Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Romneying: A Tale Of Future Horror (A Review)

I can get paid more if I recommend that you click on specific Google Ads. So let me heartily endorse the most terrifying work of horror fiction I've encountered since "The Stand": "Mister Powerpoint Goes To DC" at

"Mister Powerpoint" is set in an alternate universe where the US Constitution was suspended after a terrorist attack in the early 21st Century. Unlike most dystopian fiction, this story takes place at the crucial point where the new regime, consisting of a largely unelected cabal of special interests (most of whom are connected to the oil and/or military industries) are attempting after eight years of power to solidify their interests once and for all.

The protagonist of this tale, a Mormon dog-torturer improbably named "Mitt" (I'm uncertain of the author's symbolism, but I think it has something to do with "catching whatever Halliburton pitches"), is a candidate for President. "Powerpoint" is a software program that is commonly used in Mitt's world to reduce complex ideas into simple, bite sized phrases and pictures that (although they do nothing to truly address the issue at hand) does a remarkable job of suppressing actual thought.

Let me give you an example. Suppose this "Powerpoint" had been developed in our universe, in 1930s Germany. Imagine the following presentation:
  • Problem: Jews
  • Solution: Eliminate
  • Questions?
(You'll notice there is no real room to argue with the above. It's a fascinating concept, but is ultimately just a new take on Orwell. The problem with re-inventing Orwell always seems to be that Orwell got there first.)

The Powers That Be in this alternate universe take notice of Mitt's "willing(ness) to pursue—and analyze—data that others wouldn’t bother to chase down." This is presented as a contrast to the current President, who (it is implied) suffered some form of cocaine- and alcohol- related brain damage in college.

Like Hitchcock when he made "Psycho," the author of "Mr. Powerpoint" knows that the most horrifying things are best kept off-screen. The torture and suspension of civil liberties this system is built on is downplayed in this work. The fictional America presented here is held together by a paranoid fear of other countries, so much so that the populace has both willingly and unwittingly handed over most of their Constitutional rights to the government. How far are we in the real world from the frighteningly plausible character of Mitt?

The author implies that, under the right circumstances a population that has spent eight years under a neofascist dictatorship with a buffoon as its figurehead, a new figurehead with the appearance of intelligence and charm could solidify the regime's power permanently.

As speculative fiction goes, it reminds me of Robert Heinlein as a business student, made paranoid by Philip K. Dick's stash of speed, but with less incest. And the lead character is worthy of Bret Easton Ellis.

I give it five werewolves out of five!

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