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MAGA 2020 & Beyond Kindle Edition
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A somewhat expanded version of this review is found in my blog post for today, "Papa Pat Rambles."
Anthologies are some of my favorite things to read, but gracious, they are hard to review! Short stories often turn on a gimmick, a reveal, and that's the whole point of the story. In a review, you HAVE to give SOME hint of the story, but you can't give the plot away with a spoiler. It's difficult, especially with the shortest works.
In this case, though, the task is somewhat easier; all of the stories have a common theme: the vindication of Donald Trump in the 2016 election, extended into the 2020 election and beyond. (Hence the title.)
These are not, with one exception, intended as well-reasoned political or philosophical positions. With the exception of John C. Wright's thoughtful essay , these are the raucous proclamations of the face-painted fans of the winning team, swarming through the streets, blowing air horns, and screaming "WE'RE NUMBER ONE! WE'RE NUMBER ONE!" Please enjoy them in that spirit!
Foreword by Milo Yiannopoulos. I'm not a follower of this young person. I do know that he has managed to aggravate certain progressive factions by his refusal to follow the prescribed script for gay men. He reflects upon the failure of literature written by progressives, unless they adopt traditional middle class values in their stories. I wish he had mentioned Eric Flint, one of my favorite writers, and an unapologetic socialist.
Winning is What We Do by Jon Del Arroz This is a LOVELY adventure story, featuring young Barron Trump as the hero, urged on and inspired by his father. MECH WARRIORS!
Father Cincinnatus by Ivan Throne Not a story, but a speech, just perfect for performing in front of a screaming crowd of thousands. A somewhat spooky re-imaging of Trump as a father figure.
The Last Hippie by Scott Bell In the distant future, those who cannot or will not accept the MAGA dream are offered their own island, and provided supplies through air-drops, to build whatever society they desire. One doesn't want to go. He has a bomb.
Cleaning the Rolls by P. A. Piatt I don't know HOW old the joke is about elections being won by the cemetery vote, but it's been around for a LOT longer than I have. This story offers a nice twist, and it also manages to toss in a dig at a certain person notorious for Asian 'influences.'
M.A.G.A.I. by Arlan Andrews, Sr. A progressive hacker working for DARPA fails to close out a file correctly, and causes the AI overseeing the system to take unexpected action. Delicious mayhem ensues in tiny little bits of time.
On Greatness by Alfred Genesson. Genesson takes a close look at the word 'Great' as applied to world leaders, selecting Alfred the Great as his example. He then lists the achievements that resulted in that appellative, and considers whether Trump will rise to the standard.
An Afternoon with Grandpa by Daniel Humphreys. This is one of the 'gimmick' stories, although the clues are given from the beginning. A little girl is forced to spend time with her grandfather, a pleasant old gent who has seen all his dreams turn to ashes.
Dolus Magnus: The Great Hoax by Monalisa Foster. A climate scientist discovers that when he refuses to toe the line, everything is taken from him. Fortunately, he has a friend who is an engineer.
An “Out”-standing Chanukah by Marina Fontaine. It is a tradition in this family that you can say anything you want as a part of the Chanukah celebration. It is time for one young person, supported by an older relative, to take advantage. Fasten your seat-belt!
The Man in the Bubble by Elaine Arias. The man in the bubble is a big-name Hollywood power broker. You may recognize him from the description, but that isn't one of my knowledge areas. I do, however, recognize the utter cluelessness and ignorance of life beyond his narrow circle that afflicts this person.
Free Falling by Justin Robinson. The US in the MAGA universe has become a place of freedom and rational laws. Just north of the border, however, insanity reigns, as a result of privilege policies. Some people will do anything to escape.
The Magic of MAGA by David Harr. A fantasy story, in which the good guys are truly good, but over-powered by the forces of evil. The MAY be some Biblical allusions in here; it's not made explicit, but there is a somewhat parallel scene. Can freedom cross dimensions? Is John Moses Browning a force to be reckoned with everywhere?
Six Grandfathers by Dawn Witzke. This is a WONDERFULLY written fairy tale! It brings primeval beings alive, and allows a child to speak to them, and...nah, read it for yourself. It's GREAT!
The New Wall by Molly Pitcher This story also tells of the days when as a result of MAGA policies, Canada closes the border to keep it's people from escaping. People still escape.
The Downfall of Delusional America: Assessing the Legacy of Trump by John C. Wright. Of all the stories and essays in the book, this one is likely to resonate with the most people. Wright analyzes the issues leading up to the 2016 election, and identifies something that has bothered many of us for quite some time.
45 by Brad Torgersen. It's a time- travel story with a twist. Secret Service Agent Cobbler discovers a probable assassin when she pops into existence in front of him. She believes she has to kill Trump in order to prevent a civilization-ending war. Where does his loyalty lie?
Insurance for Life by Tamara Wilhite. If we aren't going to have socialized medicine, can we have ANYTHING that resembles adequate, compassionate medical care, that doesn't impoverish the usaer of the service? Here's an idea!
The Great Joke by Alfred Genesson. When some people just couldn't bear the idea of Trump becoming President, they revolted. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Works globally, too!
Equality by Monalisa Foster. The axiom states 'a conservative is a liberal who has been raped.' But what if the rape is prevented?
Scales in the Balance by Dawn Witzke. Witzke identifies PRECISELY the branch of government where MAGA will have the greatest impact.
Infected by Sandor Novak. Out of the blue, perhaps from Andromeda; all of a sudden, more and more people are compelled to tell the truth.
Winning the Internet @Kaijubushi. Stupid frappen reporter questions deserve scathing answers. While Trump has been known to boot someone out of a press conference, THIS particular response came from elsewhere.
Pitch Session by Chris Donahue. Fat Slugs in Hollywood don't get it; they are NEVER going to get it. And when the consequences hit the box office, they have to come up with alternatives.
Auntie’s Magnificent Bricks by Christine Chase. Strange things can happen to a young person. After all, authentic heroes have to be SOMEBODY'S aunts and uncles.
Mad Dog Moon by Declan Finn Okay, this story is just fabulous! Mad Dog Mattis, the Warrior Monk, not only kicks bureaucrats around, he still likes to get his fingers dirty. NEEDS to, actually.
The Many Faces of Trump by Dawn Witzke. This is particularly hilarious to me, because I have shepherded a crowd of middle schoolers around an art museum. Paintings by Old Masters on the walls, and the kids are playing tag between the lamps and chairs and tables. Yeah, it will be like that in 100 years, too.
Exile by Marina Fontaine. I spent an afternoon in East Berlin in 1975, before the wall came down. I was SO glad to get back across Checkpoint Charlie to the freedom of West Berlin! I've seen what people will do to get themselves and their families out of a repressive society, sacrificing everything. But I've only seen it; the author has lived it. And we are glad she is here, and can write stories like this. It's by far the grittiest story in the book.
A Day in the Life by Richard B. Atkinson III. This is neither the Beatles' song, not the story of Ivan Denisovich. Instead, it's a scene at a cocktail party celebrating an election, after the first battles have been won, and the progressives have (mostly) moved on.
The Pope’s Vision by L. Jagi Lamplighter. It's a FUNNY story, although I shudder somewhat when I see the lines blurred between political deliverance and spiritual significance. But, even after the shudder, it's a FUNNY story!
Afterword: Moral Rights, An Essay. The origin of this collection! Oh, how I LOVE backstory, and this is a PARTICULARLY great backstory!
As I stated earlier: take this as the cries of the drunken revellers, carousing through the streets of the city after the underdog team won the championship, and you'l love it.
Unless you are a fan of the other team.
Equality by Monalisa Foster and Infected by Sandor Novak are probably my favorite straightforward short stories.
Cleaning the Rolls by P. A. Piatt is definitely my favorite fun/humorous one, with Jon Del Arroz's Winning is What We Do getting an honorable mention for hitting all the right memes.
The basic premise is that it is time for sci fi writers to get back to hope and optimism and creative ideas about our possible future, rather than assuming the future must be worse than today as has been fashionable lately. By responding to the unlikely election victory of the unthinkable candidate Donald Trump, these authors have successfully imagined dozens of creative consequences of that election and how it might turn out to be a blessing rather than a curse.
I've been missing that hope and optimism in a lot of sci fi lately, so was really glad to find it here, and amazed to enjoy every story.