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]
Watch the trailer to "The Booksellers," a documentary on the enduring, eccentric world of rare book selling
Attention bookworms and rare book nerds. The Booksellers, opening in March, is a documentary celebrating bookstores and the peculiar business of collecting and selling rare books. Literary Hub writes: Have you ever dreamed of becoming an antiquarian bookseller? Or just wanted to get to know one better? Or maybe you just like old books a […]
Sarah Gailey is one of science fiction's great new talents and their 2019 debut novel Magic for Liars was incredibly strong; now they're back with Upright Women Wanted, a feminist, genderqueer science fiction western novel about gun-toting roving librarians who are secretly the heart of an antifascist resistance.
According to an article on Deadline, Spike Lee has signed on to direct a film adaption of David Byrne’s Broadway hit, American Utopia. Oscar winner Spike Lee has signed on to direct a filmed version of the acclaimed Broadway show David Byrne’s American Utopia. Participant adds another title to its portfolio of films meant to […]
For those with a writing flair, the thought of building a career as a professional copywriter should probably have some appeal. Thankfully, it’s also an in-demand job skill with the average copywriter making a healthy $60,000 a year for their efforts. But even if you have a way with words, you still need the industry […]
While we all love our iPhones and iPads, celebrating the releases of their latest and greatest versions, it’s amusing to consider how much we at the same time HATE the main item that keeps these little tech marvels powered up and working. No, Lightning cables don’t exactly inspire feelings of awe and wonder. It’s more […]
Forevernote puts your life stories in print forever and it may be the greatest family gift you can give
Every family is chock full of stories. Stories of history, stories of memory, stories of accomplishment and stories of love. From a grandparent’s tales of life decades ago to a couple’s first meeting to amazing life experiences and moments that you wish could be preserved for future generations. Unfortunately, we all don’t have the literary […]