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the griff

Alternate history catches fire

September 25, 2012 Arts Comments Off


Dale Boyd
Graphics Editor

It’s Sept. 11 2001, and it’s not the World Trade Centre in New York that is under attack, but the building of the same name at 9990 Jasper Avenue here in Edmonton.

This is the fictional world wartime journalist David Danson lives in.

“David Danson is a fiction. He’s a nom de plume. Allegedly, he’s been through a number of war fronts, but he’s being used to forward a simulacrum — which is a playful fiction, but one that is loaded,” says Ian Caird, the author of Faultline 49.

The novel from Guy Faux Books enters an alternate — yet recent — history where the United States military occupies Canada instead of Iraq.

The book’s Calgary-born author says the story is an unconventional look at the events of 9/11 and the effects of American occupation and imperialism on the world afterward.

It’s not lost on Caird that this is a touchy subject, especially for those south of the border.

“Well it’s recontextualizing tragedy right? I wouldn’t say the book is anti-American, but it’s perceived as being such,” Caird explains.

The novel picked up some followers from the United States who weren’t happy with the subject matter. Specifically Marcus Warhole. Warhole introduced an online petition on the news aggregator website Reddit to boycott Caird’s novel.

“He caught a little bit of support from ‘Repent America’ and a couple of these hard right-wing American groups. As of now, whether or not they are championing the boycotts or having any success, I’m not 100 per cent sure,” says Caird.

A quick Google search shows boycott hasn’t gathered much steam.

While Warhole understands that Caird has the right to freedom of speech, he doesn’t feel the themes in Faultline 49 are in America’s best interest.

“Yes, America is the Land of the Free, and I realize that means free ideas, but we have a special role as citizens of a country with a moral conscience. This book is immoral. I don’t give a damn if Danson means well. He’s gone about it all wrong. As a just and moral JUDEO-CHRISTIAN nation, it is our job NOT TO SUPPORT this book. A boycott entails a choice on the part of the people, whereas a ban is often institutionally supported,” Warhole wrote in a scathing post about Faultline 49 on his Google+ page.

Warhole can also be linked to the Reddit account: marcuswarhole.

The account has multiple posts with the same title: “ What Would be the Best Way to Go About Boycotting a Pernicious, Anti-American Book?”

Aside from Warhole, there isn’t much of a voice speaking out against Faultline 49 — not online at least. But Warhole wasn’t the only one that felt the book touched on some sensitive topics.

Caird’s former publisher — who he was not at liberty to name — turned the book down.“After reading the book they thought it was fine, but then someone alerted them to potentially anti-American qualities, and they dropped it for ideological reasons,” says Caird.

Guy Faux Books out of Toronto got a hold of Caird and wanted to publish the novel.

“[Guy Faux Books] is trying to cut their teeth on what they say are ‘evocative books’ but I think they like the controversy,” the author explains.

Controversy wasn’t what Caird was aiming for. The writer put a year-and-a-half of research into the novel to ensure it became an effective mirror on society.

He employed the unique form of realistic, but alternate history to separate himself from other shouting liberals.

“[Faultline 49] is a Trojan horse. Everyone’s tired of the Chomsky-ite that’s raving mad, foaming at the mouth, hitting them over the head with facts. No one likes that,” says Caird.

The premise is fiction, but Caird feels it’s not as out there as it sounds.

“This is Iraq, this is Afghanistan, this is Lebanon, and that resonates poorly for so many people. Especially people who voted Bush into power, or had no issue when [the conflict] wasn’t at home,” he says.

However, the fight is never over. Caird’s is looking to activism as his next step.

“I’m going to see if that’s the better way of spreading this message. Which I guess in many ways is anti-war.”

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