Tom Kratman, Vox, Amazon Best-Selling Scfi author Richard Fox, and myself, have been collaborating on the Secession of California. I mean the timeline for such a fictional event… should it ever happen, and how we would WarFight it. We went through and pulled all your comments on the possible timeline, events and craziness, that could happen and then balanced those with our own Napoleonic yearnings
and came up with this… It’s just a taste… but tell us what you think:
This would be Phase One of the Conflict. There are two more Phases to come.
In Phase Two The U.S. will begin to rally its Armored Divisions in Las Vegas and Carson City, readying for the Invasion of the Sovereign Republic of California. I’ll be back with that next week.
So, let us know what you think. Also, if you’re in the mood for a Free book and a Free novella, I’ll be giving those out over at my website. just sign up for my email list Here and you’ll get your book, and the novella will arrive in about two weeks. Thanks.
“Voter rolls not enforced. Viral pics of buses with the same bunch of illegals going from polling place to polling place”
If by “illegals” you mean illegal immigrants/non-citizens/foreigners, I find this to be unlikely, plot-wise, especially “the same bunch.” Much better to make them part of the corrupt conspiracy if they’re the same bunch, or make them a different bunch in each location, a mix of all sorts of low-income people who will sell their votes, led by corrupt conspirators/organizers.
“Several dependent families of key military personnel are detained by La Raza militants.”
Suggest we fictionalize or be very specific about any organizations like this when we’re really talking about the National Council of La Raza, and MEChA, another related violent organization. There are non-subversive and non-terrorist organizations that use the phrase “la raza” in their titles or literature, and so we might smear the innocent.
“California closes the borders to anyone wanting to abandon the Nation without first paying a 75% total income tax.”
Suggest that it’s a confiscation tax on wealth i.e., not income, but all property owned–maybe 100% of real property and 50% of personal property.
Otherwise, this looks pretty good, except for a show-stopper for me: We’re SFF writers. Science fiction and fantasy. For me, a mere alternate future doesn’t qualify. No gadgets, no new tech, nothing except today’s headlines extended to the extreme.
Without some SFF maguffin, I consider this so farfetched as to be nearly unreadable for me. As has been famously said, reality doesn’t have to make sense, but fiction does.
Possible Maguffins include (starting with my favorite) sonically induced mind control via everyone’s devices–phones, Alexa devices and the like– where the Chinese government subtly influences everyone over months, hypnotically programming them to revolt and secede. This would allow for otherwise unthinkable possibilities such as entire regular units to defect to California.
If you don’t like that one, we still need something IMO, such as X-File-style alien/outside influence via some method, be it electronic, biological or even magical (think Rifts).
In short, this needs to be SFF, not Tom Clancy.
Have to agree with the “no” on the 75 income tax at the border. Has to be a 75% wealth-tax at the border for all non-hispanic-whites, who aren’t Syria refugees.
Sounds suitably chaotic.
“I consider this so farfetched as to be nearly unreadable for me.”
Maybe in 2015 I would have agreed with you.
“Suggest that it’s a confiscation tax on wealth i.e., not income, but all property owned–maybe 100% of real property and 50% of personal property.”
I think for the sake of expedience, practically and narrative-wise, you just have to have them forfeit everything and leave California with the shirts on their backs. Electronic funds are a question mark.
I enjoyed First Conquest, by the way. I plan to get to the sequels soon.
“I consider this so farfetched as to be nearly unreadable for me.”
“Maybe in 2015 I would have agreed with you.”
Sorry not to be clearer. My impression of the plot point makes it seem as if they’re doing it on their own, which is what I find unlikely. There needs to be an organization driving the voter fraud. Most illegals keep a fairly low profile, so spontaneously going from place to place voting in a group is a high risk, low reward proposition.
So, have them organized by someone that is paying them, promising them protection, whipping them up, etc. If it’s a political/socialist-backed issue, they might be a heterogeneous group of illegals, with their political officers keeping them on track. If it’s purely economic i.e., vote-buying, then likely you’d get a mix of illegals, homeless people, low-level criminals, gullible or intimidated senior citizens bussed from nursing homes, etc.
I always thought that China would leap at the chance to help a CA succession. Perhaps you can add something about the UN being used by China and the other usual suspects to condemn the US and try to tie the USA hands economically and diplomatically?
“In Phase Two The U.S. will begin to rally its Armored Divisions in Las Vegas and Carson City, readying for the Invasion of the Sovereign Republic of California.”
It’s all in the name
People’s Democracy of California
(Democratic People’s Republic of California) or
Union of California Socialist Democracies or
The Secular Democracy of California
>>>The Secular Democracy of California
I second that name for the breakaway state! Or “The Secular California Republic.” Getting “Secular” in the title is a great call.
“If by ‘illegals’ you mean illegal immigrants/non-citizens/foreigners, I find this to be unlikely, plot-wise, especially ‘the same bunch.'”
That was my 2nd favorite part of the timeline. Would buy book for this alone.
The best part:
“The Freedom Protests turn violent in San Francisco and LA after Hollywood produces a season of Pro-Secession Propaganda Films including a Star Wars Sequel.”
You : alpha jerkboy :: Hollywood : slutty chick. You’ve got their number.
California’s first act would be civilian gun-prohibition and putting gun-owners in FEMA camps, so they wouldn’t call it the “California militia”.
Try something like “the California Defense Force” or “California Rainbow Guard” or “People’s Democratic Army”—with the motto “Stronger together”
Committee for Public Safety
One of the Hollywood propaganda films has to be “The Re-Birth of a Nation”; a captivating silent-film with black actors in white-face dramatizing the powerful speeches made in S.F. that converted the last dissenters to vote for secession.
Illegal immigrants flee into Oregon and build an underground railroad (below the border wall) into northern California. When it leaks out that Portland helped them, POTUS orders the military occupation of Portland, which culminates with the Battle of Antifa
locals will have to create underground resistance forces (think “red dawn”) and battle from the inside
The Clinton Foundation moves from New York to San Francisco on secession day and gets mysterious $100 million donation that everyone suspects came from Asia. Similar donations continue to roll in each month, as D.C. starts to suspect Arab world could also be involved.
Right after the secession bill passes, the California National Anthem plays—during which all the congress-people take a knee. After that, every time we hear the California National Anthem, all the Californians in the scene take a knee.
Due to prison overcrowding (Brown v. Plata), the Governor (renamed Chairman or Chancellor) releases all prisoners who promise to join the California National Army–over 10,000 prisoners are released. Over 1,000 flee the army on day one and move to Oakland, turning it into a no-go-zone.
USPACOM is HQ’d in Hawaii not SD but despite that an excellent outline.
Should mention Commander Third Fleet out of San Diego if you want to use that ADM instead
After Muslim bakers are forced to cater gay weddings, they fill the cakes with a solution that turns people heterosexual. The San Francisco CDC works tirelessly to develop an antidote that turns people back into homosexuals.
They have to send nanobots into people’s brains to find the gay gene to be able to reactivate it.
Finally, some sci-fi! And I love the plot twist that make the enemy of my enemy my friend…
Man who’s transitioning to Woman receives Best Actress award for playing a woman who’s transitioning to a man.
Still hoping for some SFF in here. All you need is something SFF to put a band-aid on the suspension of disbelief for this combination of unlikely events. I’m all about sales, because sales get us authors money and exposure (that leads to more money) and that means getting good reviews and purchases from as many people as possible. An SFF element will help do that IMO, over a merely speculative shared story world.
You could have the Californians find a way to control (manipulate) their earthquakes, as their ultimate weapon during the first ground invasion.
The Californians trigger a super volcanic eruption in eastern California in Mammoth Mountain, creating a river of lava through the Long Valley Caldera between California and Nevada, preventing any further ground invasions.
Also, if the ash plume could suppress the USAF potential response it would work in the People’s Republic of California’s favor.
The ash plume becomes the permanent home of the air-nanobot swarm (or drone army) that spies on Nevada. Eventually the US moves their HQ/base back from Nevada into Utah.
Silicon Valley created AI pushing the buttons behind the scenes for the secession. It is running this as a test of its ability to enslave the human population.
While Mexican gangs take over Southern California, the Native Americans declare all of Eastern California a Reservation. Silicon Valley sends a Mech army over to show their support.
But the Natives have a hard time controlling the Mechs because they’re based on Christian Ethics AI and not Native American Ethics AI.
Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics are declared eurocentric and are banned.
as a result of the FB-Live execution of the busload of military dependents by La Raza… focused, reprisal attacks begin on families of Mexican-American and Latino-American politicians in border states like Arizona, Nevada, and Utah by unknown groups of people that leave “ViVa” as their call sign
Few comments and suggestions:
Many countries, NGOs (especially the UN), and even the Vatican would side with California. Somehow this should be addressed. As an example, any interference from China would result in the immediate destruction of the Chinese shipping fleet, significant arming (to include nukes) of Taiwan, mass deportation of all Chinese citizens, seizure of all Chinese assets in the U.S., etc… same for any country interfering in an internal U.S. issue. God help Mexico or other Central/South American countries that were dumb enough to try anything.
Initially, there would be significant sympathy for California in the rest of the U.S., especially the heavy blue states. Some of this would translate into insurgent activity against the U.S. However, a leftist government in California (I think of Robespierre and Committee of Public Safety) would be so repugnant to the majority of Americans that all but the hard core sympathizers would evaporate quickly. Most Americans would want blood. Therefore, there would significant sympathy to crush California and its sympathizers, to the point local militia would form and volunteer to fight. Perhaps similar to the militias formed in Ukraine, the Middle East, etc…
The Democrats, especially enough that would be “loyal” to California, aren’t going to win Congress anytime soon unless Trump totally collapses. Add to this, once California seceded, the Democrats would lose two Senate seats and at least 39 of the 53 House seats. Then “loyal” Senators and Congressmen would be elected/chosen by the loyal California in exile government…
California Military Forces
Given the scenario presented (no mistreatment of California, just their not liking the fact Trump won), most LEOs, National Guard, and Active/Reserve military in California will be loyal to the U.S. They are not going to just serve California because they happen to live in California. California will have a shortage of trained military/LEOs. There may be plenty of militias, but there won’t be a sizeable professional organized force.
California has ONE Air Guard fighter squadron (F-15Cs). Even if they all stayed loyal to California, they would be crushed by sheer numbers in a matter of days at most. U.S. forces would have total air superiority.
The California National Guard has ONE Infantry Brigade Combat Team and another artillery battalion… California would have to rely on militia OR receive significant help from other countries very quickly. They would have to resort to an insurgency in their own “country” once heavy U.S. forces engaged. Mexico has no heavy forces either. China or Russia would have to send heavy troops in mass (meaning by ship) for there to be any hope of defeating the U.S. in open battle.
U.S. Military Forces
Special Forces: would be dropped into loyal areas to train indigenous forces and conduct strategic recon.
Tier 1: assets would be playing whack a mole in California and the U.S. ANY business person or Hollywood type supporting the insurgency would be a target for neutralization.
Rangers/MARSOC: would be used to seize high value strategic targets, not to cut a road that means little or be wasted in San Francisco of all places. Examples: seize nuclear power plants in order to safely decommission them or remove/neutralize nuclear material; seize Vandenberg AFB, Jet Propulsion Lab, or other research facilities to secure and remove technology and/or persons; seize passes through the Sierra Nevada Mountains for future use by liberating forces… you get my point
82nd: Would be dropped into the OC to help the loyalists and secure an air bridgehead for follow on forces, such as the 101st or 10th Mountain.
Air Force: Total domination. Systematic destruction of key infrastructure and morale targets. Oil refineries would be at the top of the list along with water systems. California produces little oil and therefore little gasoline AND has little mass transit with a lot of mouths in the cities to feed. California needs gas/diesel to move the food. But the Air Force would destroy anything moving on the roads… The cities are going to starve quickly.
Navy: Total domination of the sea and coastline. Would establish a blockade of all ports and sink many ships (no help coming from the sea). U.S. submarine fleet would have a field day. Would also conduct raids (don’t forget the MEUs) all along the coast.
While I like the premise, there are a lot of gaps that need to be covered to make the stories plausible. A hostile independent California isn’t going to last long…
There should be open ocean battles between the USS — and the CNS — [California Navy Ship —].
In a story like this, one has to think outside the docks.
The CNS Battleship Cedar Chavez, formerly the U.S.S. Iowa
Castalia’s “Riding the Red Horse” anthology had some pieces about weaponized lasers (written by Eric S. Raymond). Adding weaponized lasers developed by Silicon Valley turncoats could be added as a plot point to remove the air superiority of the USAF.
Many countries, NGOs (especially the UN), and even the Vatican would side with California. Somehow this should be addressed. As an example, any interference from China would result in the immediate destruction of the “Chinese shipping fleet, significant arming (to include nukes) of Taiwan, mass deportation of all Chinese citizens, seizure of all Chinese assets in the U.S., etc… same for any country interfering in an internal U.S. issue. God help Mexico or other Central/South American countries that were dumb enough to try anything.”
It would seem so, but the key to making this conflict somewhat even, other than an SFF element, if to have the US military and government overwhelmed with too many things to do. They can handle only so much before they are strained to the breaking point.
“Initially, there would be significant sympathy for California in the rest of the U.S., especially the heavy blue states. Some of this would translate into insurgent activity against the U.S. However, a leftist government in California (I think of Robespierre and Committee of Public Safety) would be so repugnant to the majority of Americans that all but the hard core sympathizers would evaporate quickly. Most Americans would want blood. Therefore, there would significant sympathy to crush California and its sympathizers, to the point local militia would form and volunteer to fight. Perhaps similar to the militias formed in Ukraine, the Middle East, etc…”
Again, the key to making this believable is not to simply extrapolate what might happen, but to have unlikely but plausible things happen that will create a conflict that’s believably even. We need to think like writers, not analysts.
“The Democrats, especially enough that would be “loyal” to California, aren’t going to win Congress anytime soon unless Trump totally collapses. Add to this, once California seceded, the Democrats would lose two Senate seats and at least 39 of the 53 House seats. Then “loyal” Senators and Congressmen would be elected/chosen by the loyal California in exile government…”
As in nearly all fiction involving the current government and especially the Presidency, it needs to be fictionalized. If you want a Trump-like Pres, fine, but don’t call him Trump. The next few years are so uncertain and full of surprises that giving explicit real names to people may make the anthology suddenly obsolete if something unexpected happens. Also, it opens up the work to libel lawsuits or cease-and-desist orders. Everything needs to have the veneer of fiction, no matter how thin.
If you really want to balance the conflict–and I know some will hate this idea, but we need to divorce ourselves from reality if the needs of the story are such–then yes, have the Trump-like administration implode somehow–the fictional Pres could die, or a scandal could take him down, or something, if the goal is to weaken the Feds enough to make this new civil war relatively even.
All the rest of this is again, just analysis. Rather that pointing out how unlikely the whole scenario is, we need to create a serious Maguffin to make it believable. Mind control. Aliens. A federal government coup. The Blue States also declaring their secession, causing the nation to fracture into pieces. Something.
“California produces little oil and therefore little gasoline AND has little mass transit with a lot of mouths in the cities to feed. California needs gas/diesel to move the food.”
We assume all the cars, trains, planes are all electric. All the homes, businesses, etc. are solar-powered.
And I think someone already mentioned that the U.S. doesn’t immediately set up a sea blockade, which is how the other countries keep selling them supplies. Many additional supplies, like recreational substances, come in through the Mexico border.
But yes, once the Chinese attempt to stop the formation of the sea blockade, the China-U.S. sea war begins.
Once the Russians attempt to prevent the no-fly zone over California, the Russia-U.S. air war begins.
Once the Mexicans attempt to stop the building of the wall, the Mexican-American ground war begins.
And so on.
I think we’ve just started playing Fortress America.
The no-fly zone was already part of this when I got here. I wanted Google-guided anti-aircraft turrets all along the California mountain range creating an Iron Dome ala Israel–that way at some point there has to be a ground invasion.
Also, when Japan joins the U.S., they’ll keep China occupied at sea and it’ll be back to D.C. vs. California.
Throw in ms13 rape gangs, they are the toughest hombres you ever saw, and the liberals would automatically sympathize with them.
What I don’t understand about this plot line is why a Republican president would attempt to keep California.
In today’s world, I expect Trump to “agree and amplify” the secessionists any day now. It would be magic on Twitter: “If the people of California want to leave the US let’s talk. No one should be unhappy.”
This would cause squawking for about a week. Then he could follow up with a proposal to split the state to provide US land access to the Pacific for a seaport in exchange for water.
More squawking and he moves the conversation from secession to something Northern and Southern California can argue about.
When the CA congress-people go back to CA and the federal House of Reps flips from dem-to-repub, NY will complain that they’ll leave to if the president doesn’t bring CA back into the union. And at that point talk of secession happens all across the U.S. and the prez realizes that to keep the nation together he has to keep ALL of it together.
Yes, that’s a better plot.
More should be mentioned about CA energy imports from the US.
AZ’s Palo Verde nuke power as well as the many smaller non-nuke plants sited in AZ and possibly NV but shipping power to CA.
The multiple natural gas and petroleum pipelines heading into CA from the US.
Cutting these is going to make a huge difference in the ability of CA to survive, much less fight.
There is so much fun to be had with the big water projects in CA that it shouldn’t be passed up. Many are vulnerable to a small group with explosives or even a back-hoe. SF troops or even ticked off locals could have major impacts.
Fun could be had with A-10s (anti-tank small aircraft) from Luke AFB, AZ. In 30 seconds one A-10 main gun attack could shred any nuke cooling system forcing a crash shutdown. Dispatching a few of them to target any power production plant would worsen the situation in CA quickly.
Plenty of fun toys to be had in AZ, not just at Luke AFB but the Marines at the MCAS Yuma and the Army spooks at Ft. Huachuca, all could play a part.
One wonders what the crazies in OR and WA would be up to, trying to create a new nation of all three Pacific states? CA expatriates in AZ, NV, MT, TX and a few others could also act up if needed for a bit of action.
I’m really looking forward to seeing where this book goes, I’ll pre-order one ASAP.
Was thinking that the Californians could find miles of spent nuclear fuel rods in the mountains that were supposed to be hid in the Nevada mountains years ago (until Harry Reid stopped it), and then recycle them (like France) and power themselves that way.
But having NV and AZ secretly helping them (right behind the U.S. army’s back), sounds more interesting.
Same with Oregon–they could be pumping water into Northern California while the Californians build Israeli-style desalinization tanks (or just have those ready right at the beginning of the secession).
As mentioned above, would love to see some “Red Dawn” elements. Perhaps saboteurs taking out solar power installations, aging dams, etc. Max Zorin had a point – would be great to see a flood hit Silicon Valley and the SJWs who have taken over.
Cyberattacks should be a part of the narrative as well as 4GW “control the narrative” elements.
This looks great!!
Having “Red Dawn” factions taking out the battery-charging stations on the highways so civilians can only drive across their own city (and no longer across all of CA) sounds great.
To have Red Dawn elements (to need them at all), we need the opposition to be on our doorstep–the Chinese have taken Taiwan, Japan and all the Pacific islands between there and the West Coast, Maybe the Russians see the opportunity to take Alaska back, and both are willing to land or airdrop forces into the US to disrupt things. All of this would make the fight more even rather than readers rolling their eyes and saying “that wouldn’t happen”–just as many of the commenters here are pointing out the overwhelming superiority of the US military. That has to be reduced in the scenario.
After the Mumbai-style Attack on Las Vegas @ #25, there would be a string of assassinations of Pro-FreeCA politicians. Done by a disconnected group called the “Sons of Liberty”, while clearly showing high-level access to location information of the politicians.
The assassinations of 14 Senators, 30 Congressmen, long with the death under “questionable circumstances”, of 8 Senators, 15 Congressmen and 2 Governors completely remakes the complexion of Congress. This allows the President to change policy.
Also, at some early point, Diablo Canyon power plant would be occupied by Special Forces. Before any other major actions would happen.
Korean & Japanese Naval Forces would be allowed to operate in the area to evacuate their citizens.
@29, Irregular Militia forces from Oregon, Idaho and Nevada wipe out the Border Guards at the I-5 & State Route 97 and surge rapidly to Weed. Surprisingly large amount of heavy Trucks with 50cals are sighted in pictures on Social Media before all communications cease from the area.
Rumblings of mountain passes being blocked by forces with a flag that says “Jefferson” on it.
I like the premise as well as the critiques.
Here’s another thought: Soros. C’mon he’s the perfect Blofeld/Goldfinger vilian and the foundation a perfect sugar daddy for fund the sucession. Then let’s throw in the Iranians and sympathetic Canadians from BC and Ontario with Trudeau ineptly trying to play both sides.
As for the end game you could always do an update of the carpetbagger occupation of California
Again, though, he has to be fictionalized, if only thinly. I like the idea of some Illuminati-like mastermind or cabal. Working with the aliens. Or using new mind-control technology. Or both.
There are plenty of people around who have what I call “Sysadmin Mentality”, and believe the only reason things don’t work “right” is because they’re not in charge. Rampant big data technocracy, while not as compelling a villain, is more practical. I’m not saying a Blofeld isn’t good for the story. However, without any sort of active conspiracy, you could have huge numbers of people, from politicians to media stars to multi billionaires, who all think they can make people better.
Firstly, will William S Lind, Jerry Pournelle, and/or Martin van Creveld participate?
Now, as Mr. van Dyck wrote, and I’m not just supporting him because I’m a fan of his books, where’s the MacGuffin to suspend disbelief? In the spirit of constructive analysis, here are a few issues to deal with:
1. California needs extra 15GW of dispatchable power for electrical independence. Secession would end in hours if out-of-state power were cut. Because of the way the grid works this isn’t a matter of brownouts or rolling blackouts; this much generation missing is a total loss via cascading failure. In fact, taking out a handful of grid nodes inside CA (something a US-loyal resistance could do with RPGs) would have a similar effect. The state can probably resist for a few days without outside oil and water (since most goes to agriculture), but not without electricity and the chaos that creates.
2. California has a lot of nodes in the wealth-creation networks that drive the US (and global) economy; secession would break that network, with disastrous results for all involved (in order: CA, the rest of the US, China, Europe, India, the rest of the world). The results would also be disastrous for the powerful individuals who control the companies, the media, and the banks, so that alone should put a stop, from within and outside CA, to any thoughts of secession. The idea of an evil organization, say the Sovereign Organization Reduction Optimization Service , behind the secession can minimize the issue for these powerful individuals.
3. With all the cyber- and bio-tech in California, the cyberpunk potential of a US-CA slow-burning conflict is near-unlimited (cyber-war, biowar, also financial and PR warfare). Mind-control sonic devices are all well and good, if a bit 1960s, but a human mind-control bioweapon is much more the current year. And Jolt-fueled Palo Alto hackers taking out the US military satellite network are a better way to ground US air assets than artificial volcanos. And the San Francisco Fed, alone, the damage it could do…
Finally, I misread the title as a timeline for the book publication, which it wasn’t, but any sense of when that will be? (Take my money, please!)
“California needs extra 15GW of dispatchable power for electrical independence.”
I thought we agreed that they find recyclable spent nuclear fuel rods in the CA mountains that were supposed to be in the NV mountains.
All that does is allow you to run current plants at capacity. Doesn’t magically create more power.
As has been pointed out, there are so many missing pieces in this house of cards that we need a solid Maguffin (the SFF element that makes it all believable) to patch them all up nicely.
As Mr. Vandyke (the writer, not van Dyck the painter) said, that still requires building 15GW of new nuclear power plants; and, more importantly, a reprocessing factory.
California is full of vegetable-brained greens (and I don’t mean the leafy ones in the side salad for a steak) who believe they can get cancer from third-hand smoke and the non-ionizing radiation of cell phones. These veggier-than-thou cretins have blocked every proposed dispatchable electric capacity increase (and water too, BTW, 11% extra capacity since the 70s, 86% more people); nuclear is their special bugaboo.
Given how much nastier than a power plant a reprocessing factory is (fission fragments are nasty, the chemical processes to separate the usable nuclides are nastier), there would be no chance of California building a couple of those to reprocess the spent fuel.
SFF solutions, of course, abound: aliens attracted to blondes in Hollywood trade zero-point energy generation with the movie oligarchy; Lawrence Livermore National Lab makes cold fusion work; Berkeley Wiccans discover an ancient spell to create energy from feminist poetry… the possibilities are endless.
California, flush with cheap energy, decides to impose progressive values on all other state in exchange for that energy, leading to tension, slow-burning interstate conflict (cyberwar, biowar, lawfare, financial warfare, Melissa McCarthy movies), secession, and finally California ascendant.
(Guess which state I live in…)
Of course, this would be very close to the Norwegian series “Occupied,” where they try to impose a decrease in fossil fuels on the UE/Russia and offer nuclear energy in return.
Live long and prosper,
They don’t generate the power. They ration it until their Five Year Plan comes to pass. The brown/black outs are caused by the US and saboteurs. Complaining about it is an attack on worker morale. The mandatory smart meters also allow CA Loyalists are rewarded with increased power priority.
Scarcity is required to use a commodity as a power lever. Reducing that scarcity also reduces the ability to use it as a power lever. Scarcity isn’t a bug, its a feature.
Some more thoughts why SFF MacGuffins are needed:
– While nuking the Bay Area, Sandy-Eggo, or Hell-A would be a disaster for the US economy, Sacramento is basically farmland and politicians, so unless the CA government had relocated, a couple of medium-range ballistic missiles (for the terminal velocity) would end the secession. Solution: cyberwar disables missiles using their own command-and-control safety protocols, perhaps?
– No matter how dangerous the cartels and MS-13 are to civilians and police, the idea that they and La Raza irregulars would give the Marines at 29 Palms anything more than an opportunity for some live-fire practice before lunch is not credible. Unless they get some alien weaponry or bioweapons, they would be no match for the United State Marine Corps.
– The Navy has some teams based at Coronado (Navy penguins? Navy tunas? I forget), with expertise in small-team actions with strategic impact. I think these sailors would be more than happy to relocate the local leaders of the secession and important collaborators. Relocate them to the afterlife, that is, courtesy of a .50 BMG per head. SFF around this one, if you can.
– The CHP could close the California border against Arizona retirees driving RVs. Maybe. On a good day. MRAPs advancing under cover fire from AC-130s and A-10s would make those speeding-ticket-bureaucrats quickly decide that retreat is the better part of valor. How about laser perimeters, force fields, something SFF-y? A genetically engineered 10ft-tall wall of lichen that eats metal?
– SFF solution to the USAF air supremacy issue? With US air supremacy the secession would last a few days, max. Solutions? Alien tech, cyberpunk warfare, ancient spells; anything but the idea that the CA air national guard could take on the USAF. (And that’s not counting the US secret planes right by the border in Area 51, aliens not included.)
– Ditto for US submarines. Stealthy little devils, making a blockade of the CA coast a snap. Solutions? Bioengineered titanium-eating Kraken? Justin Bieber played continuously by swarming autonomous underwater speaker-drones to drive the submariners insane?
Live long and prosper,
If we need a SFF MacGuffin, some thoughts:
The two biggest, real-world, world-changing techs are Mass Scale Desalinization & Fusion Energy. So let’s spin that forward. Say the Fusion starter is stupidly hard to create, so there’s currently only 1 reactor. Put it at the same complex as Diablo Canyon, the only Nuclear plant in CA.
Our new Fusion reactor provides, say, 100GW of power, but the fusion starter is going to take another 10 years to produce a second reactor. At the same time, mass scale desalinization completely shifts the entirety of California because all Major Cities no longer need exterior water supplies, and you can pipe it 100 miles in-land without issue. CA is thus a massive hub of industrial and agricultural activity. A new “gold rush” is on.
But how does CA, of all places, end up with the test reactor? Easy. Circe, Internet giant Boggle’s main system, has become semi-sentient. Not Skynet-like, more like an advanced animal defending itself. How does an AI defend itself? Easy, it uses advanced propaganda & manipulation to move all of the resources it needs under its control. World’s largest source of power is the most important.
But it all goes wrong with Circe starts to propagandize its own creators into wanting independence, the best way to ensure that no one from “outside” will meddle. Little does an animal know what happens when you throw a rock off a cliff, much in the same way that Circe had no way idea what it would cause when it started the CA Secession Movement of 2028.
I like it so far. Other elements to consider that might be useful to the team are:
Turncoats in the Tech and Defense Contracting sectors over there.
The tech or future tech available in the companies over there.
The heavily Blue States and Cities.
All those CA citizens who left years ago and took over CO and TX.
The UN and EU (if they still exist in this scenario).
I wish I had written this. No Korea Town?
Hollywood is vastly pro-California, but there are going to be some pro-America people in there. Do they stay in Hollywood, which is already hostile towards them, and may become more so, if their pro-America sentiments are suspected or known? Do they flee to America? Where would alt-Hollywood be created? What ideological pressures will be brought to bear on it? (You’re liberal like California? Go there to make movies!) What propaganda and entertainment will be made on both sides?
Since California becomes a hostile state, America could suspend all media content coming in from there. No payments for TV shows, movies, etc. created in California.
Google and Apple are huge, both centered in California, so iPhones and Androids could both be considered security risks for datamining. What happens to Microsoft? Do they get supported by the American government to have something less transparent to Californian companies?
Twitter is based in San Francisco. Perhaps everyone who has a Twitter account is considered a security risk, or pro-California.
I’m sure that there’s more out there, but this is what I’ve come up with so far.
I’d recommend adding a few elements to the run up:
Something that displaces a lot of the US ground power would be useful. Either a third round in the sandbox, or an intervention on the behalf of an ally in east Europe. It should be something large, requiring ground power, and unpopular.
With what’s described, there needs to be a major rift with Mexico as well. Depending on how far this is in the future, additive manufacturing plus protectionism could repatriate a lot of jobs from Mexico. Combine that with severing legal remittances, tariffs, and some highly publicized mistreatment of illegal aliens and you have a resentful Mexico that’s seeing a large part of it’s economy disintegrate. From there, do a Venezuela 2.0.
Californians need to perceive mistreatment and a large block of the US has to be sympathetic. The prior Congress, which had enough to pay for the above war, refuses to bail out CalPers. This helps with they loyal cops and firefighters problems. I’d also recommend something along the lines of Federal agents rounding up CA citizens and imprisoning them without trial. Sure, that sounds wacky, but…
The timeline you’ve described has media and lots of big data falling in with CA. It doesn’t take a lot to make sure that everyone in CA sees ICE deporting illegal aliens as “Federal agents rounding up dissenters and disappearing them without trial”.
If you wanted to take this further, and add that near future element that some seem to want, a widespread, and targeted, version of Blue Feed Red Feed could create a lot of antagonism and/or sympathy. From this point, there are lots of options depending on who the “bad guys” are.
We do live in interesting times.