Nowhere do we see more clearly how rival factions interact than on the field of battle. And by field of battle, of course, we're talking about sports arenas. "My team, your team, we won, they lost." Most of the time it's all in good fun, but occasionally the drive to succeed goes too far. And as Brick Moon writer Lauren A. Forry shows us - it's only going to get worse.
The theme for this month is Tribalism. Us and Them seems to be the default mode for humanity. It always has been and always will be. That being said, alliances change. Paradigms shift. We look at today's polemics and wonder how anything could possibly change, but if history is any indicator - it will. So we asked our writers to think about this and make some predictions... speculative, of course, none of this will actually HAPPEN (we don't think). So for the month of January we'll be taking a look at tribes of the future starting with Brick Moon heavy-hitter Sam French and his story, "Mary."
Espionage. A secret mission. A man sent undercover deep into enemy territory with one clear understanding and one clear objective: Our side is right, their side is wrong - steal the pertinent information and take them down. The order, the mission - it's all crystal clear... except... except for Mary...
You know our divided nation eventually sets aside its differences and comes together in solidarity and unity, right? It's true. How is that possible? How can anything transcend the divisiveness our country is experiencing? Find out from this review yet to be written about a monumental event yet to happen. Enjoy Josh Trapani's story "Only Rage," featured exclusively (here and) in The Weaponization of Narrative - The Brick Moon Fiction Annual Vol. 3!
The End is here! For Brick Moon Fiction's 2017 year, that is. And that means it's time for The Brick Moon Fiction Annual Volume 3. This year we've titled the compilation THE WEAPONIZATION OF NARRATIVE and it will be available on Amazon in a matter of hours. We chose four topics this year, Liberty, Gaslighting, The Tyranny of History, and finally - included in this issue, UNITY. We like our stories to have topical relevance and realized that for the bulk of the year we focused on the tools used to divide us (the above mentioned Weaponization of Narrative). So to cap out the year we wanted our writers to look into the future and present us with a glimpse of how we might transcend our differences and come together again as a society. The first of our last three podcasts comes from Eric Del Carlo and the story is called, "White Knight on a Black Square."
We brought this on ourselves - this divide, this wedge. Eventually this rivalry gave birth to, and is now epitomized by, hulking artificially intelligent robots bred to destroy. These self-repairing creatures crush anything in their way and battle endlessly. Now, the small tribes of human beings that are left have been forced to live as nomads, forever staying out of the path of the juggernauts of destruction. Until now...
As promised, here is part three from our podcast series Strange Investigations, and we've decided to take you to the hospital. At first glance this would appear to be a typical hospital and emergency room where doctors and nurses move rapidly to save human lives. But further investigation reveals it to be a little more. There are deeper oaths being taken here and a mystery of supernatural forces lurking just under the surface. Enjoy "Healers" by Kevin R. O'Hara.
"Not As It Seems" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
Our second installment of Strange Investigations features one of the most fucked up central characters we've ever had. It figures, though, because it came from the brilliant mind of Sam French. The basic story here is about a lawyer hired to oversee a legal issue. But the lawyer is like no one you've ever met and the issue at hand... is out of this world.
"The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons."
Are you ready for a month long series of Strange Investigations? In our ever expanding world of connectivity it's easy to see that the device we hold in our hands will eventually be embedded within our physical being. It is, perhaps, fated to happen for better or worse. This excellent story by Josh Trapani imagines that near future exists and how it might affect one aspect of our society: The American Prison system.
The weather has savaged the landscape, megacorporations have circled the wagons, but mankind has found a way to strike back with the invention of the ultimate driving machine. Engineered to withstand any hardship mother earth can throw at it, this vehicle proves mankind the ultimate survivor - except for one inherent flaw. Step inside the passenger seat with Eric Del Carlo's ultimate high-speed riff on the family road trip.
Our fourth release riffing on the theme of Climate Displacement. This story by Sam French takes place in a future in which extreme weather has pinned society down in bunkers and shelters except for a daring few who have the skills, resources, and know-how to traverse the hostile land. In this case, we follow a mother, son, and a stranger on a harrowing journey through the Florida panhandle in the eye of a hurricane!
Music used in this episode -River of Io by Kevin MacLeod
What kind of car do you drive? What kind of car do you drive when the environment has become do unpredictable, every ride is deadly? And what kind of vehicle do you drive when the face of humanity on planet earth has turned desperate and tribal? Answer: You drive The Scarabee. We're super jazzed to feature the talents of new (to Brick Moon Fiction) writer, Kelseigh N. Here she delivers a thought provoking, action-packed story that never stops moving. Enjoy!
This is the final installment in our Tyranny of History prompt. True to form, Eric Del Carlo delivers a bizarre and out-of-the box idea that makes its deceptively simple punchline that much more profound. Pay close attention. The destination is bigger than the road trip. And sometimes we are victims of our own history.
It's safe to say that we all have experienced bouts of depression and/or know someone who suffers from it. When I had my own bout with it, my therapist recommended a book by William Styron called, "Darkness Visible." The point was to get a real writer's point of view on what it's like to experience those dark moments, to shine a light on the emotional upheaval and reveal just what's happening inside someone's head (and to let others afflicted know they're not alone). When writer Winnie Khaw delivered this short story to us, it reminded me very much of that book. The theme this month is 'The Tyranny of History,' and although Winnie's story falls out of the realm of speculative fiction, there's an honesty here that can't be ignored. It's also worth mentioning that the empirical demons that control us are not always external. Sometimes they come from within. Take a listen to this very special work.
Music in this episode: "Bittersweet" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 Licensehttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
Continuing this month's theme Tyranny of History, writer Sam French delivers yet another fiendish, intelligent, and out-of-the box story - this one about a not-too-distant future classroom where every whim of kindergarten children must be indulged by powerless teachers in order to follow the blind faith motto "There is certainty in trust." What kind of children are produced in this environment? Zen is about to let you know. Lean in. Listen closely. He wants to whisper something in your ear...
We love when this happens, it's what makes Brick Moon Fiction so exciting. This month's prompt was Tyranny of History - our writers were to riff on the notion that we are beholden to the tenants of history and not always in a good way. SEMantics is what one of our favorite writers Brandon Easton came up with.
It is a few moments into the future. The race crisis in America explodes on the fulcrum of a heinous crime and as a result - an APP is developed. Yes. A simple APP. It's free to download, free to the public. It's function? It allows people to scan African Americans to find where they rank on a scale of criminality. Bullshit, right? Except that people start volunteering their information to the APP and things snowball outrageously from there... Enjoy, SEMantics, the first of four podcasts riffing on the Tyranny of History.
From our archive of previously unreleased material comes a scary one (written for the Halloween season). Well, maybe scary isn't the right word exactly... but there is a ghost in it.
There is dark speculative fiction and then there is downright pitch black. This is the latter. Author Abbi Waxman holds up a black funhouse mirror to humankind's ability to justify our most vile behavior. A thoughtful, but astonishing story about the eternal struggle to civilize what might be our fated nature. These are - The Basic Tenents of War.
Music for this episode by Kevin MacLeod :
"Simplex" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
A few month's back we tried an experiment with our writers. Usually we give them prompts that revolve around a very generalized notion. The resulting variety of stories can be witnessed in our various ANTHOLOGIES. Usually, no two stories are alike. But for the month of Halloween, er, sorry, the month of OCTOBER we gave a group of writers very finite parameters to see if we could get the stories to link. The results? Well you can read (and now hear!) for yourselves. This particular entry came in too late in the production schedule but it's from one of our favorite writers, Jason D'Aprile, and it's a perfectly horrific piece. So, let's have a little bit of Halloween in May and when you finish with this, check out Lauren A. Forry's "Window Seat" and Sam French's "Plunged." Then head over and read Amy Weaver's "The Legend of Blackwater Bridge." Decide for yourself how well our little experiment worked. We promise it'll be a nice ride...
From Brick Moon Fiction's very first anthology VISIONS ON VISIONS: Stories from the World of Augmented Reality - comes a profound and heartfelt story from writer Nicholas Thurkettle (Yes, he writes as well as narrates!). The story follows young Cael who is suspiciously excited about going into the Fourth Grade. This could be because he might be getting implants this year - or it could be something else entirely...
(Note: we're giving away a free digital copy of Visions on Visions from MAY 3 - MAY 7TH! CLICK HERE to get your read on.)
Our final story on the theme of Gaslighting comes from Lauren A. Forry who has written many of our favorite BMF stories. Here, she sets the stage for the very definition of what a modern-day Gaslighting would not only look like, but feel like.
Our third podcast on the theme of Gaslighting comes from the wicked brain of writer Eric Del Carlo. Here, Del Carlo has set the story in a future-world, but with a central character whose ideals one might find completely timeless. We're great admirers of Eric's work and this journey into the collision of ideology and paranoia doesn't disappoint.