Book Review: The Traveler – by John Twelve Hawks

After reading this book, you will never again use a cell phone, a credit card or an ATM machine without paranoid thoughts about Big Brother watching. Orwell didn’t even come close to anticipating how bad it can get in his famous 1984.

The Traveler is a story that plays in a world where the power lies with a small group of ruthless power freaks that call themselves the Brethren. They believe that everyone in the world needs to be controlled and monitored. Freedom means that all citizens, regardless of country, buy the products advertised in the media, go to work like sheep, do their jobs like robots, spend their money, and do the same again the next day. This is our world as we know it. Anyone thinking outside the box is dangerous to this equilibrium and must be stopped. The Brethren are not part of any official government group but rather a well-funded private network that stops at nothing. Brutal torture and outright execution are routine activities when somebody gets in their way. Think drug cartel on steroids, on a global scale, and you have the Brethren.

Then there are three groups of very few individuals that understand what is going on and that are fighting back.

The first are the Travelers. These are people who can ‘travel’ out of  body to other realms. Realms are parallel universes. By being able to do this they can come back with superior insight into what’s going on in our own realm or universe, and by having this skill and insight, they are dangerous to the establishment. There are very few travelers, and the skill is genetic and often passed on by parents to children. People like Isaac Newton and Joan of Arc, and many others like them, are thought to have been Travelers.

The second are Harlequins. They are sworn to protect Travelers. Harlequins are generally trained by their parents from childhood on for that role. They are fierce fighters, martial artists, weapons experts and – alone. Think of Rambo, ninja and samurai all combined in one. Needless to say, they are extremely dangerous and the Brethren hunt them, and fear them. They do not have relationships to the Travelers, but they are willing to give up their own lives and safety for them when called upon.

The third are Pathfinders. They are the teachers that train potential Travelers, since Travelers do not usually know that they actually have the skill, and if they do, they don’t know how to access it. The Harlequins help the Pathfinders help the Travelers.

If this sounds like an exotic, Medieval conspiracy theory, you are right on. But once you accept Travelers and Harlequins, they fit into today’s modern society, which is called the Vast Machine.  They fly into LAX, make sure their finger prints are masked, their faces are not caught by security cameras and they hire random taxis so they can’t easily be followed.

And that’s where the paranoia comes in. I could not help but wonder what I would have to do to get “off the grid” or hide, in other words, from the world as we know it. I could not buy anything (without using a credit card), I could not communicate (without using my registered cell phone or laptop), and I could not travel (without my car’s license plate being tracked). That’s good, if you want to be able to prevent crime, but it’s bad if you are a Traveler and the Brethren (the government) want to get rid of you.

A fun read, a page turner, an alternate universe, laid over our 2010 world. Welcome 1984, albeit a quarter century late.

Rating: **

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