Rich Tucker
We’ve seen the future, and the future inclines toward Mecca. At least it does if novelist Robert Ferrigno is correct. In his new book “Prayers for the Assassin,” Ferrigno imagines an un-united United States of America, part Christian and part Muslim.

The book opens in the year 2040. It’s sometimes difficult for a reader to piece together the complete back story -- but we do learn that nuclear bombs destroyed Washington D.C. and New York City in 2015. Another blast that same year took out Mecca.

All the attacks were blamed on Zionists, so the U.S. lifted its protection of Israel and the Arab world destroyed it. Meanwhile, for some reason that’s never quite explained, tens of millions of Americans converted to Islam. Most of those who refused to convert moved south to live in a breakaway republic stretching from Texas to Virginia (whew -- I won’t have to sell my house and move) with its capital in Atlanta.

Most of the action takes place in the Islamic U.S., which stretches from California to Maine, with its capital in Seattle. Interestingly, Nevada remains a “free state” between the competing countries. Apparently even in fiction, it’s impossible to imagine Las Vegas as anything other than a desert playground where anything goes.

The story revolves around a retired warrior (early retirement, as he seems to be in his 30s) who learns that his girlfriend has gone missing. He didn’t know it, but she was researching the history of the Islamic republic. Her upcoming book was tentatively titled “The Zionist Betrayal?” and that question mark was critical. If Zionists didn’t actually betray the U.S. in 2015, everything in 2040 might be different.

Ferrigno’s story moves along swiftly and contains plenty of nice touches. In the Islamic republic, football players compete without helmets -- the better to draw blood. But they do pause during the game for mid-day prayers, as most members of the audience do.

The new country boasts a few charms, at least. “Gas is cheap,” one character says. But it apparently comes with a price -- the pristine beaches of southern California are tar pits, covered with oil from offshore drilling. Not that it would matter, since most beachgoers are afraid to bare themselves, anyway.

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for