"The Goat Variations" is a 2009 science fiction novelette by Jeff VanderMeer. It is about an alternate reality president of the USA and his experiences with 9/11.
That Famous Goat Book!
This story relies heavily upon knowledge that President Bush was reading a children’s story book when the planes attacked on September 11, 2001. This may not be of interest to a lot of people, especially non-Americans, but there are some funny one-liners and scenes that are reminiscent of The Minority Report. I thought it was a cool story – you’ll have to decide for yourself.
A new president / king of the North Americas and Britain has just been sworn in when he is rushed off to a secret cavern beneath the Pentagon. It is here that he discovers the existence of thousands of “adepts” – illegal humans who have visions of the future. One of these adepts has just given the government the plans for a time machine, and the rest have hinted at something terrible which will happen in September of that year. Later, while the President reads a book to school children he is given some strange (and alternate-time-bending) news. The real question is: what will he do with that information?
Some Interesting Tidbits
- Word count: 5,853 (9 pages)
- Did you know that Jeff VanderMeer grew up in the Fiji Islands? Yep. You can learn more about this science fiction author on his web site.
- Special thanks to Free SF Reader for pointing out this story.
Where To Find The Goat Variations
- This short story first appeared in the April 2009 anthology Other Earths.
- You can read "The Goat Variations" for free online at John Joseph Adams web site for his anthology Other Worlds Than These.
Craving More SF Stories Like This One?
If you liked "The Goat Variations" then you may also enjoy “The President’s Brain is Missing” by John Scalzi – about a president of the United States whose brain isn’t in his head anymore!