Osama the Gun

Norman Spinrad. Wildside, $14.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-4794-2095-7
In this thought-provoking work set in the near future and first published in 2007, Spinrad (Raising Hell) traces the course of his protagonist’s life from naive youth to veteran soldier. His hero is named Osama and is born in a Caliphate that includes most of the Muslim world. As a young agent of the Caliphate in Paris, he leads a series of attacks on Parisian landmarks with “graffiti bombs” (a sort of automatic tagging in grenade form), followed by the use of actual munitions. Osama flees from France and undertakes the hajj, after which he is called to Nigeria to aid the Muslim government in its fight against rebels backed by America’s robot army. Back in the Caliphate, a final showdown looms with the U.S. Throughout the book, Osama struggles to discern what Allah calls him to do rather than what Earthly political entities require of him. This book will no doubt discomfit many readers because it portrays the U.S. and the Caliphate governments as equally dubious, and devout Muslims may consider some of Osama’s thoughts and actions sacrilegious, but the Muslim figures that Spinrad depicts are, by and large, earnest in their beliefs, even as they disagree. At its core, the book is about a young man struggling with his faith and the politics that are rightly or wrongly attached to that faith, and his choices feel plausible even to readers who would make very different ones. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/26/2016
Genre: Fiction
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