The Australian novel, Lightning Mine, covers the development of an iron ore mine on a sacred land guarded by Namarrkon in the Northern Territory. MDG/Global mining was very interested in the area, and sent their chief prospector, Aaron Shoemaker to investigate the land. Whilst Shoemaker is there, he sets off a chain of corporate and government tactics to ensure the development of the mine on the Aboriginal sacred site. These tactics, as you can imagine, were not overly fair to the Aboriginal people, and their only hope was through University of Sydney law graduate, Jarra Mariba.
Quickly, the development of the themes and issues become clear, especially through the arrogant ignorance of the CEO of MDG/Global corporation portrayed by the author. No stone is unturned in the name of progress , states the CEO to Jarra, showing the clear message that nothing will stop the capitalist machine from destroying the sacred land.
With full government support, the mine goes ahead, and quickly Shoemaker realises what this will lead to. The corporate tactics continue to ensure a smooth running of the mine, even to the extent of killing Mariba s wife.
The resolution of the book fits in well with the theme. Namarrkon: The Lightning Spirit, the guard of the sacred site, stirs up a freak electrical storm, and totally destroys the mine. Furthermore, the CEO, Sir Peter Gables, gets killed by the storm whilst in a helicopter trying to escape the wraith of the storm. Mariba gets shot, but is amazingly saved by Shoemaker, who is a changed man by this time.
My International novel was set in a very different context, present day Russia. The book was extremely well done, and is about the opening of the Soviet achieves. Central to the story, is Fluke Kelso, a middle-aged former Oxford historian who comes into contact with an old NKVD guard who was present during Stalin s final hours. The former NKVD officer tells Kelso of a little black oilskin notebook which stalin kept close, which lead into a race against time to find the book, as the news quickly spreads. The secrets to Stalin s life open up, and soon a Stalinist/Marxist fanatic called Mamantov goes in search for Stalin s famous unknown son, as well as Kelso, and an international reporter wanting a good story.
What is clear through the book is the extreme degree of anti-western sentiment within the Russian people. Mamantov claims that nothing is more important to a nation than its history . And claims that ours has been stolen from us gouged and blackened by the libels of our enemies until the people have become lost. This begins the terror within the reader, as it becomes clear that the country is desperate for hope, and that they want a new leader, and perhaps to even go back to the way it was. Harris makes it clear that modern day Russia is a very decrepit place, and many of the residents still see Stalin and Lenin as their saviors. And when Mamantov brings the unknown son of Stalin into Russia, the book finishes and leaves the reader guessing, almost annoyingly.
What can be inferred from this book are two very important issues. The first is that Western invasion can cause extreme ill-feeling within a culture that has grown up hating capitalism. The author makes it clear through the modern day Russians that the viewing of the archive s by the Western society can cause a lot of resentment, which leads into the second major issue. That is, the less hope a country has of happiness, and a feeling of national pride, the greater the ease of which another Stalin figure could be placed into power. A frightening thought for all of us.