By Charles F. Otey
Song of the Conquerors, by Brooklyn Eagle managing editor Raanan Geberer, doesn’t deal directly with the law or lawyers, but it does offer a provocative outline of a strange and scary world that could be just decades away if we don’t end our warlike ways.
Written in staccato fashion, with action-type scenes swinging from war-torn “Sarajevo 2030” to “Fairbanks, Alaska 2070” and, ultimately, back to “Sarajevo 2072,” Raanan’s slim (108 pages) and compelling work reads like an outline for a “comic classic,” well-suited for the printed page as well in this era where the ever-expanding adult cartoon genre is becoming more and more popular.
A theme of the book is that by 2030 and due to a number of manmade disasters – basically “dirty bombs” let loose in various metropolitan areas across the world — war as we know it has been banned by a ruling body, the United Nations.
Under new U.N. rules, all-out conventional war is no longer tolerated. Which is why, on the opening page, Josh Kagan, one of three ultimate protagonists, finds himself far away from his native America in Sarajevo, preparing to battle on behalf of “The Force” against its arch-enemy “The Confederacy.”
But, as author Geberer explains, the enemy is truly within — in fact, in the same building: “At least he [Josh] and his troops wouldn’t have to go far to take up their positions — the enemy was right inside the former old school warehouse building, two flights down. That’s more or less the way things had been since the Java Convention of 2021 [which] confined fighting to indoor locations at night.”
Why place limits on good, old-fashioned warfare? “There had been just too many civilian casualties, and after thousands of years of warfare, the United Nations got fed up and decided to do something about it!”
Calling on ‘The Healer’
Clearly aware the U.N. would not on its own have the power to unite the world, Geberer calls on the Almighty to pave the way in the mystic form of “The Healer.” Lead character Josh recalls he had his initial personal encounter with this all-powerful figure when he was “at a party smoking hashish, and he was so sure it was so powerful he was having delusions.”
But The Healer proves to be real and possessed of the unearthly capacity to appear “in public places, simultaneously in every country in the world, on every screen, speaking a thousand languages all at once, pleading for the world to adopt the Java [convention] ideas. If mankind was too immature to stop war, he thundered, at least war could be contained.”
Somehow the warring factions are convinced to confine their combat to fixed hours of the day and only indoors at pre-arranged buildings to spare lives and health of civilians. Josh Kagan aligns later with Bucharest Joe and Hira Tamashiro (a heroine and love interest) to fight on the side of the “Force of Honor” against the darkly described “Confederacy of Twelve.”
All three enjoy the benefits of reincarnation, which explains why they’re still young and vibrant when matters are finally resolved after they’ve sort of morphed into other characters 42 years later.
Since Raanan Geberer is from the Bronx, the influence of this locale is evident in the book’s argot wherein one of the national pastimes involves smoking “school-allotted marijuana” and in which preferred foods are “ potato pancakes with apple sauce, cheese blintzes and carrot tzimmes...”
The Healer plays a key role in this well-imagined scenario, which satisfied readers must hope will end up one day soon as an animated television series.
As to whether the ultimate characters — known in their new incarnation as Aaron Beigelman, Al Othmani and Leilani Peng will find happiness in Geberer’s strange new world is a question which can only be found on the closing pages of Song of the Conquerors.
How, having battled the Confederacy, will they now deal with the Marauders, led by such vicious, nihilistic nasties as “Mr. Stealer,” “Monster Sam” and “Ultra-Bully?”
Will The Healer save the day? Will they be able to recall the words of the song that gives the book its name? Song of the Conquerors is available online in both paperback and e-book versions at booklocker.com, amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.
Charles F. Otey writes the “Pro Bono Barrister” column for the Brooklyn Eagle.