Today, Carlos J Cortes is guest blogging. Here is his thirteen reasons why you should read THE PRISONER.
Here we go: you must read The prisoner:
1.If you’ve ever been scraped by power.
The Prisoner proposes that real power is not at the top of the public pyramid but somewhere in its core, like a cist. We’re naked, helpless, before the often anonymous mighty.
2.If you believe that real people are flawed.
My characters, regardless of status or background are ordinary people, insecure, vulnerable and damaged. Aren’t we all?
3.If you like extreme sports.
Forget about running with the bulls at Pamplona. Imagine sprinting inside a stainless-steel tube, naked, before a barreling “pig”; a robotic cleaning machine the size of a small truck and propelled by stiff wire brushes.
4.If the concept of obsessive love intrigues you.
I’m an incurable romantic and believe in love without caveats or compromise. Yet, to love someone above anything else is a recipe for disaster, unless the other shares the same idealized notion. This seldom happens, as Navokov wrote in his unforgettable ‘Lolita,’ which, by the way, is the only novel I know where the full plot is condensed in the nine words of its opening line. In The Prisoner, I explore the love of one woman for another, beyond good, evil and life itself.
5. If you find eroticism, er… refreshing.
Several editors nominated one chapter in The Prisoner as containing one of the most erotic scenes they had ever read. It’s a simple scene, really, involving an auto-focus TV camera, a faulty air-conditioning system and a bathtub full of scalding water.
6. If you thought bears hibernate.
No. Bears enjoy winter lethargy not hibernation. Hibernation is an inactive sleep-like state some animals, like squirrels, enter into during the winter. Bears only experience small changes in heart rate, metabolic processes and body temperature. On the other hand, a true hibernator’s body temperature may drop to the freezing point and its metabolism slows down almost to zero.
7. If you worry about our prison system.
The current Prison System, with its obscenely revolving doors, is not deterrence anymore for hardened criminals. In addition, the present prison population has grown five-fold in the past fifty years. If the trend continues (and experts concur it will) in another fifty years it will bankrupt the nation. The choices are two: fewer inmates or a cheaper-to-run system. Hibernation is such a system.
8 .If you though that visiting the future is impossible.
In hibernation, mammalian metabolism slows down. If a human system is adequately maintained, ageing can be slowed by four fifths. After one-hundred years in hibernation, the subject would have aged only twenty. That’s the theory anyway.
9. If it would comfort you to know there’s a hero inside each of us.
In The Prisoner, the heroes are idealists, cripples and misfits. In the words of one of the characters, Nikola Masek: “No general could hope for a finer army.”
10. If you side with the underdog.
The Prisoner is the tale of the underdog and the people society abandons. With sheer heroism they will rattle the foundations of the establishment and more, but I can’t tell you the rest as it would spoil your reading pleasure.
11. If you care for our discarded soldiers.
Much can be said about a nation from the way it cares for its redundant warriors. The United States of America doesn’t have a very good record; remember the Vietnam veterans. In The Prisoner I wanted to do something about that.
12. If you like pets.
Then The Prisoner is for you. In its pages you will find wonderful snippets about the habits and behaviour of rats, several species of roaches and other cuddly creatures.
13.If you want to know what happens to your waste after you flush the toilet.
Chances are you live miles away from a treatment plant. From home to its final resting place, the effluence of affluence enters a fantastic journey through a world of tunnels, sewers and galleries in places fifteen levels deep and largely unexplored.
An excerpt from The Prisoner
“Remain calm and follow the instructions.”
Laurel Cole sniffed. Calm? How can anyone about to die remain calm?
The truck’s enclosure had a subtle smell ingrained into its polished steel surfaces and expanded metal grilles—a smell no amount of steam and disinfectant could remove. It was the odor of fear, of sweat tinged with a whiff of feces and vomit.
There was a shudder, a hollow thud, and the hiss of hydraulic bolts locking; the rear of the truck had coupled against the building. Overhead, the speaker continued its monotonous mantra. “Remain calm.”
Laurel blinked. Although it was outside her field of vision, she knew every step to dock the vehicle against the admissions entrance of the prison complex. Shepherd had explained the procedure more than once and with the matter-of-fact tone of firsthand experience.
Do people scream? In retrospect, it had been a foolish question, but Laurel had asked her trainer—the man she knew only as “Shepherd”—anyway. He didn’t know but offered a warning instead: Whoever opens his or her mouth before they’re told to, or departs from instructions in any way, risks another year.
Another year? In for a penny—No. Laurel checked the thought. Once you’re dead, it shouldn’t matter for how long: elastic time, darkness, and nothingness. But it did. How long you were dead was important, and the thought of an extra minute would be enough to drive anyone insane.
Will I dream? Another stupid question. She pushed the tips of her fingers through the wire mesh fronting her cage and narrowed her eyes as a panel behind the truck inched upward, blinding light pouring through the widening gap at its base.
“Stand away from the doors.”
Laurel disentangled her fingers and pressed her back against the side of the cage. It wasn’t a question of stepping back but simply leaning. Her enclosure, two feet wide and eighteen inches deep, didn’t have enough space for a step. Twenty-four enclosures to a truck. Twenty-four new inmates on their way to hell.
A blue-white glare lit the truck’s interior. Tiny stars shone on the wire grille, perhaps a few specks of dust. The light must be UV heavy. We don’t want germs, do we? In the pen across from her own, Laurel peered at a bright orange shape. It was an old man, his shaven head glistening under the glare. Cold sweat. His mouth opened and closed like a goldfish in a bowl. Or, better still, like the face in Munch’s “The Scream.”
A snap, and the door to her enclosure swung open smoothly on its hinges.
“Five-one-five-eight-five-three-one-six, exit your compartment. Remain calm.”
How thoughtful. Ladies first. After standing in the same spot for several hours, the metal floor outside her pen felt cold. No shoes? Nerves had probably triggered her questions, since she already understood the horror, but Shepherd had answered anyway: No. No shoes. What for?
“Walk out of the truck and into the adjoining room.”
Laurel stepped forward, darting a glance back at the pens, each with an orange outline inside—like gaily wrapped mummies, tucked into as many catacomb niches. “Remain calm. Stand inside the circle at the center of the room.”
Behind her, she heard the truck’s rear panel slide back down, its bolts ramming home. No witnesses, nothing to give the other twenty-three prisoners a clue.
“Undress and drop your clothes inside the circle.”
She pulled a T-shirt over her head, tore at the strip holding the trousers around her waist, and stepped out of the cloth as it pooled around her feet. Cold. She maneuvered both feet over the garments. No underwear. No need. Warmth seeped through her soles. Her warmth, soon to wane.
The room, a perfect cube perhaps ten feet by ten feet, was featureless, with white polymer walls, floor, and ceiling. No openings, no anything. It was empty but for a gray circle and a terrified, naked woman standing on orange clothes.
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