Charlie Stross has concluded his three-part, wrist-slittingly hilarious projection of the likely (?) outcomes of 2017, which starts with the death of Queen Elizabeth and a massive economic collapse in the UK, and ends when President Pence gets stomach flu and is replaced, once again, by the disgraced President Trump, whose fingers are itching to press the nuclear button.
If you're feeling too optimistic or pessimistic about 2017, and you want a dose of Strossian dark hilarity, this timeline is the place to start.
November A long-period comet is identified crossing the orbit of Venus, inbound towards the sun for the first time in half a million years. An elderly comet, it isn't outgassing much any more, so lacked a visible coma (tail) until it was unusually close to the sun. Astronomers excitedly announce that its course crosses the Earth's orbit so closely that it is expected to pass between the Earth and the Moon on its way out, in December.
However, nobody much gets to hear the news because a new and particularly virulent piece of malware is doing the rounds, hijacking kettles, toasters, and car stereos worldwide. Like most such, it demands a ransom payable in Bitcoin; but Bitcoin has inflated so much since the malware was released that nobody can afford to unlock their devices, and meanwhile the botnet continues to look for other devices to hijack—including popular cable and ADSL modems, cellular base stations, and iPhones (by way of a hitherto unidentified zero-day exploit). With over 200 million hosts it's the biggest botnet in history, and it succeeds in doing what no botnet has done before, and shutting down cellular data traffic across much of the developed and developing world.
(Also? The alt-right leaders riding high have noticed that reality has a marked left-wing political bias and aren't listening to—or paying—scientists any more.)
November 21st: it's probably not connected in any way with October's eruption in the Mediterranean, but one thing's for sure: the Cascadia Subduction Zone has been frisky for the past few tens of thousands of years. There's also some evidence that the Cascadia subduction zone has triggered most of the quakes along the San Andreas Faultline in California. The long feared "big one" finally strikes: an undersea magintude 9 quake about fifty miles off the coast between Portland and Seattle triggers tsunamis all the way north to Vancouver and south as far as Northern California. Luckily—perhaps—the temblors are down below magnitude 8 when they strike the coastal cities; unfortunately they're still violent enough to cause devastation, washing away everything within a mile of the coastline and even further inland in some places (as with the quakes that followed the Great Tohoku Quake of 2011). The Hanford DOE Site is fortunately far away from the coastline. Unfortunately, many of the most contaminated buildings there—dating to the 1940s—were built without adequate attention to earthquake resilience, and thus one of the most heavily contaminated nuclear sites on the planet takes a magnitude 7+ quake on the chin.
Drinking from the Columbia river after the quake is, shall we say, contraindicated.
Things Can Only Get Better! (Part 1) [Charlie Stross/Antipope]
"You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!" 2017 continued. [Charlie Stross/Antipope]
And the Rabid Nazi Raccoons shall inherit the Earth [Charlie Stross/Antipope]
(Image: Roberta F, CC-BY-SA