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The Big Ideas of Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions By Larry Hodges: Guest Post!

Friday, March 18, 2016

So . . . what are the big ideas in this new novel, and why would you want to read it in the midst of a polarized American political season? Any serious novel has at least one major idea in it, whether the author planned it in advance or came to it while writing it. For Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions (from World Weaver Press), I had two such ideas planned before I began writing.
Presidential politics has dominated the news for years, and this year like no others. Few stories are more compelling than a bare-knuckle, fight-to-the-finish political campaign, as we are seeing right now in both the Republican and Democratic races. And yet, where are the SF stories that cover this? “Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions dramatizes and satirizes politics in creating a new sub-genre, campaign science fiction. Call it West Wing in the 22nd Century.
The first major idea is moderation, something you don’t see very often in modern American politics. The two-party system discourages moderation in politics as party leaders have to represent their party or they cease to be party leaders. If a politician takes a more central view in that huge no-man's land known as moderation, he's to the political left or right of his party, and doesn't last. And so both leaders and voters are forced to choose between the two extremes. In so choosing they begin to identify with the choice they made, and so they tend to move to the extremes themselves. This doesn’t make sense – but it’ll take candidate Toby and campaign director Bruce to change this dynamic and bring moderation to politics.
And that brings us to the second major idea – why is the U.S. (and the world of 2100) stuck with just two major parties? This leads to a myriad of problems, ranging from a third party candidate splitting the vote and allowing a less popular candidate win, to a system that often forces voters to choose between two candidates from the two extremes rather than a more moderate one in the middle. As alien ambassador Twenty-two laments early on:
Two major parties? Twenty-two wondered how that could work. If there were ten issues, then there would be over a thousand permutations, and so a thousand parties needed. It meant party members were forced to adjust their beliefs to their party’s beliefs. Over time, wouldn’t their loyalties move toward their party instead of their country or world? What a silly system!
In the novel, Toby and Bruce will mount a third-party moderate challenge – and show how it can be done. While the Rooster Party tries to prove they are the most conservative, and the Donkey Party that they are the most liberal, Toby and Bruce (and their newly created Horse Party) are out to prove they are the most moderate –they even call themselves “Moderate Extremists.” Along the side of the floater they use to travel the world campaigning is their campaign slogan, “Extremism in the Pursuit of Moderation is No Vice.” (Barry Goldwater is both laughing and crying in his grave.) Some will read the novel as a Moderate Manifesto.
Why is there an alien ambassador in the novel? The story takes place 84 years from now, and a lot of history has taken place. Readers learn of this history and about Earth politics at the same time as the alien, whose eyestalks often stare at each other in disbelief. But just as Twenty-two sometimes has to put on his “Stupid” hat (actually Bruce’s pet, an iguana with a brain that’s half cat) to truly understand the absurdity of human politics and the two-party electoral system, so will you!
Here's a quick synopsis of the novel, from the back cover:
The year is 2100, and when it comes to the planet-wide presidential election, the father-daughter team of Toby and Lara Platt are the cutthroat campaign directors who can get candidates elected by any means necessary, including the current president of Earth, Corbin Dubois. But when an alien lands outside the United Nations, claiming to be an ambassador from outer space, Dubois orders her attacked. It’s the day Toby Platt finally resigns.

The alien survives—and so, it seems, might Dubois’s corrupt reelection campaign, now run by Lara. But Toby vows to put his daughter out of job. He challenges the two major parties—one conservative, one liberal—and runs for president himself with a third-party moderate challenge. He might be a long-shot, but he can no longer sit by and help others play politics that seek power instead of solutions.

Amid rising tensions and chants of “Alien go home!” the campaign trail crisscrosses continents as father and daughter battle for electoral votes and clash over ideas and issues facing the world of 2100 in this bare-knuckle, fight-to-the-finish political campaign. The world is watching. And so is the alien.
Here’s what Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of Quantum Night, wrote:“Larry Hodges is an insightful political commentator and a kick-ass science-fiction writer. A dynamite novel full of twists and turns; this futuristic House of Cards is both entertaining and thought-provoking.”
If you like to travel and see the wonders of the world, there's one more idea in the novel. We already have theSeven Wonders of the Ancient World, and there are numerous other lists of Wonders of the World. As our moderate heroes campaign around the world, the novel takes readers on a virtual tour of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World (circa 2100), ranging from the rebuilt Twin Towers (4000 feet tall, triple the height of the original, using new building technologies, and now the headquarters for the World Congress), to the extravagant Blue Whale Aquarium in Dover (but owned by France), to the Great Mall of China, a 500-mile long mall (and still growing) that parallels the Great Wall of China.

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