America Pacifica is a story about the end of the world as we know it, and what people might choose to do afterwards.
In the not too distant future, eighteen-year-old Darcy lives on the island of America Pacifica – one of the last places on earth that is still habitable after the second ice age. While a few rich families indulge their nostalgia with hamburgers and baseball, most Pacificans – Darcy included – crowd together in cramped tenements and subsist on jellyfish and seaweed. Darcy craves more space and a dinner of real meat once in a while, but she doesn’t question Pacifica’s basic system – until her mother doesn’t come home one night. Then Darcy is forced on a quest through the dark underbelly of the island, a journey that will take her through Pacifica’s corrupt history and make her an indispensible part of its future. In the spirit of Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, America Pacifica imagines a world drastically different from the one we know today, and how we might continue to live in it.
The printing was cheap, doubled like drunk vision, but today’s headline was a screamer: “SEAGUARDS THWART HAWAIIAN ATTACK.” Below it was a line drawing – the few working cameras on the island had rotted into hunks of scrap long ago – of a ship with enormous guns jutting from its sides. Twice before in Darcy’s memory they had shot down invader ships, destroyers coming west from Hawaii. The last time had been ten years ago – Darcy was eight, and for weeks all the kids talked about nothing but boats and torpedoes and wars. Then the threat dimmed, and the western settlements became what they’d always been – far-off enemies, featureless and vaguely fearsome, a role to force the uncool kids to play in games of make-believe. Some of the kids in Darcy’s high school even claimed that all the westerners had died, that a hot ocean current had fried them just like the cold had frozen America. You got in trouble if your teacher heard you say so, but more and more in recent years Darcy had seen underground flyers posted around Little Los Angeles, their blurry type proclaiming, “HAWAIIANS DEAD! FIRE THE SEAGUARDS!” They were never up for more than a day.
“This happened yesterday?” Darcy asked.
The woman nodded. Darcy had never really looked at her face before. Her skin was coffee-colored, and lines sprouted from her eyes. She was still pretty. Darcy gazed into her lap at Founder Tyson’s morning column, all the way on the right edge of the flyer, above the baseball scores. Tyson’s face at the top was as avuncular and strong-jawed as ever. It was the face on the banners that hung across the Avenida, and across Wabash Ave. in Chicagoland, and across any other street big enough to make room for them. It was totally unlike the ancient, sunken face that made its way down from the northern tip of the island for each year’s Founder’s Day parade, turning slightly from side to side, smiling its fixed smile.