A review of “Hear Us Fade”, a new novel by David Hogan

“We are but

single notes

in the discord,

strings plucked once,

sound and resonance

Hear us fade…”

—From Death in Hilton Head, an unpublished epic poem by Rex Nightly

It is June 2029. The state of California. In San Francisco the uncontrolled forest fires are moving closer burning all that is in its path to the coast. The city lies covered in choking soot and smoke. Droughts, riots, floods, super storms, and the very real threat of the mother-of-all earthquakes coming. One that will destroy California and dump it into the rotting, smelling, Pacific Ocean. While overhead personal armed drones pass like huge flies in the night, and opposite groups battle each other throughout the streets.

In a penthouse 23 stories above the city, two men are slowly torturing the governor of California, repeatedly with a Taser gun. Governor Abbot Swenson, lies fully clothed, gagged, drooling, and twitching in a bathtub, until he suddenly stops moving, which prompts Rex Nightly to ponder.

“How can we kill someone…who was going to kill someone…who killed someone…in order to show that killing someone…is wrong.”

The two anti-capital punishment activists, aging ex-surfer Urban McChen and pill-head Rex Nightly, had kidnapped the governor and were trying to get him to stop the execution on this day of Billy “The Goat” Wharton. Wharton is going to be the last person in the United States of America to be executed. The governor thought “going out with a shocker” was a good campaign slogan.

Billy had to confess to killing eight people, though the authorities claim nine. Billy does not remember if he did, or if he didn’t, as he was off his meds at the time and had been coerced into confessing to eight, but not the ninth; an act of defiance from “The Goat.” The courts and the press even labelled him a cannibal because he supposedly ate parts of the body of his last victim, even though Billy was a vegetarian then, and denied it.

The dead governor’s body is quickly stashed in a closet when Rex’s wife, Sofina, who is also the Lieutenant Governor of the state, comes home unexpectedly. The men learn that she is meeting with the ex-mime, and now, Attorney General, Bassia Augustine, to finalize Sofina’s plan to save California from the likes of Governor Swenson, who believe that the state and country are all beyond repair, or saving anyway, so just enjoy it while we can.

Meanwhile, in a van with two guards, Billy is being transported to his final destination, when the acrid smoke becomes too much. Billy had fallen to the floor, but the guards pass out sitting up and in the fumes. After the van comes to a stop, Billy realizes that the doors are open and he is free.

A taste of freedom, a ride from two strangers, an encounter with a Sex animate, and a fateful meeting with a store employee and Zombie nerd Petty Kowalski-Manriguez, grants him a chance for a companion, love, and fame on the internet, through his unknown participation in an explicit video that goes worldwide. Soon all these characters will all participate in trying to ride out and survive the coming final storm.

Hear Us Fade is a fascinating, entertaining read about an ominous future for a state, country and world consumed by technology, greed, entitlement, and gluttony.

Now the rent is due.

Betimes Books has long believed in supporting and publishing visionary writing, and it is quite evident, once again, in this dark and masterful wake-up call from David Hogan.

A bleak vision from Mr. Hogan, yet full of delightful and unexpected twists and turns. Hear Us Fade is often moving with tender moments, with outrageous laugh-out loud humour the next, and featuring memorable characters that the reader carries with them long after the last powerful page.

—Marvin Minkler, Modern First Editions