On January 1, 2019, Tumblr, the most free form and latitudinal Internet platform that I knew of, changed the one thing that made it worth posting on. Before the change, the “adult” or NSFW pages, like this novella, were leavened into the other pages on the platform, without serious censorship.
This was, frankly, why the platform was worth working on and viewing because the adult material, in context, benefitted immensely by the pages around it. And though, as an adult poster, I’m biased, I think the other pages, even at their most daft and immature, benefited equally as much by having the sharp spicing of intelligent adult pages in their context as well. The sense of freedom to explore beyond category or content labels, of limitless possibility of presentation that Tumblr brought to both page making and page browsing was exquisite. And it was brought to an end.
The adult posters were warned to transfer their material into an adult subdivision separate from the other posts and an algorithm was imposed that censored adult posts which weren’t transferred, but censored them only partially, to meet automatic so-called “community standards“ which were neither from a community nor driven by a sensible standard but from a bunch of anonymous employees working in Silicon Valley cubicles. It was the paradigm of AU rather than AI: “Artificial Unintelligence.”
The algorithm censored at random, leaving *most* of the adult material still there to titillate the minds of juveniles, whom Tumblr now wished to protect while turning the meaning and point (yes, good adult material HAS meaning and point) of pages like mine into corned beef hash. On the date above, I deleted all of it that was mine.
At the time of the change, I was beginning to explore the earliest part of this narrative on Tumblr up to the section The Man From Chicago, and though the Tumblr page was also called The Matriarchal Zone, it was largely about my own adult spanking fetish rather than what this novella has ended up being.
I didn’t bargain for having interesting characters show up who basically took up the narrative on their own, turning it into a dystopian story of America’s future in the form of a spy thriller! Nor for having new ones twice sneak in the back door as I was about to end the story, who I just had to get better acquainted with by continuing to write.
All writing comes from other writing since we learn to write after we learn to read, and the line between homage and plagiarism is thin indeed. So I (as most contemporary spy story writers) should acknowledge my immense debt to the master of us all, John LeCarre, who, in a single book, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, invented a set of in group colloquial expressions of espionage (tradecraft, handwriting, honey trap, workname, legend, mole, babysitter, security gorillas, fleeing “in your socks”, and so on) that did not exist in any spy narrative, non-fictional or fictional, before the publication of that one book.
LeCarre himself openly acknowledged that he worked with both MI-5 (British security service) and MI-6 (British foreign intelligence), before publishing his breakthrough spy story, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, and though LeCarre’s neologisms in Tinker, Tailor were fictional, they were so good that the real spies who speak English now routinely use them! After all, they read spy stories, too. The notion of his immortalization in the Oxford English Dictionary for these amazing contributions to English vocabulary is amusing, comforting, and reassuring all at once.
As you may have guessed, I’ve polluted my mind with detective stories and spy thrillers from the youngest of ages. So I must also acknowledge Eric Ambler, who in 1940 wrote one of the most hair raising of thriller narratives, Journey Into Fear, about an ordinary person pursued by faceless professional killers without his knowing why. (“Graham sat down wearily on the bunk. It was the first time for nearly twenty-four hours that he had been left alone to think. He took his right hand carefully out of his overcoat pocket, and looked at the bandages swathed round it. It throbbed and ached abominably. If that was what a bullet graze felt like, he thanked his stars that the bullet had not really hit him.”)
Similar masterful permutations of these themes occur routinely in the filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, and other directors of what is commonly called film noir. And I must also give the nod to Graham Greene, the first author that I know of whose “entertainments” of this type turned into dark moral parables such The Third Man and The Human Factor.
Then there is the question of the tone of my prose, ironic shading off into comedic. (“Where to shoot an obnoxious pimp: in the knees. It will encourage him to make a mid-life career change.”) I owe it to the first and most famous of the “hard boiled” detective story writers, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler (“She looked as if she’d heard all the answers and remembered the one’s she thought she could use some time.”) representative books are Red Harvest, and the 2 part novella The Big Knockover for Hammett and The Big Sleep as well as Lady In The Lake for Chandler.
Equally entertaining second order writers of great influence on my style are Rex Stout, Over My Dead Body and The Golden Spiders; and John Dickson Carr, The Blind Barber, The Three Coffins, and The Arabian Nights Murder. The first and last are classic full blown farces on the order of Oscar Wilde. The middle one is an incredibly chilling “impossible crime” novel.
These are my literary roots and a bang up set of entertaining books that I recommend to your attention. Finally, I learned to read at age three and by age five my overwhelmingly favorite book, which I read over and over was an abridged version of The Count of Monte Christo by Alexander Dumas.
So I come by my literary inclinations honestly and hope you enjoy what I’ve written.
This is a fantasy of the future where the United States disintegrates into component parts, one of which is a Matriarchal State, known as the Matriarchal Zone in what is now New England. It is written with the intent of, among other things, exploring what a real political Matriarchy, where all men are subordinated to all women, would actually look and feel like.
My answers to these questions, and my initial conclusions I came to by the middle of the first draft, were that it would require multiple and different police agencies, staffed by women alone, who assured the subordination of men through widespread corporal punishment of both men and women to maintain both a rigid social structure of “everyone knows their place and takes it”, as well as an artificially peaceful atmosphere where the major characters (one man and seven women) were in conflict with that Matriarchal reality even when they dreamed, embodied, and represented the Matriarchal ideal.
As the narrative developed, went off on false tracks, then returned shamefacedly to be either excised or rewritten, it kept coming back to the trope of the adult “spanking fetish”. The author is subject to this in the form that is only tangential to sexual life, where sex is subordinated to the release of guilt through definite consequences for the person spanked, the satisfaction of private justice for the person spanking, and the mutual forgiveness and restoration of harmony between them for both. And it is this dynamic that determined the narrative itself.
In the background, I intended, generally in an indirect way, to hint at our probable dystopian future where fossil fuel climate change slowly pushes humanity into extinction. I say probable because I think it is probable in fact. All the major characters here operate with the sense that humanity is slowly disintegrating and, to quote one of my characters, the good times of yesterday were better than any good times in the present, and the bad times of today are far worse than any of the bad times in the past.
Stories like this take on a life of their own and characters are not introduced or created, but, rather, step out of the shadows. Each time I wrote about someone new, I had to get acquainted with them, let them show me their foibles, and decide how I, as the author, was going to deal with that in a coherent and connected narrative.
The Story Background
The United States pursued a feckless policy, from 2016 to 2037, of constantly reducing the taxes of the richest Americans while expanding government expenditures, thus ballooning US National Debt to far beyond its Gross Domestic Product and siphoning progressively more wealth into the hands of the upper 1% of the wealth pyramid.
In 2037 this constantly growing debt caused a massive institutional run of selling United States Treasury Bills (the actual form of the indebtedness, bought by the lenders), which led to equally massive devaluing of US currency, the destruction of Treasury Bills as the universal “safest” equity investment, and a collapse of stock markets world wide.
This forced the world (except for the United States, which was not invited) to adopt a single world currency, halting the Worldwide economic slide, but exchanging with the dollar at a radically unfavorable rate, resulting in fifteen years of world wide major Depression, with the US sliding deepest both into hard times and civil unrest, which destroyed it.
In 2038 the Great Methane Release from the North Polar tundras occurred on a massive, unpredicted, scale and with a speed that caused the progress of man made Climate Change to increase exponentially beyond any possibility of human influence. The natural ice all around the world was expected to totally melt by 2110 causing the total sea level rise to reach 80 meters. It was expected that the amount of global warming would start to stabilize at that point, with everything between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn reaching high summer temperatures of 210 F and rendered totally uninhabitable by humanity. It is predicted that by the middle of the 22nd century no lands between 50 deg N and 50 degrees S latitude will be habitable.
The World, in 2038, stampeded in a mass panic toward the North in billions not millions. And billions died in this Great Northern Diaspora. Whole sections of land were abandoned in the United States, and both Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean were lost to the uninhabitable heat.
The + or – 52 million people left in the former USA cowered around the two ocean coasts and the Great Lakes pulling into the urban areas. Several continents suffered Biohazard Zones where the meltdown and explosion of nuclear power reactors occurred in the panic to get North. These Zones will never be populated again. All of Japan and Korea became such a Biohazard Zone, as did the sea coast from east of New York City, through Philadelphia, and to Wilmington, Delaware. Several different ones occurred in Russia including the venerable Chernobyl meltdown and the patchy biohazard zones spread through the wide expanse of the Russian Federation, as well as northern Iran.
To the north in the Amer/Canadian West countries formed in what was the state, now the country, of the Alaskan Republic, capital Anchorage, and the Western half of old Canada which became New Canada, capital Saskatoon. Much of the old Northwest Territory and the Yukon have been decimated by the thousands of Methane bubble craters spread across the land.
In the former continental USA the land was divided into four major countries: Dixieland, capital Atlanta, below the Mason/Dixon line and the Ohio River, extending to the Mississippi River; the Great Lakes Consortium, capital Chicago, occupying the old states Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, eastern Pennsylvania (to the Allegheny River), upstate New York (to the Hudson River and the Biohazard Zone) and the lower 1/3 of the former Canadian Province of Ontario; Mormonia, capital Boise, occupying the Rocky Mountains from New Canada to the Sangre De Christo mountains of northern New Mexico; Pacifica, inland from the Pacific Ocean to the peaks of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges, stretching from just south of Los Angeles, all but lost to the uninhabitable heat, to the former Alaskan peninsula past Juneau.
Except for Pacifica, all of these countries claim nominal boundaries far beyond their population clusters. Pockets of unorganized but occupied mountain country, nominally in Mormonian control; such as the central Colorado plain between the “fourteeners” mountain ranges to the east and west; and the old Hispanic settlements, Native American reservations, and Pueblos in southern Utah, northern Arizona, southern Colorado, and northern New Mexico became functionally independent and self sustaining.
Then there is the Matriarchal Zone, starting from the Hudson River as it’s western boundary and populated largely in the old state of Vermont, the Berkshire Mountains South of Vermont, and the strip of land between Vermont and the Hudson. It’s empty and indefinite boundaries extend all the way to the ocean in the east. It’s trials and tribulations are what appear here