Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Story Notes: "After We Walked Away"

My short story "After We Walked Away" is now available to be read free at the Apex Magazine website!

Of note: this is my last short story scheduled to be published. I still have a handful of them out on submission, but due to the election my writing volume has gone way down. The results of the election obviously haven't helped matters. There are a couple other things wrapped up in this as well, but in short, living in a Philip K. Dick world is not really that much of an inspiration for writing Phildickian fiction. Who knew?

But! I do have this story, which draws its inspiration not from my #1 Patronus but instead from the seminal story by his high-school classmate. If you haven't already read "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," then I'm actually kind of surprised! You should read it now, because my story may not make as much sense without knowing the background. Also it's pretty fucking dark, maybe the darkest thing I've ever written.

So the complaint I've always had about Le Guin's story is that leaving doesn't really fix anything. I'm not the first person to point this out, but it seems to me that leaving Omelas isn't only useless for the child scapegoat that powers the city's uncanny joy, but it's also not a good decision for the leavers. While the original doesn't describe the world outside (saying only that it is "less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness"), one can easily posit that the world outside is our world, where there is not one scapegoat but many, and misery is not "concentrated to a single point."

From a utilitarian standpoint, Omelas is a paradise with no asterisk. Of course it's better that one suffer greatly so that many don't have to suffer moderately. It's logical. However, most human beings aren't logical. I'm certainly not. And so, Omelas is a horror, a place that knowingly makes a Faustian bargain in order to enjoy an easy, magical happiness.

And yet, I can't see the real world as being all that much better than Omelas. In fact, it's probably much worse than Omelas, because there are a lot more people in pain, and suffering is entirely random. If Omelas/Solved City is a utopia with a rotten open secret at its heart, the outside world is just rotten. The characters can't organize a fight against all these injustices, because there are too many of them. It would have been easier to stay and fight, or if not fight, then acquiesce to a world powered by "violence-magic." It's not a brave choice, but if the only other option is misery for all including you, then maybe that changes things a little. Humans aren't logical, but we're even less brave. (I told you this story was dark!)

Anyway, if you have a few minutes to spare, read the story. I can't promise you a fun time but at least it's a way to divert your post-election depression for a short while.

2 comments:

  1. This style has flat piece of wood with pointed triangular head. They are placed vertically along the fence with backboards place horizontally for styling and support.
    colorgardening

    ReplyDelete