This is notice that I’ve just posted another short story, this time called The Imposter.
It won’t take long for readers to realise that it shares many features in common with my last short story: Disgust. Both stories are concerned with the detrimental effect of inequality on society and both deal with the peculiar double-standards that the ruling elite use to justify their hegemony: although in the case of my latest short story it’s not so much hypocrisy but an attitude of automatically assumed superiority.
Like many of my short stories (such as The Shoebox, Virgin Gold and Bukkake Business) the story is set in a kind of alternative present which has many elements in common with the world we live in but is jarringly different (but generally for satirical purposes). If anyone is actually interested, the inspiration for this short story came from a book I recently read about the class system in Classical Rome which, to my mind, has a lot of parallels with the 19th Century British Class System which was essentially an odd mixture of the enlightened with the appalling, but, in the case of Classical Rome, had a disconcerting openness about sex with an equally disconcertingly open acceptance of sexual exploitation justified in terms of proprietary ownership and class.
However, it’s still very unlikely to be amongst my favourite stories amongst readers, despite there being rather a lot more sex than in an average Bradley Stoke story. This is not a pleasant rom-com happy-ending kind of story with sympathetic characters and cuddly and loveable animals.
Kate Tempest – Everybody Down
Not many people ask me this, but if they did ask me who I’d most like to be able to write like it would probably be Kate Tempest: performance poet, novelist, rapper and the first winner of the Ted Hughes Award who is under 40 years old.
It would be foolish to say that she doesn’t sound like anyone else: I can’t think of any artist, whether author, musician or anything else that hasn’t had some kind of influence and context. In Kate’s case she has influences in the British rapping scene from Mike Skinner of the Streets to Roots Manuvah to Wiley (the latter two also being on her label Big Dada). To my ears she has most in common with Mike Skinner, Frank Ocean and John Cooper Clarke insofar as she tells a narrative story that invokes a view of the world that is immediately recognisable, contains people with human failings, but also suggests at that side of life where there is danger and moral confusion.
Her latest album, Everybody Down is like an album length novel with each of the twelve tracks like a chapter in a novel, and one with voices that feel real and genuine, with Kate’s South London rap set against a percussive beat that is less abrasive than that of, say, Dizzee Rascal’s early Grime beats and different again to the J Dilla loops of American Hip Hop.
But what I most like is her ability to capture in not very many words and with a rhythm that appeals to my taste in music, the inner landscapes of her characters and the social context in which they operate. The characters aren’t mere ciphers and the landscape isn’t a mere backdrop.
On the other hand, don’t expect me to ever be able to produce poetry or even prose like Kate’s. Her style is not easily emulated and could so easily sound like a pale copy if I should ever try…
The surprise bestseller in the world at the moment is Capital in the Twenty-First Century by the French economist Thomas Piketty. I’ve not actually started reading the book, though it’s the next one that I shall and I’m thoroughly looking forward to it.
Although it’s a fairly forbidding Economics text book it has particular resonance to me as a lot of my fiction deals with its primary theme which is how the growth of and pursuit of capital (which in Piketty’s definition appears to be any accumulation of surplus wealth) has led to increasing inequality which in his eyes (and mine) is not at all a good thing.
In fact, inequality (as Marx also noted in his Das Kapital) leads not only to injustice but an unsustainable disequilibrium which in the end may be resolved in ways that appeal to no one.
But why has his tome become such a best seller?
Well, clearly I’m not the only one who has become increasingly troubled by the widening gap between the rich and the poor which process began after a longish period of narrowing inequality and is now very close to the absolute differences that existed before and may even have precipitated the First World War.
This is a process that left to its own devices can only continue to get more extreme and this is what Piketty explains in his book. Eventually, we get back to a state that most people had thought was consigned to history where there is virtually no opportunity for anyone to escape from the disadvantages of lower estate and where the wealthy continue to accumulate wealth and pass it on (often free of tax) to their descendants, so that wealth becomes further and further divorced from any concept of desert. There is also a slimming-down of what might be called the middle class as the economic activity that sustained it is focused increasingly on smaller numbers of the privileged.
There is a political dimension to this, which is that ever since the change of attitudes brought about by Thatcher and Reagan in the 1980s, no politician dares challenge the new political orthodoxy which is reinforced by the vast sums of money that goes into political donations and unsubtle propaganda (like Fox News and the Daily Mail) from those who can most easily afford it.
However, I don’t intend to make this a political blog (much as I’m often inclined to), but simply point out that the awareness of this disturbing process is something (amongst other dystopian trends)that has informed my novel No Future and is satirised in such short stories as Party Slave, Blessed by Nature and, of course, my latest short story: Disgust.
For the first time since April 2008, I’ve just uploaded a short story onto the internet. It’s called Disgust and is available not only as an HTML page but also as a PDF file and in various e-book formats.
As you can tell from the title, this isn’t a short story designed to appeal to fans of romantic comedy, but I can assure any worried female reader it is misanthropic rather than misogynistic. It also doesn’t spend any time at all describing sexual activities that most people would describe as disgusting.
It’s also unlikely to be a firm favourite of the average reader of stories in Literotica or Stories OnLine, but nevertheless I’ve made it available on both sites, although at the time of writing it’s still waiting to be published.
It’s much more difficult writing short stories than it is longer pieces of work and Disgust is, in any case, more a character study than anything else. But there are plenty other short stories I’ve written that are pretty much like that.
However, why would I ever choose to write a short story if it’s so much more difficult to write? Well, short stories enable you to explore ideas which are just not the material for a longer piece of work and also to cover rather more varied ground than it’s ever possible to do in a novel.
And so it is with Disgust.
I hope you enjoy it.
Coming Home by Michael Kutsche
Well, it’s been a few weeks coming, but here for those who’re interested are the links to the e-books for the novel Into the Unknowable: the final volume of the Anomaly Trilogy
- All e-book formats
- EPUB.(Most widely used format)
- MOBI: (Compatible with Kindles)
- MS Reader:
I’d personally rather read a novel as an e-book instead of as HTML or plain text, but readers do at least have a choice of formats to use.
For those who prefer to read on a Kindle, all of my five most recent novels can be downloaded from Amazon
And for those who are less enamoured of the Jeff Bezos empire, they can also be found on Smashwords (just less easy to upload onto a Kindle).
Whatever you think about the discussion going on in this WordPress Blog about the nature of reality, nothing quite beats the current speculation about metastable universes as revealed in this article in the Guardian which can be read in more detail in this more science-oriented article.
Essentially, now that we know the value of the Higg’s Boson, we now have to cope with the fact that this value is dangerously close to the tipping point of our universe and another possibly more stable universe. And the question is: are we about to topple into another more stable position that in the process destroys everything in the path of an ever-expanding horizon at the speed of light?
As the article makes clear, if we were to tip over to another state of stability (one which is at the naturally most stable position for energy and mass in the universe) none of us would know about it but all of us would cease to exist as suddenly as the propagation of light from the point at which the transition takes place.
And given that there may already be more of the universe beyond our horizon insofar as that the light from that region is so far away that it can never reach us, how do we know that this fateful transition of states hasn’t already taken place,
But not easy to understand.
I will be totally out of my depth if I pursue an on-line discussion about modern physics and speculation about the nature of reality. All I can say on the matter is that it is genuinely far more mind-blowing than the average person is aware of and that the implications of much of the discussion only further marginalises human existence and human vanity.
For instance, the very notion of the Planck’s Constant raises weird questions that I find fascinating but ones I don’t know how I could possibly use in fiction. For instance, Hawking’s Radiation is predicated on the idea that in the space between the smallest possible measurements are events that can cause a black hole to essentially leak and therefore resolve the information dilemma that a Black Hole presents. I also wonder how such things as the Planck Number holds up in eleven dimensions. There’s also the related but intriguing question of the reality of infinitesimals or, for that matter, infinities. Can such a thing as an infinity or an eternity (let alone an infinitesimal) exist in the real world? Or are they just mathematical constructs like the square root of -1 that has a reality away from most people’s direct experience of the world.
I’m not the person to come to for answers on such issues.
I’ve always presented my fiction as satire rather than hard science fiction (or even realistic fiction). I am generally more willing to stretch credibility and, to a certain extent, current understanding of science, to make a satirical point if I think it’s justified. And in the Anomaly Trilogy, my concern with the plausibility of virtual reality has more to do with contemporary issues about the nature of our interaction with technology than a deep belief that we really do only live inside a virtual universe.
But who’s to say for sure that we aren’t?