It’s hard to know what to expect from a President-Elect who’s promised a
lot of things he can’t possibly have meant. On the one hand, maybe he did mean
them, in which case, dear God. But on the other, surely not. This leaves a lot
of middle ground for wild speculation, which I now intend to provide.
Also this election has reminded me that however far-fetched I think I’m being,
it’s not far enough. So here are four possible Trumps.
Benevolent Dictator Trump
Beholden to no-one, President Trump dispenses with political bickering,
cuts away swathes of bureaucracy and red tape, and replaces it
with simple, direct, effective solutions that no-one tried before because
they were so caught up in politics or not wanting to offend anyone or
reading books or something. I think that’s right.
Trump crafts an unpredictable yet nimble, energetic, and
effective administration, unafraid to make unpopular decisions so long as
they’re right. It is happy times for everyone who agrees with Trump’s
version of right, which is everyone, by decree of a new federal law.
Protesters and other unpatriotic unAmericans are taken to the desert
to toil to build a statue of Trump so high it can blot out the sun.
Term limits are abolished. In his eleventh year of rule, a small
band of protestors vandalize the statue by blasting off the toupée and are
shot on live national television, their remains displayed outside
the city gates. God-Emperor Trump dies peacefully in his sleep in his
twenty-third year of rule, surrounded by concubines.
After a week of national mourning, the nation descends into bloody civil war
as various full- and half-blooded Trump offspring lead armies in a
battle for control of their father’s empire. Dragons return. Ivanka
Robber Baron Trump
By the time he waves goodbye from the chopper, Trump has vacuumed so
much money from the American public that he and his family are the wealthiest
people in modern history, richer even than he claims to be today. A
drip-feed of revelations of fraud, embezzlement, and cronyism on
an unprecedented scale hound him, along with persistent talk of federal
prosecution, but none of it goes anywhere, dissipating like waves against the
rocky shore of Trump’s now-impenetrable empire of lawyers, cash, and paid-up
Weakened by pillaging, the welfare system faces a short-term
credit crunch, leading to riots among the poor and unemployed. This is held up by
Republicans as proof of the fundamental non-viability of the welfare state
and the need to abolish it altogether, a view supported by low-skilled male white
voters who are shortly to become unemployed themselves as the shock of decreased
government spending rolls through the economy. California and Texas secede and
close their borders. Nevada falls to roaming biker gangs. The Trump family acquires
Manhattan at market-bottom prices and builds a wall around it, a real one,
not just a fence.
With a businessperson’s win/lose perspective on the economy, Trump abolishes
regulatory authorities, slashes taxes, eliminates labor laws, privatizes
public bodies, and ushers in an ultra-capitalist paradise in which corporations
are free to do whatever the hell they feel like. It is a rich, refreshing new world
for the already-wealthy, who find an ever-expanding array of services aimed
at them, while the poor die of easily-preventable diseases or
in back alleys after muggings gone bad on their way home from one of their
Employment becomes so critical to survival that people revert to the ancient
practice of calling each other by their occupation rather than their surname.
A shoe company deliberately incites a violent riot to promote a new brand of
sneakers. A plucky government agent… ah, you know what, just read the book.
By mortgaging its future, the US is temporarily awash with cash, creating
a false dawn that ushers in a second Trump term. He exits office just as the economy
begins to run off the cliff. Via a running commentary of tweets, he blames
his successor for the ensuring collapse, depression, and takeover by Chinese real
estate speculators, labeling all of the above “sad!”
Trump has always been a big believer in the “speak loudly and carry a big stick” approach.
To date, his sticks have been lawyers, but starting January 20, 2017, they are
stealth bombers and 7,100 nuclear warheads. Carrying his philosophy into office,
Trump rattles a few sabers before going ahead and invading someone.
It’s an irresistible dynamic: The benefits of military action are largely
personal (status, pleasure of defeating an opponent) while the costs are born by
an American public and purse he’s only borrowing and is allowed to hand back in any condition.
Military adventures in Asia, the Middle East, and Alaska breed a host of new enemies for America,
ensuring the need for ever-more defense spending and a twitchy, paranoid, nationalistic
voting public. Trump exits office calling his military record his proudest
achievement, despite the loss of several million citizens on the east coast after an
incident that looked a lot like a biological attack but officially was just a bad flu season.
Via a running commentary of tweets, he blasts the new President for
weakness as she attempts reconciliation with foreign powers. Much of the Western hemisphere
is annihilated in a nuclear exchange started by a relatively small rogue nation that
nobody was paying much attention to. Trump relocates to Australia and begins to hoard water,
leading to a Mad Max scenario where he is killed in a car chase after the escape of one of his
That’s what I’ve got for now. I mean, there are other possibilities. But these feel the
Is Jennifer Government a young adult novel?
Oh I don’t know, is the MARGARET ALEXANDER EDWARDS ALEX AWARD for young adult novels?
It is. That’s the answer to that question. Well, kind of. It is the American Library Association prize for “adult books with special appeal to teen readers.” Which I guess isn’t quite the same thing. Probably a true young adult novel primarily appeals to teen readers, like features them as main characters. I think that’s right.
I just asked Jen for the definition of a a young adult novel. She is a school teacher-librarian. She said, “It depends what you mean by young adult.” I feel like there isn’t a really hard line here.
Anyway, Jennifer Government is a book I would have liked to read in high school. So there you go.
P.S. Hahaha, I totally misled you. Lexicon won the Alex Award, not Jennifer Government. And Lexicon has sex and death and horror and is quite a lot less goofy than JG, which just goes to show those things don’t disqualify a novel from appealing to teens, at least in the eyes of librarians. The opposite, if anything. Librarians are amazing like that. They will hand you a book they know will make your eyes bug out because they know that is the point of novels, not to satisfy but to surprise.
Why is the Turkish edition of Jennifer Government named “Ironi?”
Because it’s, like, you know, ironic. Actually no. Not at all. A Turkish speaker tells me it means “iron-y,” as in, having the properties of iron. My best guess is that this refers to the character Jennifer Government, who is unbending in her pursuit of justice, and has a high melting temperature.
But I may be completely misinterpreting it. Which would be ironic. Well it wouldn’t. But it feels like it should be.
Have you or have you considered writing comics or graphic novels?
I once pitched a story to DC Comics where LexCorp tries to sponsor Superman. They make a mockup of his supersuit covered in ads, like a racing car driver. Also they infect their own employees via the water coolers, creating an army of flaming-handed psychopaths. Lois Lane is one of those because she’s working undercover on a story. Then it turns out it’s not Lex Luthor behind all this but LexCorp itself, the corporation, which gained self-awareness and wants to literally consume human resources. So Superman and Lex have to trust each other to stop it. DC didn’t pick this up for some reason.
This came about because legendary comic book writer Kurt Busiek decided to have Clark Kent read one of my novels in Action Comics #838. Which is still a major life highlight, by the way. We swapped a few emails and Kurt asked if I was interested in writing for comics and of course I said, WHO WOULDN’T BE INTERESTED IN THAT, KURT, TELL ME, and he hooked me up for the pitch.
So I was sad that didn’t work out. As well as loving comics, I like the idea of some really talented artist having to draw what I want. Like, I might say, “I’m kind of thinking a guy who’s half-human, half-corporation,” and they think, “Arrghh, what does that even mean,” and then they figure it out. Because they’re talented. So then I’m looking at an awesome drawing of my idea and I’m like, “I came up with that.”
Who do I have to hug to get a Jennifer Government movie made,
that’s what I want to know. It’s been like seven years. Yeah, yeah, it’s hard to
make a story work in 100 minutes when you’ve got six major characters and
nine interconnected plots. Boo hoo. You know what that sounds like? “I’m a crappy
In the meantime, here’s something almost as good:
a wallpaper! I stumbled across this a year
ago but it took that long to track down the original artist:
it started as a
by Patrick Shettlesworth
that had nothing to do with Jennifer Government until
of deviantART reworked it and added a barcode tattoo, which I stuck
in front of a background designed by
Michael J. Windsor.
That’s three different people who can now sue me for copyright infringement.
But at least two of them said it was okay so here you go:
It may help you enjoy this image if you imagine you’re a teenage boy.
I don’t need to do that. But you might. Here it is in different sizes:
other day I was digging through my Junk folder when I found an e-mail from the
United Nations. I know what you’re thinking: “Wow! That is one politically astute
mail filter.” But pretty much all email to my public address without the
word “duck” in the subject, as per
my contact page,
gets flagged as spam, and the UN chose not to do that. Apparently arbitrary
yet effective protocols for ensuring open communication aren’t something
the UN wants anything to do with. Or maybe they have something against
ducks. I don’t know. Whatever the reason, they went with the subject,
“Notice of cease and desist.”
Naturally, it was about
NationStates. It’s always about
NationStates. I have
Nike shooting teenagers
and Coke marketing Fukk,
that’s no problem. But one player says something mean to another in my
web game and they’re going to sue me into oblivion. Anyway, what upset the
United Nations was that I put them into NationStates. It’s the place where
players come together to debate and pass international law; in the five years
the game has been running, they’ve implemented privacy safeguards,
promoted religious tolerance, passed a universal bill of rights, and outlawed
child labor, amongst 240 other resolutions.
Clearly this wasn’t anything the real UN wanted to be associated with:
Dear Mr. Barry,
It has come to our attention that you are operating an online game called
“NationStates”, www.nationstates.net, and that this game uses the UN name and
emblem, without authorization…
We therefore demand that you immediately cease and desist from using the United
Nations name and emblem in the above-referenced online game, and that in the
future you refrain from using or making any reference to them in connection with
[ Full Letter ]
My first reaction was pride. Receiving a threatening letter from the United Nations;
I finally felt like I’d done something with my life. Also,
there is something inherently amusing about UN threats. I mean, I think the
UN does a lot of great work, but let’s face it, they tend to
specialize in demands backed by the threat of further, even more stridently
voiced demands. Frankly, “You are hereby ordered to cease and desist” was a lot scarier before
I got to “says the UN.”
But they did have a point. In 2002, I whacked the United Nations into my
game, complete with copyrighted emblem, not so much in parody as
to say, “Hey, look, this is just like the real UN.” I can’t remember ever
thinking about the legal consequences; I probably assumed that even
if the UN noticed, they’d have plenty of blood-thirsty dictators and international
war crimes to prosecute before me. But what with Saddam behind bars
and all that world peace you’ve been hearing so much about, I guess
they worked their way down to me.
I wondered whether it was worth fighting.
It would probably be eight years before they got inspections organized, and by then
I could keep moving my UN references around where they wouldn’t find them.
And it could be great fun. I could represent myself and wear cheap suits and tell the court
that it was on trial. But for that to work, I would
need an opponent who might actually be embarrassed by the expense and
public profile involved in a petty IP lawsuit, and I just wasn’t confident
the UN falls
into that category. That the single biggest label on the front page of
the UN web site is
“Copyright, United Nations, 2008” struck me as an ill omen.
Also, I do support the UN. I mean, sure, it’s about as functional as a cat with 192
heads, and a lot of those heads are corrupt. But at least they’re trying.
At least the heads have to look at each other. I feel like if I’m going
battle with somebody, it probably shouldn’t be an organization
whose foremost goal is world peace.
Plus I got a lawyer’s opinion, and he said I was blatantly in the wrong. So
I decided to cave.
So now I have to rename my UN. I was tempted to go with something a
little insulting, like “Discordant Nations,” or “Ridiculously Petty Bureaucracy
of Nations Who Should Have Better Things To Do.” But no, that would be
sinking to their level. NationStates now has a