by S.L. Edwards
I have come to believe that Jonathan Raab is in the pocket of big conspiracy.
Big foot. The illuminati. Frog people. An entire cottage industry of niche, tailor-made alternative realities for the easily amused, perpetually distracted and consistently terrified. Within his fiction there are coded messages, enough to sow a few seeds of doubts, a glimpses of the dark water resting beneath the iceberg.
I have known Mr. Raab for some time. When and where we met I cannot say. I’m not saying, “it’s classified.” I’m saying, “I cannot say.”
I’d like to imagine it was in a dark alley, Jon holding a manila folder labeled “LEVIATHAN,” “GORGON,” “OUROBOROS” or something else vaguely sinister and mythological sounding. I would like to imagine this. But I can’t say.
More likely, it began with an email. Something innocuous. Mutual respect and interest.
Jonathan Raab is in the pocket of big conspiracy. He sells you a world where patriotism and nationalism are manufactured by military-industrial brainwashing, where the left-right political spectrum is a divide-and-conquer falsehood benefiting only the most greedy and sinister factions of human society.
I once asked Jon if the earth was flat.
“No, don’t be crazy.”
That would be crazy.
Jonathan Raab exists, writes, and breathes big conspiracy. And the biggest conspiracy, the grandest and most integral, the lynchpin of all of this: intersection. A point where everything meets. Connections between UFOs, occult societies, heaven and hell. Multiverse. Though maybe “multiverse” is inappropriate, because it implies a separation. Instead, it’s the fact that all of this, and all of these possibilities, are connected. Part of the same beautiful, ugly, hysterical, brutal reality that we grunt, thrust and die in.
Jonathan Raab navigates big conspiracy, lives in it. Copes with it better than someone like you or I could. Me? I see the bars of my gilded cage and I dart away from them. What a terrible thing, to imagine what’s outside! God forbid we see the hand that feeds and/or grooms us. What could make such a terrible, hopefully benign (hopefully) force?
After corresponding with Jon, I took one of his books to a brewery on a Saturday afternoon. Sun shining. Southern California.
Jon writes in a very accessible way, with an easy flow and common vocabulary that makes his stories have all the more impact when they finish. It was one of those endings, one of those shocks that makes you say “oh shit” out loud from the rim of your imperial IPA.
“The fucked up thing,” the voice from the door told me, “It’s all real.”
The man—pot-bellied with eyes behind sunglasses—disappeared into the sunlight before I could answer. It was bright, but I could have sworn that I caught the brilliant glint of a tin star on his chest.
Jonathan Raab is deep in the pocket of something, I don’t know what. But I’m glad for his dispatches from the depths. For the warnings. To keep calm. To be aware. To look away.
I only wish I would listen.
S. L. Edwards enjoys dark fiction, dark poetry and darker beer. He is a Texan currently residing in California, specializing in weird fiction and poetry.