Monday, May 30, 2011


Dan Simmons has a new book coming out, and I'm almost embarrassed to say that it's a ludicrous right-wing tinged dystopia that seems only somewhat more imaginative --but certainly no more plausible-- than Ferrigno's Prayers for the Assassin.

Imagine a financial collapse so big that people refer to it as "D.I.A.H.T.F." It means "Day It All Hit the Fan," which sounds like the kind of antiseptic acronym a Boomer thinks would catch on. Sorry...if the F doesn't stand for "Fuck," that shit ain't catching on.

But let's not pick nits. What about the big stuff?
"Our primary bank -- China -- was no longer there: split into thirty segments, each with one or more warlord fighting for ascendancy. The fact that "China" was now demanding payment in full on certain loans meant almost nothing. What meant something was that your ATM longer spat out any money, even when you swiped the card again and pressed all the right buttons."
Really? China, currently hurtling facefirst into the 21st Century, is going back two thousand years to the Warring States period? And must they be so inflexible on the terms? They're communists, for Christ's sake, not Republicans.
"Gold was still worth something and in the days after the D.I.A.H.T. F. the federal government passed legislation appropriating all private gold and promptly sent troops around to collect it. So much for that particular portfolio investment."
This sounds like Glenn Beck's worst nightmare as opposed to something that will actually happen. I mean, I can see gold still being worth something...until the Feds grab it by force. What are they going to do with it? If they spent any of it, they'd have to send out the troops to snatch it back, right?

Of course, it's not a dystopia unless we're remaking the Union. So here goes the secessions:
"There are 44 stars on the new flag of the United States...

Hawaii is a royal kingdom again, presided over by a pure-blooded Hawaiian queen...

Alaska is an energy-sufficient republic thanks to its "nationalized" oil and natural gas...

Texas is once again the Republic of Texas...

...all of what had once been New Mexico and Arizona, small swaths of Nevada, and irregular parts of southern California up to Los Angeles, ending at the Pacific Ocean. This is Nuevo Mexico -- pronounced in the proper Spanish-Mexican way..."
As you can see, this dystopia has all the imagination of the dude who gives the speech at the Sons of the Confederacy annual reception.

And then there's the Muslims...
"The Global Caliphate is a giant crescent, its central curve and core and capital in the Mideast where the triumphant states of Iran and Syria struggled toward mere regional hegemony in our own day. It seems that they succeeded. And then some. The northern horn of the Caliphate crescent stretches from the heart of the Mideast (Mecca and Medina, no longer part of the dead state Saudi Arabia at the heart of this heart) across Turkey and eastern Europe and all of Western Europe with the sharp tip of its crescent ending in Canada."
Yeah, sorry, don't think it's going to go that way.

If --what's the stupid acronymn again?-- DIAHTF really happened, I'm pretty sure the United States would remain intact. Fantasies of secession always dash themselves on the shores of reality, when the Texicans are sandwiched between a hostile United States to the North (and it would be hostile) and an even more hostile Mexico to the south. Alaska? Finally weaning themselves off the Federal teat? Why would they do that? Hawaii becoming a kingdom? Dude, conquered people don't come back.

As for the Global Caliphate, give me a break. The United States is going to break up, but the Muslim countries are going to unite? Yeah...that's going to happen.

I think with a dystopia you gotta go one of two absurd that it's obviously not going to be like that -- 1984, Blade Runner-- or go subtle about it. The Global Caliphate isn't subtle, but I'm not so sure Simmons is going for absurd, either. He's making some kind of statement.

I think he's been reading too much Victor Davis Hanson and Charles Krauthammer, myself...

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