Dan Simmons’ Nightmare Scenario Frighteningly Predictive of Today’s Government Crisis

For Americans and their lawmakers the looming financial and government crisis is terra incognita.  But not for Dan Simmons, whose just-published Flashback projects a dystopian future launched by a collapse identical to the one that is unfolding in our nation today.

In the author’s words, “Flashback posits the possibility that the United States of America, if it continues accruing debt without rethinking its spending and social welfare programs, could implode in sudden and total bankruptcy, losing not only its position in the world but its own sense of self for hundreds of millions of its citizens. In Flashback, this canary also imagines a cheap and available drug called flashback; a drug that allows hundreds of millions of Americans to find an escape hatch from life in such a damned and dismal future simply by reliving the good parts of their former lives. Over and over. And over.”

Simmons’s dark view of the world around the corner from today is controversial and has raised some hackles among fans and critics who like their futures to be politically correct. They obviously have confused dystopian and utopian. Simmons hasn’t.

But, taken for what it also is, a futuristic thriller packed with beautifully limned characters and a mystery that can only be solved by drug-induced time-travel, it is another triumph by the author of The Terror, Hyperion, Carrion Comfort and Summer of Night.

In a starred review Publishers Weekly says “Simmons makes some logical if depressing extrapolations from current political and economic developments in this outstanding mystery thriller set in a near-future dystopic United States.” Booklist calls it “Another winner from Simmons, whose imagination seems to know no bounds.”

Simmons has addressed a long letter to his fans detailing the thinking processes behind a book that will be debated for a long time to come. You can read his message here.

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