Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Barth Anderson's "Live from the Volgogrod Blackout!"

Posted by Trent Walters at 5:30 PM
Abyss & Apex published the thematic and trope-oriented Mundane story, "Live from the Volgogrod Blackout!" by Barth Anderson.

A war-time reporter is bodily rigged with broadcasting equipment, so that he's a one-man news crew. Like old-time twentieth century performance artists, his dopamine level is raised to bulwark confidence. His moral dilemma is whether to cover certain atrocities yet maintain user ratings. The story is strong metaphorically but there's a science glitch here that keeps it from being Mundane: heroin and cocaine also play with the brain's dopamine release and circulation. In other words, a Mundane story would have played up the addictive aspects. No doubt it would have been horribly difficult not to flick on the broadcasting equipment. Certainly, both stories might have shared similar themes, but their narrative arcs would have been different, and in this particular case, the change to a more Mundane story might have read more tragically. Still Anderson's story is well worth reading.

On a side note, if you enjoy fantasy and aren't afraid of challenging relationships, you must read Anderson's "In to Something Rich and Strange" over at Strange Horizons. I'll blog more about this at the s1ngularity blog, but the story relates one of the realistic relationships I've ever read in the genre. The tragedy looms ever larger. Stunning.