The LieDeck Revolution
(fiction, alternative history, 593 pages)
Book #1, short summary
“LieDeck” is an acronym for “lie detector,” and it is also the name of a fictitious device that identifies fibs by way of digital voice analysis. Tell a lie out loud, the gizmo goes “beep.” Author Jim Stark actually owns a real one! It’s called a “Truster” (for more info, Google “truster lie detector”). The problem is, Truster doesn’t work very well at all. In the novel, however, a scientist finally perfects the device, the rights to which he sells to Whiteside Technologies. Once the LieDeck has demonstrated its infallibility, everybody either wants to own it, or to “disappear” it. It throws every aspect of human life into a wild tailspin, and seems destined to reduce human civilization to utter chaos in a matter of weeks.
Book #1, longer summary
Human civilization is rocked in 2014 (remember, this book is “alternative history”) when a new digital lie detector hits the market as an affordable consumer product. Research by a Professor Gerald Jellison (University of Southern California) and Dr. Robert Feldman, indicates that the average person—or, more precisely, the average American—tells about 200 lies per day! (Most subjects were disbelieving until their videotaped conversations were played back to them, and although most of their lies were “little white ones,” a lie is a lie is a lie.) Lying out loud with impunity is now technologically impossible. Politics, business, marriage, religion, sexuality and the psychological moorings of most people are profoundly disturbed and forcibly reoriented. In fact there is no part of human society or private human experience that is not shaken by this invention. Of course it is wonderful for law enforcement, but even that most welcome application leads to serious problems.
The inventor is Victor Helliwell, a reclusive ex-scientist who drives cab by day and tests out his LieDeck algorithms by night. He imagines that by shedding all our deceptions, we humans will stop lying even to ourselves, and face our demonstrable duality (meaning who we really are, as opposed to who we pretend to be), and eventually emerge as a new species, or at least a greatly improved brand of “sapiens.” However, world events spin out of control, and Helliwell’s idealistic and optimistic agenda never gets off the ground. Instead, the LieDeck destabilizes virtually everything, to the point where basic human survival seems most unlikely.
The book’s premise is so huge and rich with potential that it ended up very long, and warranted the writing of a sequel (see The LieDeck Revolution — The Sequel, below) to complete the job of exposing how we humans would or should or could react if we lost our traditional ability to lie to each other and to ourselves! Suicide and divorce rates soar, religion fades to black as “belief” itself is increasingly defined as a mental disorder, corporations implode as scandals become ubiquitous, politicians and political ideologies crash, martial law becomes the new normal almost everywhere and psychiatrists can’t keep up with the burgeoning demand for their services. The main character is really the LieDeck device itself, but the storyline is carried by a small set of characters, including Victor Helliwell, electronics tycoon Randall Whiteside and his family, a servant, a gay cook at the Whiteside’s lodge where Victor is holed up, the Prime Minister of Canada (as well as other high office holders), the president of the USA, two female security agents tasked with preventing the assassination of the scientist, an ex-bishop, two teen dropouts from Quyon, and two teenaged lovers.
There is a postscript to both LieDeck books presenting the fact that the American DoD (Department of Defense) has called for private sector proposals to develop a real-world version of the LieDeck (they call their gizmo a Remote Personnel Assessment device, or RPA — see http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg18925335.800-the-lie-detector-youll-never-know-is-there.html). I was unable to find out if their research yielded usable results.
The LieDeck Revolution — The Sequel
(fiction, alternative history, 652 pages)
Book #2, short summary
Under the combined threat of an omnicidal nuclear war and the limitless political might of a newly-minted (and generally popular) world military dictatorship (called the “World Democratic Authority”), only the existence of a single rogue LieDeck device offers any hope of a global return to democracy.
Book #2, longer summary
Three decades after the LieDeck Revolution backfired, Victor Helliwell in his 70s. He has lived those decades in the Whiteside’s lodge on Wilson Lake, as a mute, according to his solemn vow to pass one full day of silence for every pointless death that was caused by the original 2014 Revolution (remember, this book is “alternative history”). However, he has cancer, and is not long for this world. He decides to go out with a bang, to try one last time to civilize the human race.
By 2033, there is a widespread demand for the democratization of the World Democratic Authority (the WDA), the military world government, and for universal public access to the LieDeck. The opposition is led by “Evolution,” a new social movement that involves hundreds of millions throughout the world in a new way of living—a new way of being, really. Their claimed “Human Three consciousness” is accomplished by never ever lying, which is in turn achieved by pretending that all their spoken words are being checked by a LieDeck held in the hands of a WDA agent. One such agent, Captain Lilly Petrosian, is chosen to live in and LieDeck-monitor an Evolutionary “clan” called Victor-E, named to honour Victor Helliwell. She finds herself caught between these two worlds.
The WDA’s claim to own and control every LieDeck ever manufactured is off by one—there is a rogue LieDeck out there, the original prototype that has been hidden by Victor Helliwell all these years. The device itself is again the lead “character” (as in the original book, The LieDeck Revolution), and the rogue prototype device is used to confirm that there is a tiny cadre of “plumbers” (à la Richard Nixon) inside the WDA that has evaded discovery until now.
After much conflict between the WDA and a New York Times investigative reporter (à la Glenn Greenwald), the criminal element within the WDA is suddenly exposed for all to see. The WDA resorts to detonating a backpack nuke on the Whiteside’s lodge, where all the “good guys” are hiding (they had virtually agreed to surrender). It appears that the WDA will succeed in bringing an end to Evolution’s challenge to its near-total authority, but all those people in the Whiteside’s lodge escape through a tunnel under the Ottawa River that was built secretly over 30 years by a clan of mute Christian monks who live in the famous “Diefenbunker,” the nuke-proof hideaway for top Canadian government and military leaders, built in Carp, Ontario during the Cold War. The LieDeck-verified proof of the corruption at the highest office of the WDA will then obviously lead to a powerful global mandate for the democratization of the now-hypertransparent world government (this through an online global referendum) and to the immediate achievement of the long-pursued goal of public access to the LieDeck device.