Chelsea has been Steve's best friend since they fought alongside each other in the war. Whereas Steve has mellowed since that conflict, Chelsea remains trapped by her war experience. She has nightmares, cannot maintain intimate relationships, and has a tendency toward action and violence. But she loves Steve more than she realizes and is faithful to him and his family. She is his de facto bodyguard.
Steve's daughter. She begins the story as a typical 17-year-old of the times, comfortable with technology and tied down to nowhere. Where she is atypical is in her almost mothering attention to her father, whose ailment coupled with obsession at work forces Patricia to manage his meds and daily therapy, often despite his will. She is frequently forced to be a thirty-year-old in a seventeen-year-old's body. As the story progresses, Patricia is drawn deep into Steve's political horror story until his quest to save America from itself costs them both dearly, in body and soul.
BEN KNIGHTHORSE TALLMAN
Steve's uncle, an Apache lobbyist for the Native American Movement. He uncovers a conspiracy to marginalize all minorities of color beneath a new form of apartheid, and brings his evidence to his journalist nephew. The relationship between Steve and Ben is strained. Ben wants Steve to recognize and more fully embrace his Native American heritege, while Steve sees perspectives of race and ethnic culture as antiquated.
ANNA MARIE DEARING
The former governor of California and a democratic candidate for the upcoming presidential election. She is also Steve's girlfriend, if forty-somethings can be said to have girlfriends or boyfriends. Though the Tallman-Dearing romance mesmerizes the newsfeeds, the reality of Anna's relationship with Steve is closer to that of a distance romance than a physical one. They rarely see each other and often lose track of one another due to the pressures of ambition and work. But Anna is pulled into the orbit of Steve's latest obsession, and contributes to it despite interpersonal strain.
One of Steve's satcamera reporters and a good friend. He covers urban issues, most lately the resurgence and near downfall of the Black Panther Party in Los Angeles.
A See It Now war correspondent. He works in the press pool for the Eastern European war in Serbia, and is based off of the USS Evan Bayh, an American aircraft carrier. Mike suspects there is more to the war than the military lets on, and his only means to find out the truth is to "go native," to escape the bonds of his military keepers. But going it alone in the Serbian landscape is extremely dangerous. He could be killed by any faction. But Mike is dedicated and persistent. What he discovers becomes a weapon in Steve Tallman's hands, a means to set right injustices that had overwhelmed and nearly defeated him.
CONQUEROR'S REALM is an illustration of a possible future for America. Consequently, its characters facilitate that illustration. In a story about racial conflict, the primary character, Steve Tallman, is multi-ethnic, an attempt to show that the issues of this story cannot be pinned on race alone. I make a concerted effort to demonstrate that this is not a story about blacks vs. whites or any other ethnic identity vs. any other identity. The heroic side of this tale is people with characters of many ethnicities. The same is true of the villains. This is a story of faith vs. fear. That is where the real division of purposes is drawn.
Click the PDF file below to enjoy the first four chapters of CONQUEROR’S REALM. These introduce the basic conflict, the structure of this futuristic world, and the primary characters without too much in the way of spoilers. You will need a PDF reader such as Microsoft Word, Pages, or Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these files. You can download Acrobat Reader here, for free.
Introduces MIKE ELLER, See It Now's war correspondent in Serbia. Mike gets wind of a strange mystery surrounding the prosecution of America's police action in the Balkans.
Introduces STEVE TALLMAN and his uncle BEN TALLMAN. Ben brings his nephew disturbing news that hints at a high-level conspiracy to subvert the American democracy.
Introduces ANNA MARIE DEARING, a candidate for the presidency of the United States, also Steve's girlfriend. Anna receives an offer that will change the course of the next election.
Introduces Steve's urban reporter, SAM CLEMMONS and his intern PEGGY SMITH. They interview the titular head of the Los Angeles Black Panther Fellowship, a meeting that goes terribly awry.
This is a book that surprised me. It took three starts before I got deep enough in to get caught up... So I'd strongly recommended that you power through the first three chapters. It's well worth the slog. Because this book goes deep... It wraps itself around a subject that America is scared silly of and really needs facing. And it does it with great finesse and sensitivity while developing engaging characters and excitement. This is my third book by Mr. Loy and I'm now a fan. This would be a 5 star rating were it not for that slow start.
A revealing and personal look at a near future America. I was instantly reminded of the Nine Inch Nails concept album Year Zero. This is America constantly at war with both the outside world and itself. The lines blur between prognostication on what will come to pass and commentary on our current political landscape.
Once again, Stephan Loy tells the story through unique and complex characters. You will not find cookie-cutter action heroes here. You wont't find uber-patriotic super men either. What you will find are men and women motivated by a love of family, their country, and their fellow human beings.
If you like stories that make you think, buy Conqueror's Realm.
A pounding pace, a hero who questions his own worth and the meaning of life. These are the qualities that kept me turning the pages and extending my reading hour long past bedtime.