Yesterday, The Verge fell in love with a fairly incredible report that Donald Trump was considering PayPal founder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel for a Supreme Court appointment, should he become president. For anyone who isn’t raptly following one of the weirdest sagas in tech news, Peter Thiel is a canny entrepreneur with a side interest inlibertarian sea colonies, radical life extension through vampiric blood transfusions, andunsettling comments about women’s suffrage. He helped a professional wrestler bankrupt a major media outlet by funding a multi-million-dollar lawsuit, as part of a secret revenge plot for a decade-old wrong. He’s one of the few big Silicon Valley figures publicly supporting Donald Trump, a move that was quite plausibly made in order to speed the collapse of the American social order. In other words, he’s basically the supervillain every writer wishes they had created.
Although Thiel and Trump both denied the news, it made for glorious Twitter joke material. “Would love short fiction about this,” my editor TC Sottek said, dropping a particularly good tweet into Slack:
Dunno why GOPers have a prob w/Peter Thiel on SCOTUS. Thiel on the Court means that seat remains in GOP hands for 300 more years at least.
Shortly thereafter, I pitched TC a post-apocalyptic action movie about an immortal Peter Thiel serving in a floating sea court. It was filled with ripped-from-the-headlines social commentary, shamelessly stitched together from several decades’ worth of low-budget exploitation films, and could probably be adapted into a remake of not one, but two Kevin Costner sci-fi box-office flops. Our social media manager and resident artist Dami Lee provided some concept art, and thus it is with a proud heart that I present a brief treatment for next summer’s breakout blockbuster film:
The year is 2017, and President Donald Trump appoints Peter Thiel as a Supreme Court Justice. As the country descends into chaos, Thiel quietly continues his research on parabiosis, perfecting a life transfer technique using the blood of losing parties in his cases. Legal actions decline precipitously under the threat of exsanguination, and climate change ravages the continent. When DC floods and Trump declares his lifetime presidency out of New York, Thiel retreats where he has always wanted to go: his own seasteading courthouse, off the coast of California.
“I do not despair, because I no longer believe that politics encompasses all possible futures of our world,” he tells reporters as he boards his floating arcology, joined by a cadre of devoted clerks / blood-acolytes. “In our time, the great task is to find an escape from politics in all its forms — from the totalitarian and fundamentalist catastrophes to the unthinking demos that guides so-called ‘social democracy!’”
Receiving regular transfusions from successive generations of clerks, Thiel retains his position in the government for centuries, long after the country’s official demise. But in a stroke of irony, Thiel’s longevity turns him into a mythical symbol of state justice, as the last person who would still remember a civilized past.
In the blighted hellscape of the lawless future, we meet our protagonist, whose family has been brutally killed in the local warlord’s iPad recycling plant. She has grown up hearing stories of the Sea Court, and although most consider it a myth, the Sea Judge is the only person who could grant her justice for their deaths.
At this point, most viewers are probably sick of hearing about the US judicial system, so commence your standard post-apocalyptic road / sea trip: ironic 1950s-nuclear-family cannibals, a church whose members have humorously misunderstood popular culture and worship a flash-in-the-pan celebrity, an annoying yet endearing feral child, etc. As our hero nears the coast, an aging archivist who has actually pieced together the past tries to warn her that she will be disappointed, but is unable to convince her.
Finally, probably after some kind of climactic battle with a fascist yachting club, our hero approaches the Sea Court. At its center, she finds an eternally youthful Thiel. “I’m deeply skeptical about any sort of rationalization of death,” he calmly explains, tubes rising from his shoulders like the wings of a plastic angel. Given that censuring the warlord for murdering her parents could have a chilling effect on the larger post-apocalyptic business community, Thiel dismisses the hero’s claim immediately and prepares to leave her to the clerks for blood processing.
In a humanizing moment, though, the Sea Judge reveals the great tragedy behind his existence: he finally helped end the 20th century democracy he hated, but at the cost of abandoning all scientific research and development, after the blood-cultists proved ineffective at helping him build space rockets and super-advanced AIs. Thiel decides that our hero’s interpretation of him, as an all-powerful figure deciding the fates of ordinary men, is a sign that it’s time for him to go out into the world and become the Nietzschean overlord he was always meant to become. In a rousing speech, he renounces his position as Supreme Court justice: “If you take a nap, if you encourage everybody else to take a nap, then the great stagnation is never going to end!”
Respecting the hero’s strength in reaching him, he grants her ownership of the Sea Court, which she declares she will use to resurrect the justice system and protect the powerless. As the credits roll, she begins to establish a new government, based on some kind of humorous misunderstanding of American pop culture that results in “Call Me Maybe” becoming the national anthem.
Stinger: the Sea Judge lands on the beach of California and runs into the Yacht Fascists. Does he become their leader? If Peter Thiel sues Vox Media into bankruptcy over this post, you’ll never know!