Dystopian short story. Maybe written in the late 80s or early 90s.

The United States have broken up. I want to say corporations run/own at least some of the states. This story is set in the Kansas Territory or the Incorporated Territory of Kansas. The story focuses on a cop. (this is not Code Three) I think he works for the Kansas State Police, but they are now a private force. Everything has been privatized, I believe. I have no memory of the actual story. Just this set-up.

I am pretty sure there were some Road Warrior-like chase scenes, but the political and economic concepts were what stayed with me.

  • 3
    Please tell us everything you remember about the story. Is the cop a man or a woman? Is the technology advanced, primitive, or about the same as today? Does the cop travel on foot, on horseback, by motorcycle, car, helicopter, airplane? Is he armed with a pistol, raygun, phaser, sword? Why don't you tell us about the "political and economic concepts" that stayed with you?
    – user14111
    Apr 14, 2018 at 3:11
  • Something by James Gunn, perhaps? Gunn is from Kansas, and has set some of his stories there.
    – user14111
    Apr 14, 2018 at 7:50
  • Law enforcement in Kansas makes me think of Lee Killough's Brilll and Maxwell series.
    – mkennedy
    Apr 14, 2018 at 10:26

1 Answer 1


That sounds like it might be Vernor Vinge's "The Ungoverned". Here's the text. It's set in his Bobble universe years after The Peace War when a radical libertariansm has taken root and Kansas -- like most of the world -- is entirely ungoverned and things like policing and defense are for hire (companies like "Al's Protection Racket" or "Michigan State Police") or do-it-yourself. The Republic of New Mexico is one of the few governments left and thinks to invade the supposedly undefended Kansas. (After a seemingly unstoppable rampage across Kansas, the invasion is halted by one especially well-armed Kansas farmer.) W. W. Brierson (the main character in Marooned in Real Time is a major character and as I recall, he's chased at one point by the USNM forces.

  • This does sound a lot like The Ungoverned - though he wouldn't consider it a dystopia!
    – Andrew
    Jul 9, 2022 at 23:46

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