Monday, November 13, 2017

Guest Review for MAGA 2020 and Beyond

A good friend of mine was most generous and reviewed the anthology MAGA 2020 and Beyond for me. I'm in it, so I must recuse myself from a balanced review. I've made minor corrections for spelling, and deleted one sentence more functional to the publisher side of the book. But anyway, here it is:

Injustice Gamer Guest Anthology Review
By Tom Trumpinski
MAGA 2020 and Beyond

I’m lucky enough to share a coffee shop with Albert Genesson. We’ve spent hours talking politics and the craft of writing. I was surprised and delighted when he asked me to review this new anthology that contains two pieces of his work.

MAGA 2020 and Beyond is billed as examinations of optimistic futures that result from the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 election. My inherent suspicion towards message fiction slid forward, of course, from my reptile brain. After all, stories that emphasize message over substance are notorious for being a main cause of Puppy-Related Sadness.

So, can the conservative, libertarian, and alt-right produce better message fiction than the Left?
I say, “Cower Not, Fierce Reader, for the best four stories alone in the anthology are well-worth the five dollar Kindle price!” Brad R Torgerson gives us 45, a conversation piece about a secret-service agent and a time-traveler who ponder the methods by which to avoid a future hell. For action, Declan Finn gives us a rip-roaring Middle-Eastern tale, Mad Dog Moon, from his Love At First Bite universe. The anthology begins with an adorable YA story by Jon Del Arroz, Winning Is What We Do, which pits illegal alien illegal aliens versus a TrumpMecha. Jon also wins the prize for the best duplication of the President’s unique manner of speaking, which he exhibits in particularly loving fashion. Former White House Science Fellow, Arlan Andrews, Sr., gave us a fun piece about a newly-born super-patriot in M.A.G.A.I.

An ambitious project like this one inevitably ends up having down-sides. The shift in editors mid-project shows in several ways. Alfred’s essays look and feel rushed. The New Wall and Six Grandfathers seemed to suffer from inadequate editing. 

In addition, I was disappointed by the swerve into dystopia evinced by some of the authors. While they have merit, in some cases, they felt out of place in an anthology billed as optimistic. I was a bit put-off by the amount of Canada-hate in evidence. Heck, I’ve been on panels with Robert Sawyer, the Pope of Canadian Nationalism, and I still don’t dislike Canada that much. To those writers, a piece of advice—the closer your message is to the front-line of a story, the more the story suffers. Quality, first and foremost, because if our Fierce Readers put the story down unread, we’ve failed both as artists and advocates.

The weakest parts of the anthology were the essays. I’ve ended up being an off-again on-again off-again member of the CLFA because I have an inherent distrust for governmental change as a tool of freedom and progress. Ivan Throne’s and John C. Wright’s essays stayed far, far beyond the frothing level of discourse and did nothing to convince me to be optimistic using either rhetoric or dialectic.
One last note—Milo’s introduction seemed to be partially redone from the intro to Forbidden Thoughts. I’m not sure that he really knows that much about SF and Fantasy. I know he’s a big name in the movement, but I think you can do better.

 Overall Rating, Three Cups of Double-shot Cappuccino. Rating of Four Best Stories, A Rousing Five Cups!


Quite honestly, I'm quite happy getting a mixed review with an anthology of this nature. It's not for everyone, and Tom and I certainly have some different ideas and ideals in reality and fiction. It's a good time, and I'm glad to call him friend.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

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