We want to make sure we don’t push China into a corner and China wants to make sure it doesn’t push us into a corner. That’s the real story of 2034.
– Admiral James Stavridis
The story of 2034
I learned about the geopolitical thriller 2034 from Wired, which published an exclusive excerpt, the first six chapters of the book, on January 26. The excellent writing intrigued me, so I pre-ordered the Audible version. On the morning of March 9, the audiobook automatically downloaded to my mobile, and since I had already read almost half of it, I finished listening to it the same day it was released. Extraordinary times indeed!
Though the South China Sea is at the center of the action in 2034, pivotal impulses come from Washington, Beijing, Tehran, and New Delhi. Secondary plots include the Barents Sea, Yokosuka Naval Base, Taipei, Quantico, Isfahan, Bandar Abbas, and the Strait of Hormuz. Originally, the events narrated by the two authors were supposed to take place in the distant future of 2050 or so, but as work on the book progressed, they realized that a number of things were already reality, so the action was set very close to the present, in 2034.
The book opens on March 12, 2034, with a flotilla of three American destroyers, led by Commodore Sarah Hunt, patrolling the South China Sea and falling into a very elaborate trap set by China. On the same day, American pilot Chris “Wedge” Mitchell flies an F35 over the Strait of Hormuz, testing a new stealth technology that involves entering Iranian airspace. By the end of the day, Wedge will be an Iranian prisoner, and the American flotilla will be at the bottom of the sea, sunk by the Chinese navy. China and Iran have attacked in concert, using unknown cyber capabilities that leave U.S. ships and planes dumb and blind, essentially defenseless. The situation is escalating amid large-scale cyber-attacks and physical blows to the 10G communications infrastructure, crippling U.S. strategic capabilities. The American fleet suffers dramatic losses. Thus, the crisis quickly evolves into stages that none of the parties involved wanted or imagined. The climax of the action is the chapter “Tandava Dance” (of the god Shiva), in which both Hunt and Mitchell play important roles. The outcome is, of course, unexpected.
Very interesting characters are Chinese Admiral Lin Bao, a security advisor to the White House, Dr. Sandeep Chowdhury and Qassem Farshad, a general of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Chinese Defense Minister Chiang, Zhao Leji, a member of China’s Political Bureau, and Indian Admiral Anand Patel are also memorable figures.
Astrology of 2034
Both authors of 2034 were born with Sun-Pluto:
- Elliot Ackerman – opposition, 2°18′
- James Stavridis – opposition, 0°23′
In addition, Ackerman had a transit from Pluto to his natal Sun while writing the book. The book was released on March 9, 2021, also on a global Sun-Pluto transit (sextile, 6°49′).
This Sun-Pluto complex fits perfectly with the intent of the book. Unlike all other episodes in our Sun-Pluto series, we have here a case of Sun-Pluto natives writing a cautionary tale to bring to light (Sun) the terrifying reality of war (Pluto) between China and the United States, precisely to prevent the two countries from entering (Stavridis’s expression is sleepwalking) into a confrontation that could easily escalate into disaster for both sides and possibly for the rest of the world.
Based on the current geopolitical situation and the authors’ “years of experience at the highest and most classified levels of national security,” 2034 constellates (Sun) a dark (Pluto) but very possible future, which is therapeutically brought to light precisely to be avoided:
It’s cautionary fiction, not predictive fiction. If you stop and think about it, part of the reason we never ended up going to war with the Soviet Union was [that we] had a lot of Cold War literature that tells us how terrible that outcome would be. Think Dr. Strangelove, On the Beach, Fail-Safe, and The Bedford Incident.”
A Saturn-Pluto diachrony
In analyzing the historical periods corresponding to the phases of the planetary cycles (conjunctions and oppositions), Professor Richard Tarnas has repeatedly observed striking synchronic and diachronic patterns. For example, “During the decade of the French Revolution, Uranus and Pluto were aligned in close opposition, and we have: social rebellion, political revolutions, sexual revolution, momentum towards creativity and artistic innovation, technological advances, scientific revolutions, the impulse to renew the world, tumult, and so on. The synchronic pattern makes this kind of thing happen all over the world at the same time – not only in France: in England, in the Caribbean, in the Bounty Uprising, in Tahiti,” even if there was no communication between those places.
The diachronic pattern refers to the same kind of phenomena activated in the following phases of the same planetary cycle, which are carried out in continuity with the previous ones. For example, “the first feminist manifesto is written during the Uranus-Pluto opposition, between 1792-1793, by Mary Wollstonecraft. Let’s fast-forward to the 1960s: Uranus-Pluto conjunction, and again we see this explosion of feminism and women’s autonomy. The same thing with the civil rights movement: in the 1960s we have Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela and others, a formidable push for the transformation of social structures and the liberation of African Americans or black people around the world. We go back in time to the Uranus-Pluto opposition during the French Revolution, and this is the moment of the first movements to abolish slavery, the first liberation of slaves from the colonies by the French revolutionary government, practically, then the actual beginning of a movement to liberate black people.
The synchronistic pattern therefore refers to similar events occurring at the same time around the world. The diachronic pattern involves the repetition or continuation of events in a particular region of human activity in the next phases of the same planetary cycle. In other words, we have the same category of events occurring at different times, but in accordance with the cyclical sequences of the same planetary cycle. For a fuller discussion by Tarnas of synchrony and diachrony here.
Going back to 2034, on March 9, 2021, the date of the book’s release, Saturn had already passed 13° from Pluto, which might cause some astrologers not to associate 2034 with the Saturn-Pluto conjunction that has dominated the last two years. However, the theme of the book is clearly Saturn-Pluto, and the book itself was written during the Saturn-Pluto conjunction. Stavridis said the idea for the book came to him “about three years ago,” around March 2018, when the Saturn-Pluto conjunction began. In addition, he was born with a Saturn-Pluto aspect (square, 4°32′), while Ackerman, the other author, had the Saturn-Pluto conjunction transiting his natal Sun (square) during the writing of the book.
In theme, intent, and impact, 2034 is reminiscent of the famous The Day After, also with a prominent Saturn-Pluto theme, which was watched by 100 million viewers on its first broadcast, including the top leadership of the US Army. Very interestingly, from an astrological point of view, these masterful warnings were given on successive Saturn-Pluto conjunctions – the diachronic pattern – at almost the same distance between the planets:
- 2034 (01.26.2021) – conjunction, 9°35′
- The Day After (11.20.1983) – conjunction, 9°05′
In both cases we have a separating conjunction, corresponding to the final period of the aspect, in which the archetypal field is saturated by the combined energy of the two planets, just as the colors are more intense and saturated at dusk.
A thorough exploration of the Saturn-Pluto complex from almost every possible angle can be found in the section Cycles of Crisis and Contraction of Tarnas’s monumental Cosmos and Psyche (2006). Regarding the possibility of a war or a situation like the one described in 2034, from an astrological point of view, 2035 would be a more appropriate title for Stavridis and Ackerman’s book, since it is the beginning of a Saturn-Pluto opposition, which in history often corresponded to a war, as Tarnas showed in the chapter World Wars, Cold War, and September 11.
James G. Stavridis: February 15, 1955, West Palm Beach, Florida, US
Elliot Ackerman: April 12, 1980, Los Angeles, California, US