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ReReadable Books

March 2012

Justice: Part 3, Luck, Leverage and The Stakes


Jacqueline Lichtenberg



 To send books for review in this column email Jacqueline Lichtenberg,jl@simegen.com  for snailing instructions or send an attached RTF file.  
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Leverage TV Series on TNT network

Hangman by Faye Kellerman, Wm Morrow HC, 2010

Messiah: Apotheosis: Bk Three by S. Andrew Swann, DAW Feb 2011

Hit List by Laurell K. Hamilton, Berkley HC June 2011


In Astrology, “Justice” is usually associated with Jupiter, Court proceedings, judgments handed down from a high bench.  Jupiter rules Sagittarius, the natural 9th House of publication, globe-trotting, world girdling events, events leading to the career shaping decisions ruled by Capricorn, the Natural 10th House, associated with Saturn.

Jupiter and Saturn are considered to be opposing forces, Jupiter “expanding” and Saturn “contracting.  But both are deeply associated with the entire concept of Truth.

The Sagittarius ruled person generally has trouble learning the social grace of the “White Lie” and will always tend to blurt out the truth.  With grace, though, the Sagittarius can become the master of flowing gossip, the kind of true but reputation (Saturn is reputation) enhancing gossip that builds community. 

Saturn delivers the kind of Justice that King Solomon was famous for – cut the baby in half.  The one who gives the baby up then is revealed (Saturn reveals truth) to be the true mother.  The baby never had to be cut in half; mere threat revealed the truth.

Jupiter delivers the kind of Justice that winning the lottery is famous for.  It’ll multiply your fortunes until your fatal flaw is revealed, and you’re poor again. 

Thus when Saturn strikes, the Event seems like “bad luck” while when Jupiter strikes, it seems like “good luck.”

Both deliver Justice personified. 

“Luck” is what we call the pattern formed by events precipitated in the wake of our passing through life, or in the “side-bands” around us in our current position, events we generally consider to be governed by random chance rather than the exercise of our Free Will.

“Art” such as the story, the novel, the TV Series, strives to reveal the connection between our Free Will choices and our Luck. 

By “Luck” I don’t mean the obvious cause-effect chain of a plot sequence that is the backbone of any novel.  I mean the way a Hero plows through a dicey situation, stumbles, spins, gropes, and keeps on striving no matter the odds, and somehow magically the disasters that would have happened if you or I took such risks, don’t happen.

You can shrug and say, “It’s just a story.”  But if you study the biographies of famous people, you’ll see the “Luck” illustrated by correlating Saturn and Jupiter cycles to their natal charts.  You might begin to wonder if you really do understand how the world works. 

The TV Series on TNT titled Leverage illustrates this point in almost every episode.  You can catch up with them on the TNT website or Amazon Prime. 

Leverage brings together a team of characters as conspicuously unique as real people are, with the avowed purpose of protecting the least and the helpless among us.  Each week they commit egregious crimes against the law of the land (various countries) and sometimes even against the known Laws of the Divine, the laws of White Magic. 

The people the Leverage team protects usually have no money to pay for the help they need (poverty is associated sometimes with Saturn but often with Neptune), and they are always the victim of someone who is rich enough to be privileged above the law, or who used nefarious means to gain wealth that is pure power.

The team pits their criminal skills against the abuse of power, and often puts their lives on the line for the “least or the helpless” among us.  The course of events is always along the least probable line, not the way you’d expect things to go for you.  The team always wins. 

Is this show pure fantasy?  Or does it reveal a higher truth? 

The team wins by violating not just the finer points of the law, but the basic moral principles by which a White Magician lives.  They use their skills and “power” to manipulate people, trick people, to lie, to pick locks, to steal, to pick pockets, to hack government and other secure databases, and one who is a martial arts specialist often hits people with intent to draw blood, knocks people out (and never gets sued for ruining someone’s life via a concussion.)

But the series as a whole portrays these wrongful deeds as adding up to Justice.  Like Robin Hood, the team is in the “right” because they are going up against the big bullies who use wealth as a weapon, not against other wealthy people, but on the little guy. 

I haven’t yet noticed a wealthy person in this series who uses their wealth for Good, nor is it common for a wealthy person to change their behavior after an encounter with the Leverage team. 

The series keeps its message clear and simple: if the stakes are big (Jupiter) enough, all the usual rules (Saturn) that constrain the use of Power are swept aside by the expanding (Jupiter) need (Moon represents the reigning need of the natal chart) for Justice.

Last month, we talked about the “False Hobson’s Choice” – ending off with this:

It’s a “False Hobson’s Choice” when someone insists this is your only viable option.  “There are always alternatives,” as Spock pointed out in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode, Galileo Seven.

So what has Hobson’s Choice to do with Justice?  What does the Hero facing a Hobson’s Choice feel about risk?  The adversary (livery stable operator) makes it seem safer to take what’s offered (a nag).  If you risk trying to find another livery stable in time to get where you’re going, you must rely on Divine Providence, or the tendency of the universe to harmonize events into Poetic Justice.  Do you trust the universe to do you Justice?  Do you dare reject Hobson’s Choice?

You can find these prior columns on lightworks.com or simegen.com/reviews/ 

Is the TV Series Leverage presenting a false Hobson’s Choice?  When fighting for really high stakes, against overwhelming odds, you have no choice but to turn to the Dark Side Of The Force?  Do nothing, and you lose?

That is the issue discussed in the long-running novel series, The Dresden Files, which was also a TV Series.  We explored that in January, in Part I of this series on Justice, while discussing Jim Butcher’s novel Ghost Story.

And of course, it’s the issue at the heart of the popularity of Star Wars.

Is it possible to be either rich or powerful and not mash down the least or helpless among us when you think the stakes for you are very high?

Here are three novels you can breeze through, enjoy a relaxing good read, and still find exciting possibilities when the stakes are sky high, but the only acceptable tool is from the very brightest side of The Force. 

Hangman, by Faye Kellerman, is another in the fabulous long running Decker/Lazarus Detective series.  Here Decker is chasing a murderer who hangs his victims.  There’s a sociopath on the loose, and the stakes get very high when his own family is in danger.  Will he break the law?  Will he use the power of his badge to his own personal ends?

S. Andrew Swann, a terrific worldbuilder, brings us a galaxy embroiled in millennia long wars, doomsday devices, and a few beleaguered almost-humans who stand against colossal forces.  Messiah: Apotheosis Book Three poses very deep and sticky questions of morality.  I recommend all of Swann’s novels if you want to read about very personal stories set against a huge tapestry of morally knotty events.

Here’s another entry in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, series that I’ve been following here.  Hit List is #20 in this series, all in tight chronological order, depicting the breakdown and re-formation of Anita Blake’s sense of identity as she faces moral and ethical questions that can be posed only in a universe where magic, necromancy, lycanthropy, and vampirism are simple realities incorporated in the legal system.  Anita is a consultant for the legal authorities, a detective, but she works with a world class hit man and a psychopath.  The three of them face down threats the Leverage team couldn’t imagine. 

When faced with a False Hobson’s Choice, Anita, like any science fiction hero, creates new alternatives. 

The trick all these fictional characters have mastered is the ability to see when someone is attempting to control their behavior by defining a problem in an artificial way. 

Faye Kellerman’s Decker character is a cop, now a Detective in charge, a man with legal power.  Swann’s main characters are in the middle of the power hierarchy, but some are rich, some in charge of worlds.  Anita’s power is inherent in her Talent, but she has rich friends. 

Saturn may make you “least and helpless” or Jupiter may expand your power.  Will that change how you define problems and what’s at stake in your life? 

To send books for review in this column email Jacqueline Lichtenberg,  jl@simegen.com for snailing instructions or send an attached RTF file.  



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