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]
To my delight and awe, I have discovered a whole, new-to-me universe of "realistic flame" effect LED lightbulbs, which produce the illusion that you have a goblet of raging flame sticking out of your lightsocket: the bulbs come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes (and can also be had in fanciful colors, for […]
Leafcutter Designs of Oakland, California now has adorable mini metal mailboxes ($18 each) made to stuff full of their tiny letters and packages. Wee key included. You may already know that Leafcutter’s founder Lea Redmond is behind the popular World’s Smallest Post Service. This mailbox “bank” is perfect for sending tiny mail within your household, […]
Small Massachusetts town decides to spend $1.4m building its own fiber, rather than paying Comcast $500K for shitty broadband
Comcast offered to get internet service to (96% of) the good people of Charlemont, Mass in exchange for a $462,123 subsidy; instead, the town of 1300 voted to reject the offer and spend $1.4M to build their own super-fast fiber network.
Adobe’s design software catalog is essential to any graphics program, as much for their simplicity as their versatility. Anyone can be an effective graphic designer with tools like Illustrator and InDesign – and the right training in their potential. That’s where the Adobe CC A-Z Lifetime Bundle comes in. Whether you’re getting your feet wet […]
Businesses of any size continue to use PDFs despite – and perhaps because of – their stubborn resistance to simple editing. But for those who need a little flexibility on their documentation, the search is over for alternative software. PDF Expert for Mac is the catch-all solution for wrangling those PDFs, and it’s available at […]
When it comes to tech, smaller is better, and these items fit the bill both in terms of size and price. We’ve rounded up our favorite stocking-ready gadgets, most of which are already on sale – and you can take an additional 15% off any of them with the special code MERRY15. iPM 3-in-1 Fast […]