Badlands Unlimited is not your traditional romance novel publisher. It's run by New York artist Paul Chan, and offers an eclectic mix of titles, from a collection of Saddam Hussein's early speeches to a set of 1964 interviews with Marcel Duchamp, which includes audio files on iTunes. Badlands Unlimited's website says it publishes ebooks "Because you can’t publish a .GIF on paper," plus "reading an e-book on e-readers like the iPad or Kindle means you only have to use one hand to read, freeing your other hand to do whatever you please." Or, in the fancier words of the Los Angeles Review of Books, "As a publishing outfit, they are blurring the distinctions between art press, curatorial experiment and publishing industry gambit, while putting out a series of works that are strange enough individually, but seem even stranger when grouped together under the same moniker."
So Fires of Siberia might not be so much a sexy romance inspired by a plucky congresswoman as a political book in a funny format. The author, Tréy Sager, is a poet whose prior works include Dear Failures and O New York. That being said, the press release indicates the book follows romance novels' classic formula (1. Bring a couple together, 2. Tear them apart, 3. Emotional justice). It says:
Presidential candidate Danielle Powers, full of firebrand pluck and red state sex appeal, has the country in a tizzy. But on an international tour to beef up her foreign policy experience, disaster ensues—her plane explodes over Siberia. Miraculously, Danielle survives, along with one other passenger—a mysterious stranger named Steadman Bass. Trapped in a wilderness of snow and ice, the two begin a journey that pushes Danielle to the brink. There she must confront her deepest self and choose between civilization and a wild, primitive ecstasy.
Granted, the cover art leaves something to be desired on the sexiness front — and that cover line may be NSFW — but the illustrator nailed Bachmann's suit and haircut from the 2012 campaign. What the book might lack in design it makes up with old-fashioned Midwestern thriftiness. Fires of Siberia will be available for only $2.99 on Apple iBooks and Amazon Kindles. (Awesome animated GIF from the publisher, there's a Facebook page, too.)
Will Bachmann pick the book up? Maybe! Her reading list is eclectic, according to her website in 2011. It included Ludwig von Mises: The Man and His Economics by Israel M. Kirzner and the uncomfortably soft-on-the-Confederacy Call of Duty: The Sterling Nobility of Robert E. Lee by J. Steven Wilkins. She told The Weekly Standard in 2011 that after reading Gore Vidal's Burr, she was so disgusted, "And at that moment, I became a Republican. I was done." Perhaps after reading Fires of Siberia she will consider running for president again.
Update: Badlands Unlimited has kindly sent along a preview of Fires of Siberia. In the first chapter, the Michele Bachmann character, Danielle Powers, is being pestered by a reporter as they sit in traffic in Seoul. The reporter wants to know the "real" Powers:
"...If you could tell me just one thing about yourself, something that has nothing to do with politics, what would it be? What makes you Danielle Powers?"
Danielle looked pensively at the reporter as they approached the airport. For once she felt appreciative of the question. Everyone was always nettling, trying to make her slip on the banana peels of her own responses. Who cares if it was John Wayne or John Wayne Gacy. It was nice to be asked about who she was rather than what they wanted her to be.
Meeting the sexy man on the plane:
“Who are you? What’s your name?”
“Steadman Bass,” he answered flatly, yanking the glove from his hand and thrusting his paw toward her.
They shook hands, and Danielle felt the hot vitality of his blood. His hand was surging with warmth. His fingers were weathered like a workman’s, but his touch betrayed a grace and kindness his face otherwise kept guarded. She wanted to stay fastened to him, so essential was the heat.
But she let go.
And the man walked hastily away.
After the crash:
It was dark inside the hull and smelled heavily of smoke. The hush of the snow echoed inside. Steadman lit a candle and it illuminated their makeshift shelter, a scarified metal shell with dangling cords. Everything was burned.
From the duffel bag Steadman retrieved a pair of sandwiches and two nips of Chivas Regal, and there was the snow for them to slurp as drinking water. He laid down a plastic tarp and three wool blankets. They ate and drank in silence.
Afterward, the fatigue caught up to her. She crawled under the blankets to warm herself.
“We’ll need to use each other for body heat,” Steadman said.
She snorted. “You wish.”