One moonless night, when her daughter was but a few months old, Eve clawed back her silken baby skin and planted a bomb in her chest. It wasn’t as difficult as you’d imagine; a baby’s body is more malleable than an adult’s. Getting under her daughter’s skin was rather like peeling an orange. Or picking at the flap of a sealed envelope to slip an extra something inside.
It was only a small bomb, the size and shape of a button battery, albeit large in relation to her daughter. It was bigger, for example, than her daughter’s dainty fingernails, bigger than the snub of her nose. But, like a school uniform, the child would grow into it, grow until the bomb was eclipsed by the face of her wristwatch or an ornament she might hang from her ear.
I wouldn’t blame you if the opening has put you off my most recently published short story (or the length at over 3000 words) but, if you do choose to read it, you might be able to help me decide where, if anywhere, to take these ideas next.
Setting a novel in the near future requires two extra decisions. To what extent will this imagined world differ from what’s familiar today? What defines that difference? Although the social, environmental and technological developments or regressions in this fictional landscape are inevitably interlinked, one factor tends to dominate (and perhaps determines the readership to which it most appeals). At least that’s what I’ve been thinking since reading The Unit and Anna back-to-back (as well as recent dabbling in one of the subgenres myself). In the first, a democratic society has agreed (over time) that the lives of economically and socially unproductive citizens can be sacrificed for the common good. In the second, feral children roam a post-apocalyptic world in which adults have been wiped out by a virus and most of the infrastructure by a fire. Tempted? Read on!
Annecdotal is where real life brushes up against the fictional.
Annecdotist is the blogging persona of Anne Goodwin:
slug-slayer, tramper of moors,
author of two novels.
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