Freedom City

So Donald Trump dies from an apparent heart attack after taking hydroxychloroquine, and President Pence calls on far-right militias to enforce a “Make America Great Again” fascist-style government.

OK, it’s fiction.

More or less.

My opening sentence is not quite the plot of the first page of Philip Becnel’s Freedom CityBut it’s very close. The only discrepancy is that Becnel wasn’t prescient enough in 2017 to predict Trump’s recent claim to have taken hydroxychloroquine, so the precise reason for the death is left unstated.

In a sense this is science fiction, since it takes place in the future, relative to the time it was written. More specifically, it is (not very subtle) social satire. Though it was written in 2017, it has a 2018 publication date, but it might as well have been written last week (with the sole exception that Paul Ryan is Speaker of the House in the novel). Both entertaining and scary, it is altogether too realistic, with an engaging plot and compelling characters. Stay away from it if you’re under 18, as it’s filled with sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll… well, not much of the last, but slightly too much sex and marijuana. It’s also, to put it mildly, not very friendly toward Trump and Pence, so stay away from it if you’re a fan of those two gentlemen.

Almost the entire book is told as a flashback after the opening few pages, which describe the ceremony at the unveiling of Trump’s gold mausoleum at the Trump National Golf Course in New Jersey. I got so engaged in the developing plot that I had to return to the first chapter and re-read it after completing the book, in order to see how that opening scene had been set up and what the story was of some of the characters. It’s a  reasonably standard narrative approach, though I prefer either a straight linear account or else a mostly linear one with occasional short flashbacks.


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