The Manchurian Lobbyist

by L. Neil Smith

Gil Russell, Agent
The Meredith Scott Literary Agency
523 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10023

Dear Gil:

         After writing 18 SF novels in 15 years, it's time for a change. How about a thriller that'll keep you up and turning pages all night?
         In the background, DoD has become no more than a welfare system for redundant engineers and foundering corporations. The military is only good for beating up on Third World losers, and can't tell an airliner from an enemy fighter-bomber. Against foes foreign and domestic, the only bulwark of America's unique historical institutions is an armed citizenry, growing restive under an unbearable burden of taxes and increasingly vocal about it.
         My first characters are left-politicos led by a senile, obsessive -- but totally fictional -- Senator from Ohio and his colleague, a semi-convicted murderer from Massachussetts. They form a bipartisan cabal with the President, an ancient preppie bright enough to see that he's the Jimmy Carter of the GOP and determined to become its Lyndon Johnson if he has to destroy the republic in order to save it. They scheme to strip Americans of the hardware politicians always find so discouraging and turn people back into the loot-producing serfs Alexander Hamilton intended them to be.
         They enlist the nation's top gun control advocates, which look like any wine-and-cheese liberal pressure group. In fact they're memberless fronts originally created by a Nixonian Odessa of ex-CIA types determined to drag Dick -- or his political ideas -- out of cryogenics where he stored himself two decades ago and prop him up in the Oval Office for one last hurrah. The spooks control the so-called mental health industry, grim gulags where the light of the Constitution never shines and real-life mad scientists pump helpless captives full of memory-cauterizing voltage and identity-dissolving chemicals, producing customized high tech zombies, sent home on disability payments to watch daytime TV and gobble Twinkies with inhuman patience until they're needed.
         Now periodically we get enough of the gore that electronic fear-merchants splash across our living room carpets every night, or fed up with intrusive, incessant nagging labeled "public service messages". Some of us appear to have absorbed the fact that the Bill of Rights means what it says and that the state's latest moral substitute for war is being waged against freedom itself. It's then that one of these zombies gets a call with key-words buried in it, "You have miles to go and promises to keep, Orville-Bob...", takes up his saturdaynightspecial or his evilassaultrifle (depending how he's been programmed), while the senators, spooks, and fear-merchants warm up the public relations machinery.
         The zombie finds a Campfire Girls convention and blows away as many photogenic victims as possible, then eats his front sight and yanks the trigger one more time. Psycho-vultures descend on the community and the media make a big deal of his history of mental illness without mentioning the 20,000 laws already on the books which forbid him to own guns. Instead, they blame tens of millions of innocent gun owners (the killer isn't available for a post-bloodbath interview, but his neighbors all say he was very quiet) give 51% of their time to the front-groups who built the killer in the first place and 51% to the spinless, dull-witted, militantly moderate President and the senators from Ohio and Massachussetts who "spontaneously" produce a 1500-page bill depriving us not only of guns, but of kitchen knives, keyrings, and fingernails.
         Not one reporter asks why liberal Democrats are in bed with Nixon's CIA.
         Anyone who tries to point out that this spectacular and convenient mass-Osterizing happened the very week the legislature began deliberating gun laws, and that similar "coincidences" have occurred in three states over the last six months, is kept off the air at all costs. Maybe he'll get locked up and become the next trigger-zombie.
         The new bill violates 153 Constitutional provisions and includes a death penalty for even thinking about Dan'l Boone's flintlock, but gets befuddled blessings from the President. TV keeps the pressure on: lavishing thousands of praise-filled air-hours on the "courageous" senators who wrote it, they simultaneously condemn it as too moderate, a sellout to the gun lobby.
         Now for a plot-twist: the rich, powerful, multimillion-member group created to defend the principle of armed citizenry to the death (and take whatever heat ol' Prez won't accept as his part of the deal) inexplicably finds itself weak, poor, and inclined to compromise -- although the media characterize it as unyielding. Its official spokesmen help by shaving their heads to enchance an already amazing resemblance to Nikita Khruschev. We don't find out until the next-to-last chapter that it's as stuffed with ex-Nixonites as the so-called liberal gun control organizations.
         I haven't figured out how the conspiracy gets exposed, but I gotta have a happy ending. Maybe, although they don't know it, the spooks were conditioned to kill themselves like zombies, to give the President credible deniability. The senators are convicted under a little known statute for violating their oath of office and sent to a high-walled place with bars -- where the regular tenants treat them the same way they've been treating Senate pages for years.
         Maybe I should update it to include a President who really is a clone of Jimmy Carter and his wife, a reincarnation of Joan Crawford.
         The media -- this is where I'm having trouble. My first thought was, once the plot was exposed, they changed their ways when they realized that their First Amendment rights weren't any more secure than the Second Amendment rights of the gun owners they persecute. But I can hear you saying right now that no editor will go for that.
         This is a novel, after all. It has to be believable.

L. Neil Smith

L. Neil Smith is the award-winning author of 19 books including The Probability Broach, The Crystal Empire, Henry Martyn, The Lando Calrissian Adventures, Pallas, and (forthcoming) Bretta Martyn and Lever Action. An NRA Life Member and founder of the Libertarian Second Amendment Caucus, he has been active in the Libertarian movement for 34 years and is its most prolific and widely-published living novelist.

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