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“More than 25 years ago, as I sat on the roof of our house watching the neighborhood’s furniture float down the street, I thought things couldn’t get any worse. Everything I owned was under water. The capital of my country was ruined. Mother Earth was exacting its revenge upon its most arrogant inhabitants. As it turned out, things got a lot worse.”
I’m sure, like the rest of us, you haven’t forgotten that disastrous event either, that moment in 2022 when a climate-charged Hurricane Donald tore through Washington leveling the city, and our nation’s capital was subsequently moved to Kansas. While no one could have predicted such an event in all its details, there were few firsthand observers of that rampaging super-storm who had foreseen the fragmented, degraded world we now inhabit in a more clear-eyed manner than Julian West (the observer quoted above) whose 2020 bestseller Splinterlands eerily foresaw this present shattered globe of ours.
Okay, okay, here’s where I fess up: it’s true that geo-paleontologist Julian West (a namesake for the hero of Edward Bellamy’s nineteenth century utopian novel, Looking Backward) is just a fantasy stand-in for John Feffer, the author of the actual dystopian novel Splinterlands. And if that isn’t complicated enough for you, keep in mind that Feffer named that hurricane after Donald Trump while he was still writing his book back in 2016 just as the election campaign was gearing up, so he certainly does have a Julian West-style sense of what’s to come. Now, of course, Hurricane Donald has hit Washington in a tweet-charged storm of chaos and dystopian energy. And so today, Feffer turns his attention to what to make of that human hurricane at a moment when Americans are signaling their dystopian fears by driving novels like 1984 to the tops of bestseller lists — and not just in bastions of anti-Trumpist feeling either. So strap your jet pack to your back and take off with Feffer into a present that feels all too much like some dystopian future to all too many of us.