MAGA 2020 & Beyond is the gift that keeps on giving. Unleashed upon the world in 2017 by right-wing science fiction publisher Supeversive, it may well be the worst SF anthology I’ve ever read. I’ve come across a couple of self-published collections that are worse in terms of execution, but this is a book where awfulness is baked into the central premise.
As I said in an earlier part of this series, the main problem in formalistic terms is that the book is based on the assumption that Trump and his loyalists will always win, never even breaking a sweat at whatever the foul forces of leftism have to offer – a Superman without Kryptonite, or even a halfway—credible supervillain. This robs the stories of their tension and turns many of them into chest-thumping bragging-sessions rather than narratives with conflict and progression. The team behind the book overlap significantly with the Sad/Rabid Puppies campaigns at the Hugo Awards, which complained that modern SF/F was too message-driven; yet I can think of nothing nominated at the Hugos in recent years that compares with this lot in terms of preachiness.
And now, having written the first, second, third, fourth and fifth posts in this series, I come to three utterly terrible stories. Really, these ones are abysmal even by the standards of the anthology. Prepare yourself for the single worst stretch in the entirety of MAGA 2020 & Beyond…
“Infected” by Sandor Novak
The scientific community declares that conservative opinions are the result of an extraterrestrial mental infection. As the plot develops, it gives the indication that this isn’t just a smear campaign – there really is an infection going round, albeit one with the beneficial effect of cutting through cognitive dissonance and prompting people the state what they truly believe deep down.
The main character, Ellie, is a left-winger who faces a backlash after the infection causes her to point out that a prominent climate change activist is a hypocrite for taking jet flights. Meanwhile, her academic husband has lost his position after peer-reviewing a hoax paper arguing that male genitals are a social construct that cause global warming; quite a bit of space is spent on this plot detail, despite it having no bearing on the wider story. Ellie hooks up with some friends who are also infected, and together, they begin taking part in such activities as arranging anti-abortion protests and printing leaflets with pictures of God poking Mohammed in the eye. They discuss the merits of “poke Mohammed in the eye” as a slogan, and decide that “poke a Muslim in the eye” would be catchier. The author then gets on his soapbox about atrocities committed in the history of Islam.
Ellie’s campaign against Islam leads to her being kidnapped by “ragheads”, but she is able to escape by poking one of the attackers in the eyes (is this a fetish or something?). Her anti-Islamic opinions become common knowledge, and the totalitarian leftist thought police respond by inviting her on TV. The author uses the talk show scene to get on his soapbox again, this time arguing that Islam and Communism have shared aims and that there’s no such thing as a moderate Muslim. The leftists in the studio are thoroughly triggered by hearing Ellie express the views that they specifically invited her on the show to express. There’s a favourable reference to “the president” towards the end of this farrago, so presumably it takes place during the early days of the Trump administration.
The only favourable thing I can say about this literary abomination is that it appears to be Sandor Novak’s only story.
“Pitch Session” by Chris Donahue
Apparently, Superversive decided that Elaine Arias’ “The Man in the Bubble” was insufficient and decided to include another satire of Hollywood liberals that covers the same themes with even less subtlety. A group of studio personnel (who say stuff like “profit is just a construct of the patriarchal class enemy” and “only high taxes can being about social justice”) get together to discuss how they can compete with the new wave of conservative entertainment, examples of which include a comedian who impersonates Hillary Clinton and a 15-minute YouTube video showing clips of Antifa protesters being beaten up set to lullabies and Three Stooges music.
Brainstorming, they hit upon the idea of a film about a wealthy Hollywood celebrity who flees to either Mexico or Venezuela after Trump is re-elected. One of the characters suggests casting a family member who’s been struggling to find work with his diploma in Neolithic Musical Studies (this makes a change from Gender Studies, so marks for innovation I suppose). Another character, a director who uses non-binary pronouns, suggests that the film could be based on the true story of two celebrities who fled the country to escape child sex-trafficking charges; zhe fully supports these people and uses phrases like “age-normal fascists” and “pre-adult spirits”. Of course, the studio is doomed to go bust because nobody wants to watch clunky propaganda movies made by paedophile apologists.
I can only applaud the masterful irony of including this story in an anthology of clunky propaganda, with a foreword written by a man who said it was sometimes beneficial for adults to have sex with 13-year-olds, put out by a publisher that’s since shut up shop.
“Auntie’s Magnificent Bricks” by Christine Chase
You remember that old Porky Pig cartoon where he gets frustrated at being forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and then Uncle Sam appears to teach him all about American history until he begins eagerly saluting the flag? Well, if you ever felt the urge to see that cartoon filtered through r/The_Donald, this is the story for you.
The main character is a teenage girl who lives on a lunar colony and is forced to accompany her elderly aunt back to Earth to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Restoration – the moment when Trump drained the swamp. The eye-rolling teenager doesn’t care about history, so Auntie tries to enlighten her about the dark pre-2017 times when America had to put up with transgender people and Michelle Obama’s fashion sense (when Melania Trump became First Lady, declares Auntie, it was “like Coco Chanel had gone before God in Heaven begging deliverance”).
Once on Earth the two visit the Newseum, a place dedicated to documenting the “worst lies of the deep state”. Exhibits include a flattering portrayal of Joe McCarthy, the origin of the term “redpill” and photographs from scenes of violent Antifa protests, one of which shows Barron Trump heroically stepping forward to protect Ivanka from the leftist mob. This last exhibit ties to Auntie’s history: she and her late husband (who wore a frog mask and called himself Sir Kek) were amongst the stickmen and shieldmaids standing firm against Antifa.
Finally, they come to the basement, which is given over to the most harrowing topic of all: Pizzagate. On show are the controversial art collection of Tony Podesta, audio-visual recordings of trafficked children, and plaques honouring the anonymous 4channers and Redditors who contributed to the exposure of the scandal. Auntie tells her appalled niece that only through “the vigilance of good Christians” can such an atrocity be prevented from happening again.
Outside the Newseum, Barron Trump (with a prosthetic arm and facial scar, presumably from his battle against Antifa) presides over a parade. Amongst those marching are 4channers waving their Kekistan flags, along with images of the Restoration’s heroes: Andrew Breitbart, Milo Yiannopoulos, Ann Coulter and Pepe the Frog. The tour concludes with a trip to the border wall, and Auntie shows her niece the bricks that she – as a sponsor – was able to have personal messages inscribed upon. The teenager, a sullen eye-roller no longer, ponders the importance of walls not only between the US and Mexico but between male and female and between right and wrong, finally praising Trump for having “allowed an environment in which there could be walls.”
No, this isn’t the end of the anthology. There’s still more. Join me next week to find out what happens when General Mattis goes up against some Middle Eastern vampires!