The book is a philosophical science-fiction thriller, set in two timelines; one before, and one after the AI-driven apocalypse. The two main characters of the book are both anarchists: one by the default of his post-technology survivalist lifestyle; the other by his own rational philosophical conclusions about the world.
Below is an excerpt from the novel in which the latter character, Marcus, is waiting at LAX airport for his flight away from his homeland of America, to my homeland of Australia, where he plans to make a new life and avoid the social and political decay that is unfolding around him. While he waits in the departure lounge, the television comes to life with a broadcast of the inauguration speech of the new President being sworn in. She is the leader of the new Democratic Socialists Party of America (that has taken the place of the crumbled Democratic Party), and she is the Speaker of the House. When the President is assassinated, and the Vice President commits suicide, Nora Bronstein ascends to power. She is a caricature of Hillary Clinton and Angela Merkel rolled together, but I believe that if Clinton had won the last election, much of the political content of this speech below would've been right there in a Hillary inauguration speech.
“Earlier today Speaker of the House Nora Bronstein was sworn in as Acting President, making her the first woman to ever hold the office. Large crowds turned out to welcome her into her new position, and she was greeted with a great deal of...” the anchor-woman chuckled, “... I guess you would call it passion from the young people of Washington, is that right Randy?” she laughed again. The screen cut away from the newsroom to scenes from the enormous crowd in Washington DC, where tens of thousands of adolescents - some of them red-faced and weeping - were holding banners high in the air that read:
Finally, MADAM President.
The Patriarchy is Over!
Socialism Is For Everyone!
We Heart Nora.
President Bronstein Welcomes Refugees.
The screen cut back to the newsroom as the male anchor spoke.
“Yes, Diana, passion is one word for it. One thing is certain, our new President has some big changes planned, and I for one hope-” he choked on his word a little, and his forced smile was derailed. “I hope it works out.”
For a split second, his female co-anchor looked at him incredulously, then she quickly turned her own gaze to the camera lens and jumped back in, with her prescribed chipper demeanour. “And here she is herself, President Nora Bronstein with her inauguration speech!”
The screen returned to Washington. Nora Bronstein spoke at a podium. Her hair was a dyed mouse brown, with hints of grey shining through at certain angles. It was cut into an almost dome-like shape around her wrinkled, sagging face. Her eyes were very large, but dull and miserable. Around her jawline was a flap of skin that hung like the jowl of a Doberman. Her chin appeared to be an afterthought, snapped into a cavity like the last piece of a grotesque marionette. Marcus imagined it falling off and rolling down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as she spoke.
“Thank you for your faith and support," she said through a crooked smile, gesturing towards the weeping pubescents and their banners, her voice growing shrill. “Yes! A female is finally in the highest office!” The applause began again. “I wish the circumstances were different, but nonetheless, that I am standing here and now sworn in as the President of these United States, I can tell you first hand that things are going to change for the better!”
The crowd roared and she waited for them to settle.
“For too long under our former leadership we have stood apart from our most cherished allies. As Russia was threatening war against the great European Union, our late President did nothing to stop them. In fact, he met with Russian President Vasiliev and negotiated to support him in his aggressions towards the brave freedom fighters spread across the great European state. This is not the America we want to be!”
The crowd howled again in hysterical support.
“I will not be meeting with Vasiliev. We have withdrawn our diplomats from Moscow and St. Petersburg. If Russia declares war as they threaten to, they will be declaring war with America too! Let’s see them try it now!” She grinned and threw her arms up in the air, evoking further frenzy.
“By dismantling capitalism and isolationism here at home, we will set a new example for the world. An example of unity! We have already begun negotiations with our colleagues in the People’s Republic of Mexico and with our good friends in Canada, to establish a Common Economic Area. Our three great countries will soon unite to stimulate employment and innovation and to equalise the benefits that we have enjoyed too exclusively for too long in America. Our new North American Union will follow the lead of those wise founders of the European Union, but unlike Europe we will not allow a minority of violent and hateful racists and xenophobes to divide us along religious and ethnic lines. Our great country has always been a melting pot of traditions and cultures, and we will further reduce the divisions of the world by inviting the free contribution and participation of our neighbours to the South and the North.
“Each of us are contributors to this society, to this great land. Each of us work in our own way, according to our ability, to make America a valuable contributor to the global society. Our sisters and brothers in Europe have reclaimed that once proud land and have fully embraced the inevitable glory of multiculturalism. It is tragic that a large number of racist and xenophobic bigots have taken up violence and espoused violent rhetoric against the recently migrated families, who have been culturally enriching the once predominantly white Europe over the last few decades. But the bravery of freedom fighters across Europe has removed the cancerous corruption of Right Wing hatred that had consumed the once great European Union. Out of the ashes, a new state has emerged; a state led by the ancient traditions of peace and faith.
“The North American Union will rise and assist the newly established Caliphate of Europe to enable the Religion of Peace that is now the majority ideology of Europe, so that all who reside there may benefit from its rich, beautiful, historical culture. I have already been in conversation with the high Imams and Muftis, and the Caliph himself to ensure that the violence in Europe will be stopped, to give way to the brotherly embrace that Muhammad’s Children have been working so hard to create.
“We stand united with Mexico, Canada and Europe in our battle against the inequity of greed. But in our own homeland, the battle is far from won.
“For too long greedy technologists have dominated the discourse and the direction of our society and in recent years they have hijacked our trade by hoarding their knowledge and innovations and holding the people to ransom through exorbitant prices that exclude the average American worker from access to the best facilities. Further, through the creation of their encrypted currencies, these modern day pirates are stealing your country from you. They have debased the dollar by their black market underground trading mechanisms which circumvent the rightful taxation obligations that each of us hold in order to create our perfectly fair and equal society, from each according to his ability.
“We must put a stop to this now to save America from the pit of greedy capitalism it has fallen into for too long. The rising tide has left us vulnerable to hatred and now we must snuff out that threat by taking out its mode of trade.
“As of this moment I regretfully but necessarily invoke emergency powers, in order to turn this sinking ship around and head back to the shore of social responsibility. Henceforth, trading or dealing in encrypted digital currencies is a criminal offence and will be punished most severely.
“Any of you out there who have accumulated a wealth of digital crypto-currency, consider it now worthless. If you continue to trade in these currencies, you will be found and stopped. Anyone in the possession of a crypto-currency, to remain free of criminal prosecution, must delete their account and forfeit their wealth by midnight tomorrow.
“There is also a growing black market of physical currencies in the form of gold, silver and rare jewels. For too long rampant individualism has been fuelled by the evil of materialism. Further devaluing our great American currency has been a return to trade in minerals, in defiance of our legitimate national currency. Our late President himself was manoeuvring to destroy the Dollar and cheat Americans everywhere out of their birthright to a comfortable standard of living, by returning to a gold standard; the outmoded symbol of bourgeois greed and merchant exclusivity. But a wealth of material goods only symbolises the growing gap between the classes, the races and the many genders.
“Mark my words, as long as I hold this office I will fight inequality with every power available to me. Henceforth, we are declaring gold, silver and precious jewels to be contraband items. Trade in these materials will hold harsh penalties, just like the encrypted digital currencies, and possession of these items will be seen as a criminal act and treasonous against the United States.
“Should anyone in possession of gold, silver and precious jewels wish to remain complicit, upstanding members of our society, they will turn in these contraband items to their local treasury office or police station in the same manner in which many Americans did when our last great President fourteen years ago made the disgusting possession and trade of ivory a criminal offence.
“We will not stand for a rising black market in these illegal currencies, and by coming down harshly upon those who wish to perpetuate the destruction of our country, we will set an example for all Americans to stand united and demand equality for all!”
Gooseflesh cascaded down Marcus’ back as he heard the tens of thousands of voices from the crowd screeching like banshees; not in disgust as they should have, but rather in ecstatic, orgasmic allegiance.
Copyright © 2017, James Fox Higgins.