About This Novel
THE GODHEAD begins in 1953 with the assignment of two unusual heroes to investigate an accusation made by the French governors of Indo-China that an American agency had been shipping arms to the anti-French guerrillas. But the investigation transcends toward a quest that takes in what might be considered a foundation for all religious thought and a basis for all human action.
Although the plot required an opening in the middle of the battle of Kumsong, Korea, the genre of The Godhead is international action/intrigue, with a love story that takes place during the interlude between two wars. The theme is along the lines of the battlefield song of the Bhagavad Gita, or, perhaps, the poetry of Rumi: a prose-poem tribute to arguably one of the most potential and least recognized visions of our time. This is incidental to the story line, but the highlighting might add something to the accumulation of human knowledge, and one long, bizarre step in this history is the signaling that quantum physics, in its most recent extensions, is strangely proving out the teachings of the Tao and of ancient mystics like Jelaluddin Rumi.
Which sounds like a curious prologue to the above genre, but it does work and is exactly true. Much of the mysticism and supernatural aspects of all religions can be scientifically argued now and, within an adventure type of story, a system of values and actions can be constructed on this new foundation. This fits nicely into an action-intrigue-romance genre: The Godhead is a read that builds itself on concepts that could revise a fair amount of our present thinking. This is not an exaggeration.
The Godhead also explores events that went on in America and Southeast Asia after the Korean War, in the period between Korea and the start of Vietnam, a tremendously important time concerning our involvement in the Far East but a period that's been amazingly neglected. There was an unholy relationship between the U.S. and the Bao Dai/Ngo Dinh Diem government there and, at least for a while after WW II, even a continuation of the OSS military support to the previously anti-Japanese Viet Minh guerrillas. The tableaux suggests conspiracy--to do what? To participate in forcing the French out?
The erratic investigation expands across three continents and touches on two separate wars over a period of four years, unraveling a CIA-NSC debacle which, in many ways, is reminiscent of the Iran-Contra situation, except on a hugely more pivotal scale. The plot outlines the opposition of the United States to the re-establishment of the French colonial empire, and the results lead to some rather wild questions about our early activities in that part of the world.
In the novel, significantly, the force behind both the arms shipments and its investigation is Major General Arnold Novinger of the National Security Council. Like Admiral Poindexter after him, Novinger acts in concert with the Administration's policy statements--its position against the French return to its pre-war control in Indo-China, in this case. He initiates his own program to implement these policies, but, to protect the Administration, he keeps this from them, and consequently two men are sent on an investigation only to appease the French Bao Dai government, not really to accomplish anything.
But G-2 Command, without realizing it, as it turns out, picks the wrong men for this purpose. The sergeant, an illegitimate street fighter, is assigned because of his familiarity with the Kumsong region of Korea, where the investigation begins. The lieutenant who accompanies him is the sergeant's opposite: Kim Chau Dao comes from the landlord class in Indo-China and goes along because his father, the Defense Minister under the emperor Bao Dai, is the official who required the investigation.
Sergeant Marion Ramirez Apollo--his mother took the surname from a movie marquee--is the product of a one-night romance between a married physics professor and a Mexican-American waitress. Apollo knows only that he was conceived around the time his father was guest-lecturing at USC, near downtown Los Angeles, on a subject called "quantum mechanics," and because of this heritage Apollo tried to study its peculiar conclusions. In the streets, however, he became a homeboy and gang leader.
Until the beginning of the story Lieutenant Dao's life had paralleled that of a number of Indo-Chinese who went through the French military school at Da Lat and then came to the U.S. for officer training in the American Army, and then went back to join in the American phase of the Vietnam wars. Dao, however, in contrast to the sergeant, is a zealot. He would track the munitions supplier into Armageddon if those were his orders.
The main direction for the theme comes from Chau's sister, Dao My Linh, a student priest of the Cao Dai, a religion that forms a primary influence over the story line. In fact the teachings of this Taoist-Buddhist religion--for example, that our existence is just one of infinite different dimensions--agree with all aspects of quantum mechanics, a point that Apollo's father explains when Apollo does find him.
The novel begins during the last few weeks of the Korean War because the son of the arms manufacturer, Bryan, is a lieutenant in the battle zone around Kumsong. Since the son serves under Army command and probably knows little about his father's activities, Command decides that an enquiry sent to him would be the easiest, and hopefully the least productive, place to start. And, considering that toward the end of the war Kumsong was reporting enormous casualties, there was every possibility that the two inquirers might not come back. That would certainly show a best-efforts attempt on the part of the Americans.
It doesn't work out that way. Instead, Sergeant Apollo is accused of causing the death of Bryan's son, and their investigation spills out beyond the Korean War. As a result of their assignment, a complex vendetta begins. This vendetta, along with Kim Chau's own obsessive pursuit of the investigation--which the Army is now trying to stop--stays with them all into the beginning of the Indo-China Wars.
The assaults by Bryan lay two courses open to Apollo: to withdraw, stay passive while in this particular "illusion," or try to help clean it up as long as he's in it, even if it means his own sacrifice. While taking place on a thematic level, this also leads Apollo to his decision at the plot-line level. The love between Apollo and Dao's sister, and the fatal sacrifice of Dao himself, helps focus Apollo toward that decision. He has to stand by himself now, even against those who command him, based on this new concept of purpose and sacrifice.
Although the story stems from suspicious reasons for the first U.S. actions in Indo-China, the theme evolves from the growing realization that western science and Taoism have been merging into exactly the same concepts (see The Tao of Physics, by Fritjof Capra, and/or The Dancing Wu Li Masters, by Gary Zukav). This is the first and only book, fiction or non-fiction, to take the work done in the quantum field, particularly that of Hugh Everett and Bryce DeWitt, to its logical conclusions--for instance, that God and life after death are now scientifically valid ideas--and extend this into a moral code that can be applied to our own actions.
A fundamental and provable moral code is now being handed to us. When this concept is fully understood, the long-term success of The Godhead, as a forerunner of this understanding, could be substantial, because the research that has been done for this novel, combined with the new thinking produced by these revelations, has helped unify a hell of a theme with a hell of a story.