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Brown, Christopher

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1964-    ) US lawyer and author who published his earlier fiction as by Chris Nakashima-Brown, beginning to release work of genre interest (under that name) with "The Launch Pad" in Argosy for January-February 2004. "Suburbia Deserta" (June 2005 RevolutionSF), his first sale, has a protagonist constructing a diorama in his basement, "a speculative rendering of the post-apocalyptic landscape of the city". The tale contains, fully-formed and in miniature, all the major concerns of Brown's fictions in the years since.

He is of strong sf interest for his first novel, Tropic of Kansas (2017), set in an Alternate History America, the Jonbar Point being the assassination of Ronald Reagan in 1981, after which the great land suffers balkanization. The eponymous tropic is a kind of heart of the heart of the country, fissured into a nightmare territory where Genetic Engineering, Climate Change, fundamentalist Politics, a diseased bitcoin-based crypto-economy (see Economics), and job-eating Robots intermix frenziedly. The style of the telling, determinedly gonzo-transgressive, disguises some of the compromises attendant upon the use of Young Adult protagonists.

Brown revisited this America in two novels, which follow the career of a hapless lawyer named Donnie Kimoe. In Rule of Capture (2019) he acts as public defender in secret trials of persons deemed enemies of the state. His investigations on behalf of a journalist who witnessed an extrajudicial murder expose high-level corruption and conspiracy. Failed State (2020) is set after the collapse of the American nation, when Kimoe journeys to a tribunal of the Utopian polity established by eco-revolutionaries in New Orleans. Brown presents some sharp variations on sf tropes and dramatizes the struggle to interrogate the laws of the old system and to craft new ones. He has also written a notable essay, "Will There Be Justice? Science Fiction and The Law" (7 August 2019, examining the "paradox – that science fiction has lots of law, but few lawyers" and providing a useful capsule history of works featuring lawyers.

This author should not be confused with the UK artist Christopher Brown, who (sometimes as Chris Brown) produced a number of genre book covers in the 1980s and 1990s. [JC/HW]

Christopher Tracy Brown

born Des Moines, Iowa: 10 June 1964


works as editor


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