Extrapolation, when based on solid and unimpeachable mathematical data, can often fail to effectively model a reality that could occur in the future. The practice gets even more tenuous when applied to qualitative samplings of political events, moral currents and societal Zeitgeist. Dan Simmons, a masterful novelist whose works have stood out phenomenally well in genres such as Science Fiction, Horror, Historical Fiction and Hard-boiled Noir; now takes his talents to the brink as he tries to warn us all of a possible future dystopia. In his novel of a terribly broken 2030’s America entitled, Flashback he puts on a set of combat boots and goes for a road march where angels fear to tread.
The novel examines several social, economic and geopolitical trends that are of concern to myself and many other conservatives active on the Internet. It assumes they will continue along a detrimental trajectory. Simmons then tosses in the prevalence of a cripling hallucinagenic drug called Flashback that allows broken people to wallow in their pasts. All this evil predictably leads to the complete and utter destruction of The United States of America as an effective and powerful nation. It comes as no great surprise that not all reviewers took kindly to the novel. Patrick Anderson dismisses it with the proper reflexive disdain that we would expect from The Washington Post for anything that fails to approach hagiography of President Barack Obama.
Dan Simmons’s “Flashback” is an abundantly entertaining, often outrageous right-wing fantasy about a weak, broken United States 20-odd years from now. The country is ruled over by the Japanese, lives in fear of the Islamic Global Caliphate, and its citizens mostly spend their time stoned on a drug called flashback that lets them escape to a better past.
While I’m certain he would never have reviewed The Handmaiden’s Tale with anything other than what good Progressives would consider appropriate worshipful awe, I think he may well have a point that Simmons is too pessimistic about America’s future. The US has bad economic troubles in the present tense. Simmons’ narrative assumes our total fiscal insolvency by the Mid 2020’s. I think we’ll hurt through a nasty re-recession in the near future, but the economy, alone, will not kill America in the next 10 years.
Simmons projects entire states of America being overrun with illegal immigrants and becoming de facto conquered territory of other nations. I envision more frequent incidences of lawlessness, poverty and violent natavistic ignorance. Large numbers of unassimilateable undocumented and spurious-visa immigrants will depress the wages in our labor markets and strain our societal safety nets while vampiring vital community services.
Simmons envisions a Global Jihad where Islam conquers Europe and Canada. I envision Islam enlarging the territory under sharia until it succumbs to civil war between Shia and Sunni. It will brutalize millions, but it will ultimately turn into a societal and religious ouroboros the way rapidly expansive, totalitarian states frequently do.
Where I agree with Simmons in both direction and magnitude is in his prediction that something very awful will happen to large numbers of the Jewish people. A time will come when the trendy, chic anti-Semites truly reveal the depths of their barbaric hatred for Judeo-Christian culture. When they are no longer lying and saying it’s just comedy, then the American People will have to measure up to the moral challenge of rejecting this evil far better than Germans did under the Nazis. Simmons’ pithily evil “Six Flags over the Jews” concentration camp in the Rockies is all too possible as long as men of Barack Obama’s frame of mine towards Israel hold powerful positions in the United States of America.
Where I agree with The Washington Post reviewer and greatly admire Dan Simmons involves the literary craftsmanship of the novel. It begins as a futuristic noir in the sparse tradition of Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. The Protagonist is a complex, multidimensional tortured man named Nick Bottom. His desperate, powerless circumstances mirror the fallen world. He is deterministically forced to travel hard roads against his will. He keeps doing the just enough of the right things for convoluted and sometimes nefarious reasons. Bottom succeeds in defying the powers that warp his existence, reuniting what’s left of his family, kicking a life-sapping drug addiction and….I’ll stop there before I give away the final, climactic twist of Simmons’ meticulously engineered thrill ride of a plot.
So, in conclusion, Flashback by Dan Simmons is an expert miscegenation of Science Fiction and the Noir Detective Novel. I’m reading it the 2nd time and still have trouble shutting off my Nook at a reasonable bedtime. Simmons’ thesis is that of The Tea Party on Jose Canseco-Grade steroids. I’ll have to admit I’m to his left on this one and then knock out 25 push-ups as an act of penance to the Right Wing Blog Gods. Keep in mind that the things Barack Obama is doing with America are wrong and in some cases legitimately and truly evil. However, they are not virulently toxic enough to our commonweal to bring about the cataclysmic collapse of our society into ruin by the Mid-2030’s pace Dan Simmons. The novel is an awesome wake-up call and warning. It is a condign reminder not to live our lives in the past while ignoring the future towards which we all careen. I recommend it for your reading pleasure without reservation – unless you had plans to do something else at the beach this Summer other than lie on your blanket and read.