Fatherless: A Novel

This brand-new book was written by an author whose byline has been associated with many well-known practical guides to a better family life.

And now with his latest effort, Fatherless: A Novel, Dr. James Dobson can add “fiction writer” to his resume.

But while the plot is from his imagination, the underlying core of the story feels all too real.

Here Dobson and co-author Kurt Bruner simply take today’s headlines in regard to declining birth rates, people living longer, and soaring health care costs, and offer a scenario should trends continue for the next several decades.

But as with any good dystopian novel, there’s more to the tale.

It’s the year 2042, and a long-predicted tipping point has arrived. For the first time in human history, the economic pyramid has flipped: The feeble old now outnumber the vigorous young, and this untenable situation is intensifying a battle between competing cultural agendas.

Reporter Julia Davidson—a formerly award-winning journalist seeking to revive a flagging career—is investigating the growing crisis, unaware that her activity makes her a pawn in an ominous conspiracy.

Plagued by nightmares about her absent father, Julia finds herself drawn to the quiet strength of a man she meets at a friend’s church. As the plot unfolds, Julia faces choices that pit professional success against personal survival in an increasingly uncertain and dangerous world.

The following excerpt is a first-person narrative of what life can bring to those whom society says can’t pull their own weight and become an economic burden:

I’m pretty sure Dad secretly blamed Mom for me. Like most sensible people, he wanted to stop after one child. But Mom had insisted Jeremy needed a sibling. They imagined a healthy girl.

I’m neither.

They call enlisting to transition a “heroic service to the public good.” In truth, I’m doing it for Mom. She deserves to have a life. Besides, I’m tired of living on the debit side of the ledger. No one has ever called me a debit directly, but the slang fits. They instead feign sympathy while mentally tabulating the costs. The latest numbers show another significant drop in the ratio of productive workers to elderly and disabled dependents. The math no longer works. People like me divert young and healthy workers from desperately needed innovation and growth. I won’t let that continue. I know I’m worthless, but I have my pride.

The procedure should take “an average of forty-five minutes.” The clock on the wall says I have twenty-one to go. Hannah checks her watch before retrieving a transparent mask hanging on a hook beside my right leg. She unwinds a bit of slack for the attached air tube: the next step in a tired but efficient sequence. Placing the mask over my mouth and nose, she gently stretches an elastic strap over the back of my head before typing my weight into the digital regulator.

I suppose I’m a lavish coward for choosing the optional sleeping gas. I know they’ve perfected the treatment to eliminate pain. I just prefer drifting into slumber to counting down final seconds like on New Year’s eve. Besides, the extra fee was nominal.

“Just breathe normally.” Hearing Hannah’s voice brings comfort. I’m glad my transition specialist is a woman, maybe even a mom. I bet she took this job out of a maternal instinct, to create a better world for her newborn child, or perhaps a niece or cousin. She believes this is best for everyone, especially me.

Fatherless is the first installment in a three-part series. The second and third books, Childless and Godless, will follow at eight-month intervals.