Tomorrow Might Be Different

by Mack Reynolds
Reviewed date: 2007 Aug 7
Rating: 3
190 pages
cover art

The Premise: The Soviet experiment is successful. The communists lagged behind America for several decades, but during that time they sowed the seeds for success. In America, success bred a generation of decadent hedonists; in the Soviet Union, a generation of hardworking communist scientists and engineers grew up to inherit a self-sufficient nation with a well-planned economy and an enormous industrial capacity. They quickly outstripped the rest of the world.

The Man: Mike Edwards, noted American economist, works as a tour guide in Spain, showing Russian tourists the rustic sights of Europe. Edwards is lucky to have a job; the Russian industry is so far advanced that nobody can compete. Russia floods the markets with superior products at rock-bottom prices, and destroys whole industries at a whim. Robbed of the ability to compete in the marketplace, the Western world is perpetually in economic depression.

The Problem: The Soviets only flood the markets to earn a few quick dollars for their tourists to spend. If Soviet citizens stop taking holidays abroad, the USSR will stop selling its products, and the rest of the world will have a chance to break out of depression.

"I'm no photographer. I don't have to be. With this [ten dollar Mikoyan] camera all you have to do is point it at the subject and press the trigger. Everything else is taken care of."
Mike said, "Well, I was talking about the composition and so forth."
"The composition is taken care of too." ... The Russian said condescendingly, "The West is way behind in photography. When you press the trigger...the lens checks back to the computer banks in Leningrad...and they size up the situation and swivel the lens about for the best composition, adjust the shutter and light...and flick the shutter when the subject is in an interesting pose."
Mike closed his eyes in anguish.
There went the photo industry in the West. The United States with its Kodaks, and Polaroids. Germany with its Leicas, Japan with its Nikons. All down the drain. No photographer in his right mind would do without one of these practically free Mikoyans. Not only that but every professional photographer would overnight become unemployed. Who'd be silly enough to hire a professional, when the computer banks in Leningrad guaranteed a perfect shot?

The Plan: The United States government is grasping at straws to end the Soviet stranglehold on the world economy. Agent Frank Jones approaches Mike Edwards and asks him to suggest ways of stopping tourism. Edwards suggests they use religion: start a religion that teaches moderation and shuns ostentatious displays of wealth--like traveling abroad. Thus is born the Old Time Religion Church.

Bishop Michael J. Edwards: Edwards is made a bishop in the new religion. He starts his ministry in the States, then sends missionaries to Moscow. The religion spreads like wildfire. After decades of atheism, the Russians are starved for some meaning in their lives.

Dirty Jokes: The economics in Tomorrow Might Be Different are laughable, so it's no surprise that Mack Reynolds is a socialist. Ah well. It's still an interesting book. Just when the seriousness of it all gets too much, Reynolds livens it up with a dirty joke about Cinderella. The book never takes itself too seriously.

The Soviet Problem: The biggest punch line of the book comes when the Soviet government figures out that the Old Time Religion Church is an American plot. Andrei Zorin, dictator of the Soviet Union, interrogates Edwards. "Will the Old Time Religion Church really work? Will Russians really become straight-laced and puritanical?" Yes, Edwards replies. Then Zorin reveals his own problem: Russia is being overrun by tourists from Communist China. With the Soviets' promiscuous ways, Zorin figures his entire country will be Chinese within a generation. Russia's only hope is the Old Time Religion Church and its emphasis on sexual restraint.

The Holy Bible in Modern Idiom
For comic relief, Reynolds gives us some Bible verses in a new translation.

"And they called to Lot and said to him, where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so we can cornhole them."

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