'The Little Green Book': Going green goes to the extreme in a sci-fi eco-thriller

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Ever wonder how wildlife feels when the forest is destroyed by developers? Imagine waking up to the sound of wrecking balls smashing through the walls of your home. You scream, but the demolition crews ignore you and your family crawling through the rubble treating you, well, like animals.

By Brian Herbert
Tor Books ($25)

I never thought so seriously about the preservation of the earth or our obligation to protect the animals until I read Brian Herbert’s “The Little Green Book of Chairman Rahma.”

Mr. Herbert’s apocalyptic sci-fi fantasy excels in its ability to make you think about the possible destruction of the planet should humans fail to do their part. Whether humans can resolve to live green without destroying each other is unfortunately a question that Mr. Herbert also leaves up to the reader’s imagination.

The year is 2043. Multinational corporations have lost the war against the Army of the Environment. The Green States of America led by Chairman Rahma Popal — an environmental revolutionary turned dictator — is formed.

The world is ravaged with 99 percent of animal species extinct and the rest endangered. Chairman Rahma’s Golden Age edict is proclaimed in the Little Green Book. “One nation under the Green and all its greenocracy” is the loyalty oath of the GSA.

Children are taught to report their parents, relatives and friends for violations. “The state is your family, and I am your true father,” Chairman Rahma proclaims. The GSA has become a totalitarian regime where human beings are forced to live on reservations and eco-crimes are punished by a form of torture where the body is recycled, melted and returned to the land.

Hard-core drugs are legally distributed by the government, and Juana (marijuana) sticks have become the new socially accepted cigarette that everyone smokes. Hubots — robots with human appendages — preserve and create new species while protecting Chairman Rahma from his enemies.

Kupi Landau, the tall willowy outspoken former lover of Chairman Rahma, is disappointed in the Chairman’s regime. “Meet the new bigwigs; they’re exactly like the old bigwigs,” she tells her new lover and boss, Joss Stuart.

Joss is a former eco-cop who couldn’t abide the Chairman’s belief that “Murder in defense of the planet is not murder.” Joss is more conservative; he sees the corruption, but he rather likes his new job where he works with Kupi as commander of the Janus Machine, a green-forming cannon that fires dark energy and restores the earth.

It’s a rewarding job but not enough to stop Kupi from voicing her misgivings. As far as she’s concerned the Chairman owes her, for without her anti-establishment eco-revolutionary connections Rahma would not have won the war against the corporations.

The war isn’t over however; corporations and enemies of Chairman Rahma are everywhere. “Tree Nazis, homicidal hippies,” is how Dylan Bane, the self-pronounced commander of the counter forces, sees the regime. His secret weapon has Chairman Rahma’s regime baffled.

Panasia, which encompasses Asia, Australia and most of the Pacific islands, is the Chairman’s greatest enemy. They seemingly reject his green philosophy and demonstrate their contempt by killing endangered species.

The book rolls along focusing on Chairman Rahma’s obsession with destroying his enemies before it takes a fascinating turn. An accident befalls Joss and he is physically transformed into a human-machine hybrid with the abilities that he doesn’t really understand.

Then it all ends, or does it? That’s the disappointing part of “The Little Green Book of Chairman Rahma.” It falters in its ability to draw any real conclusions about Rahma’s green morality or that of his enemies.

History has taught us that it is not uncommon for a dictator to become a psychotic who will kill anyone who opposes his worldview, but there is always a conclusion to the madness.

I couldn’t figure out where Mr. Herbert was going. Is it better to live in a Green society, where drugs are legal and, as Chairman Rahma states in his little green book, “Animals are not lower life-forms than humans. They are in fact superior,” or should we root for the leaders of the battling continents to destroy each other?

Despite the trite adages and lack of any real conclusion, Mr. Herbert’s novel is entertaining, provocative and worth the read.

Sabra LeClare is a freelance writer living in Baltimore.

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