On a cold January night in America, Donald J. Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign — still widely considered to be nothing but a joke in appallingly poor taste at the time — blustered its way towards the first Republican primaries.
And for reasons that I still do not fully comprehend, the following statement clattered out of my keyboard:
It is widely recognized that the candidacy of Mr. Trump is a phenomenon long lacking a firm scientific explanation.
And because I lacked the good sense to just stop, I kept on typing.
The result: one of the strangest stories I’ve ever written.
The title alone–which is rather exceptionally not fit for print here–says it all.
At some point, Dr. Axsel Scinder, the morally ambiguous protagonist (?) of the story, showed up in my writing and I realized he was the originator of this particular line of inquiry:
Streaked with Toner. In the latter stages of Dr. Axsel Scinder’s investigations–as the funding dried up in the aftermath of the economic crisis and the high-rise Institute crumbled around him–he found himself obsessively viewing projected (and thus grotesquely enlarged) cine-loops of the Presidential candidate.
And the story goes on from there, ever more intricately entwining itself in madness, manifest through (as one reviewer put it) “the sheer bravado of this text BEING the Trump phenomenon itself.”
Already, many aspects of this satirical work of fiction have turned out to be prescient:
Of course, Trump won.
His candidacy truly turned out to be indicative of “hedonistic and utilitarian desires manifest in widely suppressed middle-American white culture,” as Dr. Scinders puts it in the story.
And instead of the joke that everyone took him for early on, the President-elect has turned out to be worthy as an object of study.
But perhaps the most uncanny parallel to date emerged in CNN’s actual coverage of “The Moment America Knew:”
In that moment, in the early hours of November 9 after nearly two years of an unprecedented and at times unbelievable campaign, the Empire State building glowed an uninterrupted red. Its facade bore a stories-high projection of Donald Trump: America’s next President.
And if you pick up Issue #265 of Interzone, the award-winning magazine of speculative fiction where the story appeared, you’ll see exactly where this image dovetails into the strange investigations of Dr. Axsel Scinders that I had confabulated some 10 months before.
Illustration by Dave Senecal (senecal.deviantart.com)
“On the Techno-[*] Potential of Donald Trump under Conditions of Partially Induced Psychosis” by Ken Hinckley. In Interzone, No. 265, pp. 44-53. July/August 2016, ed. by Andy Cox.
- [*] Full title redacted for this web site
[Contents of Interzone #265].
Cover art by Vincent Sammy