Entrepreneur Andrew Yang ran a surprisingly successful presidential campaign in 2020, captivating the internet with new ideas and a fun, geeky persona. More than any other candidate, Yang seemed to channel the optimistic spirit of sci-fi shows like Star Trek.
“There are a bunch of things happening right now that mean we should think more ambitiously about what our society could and should look like, and I ran for president based on those ideas,” he said. Yang said in episode 554 of the show. Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “I would like to think that I was the presidential candidate that a lot of science fiction and fantasy people would recognize as one of their own.”
Yang, author of non-fiction books Before And The war against normal peoplerecently released his first novel, The last election, about a plot by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to seize power following a disputed election. “People like stories more than anything else, they understand stories better, so I was like, ‘You know what? Maybe we can do this in story form,” Yang says. “This is a combination of short-term sci-fi/speculative fiction with lots of real-life details.”
Yang collaborated on the book with Canadian journalist Stephen Marche, author of the non-fiction book The next civil war. “When I contacted him about it, he grasped the idea and saw that it was a great way for him to get some of the research he had done for The next civil war in a book,” says Yang. “He thought that because he knew journalism so well and I knew politics so well, we would bring each of them to the table.”
The last election is presented as a paranoid political thriller in the vein of Seven days in May Or The Manchurian Candidate, but Yang cautions that the scenario he describes is all too plausible. “All the crazy things you can imagine happening in American politics are more or less happening,” he says. “There are people questioning the election results, there are riots, there are threats of violence. The majority of Americans don’t know who to trust and don’t know where to turn. So could you have an election where people literally refuse to acknowledge that the other side won as quickly as in 2024? Of course. In a way, we are already experiencing versions of it.
Listen to the full interview with Andrew Yang in episode 554 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Andrew Yang on Dungeons & Dragons:
When I became an entrepreneur, I joked that it was because I played Dungeons & Dragons, because I always dreamed of going into the woods and slaying the dragon, without being a scribe, which I thought my corporate job looked like. …We went through the core D&D canon at the time, so it was Stay in the Borderlands and from there. The island of fear, Château Amber– which was way too hard, everyone dies. It’s very good though. Master of the Desert Nomads, Temple of Death. Shadow Lord Saga I think we played. I’m looking at the dates on these things now. It’s 81, 83, 84. It was around that time. These are the major modules that shaped my childhood.
Andrew Yang on Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker:
We had about half a million donors to the campaign, so we said, “Hey, let’s just get some donors to this premiere of a movie that I want to see anyway.” » My team was really smart because they knew that incorporating things I would like to do would make me happier and more energized. People can sense when you’re bullshit and sense when you actually like something. So that was obviously something that I was excited about, to go see the Star Wars movie, and some of the backers were excited as well, so we went to see it. …I did the [presidential] debate in Southern California, then went straight to a late broadcast. It was fun.
Andrew Yang on universal basic income:
One of the reasons I think my campaign was so interesting to people is that it didn’t come from an interest group. It was born out of a desire to improve people’s lives, and then it was inspired by things that influenced me, and science fiction and fantasy was definitely one of those major influences. But also facts. I mean, when I talk about AI and UBI [universal basic income], this kind of thing is going to happen, so let’s not present it like it’s science fiction. … AI being real speeds us up in some ways because people look at it and say, “Hey, this actually worries me.” It might even affect me. So I think [UBI] is closer in terms of time, but the road ahead is still very seedy.
Andrew Yang on the Before podcast:
I came out of the presidential race and said, “OK, how are we going to make all of this happen in real life?” And then I started a podcast – Mark Cuban and Jack Dorsey, I think, were some of the first guests – just trying to make all this good stuff happen. …A recent one that people would probably appreciate is Walter Isaacson talking about his Elon Musk Biography. Because if there’s one person who has advanced our use of technology, it’s probably Elon. And reading this book, damn, I learned a lot, so interviewing Walter was fun. This is an example of something that was really gratifying to me, because talking to Elon’s biographer was truly remarkable.