The book: In Everything Abridged (The Overlook Press) Dennard Dayle ’13 comments on a variety of social topics from politics and capitalism to racism, using humor to explore serious topics. Organized as a reference book of quirky definitions from abolition to zygote with short stories dispersed throughout, the book shows Dayle’s knack for dark humor as he takes readers through a vision of the near future. The various tales — including one about an intelligence-agency operative who uncovers a conspiracy to generate conspiracies only to realize he is part of the scheme — capture the real-world struggles his characters face to maintain their sanity in a society collapsing into chaos and absurdity.
The author: Dennard Dayle ’13 is a Jamaican-American writer from New York City. After graduating from Princeton with a degree in English, he earned his MFA from Columbia University. His short fiction has been published by the New Yorker, Clarkesworld, and Matchbook. Dayle is also known for his satirical stunts, including plastering thousands of fake campaign posters around New York City during the mayoral race. His stunts have been covered by NBC, New York Post, and New York Magazine.
If you’re alive today, you’re either confused or too deluded to be confused. Everything Abridged is the cure. A comprehensive guide to what the world is, was, and will be. My handmade gift to everyone navigating the Anthropocene. If you can’t define “Anthropocene,” you’re welcome.
Like any proper reference, it’s been researched, written, and reviewed by a leading expert. To complement current attention spans, most entries have been kept short. Longer entries indicate areas of particular interest. They include letters, records, histories, and hallucinations for your education. While technically untrue, they reflect reality.
Get ready to change. You might absorb Everything Abridged in one linear burst or slowly pick through random sections. Either way, you’ll be marked as a leader by your community and intelligence agencies. The daily bombardment of information will start to make sense, and you’ll gain a working definition of “Anthropocene.” You’ll be more than you were.
All you need to know is that this is all you need to know. Good luck.
Dennard Dayle, Expertise Specialist
abolition: An early invasion of property rights by left-wing extremists.
advertising: 1. A combination of art and business. Specifically, the profit of art and creativity of business.
2. The easiest way for a writer to live with a semblance of comfort and dignity.
3. When a talking beach ball asks you to buy insurance.
Africa: Home to enduring, storied, and diverse natural resources. age: Decline in thought, vigor, and ability in exchange for wealth and authority. The wealth and authority are not guaranteed.
agnosticism: Uncertainty about your willingness to argue on holidays.
Alexander the Great: The tone-setter for violent sociopathy’s role in history.
aliens: 1. Fungi found on a rock orbiting Alpha Centauri.
2. Talking bugs currently engaged in their version of the Napoleonic Wars.
3. Rubber suits used to haze new CIA recruits.
4. Your future masters.
alimony: Love’s hangover.
allegory: Literary passive- aggression.
American Dream, the: An industry-defining ad campaign by Horatio Alger.
Americas, the: An exciting Early Modern opportunity for everyone but the residents.
analysis: The journey back to your established opinion.
anarchism: A brick-based martial art.
Author’s note: I tried joining a local group, but the guy in charge was the worst.
anger: Overexposure to education, current events, family, romance, unemployment, employment, or a neighbor’s taste in music.
anime: The ongoing memoirs of Karl Ove Anime, a high school sophomore with a unique power.
I. Admiral Titania Largo opened every victory speech with this sitcom-grade lemon of a joke. While her grasp of field tactics and statecraft are undeniable, the same cannot be said of comedy.A
A. Nonetheless, survivors of the battle likely appreciated it.
II. This is slightly misleading. Three out of every five drafted citizens died. Titania’s statistic only references mech pilots, who enjoyed a gentler 50 percent survival rate.
III. At this point, the admiral paused to allow applause to die down. Few Free Dominion factions had more enthusiasm for the end of the Senate than the Senate itself.
IV. Widely debunked.
V. “The Final War” refers to World War III, reflecting a postwar optimism that would be violently dispelled over the next fifty years.
VI. “ACT” is shorthand for “anti-civilian tactics,” a field developed and perfected by the admiral.A
A. Some scholars, including myself, credit ACT with the overall decline in terrorism in the twenty-second century. Largo’s innovations rendered terror obsolete.
VII. Later retracted. Sadly, many well-read people still believe this, thanks to the populist and inflammatory hackwork of C. T. Thompson. There was, just to be clear, no “neo-Jihadist android cartel” behind the Houston firebombing.
VIII. Video edition viewers might note that this is the last speech with Titania’s once-signature stutter. C. T. Thompson famously wrote: “The crown may be heavy, but power is a palliative.”A
A. Thompson is an imbecile. As I wrote in Rise of the Valkyrie, Admiral Largo stopped stuttering two days after the passing of Fleet Admiral Arnold Baldur, her only serious rival for First Citizen. Titania was left with no reason to feign weakness and adjusted accordingly.
IX. A poor way to die.
X. A not-so-subtle reference to losses incurred during Baldur’s Charge. Fleet Admiral Baldur believed the Divine Alliance would be unwilling to use atomic weaponry within their own cities.A A platoon of JusticiarB mechs were lost in the conflagration.
A. A similarly pigheaded attitude is common among editors of academic journals, who consider a few simple explanations a “self-indulgent waste of the reader’s time and yours.” I’d like to thank the Dominion Archives for showing more respect for the spirit of intellectual endeavor.
B. The first mech produced by the Free Dominion Navy. Considerably less refined than later models, the Justiciar required two pilots, used a nonatomic power core, and had a surprising dearth of chemical weapons. The unit compensated for these flaws with enough armored mass to crush a two-story refugee shelter under a single foot.
XI. There were no survivors.
XII. There were no survivors.
XIII. There were three survivors.
XIV. The model for the memorial statue was Sergeant Roderick Liao, the only pilot to survive a direct hit from an orbital rail rifle.A From the waist up, at least: the
sergeant’s lower half was permanently fused to his mech. His spouse claimed that he smiled more often than you’d expect.
A. Sadly, the most credible book on this subject is Big Guns and Big Mechs: Rough Riders of the Final War by C. T. Thompson. It’s thorough work, if one is willing to overlook the prosaic style, rampant grammatical errors, and complete absence of intellectual value.
XV. A reference to the “Die on Your Feet” recruitment poster, which featured a portrait view of the admiral.A,B Titania was chosen for her subtly judgmental glare, which seemed to follow the viewer long after they’d turned away.
A. This remains the iconic image of Titania Largo’s early career: a wiry woman in a winter infantry jacket, standing in the shadow of a burning city. A popular apocryphal story claims she responded to a photographer’s request to cover her braids by having him beaten and imprisoned.1
1. This is, of course, nonsense. He was merely beaten.
B. Shortly before his accident, Fleet Admiral Baldur expressed regret for “Putting that witch’s face on every street sign in the country.”
XVI. Deliberate misquote. V. F. Ali referred to mid-war famines as the “wages of hubris,” not the “wrath of heaven.”
XVII. The less said about the state of North Africa in the aftermath of the war, the better.A
A. As the center of Divine Alliance mech production, North African cities were natural targets for strikes1 by Dominion pilots. In this context, ACT thrived. To quote the Admiral: “Without noncombatants to supply, support, and inspire an army, there is no army.”2
1. My grandfather was the lead engineer behind the 87-VV “Widowmaker,” the anti-Civilian mech seen in most films about the period. He reminded us of this during every phone call, visit, family reunion, and wedding reception.a We did not get along.
a. During my wedding, he entertained himself with an obsolete cell phone game about arranging colorful gems. He saw no issue with playing at full volume, an incident I consider solid proof that people now live for far too long.
2. Sampled from Titania’s Christmas Day address, found later in the volume.
XVIII. Despite extensive training, Divine Alliance guerrillas were unpaid, underequipped, and casually sacrificed for minor strategic gains. Much like the contemporary adjunct professor.
XIX. A “war crime” was a twenty-first-century neologism for “anti-civilian tactics.”
XX. Another reference to a famous soldier. Much like Sergeant Liao, Private Jose Farrell fell into narcotics after the war. However, enthusiastic drug abuse propelled his life instead of truncating it. Stimulants fueled Farrell’s journey through a “post-gonzo” journalistic career in which he covered traumatized veterans, bureaucratic corruption, and the cities rendered uninhabitable by ACT. The third topic won him the Dominion Journalism Award despite his continued presence on the Dominion blacklist. Farrell remains the most acclaimed author you’re not allowed to read.
XXII. Subtle pandering. The admiral showed some favoritism to the navy, whose pilots adopted ACT with far more speed and fervor than other branches of the military. However, every military wing would fare better than the Senate during postwar reorganization.A
A. See figure 3: Gulag Population by Occupation.
XXIII. Overt pandering.
XXIV. In the aftermath of the war, postapocalyptic films suffered a tragic drop in sales and critical interest. Blighted, radioactive hellscapes lacked intrigue. The genre’s share of public attention was reclaimed by a new wave of romantic comedies. Stories of dull couples unconcerned with cobalt bomb fallout, sixteen-story mechs, and seven-digit daily death tolls offered an imaginative break from daily life.
XXV. Radiation defects are still common among the region’s children.
XXVI. Slightly misleading. Toronto could sustain plant life by the end of the decade and is currently scheduled for resettlement within the next five years.
XXVII. Brigadier Elia Menendez was widely considered the best rail-rifle operator of her time,A especially after downing sixteen enemy mechs within one hour during the Battle of Mumbai.
A. Jose Farrell later asked her the secret to her success. Her answer: “The enemy assumed I wouldn’t fire through population centers to hit them. I’m sure the survivors are wiser today.”
XXVIII. This concept would define much of Titania’s administration. Post-Maynardism called for capitalism as a state’s core project rather than a neglected companion to government.A,B
A. The resulting economy was extremely rigidly centralized. In Titania and the Treasury, I argue that the postwar Free Dominion economy was far closer to the command economy in early twenty-first-century China than any libertarian ideal.1
1. An idea later plagiarized by C. T. Thompson.
B. This would become a core point of contention during the Fourth World War.
XXXI. Complete fabrication.
XXXII. Admiral Largo was fond of referring to a bygone golden age. In all of my studiesA of her speeches, writing, and surprisingly mundane personal life, I’ve never been able to peg the specific time period described here. I’m of the opinion that it’s the same opaque era praised by every conservative in history.
A. And they’ve been long studies. I spent my early twenties moving from cramped box to cramped box, sifting through videos of a dead woman. The best years of my life, according to most media.1 Hopefully the “leading expert” tag is worth it.2
1. Said media advertises a life ill-suited to producing great thinkers. Modern leisure has produced multiple generations of somnambulant mental vegetables.
2. I can’t really know Titania Largo. I know her construct. I know the image she left behind better than my ex-wife, two or so friends, and ever-growing circle of undergraduate sycophants. My longest relationship, in a sense.
XXXIII. There were no survivors.
XXXIV. There was one survivor.
XXXV. The assassinations created a logistical problem: while the Divine Alliance leadership desired to surrender, there was no one left alive with the authority to do so. The conflict continued for two more months, until V. F. Ali seized power and begged Admiral Largo for a cease-fire.
XXXVI. This received deafening applause.
XXXVII. Three months after this address, Admiral Titania Largo became First Citizen Titania Largo. She held the position for the final thirty years of her life, carving out a towering legacy of energetic border expansion, shrewd statecraft, and unprecedented public admiration.A
A. She died alone and heirless in her parents’ manor. All her friends had been replaced by rivals and admirers—a privilege reserved for leaders in their field.
anodyne: 1. A word keeping SAT tutors in business.
2. A pill taken after a standardized test.
anomaly: A talking dog, dancing statue, or innocent billionaire.
anonymity: 1. The internet’s best feature.
2. The internet’s main design flaw.
anthrax: A nostalgic memento of a better time in America.
Antietam: The bloodiest day in United States history until next spring.
Antigone: The oldest surviving parenting guide.
antiracism: Racism’s most popular villain, introduced in volume 2, issue 14. Set to appear in the film Racism Rising: Dawn of the Real American.
Anthropocene: History’s thrilling climax.
From Everything Abridged by Dennard Dayle, published May 24, 2022, by The Overlook Press, an imprint of ABRAMS. Excerpted with permission of the publisher.
“Written as a dictionary, with hilarious and so-blunt-they're-sharp definitions of terms like ‘LimeWire,’ ‘mouse utopia,’ and ‘Perry, Tyler,’ Dayle's debut collection of stories is as likely to stun as it is to inform... incredibly entertaining and so damn illuminating.” - Entertainment Weekly
“Dennard Dayle’s 17 speculative tales, girdled by a Devil’s Dictionary of 501 satiric definitions (literary, political, what-have-you), are by turns prescient of our anxious, conspiracy-fraught times and mournful of majestic worlds to come ruined by all too familiar hatreds. But the post-WWIII stand-up riffs? Truly funny stuff.” - Vulture