William Leisner Celebrates America Beyond Borders

By William Leisner

William LeisnerThe Fourth of July, 2026, marks America’s Sestercentennial — the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and the founding of the United States. By the time this date rolls around, though, nearly fourteen years have passed since The Return. In a world ruled by the gods, and in which millions of Americans have left the U.S. to worship those ancient deities in their ancestral lands, Independence Day has lost much of its significance. But, while you can take the people out of America, you can’t take America out of the people.

When Bob Greenberger and Aaron Rosenberg announced that the second ReDeus story collection would take on an international focus, I knew I wanted to do a story about American expatriates abroad. In my ReDeus: Divine Tales story “The Year Without a Santa Claus,” I made passing reference to the troubles being caused in other parts of the world due to the sudden shift in global populations triggered by The Return. I knew there was a rich vein of stories to mine in the conflict between those who had relocated — not entirely of their own free will — to a strange foreign land, and the native-born populace.

As I worked on fleshing out this basic idea, I took partial inspiration from the work I had done several years ago for my Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Losing the Peace. In that book, the Federation is faced with a major crisis when millions of citizens are dislocated following a mass offensive by the Borg, and for that story, I had researched the issues faced by real world refugees. It occurred to me that for people such as these, who had been forced to flee their countries due to political and/or ethnic persecution, a divine invitation to return to their homes would have a much greater impact than for those whose families had come to America willingly.

Before long, I had my story: Christine Vang is a typical all-American girl, born and raised in Suburbia, U.S.A., and the granddaughter of Hmong refugees who had been driven from Laos following the Communist takeover of that country in 1975. In 2012, her grandfather brings the family “home” to a place which, to Christine, could not be more foreign. The new immigrants are funneled into a small section of the capital city of Vientiane, and although the government that persecuted their people is now gone, there’s still little love lost between these Americans and their former antagonists.

And it all comes to a head on “Sestercentennial Day.”

ReDeus: Beyond Borders will be available in print and digital in late May.

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