This is an elaboration of the first part of my most recent newsletter, because I wanted to spread the message a bit farther, and expand on some of it. If you want to see the rest of the newsletter, which has class news and a giveaway for a copy of the new book, it’s here.
It’s always exciting for me when a project comes out, and particularly when it’s an actual book. Last week marked a special “book birthday” because my collaboration with James Morrow and Harry Turtledove, And the Last Trump Shall Sound, came out. I wrote the novella pre-pandemic, and it was an interesting challenge in multiple ways, partly because of the subject matter and where it is placed in time and partly because of the wildly different natures of the three novellas.
Here’s the description of the book:
And the Last Trump Shall Sound is a prophetic warning about where we, as a nation, may be headed. Mike Pence is President of the United States after years of divisive, dogmatic control by Donald Trump. The country is in turmoil as the Republicans have strengthened their stronghold on Congress, increasing their dominance. And with the support of the Supreme Court, more conservative than ever, State governments become more marginalized by the authoritarian rule of the Federal government.
There are those who cannot abide by what they view as a betrayal of the nation’s founding principles. Once united communities break down and the unthinkable suddenly becomes the only possible solution: the end of the Union.
The authors’ depiction of a country that is both unfamiliar and yet unnervingly all too realistic, make you realize the frightening possible consequences of our increased polarization—a dire warning to all of us of where we may be headed unless we can learn to come together again.
As you can imagine, reviews have been mixed in a way that seems to correspond to the politics of each reviewer. My favorite declared the book unfit for Christians to read, which is a first for any of my books. I will say this — they are wildly different novels in terms of style. Harry’s is thoughtful alternative history, which James then takes in a highly satirical direction. I follow-up with something that is more SFnal, and a bit Black Mirror-ish.
And in mine, I tried to talk about the fact that everyone on the continental United States, whether they’re part of Pacifica, the nation that Harry creates when he has the states of California, Oregon, and Washington break off from the rest of the country, or the collective formed by the East Coast states, or what’s left of the US — is part of a corporate-driven system that treats American citizens as commodities to be used to make the rich richer.
That seems important to me, because the forces we’re fighting are certainly using weapons like racism, sexism, homophobia, and the like, but in the end, they are the people who have taken the wealth of the world — which could be used to house the homeless, to feed the hungry, to teach and heal the world — and use it to create things like gold-plated toilets for them to shit in.
As part of the publicity beforehand, we’ve been doing a lot of podcasts in the past month. Over and over I have found myself saying something important: We’re in the last weeks before the election and it is so important to stay the course, because this really is the last chance to break some of the hold that malignant forces have exerted over American politics.
Some but not all, not by a long shot. We’ll still have hatred, fear, and divisiveness used against us by the people struggling to maintain that hold. But getting as many as we can out of office in this election is vital, particularly at the local level. If you are an American citizen, please vote and encourage those around you to exercise their right to do so as well.
As we come into these final days before the election, you will see unprecedented efforts to spread mistruths, to distract and confuse, and to divide us. Stay strong and focused. Maintain your own health and take a breather when you need to. Factcheck before you spread information. Encourage and enable those on the front lines of this fight.
And be kind. Be loving. Be generous and honest and open in your vulnerabilities, because in these days, that is a rebellious act. Be gentle when you can and fierce when you need to be. Know that you are loved. Know that we are all in this together.