cover image Tropic of Kansas

Tropic of Kansas

Christopher Brown. Voyager, $15.99 trade paper (480p) ISBN 978-0-06-256381-1

In an alternate America in which Reagan did not survive the 1981 assassination attempt, the revolution will indeed be televised, in analog. This militarized America (called “robotland” by Canadians), with walls on both borders, has its heartland rebelling against the corporate government. Sig, a runaway adolescent recently returned to the American “Motherland,” escapes detainment and heads for the sanctuary city of New Orleans. His adoptive sister, Tania, who incautiously insulted the president, is forced by the government to infiltrate the underground that is helping Sig. Dodging drones, deputized citizen militias, and suspicious dissidents, they come together with an outlaw Texan billionaire who operates pirate broadcasts, hoping to find a deposed former vice president and a National Guard colonel who together temporarily liberated Louisiana. Debut novelist Brown (editor of Three Messages and a Warning) brings a mordant sensibility to his depiction of a “flyover country” that is no longer willing to have its patriotism exploited and its land degraded for other people’s profits. His characters do not easily triumph, because he respects them too much to cheapen the costs that they must bear to succeed. Agent: Mark Gottlieb, Trident Media Group. (July)