An idea’s been percolating in my head – a concept for a science fiction novel.
Have I grabbed your attention? No? Well, how about this nugget? Its setting is America in the early 2040s.
And it’s about a familiar subject: Secession. Here’s the premise. The American election system is broken, and no one in power wants to fix it. Not the Congress, not the judicial branch, and certainly not the President, who sits in the Oval Office thanks to the Electoral College.
Over the last half-dozen elections, men and women are winning the Presidency even though they’re losing the popular vote. In California, a movement forms to leave the Union and form a new nation in the Western Hemisphere. Californians have come to believe their vote means nothing. Almost halfway into the 21st century, the state makes up 13 percent of the population of the U.S.
The states of Washington, Oregon and Nevada join the secession movement. California, Washington, Oregon and Nevada together make up 16 percent of the 2040 U.S. population of 380 million. If they form their own nation, it will have a population of nearly 65 million. It will be an economic superpower, since the preponderance of high-tech jobs are located on the West Coast.
The demographics in the four states in 2040 show more than half the population as Latin, Asian and black. That’s one of the reasons for the secession movement. Many feel they’ve been exorcised from the American dream. Why bother voting when the Electoral College will choose the candidate who lost the popular vote?
I’ll tell the story through the eyes of two American families – a Latin family from California and a Japanese-American family from Washington. One of the kids of the Japanese-American family will be an 18-year-old boy attending University of Washington getting a degree in engineering. He’ll meet and date a fellow freshman, a blond-haired girl from a rural family. She’s deeply religious with conservative values and has come to intensely distrusts liberals. The girl doesn’t want her state to secede from the United States. Her momma’s brother died in Afghanistan back in 2017, and the college freshman has been taught since the crib to put God first and her country second. The Asian boy is passionate for secession, believing his life will be much better in a Pacific nation folks are already calling Cascadia. Get the heavy-handed symbolism? If these two can fall in love, why can’t Americans of different political persuasions learn to compromise and work together to make the USA a better country?
They live in a country where the political passions are more sharp, more uncompromising, than in 2017. Conservatives see liberals and progressives as virtually demon-possessed who have a value system radically different from what is preached in the New Testament. They see cities as places where gays rule and everyone refuses to work, instead choosing welfare or making money selling drugs. The progressives and liberals picture conservatives as rural Bible thumpers who have KKK robes in their closets beside their Sunday dresses and suits.
I figure I’ll need some other POV characters… someone who lives in the Midwest, perhaps a farmer or a small-town barber; a Texan Latino politician in Washington, D.C., who loves the USA and doesn’t want to see it engulfed in the flames of civil war.
In America of the early 2040s, discrimination against gays and lesbians is legal, considered protected by religious freedom under the First Amendment. Voter gerrymandering and strict ID laws are protected by federal courts. Social Security retirement age is 75 years. What jobs remain in the U.S. have been robotized, even fast-food joints.
Longtime newspapers, some more than 200 hundred years old, couldn’t survive the Internet Age upheaval. The news comes highly politicized from websites like Breitbart and Daily Kos as well as talk media shows that emulate legendary personalities like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and Chris Matthews. News events are covered as if they’re acts in a three-ring circus.
Hyperloop trains transport folks from city to city at incredible speeds, but only the wealthy can afford to travel on them. Cars are automated so the passengers can plug into their electronic devices. The super-rich use VR technology to enjoy fantasy outings, including sex offerings. The rest? They still go to Disneyland and Disneyworld, places rundown and fast becoming the 21st century versions of medieval ruins. Billionaire space entrepreneurs have combined their efforts to colonize Mars, and now many Americans are signing up to flee Earth and pioneer a new world.
For drama, there will be political assassinations and terrorist acts in California after the Golden Bear state, Oregon and Washington hold a referendum and vote to leave the Union. In a final effort to stop the dissolution of the American Union, Texas legislators (led by my POV character) will introduce bills in the U.S. Congress to reform the Electoral College. In 2040, Texas will have a population of 40 million, second largest in the Union. Many are Latinos. They want to stave off another growing movement – to have states like Texas, New Mexico and Arizona unite with Mexico and create a larger, more prosperous Mexico.
Of course, there will be agitators calling for California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada to be forcibly kept in the Union. Militia groups train to launch guerilla attacks on the disobedient Pacific Coast states.
Can the Texas legislators save the Union? Or will the USA become a much smaller, economically weaker country?
What do you think? Is this a good story idea? Or should I shelve it?
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I’m not one of those who can kick out three novels a year. I’ve managed to get three published over the last seven years. Those three belong to a sword-and-sorcery fantasy trilogy published by Wings ePress. They’re available on the websites of Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Come a little closer… I’ve something I want to whisper in your ear: “Buy them and help my sales.”
I’m working on a fourth novel, a Civil War tale full of battle scenes and romance. I’ve come up with a title: Blessed Shadows Dark & Deep. It’s written; I’m now editing the chapters. It’s my best work yet; I’m not exaggerating.