Join us as we peek behind the scenes of our upcoming anthology, ON TIME. Learn more about Victor Rodriguez in his featured interview.
ABOUT THE STORY
What inspired your story?
There are things in our universe that challenge our perception of reality. For example, an astronaut passing through a black hole, observed from a distance, is killed instantly. From the astronaut’s point-of-view, though, since time exponentially slows when he gets closer to the black hole, his destruction is infinite. When I wrote “A Discourse on Philosophy Between a Man and an Unexploded Atomic Bomb,” I wanted to explore the perception of time from a philosophical perspective. Civilizations seem determined to repeat mistakes over and over…especially these days. Unfortunately for us, there is an obscure, yet logical explanation—humanity’s existence has already ended, and our “lives” are a collective Boltzmann-brain-like simulation looking from our future to the past to deduce when things all went wrong on Earth. Like Rust Cohle says in the first season of HBO’s True Detective, “Time is a flat circle.”
Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist?
Corporal John Lackey is…us. He follows orders, and doesn’t easily look beyond what his five senses reveal. He’s pragmatic, clinging to the belief that having the most efficient weapons is the easiest way for his country to win the war. He’s challenged—and initially shocked to the point of disbelief—when the bomb explains how the timeline of humanity is affected by the invention of atomic weapons.
What is the most interesting thing about the world you’ve created?
I think it’s fascinating to challenge ourselves by admitting there is more to the world than what we can perceive. What’s out there? We can only imagine. My hope is that this story will spark an idea in a reader’s mind that will lead to developing some new technology or art that addresses this concept. We already have tech that allows us to be “in multiple places at once,” like a conference call that connects voices from different parts of the world. What if we could perceive simultaneous, multiple points of history with all our senses? Would we be any better at avoiding mistakes we’ve already made? One would hope so.
What genre or mix of genres does your story fit into?
It’s speculative horror/science-fiction. It’s also a period-piece, so could fit into the historic fiction sub-genre.
How have your personal experiences influenced this story?
I grew up in the 1980s, terrified that escalating tensions between the United States and Russia would lead to a nuclear exchange that would set humanity back thousands of years. This story gives shape to that fear by philosophically supporting its validity.
What would you like readers to take away from your story?
I would love for readers to question the nature of their existence.
What was your favorite part of the story to write and why?
“A Discourse on Philosophy Between a Man and an Unexploded Atomic Bomb” is unlike anything else I have ever done. I’d written stories featuring unreliable narrators, though I never tried hanging a narrative on a character who is imagining another sentient being, and debating philosophy with it! Looking at the story from a realistic, psychological perspective, Lackey is bored by hours of guard-duty, so he entertains himself with his own thoughts—a discourse with himself. He projects his own doubts and/or guilt about his country’s use of atomic weapons to win the war, questioning the wisdom of unleashing such powerful new technology for short-term gains.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When did you write your first story, how old were you, and what was it about?
After becoming the caretaker of The Strange, High House in the Mist six years ago (back when I was in my mid-forties), I took up writing. My first story was about a man with acute sensitivity to sound who must complete the task of walking a few blocks through a noisy, crowded metropolis. Braving the obstacles that delay him from achieving his goal are—for him—acts of extreme heroism. The protagonist’s perspective shines a light on some of the challenges facing those of us who are neurodiverse, or mentally ill.
What is your writing survival checklist? (Aka, what helps your write the best: music, snacks, coffee, complete silence, a stress ball, a cat, or an outline, etc.)
Laptop computer, uninterrupted time, Adderall, MS Word.
What has influenced you most as a writer?
What font do you prefer to write in?
Times New Roman.
Do you have any writing blogs/vlogs/podcasts, etc. that you would recommend?
Absolutely. Inside the Sound of Fear is a podcast I did with Josh Ellis where I do live readings of each story in my speculative horror collection, The Sound of Fear. After each reading, Josh guides me through a discussion examining the concepts, and inspirational sources.
What is your favorite and least favorite word, and why?
My favorite is “often,” because it becomes suggestive with the slightest of hesitations before it (e.g., “Do you frequent the Lamplighter Bar…often?”). My least favorite word is “as,” since it’s often overused by writers.
Why do you write?
To increase the quality of my readers’ life.
Victor H. Rodriguez is a talent manager and short-story writer. He’s been a scriptwriter for HBO, and published fiction with White Wolf, Aurelia Leo and Murder of Storytellers. He does live readings of his work at Seattle’s Noir at the Bar, and is a regular contributor to The Horror Movie Podcast and Wrong Reel. Read all about him in his speculative horror collection The Sound of Fear.
ON TIME is coming in late September 2020. Be sure to follow us on Amazon.