Monday, October 1, 2007

Flashpoint by Frank Creed

Flashpoint by Frank Creed

This book ought to come with a warning like the one on amusement park rides. People with hypertension or heart problems should exercise extreme caution when reading Frank Creed's Flashpoint because it's an edge-of-your-seat, thrill-seeking, action-packed ride. Strap in, keep your limbs inside the vehicle, and hold on with white knuckles. Frank absolutely excels at action and he's chocked his under-200-page volume to the very brim with it. Excitement is an understatement. In fact, my old-fashioned, middle-aged brain could have used a little more contemplation to give me a chance to catch my figurative breath here and there.

Confession time. I was quite reluctant to read this book at all because of the name of the genre. "Cyberpunk" sounds like something that would glorify cop-killing and gang-rape. Sorry, that's the image conjured by the word "punk". Adding "cyber" to it doesn't help because I know too many people who use "cyber" as a verb. To "cyber" means "to engage in cybersex". Probably not what everyone thinks when they hear it, and surely not a desired meaning in this case. I know it's not Frank's fault for either root in the compound. He didn't name the genre. I almost let those negative connotations in that word stop me from even trying this book. I'm glad I took the chance. Ignore the word, no matter what it makes you think, and just try the book anyhow.

While it appeals to all ages, Flashpoint will be highly appealing to anyone under thirty, and especially to those of the male persuasion. The Matrix has nothing on Flashpoint which Keanu Reeves couldn't easily surpass were he to play Frank's hero, Calamity Kid. In all fairness, and just so you don't think I'm gushing through rose-colored glasses, I did feel that Flashpoint was slightly obsessed with descriptions of weapons, and being female, and not hip to weapons even in the present day, that wasn't my favorite aspect. I admit my eyes glazed over every now and then when extensive descriptions of the various high-tech, futuristic arsenals came up, which was kind of often. I suspect most guys would find this an asset rather than a drawback.

Others have covered the plot quite well, so I won't duplicate that. Frank even offers a free excerpt on his website, I do want to mention how impressed I was with the theology and the depth of characters and situations. Even with so many weapons flying it makes your head spin, the battle was STILL in God's hands and Calamity Kid, the uber-hero, knows it. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, he knows God is powerful enough to preserve him but sovereign enough that He doesn't have to do the bidding of His creation. Calamity is confident, but not in a stuck-up or superior way. This is not some canned Sunday School lesson with a Deus Ex Machina saving the day either. And furthermore, the good guys kick-butt throughout the entire volume, and yet they still manage to LOVE and even PRAY FOR some really nasty enemies. And speaking of enemies, yes, a good number of them are cooky-cutter bad guys (as is often the case with the average pawns of any dictator's army), but regardless of what it seems on the surface, the REAL battle is not against flesh and blood, and the REAL enemy is no comic-book caricature one can just swat with the newest weapon so everyone lives happpily ever after.

Now we get to the part where we discuss my opinion, no matter how utterly inconsequential it may be. Don't care, you say? Click a link or hit the back button! This is the best book I have read in years. And that is really saying something considering it's a dystopia. As a rule, I'm not fond of dystopian plotlines. I find them depressing and they usually run counter to my main motivation for reading, which is mental escape to a better world. You could not pay me any amount of money to visit Mr. Creed's version of the world in 2036. And yet, there was one very cool plot device which took the edge off all those horrors: Reformation.

I'm sure it's no coincidence that the church has used this term in the past, most notably pertaining to the movement precipitated by Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door in Wittenberg. But when members of the Body of Christ in 2036 use the term, they are talking about something else entirely. It's a process by which the brain is enhanced in some very cool ways:

1. Infodump. You get a top-notch university education in seconds! Plus, while they're at it, they give you full fluency in several foreign languages and the ENTIRE Bible. That alone would be worth the price of admission, but wait! there's more...

2. Better, stronger, faster. Reformed saints can do lots of things out of the range of normal human beings. It's not quite Superman, but in many cases, pretty darn close. No one leaped over an entire building, but four stories is nothing to sneeze at. And if a reformed saint sees bullets coming, their mindware hardens the skin's entry point at the molecular level to make it impenetrable. And they CAN see bullets coming because all their senses are ultra-heightened. Their minds can slow down split-second events like a slo-mo camera. They can hear heartbeats down the hall and they can smell the minute changes that signal a change in sweat secretion due to fear or lying. How cool would it be to be able to detect lies by smell?

3. Spiritual enhancement. Having the entire text of the Bible at your instant disposal would be great by itself, but that's only the beginning. Reformed saints can literally see angels and demons and most of them can even sense the presence of the Almighty. Some of them can even see souls of mortals, both Christian and non.

4. Telepathy, i.e. mind-speaking. Talking to other reformed saints without opening your mouth or even looking at them. You don't even have to be in the same room. I think there was a range outside of which the brainwaves couldn't travel, but it's still absolute-zero cool.

Add to all these brainwave goodies a bunch of futuristic gadgets that Bill Gates would give his left hand for (com-vision: computers mounted on the insides of eyeglasses, boots that allow you to climb any surface, electrocuting gloves, etc, etc) and you've got a very compelling world where I didn't seem to mind spending time despite the fact that it was frighteningly realistic in numerous very bad ways.

So do I recommend this book? Absolutely. I got a free review copy, but I also paid to get an autographed copy for my collection too. Plus, I'll be buying at least two more copies (and probably more) for some of my Books For Soldiers buddies. I have every confidence that guys dodging real bullets in Iraq would cheer Calamity Kid with gusto.

Buy from:


Barnes & Noble


If you order before Oct. 15, from this link only: The Writer's Cafe Press, then you get a signed copy and free shipping in North America!


  1. Caprice--
    Calamity Kid here. Yeah, Frank's making me work the review-replies this week. Don't ask.

    About the Second Life Flashpoint book-launch party you attended: I got the impression that he enjoyed talking to you about Handmaiden's Tale and all, but he won't shut up about your attempts to get onto the roof and he keeps calling you "midget". Just talk to him as little as possible. That's how I get by.

    He insits on this annoying tendancy about naming every weapon I hold. Might as well be a stick--I never kill anyone anyway. He's got this cyberpunk sub-genre concept about naming EVERYTHING. Very annoying. Least you don't have to work with him.

    On a more personal note, I did like that you caled me an uber-hero, and confidant without stuck-up. It's all part of the re-formation Brain Wave technology thing. Deus Ex Machina--is that a Maytag nameplate?

    Thanks for dragging poor Martin Luther into the matter. Frank's a Missouri-Synod Lutheran--Sola Scriptura and all that Latin slag. I'm sure Luther's rolling in his grave.

    In closing, I'm glad you like me, but be suspect of Creed. Surely he has a couple things up his sleeves, and I'm pretty sure they're not Israel Military Industries nine-Millimeter Baby Eagles with built-in silencers and flash-supressors.

    Creed made me say that. Waht a jerk.

    Hymn to Him,
    Calamity Kid

  2. Hi Calamity,
    Thanks for stopping by the blog. And thanks for the advice regarding not talking to Creed. I know I can be a pest. I'll try to leave him alone more.

    Yes, I was indeed a midget and I couldn't fly right. I either overshot the roof or I didn't get up high enough. If I had known the meeting was going to be on the roof rather than by the fire (my first guess) I would have figured out how to get up there in advance so we could have avoided that debacle. But then, what would there have been to laugh about? I'm usually good for comic relief, if nothing else.

    "Deus ex machina" is more Latin. It means "god out of the machine" and it was originally a term applied to Greek drama whereby all the problems set up in a play were solved at the end, artificially, by Zeus (or some other mythical figure) popping up out of a trapdoor and using "divine" power or "magic" to fix everything.

    In fiction, it applies to authors who set up problems that the characters can't solve and so the author cops out and has God just step in and perform a miracle that solves everything. Not saying God can't do that, but it's not satisfying to a reader when this device is used. It makes the setting too unreal for mere mortals to appreciate. My point was that in real life, God doesn't often act like that, so it's good that Frank did NOT choose it for the story.

    And as for naming every weapon you have, just be thankful Creed gives you so many cool things to carry and use. And having all those names may make some old lady readers skim over the descriptions, but I bet it will win you more male readers and thus more fans calling you uber-hero. Trust me and indulge Creed on that one.

  3. Sis, you got it all wrong.
    You're not the pest.

    Thanks for the Deus-Zeus explanation. If Creed ever tried that I WOULD tranq his muse and dump her on an international flight! Frankly (oh, how I HATE THAT WORD!), I'm surprised the hack didn't already make that kind'a mistake.

    What is it with you authors and Latin? HELLO! DEAD LANGUAGE!

    Male readers, talk about a lost cause. Four of five book readers are women. Men stop at the Sports-Page. I'm doomed.

    Hymn to Him,

  4. Well, just because women may skim some of the weapons-babble, doesn't mean we don't like the rest of the story. I can't speak for my entire gender, because I am weird by any definition, but I am pretty sure it wasn't only men who liked the Matrix movies. If Creed is really that concerned (and I'm not saying he should be) then maybe he could give e-girl some extra exposure in the sequel. I can't really identify with e-girl because she's a whole lot younger and smarter than I am. Oh yeah, and braver too. But I doubt Creed would get any readers at all if he concentrated on the character most like me, which would be Matron. Talk about boooooring.

    And as for Latin being dead, yeah, that's true, but for many CENTURIES, you had to know Latin in order to have any access to the Bible at all. Language is the tool of writers and English owes a lot to Latin. Plus, a good deal of our culture came through the Roman Empire, so it's not surprising that terms about language and culture come from Latin phrases. Maybe by 2036 you can forget Latin, but it still comes in handy in our backwards 2007.

    Besides, spouting Latin makes us non-reformed saints feel like those two grueling years worth of classes in a dead language weren't totally wasted.

  5. Totally awesome review Caprice. You covered it well without giving away too much. I should have you writing my posts. *S* Great job.

    David Brollier

  6. I'm almost afraid to comment. You and Calamity Kid seem to have quite a dialog going here.

    Seems like we all got drawn into this story, or one like it. You know, whether it's napping Neroes, trackin' down traitorous Elva, following a dangerous cult, or running the dark side of Cincinnati, we're all in the same war. Evil, whatever name you give it, is already here. But like Lightfist quotes the apostle, "This isn't about flesh an' blood. This is a spiritual war." So put on your armor, grab your shield, lift up your sword and stike hard for the Master.


  7. Who's running the dark side of Cincinnati, David? Has someone been spreading tales about me? Just because I live over in the sticks, which I suppose could be considered the dark side with no lights around here, doesn't mean I am running the place. Caprice, I love your review of Flashpoint, especially your details about re-formation. I don't know if I should ask to win a copy or not, since I already bought it. However, I do want to give a copy to my youth pastor and to our church library. I am telling all the sci-fi guys I know about it, knowing that if they just started to read it, they would be hooked.

  8. I think TWCP will be sending you two copies anyhow, since you did post a review on your blog, Cathi. But if not, then giving it to a youth pastor and church library would get you pretty close to the top of my list. So far, I have no other takers, so you would definitely be winning. We'll work it out one way or the other.