It’s nearly finished. Having dished up the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth instalments of this series, I have only two more to go. Two more!
For those arriving late, MAGA 2020 & Beyond is a 2017 anthology from right-wing science fiction publisher Superversive Press. The idea was to celebrate Trump’s 2016 election along with his inevitable 2020 re-election. The assembled team of writers used their combined speculative fiction talents to imagine the spectacular future that would arise from Trump winning his second term and forever annihilating the Democrats.
All science fiction is doomed to end up as alternate history at some point, and with MAGA 2020 & Beyond, that happened a little sooner than usual…
“Mad Dog Moon” by Declan Finn
This one’s hilariously misjudged, even by the standards of the anthology. Written before General Mattis’ public falling-out with Trump and his resignation as Secretary of Defense in 2019, the entire story is based on a ludicrously over-the-top portrayal of Mattis as Trump’s ever-loyal right-hand-man in the noble art of Muslim-smashing.
The tale begins with Trump meeting Mattis and arranging the eradication of ISIS. The president is concerned about collateral damage; Mattis replies that while he’ll try to spare the innocent, any civilians present are being raped and tortured by ISIS anyway: “I think they’d prefer death delivered my way then by the local trash”. Mattis then heads off on a one-man mission to an ISIS hideout, gunning down terrorists, extracting intel from one combatant by stamping on his face (so much for the whole beer and cigarettes routine, then, General), rescuing a cageload of captured Christians and making quips at the expense of Antifa and Obama along the way (in one scene, the terrorists are described as raising their glasses in honour of the previous president).
Up until this point, “Mad Dog Moon” fits into the tradition of Arnie/Sly one-man-army action movies. Then comes the supernatural twist: Mattis is a werewolf! And, it has to be said, the story does come up with an interesting twist on lycanthropy. Since Mattis is an alpha werewolf, anybody he infects will become his subordinate once the full moon rises, even if they are enemies in human form. The shapeshifter will also become whatever animal suits their personality – so, by biting a terrorist, Mattis gets a werejackel sidekick.
Unfortunately, the story deploys this idea halfway through and never comes up with anything else as interesting. The next twist – that the terrorists are working for vampires – is dull as ditchwater, particularly given that most of the vampires are wiped out with a few MOAB airstrikes. The climax has the sole remaining vampire reveal that ISIS is actually a cult of demon-worshippers, who rape women in the name of Asmodeus and sacrifice children to Molech. More than that, the vampire claims that “all of Islam is demonic from the start” as Mohammed sold his soul to become a warlord. One wonders if this intel will alter General Mattis’ support for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
I’ve come across Declan Finn’s writing before, and I’d say he’s best described as the Ben Garrison of urban fantasy.
“The Many Faces of Trump” by Dawn Witzke
A party of twenty-second century schoolchildren are taken to the Trump Memorial Library, built on the former location of the New York Times headquarters (the newspaper went bust after Trump hit it with a three billion dollar defamation lawsuit in the run-up to his re-election, apparently). During the visit, the children are told about the key moments of Trump’s administration: the replacement of the Affordable Care Act with the MAGA Care Act; the passing of the Anti-Terrorism Bill that brought down ISIS; the restoration of America’s manufacturing base; and the 2020 election, during which Trump won 45 states and 83% of the popular vote, after which he donated his entire second-term salary plus 55 million dollars from his own pocket into scientific and technological research – leading to the development of hovercars, cancer vaccines and other such wonders. Oh, and apparently all libraries have golf courses attached to them now, and so no longer have to rely on public money.
The children show little interest in all of this: they’re more interested in reading books and playing golf (honestly, the youth of today). But at the very end of the trip, one of the kids admits to his friend that, yeah, Trump was pretty cool.
So, this is a retread of the other eye-rolling-kid-of-the-future-taken-to-Trump-museum story, “Auntie’s Magnificent Bricks”. It’s less bonkers than its predecessor (there’s no Pizzagate chamber of horrors this time around) but also a lot more boring. Given that author Dawn Witzke was involved with the production of the book – she provided an illustration for each story, along with the cover art – it’s curious that she apparently didn’t notice this story’s redundancy.
“Exile” by Marina Fontaine
This story takes place in a dystopian community, cut off from the rest of America, that was founded by Democrats after Trump won the election (presumably in 2020). Vegetarianism is mandatory, lovers must register as consenting couples before being permitted to kiss each other, those deemed wrongdoers (including men falsely accused of sexual misconduct) are exiled, and everyone has names like Barack 247 and Chelsea 86. The main character, Bill 215, volunteers to be exiled. Before he is allowed out, however, he is forced to lie on rags, eat scraps and carry back-breaking janitorial work at the behest of his abusive boss, Jimmy 47.
There’s not a tremendous amount to say about this story. The socialist dystopia is little different from the other socialist dystopias seen across the anthology (although the scene where the omnipresent portraits showing an unnamed blonde woman – presumably Hillary Clinton – give the protagonist nightmares of being eaten by Hillary-headed monsters is at least memorable). There isn’t even much in the way of tension, since it’s established early on that the narrative will be Bill 215 suffering various indignities until he’s eventually let out. To its credit, the story does make an effort to explore the psychology of oppression, with Bill 215 facing the fact that his superiors see him as subhuman; author Marina Fontaine apparently lived in the USSR and drew upon her personal experiences. This aspect turns out to be too little, too late to save the story, however.
What does save the story – if only in a so-bad-it’s-good way – is the climax. Once freed, Bill 215 hooks up with fellow exile Michelle 703 (introduced reading a book with Cthulhu on the cover, because Lovecraft’s been banned by the Democrats or something) and they go to see a band called Milo’s Troll Army, the members of which sport blonde hair and white jewel necklaces in honour of their hero. The story spends its final passages gushing over Milo Yiannopoulos, telling us that his followers “played a major role” in Trump’s election victory. Of all the anthology’s failures to realise that Yiannopoulis’ career was on the skids, this is the most hilarious – imagine if a story set in a right-wing dystopia ended with a bunch of heroic rebels cosplaying as Michael Moore.
Okay’s that’s the penultimate post in this series finished. Next week, I’ll be wrapping things up with a look at the final stories in MAGA 2020 & Beyond, along with the anthology’s non-fiction material…