I appreciate the time you’ve taken to listen to the audiobook version of episodes 1 through 4 of The American Fathers. The sound design, in my opinion, illuminates aspects of 2032 America (the story world) that are easy to miss if you only read the written content.
2032 America feels like the country we live in now because in that fictional world our government has not been replaced by a totally different government. The US is still a republic of sovereign state governments, and the federal government still has three branches. The American Fathers is satirical, in a way that’s similar to the movies The Big Short, and Vice. By writing the story in the near future I’m able to add fantasy and sci-fi elements to a fictional account of what happens behind the scenes between corporations and our government. The Windup Girl by Paulo Bacigalupi is a Near Future Fiction example of what I’m trying to do.
In 2032 America, Congress has been lobbied to enact laws that augment federal and state governments through the creation of the Council of Nobles, a body that formally guides the country as if its thirteen members are America’s fathers. Creation of The Council of Nobles is a radical act, but it’s also a stealthy one. The Council’s creation is not disruptive to the system because it’s done in a way that’s similar to how the Heritage Foundation has stacked the Supreme Court with corporatist judges.
In that sense, The American Fathers is more House of Cards than Hunger Games, but since most of the conflict is between characters associated with the Council of Nobles, as opposed to characters connected to the federal government, the themes are reminiscent of Game of Thrones.
Victor’s story feels like the story of a king who’s over-reach is creating discontent among his subjects, but Victor does not hold that formal title. The protests in episode 4, Emperor, look and feel the way civil unrest typically happens in the US, if you consider examples like the civil rights movement, protests to the Vietnam War, protests to the Muslim ban, or the resistance protests we saw in 2017.
In parts 6 and 7 of episode 4, protests erupt in reaction to the video that’s broadcast by the POP Watchers, in which the army Victor named The Fathers kills members of the hactivist resistance group who have broken into House Daco and House Harrington corporate facilities. This, along with a general unease among the other patriarchs, begins to undermine Victor’s standing on the Council of Nobles.
Victor reacts to that challenge in episode 4. In episode 5, the novel I’m currently writing, you see Natalia’s reaction to the same challenge through the eyes of Devin Wayne, the man who will marry Irene, Victor and Natalia’s daughter.
Natalia’s story is that of a queen trying to save her monarchy, but she is not recognized by the public as a monarch. She created the Council of Nobles behind closed doors, and so her fight to hold onto power is happening largely behind closed doors as well. Episode 4 ends with Victor’s capture. Devin and Irene are made aware of that event in part 2 of episode 5.
As architect of The Fathers - Victor’s private army - Devin is the knight who won Victor’s trust, but Devin’s relationship with Irene, the princess, crossed an unspoken line. In episode 3, Escape From New Orleans, Devin has been expelled from House Daco and is on the run from an assassin Victor hired to kill him. Victor’s reaction to Devin and Irene’s relationship is consistent with the megalomaniacal hubris that threatens the entire system.
Natalia convinces Victor to call off the assassin in episode 4. Once Devin and Irene discover that Victor has been captured by the Saudi Prince Azim bin Walid bin Faisal they spend the rest of the novel trying to determine whether anyone on the Council colluded with Azim, and, if so, why? By unraveling the plot, Devin not only frees Victor, but he also saves House Daco. During the course of the novel he goes from Irene's suitor to being a formal member of the family, which is why the novel is titled From Consort To Prince.
Most Americans are indifferent when the Council of Nobles is created in spite of being warned of the danger of placing so much power in the hands of so few people. A group of university professors and artists called Prime Heuristic tried to prevent passage of The New Rule by disseminating easy to use heuristics to the American public.
A heuristic is a process or method that enables a person to discover or learn something for themselves. In that vein, Dr. Sheila McKinley, along with the other members of Prime Heuristic, believed the American electorate would reject The New Rule if they understood the social and economic implications of its passage. The New Rule passes with near unanimous support in Congress, serving as a devastating blow to the idealistic group of academics, which shrinks down to nothing from the point of having chapters on every college and university campus in the country.
When episode 1, Swept Away, opens, Sheila is among a small group of academics who remain in Prime Heuristic. She is committed to the liberal democratic ideals we share with other western democracies.
Sheila is drawn to Jasira’s beauty, intellect, and charm, but she’s suspicious of the journalist whose reporting repeatedly includes inexplicable insights into the inner workings of the Council. Sheila’s relationship with Jasira is a way of exploring the challenge of living up to liberal democratic ideals considering the attraction even the most idealistic citizen might have to the world of wealth and power.