Tropic of Kansas: Making America Great Again considered harmful
Chris Brown -- long known as a writer of perfect, jewel-like demented cyberpunk stories -- makes his long-overdue novel debut today with Tropic of Kansas; a hilarious, dark, and ultimately hopeful story of a terrible authoritarian president whose project to Make America Great Again has plunged the country into an authoritarian collapse that's all too plausible.
Brown's alternate America diverges from our own with the assassination of Ronald Reagan in 1981, which leads to the ascension of President Haig and the beginning of the end. The Internet is never realized -- instead, it's supplanted with a surveillance-friendly, centralized system run by AT&T that quickly becomes an organ of state surveillance.
The post-assassination America's authoritarian paranoia drives hordes of refugees to Canada, to be hunted and deported back to the USA -- where, inevitably, they are viewed with suspicion as potential foreign agents.
Enter Sig, a feral child whose radical mother was imprisoned and ultimately murdered for her politics, who has been living off the land in Canada for years, until he was caught and committed to the tender mercies of US Motherland Security, who mark him for the forced labor camps of Detroit.
After a daring escape -- the first of many -- Sig is free, living off the land again, drifting in and out of the radical underground, pursued by his stepsister, who has foregone her own radical ybouth to become a government agent. As the two of them whirl across America, Brown paints a picture of a pirate net, complete with its own cryptocurrency, living off of mutated phone phreak technology and secret messages in the vertical blanking intervals of pirate TV broadcasts.
The uprising -- and counterrevolution -- that is sweeping across America has both of them in its tailwind, providing for enough much adventure, hair's-breadth escapology, jungle melee and down-and-dirty fighting for three hairy-chested men's magazines, but with an ironic, reflexive distance that makes it all the more delicious.
Brown's novel is just what you'd hope for from a long-awaited debut like this: a book that excites, provokes and terrifies.
Tropic of Kansas [Christopher Brown/Harper Voyager]
There are three more stops on my tour for Walkaway: tomorrow at San Diego Comic-Con, next weekend at Defcon 25 in Las Vegas, and August 10th at the Burbank Public Library.
George RR Martin, 1993 "The fantasy novel I've been working on off and on for a while" is an unlikely project for TV
Scott Edelman writes, “I interviewed George R. R. Martin at a Thai restaurant on Episode 42 of my Eating the Fantastic podcast (MP3), and after I returned home, remembered I’d also interviewed him back in 1993. After digging out the tape, I couldn’t resist incorporating his amusing admission about ‘a fantasy novel I’ve been working […]
Zero-knowledge proofs are one of the most important concepts in cryptography: they’re a way to “validate a computation on private data by allowing a prover to generate a cryptographic proof that asserts to the correctness of the computed output” — in other words, a way to prove that something is true without learning the details.
Web content creators who don’t have a solid SEO strategy should take note of Webtexttool. It’s a service that pulls in anonymous data from their entire user base to offer crowdsourced guidance that increases your search page ranks. By analyzing prior user successes, it helps you better gauge how your posts will perform at a […]
Just because English has become the common global tongue doesn’t mean it’s the easiest language to write—even for native speakers. If you’re looking to improve your written communication skills, especially on your smartphone, take a look at Ginger Page.Ginger is a cross-platform app that offers corrections for phrasing as well as grammar. It’s powered by […]
The current web development landscape is rife with buzzwords and technology that gets abandoned almost as soon as it’s made. If you’ve never written a line of code before, it can be hard to figure out what’s coming, what’s here to stay, or how to get ahead.This Beginner Web Development Bundle is a great place […]