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Lew? Lew? Can you hear me? Listen carefully. I'm okay now, but I need help. I'm not where you can find me. Only Repairman Jack can find me. Only he will understand. You can find him on the Internet. Remember: onle Repairman Jack and no one else. Hurry, Lew. Please hurry.

As a rule, Repairman Jack doesn't do missing persons work. The police have better resources for that sort of thing, and all too often it turns out the missing person doesn't want to be found. Besides, the last time he took on a missing person case, it nearly got him killed. But when he hears the last message Melanie Ehler sent to her husband Lew, he's curious. Why is he the only one who would understand? Why would this woman he's never heard of tell her husband to find him of all people? Disregarding his own instincts and common sense involving curiousity and cats, he agrees to look into the matter.

Though Jack has divorced himself from society and withdrawn from the system, he doesn't actually believe that secret government agencies are out to get him, or that aliens are abducting people for their own nefarious purposes, or even that the End Times are nigh and the Antichrist walks among us. But Melanie Ehler dealt with groups that believe all of that, and more, and she was working on the greatest conspiracy theory of them all when she disappeared. She believed she had found the Grand Unification Theory of conspiracies; the one theory that explained everything from the men in black to the Antichrist, from alien implants to the 666 chip supposed to turn the faithful into soldiers for Satan during Armageddon. To find her, Jack must immerse himself in these paranoid delusions, and mingle with members of the most exclusive organization of conspiracy theorists around, the Society for the Exposure of Secret Organizations and Unacknowledged Phenomena (SESOUP).

The deeper Jack goes, the stranger things get. The founder of SESOUP, Sal Roma, somehow knows about the claw scars across Jacks chest and exactly what made them. Nightmares about the rakoshi plague Jack during his stay at the SESOUP conference, and are followed by the appearance of strange crates in his hotel room. And while working on a second case involving a brutal wife-beater and the co-dependent woman he married, Jack starts to suspect he's being followed. Either paranoia is contagious, or the nutcases he's dealing with might not be so crazy after all....

In Conspiracies, F. Paul Wilson brings Repairman Jack back to the familiar ground of supernatural horror. He also begins weaving the tangled threads that irrevocably tie the series in with the books of the Adversary Cycle and link Jack with the entity known as the Otherness, completely alien to our reality and desperate to take it over. Throughout the novel, Jack remains lost and confused by a world he thought he knew, a world that might well be controlled by any or all of the conspiracies he learns about. His own paranoia about becoming part of the system seems mild indeed compared to insanity he finds within SESOUP.

As in the other novels in the series, the focus remains on the characters, but without detracting from the action. Jack is again Everyman, faced with forces at work in the world that defy comprehension. He must scramble to protect those he loves, Gia and Vicky, from his work, and realizes more and more the price they pay for the kind of life he leads. The various conspiracy nuts are well written and fleshed out as well, and it's very entertaining to watch Jack play their paranoid delusions off one another as he tries to seek out the truth.

So head to your library or bookstore and grab a copy of Conspiracies today. If you think you know what forces drive our world today, you're in for an eye-opening experience. Close the blinds, lock the doors, and above all, watch the skies.


Sources:
Wilson, F. Paul. Conspiracies. Tom Doherty Associates. 2000.

People often snicker and make light of the more colorful conspiracy theorists out there. The ranting lunatic with the pocket protector who talks about UFOs or the "guy from work" who insists the moon landing was a hoax or knows "what really happened on the grassy knoll." They are the butt of jokes, they are "kooks," but what of the trend in more mainstream America - explaining everything you don't like away by putting in the context of some vasy conspiracy? They talk about school shootings being staged and verifiable news being" fake." They don't speak about conspiracies as a way to explain something they have fixated on. They live in a different realm from those stock television characters we all know. They are explaining things away.

Why would an otherwise reasonably intelligent person who maintains a steady job and lives an otherwise mainstream existence (or what is considered to be such for the community they grew up in) begin talking about conspiracies and hoaxes? Prominent people including elected officials embrace the idea of massive conspiracies without any kind of verifiable proof of their claims. Why?

It is connected to the idea that the time they fantasize about was built on a lie. Pay attention to what the conspiracies revolve around. They come back to the need to disprove things people don't want to believe exist. A migrant caravan is being "funded" by a conspiracy, kids being killed by a gunman is a hoax, and then there is the really vast conspiracy involving a "deep state" that is engineering some kind of destruction of American values. These things detract from the fantasy. They don't fit into the picture. These things are caused by something else. It is like when someone has a traumatic experience and they invent memories to block it out. That which doesn't fit into the picture of how they see the world, or how they want to see the world, must be a fabrication of people working against them and what they believe.

With some it is pretty close to pathological, but it is often the product of gaslighting by those who seek to profit, or make other gains, through the promotion of these conspiracies. If you can convince people that the things they find terrible and offensive, that they might feel compelled to do something about, are the product of a hoax or part of a cover-up then you can keep them supporting your program and your beliefs. No one wants to believe a gunman would go into a school and shoot children. The reality is horrific to even consider, but if it was a hoax... there is now a bogeyman to blame. The larger questions of why such shootings are occuring with such frequency doesn't have to be considered.

Could there be thousands of people in desperate need coming together in a caravan? That might require one to consider moral and ethical questions, but if it is a hoax funded by people who are trying to destroy America or one's closely held beliefs about law and order, then it isn't a real problem but a manufactured one and that is much easier to dismiss. 

For as long as anyone can remember, success has been measured by a combination of achievement and personal wealth, whether directly or indirectly. People are measured by metrics involving whether they came from a "good family," which on the surface means an intact family where there is a history of successful people, what schools they went to, what career path they chose, and how successful they are in that career, which is measured by a combination of influence and financial holdings. Essentially, this sets up a scenario where people born into privilege are considered to be the automatic stars of the show. They are born into scenarios where they can afford to attend the most exclusive schools and where they have the connections to get into such schools. They are born into scenarios where they have lifelong connections the moment they are born, and while there are many levels of privilege, it continues to be considered the mark of success even when their path to success was provided to them. They are the future leaders. Look at their resumes.

They simply cannot be rapists. That doesn't fit the picture. It is easy to pitch and sell a conspiracy theory to the people who don't want to contemplate the potential reality. They're looking for one. It only has to be barely plausible with the recommended levels of suspension of disbelief helping it go down.

More than a decade ago I had a friend who was engaged. Their romance had been ongoing for nearly a decade with many stops and starts, making it something of an epic. It had finally come together. They were living together, both were working good jobs, and they were getting married. He was not letting anything interfere with the completion of this epic story, even as it became clear to the people around him that his girlfriend was carrying on an affair with his cousin's roommate and barely doing anything to keep it a secret. People would warn him and he would snap at them that they were just jealous and trying to destroy his happiness. He would dismiss any reports he heard, including ones where they basically enjoyed a make-out session in front of his cousin and other people, and that they had sexual intercourse in another friend's hot tub. It reached the point of absurdity with his denials and how he insisted it was all made up. People were imagining this stuff. Nothing was going to destroy this picture.

One day my friend was making up the bed in their bedroom and her journal fell out from between the mattress and boxspring. It somehow managed to fall open to a page in which she wrote poetically of her love for this other man, combined with lines about how he was the best lover she'd ever had, and he snapped. The fantasy broke and he saw the reality. He could no longer look away.

This is what is happening on a much larger scale in America. It has always gone on, but now it has attained a whole different level. A journal needs to fall open on the floor.

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