Gielen, Ryan. “Love Bomb and the Pink Platoon”, Brown Penny, 2012.
A Military Experiment Goes Bad
General Newman Ginger is a deeply religious man but when a military experiment goes bad and an entire platoon becomes gay, he has to find a way to continue loving his men (and himself) even though this is not what he has believed his entire life. He is in the midst of a war zone and has to deal with what has happened. Having been assigned to be the person responsible for a new mission—a secret weapons test in which weapons are to be developed to humanely deal with enemy soldiers—he never expected to face court martial. To avoid this, he agrees to become the test subject for these new soft weapons, aphrodisiac bombs that cause sexual arousal and thus distract the enemy from the battlefield. Because of a miscalculation, the bomb turns his platoon gay and he is at his wits end as to how to deal with this. He pleads to be expelled from the platoon so that he can spend his last days in his more familiar way. Instead he is sent to a “top secret barracks where the gay platoon is being held for observation and testing”. It does not take long for the side effects to take place and the Secretary of Defense, a “true Christian” sends the men on a suicide mission to the mountains of a country somewhere in the Middle East where warplanes are sent to kill them in the event that the terrain and the enemy does not succeed in doing so. Ginger wants no part of this and tries to go AWOL and discovers that this mission does not exist and when offered the chance to escape, he and the soldiers have to decide between the gay platoon and Ginger’s own past (and the soldiers”) as a loyal heterosexual Christian.
I met Gielen when I reviewed his film “Turtle Hill, Brooklyn” and he is man that deals with homosexuality with style and grace. Unlike his film, this is a book that will make you laugh and think at the same time. As he does in his films, Gielen develops his characters beautifully as he does with his plot which is filled with twists, turns and surprises. What he also does with aplomb is give us the back stories of his characters. Gielen is very clever in his use of metaphors which give the book even more meaning. The writing is clean; the plot is literate; the humor is dark and the lessons learned here, while not new, are powerful. Dealing with the military, sexuality, religion and warfare, this is a fun read that will not be easily forgotten. Gielen shows the ridicularity by which America dealt with gay soldiers before the end of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”. Through wry humor, he takes on homophobia and with sharp sarcasm lays it to rest.
- Posted in: GLBT fiction