Entrepreneur Andrew Yang He ran a surprisingly successful presidential campaign in 2020, captivating the internet with fresh ideas and a fun, geeky personality. More than any other candidate, Yang seemed to channel the optimistic spirit of sci-fi shows like Star Trek.
“There are a lot of things happening now that mean we should think more ambitiously about what our society could and should be, and I ran for president with those ideas,” Yang says in episode 554 of the series. geek guide to the galaxy podcast. “I’d like to think 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. Forward and The war against normal peopleHe recently released his first novel, The last election, about a plot by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to seize power after a disputed election. “People like stories more than anything else, people understand stories better, so I thought, ‘You know what? Maybe we can do this as a narrative,’” Yang says. “It’s supposed to be a combination of short-term science fiction/speculative fiction with a lot 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 asked her about this, she jumped on it and saw that it was a great way to get some of the research she had done over the years.” The next civil war in a book,” says Yang. “He thought that since he knew journalism so well and I knew politics so well, we would each put them on the table.”
The last election is marketed as a paranoid political thriller in the vein of Seven days in May either The Manchurian candidate, but Yang warns that the scenario he describes is too plausible. “All the crazy things you can imagine happening in American politics are more or less happening,” she says. “There are people who question the election results, there are riots, there are threats of violence. There is a majority of the American people who do not know who to trust or who to turn to. So could we have an election where people literally refuse to acknowledge that the other side won as soon as 2024? Sure. In some ways, we are already experiencing versions of that.”
Listen to the full interview with Andrew Yang in episode 554 of geek guide to the galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Andrew Yang on Dungeons and Dragons:
When I became an entrepreneur I used to joke that it was because I played Dungeons & Dragons, because I always dreamed of going into the woods and slaying the dragon, not being a scribe, which is what I thought my corporate job was. …We reviewed the basic D&D canon at the time, so it was Still in the borderlands and from there up. The island of terror, amber castle—Which was too difficult, everyone dies. Is very good. 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. Those were the main modules that formed my childhood.
Andrés Yang in Star Wars: Episode IX—The Rise of Skywalker:
We had about half a million donors to the campaign, so we said, “Hey, let’s bring some donors to the premiere of a movie I want to see anyway.” My team was really smart, because they knew that integrating things that I would enjoy doing would make me happier and have more energy. People can sense when you’re lying and sense when you really like something. So obviously it was something I was excited about to go see the Star Wars movie, and some donors were excited about it too, so we went and saw it. … I did the (presidential) debate in Southern California and then went straight to a late screening. It was fun.
Andrés Yang in universal basic income:
One of the reasons I think my campaign was so interesting to people is because it wasn’t born from an interest group. It was born out of a desire to improve people’s lives, and then it came out of things that just influenced me, and science fiction and fantasy was definitely one of those main influences. But also facts. I mean, when I talk about AI and UBI (universal basic income), this is going to happen, so let’s not present it like it’s science fiction. … The fact that AI is real speeds us up in some ways because people look at it and say, “Hey, that really worries me. It could even affect me.” So I think (the UBI) is closer in terms of time, but the road there is still very difficult.
Andrés Yang on the Forward podcast:
I got off the presidential trail and said, “Okay, how are we going to make this happen in real life?” And then I started a podcast (I think Mark Cuban and Jack Dorsey were some of the first guests) just trying to make all these good things happen. … A recent one that people would probably be interested in is Walter Isaacson talking about his Elon Musk Biography. Because if there’s one person who has driven our use of technology, it’s probably Elon. And from reading that book, I learned a lot, so interviewing Walter was fun. That’s an example of something that was very gratifying to me, because being able to talk to Elon’s biographer was really extraordinary.