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Tropic of Kansas: A Novel by Christopher…

Tropic of Kansas: A Novel

by Christopher Brown

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This story exists within a dystopian future America, where the central portion of the country is a political and economic wasteland know as the Tropic of Kansas. The story follows Sig and his foster sister Tania in separate narratives through this harrowing tale of a broken America.

Brown paints the picture of this grim future with unrelenting realism. It is a cruel world that feels like the natural evolution of today's vitriolic political climate. Perhaps because of this, it can be a hard story to read sometimes; the sense that this might be the world our children inherit is depressing, and always close to the surface of the narrative. It is a testament to Brown's skill as a writer that the story pulls you onward despite this grim milieu. There is no doubt after only a few paragraphs that you are in the hands of a master storyteller.

Sig is a feral youth on the outside of the law. At the story outset he is deported from a Canada standing apart from the chaos in America, and is delivered into a detection center. He escapes and heads south, fighting and fleeing the whole way. Through his eyes we encounter the desperation and ugliness of the dispossessed people on the fringe of this dystopia. Tania, on the other hand, begins the tale as a government investigator, but with no illusions about the compromised nature of the politicians she serves under. As her story progresses, she learns more and more of the ugly innards of this system, and finds herself increasingly ostracized.

As you might guess, the narrative threads of Sig and Tania eventually come together. I won't add any plot spoilers as to how this all wraps up, but I will say that there is no neat and tidy happy ending. In fact, such an ending would be a poor fit for this tale. This is a clear cautionary tale that has no room for joy. This might be a novel to avoid if you're prone to depression; however, if you can handle the bleak possibilities of this possible future, you'll be treated to a gripping tale by a skilled writer.
  AugustvonOrth | May 29, 2018 |
Tropic of Kansas is set in America at an undisclosed point in the future where the country has collapsed due to income inequality, corporate greed and environmental catastrophe.

We follow a brother and sister as they traverse the country for differing reasons. The story was okay, but it seemed like it really could have used chapter subtitles indicating how much time is passing so you're not trying to work out what precisely is going on at times. Overall, the feeling was of a disjointed story rather than a well flowing stream. I also found the ending to be rather a let down considering the topics covered throughout.

In the end, it had a lot of things going for it, but just didn't bring it all together in a good execution. ( )
  HenriMoreaux | Feb 25, 2018 |
Fantastic read. This will make a great movie. Can't decide who to cast as Sig. ( )
1 vote housecarl | Oct 20, 2017 |
Tropic of Kansas by Christopher Brown is a highly recommended dystopian/political satire set in the alternate reality of a future, fractured USA.

Sig was an illegal from the USA hiding in Canada, until he was caught and sent back over the border wall into the area that was once Minnesota. Now the Midwest is just part of a wasteland of warring factions and provincial militia groups. This area has been dubbed The Tropic of Kansas and is known for the third world lawlessness that thrives there and the various greedy leaders who control parts of it. Sig, the son of political dissidents, is a survivor and escape artist. He essentially trusts no one. He's difficult to keep as a prisoner because he will find a way to escape. He will also find a way to survive.

Tania was once Sig's foster sister. Sig's mother dropped him off at her house for Tania's mother to care for when her arrest was imminent. Tania is now a government investigator. She got into a little trouble in Washington D.C. and is now looking for Sig to rectify her mistake and to try to get her own mother free from imprisonment. When Tanis goes searching for Sig, she comes to terms with her own past and perhaps the direction of her future.

Chapters alternate between Tania and Sig. You'll be rooting for Sig as he manages to escape from one predicament, betrayal, and impressionist after another. You'll also be hoping Tania sees the light, and the corruption of the government, and finds Sig along with a new goal for herself.

Brown takes present ideological differences, technology, factions, and widely different beliefs among citizens in the USA today and escalates all of it into a dystopian setting while setting his characters into this action packed satire. It's a wild ride through politics, drones, guns, and bullies. It's also an easy to read novel, with short chapters that avoid much detailed descriptions of settings or other characters. This is entertaining - certainly a good airplane book. It is worth noting that you should anticipate that Brown will hit you over the head with pc politics along with the expectation that you will naturally believe all that he believes. But, since this is also set in an alternate reality USA, it is much easier to just go with the flow and accept any precautionary statements that might be leached out of the adventure.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2065858412 ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Jul 19, 2017 |
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Publisher Annotation: Acclaimed short story writer and editor of the World Fantasy Award-nominee Three Messages and a Warning eerily envisions an American society unraveling and our borders closed off?from the other side?in this haunting and provocative novel that combines Max Barry?s Jennifer Government, Philip K. Dick?s classic Man in the High Castle, and China Mieville?s The City & the City. (Original), 480pp.… (more)

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