Thursday, July 5, 2007

Rainbow Six or Showing My Pinko Colors, for reals.

I think I confused Tom Clancy with John Grisham, and eagerly picked up this book.
Unfortunately, I am not a White, conservative, deeply heterosexual 35-65 year old man interested in paramilitary secret service members of a similar demographic, their guns, their nemeses, and the innocent women and children that they endeavor to save. And I did not completely admit to the error of my ways until I was about 400 pages into a 700 page book. Oh good Lord. Now don't get me wrong, I like morality plays, and I like stories about the world in peril, and I am not really against maintaining social norms, but Rainbow Six rubbed me the wrong way. We'll discuss.
Rainbow Six was seen on the Swan Hatch bookshelf in 2x03-Orientation.
Lostpedia points out that R6 was published in 1998 so could have come in a supply drop.

Rainbow Six chronicles the founding and early missions of an international counterterrorist organization. Conveniently, our heroes are pure-blooded Americans--ok, one of them is Hispanic- with stalwart values. There's an exciting encounter with plane hijackers in the first chapter, but after that the terrorist incidents they deal with seem predictable and relatively small-- a bank holdup, Marxist idealists holding up some rich dudes Castle, Basques or a close approximation thereof holding hostage sick children at pseudo-Euro-Disney, and finally (horror of horrors!) the provisional IRA taking our heroes wives, one of them pregnant no less, hostage at the hospital they work at. The good guys are good, the bad guys are bad, and the good guys always win with maybe one casualty on their side, and plenty of pontificating on the nature of their Very Important Work. Perhaps the best part of this plot line is how quaintly "terrorism" was defined less than a decade ago, and how exciting the start of the internet age is--some time is taken to explain the wonder of "e-mail" and other computer technologies. Aw.

The other plot, which is interwoven with the counterterrorist one, is a bit more interesting and relevant to our show. Some folks, whose identity eventually becomes clear as a major drug company, abduct some homeless dudes and then some young career women and start testing some deadly virus on them. It is sinister and shrouded in mystery, and sort of fun to read. As it turns out, the culprits are planning to release a virus at the Australia(!) Olympics which would eventually wipe out most of the world's human population. It's sort of ingenius, but their motives, again, are sort of cheesy: They want nature to be returned to healthier balance...some of the members of the organization are even...*gasp*..vegans.

The Rainbow group intervenes in the eleventh hour, of course, and literally saves humanity. Not that I'm not grateful, but really, I'd like to think that the implications of mass plague ( as in The Stand) are more interesting than just the threat of it. Interestingly enough, the tip-off comes from a master terrorist named Popov, who had been coordinating the terrorist incidents in the book as a sort of middleman between the world-annihilating corporation and the terrorist groups. When he realizes who he's really working for, he bolts and saves the day. Although he's a sneaky, sly, amoral Russian, a eye-roll worthy stereotype in many respects, ultimately, he knows where to draw the line. And he was probably the one thing in the book I couldn't predict from chapter to chapter.

So what does this have to do with our show? Some looming threat of bio-terrorism on the broadest scale in one form or another, certainly( there's some intimation of this in the Lost Experience, apparently). Along with that comes the balance between the natural world and the encroachment of man: I don't think LOST comes down for either over the other, but they're definitely in some conflict. Then there's the evil of big corporations (which is sort of a relief in the conclusion of this book after the parade of unpopular political separatists who I'd probably side with over whitey in some situations). What I hestitate to say this book shares with LOST is its world-view. It is so simple and black and white. LOST doesn't approach its storytelling in that way, and doesn't present morals without some nuance. That's not to say that there aren't moral extremes on the show, as in Evil Under The Sun, good and evil do exist and are real. But they can't be taken care of by secret services, at least in the conventional sense.

Here's what I think: the book was in the Swan Hatch, and Kelvin Inman was there (he was sort of a cutie). Kelvin was in Sayid's flashback as a member of the American forces in the Gulf War, and tells Desmond that he was a spy, "but left because ' followed my orders.'" It's unclear how he came to the Island, and its debatable what his true work there was. His arrival, after the first Gulf War, would also be after the Dharma Purge, and the initiative would be defunct. So, was he a true or misguided Dharma-ite, or was he an Other in Dharma clothing? Oof. I don't know, but a military book read by a military dude on an Island whose nature (both regular and super-type) people struggle to retain control over, seems to make some sense.

So that's it. I don't want to talk about it anymore. And like that, it is out of my life. Read it, if you have tons of time or if you don't feel guilty doing some skimming. It could be a much better story in someone else's hands, since the structure of it doesn't completely stink. Or play the video games. They seem to be pretty popular. And I'll get back to reading!

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