“Peter Skilling” — Alex Irvine

Alex Irvine—a k a Alexander C. Irvine—is the author of the original novels A Scattering of Jades; One King, One Solider; The Life of Riley; The Narrows; and Buyout. He’s also written some tie-in novels, such as Transformers: Exodus, Batman: Inferno, and Iron Man: Virus. His work on this last property has lead him to script the Iron Man: Rapture miniseries for Marvel Comics. Irvine is also a prolific author of short fiction, with more than forty stories published since making his debut in 2000. His short work, which frequently appears in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, has been collected in Unintended Consequences, Pictures from an Expedition, and in a four-story chapbook, Rossetti Song.

Since the late 1970s, Conservative Christians have united their voices to take an active and highly visible role in the American political sphere.  It is an interesting development in a nation founded on the separation of church and state, and one that provides fodder for a great deal of speculation.  Even science fiction writers sometimes wonder:  what would the United States be like if current trends in conservatism and religiosity continue?

Our next story spins just such a future world, a world that has taken a significantly dark tone.  This United States is a surveillance state bristling with rules and rigid strictures.  Within such a complicated framework, it would take years to learn all the right things to do or say—years Peter Skilling never had.  He’s awakened ninety-eight years after his own death, a stranger in his own homeland.  Medical science has given him a second chance at life, but living it just might be beyond his grasp.

Here is a new dystopian America.  Thomas Jefferson would be glad they can’t bring him back to live in it.